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Vegas, Baby!

It’s been a long while and so much going on, so let’s cut to the chase! I won a seat to the 2015 Main Event in a satellite tourney back in March… $450 entry… 27 players… winner take all. So surreal. I chipped up early with QQ (turned a set), then got whittled down to about my 300 chip starting stack entering the final table with less than 10 big blinds. The ride from there was a roller coaster as it usually is on the way to tournament victories.

All in with K8… called by Jim Baker’s A7.

All in with A6… called by Miles’ A8… chopped pot to stay alive.

All in with pocket tens… called by Miles’ A6… ACE on the flop!! No! A blank turn, but the river ten (2-outer) saved me.

Another key hand against Miles… I was in the big blind with 22… the board ran out K56K8. Miles made a smallish bet on the river, which smelled like he was begging for a call. Although the bet was small (300 into a pot of about 1200), I would have been left with less than 5 big blinds if I called and was wrong. I called… he had Q9. Phew!

I ran super hot when it got heads-up against Tien… got dealt JJ and TT… then finished it off with 33 versus K5… flopped a 3… Vegas, baby!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Playoffs!?!

Yes, the NFL Playoffs are here. As many do, I often think of Jim Mora’s infamous interview when he was coach of the Colts back in 2001:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7fjDS0jKiE&feature=related

As I write this, Denver shocked Pittsburgh in OT, 29-23… and now gets the prvilege of facing Brady and the Patriots in New England next week.

Here are my predictions for next week:

Baltimore 24 Houston 13… Ravens are too tough at home and the Texans will feel the impact of having an inexperienced QB.

Green Bay 35 New York 17… the Giants are riding high, but the Packers are loaded on offense and their defense will receive a huge boost playing in front of the home crowd at Lambeau.

New England 42 Denver 6… Tebow and the Broncos had a nice season, but it ends here… the Pats are loaded on offense and will score at will at home in this one.

New Orleans 27 San Francisco 23… I’m waffling on this one… can see it go either way, but I think Brees will find a way to take advantage of the weak link in the 49ers defense, their secondary.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Happy 2012!

Good riddance, 2011! Last year will go down as one to forget for most poker players. But it’s a new year and some progress is being made on the online poker front. The Poker King posted an update to the Full Tilt situation this past week:

“Pokernews.com recently posted an interview with GBT (Groupe Bernard Tapie) lawyer Behnam Dayanim.

Dayanim clarified where GBT is currently at in the process of acquiring Full Tilt Poker, saying that GBT/FTP and the DoJ are currently “negotiating and memorializing a definitive agreement” that “essentially sets out all of the details surrounding the terms of the letter agreement.”

Once this agreement has been finalized, Full Tilt Poker’s assets will be forfeited to the DoJ, which will then turn around and sell them to Groupe Bernard Tapie.”

There are still some obstacles to overcome, but looks like players will be getting their money out of their Full Tilt account sometime in 2012. I also expect GBT to get the website up and running (for non-Americans) before June.

It also appears that there are too many opponents (politicians and casino owners, mainly) to online poker in the US, so I don’t expect Americans to be playing on PokerStars or Full Tilt until 2013 at the earliest… hope I’m wrong about that, however. It’s a shame because the governement is missing out on some income that they can desperately use in these tough economic times. I foresee that we’ll look back on this time many years from now and laugh at how ridiculous this has become.

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Online Poker Update

As you’ve probably heard, the two largest poker sites in the world (Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars) had their website shut down in the good ‘ol USA by the US Dept of Justice (DoJ) on April 15, 2011 (aka Black Friday). Both sites remained open to non-US players and PokerStars made good to their American customers and paid them out in full a few weeks later.

Here we are, nearly five months later and Full Tilt has not paid back their American customers. Rumor has it that they owe $150M to the Americans.

To add insult to injury, Full Tilt got shut down worldwide in late June, so many FT players across the world have funds locked up in their accounts. I have $1,150 in cash and another ~200k in Full Tilt Points worth about $850 in tournament tokens… bringing my total cash value to about $2,000. Being shutdown worldwide gives the company no income to speak of.

I don’t quite understand the legality of it all, but the DoJ shut down both sites in April due to “money laundering” and “bank fraud”. I think it sounds worse than it is… no criminal activities took place (in the sense of there being no traditional victim), but the poker sites did deceive the US banks by disguising money coming in and out of their site as “purchases of general merchandise”, such as golf clubs… at least, that’s my understanding.

But why is Full Tilt shut down worldwide? Apparently, they got into hot water with their licensing board (completely different issue than the DoJ shutdown)… long story, short… their finances are FUBAR and they are now looking for an investor to pick up the pieces.

It’s my understanding that their CEO, Ray Bitar, completely fucked up the company’s finances. They were bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars every day, but apparently they blew most of it and then some on marketing and god knows what!

Wow… I’m not sure where this will lead. But I hope a group of investors can get the site back up and running within the next 12-18 months. I suspect that even the execs at PokerStars might have an interest in striking a deal… I would not bet against that.

Then there’s the issue of US government regulation… just a hunch, but it could be at least another 2 years before we see US residents playing on PokerStars or FT again.

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

PAS… Wtf?

With a home purchase on the horizon (hurray), not much to report this month in terms of my activity on the virtual felt. I’m down a little on the Omaha tables thanks to a rough outing one night on a $0.25/$0.50 PLO Hi/Lo table. I took a stab in FTOPS XIX, Event 39 ($216 entry, Limit Omaha Hi/Lo) on Feb 19… and got absolutely annhilated in that one. I flopped trip aces against one guy (with a king kicker), only to have him hit a full house on the turn w/ A8xx. And I got quartered in another pot holding the nut low… just was not my night.

But the biggest news this month in terms of poker is the poor support I’m getting from Poker Affiliate Solutions (PAS). I signed up with them in mid-January to become a “publisher”. What does that mean? In a nutshell, I get paid by PAS if I recruit a new player to sign up through them via my website. The money earned by PAS does not come from the player… it comes from the poker website.

For example, say you entered a tournament that had an $11 buy-in ($10 + $1). Ten bucks goes to the prize pool for the players to compete for, but one dollar is the fee (or rake) that goes to the poker site, such as Full Tilt Poker.

Under normal circumstances, Full Tilt keeps that dollar for general operating costs and profit. But PAS has a sweet deal going… when a player signs up through them, they get 35 cents from that dollar. And here’s the nice thing for the player… PAS gives 27 cents back to the player, keeping only 8 cents for themselves, again mostly for operating costs. PAS even has a $5,000 freeroll every month for new sign ups.

The 27 cents to the player is referred to as “rakeback”.

And me? As a publisher (or recruiter) for PAS, I get 3 cents from PAS, leaving them with 5 cents.

Full Tilt still makes out like a bandit, keeping 73 cents of that dollar, but they do give some of it back to the players over time with their IronMan promotion, “First Deposit” bonus and Full Tilt Points (for purchase of tournament tickets and merchandise). There are even more extras for very high volume players.

But I digress… where was I? Oh yes, PAS and their “support”… when I first signed up with them, I had links set up immediately for new players to click on various poker sites… Ultimate Bet, Cake, etc… but NOT Full Tilt. Here’s a thread I created on PAS’ forum yesterday:

I signed up w/ PAS on Jan 13. After not seeing a link to Full Tilt’s website on my rakeback page, I contacted PAS support and Cena (from PAS support) made me aware of the 2-step process that needed to be done. I took care of that on Jan 21 with the understanding it would take 5-10 business days (to get set up with a Full Tilt link).

On Feb 1, I asked for an update and Cena responded that “this entire process can take 14-21 business days.”

On Feb 7, I asked for another update and got this response… “We’re currently waiting on the next report from Full Tilt, so I would anticipate that once we receive that, barring any issues with your account, you should have your offer enabled.”

At this point, I’m thinking maybe there’s a problem with my affiliate account at Full Tilt, so I contacted them and told them the situation. On Feb 9, Kevin from FT’s Affiliate team responded… “I’m not sure what information PAS needs from us. Maybe they could contact us if they require certain information.”

Fast forward another two weeks… still nothing.

As of today (Feb 25), it’s now 6 weeks since I signed up with PAS and I still don’t have a link for Full Tilt.

Can someone please tell me what the heck is going on here? This is way beyond ridiculous.

Is this utter insanity or what? I’m hoping to get an answer from them soon as I have a $200 freeroll scheduled a week from today on March 6 at Full Tilt… if this does not get resolved soon, I will have to postpone the freeroll.

What a freakin’ pain in the ass this has become… I’ve told several people from my home game about this freeroll… it will suck balls and make me look like an idiot if I have to postpone this.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

I Just Threw up a Little Bit

I played in the $8k Guaranteed Pot Limit Hold ’em tourney last night. It’s “Double Guarantees” week On Full Tilt this week, so this tourney (held each night at midnight Pacific) normally has a guaranteed prize pool of $4,000. What does this all mean? $24 from each player’s buy-in goes to the prize pool and this tourney in particular had 253 entrants… so that should yield a prize pool of 253 x $24 = $6072… but $8,000 is guaranteed, so Full Tilt had to shell out an extra $1,928 and add it to the pool of money that the player’s were competing for… me like. 

I registered about 15 mins late, so I had to wait until I got in the big blind… but it started off with a blast… I got dealt QQ in the first hand. It folded around to the small blind and he raised pot. I re-potted (re-raised the pot limit) and he called… the flop landed:

   

YAHTZEE!

The smal blind checked, so I made a coninutation bet of 360 (1/2 the pot) to not look so suspicious, hoping he held an ace. And then the small blind did the unexpected… check raised me the pot limit! Alrighty then, let’s get it all in 🙂

He turned over Ac 9c for top pair and the nut flush draw. He hit his flush on the turn and I could not re-draw to the full house, so that first hand knocked me down to 550 (from a starting stack of 3,000). Ugh…

But I hung in there, stayed patient, stole some blinds in key spots and tripled up to 1,600 after two key pots… one that was limped to me in the big blind with 53… the board ran out 9393A on that one. Another was min-raised to me in the big blind when I held QJ and I hit two pair in the turn to take that one.

Soon after, I won a key race (AK > TT) to get back to my starting chip stack. I slipped down to 1,900, but doubled up again (AQ > K7).

Then I went on a major heater…

I chipped up to 11,000 when me and my opponent got it all-in pre-flop… AA > AK.

I was up to 18,000 not too long after that w/ TT, JTs (loose/aggressive opponent bluffed into my trip tens on the river) and QQ… all against that same player who had built up a huge stack early on.

I was up to 27,700 not too long after that when I flopped a set of kings on an all-club board… KK > K7.

And up to 32,600 when my AA held on to defeat KK on a 4-heart board (we both held a heart). This AA hand occurred only 25 minutes after the previous AA hand, so I was getting the deck handed to me on a silver platter here.

It gets better…

AA about 7 minutes later… up to 34,600.

AA > AQ, all-in pre-flop about 25 minutes later… up to 54,200. I believe I was the chip leader by this point with about 90 players remaining (we started with 253).

I did not play the typical big-stack-bully style… but generally laid low until I was dealt a premium hand. I got up to 64k with KK > AJ.

I pretty much waltzed to the final table after that… didn’t get dealt much, but stayed out of harm’s way for the most part. I entered the final table with 47k in chips, good for 6th best, just about even with the 7th place guy.

On about the 25th hand of the final table I got dealt Ad Kd… the short stack raised on the button and I re-raised all-in. I had him well covered, but this was a critical hand for me… I’m tied for 3rd in chips if I win and am the short stack down to 25k if I lose.

The short stack called with KQo… YES! Fist pump… please hold… no queens!!

The flop came:

   

NOOOOOOOOOOO!

I could not spike an ace or jack on the turn or river, so this hand left me as the short stack.

With the blinds getting high, I shoved my last 17k about 10 hands later with Kd6d… the small and big blind called. I got knocked out by K4 when the board ran out: 76953

I earned $200 for my effort… but oh, what could have been. Tourneys often come down to that one “make or break” hand. Case in point… the guy whose tourney life was on the line with KQ against my AK went on to take first place for $2,000… yes, two-thousand! Pardon me, but I think I just threw up a little bit 😦

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

WSOP Event 45

I played in my first World Series of Poker event… a $1,500 No Limit Hold Em tournament on June 25, 2010 at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Before I started following poker about 7-8 years ago, I saw the WSOP on television, but didn’t realize there were so many events… in 2010, there were a total of 57 events with a variety of games (7-Card Stud, Omaha, etc.) and stakes (ranging from $1k to $50k, with most being $3k or less). The most well-known tourney is the one shown every year on ESPN… it’s also known as the “Main Event”. It’s the last tournament of the series and has a $10k entry fee.

The tourney I played in was Event 45 (of 57) and with a relatively low buy-in, it certainly wasn’t a prestigious event, but I was excited to play nonetheless.

My wife, Sheila, and I flew in the night before and settled into our room at the Tropicana. After a good night of sleep, I was ready to go and felt great. I ordered breakfast from room service… and after a bit of a delay which had me on edge a little, I ate an egg on a bagel with a V8 Splash… yum.

I shared a cab with another poker player. I think his name was Javier… good guy. We chatted a bit and he actually calmed me down some because he had played in some events before and knew where to go to register… so he led the way and soon afterwards, got in line to sign up.

Right after I entered the room to register, I saw one of the guys from Keith Switzer’s home game in Livermore… Mark Zika. He actually played in the Main Event last year and in Event 42 a few days earlier. He was very cordial and showed me around the place a bit after we signed up.

We still had about 20 minutes before the tourney started, so I went to the Full Tilt Lounge to see if TilterRick was around… I know Rick from the poker forum and have helped him out on occasion with keeping track of online leaderboards for some forum events. Anyway, Rick told me to ask the girls in front to look for him when I arrived, but he had just stepped out, so I decided to go directly to my table and settle in.

On my way to the table, I started to notice some of the more well-known players walking around… Phil Gordon, Jeff Madsen, Maria Ho and Roland de Wolfe to name a few.

I was assigned to Table 224, Seat 10 in the Pavilion Room. This room is massive… maybe as large as a football field, not sure. Anyway, when I got to my table, I was the first one to arrive and the dealer took my entry ticket and checked my ID. The other players arrived shortly after. No one looked familiar… and I was kinda bummed… was hoping to play with a semi well-known player.

But once the cards got dealt, it was all business and I didn’t really care who was at my table… the other nine were the enemy and there wasn’t a lot of chatting going on.

The first 15 minutes were fairly quiet… no huge pots… and everyone was playing somewhat straight forward.

In about the 12th hand, I looked down at pocket aces… my heart started to race a little… do I play it slow? Do I make a standard raise? Hmm…

Well, I didn’t have much time to think about it… I was left of the “under the gun” (UTG) player who opened for a raise to 175 (blinds were 25/50 and we started with 4500 in chips). My first thought is this guy must have a big pocket pair (tens or better)… and was hoping he’d re-raise me with QQ or KK, so I raised his bet to 525.

Everyone folded and it came back to him… I was expecting at least a call, but was hoping he’d say “raise”… he ended up folding! Wow… I was really surprised. What the heck was he raising from UTG that he didn’t want to call there?

I didn’t get much after that to tangle with. I raised pre-flop with Ad Td (ace/ten of diamonds), but laid it down on the flop when I whiffed and another player came out betting.

About 45 minutes in, they broke up our table… on to Table 223… one table over. But by the time I sat down, they broke up that table and I was off to Table 128, Seat 4.

Coming to a new table is a bit unsettling… the best way to describe it is like going to a new school on your first day where everyone is a complete stranger.

After a few hands, I started to relax a bit and noticed the player in Seat 9 looked very familiar. I asked the guy to my left in Seat 5 if he was a well-known player and he told me it was Adam Junglen. I had heard of Adam before and my understanding was that he was a solid, well-respected player who earned his reputation online. I later found out that the player in Seat 5 had some online and live tournament success, Kenneth Terrell.

Soon after coming to this table, I got a visit from Miles and Keith from the MK Poker Club and Tyler from Full Tilt’s forum… it was really good seeing those guys… this also made me feel more at home and relaxed.

The new table was a bit more active than the previous one, but certainly nothing out of the norm… no maniacs at this table. After about 30-40 minutes, I got dealt AdTd in the big blind… I got dealt this exact hand at the previous table, so I took this as a sign to play a pot with it 🙂 The blinds were now 50/100 and the player in Seat 1 raised it to 350 and I called. With 750 in the pot, the flop came T76 rainbow (rainbow means 3 different suits). I checked and he almost immediately said “all-in” (for about 1,800). His bet was for about half my stack. I would have been left with about 2,000 in chips if I called and lost the hand… certainly not a desirable position to be in less than two hours into the tourney.

My first thought was, “he probably has an overpair, so maybe I should fold this”. Then I started to go though some other hands he’d shove all-in with… almost any ace was a possibility… say AK, AQ or A9… 88 or 99 almost certainly. Obviously 66, 77 or TT would have me in bad shape, but I decided to call, figuring that I had a reasonable amount of outs if he had JJ, QQ or KK… and I’d be in great shape if he flipped over AK.

I took about 20-30 seconds to decide. When I said “call”, he said, “Well, at least I know that I went in with the best of it.”… when I heard that, my heart sank, figuring he had the overpair… but he turned over KT and when he saw my AT, he was really pissed off that I took so long to call. He claimed that I “slowrolled” him. Slowroll is a term poker players use when a player has the best hand possible (aka “the nuts”) and he takes his time to decide whether to call or not (kinda like rubbing salt in the wound). Obviously AT was not the best hand possible here.

I was now sitting on a reasonably healthy chip stack, just shy of 6,000.

The player who filled Seat 1 turned out to be Rafal Michalowski. He and I got involved in a few hands later in the afternoon.

I had been playing very tight the first couple of hours, folding 22 and 55 from early position. I decided to be a bit more active, so I raised with pocket fours. again from early position. But right behind me, I got re-raised all-in by Ken Terrell. Ken had not been too active and although he was getting low in chips (~2500), I didn’t want to play such a big pot w/ a marginal hand, so I laid it down after it folded back to me.

Ken again showed some aggression a few hands later… after a couple of limpers, I limped with As Js from the small blind. Ken raised all in from the big blind. I was tempted to make this call because Ken could easily have been making this move with almost any two cards. But again, I decided to play it safe and folded my hand.

I bit later, Rafal made a raise to 450 from the cutoff (one from the button) with the blinds at 100/200. I called with Qs 4c… garbage, but I wanted to take a stand against Rafal who had been raising a lot of pots for slightly more than the minimum. We both checked a 3-heart flop and when the 4th heart hit on the turn, I led out and bet 500 figuring he would almost certainly fold if he didn’t have a heart. He called. I gave up the hand on the river, not wanting to bluff away any more chips. He checked back and flipped over a turned two pair with 9 7.

My stack was now down under 3,000. Since that AT hand, I went card dead. AJ and 44 were the best hands I saw in over an hour. Waiting… and waiting for a hand to play, I folded two complete orbits (~20 hands) . I finally shoved all-in from the big blind for my last ~2,100 with a monster… Ah 5h! I got called fairly quickly by the pre-flop raiser on the button w/ K7. He had a large stack and had decent odds to call. I took this one and doubled up to about my original stack of 4,500.

After shoving with A5, I shoved with JJ after an early position limper and didn’t get any callers.

A few hands later, I got dealt KK in early position. I went to reach for chips to count out a raise, then said, “Eh, I’m all-in.” I thought this would look indecisive and thus, weak… and with the A5 shove and another shove soon after, I thought this would look like a desperation move. I figured to get called by 55 or better. A player in late position tanked for a good 30 seconds… I thought he was going to call as he looked like he really wanted to, but he ended up folding.

I got involved in another pot with Rafal when he raised to 450 again w/ the blinds at 100/200, but this time there was an ante of 25, so with such a small raise, I was temped to call with just about any two… and this time I had Ac 7c. The flop came AT4 with one club. I checked and Rafal bet 500. This is where I got a brain cramp… I folded thinking that I was going to inevitably be committed to the hand… with such a weak kicker, I wanted to move on to another hand and look for a more comfortable spot. Looking back, I have to make this call and evaluate the turn… had a club, 7 or ace hit on the turn, I would have felt pretty good about my hand.

In the 6th hour with the blinds now at 150/300 and a 25 ante, our table broke up and I got moved to Table 92. We all wished each other luck… and believe it or not… it seemed like everyone was sincere too 🙂 It was an enjoyable table for the most part.

I had about 4,000 chips at this point and really needed to catch some cards. The blinds and antes allowed me less than 6 orbits, so I was looking for a double up within the next orbit or two… time was running out.

About the 10th hand in, I got dealt JJ from UTG, so I raised it up to 900, hoping for a shove from someone… but no… a player two to my left raised to 2,500… ugh. This was a brutal spot. I felt like the best I could hope for was AK and a coin flip. I hemmed and hawed for a good minute… I still had 3,000 behind me, so I decided to fold it. Oddly, the raise to 2,500 seemed like it was a bet to lure other people in, myself included… I may have called if he simply shoved all-in, as this would have smelled more like AK.

About 7 hands later, Olivier Busquet raised to 700 from EP and I shoved my last 2,900 with AJ… a player three to my left raised all-in, Olivier folded and I was in bad shape against AK. The flop came 49T and when an 8 hit the turn, I had a few more outs to hit a straight, but the river bricked and I was out.

If I had to do it over again, I would have played a few hands differently for sure… since it was my first event, I think I played a few hands too passively so that I could “stick around longer” and wait for a “better spot”.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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