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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

'Cause Bullet Points are All the Rage

* Still alive. Still very busy.

* I'll be heading out to Vegas again this year for the Main Event, scribbling scribblings for the 2009 WSOP blog at the bwin Poker Blog. I'm actually fairly psyched to go this year, except for the house I'm remodeling that must get done before I leave on June 30th, which is increasingly becoming doubtful.

* Still plugging away at the real estate grind. If real estate is an easy way to get rich quick, I'm apparently doing something wrong.

* Still at the day job. Sweet mother of Jebus.

* Thanks to Al for all his work with the BBT series. I played a handful of events in the latest series, which usually consisted of signing up, getting seated, and immediately thinking "It's late and I'm tired, why the hell did I sign up for this?" and finding some way to donk off my chips so I could go to bed. I did check out the ToC action, as I was playing some other tournies at the same time, and I have to say the finish was about as awesome a finish as could be hoped for. GG actyper, and try not to donk out of the Main Event as quickly as last year.

* Still play a decent amount of the online pokers, mostly at Cake. Final tabled two of their WSOP finals but no love. Did have two nice scores in their bigger Sunday tournies, and a 2nd in a rebuy tourney in the last month.

* Free investing advice o' the day: commodities, ftw!

Best Rakeback

Best Rakeback is yet another player on the poker rakeback scene, offering various rakeback deals (including Absolute rakeback and Cake Poker rakeback) to many of the top online poker sites.

Rakeback deals have grown in popularity and prominence in recent years, and for good reason. Like death and taxes, rake is inevitable no matter what poker room you play at, and can add up to a very sizable amount if you're a high volume player. If you play a lot of poker, even at lower stakes you may very well be generating thousands of dollars a month in rake, money which in the past has typically all gone into the pocket of the online poker site you're playing at.

With a rakeback deal, though, a percentage of that money (usually 20-35%) comes back to you, as sites such as Best Rakeback have emerged that work out deals with the online poker sites to return a set percentage of rake back to members who are players at that site. Instead of losing all the money you play in rake, a chunk of it goes back into your bankroll, which can definitely help to pad your account balance.

Best Rakeback offers rakeback deals at most of the major sites that allow rakeback (including Full Tilt, Cake Poker, Carbon Poker, and others) and members get access to ananimated rakeback graphing system that shows them exactly how much rakeback they've earned at any given point in time. Users can cash out their rakeback direct to certain poker rooms or request payment by check, bank wire, or other payment methods. Best Rakeback also provides members with support staff and a ticketing system to ensure that any concerns or problems they have are quickly addressed.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Five Years? Really?

Once again I'll be making the jaunt out to the WSOP Main Event this summer, for what is somehow the 5th consecutive year. Not really sure how that happened as it seems like just a few years ago that I was going out for the first time but yeah, five years. Wow.

The last few months have been really, really busy, especially on the work front. I spent about a month and a half in Europe during March and April, which was a combination of work (trips to Vienna and Spain for bwin work) and pleasure (vacation with my wife in Ireland and Malta).

We're still on track to make the move to Malta in August, so I've also been desperately trying to get our house in presentable shape to list it for sale at the end of July when I get back home from the WSOP.

After the WSOP the next work trip is GSOP Live Manchester, then WPT Paris not long after that. I should also finally be in a spot soon to do some reporting work solely for the tptk site at some events, which I'm excited about.

I've also been finally kicking the dust off some old projects as well, so it's been a pretty busy few months of late for me, with no break in sight until we finally get settled in Malta.

Upcoming live poker events:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Dude, This Place is Dusty

I've obviously been a bad blogger of late, with nearly two months passing since my last post. Dang.

The waxing and waning of the desire to type into various blogging boxes has always interested me, mainly because of the waxing and waning. Some days the idea of chronicling things that are occuring in real life via pixels and keystrokes seems like the most absolute ludicrous, wasteful activity in the world; other days I miss it and am glad I've done as much of it as I have, as far as a record or journal of some sort of where my head was at during various times of my life.

Needless to say, I've been in a waning state of late, especially in regards to this poor blog in particular. A bit ironic in that I've actually been hitting the poker tables pretty hard the last few months, raping and pillaging the mid stakes ($25-$100 buy-ins) double or nothing SnGs and 6 max SnGs on Cake. It's far from exciting poker but I'm sitting at about 12% ROI over 2,000 or so SnGs, which is nothing to sneeze at, especially with rakeback and bonus cash from rake races thrown in.

Nearing the finish line with the little house I bought at the end of December and am renovating, which has gone pretty much according to plan. Already have a tenant lined up for it, so it's just a matter of getting it done, then moving on to the next project. Which is looking like it may be the house next door, as the abandoned house next to is going to auction at the county courthouse next Tuesday for failure ot pay taxes, and hopefully I'll be able to pick it up for the whopping minimum bid of $6,770.

The economy still seems to be swirling down the drain since my last post, or I suppose trickling might be a better word choice. Sluicing maybe, something between swirling and trickling. I usually am my own worst enemy when it comes to investing but I did manage a few things right during the last six months or so, catching a big piece of the swoon last fall via ETFs such as SDS and SKF, then taking biggish positions in SLW and SLV in early December, and plunked some money into GLD shortly after.

I've been tempted to take profits on the commodity-related positions as I think we're still in for one last big final plunge down to 650 or so on the S&P 500, and until the last few weeks gold and silver had been getting hit as well on big down down for equities. Lately, though, they seem to be bucking that trend, acting more like safe havens when more junk-kicking economic news takes equities to the woodshed.

Who knows, though, really. Not this dumb monkey. Part of me is very tempted to take profits and just let everything set in cash, as taking a position of any sort on either side of any trade becomes more and more like playing blackjack each and every day, with the only winner being the brokerage that keeps collecting their commission rake on each and every pot.

Still have the pleasure of going to the day job, and somehow or other we haven't announced mass layoffs, despite being a publicly-traded company in the financial services/risk management/credit risk sector.

We did have two new additions to the family since my last update. With no further ado, Socrates and Marley: