Archive for January, 2010

Giving him the business

Posted: January 14, 2010 in General

Earlier this week I went to the City Center to check the place out and play a little poker in Aria’s room. I’m not often visually impressed by a casino(seen one you’ve seen them all), but this place is a spectacle. The sheer size is enough to leave one in awe, but the class and comfort in which it was designed is as far as I’m concerned the best I’ve ever seen.

I made it to the poker room fairly quickly and sat at 2/5 $500 max. Not thrilled w/the low cap(which was changed the next day to 1k max) but hopefully it brings action. I recognized one face as a reg. Vegas grinder whose game I have some respect for(given that he plays higher w/me a lot I expect some back and forth). Fast forward an hour and I’m stuck like a pig after losing 3 consecutive all ins w/the nut flush to gutshot strait fd, top two on JTx board vs AK, finally AQ vs 99 on A66 board where guy flatted pre, then led flop ch/shv turn only to bink a 9 on the river. The reg. I recognized is also stuck after 3-betting AK pre and having 55 lead flop into him on Axx board only to turn a 5. Funny how all these guys have the same bluff line. Anyway in his bb it folds to me in the c/o, I raise to $25 w/A9c, bttn and sb both flat. As this is happening I really begin to anticipate a 3-bet. He’s the type of player who does not like flatting $25 in this spot only to be ch/fldn too often, especially when he’s already stuck a buyin. So I’m quite sure he’s either folding or 3-betting here which means the bulk of his 3-bets will be the middle of his range(broadways, small-med pairs, possibly some connectors.) He makes it $145 which is a pretty large 3-bet and def puts me in a very awkward spot. Usually I would just pass here, but just as I believe he’s 3-betting semi light here a lot I also don’t think he’s calling off(which is a mistake fwiw as the pot would be laying him 2-1). I elect to give him the business and he basically snap folds. I make a good read, but I rarely advocate 3-betting in live cash let alone 4-bet jamming light. That being said I find myself in an even lighter situation 24 hrs later…

The next day the roomies and I hit up Aria again as the action was pretty good and on a Tues. there isn’t much else going on. I move into a 2/5 game after losing $1k in a short handed 5/10 game that broke(flopped nuts vs top set). There was one young kid there who in the few pots I saw was very aggro making close to pot sized bets and basically shitting all over the table. Now in my experience I’ve come to realize when there are only two or three strong players at a table they tend to avoid one another, however, upon being provoked will play each other harder than sometimes they are capable of playing. I’ve never been the type to avoid confrontation and generally actively seek out action from these guys. I find I can extract way more profit from “table captain” types when creating a leveling war, I’m just too far ahead of the curve against a 2/5 specialist. So I consciously decide to really target this guy and play some big pots, forcing him into some awkward spots(helps that I have position on him).

First two orbits I open his straddle and bb and like I expect he protects all 4 spots. I think I broke about even in the pots and seem to have set up a good pissing match. 3rd orbit I pick up A5o on his straddle. I raise to $35 and I’m fully expecting him to 3-bet if given the chance. BB flats and he squeezes to $150. Pretty large given how the table is playing but I suppose standard banter btw him and I. I strongly feel that he expects a fold from me a high % of the time as he’s prob very accustom to handling aggressive players w/more aggression and them succumbing to not wanting to get tangled in a big pot w/the other “good” player. Since he does nothing to keep me in the pot(some type of smaller 3bet or flat) I rule out the top of his range(JJ+, AQ+). I could obv be wrong, but that was my read at the time and I feel that he’s doing this more w/hands that flop well in case he is flatted or hands that are totally worthless that he can just shut down if flatted. Frankly my hand has no post flop value and if I’m correct a 4-bet should be folding out all but the top of his range, which I’ve resolved that he doesn’t have. I elect to 4-bet to $450 leaving myself $550 behind. I’m never folding, but as I demonstrated in the HH above it’s not uncommon for people to put out what seems like a pot committing raise and fold($550 is a lot of money still to some people and they will ignore the math to save such an amt.). After what seemed like an annoying amt. of time he gives me the business and I snap call. Board runs out 9 high w/the river bringing a 5. He just shakes his head still not exposing his hand. I do the same. He then mucks. I table my hand as it’s definitely going to get me big action in hands to come. He proceeds to explain to me how awful of a 4-bet that was and how the call was worse. I explain to him that I knew he was light and even when I’m wrong I’ll be 30% barring him having AA. He then tries to lie and tell me I was wrong and he had AQ, to which the 1 seat(he was in the 2) says, “I saw your hand you had KQs.”

After discussing this scenario w/my roommates and poker playing friends, I think the consensus is no one is a big fan of this spot. Hanks saw my side of the story, but everyone else deemed it totally unnecessary. Oddly enough I think their rationale is 100% spot on about passing and picking a more profitable spot later, etc. However, I think even if I’m taking the worst of it in this spot there is a ton of value beyond the equity of my hand as in the dynamics of the game, not to mention if this kid doesn’t get heroic he is folding 95% of his 3-bet range here. I 100% pass on this edge or phantom edge in a MTT, hell I would pass this same spot if stacks were only half as deep or even 1/4 deep(50bbs). I would never 4-bet jam Ax here for 50bbs+ in tournament play it’s just long run unprofitable. But the diff. btw pressing small edges in cash and in tournaments is each pot in a cash game equates to hard-earned money in your pocket, every pot you drag is profit. In a tournament you can be 100% spot on and win said pot only to realize it increases your earn little to none, but every time you are wrong your tournament life is on the line w/o a hand and that is ultimately taking money out of your pocket due to bad play. Also you’ll be wrong much much more often in a tournament. People have gotten very good at doing in-exploitable things, thus they won’t make the mistake of 3-bet folding better there. Either they are snap mucking worse to your 4-bet or snap shipping/calling w/better. They are 3-betting because the risk/reward of their chips in accordance to the pot along w/the equity of their hand makes it hugely +EV, this kid is 3-betting as a defense against the war I’ve clearly waged against him anytime he has money in the pot oop. Also in MTT play “the field” are all pressing those tiny edges, even creating phantom ones that don’t exist, thus the way to exploit that isn’t to press more edges than the next but instead to be patient and pick off these light plays. In live cash, few people are ever taking tiny edges, and the ones that are forced into a spot to do it generally make large mistakes as this kid clearly did shipping KQs.

I’m not advocating all this extremely light play w/o a hand, but I am stating that I am willing to go the distance to play above the rim at all times. I want the gap between me and the next best player at the table to be a canyon, and that’s at any stake I play. It’s the biggest reason I slave at improving my game. That gap is your profit margin between you and the other winning players. With only X amt of $ up for grabs in a given session if you don’t do what it takes to capitalize another winning player will, thus shrinking that gap. Logging it under fancy play syndrome would completely discredit every aspect of the play and my thought process behind it. No part of this hand was a reaction, each and every move was thought out and weighed against the risk/reward. I’m known to defend my plays to the death and where as this may be one not really worth putting my neck on the line for I will. Problem is I see no flaw in the other side of the argument where as the flaw in my defense is “What happens when you’re wrong, even just a little bit and he shows 66 or A7?” Such a valid point, but in every high variance spot or any spot all the money gets in w/less than the nuts for that matter it’s easy to say what if…

Fwiw this kid went on to bluff off half a buy in vs. my roomy and I later broke him for $700 as 3-bet called off w/AJ vs my QQ.

Watch the whole thing, well worth it…


New Year Resolutions

Posted: January 2, 2010 in General
I feel like this year was very eye-opening to me as far as understanding better the business end of having a poker career. It’s not just bankroll management and putting in the hours on the felt. It’s so much more about maximizing your earn. Whether that is through self investment, diversifying, giving up equity to gain opportunity, or consolidating, common business practices are constantly in use and the need to be well versed in such practices is vital to both success and survival. That being said my poker resolutions this year will be much more geared to factors/decisions I make off the felt. My life resolutions will likely reflect the ones I made last year as well, especially since I failed to meet a lot of them…

Poker Goals:
#1 End my backing deal. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve had an awesome stake online w/a ton of freedom, but being backed has essentially created a ceiling for myself which from a career stand point is a huge hindrance on my financial growth.

#2 Profit $250k. I won’t be content w/less. Basically if I don’t reach this number it means I failed in numerous other aspirations that will fall on this list.

#3 Diversify more. Basically I would like to spread a small piece of my $ out amongst a concentrated group of winning players. This will be tough at first as I’m not rolled, but in time I’d like my small investments to cover my bill money and my own gains to go toward self investment.

#4 Be more diligent in creating a financial plan and sticking to it. Basically I see a huge benefit in knowing ahead of time what events I plan to play for the year. So I would like to map out my travel, my event schedule, costs etc. and follow through. If I’m under rolled at some point consolidating by selling action should be 10x more profitable than just taking on a year-long stake. This includes my online schedule. Seems tedious but given that I plan to play a lot of live cash I’ll likely only be online during big events like Sundays, ftops, minis and S/WCOOPs.

#5 Grind Grind Grind live cash. It gets stale and I tend to burnout but if I can work on 10-15 sessions a month I should see the results I’m looking for. Also game selection is big, I have to be willing to leave a bad 10/20 game at Bellagio to go to a 5/10 at Venetian or even 2/5 at Red Rock. I think I should be fine in that regard as it was tougher when I was backed in the bigger games, but on my own dime there is much less incentive to play big in a marginal game.

#6 Pace myself better for the WSOP in cash games and MTTs. I feel like I was over saturated with games that weren’t that great resulting in playing too often and losing too much. I also feel that I gave into the lure of WSOP events and the big money concentrating a small amt. of my BR for a handful of events I saw myself having an edge in. It was semi successful as I broke even w/a day 2 in the $1500 shootout, but I definitely missed the boat w/Venetian events.

#7 Play the WSOP ME w/at least 50% of my own action. I achieved this last year but it basically led to ending my live cash stake.

#8 Gotta blog at worst bi-monthly. It isn’t that I care that much about putting my thoughts in writing as much as it is an easy exercise that forces me to really examine all aspects of poker, the business and my life. I often look back and read my old posts/blogs and think either wow I really got it and did things right/against the grain or think I’m retarded. It’s a big part of maturing and excelling, and its nice to have a reminder of your mistakes along the way. Not to mention the occasional feedback is a big bonus as well.

#9 Pay very close attention the flow and changes in the game, both MTTs and cash. With these changes will come mistakes. Identifying and exploiting those mistakes will always be my edge, and figuring them out before the field catches up is crucial in achieving some to all of the goals I have set forth.

#10 Don’t succumb to the struggle, find a solution instead. It’s not hard to map a year out and know each day where you need to be and what you need to accomplish. But in our business the money to invest fluctuates, the failures weigh on our confidence and mental state, and if you let it the outside factors can force at worst a vacation. My goal will be to see through my mapped out plan even if it requires selling action, getting staked or altering the plan to include smaller buy ins or lower stakes. I think this will be the hardest goal to achieve as I know my expectations are high and my goals higher.

Ok that ends the poker content of this blog feel free to stop reading. For those who care this will be the handful of things I’m hoping to accomplish in my life these next 12 months. I hope I can be as tough on myself in this aspect as I am in poker, but I tend to cut myself slack in the life department which I think is a big flaw.

Life Goals:
#1 Be a better friend/grandson. My friends and family mean the world to me and were 100% of my life up until graduating college. Sometime between becoming an adult and now life seems to constantly get in the way and I find myself slowly drifting away from those that used to be closest to me. Some of it isn’t my fault, everyone has their own cross to bear, but I know I don’t put the effort in that I used to. This especially applies to my Grandma. Its not too much to ask to call her every other day instead of waiting for her to get ahold of me. Even when I go home I know she’s dying to spend time w/me but I’ll have a million things going on. I just don’t ever want to look back and regret the tail end of my Grandma’s life the way I do my Pap’s.

#2 Find more activities that don’t require a hard-fast commitment. Example I play pick up hoops a few times a week and enjoy it, but baseball gives me fits as it’s every sunday for the bulk of the year and people are counting on me being there. My love for baseball is head and shoulders above the little enjoyment I get from hooping, but the freedom of pickup(and the fact that baseball is on the worst day of the week) leads to me spending more time doing something I enjoy less. I’m looking into pickup volleyball once a week or so as well as roller hockey.

#3 Commit to Sunday baseball. I know it interferes but I’m not going to allow a torturous Sunday online grind get in the way of doing something I dedicated a large portion of my life to. So long as I can compete at a high level baseball should be my outlet.

#4 At least begin considering what needs to happen in my life in order for me to obtain a small place of my own back home near Pittsburgh. I’m not saying I want to give up the Vegas life for good, but I am saying that ultimately my heart is in the ‘Burgh and I’ll likely spend my life there. My hopes are within the next 5 years I will earn enough to have a permanent home in Pitt and some sort of option in Vegas as well. Ultimately I would like to open up a sort of baseball academy back home offering opportunities for kids committed to making a career out of the game. I can’t count the amount of times where I said, “If I only knew then what I know now my opportunities would have been endless.” I’d like to set up a “school” of sorts where we would focus on teaching kids what it takes to make it in the game as well as provide them w/the networking that it takes to get their foot in the door. I’ve always had a huge desire to coach, but I feel this way I will be able to reach more kids and more importantly kids who have as much drive and desire as I once did. Not to mention this situation would be 100x more conducive to playing poker compared to coaching a team that would require constant attention during the spring and summer.

#5 Schedule one big event for all of my boys to get together. This may be tough to accomplish by year’s end especially if I don’t get on the ball asap. Not everyone has the financial or general freedom that I have so notice will definitely be an issue. That being said this is a goal I really really really hope to achieve. It goes hand in hand w/#1 and even if I don’t have these guys in my life 24/7 the way it was in H.S. and College a long weekend or week trip can go a long way rekindling.

#6 Next Christmas make it be known I want no gifts purchased from a store. If people want me to buy them stuff in return so be it, but I can’t tolerate how cheapened Christmas has become. If my friends and family want to get me a gift let it be something w/some thought and sentiment behind it. And in return I will likely be doing the same for them.

#7 Maintain my physical health, but purchase some form of health insurance.

#8 Make a more conscious effort to further educate myself about world affairs. Seems to be a necessary step as our current situation in this country doesn’t seem to have an immediate end in site.

#9 Add to this list as I achieve certain goals stated above.