I’ve been on an insane run at the limit tables

I am absolutely killing the 30/60 game at Party these days.  I’ve finally hit the point where I am immune to the ups and downs and believe that I am completely playing my A game without regard to the money.

I made a correct calldown with Queen high in a blind steal situation that I am very pleased with.  The player in question defends his BB like it is a personal insult that you raised and he check-raises the flop 100% of the time.  The flop was J54 and I had QT so I called the check-raise.  He insta-bet both the turn 9 (which I could easily call with my oesd and probable good pair outs) and the Ace on the river.  He is one of those players who will only bet the river with a really strong hand or a bluff.  Given the pot size and the fact that I really thought he was at least 25% to be bluffing here, I called with Queen high which was good.  It did seem to encourage some people to value bet the river a bit more, but I’m very rarely calling down with Queen high and I didn’t mind.

Anyhow, I’m up a substantial share of the direct buy-in for the WSOP ME since my last post and it seems to me that it would be smarter for me to just play ring games and buy in directly than to waste a lot of time playing sats.  Even if I don’t move to 50/100, I think I can easily generate the buy in.  I’ve also had three different people express an interest in buying a piece of my action (probably fueled by the guy on 2+2 who just won the Party Poker Million and won a bunch of cash for his backers).  I think I might be willing to sell 30% or so of my action, but I think I’d only want sell relatively small pieces to any one person.  A friend at work wants to buy half of my fee, but I don’t think I’d be comfortable putting so much of another person’s money at risk.

I’m also thinking that if I play in the Main Event, I might also want to play in a preliminary event, just to get used to the environment at the Rio.   Maybe I’m crazy today.  I have to think about it some more.


Man, I’m grumpy

I have a wicked cold that is just annoying enough to make me feel miserable and not quite serious enough to let me lay at home and watch bad TV.  I’ve been working very long hours and sleeping infrequently.  I haven’t even been able to play in a bunch of the ITH events this week and it is making me unhappy.

If it wasn’t for the donkeys at Party Poker dropping money in my lap, I wouldn’t have anything at all to say. I was in a very juicy 30/60 game the other day with a super-LAG who was mindlessly aggressive post-flop.  I destroyed him the day before, so I was looking for him.  He joined a table that was just forming up and I quickly claimed a seat just two to his left and was pleased to see that he had some chips.  He raised pre-flop from UTG+1 (like he does pretty much any time he gets two cards) and I 3 bet with 33 (which was, I admit, pretty crazy too, but I’m confident that I’m ahead and will get value here).  Unfortunately, another player cold called from the Button and we were three to the flop.

To my delight, the flop came down 932r and I just smooth called, hoping that Button might have caught a piece and try to hurt my fish. Button didn’t play along, so I only got 3 SBs on the flop.  The turn was an 8 completing the rainbow and I raised the LAG, losing the Button in the process.  I was slightly suprised when the LAG 3 bet, which means he either had a nine or a real hand.  I, of course, capped it up.  The river was lovely second nine, filling me up and hopefully giving the LAG trips.  He check-raised me, confirming he held the nine, but lost the courage of his convictions when I three bet and he only called.

Shortly thereafter, he limped with Q8o and I called in the SB with QTs.  The board had two Queens and I took the rest of his stack.  When he left the table, the sit-out icons lit up the board like a Christmas tree and we all moved on to greener pastures.  Good times.


Back in the ring

I’ve been playing a lot more ring games lately, partly to chase the Party poker bonus and partly because I’ve felt so sharp in them the past few days.  Although I’ve been running good, I’ve also been playing very well and I’ve had a lot of fun.  I’ve been beating 30/60 for an unsustainable 6 bb/100 for a week or so and that always make playing more fun!

I figured out that when I was playing a ton of ring games, I tended to get a bit lazy about table selection.  I’ve been much more careful the past week to look for my buddies and be patient on the wait lists for a good tables.  I even watched one table for four orbits while I waited for my seat and I had some great reads by the time I sat down.

I’m giving very serious consideration to playing a few minor events at the WSOP by just directly buying in.  At this point, I could afford to buy into the main event and still be more than adequately bankrolled to keep playing my current games, but I’m just not sure I’m willing to invest that much cash in such a crapshoot.

I was the points leader in the big Sunday VIP event, but I forgot to register this weekend.  I was planning to buy-in and just sit out and see if I was still in contention.  I obviously should have done so, because I’m still third even with a big “0” for last weekend.  Oh well!

I had a great long weekend in NYC.  I met up with Rocketplayer from ITH and had a great time in general.  We ate at Morimoto’s new place in the Meatpacking District.  His food is as inventive as it appears to be Iron Chef.  We had an amazing meal with a great mix of sushi and Western influenced food.  The presentation and attention to detail was phenominal.  The building was also impressive, with interesting design touches that held the noise down while preserving a very modern and clean line.  It is very much on my short list of places I’d be very happy to go back to, even with as many great choices in New York that we have not yet done.


Rethinking my WSOP qualifying strategy

As many of you know, my strongest game is full-ring limit hold’em. I’ve been focused on playing MTTs lately, primarily because of the ITH league, but also because I’ve been having a lot of fun playing in other tourneys. With the Stars and Party reload bonuses, I went ahead and dropped a few more bucks at each site. I played for a couple of hours last night at each site and won about $1,000. Obviously, this is not a sustainable win rate (I was up about 12 BBs in an hour at 30/60). But it seemed almost like I was supposed to think about my approach to getting into the WSOP. I’ve played a zillion hours to maintain my status as a participant in the minor event freeroll in the league. In two hours, I’ve basically locked up half of that prize. Hmmm.

I also felt very sharp, perhaps because I haven’t played limit poker in a while. I found two excellent additions to my buddy list and had a lot of fun with people trying to run me over. People are 3 betting pre-flop very light at the 30/60 game on Party these days. It can be a good play against some of the very aggressive players you find there, but many people are doing it indiscriminantly. A first-in raise from MP3 or the CO could be almost any two cards, but a raise from a tight player in EP needs to be respected. Here are some examples:

  • MP2 raises first-in, MP3 3 bets with KQ (lost to ATs)
  • Ultra-tight UTG+1 raise, 3 bet with AQ (lost to AA)
  • MP1 raises first-in, CO 3 bets with AT (and beats QQ)
  • UTG raise, MP2 3 bets with trash he folds on flop.
  • MP2 raise, Button 3 bets with AJ (and loses to my TT)
  • UTG+2 raises, MP1 3 bets with AJs (and beats KK)
  • Ultra-tight MP1 raise, 3 bet with AT (loses to QQ and KK)

This doesn’t count the legit 3 bets or the hands that didn’t show down. It was a fun table. Two of the players were berating each other with “river rat” being the preferred term of abuse. As usual, they were neck and neck for worst player at the table honors.



I finally won a seat to the Main Event freeroll in the ITH league. I had been close a number of times and I have won two freeroll events, which don’t come with an automatic seat. On Sunday, I managed to win the VIP event. In my mind that is the best event on the schedule, so I’m particularly pleased to win my way in with that one. I didn’t even play nearly as well as I have in some other events, but I got the right lucky breaks at the right time. I got very lucky with three players left, when I put DTheater on a pure bluff. I came over the top of him on the turn, expecting he would fold. Unfortunately, he called, so I knew he had a piece of the board. I think he would have pushed with a big hand, so I figured he had top pair and kicker problems or middle pair that he thought was good. I rivered the Ace, knew I was good and put him all-in on the river. He had to call getting a jillion to one and I took a massive chip lead heads-up. I got evv98 all-in right away as a favorite, but he hit a hand. I still had him outchipped by a ton, so I put him in again with middle pair a few hands later. This time he had an oesd, an overcard to my pair and maybe a flush draw too. However, he didn’t improve and I finally won a seat. w00t!

I also hit my 10,000th post on ITH which was pretty cool. It has been a real ego boost to read all the congratulations and nice words that people have written back. I told Cybrarian I was thinking about dropping out of ITH once I hit 10,000, which seems like it would be cool to me for some odd reason. I don’t think he thought I was serious, but I was. In the end, I don’t think I would be willing to do it, but it still seems cool to me.

I also played in a WSOP Double Shootout on Stars, which I think is probably one of the best routes (if not the best) for me to win a seat. I got pretty unlucky at my first table, though. On the very first hand, I folded Ax UTG. Then five people limped, which seemed pretty typical of a first hand low blind set-up. The SB then raised large, something like 400 chips. To my great suprise, three other people called him. There was a big pot brewing on the first hand! The flop came down T98r. The SB pushed his remaining 1,100 chips to the middle. In about two seconds, the action went call – call – fold. This is a $160 buy-in event and I didn’t expect to see this kind of action on the first hand. The BB flips over KK, which is aggressive, but understandable. He didn’t want anyone to draw to a straight with AQ or the like. The first insta-caller called with TT for top set, so yeah — he should have called. The second insta-caller called with QJo (yeah, I’m not sure how he got into that spot with QJ, but whatever) so obviously calling with the nuts wasn’t a difficult choice either. The turn was a rag, so the TT needed the board to pair on the river, but instead it brought a King to taunt the SB. Boom, one guy at the table has 5,000 chips and we’re short-handed. Not exactly the way I’d like to see things go. He then hits a set a short while later and busts out another player. Now he’s over 6,000 and has half the chips at the table. I fold a lot, miss a few flops and drift down to about 1,200 chips. Finally , I find AA in EP and raise it up. Mega-stack calls me (he’s been calling and pushing a lot of hands, now that he has chips to burn) and one or two others. The flop comes down 466. I fire out half the pot and he calls. I figure he could have a pair, a four, a six or a straight draw or even overcards. The turn is a Ten and I push. He calls and shows 64o for the flopped boat. I might as well have lit the money on fire. Oh well.

I’ve also started to think that it might be possible to catch Ohjay for the big prize in the ITH league. I think people are starting to adjust a bit to his play and he has started to have some bad luck and has made a few small mistakes. I’ve gained a lot of points on him the last two weeks. However, his dominance was so complete in the early stages that it may simply not be possible to catch him.


Here’s another guy to pimp

Tommy Angelo is an amusing regular at 2+2 who writes amusing posts on poker strategy and life.  He is another limit grinder like me, which I like and he has a kind of attitude that makes me thnk we’d get along great.  He offers some very expensive poker coaching experience which I think I’d really like to do one day.  I almost never check his site, because he rarely updates.  But I discovered a new article on folding which is excellent.  Someone on ITH has a quote from Tommy in their sig.  Something about walking a mile in the other guy’s shoes because by then you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.
Pimping oher people’s work is much easier than writing my own content, I have to remember that.

I missed the ITH event last night, so I consider my final table streak unbroken.   There are two events today and I’ll probably blow it in one of them.  I’m more convinced than ever of the value of taking risks early and I think that is bound to blow up on me sooner rather than later.


Still cruising in ITH events

I made another final table last night, extending my streak to 7 in a row. For the week, I earned over 1,100 points. Had I won every single event, I could have won a max of 1,296 so that is as close to perfect as I’m ever likely to get.

I didn’t have nearly as good of a performance last night, though. The structure at NoblePoker was brutal, with the blinds rising very fast and only starting with 1,000 chips. I felt forced to make very aggressive plays in situations where I would rather take a more careful line. I got someone all-in with TT on an all rag flop. Unfortunately, he had KK. I got extremely lucky and hit a ten to knock him out of the event. I know I also won a critical hand when I was dominated by a better Ace, but hit my kicker. I still haven’t secured a seat at the WSOP freeroll, but I’m on the leaderboard for almost all the events this month, so hopefully I will have a shot to win one as the monthly point leader, if nothing else.

I also found a brilliant post by Felicia Lee on Fish Psychology that is excellent on multiple levels.  I’ve pimped Felicia on ITH before, I really like her a lot.  She reminds me of our own Tanya in many ways — they are both skilled, outspoken women and they are solid poker players.  I’ve played stud for a long, long time in home game settings, but Felicia has taught me a bunch of stuff.  I’m anxiously awaiting Part 3 of her Stud series.  Read Part One and Part Two if you haven’t already.  She also posted some strong opinions on what makes a good poker blog, at least 80% of which I break on a regular basis.  While I’m doing a best of Felicia post, I should also point out that she introduced me to some good O8 links too.

Anyhow, the main point of Felicia’s new post is not to tap the glass, but she does it in a fresh new way that might turn the light bulb on for some of you.  I share her attribute of being pretty much untiltable at the poker table (although I’m also pretty calm off the felt, which doesn’t seem to be the case with her).  Her point that you have a much smaller edge than you think (she says 5%, maybe I’d go a bit higher), so you shouldn’t be upset when you get bad beat.  It is, in fact, the beauty of the game.  If the fish didn’t win a lot of hands, they’d stop playing in a week.

You have to learn to think like the casino.  When a mark hits the progressive slot jackpot (the equivilent of runner-runner straight flush to beat your quads), the casino doesn’t cry and moan.  They revel in the winner’s good fortune and chat it up with him and everyone within shouting distance.  They know that he will come back and grind his money away drip by drip, just like the rest of the fish.  You should learn from their example.  Congratulate the fish — don’t berate him.  Make this the story he lives off for the next month, while steadily draining everything he won and then some to you and the other sharks like you.

Don’t taint their infrequent suckouts by taunting them.  Let them make it the happiest memory of the night!  They can forget 50 lost pots for 1 BB a shot and focus on the 25BB pot that they won.  We’re happy with their money and they are happy with their big moment.  Even if this is the night that your cards never come in and you drop 50BBs to them, don’t be an idiot.  The long run is months away and you’ll have the best of it.

Anyhow, Felicia said it better.  Go check her out.


Running very hot at ITH league events

I have made the final table at the last 6 ITH league events, including a first, a second, a third, two fifths and a eighth place finish.  Two of those fields had nearly 200 runners.  I really feel like I’ve been playing very well, in addition to getting lucky in the right spots.  I really enjoy that we get to play the same people over and over and I think that has been a big factor in my improved performance.  I haven’t been able to translate this into any seats to the main event freeroll, but I’m in very solid position to get into the secondary event freeroll.  If I keep playing strong, I will have to make a main event seat somehow.  There are a lot of ways to get there.

I just finished an event where I was heads-up at the end.  I got all the chips in pre-flop with AK, but he had KK.  Ooops.  No Ace rescued me.  Soon thereafter I got all-in (now well covered) with my own KK against Ax.  Of course, an Ace flopped.

I was completely unconcerned about the outcome, though.  I feel very confident that I’m turning up the aggression when I should and backing down when I should.  I did get bluffed off of one pot by a strong all-in move on the river where I was ahead, but I didn’t have the heart to call it with AQ unimproved.  The other guy had AT unimproved, so my hat is off to him for that one.  When I’m applying pressure I tend to get bluffed a bit more than other players, but I also tend to get paid by marginal hands, so I guess you have to take the bad with the good.

I’ve also developed a serious addition to Guitar Hero which is a phenomenal game for the PS2.