Saturday, January 26, 2013

It Can All Be Over In An Instant

End stage tournament life is fragile.

This evening's 7:00 pm at Del Park drew 105 runners.  At 1:40 am, I stood outside in the 17 degree evening, getting some air during the break.  We were nearly 7 hours into the tournament.  When we returned to the tables, blinds would be $6,000/$12,000.  Average chip stack was $112,000.  I was sitting on $123,000, and feeling fairly good about my play.  But, with 13 players left, and only 10 spots paid, a cash was far from a good bet.

This year, I've vowed to stay aggressive in these spots.  No folding for a min-cash.  I want to be chopping.

First hand back from the break, I look down at QQ.  I open from the cutoff to $34,000.  The small blind calls.  The flop comes out Ace-high.  Of course.  Small blind shoves for ~ $100,000 or so.  I fold.

Two hands later, I'm sitting on the button with $90,000.  It folds around, and I look down at AT spades.  I raise to $32,000.  Small blind shoves  and has me covered.  I know I'm likely behind, and quite possibly dominated.  But I have to call.  Big blind flips KK and I don't catch my three outer.

To the rail in less than 5 minutes . . .

Live From Del Park


Just bounced out of the Noon $150 before the second break.  Wasting time before the 7:00 PM.

Nothing went right this morning.  The first real hand I played occurred at $200/$400/$50.  I raised a limper from middle position with KQ and got another caller.  Three to the flop:

J 9 T rainbow.  Nuts.  Limper bets into me for $600 and I flat.  Caller folds.

Turn: J.  Dude leads again for $800.  I flat.

River is a 9.  Can a board get any worse?  Villain leads for $2,200.  At this point, assuming he caught the flop, I'm beating AT or KT.  And, I doubt he would donk bet three streets if he were that weak.  Fold.  Perhaps I should have re-raised the turn.  But, I'm not sure that would have taken it down, even assuming I was ahead at that point.

Second hand played:  AJ diamonds.  Blinds $300/$600/$75.  I raise to $1,500 and get one caller.  Flop is 5 3 9.  Villain checks and I bet $2,000; villain calls.

Turn is a 7. Villain checks, and I check.

River is an A.  Villain leads for $2,500.  I call.  He flips 64 for the turned straight.

A few hands later, I wake up with QQ in the big blind.  4 people limp for $600.  I pop it to $3,200.  It folds to the button, who calls.  Flop comes down A-rag-rag.  Of course.  I decide to act strong and bet  $2,800.  Villain calls.  I'm done with it.  Turn blanks and I check-fold.

Now I'm sitting on 1/3 my starting stack, and have to play super TAG.  Twice, I folded Ace-rag to raises.  Both times, flop came out AAx and neither player had an ace.  Of course.  Meanwhile, jackasses are winning pots with T5 suited, etc.

I go card dead for about an hour.  Nothing.  Finally, two minutes from the break, I shove 34 spades from the small blind after a min-raise and three callers.   One dude calls me, and flips A8.  I turn a flush, and he rivers a boat.  Donzo.

On the bright side, I can't really run worse in the 7:00pm.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Future(s) is Now

Some quick odds and ends:

Vegas Futures:

When I was in Vegas over the summer, I placed 5 futures bets at PH:

1.  Cinci Reds NL
2.  Detroit Tigers AL
3.  Saints NFC
4.  Ravens AFC
5.  USC National Champs.

I tried to avoid anything not paying at least 5-1.  That meant no Yankees . . . no Patriots, et cetera.  I believe USC was the only instance where I violated that rule.  But, sometimes, when a wager is such a sure thing, you have to make an exception.  Yes, thank you, Southern Cal.  First, you gave me Mark Sanchez.  Then you blatantly stole my money.  What's next?  Maybe the Jets will trade down to take Matt Barkley next year . . .
Anyway, the Tigers cashed at +550 (I'm still pissed I did not take them in June when I was in town, and before they started heating up).  I was freerolling after that.  And, when Baltimore hit the skids, I figured I'd be happy to just break even.  But, as things tend to go in the NFL, the team from Charm City got [lucky, Mile High . . . and then . . .] hot at the right time.  Sunday's AFC cash at +700 results in a nice profit.  I'll first be back in Vegas in March for conference finals weekend, and it's always nice to roll off the plane with some winning tickets to cash . . .
Harrah's Tier Structure:
If you are reading this blog, then you likely already know this:  Harrah's changed its tier structure for 2013.  Now, Diamond Status will cost you 15,000 tier points (up from 11,000).  However, in effort to encourage more volume play, Harrah's is offering bonus tier credits.  If you hit 500 credits in a "day," generally from 6:00 am to 5:59 am, you get an extra 125 credits.  If you hit 1,000 in a day, you get 1,000 bonus credits.  And, if you somehow hit 2,500 in a 24-hour period, you get an additional 5,000 tier credits.
So, as a sucker for a good challenge, I rolled into AC this past weekend determined to pull 1,000 tier points in a day.  By way of disclosure, my usual combination of poker (which nets a whopping 17 tier credits an hour) and VP and slots donking, usually nets me about 400 to 500 tier credits a day.  Sometimes, less.  In fact, in December, I spent four days at Harrah's AC and only earned a total of 1,000 points.  Also by way of disclosure, last year I somehow actually hit just over 15,000 tier credits for the year . . . and ALSO hit platinum at MGM . . . yes, I was a busy degenerate.
So, Friday night I rolled into AC at about 9:00.  My strategy was to play nothing but Jacks or Better ("JOB") and perhaps some bonus poker (so long as two pair paid 2-1).  I actually stuck to the plan, grinding mainly 10-handed and 100-handed, at $5 a pop.  It took only 6 hours, and cost $175, to hit 1,000 credits.  And, the next morning, I woke up and had 2,083 tier credits banked.  Success.
Showboat Tournament Saturday
Saturday, I spent the day playing tournaments at Showboat.  It sucked.  During the 2:00 pm, I had three playable hands over 4 hours: AK, 66 and 88.  I somehow made it to the third break, but I was never really "in it . . ."  I took down a nice pot with the AK hand.  It was raised preflop, got two callers, and I three bet from the Big Blind.  Original raiser called.  The flop was A Q 3.  I lead the flop, and villain folded.
I also won with the 66 hand.  Again, I three-bet preflop.  An initial raise was followed by two callers.  I had so few decent hands, that I decided to play the 66 a bit agro, as set mining seemed too weak given the circumstances.  I was hoping to take the hand down preflop.  But, if unsuccessful, I could always play it like a big ace, et cetera, depending on the flop.   I actually got one caller, and the flop was A J 2.  It was checked to me, I fired, and dude folded.
The biggest hand of the day was complete thievery.  I had 95 off in the big blind.  A dude 4 seats to my right kept min-raising all fucken day.  So, of course, he min-raised this hand, and got a caller.  Blinds were $1,000 / $2,000 at this point.  So, after the small blind folds, there's $11,000 in the pot (including my big blind) and it costs me another $2,000 to call.   This was the third fucken time this dude's min-raise had put me in this spot over the past 3 hours. 
So, I call, and the flop comes down KK6.  The initial raiser checks, and I decide that I am playing this hand like trip kings.  Caller checks and I check.  Turn is a Q.  Initial raiser checks, caller bets $4,000.  I tank a minute for show, try and obviously "count the pot" in my head, announce a raise . . . and fire $15,500.  Initial raiser insta-mucks, and villain says, "well, I guess you have the king," and folds.  This hand kept me alive for a while longer.  I kept waiting for the rush that never came.
Finally, with my stack dwindling, my friend, Mr. Min-Raise, does his thing again. I look down at 88 and shove.  One other guy calls.  Flop blanks.  Villain and Mr. Min-Raise "collusively" verbally agree to "check it down."  Nice.  Turn was a J, and river was a Ten.  Caller had AK . . . Mr. Min-Raise had KT and rivered the winner.  Donzo.
Harrah's Tier Point Challenge - Take Two:
Sunday, I made a play for 1,000 points again.  The day did not start out as well.  I began with a cup of coffee and a little bit of a game I like to call "Tier Point Roulette."  Basically, I play the video version of the game, and bet $10 on Red, and $10 on Black.  Each spin nets a tier credit, and you get your bet back so long as you avoid the Green.  First spin of the day - Green.  Minus $20.  Um.  OK.  I put in another $20, and six pulls later . . . you guessed it:  Green.  Variance kicking a little ass.
So, I returned to my old friend - JOB.  Now, Harrah's AC only has two hundred hand VP machines.  And they are not both equal.  One of the machines actually has better odds than the other.  Specifically, Bonus Poker on one of the machines pays 2-1 for two pair.  The other pays even money.  So, I head over to the two machines, which sit side-by-side, and find that the "good machine" (ahhh, "dem good machines . . .") is "out of order."  So, I move to a ten-handed game.  A few minutes later, I look back and see dem good machine in action.  An hour later, it's out of order.  An hour later, it's back in action.  What the f*ck?  It turns out, some "Seven Star" was grinding dem good machine.  And, when he wanted to take a break, he called the slot tech over, who put the "machine out of order" for him until he decided to return.  I'd never seen this before.  Seems sort of fucked when, as in this instance, there's really only one playable machine in the entire casino.  But, I guess Harrah's takes care of its Seven Stars.
Anyway, I ended up grinding the requisite 1,000 credits, although variance roared back a bit and it was more costly the second time around.  And, to boot, thus far, the 1,000 bonus tier credits have yet to hit my account.  I'm skeptical that they ever will.
All told, I was able to pull 3,563 tier credits for the weekend.  Only 11,437 more tier credits away from another year of free parking and a continued sense of false superiority over all you mere gold and platinum players . . . 
In short, it was pretty much a wasted weekend . . .

ETA:  I just checked Total Rewards again . . . it took two days, by the 1,000 bonus tier credits from Suday were added to the account.  Sorry for ever doubting you, Harrah's . . .

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Back from the Dead"

Those were the words of the endocrinologist this morning at Triple P's three-month follow-up after being diagnosed with diabetes late summer.   Yes.  Seriously.
In August, at the time I received the news, I thought I was in fairly good shape.  I was 39.  I had been running three times a week or so.  I ate relatively healthy - lots of salads, very little junk food.  I had lost 10 pounds since January and felt like I was close to making a run at "fighting shape."  Then I got the diagnosis . . .  It's depressing when you think you are already living a healthy lifestyle and then you get the news that you have to clean up your act.  What more can you do?
Try harder.       

Since August, I've made further lifestyle changes:  (1) a very clean diet: 100 grams of carbs or less a day; high protein; lots of steamed vegetables; no sugar . . . fruit is the most "unhealthy" thing I eat these days; (2) increased exercise (typically an hour of lifting and 20 to 40 minutes of cardio 5 or 6 times a week); and (3) greatly reduced alcohol consumption. 
As a result, and since August, I've dropped another 15 pounds.  Body fat went from 20.5% to 16.5% (my current goal is 15%).  And, surprisingly, the "diet" is not an effort at all.  I don't really miss anything.  My biggest difficulty nowadays is finding enough food to eat (when you greatly reduce carb consumption and eliminate sugar, there ain't a whole lot of things left to eat . . .).  I'm working on adding calories -- protein shakes, nuts, greek yogurt, etc., as necessary to build muscle and hit that 15% goal. 
Perhaps more importantly, AC1 (a measure of blood sugar) went from 9.3 to 5.6.  And triglycerides (essentially, blood fat), which should be under 100, when from 900 (yes, that's not a typo) to 85.
Not only have I managed to avoid insulin to control the diabetes; the doc even cut the oral meds (metformin) in half.  Perhaps, with continued effort, the diabetes will be controllable through diet and exercise alone.  Time will tell.
So . . . all this means Triple P may have some years of poker left to play after all.  And, in that spirit, I recently booked my summer 2013 Vegas trip:  11 days at Aria, July 3 through July 14th.  Already looking forward to seeing some of you at the tables!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

In the Black

Drove out to Dover for the first session of the new year.  After four hours, I found myself down $60.  Then this weird hand occurred:

I'm in the small blind with A6 spades.  Five people limp.  I complete, and big blind checks her option.

Flop comes down AAK.  I check, and it checks around.

Turn is a 6.  I check again, figuring someone has to at least take a stab at the pot.  But it checks around.

River is an 8.  I lead for $12.  Fold.  Fold.  Fold. Fold.  Fold.  Button RAISES to $25.  Interesting.  Button has about $150 behind after his raise.  I figure he has a big hand, but doubt he limped with AK after 4 limpers.  I raise to $75, hoping he shoves.  He snap shoves.  I call.  He tables 66 for sixes-full.

Not sure I played the hand particularly well, but it worked out.  If I bet the turn, we end up in the same place...

After starting 2012 in a $2,000 hole by the third week of January, it's nice to jump out in the black...