Monday, August 31, 2009

Preparing for the WCOOP

I had a decent Sunday making a final table on the $50 rebuy on Stars. I also stayed up late railing one of my best poker friends as he took down the 750k on FullTilt for a nice 6 figure score. So I am taking today off, cleaning up the house, buying some groceries and getting ready for my next month.

August actually ended up decently. I got my 200 tourneys in and I made a decent profit. September should be a good volume month for me as well so I should get my 200 tourneys in once again. If I can get that one decent score, I could get my bankroll back up to the highest it has ever been.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What Makes a Player Top-Tier?

I have been thinking a lot lately on self-analysis and focusing on what I need to do to become a better, more profitable player. Tournament play is a very results oriented business and the internet ranking systems and idolization that follows from it make this pervasive focus on results even more stringent. While I wouldn't mind my internet dong getting sucked a little, I have come to realize and accept that my lack of volume means it just ain't gonna happen for me. However, I also realize that just because I don't have the same results as high volume players does not mean that I am not as high a caliber of player as they are.

I think in general there are three categories of players out there:

1) our lovable, needable, idiots - these are players who are either playing for fun, or are new to the game, or perhaps are prone to tilt. They make obvious mistakes and play hands suboptimally.

2) second-tier, break-even to proficient players - these are players who have obtained firm grasp on the fundamentals of the game. They understand how to make accurate guesstimations of their opponent's ranges based on position, stack sizes, and previous play. They understand push/fold poker and know how their hand plays against their opp's ranges. They understand fold equity, and know how to steal and resteal. They might make some minor errors or "spewy" plays, but their mistakes tend to be on the aggressive side. Many of the top-ranked players are actually in this category and can make quite a bit of money based on sheer volume alone (i.e. there are guys out there with just a 10% ROI who are making $100k/year because through sheer volume they are playing in $1 million worth of tourney entries).

3) the top-tier, first rate, cream of the crop players - these are players who know the game really well. They quickly recognize stack sizes, position, hand values, and know their opponents' tendencies. They make no errors when it comes to push/fold, restealing, 3-betting light, or calling shoves. They think at least one move ahead and understand how to size their bets so that they can control the size of the pot and know what they will do in response to any possible move an opponent may make. They do not let prior bad beats affect them and can focus on each hand as it comes.

So what's the difference between a top-tier and a 2nd-tier player? The difference between being a top-tier player and and 2nd-tier player is not just playing mistake free poker. The biggest difference is that top-tier players ADJUST their play based on what their opponents are doing. 2nd-tier players often develop a "style" of play that works for them and then just stick to it. For example, late in a tourney a 2nd-tier player in the BB might 3-bet a button raise as a total bluff because he knows that in general a player on the button late in the tournament will try and steal the blinds by raising. However, if this particular button has only attempted to steal the blinds once out of the last 15 attempts, then this 3-bet which generally would be a great play suddenly becomes spew. A top-tier player recognizes that, a 2nd-tier player does not.

Because top-tier players adjust their game depending on how their opponents are playing, they also know how to and will use every single possible play available to them if the situation is correct. Thus while a 2nd-tier player might say that you should "never open-limp hands late in a tourney" or that "you should never minraise," a top-tier player understands that if the situation is right an open-limp or a minraise might actually be the best play.

So what do you need to do to become a top-tier player? I don't think I am quite there yet, so I can't tell you for sure, but I think the first step is to check your ego at the door and determine where you currently stand. If you're a beginning player, you need to play a lot, ask a lot of questions, and just learn the basics. You need to give yourself the time to become a proficient 2nd-tier player. This is a lengthy time commitment - it takes time to truly understand stack sizes, position, hand values, hand ranges, fold equity, aggression, steals, resteals, etc. Once you do reach this level, the next step is to again drop your ego and realize that you can get even better. Not only do you need to play mistake-free poker but you then need to expand your game so that you are playing not just your cards, your position, and your stacksizes, but you are also playing your player as well. I hope to be there soon.

Day off

Another deep run on Thursday and another stupid mistake late (I ended up getting 14th) left me frustrated at myself so I took that night off and didn't play today either. I feel like I am on the precipice of being an elite player if I can just stop making those stupid mistakes late. Playing mistake free poker + getting some run g00t = extra monies. Making mistakes late = added frustration, lost equity, and wet pillows from crying myself to sleep (ok maybe not that bad).

I did go to my home game tonight which I always enjoy (even though I still get frustrated when I lose there too). They are having another one tomorrow night, so I haven't decided if I'm going to play online or take another day off and play live tomorrow night again. Either way I will be playing a full session on Sunday and will get my 200 tourneys in this month.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tantalizingly Close

I have made deep deep runs in lots and lots of big weeknight tourneys and I am just fizzling out before the big money. I have a new ergonomic birthday chair and will just keep plugging away and at some point it will all fall into place again.

One of my buddies won the UB Sunday tourney for over $40k this weekend and although I feel great for him I also obviously want one of this big scores for me again. I haven't had a 5 figure online score since April so I feel that I am due and with the three close calls I have had the last 2 nights, I want it even more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday?

Meh - not really. I totally muffed an opportunity for a really big night when I checked the "call any bet" box w/AQs in the 50/50 on Tilt when I should have folded. I then proceeded to lose every race possible after that and instead of easily making the final table (I had twice the average chip stack needed to make the final table at one point) I went out in 11th.

Other than that one mistake, I am playing super well though. I made the money in 4 of the 8 tourneys I played tonight and I had a shot to go deep in all of them. I made the final table in the $30 rebuy as well so I did show a bit of profit for the night. But wow, I will be kicking myself for a while over the missed opportunity in the 50/50 tonight where 1st place was over 11k and 11th was just $700.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ready for the weekend

I keep getting very deep in some of the smaller buy-in PokerStars tourneys but not deep enough. In the last 4 days I have come in right around 30th place in 4 tourneys on Stars that have over 1400 entries. 30th place is right around $100, 1st place is between $6k and $10k. So getting deep is great, but it ends up being just a waste of time. I know if I keep plugging away I will finally break through - but I still get frustrated waiting for it to happen.

The funny thing is that all of my friends who I speak with daily believe that I am actually really lucky, that I run better than most. Whereas I tend to dwell on how unlucky I am, how I never win races late, how I always get sucked out on late, blah blah meow chow.

Anyhoo, I need to go to San Francisco tomorrow night to help my cousin out and visit with her fam (and my younger sister) so I am going to take tomorrow and Saturday off and then come back raring to go on Sunday. One big Sunday and all my frustrations suddenly dissolve...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Still grinding

I played some of my best poker today. I folded AA twice postflop correctly, I stayed patient when I needed to and made aggressive moves when I needed to. And even though I cashed 3 of the 12 tourneys I played today, I ended up losing money for the day. I am so due for a score on PoekrStars it is crazy. As long as I keep playing like I have been, it will come.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Standard Sunday

Woke up, played 12 tourneys in 8 hours, cashed 3 of them, lost money, played well. That's pretty much how most of my days go, and thus how most of my blogs go. I made this comment on an internet wunderkid's blog yesterday (he is another pro on pokerpwnage who I have only met in passing a couple of times in real life but he seems like a decent kid and I like living vicariously through him):

Being young and untethered by commitments should be a panacea. One reason why I love reading your blog is that I think (usually) you realize this. I was amazed at how many of the internet wunderkids who I saw and met in Vegas this year seem to totally miss that point. They were surrounded by friends, had shittons of money, and had the opportunity to delve into a million off the table experiences. But from what I saw, the vast majority of them went straight from the live tables back to their rooms so they could continue grinding on the online felts. What a waste. Ten years from now you aren't going to remember whether you made 70k or 120k in 2009, but you will remember what experiences you had. Poker should be your tool for letting you experience life to its fullest - too many of your compatriots are making poker THE experience and that's a shame.

And even though I am now old and in many respects, tethered, a lot of this still holds true for me as well. I need to try and keep that perspective and use poker to help me obtain what I want out of life, but I need to make sure not to make it my life. And with that, I am going to go hang out with the wife.

Friday, August 14, 2009


After money bubbling the FTOPS (again) and whining up a storm to Adil, I took down the $20 rebuy on FT for $8k.


Off to do a quick shopping trip and then a home game tonight.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Looking to break through

Today was my only positive day of the week. For a whopping $105, which really doesn't help offset the multiple -$1000+ days I've had this week. I actually won a small tourney on Fulltilt today and got 11th in the Sniper on UB so I still feel real good about my game, but I really need a big score. I have been letting the frustration get to me a bit, so I am taking tomorrow night off and we'll go from there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Midst of a downswing

It's tough because I am playing so well, but just not holding or running well. Of the 7 tourneys I played this afternoon, I took two horrible beats, one bad beat, one cooler (a hand where I can't fold but run into a bigger hand - in this case I had AK and my opp had AA), and couldn't win a race in the other 3. The hard part with downswings is that the only way to get out of them is to keep playing and win, but as I continue to play and take bad beats I get increasingly frustrated. I am really really pleased with my overall play tho, so hopefully I'll get the score I am looking for soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shouldnt have played today

I took a ton of bad beats early and then basically just went into a "screw it" mentality where I just raised a ton of pots and c-bet everytime postflop. The good thing is that I realized that I have probably been a bit too passive lately because a lot of times I was able to just out agg people postflop. The bad thing is that I was in a "screw it" mentality so I didn't make laydowns that I normally would.

Anyhoo, tomorrow I should play a full schedule.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I got 184th place when 162 pay in the biggest FTOPs event that I am going to play this series which was a $1060 buyin. I played pretty stellar (made one small mistake when I had a big stack) and then lost a huge pot late in the tourney when I was a 55% favorite with JJ versus AQ. It's always just such a deflating feeling to play that well for that long and you can't help but get your hopes up that maybe this will be that one glorious tourney where everything falls in place, only to lose when you need it the most.

Meh - it's the life I've chosen. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Another break-even day

I am tired and more than a little frustrated to have played so well on a long Sunday and have nothing to show for it. I made the final 2 tables of the $20 rebuy on Tilt without ever getting it in bad (which is rare - usually to get that deep you need at least one suckout) only to get slowrolled when I had AK versus some internet kid's AA (slowrolling means he hit the timebank button to make me think he had a hard decision to make when he actually has the best hand possible, just to try and piss me off). I also made the money in 2 of the Sunday majors and am playing really well, I just need the run good to hit me square in the face so that I can get a top 3 score in a really big tourney. I am supposed to play a $1k buy-in tomorrow, but if I am not feeling the mojo, I won't play it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Break Even Day

LOL I lost exactly $7 on the day. I lost a big hand late to a retard in the Sniper but battled my way back to the Final Table and then lost a race to finish in 8th. I feel really reallllllly good about my game right now. I am not spewing at all and just running really poorly when it matters the most - I feel like I easily could have made the money in over half of my tourneys today if I just raced better. Tomorrow I am playing an afternoon session and then taking the night off.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

FTOPs and Grinding

So I am now officially back to the grind. I am going to play a full session tonight and then will just keep on grinding. Today starts off FTOPs which is a series of bigger buy-in tourneys on FullTilt which happens either 3 or 4 times a year. Due to a series of cashouts prior to the WSOP and investments in other players, my online bankroll is down to a level where I don't want to take the whole risk of playing $200+ tourneys on my own dime, so I have reluctantly put up a BAP on PTP so that I can still play these events but don't have to absorb all the risk. It has just sold out, so I will play the first FTOPs event tonight.

Other than that, life quickly has gotten back to normal after a nice long vacation. Wake up, surf the internets, walk the dog, try and do some sort of exercise, shower, play online poker, rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Not a bad first day back

I got 3rd place in the Sniper tourney on UB and almost made another final table on Full Tilt in the $30 rebuy, so my first day back was profitable which is always nice. I feel like I played really well and stayed patient and focused which is usually my downfall when I get back to playing after a break.

Tomorrow I am probably going to get some errands done and then play a home game tomorrow night, so I'll be back to the grind on Wednesday.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Back Home Take 2

So I just got back from a week in Hawaii with my wife and my family on my dad's side (my dad, step-mom and their 2 kids, my sister, her husband and their 4 kids, and a random cousin thrown in for good measure). We rented a 5 bedroom house in Kauai for the 13 of us (6 adults, 3 under 9 yr olds, 3 adolescent girls, and one soon to be freshman at UT) and had a blast. The place was right on the ocean and had an incredible view of the Princeville coast and its own pool and jacuzzi. We snorkeled, kayaked, went on a catamaran, did the luau thing, and just hung out and had a good time. Even though I've been on a long break, it still felt good to just relax and not have to worry about doing anything.

Now that we're back, Charmian is back to the grueling hours and I need to get back and put some volume in or I won't have a bankroll to play off of. I will be very upset with myself if I don't get in my 200 tourneys this month. As always, the hard part for me in getting back is just getting my mindset back so that the bad beats don't send me into a tailspin.

On the health front, my left knee continues to be screwed up so I will probably make another appointment to see the doc since the sports I like to play (basketball, volleyball, tennis) all require quick movements and jumping and I can't do either right now. I also want to lose like 10 pounds since vacationing has meant eating a ton of junk. The next two months should be pretty poker intensive so hopefully that will mean more regular updates here.