Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Exhibit A: Online Poker Can Still Be Profitable Even Amongst a Slew of Training Sites and Software Aids

Scene: $50 90 man turbo KO SnG on Full Tilt.


UTG: 110,000 chips
SB: 159,100 chips
Hero, in the BB: 900 chips

Blinds are 2K/4k

Backstory: SB and Hero tangled in the previous hand. On a J 9 4 rainbow flop, SB led out and called Hero's shove. SB held the mighty A4o for third pair and Hero held J9 for top two. An A of course binks on the turn and SB wins the hand, knocking Hero down to just 900 chips. Hero is all-in on his BB the next hand.

1st pays $1,152, 2nd pays $702, and 3rd pays $504. Each KO bounty is worth $8.

Action: UTG open shoves for 110,000. SB thinks for 0.3 seconds and calls. Hero is all-in already for his last 900 chips.

UTG tables A2o, SB shows A7o, and Hero has KQo. Q on the flop and amazingly no A on the turn or river knocks UTG out in 3rd. Hero laughs and laughs and laughs.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

He's blogging! About poker!

How I used to post here daily, I do not know, but one advantage of going months and months without posting is I at least have a things to say, finally, that are actually about poker.

I've been playing more the last 3-4 months than I have in years and years, with pretty solid results. Pretty much strictly MTTs and 90 man SnGs these days, usually in the $25-$100 buy-in range. Right before I went to Vegas for the WSOP I went on a pretty sick run at Cake, final-tabling the same nightly $27K rebuy tourney three nights in a row (finishing 1st, 2nd, and 5th), which brought me some bankroll breathing room for the first time since the Great Cashout when the UIGEA hit the fan.

I've even managed a few consecutive nice months at my old nemesis FT, with a couple of wins in smaller $24+$2 tourneys like the $30K guaranteed, $12.5K KO, etc., and finishing 2nd in one of the crack fiend $55 Super Turbo KOs (prevented from winning it by AA < QQ and KK < 10 8o in consecutive hands). I'm still running the opposite of good in the big Sunday tourneys, but it's nice to string together some pretty profitable months, as getting in a lot of volume has helped I think.

I've been taking poker more seriously of late as a source of income, and to some extent the improved results bear that out I think. Despite being able to take shots in the bigger guaranteed tournaments I've mainly stuck to grinding away, which I had a hard time doing when I was playing less volume. Its easy for my monkey brain to connect the dots when grinding away and making money, as far as that being a good thing to stick to, but easy to stray in the past when I'd go weeks without playing then jump into a $100 rebuy for no good reason, donk off money, get frustrated, not play for a few weeks, rinse and repeat.

The WSOP working trip this year was a good one, especially as compared to last year. No drama or distractions at all on the corporate employer side of things, and we were pretty much completely left alone to do our blogging gig. Run good was also in full effect on the poker side, as I made it to Day 2 in the Venetian Deep Stacks tourney I played in (finishing around 30th for like $950, which was pretty disappointing given the payout structure and the fact I had an average stack coming back for Day 2), finished 2nd in a Planet Hollywood tourney my wife and I entered on a whim, and had decent cash game sessions the three times I played.

The Deep Stacks tourney I played was amusing in a lot of ways, as I'm not sure I've ever been that card dead in a live tourney before, yet somehow managed to scrape my way through to day 2 without ever being dealt anything better than 10 10 the entire tournament (which I flopped quads with when I was all-in pre-flop near the bubble and up against AQo). Plus I got my first ever penalty in a live tournament, and come as close to mad monkey tilt as I ever have.

The "penalty" still chaps my ass a bit, despite the fact that I'm the first to admit that I was at fault. We were about 4 hours into play and I limped UTG with A10s and like 6 people came along, including the BB. A little bit of necessary backstory about BB is that he was one of those people that while outwardly chatty and likeable enough insta-tilts me, as he couldn't sit in his seat for more than 30 seconds at a time. He was forever jumping and walking around after folding, always scanning the room for the cocktail waitress to get another pina colada, and would jump up and disappear for fifteen minute stretches at a time, playing maybe 3 or 4 hands per orbit. Plus when he was in a hand he'd completely cover his cards with both hands, so you never knew if he had cards. (Cue ominous foreshadowing music).

So I've limped with A10 spades in a pot with a million players and the flop is rags, with two spades. I check, planning on check-raising, but it checks around. Turn is a blank that isn't a spade. I check, not really wanting to lead into the field at that point, and it checks around. River is another blank, but it's a spade, and I have the mortal nuts.

I dwell and Hollywood awhile, brow furrowed, then bet three times the pot, thinking the only way I'd get paid at that point is via the stupid overbet route. The next guy to act pauses for just a second and quickly calls, and it quickly folds around to me. I feel bad about Hollywooding in spots like that so I usually very quickly table my hand.

At which point Pina Colada Guy starts squawking and I think to myself "Fuuuuuuuck me" as he still had cards, and was, as usual, sitting with them completely underneath his hands. To be honest it was also my fault as well, as I'd just been trying my best to mentally ignore him so as not to get tilted by his behavior. It also didn't help there were a million people in the hand to begin with, either, as it was easy to think the avalanche of folds on the river was everyone.

So my hand is clearly exposed and tabled, the floor is called, and Pina Colada is given the chance to call if he wants (ha), he mucks, the other guy in the hand mucks, and I get the pot. Plus an orbit penalty for exposing my cards while there was still action.

The floor is nice enough about it at that point, and expresses sympathy for my situation but says that prematurely exposing cards has been a real problem and that regular players hate it so that's why they take a hard stance these days and dole out penalties for exposing your cards, intentionally or not. And I said that I understood that, but with some many recreational players and tourists, it seemed harsh to penalize people on their first offense, and not give them a warning first.

At which point he said that no, I'd been warned. And I really was perplexed then, because I obviously hadn't done that before or been warned. He went on to explain that everyone gets their first warning during the initial tourney announcement of the rules, etc., and that it's a blanket warning to all players. So I got my first warning then, and prematurely tabling my hand was considered my second offense.

That's when I started getting tilty. I'm like, "Okay, I get that I'm being penalized and I understand why, but your policy is clearly to hand out the penalty without a warning first. Just say that's your policy. I know it doesn't change anything but it's dishonest to claim that you're player-friendly on the issue and give a warning first". Which he wouldn't agree with, insisting they gave all players a warning first before any penalties. Obviously a lost cause to continue arguing (and especially be a smart ass about it), but I'd gone from being annoyed with myself to annoyed on general principle against blanket dumbassery like what I was being told. I asked him what if I registered late, or what if I was deaf and couldn't hear the warning; would I be penalized then the first time I accidentally tabled my hand?

And things degenerated from there and he started threatening to make me sit out two orbits so I finally gave up and just went to the video poker bar about ten feet away (the Deep Stack events were so popular the Venetian added tables on the casino floor outside the normal tournament room, and I was at one of those tables), stuck $20 in a video poker machine and got a beer. At some point I looked over my shoulder to see where the button was and the same floor guy was watching me like a hawk, and came over and told me that I couldn't be within sight of the table while I was being penalized.

I'm pretty much the nicest, quietest, non-confrontational person in the world, but that's one of the few times I've just absolutely seen red and wanted to spew obscenities into someone's face. I finally just said that I was fucking drinking a beer and fucking gambling at a fucking video poker machine in the fucking casino that employed him, and that I as going to continue to do that until I could go back and play in the fucking poker tournament I fucking paid hundreds of dollars to play in, and just turned around and ignored him until he finally walked away.

Moral of story? Don't expose cards prematurely in a Venetian tournament. You've been warned.

The other funny poker story was when I was playing $1/2 NL and saw what's pretty much the worst fold I've ever seen in my life. A mid-fiftyish guy came over with steam pouring out of his ears on a table change and slammed down some chips, pulling out cash to top up. The dealer and another player knew him and commiserated with him a bit about idiots who don't know what they're doing, so he was a regular/local of some sort.

I stacked him within abut 30 seconds of him sitting down, as it folded to me on the button with A10o, I raised to $8, SB folds, and he min-raised to $16 from the BB. I obviously have no clue what that means but yeah, I'm calling $8 more based solely on the steam coming out of his ears.

Flop is A 10 4, with two clubs. We get all the money in and he has Ac Kc but the board bricks out and more steam is coming out of his ears as he rebuys and just stares at me going on and on and on about idiots that call re-raises with hands like A 10 o, how he'd be a millionaire if he didn't have such bad luck, etc. he finally settles down and plays for an hour or so and, to be fair, isn't terrible and has a clue what he's doing.

Which makes his final hand all the stranger. I can't remember the exact details, but he's down to like $125 in his stack, and he and a solid younger guy go back and forth with three or four raise/re-raise small/re-re-raise small/re-re-re-reraise small bets on the flop, and his last raise is a weird one that just leaves him exactly $4 behind. The young guy has him covered, but he just calls the last raise, with around $250 in the pot.

The flop is K 8 4, rainbow, and the action is on the younger guy, who flips out $5. And Steamy Ears proudly instamucks JJ face up instead of calling for his last $4 into a $250 pot, and the guy next to me looks at me like "WTF?" and Steamy Ears says "Let's see your aces or kings" and his opponent pauses for a long time, almost doesn't show, then turns over pocket tens. And Steamy Ears just bolts from the table so quickly it was like he was ejected from his seat, with his four $1 chips clutched tightly in his hand.