Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nothing Doing

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Nothing new to report, really . . . Work continues to be my bad beat . . .  I've been getting in at 7:00am and leaving at 8:00 or 9:00 pm.  At the moment, it's summary judgment motions.  We had just gotten done opposing a bunch of motions the first two weeks of February which were due the 10th.  That night, after the last briefs were filed, I took off for AC late in the evening.  By the time I rolled into Showboat and checked my e-mail, Villain had filed 4 new SJ motions, all of which are due this Friday.  And, once these oppositions are filed, it will be time to hit the road for depositions (all told, it looks like 23 during March /April).  Not looking forward to that.

What I am looking foward to is hitting the tables again this weekend.  I was planning on heading to AC to play the Nugget's Saturday noon tounament.  But I'm not sure I'll have the energy to drive up to AC Friday night, or the will to donk off some cash at BJ or VP at Harrah's, which is sort of necessary to keep the comped / semi-comped rooms coming.  So, instead, it's back to Delaware Park.  This Saturday, Del Park is running its monthly $340 tourny ($25,000 guaranty).  $20,000 starting stacks and 30 minute levels.  I plan to play that event, and then, depending when I go busto, either the regular 7:00 pm or the 10:00 pm deepstack turbo.  And then, Sunday, it will be the regular noon tournament.  Eventually, I'll get back to the cash games; but, for the moment, the tournaments have proven fun.  Plus, I need the experience in the event I choose to play a WSOP event or two this summer.

Happy Wednesday, PPP

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

President's Day Tournament Bonanza

Well, it wasn't Vegas; but it wasn't bad, either.


Friday evening, after working with our local Denver counsel to file some opposition briefs, I got a late start to Atlantic City at around 7:30.  The advantage to leaving late is the absence of traffic.  I pulled into Showboat (my comped home for Friday night) by 11:30, checked in, and quickly set out to earn some sweet, sweet tier credits donking video poker and the occasional slots.  I started with a crisp $100 in a 10-handed Joker Poker machine, but could neither win nor lose.  As my first beer of the evening drained, boredom set in.  It was time to up the stakes -- the Platinum Hits Slot Machine seemed like the right play.

For some reason, I can't get enough of Platinum Hits.  For the uninitiated, the game plays much like any other modern slot machine.  You press the button, various icons spin around (numbers . . . symbols . . . pictures . . . ), and when it stops, sometimes you win . . . and sometimes you lose.  After several years of playing, it all still seems random to me.  For instance, sometimes you'll hit five dollar signs ($) and win a nickel.  But then you hit three dollar signs, a cherry and the number 6 and win $40.  I've stopped trying to understand.  I just press the button, take a sip of adult beverage, and wait to see if the machine pays me some nickels. 

On this evening, the Showboat's Platinum Hits machines treated my well.  I quickly pulled a $221 hand:

I collected my winnings and went over to the Mr. Cashman machine.  Now, if the Platinum Hits is confusing, Mr. Cashman is an unsolvable riddle.  In fact, I defy ANYONE to explain to me what the f*ck is happening with this game.  There are numbers . . . there are letters . . . there's dynamite . . . there's a bird in a cage . . . there's a host of other cartoonish characters . . . and then, of course, there's Mr. Cashman who, on occasion, pops onto the screen simply for no reason and starts spewing cash.   Yeah, it's sort of fun . . .

I played Mr. Cashman for about twenty minutes before the confusion of it all started making me dizzy.  It was time to return to Platinum Hits.  I sat down, pressed the button a few times, and promptly got paid:

Yes, slots gambling is just that easy . . .  By 1:00 am, my crisp $100 bill was now a $435 slot voucher.

I cashed out, returned my original hundred to my wallet, and decided to "free roll" some black jack.  Showboat owed me some rungood after my MLK Weekend debacle.  Showboat delivered, as I quickly turned $300 into $500 and decided to call it a night.


I drove over to Harrah's the next morning, grabbed some breakfast, and walked to the Golden Nugget for the "grand opening celebration tournament."  The structure was fantastic - $160 got you $25,000 in chips.  Blinds started $25 / $50, and increased at 30 minute levels.  The scene was chaotic.  The Nugget has 20 tables, and they were expecting 70 to 85 entrants.  Instead, there were approximately 150 seated by the noon starting time, and the registration line still wrapped around the corner.  Ultimately, the floor capped the event at 200, and had to pull in additional dealers from the pit and get creative with the chip stacks to make sure everyone got their full $25,000.

The cards finally hit the air at 12:30, and I chipped up to $27,000 during the first level without ever having to show a hand.  Given the slow structure, and the fact that the floor was predicting the event would last well into the next morning, I decided to head over to Harrah's to check into my room before the blinds increased too much.  When I returned, 40 minutes later, level 3 was just completing and we were on break.

Following the break, I reclaimed my seat, and focused on building my stack for a long, long run.  Three hands later, I was out the door:

Blinds are $200 / $400.  My stack is $27,000.  I'm big blind and look down at AA.  Middle position limps for $400 . . . fold . . . fold . . . the cutoff raises to $1,200 . . . fold . . . fold.  The action is on me.  I three-bet to $3,800.   Middle position folds and cutoff flat calls (I have him covered . . . barely . . .).  Heads up; it's on.  Perfect.

Flop comes out 9 2 5 rainbow.  I check, and begin down a path to ruin that ends with nearly all my chips resting across the table from me . . .

Villain checks the flop back to me.  Turn is a Q.  I wince a bit internally.  QQ is smack in the middle of villain's range.  Of course, I have little information on the cutoff at this stage of the event.  But, he's middle aged, dressed conservatively, and has played very few hands to this point.  In my mind, his range is TT, JJ, QQ, KK, AK.  I check again, and this time, Villain bets $6,800.   I call.  I really think Villain has pocket queens.  I can feel it.  I'm beat....

We head to the river.  I've got $16,400 in front of me.  River blanks.  I take the opportunity to make what might be the dumbest move I've made in a year.  I decide to throw out a small "blocking bet," hoping that if I am beat, my small bet may "block" my Villain from making the much LARGER bet that he otherwise would make had I just checked to him.  Also, if he comes over the top of my small bet, I pretty much know I'm beat.  Yes, I was actually thinking all this at the time....  Following through on my plan, I bet $6,000.  Villain promptly moves all in.  Fuck.

I'm soooo beat.  This particular villain is not shoving KK as an over pair, and he's certainly not overplaying AQ.  I'm beat.  BUT, here's the beauty of my blocking bet --  there's now over $40,000 in the pot, and, thanks to my bet, I have only $10,400 left.  It costs me a mere $8,000 to call Villain's all-in.  In short, I can't fold. 

I say, "show me your Queens," and call . . . .  He obliges.  My stack is down to $1,800.  I fucken suck at poker.

Two hands later, I'm out the door when my 99 gets called by AT and the board runs K 4 Q _ 7 _ J . . . .

In retrospect, I'm not sure the AA v. QQ ends any differently if I play the hand like an actual poker player.   I doubt he folds if I bet the flop.  In fact, I asked him after the hand, and he said he probably would not have folded.  But, poker players lie.  Who knows what he would have done.  Chances are, he calls a 3/4 pot flop bet with his over pair.  He still has a very strong over pair on a dry 9-high flop, and I could have very easily three-bet pre with TT, JJ or AK or AQ.  A lay down to a continuation bet would seem very weak.   Was my "blocking bet" completely retarded?  No doubt.  But, assuming I don't lead out, the pot is $21,600 and he probably fires a 3/4 bet ($7,000 or so).  I have to call.  So, best case, I probably end the hand sitting on $9,000.  Still a playable stack . . .

Sure, the hand was bad luck - I lost to a two outer.  But I still feel like its inexcusable in a tournament with such good structure to lose nearly an entire $27,000 stack with a pair so early on . . .

I finish 194 out of 200, and slink back to Harrah's feeling like a donk . . . the rest of my Saturday is a blur . . .


I woke up Sunday in better spirits and decided to seek redemption.  It was back to the Nugget for the Sunday event.

                                    (View of Revel from the walk to the Nugget)

The Sunday structure was also good.  $15,000 chips and twenty-five minute levels.  The event drew 98 runners.  I had an interesting table draw, which included the winner of the Saturday tournament (which, incidentally, ended at just before 3:00am), two dealers from Harrah's and a dealer from Borgata.  I feel like I played well.  I did not get many playable hands, but also didn't make many mistakes and maintained a good table image.  Ultimately, I fell short of the money, finishing 16th (9 spots paid).

My overall thoughts on the Nugget were quite positive.  The floor had some issues on Saturday given the size of the turnout, and some of the dealers are very, very fresh.  But the staff was friendly, the tournament structure top notch, and the room absolutely beautiful:

Looking forward to playing the Nugget's deepstack again on March 3rd . . .


I left AC Monday morning not quite ready to return to reality.  And, why should I . . . particularly with Delaware Park running a noon deepstack event.  I drove the hour and a half South, and by 11:00 I was registered and ready to make one more run.

Del Park runs some of the best tournaments in the country.  This was no exception.  A holiday Monday, $100 buy-in, and the event drew 409 runners.  Just awesome.

Starting stacks were $15,000 and blind levels twenty-five minutes.  Another great structure.  I played a couple of hands prior to the first break, and each was a monster.

Hand One -- blinds $25 / $50, and I'm in position with 99.  A few limpers, a raise to $175, and I repop to $400.  One caller -- a dude fully decked out with hoodie, sunglasses and baseball cap (with hoodie pulled over hat).  I mean, where else do you see this aside from a poker table?

Flop comes 978 rainbow.  He checks.  I bet $650.  Hoodie calls.  Interesting....

Turn is a 3.  I lead for $1,700.  Hoodie calls.  VERY interesting.  Did he flop the straight?

River is a 7.  Um.  Cool.  I bet $2,500.  Hoodie tanks  . . . and re-raises to $6,000.  Thank you.  I try and look a bit concerned before shoving my stack.  Hoodie grunts out an insincere "nice hand," as he mucks.  Nice start to the event.

Hand Two. A few levels later, Hoodie and I go at it again.  This time, I'm in the big blind with 72 spades.  I'm intent on folding.  Of course.  But one person limps.  Another min-raises to $400 . . . three callers later and I'm ready to take a flop for another $200.

Flop comes out 9 high, all spades.  Jackpot.  Pot is $2,200, and I lead out for $1,600.  It folds around to my friend Hoodie.  Hoodie tanks, and shoves his last $8,000.    I think this is a fairly easy call, particularly against this villain.  So, I do . . . and Hoodie flips AK with the ace of spades.   Keeping the drama to a minimum, the fourth spade hits the turn and I'm returning the chips I had previously borrowed.

Hoodie and I get into it a couple more times over the next hour.  He gets the best of me on both occasion - first, with his A8 out-kicking my A6, and then with his KJ beating my pocket 77s as a jack falls on the river.

Suddenly, thanks entirely to my new friend, I'm down to $5,500 chips and sinking fast.  Time to double up or go home.  I choose to double up.  Multiple times . . . 

I first double up with JQ.  I open from hijack for $2200, flop top two, get it in on the turn against AK, and fade the T on the river . . .

Second double up is courtesy of my old friend, Hoodie, who at this point, is bullying the table, sitting on a big stack, and bragging about how he owns multiple restaurants and is looking to hire someone to supervise all his various lackeys for him.  I hate Hoodie.

I look down at AK . . . Hoodie raises to $2,600 . . . I shove for $8,200 on top.  Hoodie says, "this is a loose call," puts his chips in, and flips AT.   Suddenly, I'm back to $22,000 and have chips to play with again.

After a table change, I hit my biggest hand of the tournament.  I open to $6,000 with QQ.  Yes, the hand that caused my demise Saturday . . .  Two callers.  Flop comes down QQK.  What?  I look again.  Board remains the same - QQK.  Villain 1 checks, I check, and Villain 2, who has me covered, fires $17,000.  I try my best to look concerned . . . cut out $17,000 in $1,000 chips . . . gaze at what would be left should I lose the hand . . . think a second more . . . and call.   Turn is an A.   F*ck!!  I hope that doesn't freeze the action!  I check again.  It doesn't.  Villain two has AK and shoves.  No need to Hollywood here.  I snap call and am sitting on $100,000.

A couple hands later I make a move with AJ.  A preflop raise and a call.  I check raise my Villain on the flop for $30,000 with A-high and take down a nice pot. 

With the blinds at $2,000 / $ 4000, I repop TT from the small blind and take down $16,000 without a flop . . .

Shortly thereafter, I get my second table change and claim my new seat sitting on $152,000 -- well above the $61,000 chip average, with 132 players remaining.   Of course, with only 45 cashing, plenty of time remains to self-destruct or to just get unlucky.....

With the blinds at $3,000 / $6,000 ($500 ante), I start bleeding chips after a card-dead orbit or two.  I decide to make a move in the next hand or two, to at least steal some blinds and antes.  As luck would have it, I actually get a hand -- ATo.  Older gentlemen directly to my right min-raises to $12,000.  I think about popping it, but decide to flat.  Flop comes out A 7 2.  Old man bets $12,000.  I call.  Turn blanks.  Old man again bets $12,000.  I've had enough.  I shove.  Old man calls all-in for another $30,000 and flips A5.  Hell yeah!!!  I'm counting my new stack of over $200,000 chips when the 5 falls on the river . . . Just like that, I'm down to $74,000, which is slightly LOWER than the chip average.  Poker is a funny game.

The rest of my tournament becomes a quest to survive past the bubble as I'm card dead, short stacked, and no real threat to anybody.    Eventually, I find myself 15 from the money, sitting on $40,000 in chips, at $1500 / $6000 / $12,000 . . .  I need to shove a hand just to cash . . .  I strike a bit of luck when I find QQ in the big blind.  I shove it, but can't even get a call from the small blind, who folds a "big ace . . ."   Still, the $19,500 I steal helps.

My stack soon dwindles back down as I can't even find a shovable hand . . . a constant barrage of T6, 92, J5 . . .  I find myself sitting on a paltry $24,000 . . . I need (NEED) to shove before the blinds come back around . . . Hell, the min-cash ain't much; but after 8 hours, I need a moral victory . . . Mercifully, an eruption occurs at an adjacent table . . . the bubble has burst.  Down to 45.  Moral victory achieved.

Two hands later, I shove A6 and get called by A9 . . . the ace on the flop is of no consequence, and I'm heading for the cage to collect my cash . . .

A fun weekend of tournament play in the books, its now back to the grind . . .   



Friday, February 17, 2012

Golden Nugget Deepstack

It's sort of beyond argument that the Golden Nugget is the jewel of Freemont Street (although, that's probably a bit like being crowned "prettiest girl" at the American MENSA Ball).  Currently owned by Landry's Restaurants, The Nugget is actually a pretty cool place, and has been nicely renovated. 

Recently, Landry's bought the old Trump Marina in Atlantic City.  Trump Marina was a dump, to put it mildly.  Now known as the Golden Nugget AC, Landry's has been steadily renovating the joint, giving it a feel similar to its property on Freemont Street.  Notably, Landry's added a poker room.  It's actually a decent set up.  The room has, however, been lacking in one area -- players.  I walked over from Harrah's opening night to check out the space, and there was a lone table playing three-handed.  Apparently, things have not improved since.  Many nights, not a single game runs.   I guess it ain't easy running a new poker room in the shadow of The Borgata.

Well, apparently, the Nugget is getting proactive in its efforts to build the room.  This weekend, it's hosting what looks like a couple of great tournaments.  Structure looks fantastic:

It will be interesting to see the turnout.  Especially since Delaware Park is running a Deepstack series this weekend as well.  I will definitely be buying in to tomorrow's event . . . 

Well, a few motions to file this afternoon, and then its zooooom to the Jersey Shore . . .

Wishing a dose of rungood to those playing this weekend


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Desert Deferred

Just cancelled tomorrow night's flight to the desert and my three-night reservation at Aria.  In short, work is crushing my spirit at the moment, and the prospect of flying to the west coast for a mere three days and being out of the office Monday didn't seem right.  So, instead, this weekend will be a quick trip back to beautiful Atlantic City.  Instead of spirits at Nine Fine Irishmen, it will be beers at Eden Lounge . . .  rather than lunch at Todd English P.U.B. at Crystals, it will be Bills Burger Bar . . . instead of the Aria Daily, it will be the 2:00 pm at Showboat . . .rather than dinner at Striphouse, it will be Morton's at Caesars (ok, things could be worse . . .).   Yes, being a (semi) adult sucks sometimes. 

While I feel like whining a bit more, in honor of fellow blogger, grrouchie (See Confessions of a Local Fish), I'll just leave you instead with this:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

One Last Orbit (Redux)

A few months ago, I wrote a post about "one last orbit" syndrome. If you play much poker, you've caught it once or twice. You rack your chips, get ready to walk, and look down at a GIANT hand. You play it out, and some one cracks your KK or AA and you end up leaving the table far lighted than planned.

Well, this afternoon I'm finishing up a quick 3 hour session at Delaware Park. My TAG Attack had worked again. I'm sitting on $835 ($535 profit) when I rack my chips (two racks, thank you), and attempt to make my escape as the big blind arrives. I say to Mo, the dealer, "I'm out". But Mo doesn't hear and deals me in. Rather than have the hand be a misdeal, I post my big blind. What's $2? But I tell Mo, "if I get my Aces cracked I'm gonna be pissed."

Six people limp in for $2 and I look down at my hand. You betcha - AA. I toss out the "extra" $35 from my rack of redbirds neatly lines in hundreds. Several players shoot me a smile; it folds around and I toss my AA face up into the muck, and tell Mo to keep the 14 whites in the pot. The hand cost me two bucks, but it was worth it for the story...


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Running Like God at The Chuck

Went back the The Chuck this weekend. I got in to town late Friday night and played $1/2 from 11 to about 3:00am. Was up over $100 at one point, but walked away up a mere $11.  It was late, and I felt like I was not playing my best, so I called it quits before digging myself a hole.

Saturday morning, I got up after 3 hours sleep.  I was hurting.   I drove across the street to the McDonald's drive through and ordered breakfast. Went to pay and realized I had no cash and only a couple of black chips in my pocket.   Luckily, I had a bunch of quarters in my car (usually dedicated to tolls on the AC Expressway). Paying for breakfast with loose change - not a good start to the day.

I hit the table at 11:00am feeling tired and looking to put in a short session before heading home. The cards hit the air, and I immediately began the sickest run of premium hands I've ever caught. It began with pocket KK twice in the first four hands. I was in the big blind for the first set of cowboys. Middle position opened to $12 and the hijack called. I repop to $30 and both call. Flop comes out dry; I fire out $75 and take it down (not going to let someone chase an A).  (+$55)

Two hands later I look down at KK again. Early position bets $15; this time I flat in position. Board again runs out dry. Villain bets $25 and I call. Turn blanks and villain slows down. I bet $60 and villain calls.   River is a K.  No draws have hit.  Villain Checks and I bet $85. Villain sighs and says, "I have to call..." I show top set and villain mucks. (+$240)

15 minutes later I look down at JJ on the button. Six people limp and I decide to play the hand small and limp (a raise might have gotten 4 or 5 callers and I did not want to create a problem spot with a mediocre hand). Big blind raises to $18 and it folds around. I briefly consider re-raising, but end up mucking. Too soft?

A few minutes later I'm dealt AJ. I limp in out of position (I've been limping with AT and AJ from early position often lately.  It usually lets me see a flop cheap, and I can get away from the hand with little damage if I miss.  When I hit, I tend to play it a bit slow and, quite often, I ended up trapping a weaker A . . .).  The flop is A4K flop. I lead out for $10 and get three callers.   While I'm confident my A is best here, I don't want to build a big pot and get beaten by some random two pair hand.  Turn bricks and it checks around.  River is a 5.   I check call $20 and take it down. ($290).

Shortly thereafter comes the most painful hand of the day.  I'm forced to fold A6 hearts to a $17 pre flop bet.  Raiser gets one caller and the flop comes out J high, all hearts. F*ck me. Hand turns out to be a set of JJJ against pocket KK and the money goes all in on the turn.  I can only watch and imagine what both their chips would look like added to my stack.  F*ck me....  As an aside, oddly, I ended up with  A [x] hearts 6 times over the course of the afternoon.  I was able to limp in with the hand once, and missed.  Every other time I folded to a raise or limp folded to a fairly large raise (e.g., $12 or more) preflop.

Ten minutes of so after mucking the nuts, I'm dealt AA oop. I raise to $12 and get three callers. Flop comes AJ9 (two spades). Not the ideal flop for top set. I decide to play it fast and bet $27, which takes it down. (+$320)

Shortly thereafter, I look down at AA.  Again.  UTG+2 raises to $12 and gets two callers. I'm in the small blind and repop to $45. Middle position calls, while other two fold. Flop is 662 (two hearts). Still smarting from my cracked AA's from two Sunday's ago, I lead out for $75 and take it down. (+$400).

I scoop my chips, and while typing notes on my AA victory, I look down at my next hand. AA....AGAIN!  Two hands in a row.  A $10 bet, a call, and I re-raise to $28. Get a call from the one guy at the table as deep as I am - a solid player. Flop comes down 492.   He checks to me and I decide to play pot control.  I check.  Turn is 7. Villain bets $35.  I just call. River is a T. Villain bets $60 and I tank for a moment and think about the hand.  Board is somewhat coordinated.  I don't think villain would have called my three bet with J8; but he seems strong and appears to want a call. I really think I'm beat, but I can't lay the hand down for $60.  I call.  Villain shows KK and I take another hand. ($+520)

In just over two hours, I'm dealt KK, KK, AA, AA, AA...and they all hold up.  I haven't lost a single flop . . . Given my profit and the fact that I'm running on very little sleep, I decide to make it a quick session (albeit not quit a "hit-n'-run"), and head for the cage.

In two weeks, I went from being down over $1,200 for the year to just shy of even.  Feeling confident that I can reach the black next weekend.  I feel like I ran bad most of January (losing some big hands to runner, runner, et cetera).  HOWEVER,  in retrospect (and after considering some comments on this blog), I also feel like I may have enabled Villains to be in position to get lucky, mainly with poor bet sizing.  Hopefully I've sealed this leak. 

That said, I question whether I might be playing TOO tight lately.  Two issues:

FIRST, I feel like I've virtually eliminated most suited connectors and A/K suited hands from my range.  Tables, recently, have played somewhat aggressive preflop, eliminating the ability to limp with these types of hands.  Thus, when I've gotten into the action, I've typically had a pocket pair or some combo of broadway cards.  It hasn't hurt me at this level, but I can't imagine this type of game working at $2/5 or higher.   How do people typically play these hands?  Assuming an early or middle position limp is unfeasible, do you simply save the 89 suited kind of hands for late position, and then open them with a raise?   Is limp-calling from middle position ever right?  Say, for instance, when you've got 4 or 5 people taking the flop?  It's been a while since I've read Harrington.  I almost feel like maybe its time to reopen the book and see if I can apply some of his theory to my current game.

SECOND, I feel like I may be three betting the range of QQ, KK, AA (and sometimes AK) too often.  I'm three betting this range nearly 100% of the time in early or middle position with players left to act.  I'm also three betting when there are two or three callers already in play.  The more callers, the bigger the raise.  I feel like the only time I'm not three betting this range is when I'm in position against the lone raiser (and maybe one caller).  While this approach has been working (and, typically getting a lone caller heads up to the flop, which is ideal), I feel like I'm playing my cards face up if anyone is paying attention.   Of course, I will sometimes open my range a bit to include AQ, JJ, TT . . . but those hands are few and far between.  Is three-betting this range, in this manner, the kind of move that only works at $1/2?  How do people like to approach this range preflop?

Appreciate any thoughts.