Friday, July 30, 2010

Two Years

It's hard for me to believe/accept/fathom, but August 1st marks two entire trips around the sun as a professional poker player for me. I'm taking the next 4 or so days completely off from poker, and hope to come back with a clear sense of where I want to go from here. To be totally honest, I'm not very confident a third year is in the cards. I need to answer some hard questions, like "Am I happy, will I ever be, and whats the upside to continuing?"

I wish I had something meaningful or profound to say, but really that's about it. I am seriously considering quitting, and probably would have by now if I had any idea what to do next. Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Do I Torture Myself?

So I arrived at HG today and checked in at 12:06:57 (they have a digital clock above the board). This was noteworthy because my callin time was 11:36, meaning I was due to come off the board in three seconds, which would have left me 5th up instead of 1st for the single 20/40 game.

35 minutes later I'm informed that the player in seat 8 isn't coming back after his 20 minute lobbying time has expired. Someone seat changes and I get the 4, which is currently in the HJ, one seat too late even for me to post in. So I wait 5 hands and for some reason, probably the 45 minute delay, decide to post as the natural big blind instead of waiting one last hand and posting "between", which you're allowed to do at HG and was my custom in the Bay Area (you can't do it at Commerce which is also another reason I sorta didn't bother, I've grown accustomed to taking the natural big blind). Anyway....

My post-in goes off without a hitch; I lose $20 and that's that. So my next hand I am the SB and realize that thanks to the modern two deck shuffling machine system, this hand will be dealt exactly as if I had waited to post until now. Curious....

Someone raises a limper and I behold the 85cc. He gets two cold calls and I chuckle, knowing full well this is a hand I'd play if I only had those 2 more chips out there. But as it is I fold and the pot goes off 5 ways.


I should have not watched. I should have just looked away and let the outcome, to me, remain unknown forever. But I could not look away because I was SURE of what was about to happen. The PFR bet and like 3 players called. Obviously in a pot of this size I'd have peeled for one bet, and honestly considered calling 2 cold. And right on cue.


My check/raise would have been called by 3 players. As it is the river is seen 4 handed.


The preflop raiser's AK takes it down, with one player playing police and claiming a kicker deficiency. The other two players both lament their bad luck in holding JT. Were I in the pot it would have been about 20 big bets, 15 or so of them profit, or two days worth of EV.

Why do I torture myself like this? Why can't I just let it go? I need to learn how, and soon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Briefly Commerce 20. I have just lost a huge pot with ATdd in which the SB just called 3 streets with JJ on a KT9cc-4-9 board, only to lose to megafish's QQ (which also limp/called pf, and called only on the flop and turn). So JJ man is now on the button, and calls my raise after megafish limps UTG. The blinds both call, and my AJss sees a five way flop of:

Kd Ts 6s

3 checks and I fancy a wager with my rainmaker draw. The button calls, the SB raises, and the BB, a Lagrasian fish named KK, three bets. The megafish UTG folds and I cap it up. The button now takes 3 to the chin and both blinds call.


The blinds both check and I check it right back. The button thinks for a second and declares "OK OK" and checks. The blinds both look sick to their stomachs.


The SB bets and the BB raises instantly. I tank, trying to decide how to get the most money I possibly can into the pot and for some reason decide to just call. Logically KK cannot possibly have two diamonds (he c/3'ed the flop and the Kd is on the board...even QJdd has been ruled out) but he's KK and logic does not strictly apply. I figure him for 2 pair or a set of sixes, but am also extremely confident the SB won't fold whatever hand he's got (that for the same reasons is not a flush) for 1 more bet, and maybe just maybe the button will call 2 cold with some retarded two pair like AT. In retrospect it's maybe a 3 bet but no matter.

The button 3 bets. And in the same beat, my head explodes.

The SB folds, KK calls and says "maybe we chop" and I lol and call. The button displays, with great pride, 62dd for the kill.

How About a Sit 'n Go

So I'm sitting here at Commerce thinking maybe I should write about how bad everyone is. Then I realized people are doing absurd shit faster than I can type. Someone has called 3 cold THREE hands in a row. IMR, come on here, I can't be expected to catalogue that depth and breadth of talent.

So Hawaiian Gardens runs Sit n Gos on a daily basis. They have 3 formats, standard, triple up, and double up. I was up 15 bets or so and feeling like ass, but as usual it was 5:30pm in LA county, so I might as well have been in Tiajuana; going home was simply not an option. So I bought into the last double up SNG of the day. The format is pretty simply; ten players pony up $110, and the last 5 receive $200. The chip leader also gets a buyin into some silly tournament, but that might actually have negative value for me as I'd waste my time in it instead of playing 20-40. Most people don't know this but I've played a ton of SNGs online and have like 4 figures of posts in the STT forum on 2p2, so I figured to have at least an edge over the field. Also 10% rake is actually not awful for these, so I probably should be profitable.

We started with 800 chips and blinds of 25/25, with 12 minute levels. Calling such a structure "turbo" would be extremely generous. The speed of play wasn't excruciatingly slow, but it was close, and we were lucky to deal 10 hands per level. I made the first kill when a player mis-fired a single 100 unit chip in an attempt to raise (1 chip is a call in NL) and I raised anyway, hoping he'd think I didn't see his mistake and reraise (since I had aces). He just called and immediately declared all-in on a Jack-High flop. The player in the middle folded and I snap-called to bust his AJ.

At this point I've realized that I don't remember much else. I busted the next guy also then just kind of threw my weight around to steal the blinds a few times. Some idiot called a SB open shove with A6 and managed to crack KK, and eventually the button was all in for 1.75 big blinds and I called with the 73o to try and end it. Of course his Jack high held up UI and we played on. Eventually a player was down to a single 25 unit chip. He tripled up, then inexplicably folded his UTG hand. Someone limped in which is either a brain fart or AA since it was my big blind and I had everyone covered by like 1200 or more, but I opted not to shove my 76o cause I mean it didn't matter I was cashing and even had a lock on the chip lead. So next hand 3 of us are in against 75 chip dude and the guy who beat my 73o bets 400 into a 700 pot on the turn. This is INSANE until you realize he was 700 chips behind me for 1st. He bet the river and somehow got paid off, knocked out 75 chip guy, and collected the tourney entry, which as I said was maybe less than worthless to me so no biggie. The next day during the tournament I dropped $1500 in the 20, so perhaps I was wrong about that but whatever.

Final opionion is that if they doubled the buy-in to maybe $215 it would actually be worthwhile, or at least close, for me to play the events once in a while. On average they take less than an hour and an ROI of 10% should be a piece of cake. But at $110 it's not very close.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Rare Political Message

I received this email ("from Greg Raymer", whom I have met and who seems like a very nice guy) this morning and felt it was worth sharing with my limited audience:

Dear Jesse,

In our ongoing effort to provide PokerStars players with the best online poker experience, we are writing today to alert you to an important vote in the United States Congress that will impact your ability to enjoy poker online. We need your help to support this bill.

On Tuesday July 27th, the House Financial Services Committee will vote on H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling, Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. This bill will secure your right to play online poker in the United States. Passage of this bill is the first step to undo the ill-conceived Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).

Your member of Congress serves on this committee and will vote on this bill, and we need your help.

Please join us and the Poker Players Alliance by going to This website provides you three simple - and quick - ways to contact your Representative and urge their support for H.R. 2267.

On the site, you can either email, tweet or call your member of Congress. It's simple and won't take much of your time. Simply visit and follow the directions.

Thank you in advance for your help on this issue of such great importance to your freedom to play poker on the internet.


Greg Raymer
Team PokerStars Pro
PPA Board of Directors

I would encourage anyone who is passionate about playing poker on the Internet in the future to take 3 minutes out of his/her day to take this small action.

Also I am back from San Francisco.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

So Far So Good

Bay 101 has been great so far. Nobody has thrown his cards or berated the dealer, and I've even played with Woon! My HOTD so far:

Fish limps the HJ, I raise KTo (he's real bad) in the CO, and get 3 calls from the remaining 3 players. Yay.


I even have the Kd. The SB check/raises me, I 3 bet, and he caps. The button and HJ dutifully call every bet.


And the SB checks in what has become a 13 big bet pot. I bet, button calls, SB now check/raises, and the HJ takes 2 more to the dome. The pot is, to quote SSHE, "extremely large" and it's pretty likely that I'm beat. However, I have a million outs to beat even the 98 staight, and with two players padding the pot with obvious diamond draws (or even worse) I decide to kick up one last notch. Everybody calls and I contemplate checking back the river UI until....


Bink. I bet and the SB pays me off before walking away muttering to himself.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Coldness

Most people who talk about the Bay Area disparage it's weather. I lived in San Francisco for 2 years and absolutely loved it. It's never hot. Ever. Except the two days I spent at the Chinese Embassy trying to get the papers to fly to Fred's wedding (fuck my life it was 92 in SF we are talking 100 year flood temperatures here), it's basically 72 tops during the day and drops into the 50s at night. Every, single, day. The last four days down here the average high temp has been 88, and one day there was a thunder storm.

What's the point, you say? My friend Charlie is getting married in a week, and I'll be driving up to San Francisco this Tuesday and staying until Sunday afternoon. Rough plans are:

Tuesday Lunch: Arrive at Bay 101. Make great gambool with Pete. Disparage Hank.

Tuesday Afternoon: Continue Gambool.

Tuesday Night: Sleep on Hank's couch.

Wednesday: Repeat. Sleep in Google lodging. Also at some point Danielle will arrive.

Thursday: Repeat. Pick up college friend at airport.

Friday: Move from Mountain view to San Francisco. Embrace the chill.

Saturday: Some sort of wedding.

Sunday: Drive "home"

At some point I'll also probably show up at The Oaks, which as you can see doesn't really fit into this schedule at all. Drop me a line if you're going to be around, or like, live there.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Poker players like to talk about leaks, or flaws that cause them to lose, or leak, money. Don't showdown enough? Leak. Too loose preflop? Leak. Coldcalling raises? Leak. Not defending your blind enough? Leak. Fan of the Spearmint Rhino? Big leak. One of the best online poker handles I have ever heard was StripClubLeak actually. Heck there is a major function in Hold 'Em Manager called "Leak Buster" that most online players have access to these days.

So what's my biggest leak? Taking a leak. I probabaly miss anywhere from 2-20 hands a day on bathroom trips, and that's expensive.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What If I Start Running Good?

Games like this are why I haven't given up the ghost just yet. This 20/40 that I have been sitting in for the last week or so, relentlessly, for 6-12 hours a day, is beyond words. I've been one outtered, two outtered, you name it. I just set over setted a guy and lost 7.5 big bets to "guy who open limps the HJ with 76 and calls the CO raise, button 3 bet cause I'm flopping a straight". All manner of injustices have been done to me. I've blown back NINE racks in winnings the last 4 sessions. Yesterday I had to dodge 10 outs to win $2200 in the bad beat jack pot and couldn't do it.

And it doesn't matter. I'm still chugging along, winning slowly but surely. There is just no way they can win for very long the way they play. They are so exploitable, so loose, so passive, if I keep my head down, concentration up, and mind clear for 40-50 hour weeks, I am going to get through this. And when I do I'm going to buy a lot of people dinner and drinks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why I Play Live Poker

The last week has been a little trying, but it has reminded me why I play live poker. The opposition that I'm consistently able to face is just beyond weak. They don't have a freaking clue what they are doing. They open limp the button and CO with all manner of hands, from crappy aces down to 65 suited. They cold call with AK, call the cap back to them, then raise the K74 flop, only to check back the turn because well their capping range is exactly {AA} and get upset when their lone opponent rivers a set of tens (your truly folded QQ on the flop in this hand when faced with two cold). I realized after the hand that the guy actually thought he was behind on the turn, which is why he didn't bet. It was a cheap showdown raise, a phrase Captain R has nearly brought into the lexicon of late. They defend their blind with J7o, then peel the flop of KQ5r (I checked back ATo on two more streets and won the hand at showdown). Your 5 card hand is KQJ75 with not even three to a flush. What are you trying to make? Your opponent raised like 4 or 5 seats off the button; you are behind every single hand in his range and often drawing to running cards. To quote Quantum Hoops, "I assume this guy calls the flop just 'cause". The seemingly reasonable among them spew c/r bluff with A7o on the QT6 flop. The same guy donked ATs Q65-9-2 river, and I cringe/called with the K9s. How did he get to the river? Did he think A-high was good? Was he playing WA/WB, assuming I'd call the river with less? They declare "just 'cause it's you" and cold call your UTG raise with 54s. They check/call, check/call, check/call JT in a blind steal on a J65-8-A board and simply can't understand how you, the CO opener, could possibly have raised A8o, bet the flop with air, bet the turn with second pair, and had the audacity to suck out on the river. To be clear from your point of view you had the stone cold nuts on every single street. And to be clearer again all these things are just from memory of YESTERDAY's 20/40 session, and were all hands that went to showdown. I can only imagine what these people are doing the times their cards hit the muck sometime before the river.

This got me to thinking about why it is that people play poker. I don't really have much of a plan for this post, but I'm thinking it should work out pretty well if I have the heart to stick with it for an hour or so, so here we go. Most people play for more than one of these reasons, and obviously they prioritize them differently, but I'll do my best to explain.

1. To Make Money

Of course almost everyone actually has the goal of making money (that is the objective of the game), but there are some players whom admit that they are losers in the game. One player from Commerce stands out, as he often argues with the floor man that he's "spending a lot of money trying to have a good time" and "shouldn't have to put up with this shit." But people like him are definitely in the minority. The real difference along this dimension is how important results are to individual players. There are guys like me who are doing this "for a living" or whatever, for whom sadly the bottom line really does matter. Babar is constantly harping on me to not check my results, to stack my chips such that I don't know how I'm doing, to cover my stack with my HUD when I play online, but to be honest some of this stuff just isn't viable. I need to make money playing this game, or I need to quit, and it's as simple as that. If I'm not 100% but the game is still fantastic I need to gut out another hour or two at three quarters impulse power. If I wake up and don't feel like playing a lot of times that's just too bad. So an important skill for me becomes recognizing when I'm not in tip top shape and adjusting my play to compensate. Do I really need to open KJo UTG at a full 9 handed table? Not right now. I do things to keep myself out of trouble by dropping marginal hands that have (probably) become unprofitable given my lack of 100% A-game.

2. To Get Better or Crush Souls

On the other side of the coin there are players for whom the money really doesn't matter. Captain R is an example of this type of player, someone who is in a sense a "recreational" player who happens to be frequently the best player in the room. The Captain has never played poker full time, but consistently logs 10-15 hour weeks while holding down an extremely respectable career. He has built up his bankroll starting as low as the games come, playing live 2/4 (and passing on 3/6 seats) years ago, progressing up through the green chip games, devastating the 20/40 and now playing as much 40/80 as he possibly can. The sick part is that he's really just done all this for the sake of learning to play the game. Now of course he would never have put this much effort into learning how to play Yahoo Euchre, but the fact of the matter still is quite simply that the money just isn't that important to him. He has truly learned to separate his results from his actions, and this has allowed him to thrive. He never plays when he's tired or not up to 100%. He also doesn't worry much about seat or table selection; he'll happily sit in a crappy seat or bad game so that he can learn how to deal with the situation. In short, his hourly rate is very low on list of factors he considers when he walks into the casino. All that matters is that he's 100% and ready to crush some souls, and therefore he more often than not does exactly that.

3. To Do Cool Stuff

KitCloudKicker comes to mind here. He's a very interesting poker player because he strives to think outside the box and discover situations in which he can deploy interesting and non-standard lines, usually in an attempt to exploit the living ba-jesus out of his hapless opponents. In a way this sort of falls into the previous category, but with some players you just get the sense that they're almost being contrarian just for the sake of it. Someone like Kit also abhors anything resembling a starting hand chart or anybody who responds to a question with something glib like "raise, you have top pair!" without providing any sort of justification. In short, he hates wrote memorization or any sort of situation in which he would play methodically or, dare I say, robotically. The players like me, for whom making money is a number 1 priority, have to embrace times that they can play methodically. If I'm in a super simple game with no players prone to fancy plays and random trickery I rejoice in my good fortune. For the next hour or so my brain will not be taxed. I'll be able to relax, make straightforward value bets and folds, and should show a tidy theoretical profit. A situation like this would likely bore Kit to tears, while Captain R would be basically indifferent to it, just like he always is.

4. To Make Friends, Be Social, or Simply Have Fun

To be perfectly honest, a lot of people (fish and otherwise) are at the casino specifically for this reason. Part of the reason I used to love live poker is the social interaction it provided, both with my opposition and friends that I made such as Pete and others in the Bay Area. I know lots of good players for whom the game really is just for fun. These players vary greatly in their desire to improve, and are motivated differently by different things. For some simply losing for a few weeks straight is enough to make the game no longer fun. For others losing is fine, but having to deal with a few real jerks in their game might make them take a few days off. I believe that if you ever lose this motivation completely you're not long for live poker.

Now there are lots of other (extremely bad) reasons that poor players play poker. The rush of gambling (which for me is actually a negative), to escape from their home lives, as an excuse to drink, etc, etc are all high on the list of reasons people drive themselves to the casino. There must be some other reasons that good players keep coming back as well, but those four seem to be germain (sp?) to me specifically. As I said, most players probably rank them differently, and to be quite frank the lower down you can place the "making money" goal the better off you'll likely be. For me poker is a constant struggle between the short, medium, and long term. The short term goal for the day is to play 8 hours of live 20/40. The medium term goal is watch a DC video, make some strategy posts on 2p2, and in general improve myself. The long term goal is to get enough relaxation and balance in my life that I continue to be happy with what I'm doing. It's a constant struggle, and just like any endeavor effort spent on the short term doesn't pay compounding dividends, but is an easy way to trick yourself into believing you're being productive.

I'm looking for a way to wrap this up, but I've got nothing. Good luck to everyone I know who's still in the ME, and well done to those I know who busted out yesterday. There, that was nice.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I Missed These Guys

Online poker just doesn't provide this level of awesome. Yesterday:

The CO is posted in and we have ourselves a 5 way raised pot. I have ATo in the BB and the raiser is in EP and has a better hand than me. Like not a stronger range....every hand in his range has me beat. CO just calls the raise and the button folds.


All 5 of us check. LOL OK.

KQ6-3 putting two hearts

4 of us check and the CO bets. I've never seen him before and this is his first hand, but he has either a fresh heart draw or a set of threes right? I call knowing everyone else is folding. They all do. The river bricks off like a black 8 and I call him again and he shows me AKo that he checked back the flop with 5 ways and didn't 3 bet preflop. I mean wow....

Then already today.....

I open JJ in EP and the BB defends. He donks the KJ8hh flop and I just call. Maybe bad but online balance issues are swimming in my brain. Turn is a blank and I get to raise/4. River is a card and he call/rage-mucks. So he donked two pair? A set of 8s? Way to go champ thanks for the 260 next time I fastplay your donk I pinky promise.

Random Bullet Points

1. Soccer is still stupid. I really don't care what anyone else says. I read this somewhere, perhaps a random quote on two plus two, and thought it was about accurate:

Soccer is like Twilight. They run around for 2 hours, nobody scores, and two billion fans insist that you just don't appreciate it's beauty.

2. LeBron James is an arrogant ass. I have a pretty high tolerance for "me me me me" type athletes, but freakin' wow this is another level.

3. My attempt to play online full time basically didn't take. I didn't play a hand of serious stakes live poker from June 22nd to July 7th, and basically got run over in the online 2/4 and 3/6 games. I don't think I am currently capable of the mental fortitude required to play at an extremely high level (for me) for thousands of hands per day. Like I believe that if I game/seat select well and play only 2-3 tables at once for only a few hours a day I'm likely a pretty solid winner. But when I started forcing myself to play for 6+ hours a day running 3-4 tables at once and the like I believe I slipped from A game to B or even C game, and that's just unacceptable. So....

4. Yesterday I went back to HG for the first time in two weeks. The games were exceptionally soft, and my plan for the near term is to crank up the hours/week to Legendary level and basically just play through it. I may even check out the Hollywood Park 15/30 game, which I've heard is superb and goes every day, but only on one table. There was only one Oaks 30/60 and that didn't seem to hurt it much.

5. Vegas was great, and Leo Doc will be publishing a trip report of either Epic or Legendary proportions very soon. So you're probably gonna have to read about it from him...don't worry I'll put up a link as soon as he starts.

6. Yesterday I weighed 166 pounds. Today I weighed 169 pounds. This sort of proves my theor that Las Vegas just sucks tangible life directly from your body. Back in LA for 36 hours I gained 3 pounds and honestly didn't eat very much yesterday. So I've gone from having this thing completely locked down to needing to get back on the stick quickly and lose a pound a week for the remainder of the challenge.

7. Professor Ben and his roomie, Card Sharp Cook, ONE TWO-ED the limit hold'em shoot out even at the WSOP. In the history of the WSOP I am willing to bet at even money that such an accomplishment has never before happened. Ben is an old friend of mine who hosted the "most fun home game in which I have ever played" back when he lived in the Bay Area, so super props sir congrats it was much deserved.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Just a heads up that I have been in Las Vegas since Saturday morning. I'll tell tales later, but last nights $2/$4 limit holdem line up was Leo Doc, Private Joker, Big Bad Babar, Hammerin Hank, Captain R, me, Danielle, Doug L, Joe Tall, and OnTheRail. Always practice good game selection.