Monday, August 25, 2014

Still Pokering...

Big update here: I know I go through these lulls where I fail to update this blog, it's just that so much has been happening as of late it becomes a bit of a daunting task to catch up after I keep putting off writing any entries.

So anyway, what's happened in a month? I took a $4600 nose dive at $20/40 after posting gross back to back losses. We all knew the doomswitch was going to hit some time. Since those headspinning losses I've managed to win about $3k of that back despite taking two weeks off for vacation and celebrating our first wedding anniversary (wow, how time flies).

I played a satellite tournament in the Hamptons for a shot at the WSOP Main Event. With 20 something players left I got my money in with KK and lost to A7. That was a crushing blow because it was the 3rd time I'd played poker in a tournament format in less than a month with disappointing results. It's a wonder how I used to play so many tournaments. The negative impact from losing seems to far outweigh the emotional highs. It's become insufferable for me to spend hours and hours on end of expending energy and concentration on a tournament only to make the right move and lose. I know, I know, small sample size! I've played somewhere around 5 or 6 six tournaments in the last 5+ years. But the competitive nature in me expects to win all the time, and it's infuriating to lose. I'm sure the fact that I've become strictly a cash game player and the instant gratification from them has made me completely inconsolable after a tournament loss. It's not like right after I'm bounced from one tournament I can simply jump into another. At least, you can't do that in a live scenario, without a viable online site to play. I just don't have the time and patience to play them anymore.

So after posting nearly 5 months of winning at $20/40, things have been a bit bumpy. For example, two weeks ago, I went nearly 4 hours without winning a hand, and I'm talking not even the blinds! That's pretty dreadful. August has been much better than July pokerwise, and Labor Day is usually a big weekend at Borgata. Out.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Win Streak Is Over...

5 months of winning... Oh, why did it have to end!!!? So I suffered my first loss at $20/40 this weekend. Boo. The sting of a loss is always so painful to me. It annoys me so much, I can't wait to avenge myself the very next weekend. I ran superbad and fell into a couple 4 bet situations on the turn with sets or top two that didn't pair the board. I had AA once, and they lost. I missed open-ended straight and flush draws left and right. I played something like 20 some odd hours and that was after playing a tournament with Sasha and Teddy at the Showboat. I wanted to play with them one more time and take a shot at tournament glory (haha!) before the Showboat closes on August 31st. So I'm stuck $1900. Not a terrible loss, but a loss no less.

We had our little shootout tourney at Sasha's on Friday, where Teddy took it down. He got heads up with Sash, after some painful poker with Sasha's drunk friend Mike. We had to extend the blind levels an extra five minutes since he was taking so long each and every hand. Yours truly busted 6th when I got my money in as a short stack AQ vs my friend Elon's A8 and he binked an 8. It was fun, we'll chalk it up to a learning experience. I call it that because we need to find a good balance with the blind structure that allows for a mix of deep stack play but not so much that we're playing til 4am. We'd like to try and have a game once a month or so.

Back to licking my wounds...

Monday, July 7, 2014

3 Days of Poker

We had a nice fun-filled day of grilling, eating, playing some rounds of "Cards Against Humanity" where Kelly and I enjoyed the 4th with her mom, sister and her boyfriend, and Sasha. I even got to play some heads up poker with Sash where the fish beat me 2 out of 3 games, one was half fixed limit and the other NL.

On Saturday, it was off to AC where I was shocked to have made it down there in record time considering the holiday. I was expecting some gross traffic by the time I hit the parkway late afternoon, early evening. I was shocked to get down there as fast I did. When I arrived at the poker room, I was quickly tantalized by watching the juicy $40/80 game. I recognized only half of the players there, and the ones I did recognize didn't impress me. I was talking to my friend Brendan, and he said the following statement which made me laugh, "If I don't recognize you at the poker table, I'm going to assume you suck," which is true in most cases.

So after a few rounds of $10/20 where I won a couple bucks, I finally got into the $20/40 game. As the night when on, I was up $400 at my highest and stuck $800 at my lowest which seems to be a typical fluctuation state for me, somewhere +/- $1k seems about right to me, haha.

I had decided to experiment this session, where I wanted to devote 100% of my concentration and focus to the game. That meant no tablet, no phone, no music, etc. I was adopting the old Howard Lederer suggestion to not look at your hole cards, and watching my opponents' initial reactions to theirs, then only when it was my turn did I finally look at them. I paid extra attention to the blinds so that I could be given any extra tip off for a no contest stealing situation.

I was able to grab two great reads off this crazy Asian guy who was stiff as a board and doing his best statue impersonation when he tried to bluff me with ace high (I called him down with a pair of deuces) then he tried to bluff me with king high (I called him down with ace high).

The highlight of the session was watching this girl Lua, who works at the Taj, blow off racks after she had over $2k in front of her. And that was only after she had reloaded several times. She would hit the felt right before I had left. It's always amazing to watch someone dump chip after chip in such a short amount of time.

Here's how she lost it. She called $80 to the face with A9 of hearts after I capped with AK. Flop comes K72 and one heart. She calls the flop bet drawing only to runner runner, she picks up back to back hearts.
Yeah, she won that pot, but the rest of them didn't turn out that way.

Me? I won two of the biggest pots of the night and was happy to be up a decent amount. Both of them were gutshot straight draws for $600+ pots.  I was outta there by 11am to fight the 4+ hour long commute home due to the terrible Jersey Shore traffic on the Parkway.



Monday, June 30, 2014

A Short Shift

Had a super busy weekend, I'm pretty exhausted. I'm looking forward to having July 4th fall on a Friday, making this a short work week for me.

Finally took Kelly's mom out for her birthday. We had a great time at the MP Taverna in Roslyn, LI. It's a stark contrast from the bar scene-ish and trendy MP Taverna in Astoria. This place felt more like a traditional restaurant, perhaps more family oriented and geared toward the slower paced life out in the suburbia that is Long Island. The food was great, pretty consistent and on par if not better than the twin menu offered at its sister location. 

Then on Saturday, it was off to lunch with my mom and cousin at Barn Joo in the city. Barn Joo was fun because it offered a unique blend of traditional and modern takes on some Korean dishes. It wasn't just barbecue, the menu was centered around some "Farmer's Meal" combo dishes and bibimbap plates that could be customized according to protein selection. Throw in some fun non-traditional stuff like wings and tacos, and we had a nice sampling of Korean gastropub-style offerings. 

After a brief nap, I was off to AC. I got down there super late and was seated at the poker table around 11pm. Played some 3 handed $20-40 at what was the 2nd must-move table. When I was finally seated at the healthy must-move game, I ran myself up +$2k but I couldn't hold onto it all, after I lost a huge pot to a psycho who rivered a flush against my bottom set. I had to settle for a $1700 win. Like a good poker player, I was in my room and in bed by 7am. Not even 8 hours worth of "work."

Finally saw "Choke" which was based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk of "Fight Club" fame. It starred Sam Rockwell, who so far has a great track record of playing a weirdo in every movie that I've seen with him. I loved this movie! Basically, it's about a sex addict with mommy problems. Now I'm going to look into as much Chuck Palahniuk as I can. 

Oh and in other poker news, we're hosting a small stakes tourney at Sasha's on 7/11. I'm so looking forward to this since I don't get to play much "recreational" poker. Can't remember the last time I got to throw some chips around with my friends in a casual environment. 


Monday, June 23, 2014

Keep on Pokering...

Had a fun weekend, where after a quick hit and run at the local Sizzler (laugh, but it's so +EV!!!!), I took the wifey out to catch a flick. We drove all the way out to Farmingdale, Long Island. Yeah, so why so far? Well it was either Farmingdale or Times Square, so it was an easy decision. We were off to see "The Signal," which had caught my eye after some interesting reviews. Do I recommend it? Yes, but there were some things I didn't like about it, mainly the ending. I think its denouement was a little too contrived, maybe too Twilight Zone-ish, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It was mostly well done, and it kept me somewhat entertained. It wasn't boring, that's for sure.

Then it was off to Borgata for "work" as I like to call it. The drive back and forth to AC can be quite exhausting and downright hellacious after a marathon session, especially with the mind-numbing Jersey Shore summer beach traffic. Unfortunately, sometimes this whole poker thing can really feel like a chore to me. Don't get me wrong, the masochistic side of me enjoys the "grind" and I take pride in my attempts to be a "poker machine," but the reality of it is that I'm no spring chicken anymore, and it's becoming more and more difficult for me to "answer the bell" on those Saturday afternoons. Sometimes, all I wanna do is just vegetate, order some dinner in, play video games, and hang out with Kelly. It's the commute that's killing me. I look at the simple task of getting gas as an ordeal. I look at certain points of travel along my commute as "points of annoyance" such as the Hamilton Tunnel exit on the BQE, Bradley Avenue on the Staten Island Expressway, and Seaside Heights on the Garden State Parkway.  

However, I'm not talking about the actual poker grind. I'll never complain about that. Part of my motivation thrives on the fact that once I'm in the poker room, it's on. I get so excited as soon as I walk into that room, I can feel my heart racing as I walk straight to the high limit podium and put my name on the list. Then there's the anticipation of who's playing and scoping out the games. Nevermind the satisfaction the moment you sit down and get dealt your first hand. Man, I'll never get tired of playing cards!

But of course, there's the money. That's the biggest motivator :)

So after a session of where I was stuck $600 for most of the night, I suffered my very first losing session at $20/40 because the game broke around 7 am on Sunday morning. The Borg poker room has been a little light on players in recent weeks I'm guessing because of the WSOP, so when the game broke, I jumped into my old game, the $10/20. After being relatively even after a couple of hours, the list for a new $20/40 started. I managed to get the game going 5 handed, and that's when my break finally came.

I was up against Scott, Chester, an Indian kid, and some old guy. Scott was the best of the bunch, and Chester isn't bad either but he's moved up recently from $10/20 like me, so I wasn't sure if he's made any adjustments. The other two were relative unknowns.

I unleashed the short-handed beast within me and ran up a $1745 profit  in a span of about an hour. I lost only two hands at showdown, one because of an unsuccessful bluff and the other because Chester hit a 2 outer on me. Naturally, the game had filled and so I had to tighten up and resume "full ring mode" where I found myself dozing off and elected to leave. No mistakes like last week...

It's always hard to think about the pending ride home, but relishing in an awesome win like that serves as positive reinforcement. I'll never get tired of winning, that's for sure.

Monday, June 16, 2014

So Disgusted With Myself

My most recent session ended in somewhat of a disaster. I am so utterly disgusted with myself for failing to catch the small details that are so vital to being a successful player. I hold very high standards of play and take pride in seeing things that most may not perceive. A poker player needs to see things from a Sherlockian perspective. Being a game of misinformation, your logical deductions are your weapons. When I'm playing well, I'm dialed into what I think players' ranges are, allowing for my instincts and experience to guide me in what course of action that I take as the flow of a hand progresses.

In this hand, I had been playing nearly 12 hours and fatigue was certainly a factor. I was rubbing my eyes for a bit, feeling some of those sandy bits in the corners of my eyelids. I was yawning and feeling a bit strained. I was on my second cup of coffee. I felt tired, and perhaps a bit delirious. It was a much different feeling from the week before, where I had played nearly 24 hours straight. That session was different because I was playing 4 handed, sometimes 3 handed for a few hours. I was in for $3k and I was up against Lam and Marco, 2 guys who aren't exactly fish. Playing shorthanded helps keep you awake. You HAVE to be awake. The action is fast, and it kept me sharp. This game was was full with quite a few donors, and I was kinda cruising along, waiting patiently for profitable situations. So the lulls and frequent folding can get mindlessly repetitive.

So anyway, I call $70 from the small blind with 66, there are already 5 or so people in front of me. I'm not going to go into the debate of calling $70 here from the small blind with a mid pair here, since implied odds are justifying the call. So we see a flop of at least six players, the board hits 872. Everyone checks to a maniac in late position who bets. I call getting well over my 23 -1 necessary and getting a bit of an overlay too. A 5 hits the turn, which is a good card for me, giving me an open ended straight draw. It's checked again to the flop bettor who bets again. This time only myself and rather TAGgy Asian kid called.

The river is another non-flush 5, and we check to the bettor who bets again, and I begin pondering, "Raise or fold..." Calling was out of the question since I thought the Asian kid would call for sure. I didn't think I could sell that I had trip 5's here (I probably could have). I kept thinking that the kid behind me had something, and the maniac had at least an 8 or a 7 and wouldn't fold if I raised him. I felt that there were too many variables present for them to concede the pot to me. 

But had I paid attention to the hand, I would've deduced that a call or even a raise would've won me the pot.
1) I did not see what happened preflop, it was capped by the time it got to me.
2) I should've known that had the Asian kid hit ANYTHING on that flop, he would've played more aggressively against the maniac. I didn't think it through properly.
3) Maniac had shown the ability to bluff occasionally. Getting 20-1 on the river was enough reason to justify a call/raise on the river.
4) Had I processed the information that the maniac was betting in late position after EVERYONE had checked to him and did not show any strength against him, should've been red flag for me that he was potentially bluffing. 

So that was $800 down the drain. Soooooo disgusted. Lesson learned. If I'm feeling sleepy and not focusing, I'm not playing. Simple as that.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Beaten Up

Just got done with an exhausting $20/40 session where I found myself stuck another $2500 at my lowest point, before leaving up a very mighty $28. I started around midnight Sunday and played til midnight Monday. Yep, another 24 hour poker session. Then it was back to work Monday morning.

I was dealt a handful of AK and AQ with neither winning much. I did go about 2.5 hours without winning a hand. That'll drop you a few racks.

But after scratching and clawing (as usual) I made my comeback and won a few big pots. Here was my favorite hand:

Shorthanded, I raise to isolate this rich Iranian lady with Td8d. TAGgy-ish kid that thinks he knows it all 3 bets me with a top charted hand for sure, we all call and see a flop of AJ9 with two diamonds. I check raise (I want to represent an ace and make it very hard for KK or QQ to continue) and the kid 3 bets, the lady comes along for the ride. Turn is a non-diamond brick. We all check. River is a non-diamond ace. Lady checks and I instabet, knowing the kid either raised me with KK or QQ to reassert control of the hand and take a free card or had a draw with something like a king or queen high flush draw. They both folded. Woo hoo!

The real highlight (or lowlight) was game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, that was wrought with terrorizing anxiety and ultimately devastating heartbreak. The Rangers deserved to win the game, had outplayed the mighty Kings, but only to catch unlucky breaks when the refs blew two non-calls on what should've been Kings penalties that directly led to two goals. If you had told me that the Rangers would spot the Kings 2 games to start the series, I would've told you that this series was over. But having seen the Rangers control most of the pace in Game 2, I'd say that so long as the Rangers maintain their morale, they can comeback and make this a series. Here's an interesting fact: the Rangers have never trailed in regulation so far. If they could only tidy up on defense in their own zone and catch a break or two, this series can turnaround in a flash.