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LAPC Day 3: $350 Triple Stud @ Commerce

January 17, 2018

So I ended up showing up for this tournament about five minutes late. I was about to hop on I-5 and my blood sugar was showing a reading of 50 and going down so I decided to pull over and drink Gatorade (which I always travel with now) until I was back over 100. So I registered late and my table only had two players sitting at it and we had to wait for a fourth before they would start dealing to us and I wound up missing half of the first round.

For those that don’t know, Triple Stud is 7-Card Stud, Stud 8 or Better, and Razz – rotating games every eight hands. I realize some of my readers might not know the rules or objects of these games, but I assume most people that read my poker posts probably have a general idea how these games are played. I’m laying in bed typing on an iPad so I really don’t feel like typing out explanations on game variations.

My starting table was not great. I had two WSOP bracelet winners sitting with me: “Miami” John Cernuto (3 bracelets, $5.7 million in cashes) and Ron Ware (1 bracelet, $625,000 in cashes). One of my opponents was at my O8 table yesterday. He played pretty aggressive and had an arrogant and cocky vibe about him, but I saw his name on his receipt and he has less than $7000 in lifetime cashes, so I can only assume he’s not very good. The rest of my table was unknown to me but nobody seemed clueless like the O8 players I started with yesterday.

Also, I’ve never really taken notes on hands for any Stud-type games so this could be somewhat challenging. It’s hard enough writing down what I had, let alone what my opponents’ boards were and what cards were dead – all factors in my decision-making. But I’m going to try my best.

Notable Hands Levels 1-3

150/300 limit, Stud Hi: Ron Ware brings it in with the 2c, four players limp in front of me, and I have AT-T. There is a king up, but I imagine that player would raise a KKx hand and all my tens and aces are live, so I complete to 150 and Ron plus all four limpers call. I bet again on 4th street and and it checks around on 5th street when I still have five opponents and my board hasn’t improved and some of my outs are dead now, but on 6th street I have AT-T8JJ and after thinking about it for a while I decide to bet even though two of my opponents look like they could have flushes on 6th. Everybody calls again. I brick on 7th and check, Ron checks, and one of the possible flushes bets into three remaining opponents against an obvious two pair (my hand), the next player snap calls and I fold when it comes back to me and that player wins with a flush he made on 6th (he has six spades in his hand but only three visible).

That was the only significant hand I played in the first 90 minutes and I had 9675 from a 10k starting stack on the first break.

Notable Hands Levels 4-6

300/600 limit, Stud 8: I complete with Q9-Q with only Ron and the bring in left. Ron calls with the 5d. On 4th I catch an 8 and he catches high, so I bet. On 5th I get a ten and he catches low, but I still bet. I make two pair on 6th, but he catches low again, so I check and he checks back. I brick on 7th and check-call and get scooped after he rivers three fours.

500/1000 limit, Stud Hi: Miami John completes with a ten up, I call with J9-T, and Ron Ware calls from the bring in. I catch a beautiful queen on 4th, giving me an open-ended straight draw, but I do have one king and one eight dead. Miami John bets and myself and two others are still in. I catch an ace on 5th and this time it checks around. I pick up a jack on 6th so now my board looks like this: xx-TQAJ and I feel I have a mandatory bet with only one king accounted for, even though all I have is a pair of jacks. Only Miami John calls and he says something about “I hope you only have two pair.” I make aces up on 7th and that’s a two pair I think is good, so I value bet it, he calls, and I scoop a good pot.

500/1000 limit, Stud Hi: a jack up raises and I call with AA-6 (I should have raised – especially with an ace and six dead) and the bring in defends. I wind up getting heads up on 5th street against an all in. My hand is unimproved and he already has KQJT9 and I’m basically dead.

500/1000 limit, Stud 8: I scoop a big 3-way pot with 54-2A7T-3 when I got some unwarranted action. An ace completed on 3rd and lead out on 4th with xx-AJ when I had 54-2A and the middle player was obviously going high. So I got a double bet in from both of them on 4th. I led on 5th, but on 6th he bet out again with xx-AJ76 when I had 54-A27T and I got two bets from both of them again since I had the best possible low and some scoop potential. The wheel on 7th was pretty amazing, but unfortunately this would be my peak of the tournament.

I headed to the second break with 18.6k.

Notable Hands Levels 7-9

600/1200 limit, Razz: I didn’t play this hand but I found it amusing. Someone completes and a player with either a jack up or a nine up (I can’t remember which one came first) calls (with a pretty short stack) and Miami John 3-bets with an ace up. On 4th, John catches a 5, the opener catches bad and folds and the short stack has xx-9J and is looking at xx-A5 and starts to tank. Miami John says, you know this is Razz, right?” So the other player does the only sensible thing and calls with roughly half of his remaining stack. John pairs his ace on 5th and the short stack calls it off with xx-J98 and Miami John reveals a 53-A5A that bricks out and the short stack doubles up with a J98 low. Beautiful.

Miami John is cussing and staring at the dealer. On a scale of gentleman to asshole, John doesn’t seem like a bad dude, but it’s pretty strange watching such an accomplished veteran with almost $6 million in lifetime cashes get even remotely butthurt about variance in a $350 tournament.

600/1200 limit, Razz: we are seven levels into this tournament and I’m playing my first Razz pot. I complete with 72-6 and find myself in the unenviable position of check-folding on 5th against a board of xx-5TK because I have 72-6KJ.

600/1200 limit, Razz: rematch! The player that doubled through John opens with an 8 up, Miami John calls with a 2 and snap pairs it on 4th when his opponent catches a Q. I can’t remember how all the action went but at showdown Miami John has 73-228K-3 and gets scooped by a T98 low! And between the nasty run outs, same player dynamic, and Miami John’s reaction to it all, I’m sitting in my seat trying my hardest (and failing) to stifle a giggle fit.

There’s been a lady sitting on my right that has been nudging her cards a few inches forward when folding so that the dealers have to somewhat stand out of their seats to grab her cards and I’ve probably mucked her up cards more than she has. This has been her MO since hand #1 and we are over four hours deep into this thing before a dealer finally gives her the FUCK YOU look. I have to say… the dealers at Commerce have some incredibly thick skin.

800/1600, Stud Hi: I find myself in the dream scenario of seeing an ace up complete, a queen go into the muck, a king up call, another king go into the muck before I have to act on my hand: QQ-Q. We are rolled up, folks! This is kind of a weird spot actually. Do you know how strong it looks to raise a queen against an ace and a king? I figure the dead queen is providing me ample cover though so I go ahead and try to get extra bets in now. The ace calls, but the king folds. I brick out all the way and he check-calls every street with xx-A757-x. I probably would have won more by simply calling on 3rd street, but who knows. I was pretty happy with this pot. And I lied before, I was peaking after this hand with like 25k.

800/1600 limit, Stud 8: I complete with 52-A and bet through 6th street with 52-A9A6 against xx-7Q35, before check-calling the river when I miss a low and make trip aces. She shows me a straight and scoops me. Ugh.

That hand brought me all the way down to 11.4k.

Blinds 1000/2000, Stud 8: this was an insane hand. By the time third street action was over I had 3800 in with 7d5-3d with all sixes, fours, and diamonds live. Three of us put in 3800 and a fourth player was all in. I ended up having to call bets on every street as my board developed like this: 7d5s-3d-6d-6h-9d. Both live opponents had a pair on board by 6th and the all in had xx-K888 showing. I had to call 2000 of 4200 remaining to see 7th and I bet when I got the Kd. That was good for the high half of the side pot. Miami John made a low and the all in had 8s full for the main. When it was all said and done I had about as many chips as I started with.

On the third break I have 15.5k. There were 117 entrants for the tournament, 61 remain, and my stack is just below the 18.2k average. 15 players make the money and first place is over $9000.

My table finally broke and I am now playing with Shirley Rosario – once known as “The Poker Babe” – and her $475,000 in lifetime cashes.

Notable Hands Levels 10-12

1500/3000 limits, Stud Hi: I don’t know. Maybe this hand is a blunder. Maybe it’s a catastrophe. Maybe it’s just unlucky. I’m not a stud expert. A queen limps, another queen raises, I have AT-T and my cards are all live. I decide to 3-bet. A player with the 7c calls behind me, and both queens call. I made it 3000 and one player is all in for 2400. I barrel AT-TQK8 when my two live opponents brick out. I lose the player with the 7, but the second queen isn’t going anywhere. Notice I caught a queen on my board. I catch a 9 on 7th and decide to save the bet and that player did in fact start with xQ-Q. He wins the side pot, but loses the main pot to the all in who caught all the live aces I needed. I’m not sure I played this hand well. Maybe I could save bets somewhere, especially since my opponent was checking out of turn every street.

Anyways, after that debacle I’m crippled and down to 4k.

I get all in for 3200 in Stud 8 with As3s-6s, but wind up just making a low for half.

I get all in for 3200 in Stud 8 and scoop when my 74-5 develops into a full house instead.

I’m up to 9500 after that and then comes the torture. I get nothing even remotely playable and have to bring it in five times. I consider punting a couple times just to try and get it in, but I just have zero playable hands. It would feel like I’m giving up and it’s not like I have more fold equity with 6.5k than I would with 2.5k. Well, not much anyway.

So, I disgustingly dwindle all the way down to 1800 before I get it in with T7-A in Stud Hi. I get isolated by K4-7 for some reason and he immediately pairs his 7 on 4th and I catch bricks through 6th, but somehow catch a pair of 8s on 7th and it’s good for a double.

Finally I get it all in with 4K-4 in Stud Hi and never improve against 89-8, busting in roughly 38th place.

I considered playing some lower stakes cash, but it was already 8 PM and I’d been staying at my cousin’s house for 48 hours now and I hadn’t even seen her once yet, so I decided to pass on a short session and call it a day.

My plan is to play the $350 Stud 8 or Better tournament today and play a long session of $20/$40 LHE if I don’t make a super deep run. I fly out of LAX at 8 AM Friday so I’m skipping the Thursday tournament. I’m going to play cash deep into the night Wednesday, sleep in Thursday, hang out with my cousin and her husband Thursday evening and then head back to Hollywood Park Casino for an all night cash game session so I can play poker next to the airport and not have to wake up super early and fight through rush hour traffic to catch my flight.

Update: Miami John survived those comical Razz run outs and went on to chop this tournament heads up.

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LAPC Day 2: $350 Omaha 8 or Better @ Commerce

January 16, 2018

For those of you that didn’t see it when I posted it at 11 PM last night, make sure you scroll down and check out Radio Mike’s Marathon Monday guest blog from the Palace $15/$30 game yesterday. It’s as good and funny as I thought it’d be! Great job, Mike!

Starting stacks in this O8 event are 10k and blinds start at 50/100 with 30 minute levels.Last year it seemed like my starting table had multiple players on a mission to punt their stacks (and one of those players joined my table later and did just that).

This year I didn’t start with any true punters, but I had five opponents and I saw three different players voluntarily limp with these hands in the first few orbits: 9882 (under the gun), J842 (open limp MP), and 8544 (limp along on button). Yum yum!

Some notables I saw in the field today: Miami John Cernuto, actor James Woods, Carol Fuches, Real Grinders founder Raymond Davis, a Commerce reg they call “Taxi” – that I chopped the 8-Game tourney with at Golden Nugget in 2015 – and WSOP bracelet winner Ron Ware.

Notable Hands From L1-L4:

Blinds 100/200; two limps, I raise SB with A832 double suited; four to 843 all club flop (I don’t have clubs); I bet and one player calls; turn pairs the 3 and I get to 3-bet turn and bet river and scoop Ac5cXX.

Blinds 150/300; two limps, I raise button with AQ52 nut spades; the punter I mentioned earlier 3-bets and I call with two others in as well (I would have capped here if recognized the punter); flop is Q76 with one spade and they check to me; I bet and two call; turn is a 4 of spades and I get check-raised by the player in the middle, I 3-bet and they both call; river pairs the 7 and I chop with MP’s 544X.

Blinds 150/300; I limp along with A533 in the cutoff; Punter raises and four of us see the A42 flop. I call, raise the turn, and scoop on A42Q8.

Stack at first break: 15,750

Notable Hands L5-L8:

Blinds 200/400; one player limps, I raise with AK82 double suited and wind up getting scooped by 8322 on A857K when his nut low goes running flush and I whiff my front door flush draw.

Dipped below starting stack here and won a couple small pots to chip back up.

200/400 blinds, I raise with AQ53 nut diamonds; five of us see the K83 flop and it checks around; the turn pairs the 3 and the player to my right leads, I raise, and everybody folds – including a nit’s A42X into the muck.

Blinds 300/500, I raise with AQT2 double suited and two players call me; flop is KJ2 rainbow – giving me a wrap, two backdoor flush draws, and a pair – and a nitty player in the blinds check-raises me; I 3-bet and he calls; turn is 3h, giving me a flush draw and he check-calls; river is an offsuit 9 and he check-calls and I scoop with the nuts. I was not going to bluff the river here. I knew he was calling but I thought I had too much hand to check the turn.

Blinds 300/600, folds to me on the button and I open with 8732 with two clubs and both blinds defend; I wind up calling the big blind down on A53ddc9c4c and get absurdly lucky against his 7642dd, by rivering the same straight and backdooring clubs for three quarters. Yikes!

Blinds 300/600; I limp along on button with AT44 with a nut clubs; pretty marginal but this guy is open-limping J842 – how can I fold? Flop is T84 with two hearts and one of the blinds leads, the limper calls and I call. Turn is a 9 and they both check to me. My hand seems good so I bet and they both call. River is an Ace and they check again and I think I’m good for high so I toss a value bet out. They both call and… I scoop!

Blinds 400/800 and I get a free flop with 8762; flop is 622dd and I bet and only the table nit calls me. I know what card is bad for me… and here it is: an ace! I think check-folding here against this player is defensible, but I just check-call down and pray that I have some piece. He ends up showing A32X and my 87 low escapes for half. Phew!

Chip stack after 8 levels: 27,000

Notable Hands L9-L10:

Blinds 500/1000, a short stack (4 bigs) opens, an aggressive player 3-bets on the button, I defend with AKK3, and the short stack goes all in for a cap; Flop is T96 with two hearts (I have none) and I check-call the button. I hate this spot but the pot is too big to fold just yet. Turn is a Qh and now I do check-fold. Button ends up tabling AQJx with no hearts and I feel a little rage inside before the all in tables KJJx and winds up scooping the main pot.

Blinds 500/1000, a speeder with a huge stack opens on the button and I 3-bet with A973 with a suited ace. He calls and winds up scooping me with A82x when the board runs out A74-J-8.

Blinds 500/1000, speeder opens and I cold call in position with AK53 with a suited K; three of us see the J96 with two heart flop; the speeder bets and I raise with my flush draw, hoping to get it heads up and increase my chances of having the best backdoor low; both players wind up calling though; the turn is a 4 and I’m planning to check back but the speeder donks and we both call; the river is an ace of clubs, completing a backdoor flush draw and we both call the speeder again. I’m good for the low and the speeder has JT97 with clubs – and as soon as I see that hand I’m like wtf am I not 3-betting pre?

Blinds 1000/1500, button opens and I 3-bet with AK32 with nut clubs and the button caps it; I flop a pair of threes and the nut low draw and check-call all the way down and get quartered when we both make lows but he pairs his 5 on the turn with AQ52.

Blinds 1000/1500, very next hand, speeder opens button and I 3-bet with A852 suited Ace from small blind and he calls; flop is JT4 rainbow and I bet and call his raise. Typing this hand out, I hate it. This guy is playing a super wide range. He could easily be all over this flop and I have nothing and it’s going to be hard to develop anything good either. I should just check-fold. But I put in two bets on the flop for some inexplicable reason and get a pretty decent card on the turn with a 7. Now I will likely scoop with a 6, so I check-call again and the river pairs the board, he checks behind and scoops me with KQJx.

Blinds 1000/1500, and I’m down to 8 bigs and post my big blind with AAK2 with a suited ace; a middle player opens, the speeder calls from the SB, and I 3-bet from the big. Flop is KQ4 rainbow; I bet, MP raises, SB cold calls, and I decide I have to go with this hand, so I 3-bet and they both call. I’m all in on the turn, which is a 3 and they both call again. The river is a jack and I’m pretty sure my tournament is over. It is. Small blind scoops with QJT8 and I was losing to MP’s AQ4x anyway.

There were roughly 65 players left when I busted and 22 of us were going to cash. I felt like I played great for the most part but I got torched in the last couple levels with suited A2 hands.

I was a bit undecided what I wanted to do after the tournament but eventually put my name up for $20/$40 LHE and waited until about 8 PM and I was third up. I was only planning to play until midnight and I didn’t want to play a short $20/$40 session so I found immediate seating in an $8/$16 Stud 8/Big O8 mix game instead. I’ve tipped $1 in 90 minutes so far and find myself down ~$150. I’m not going to blog any hands for this session but I’ll mention how I did in my next post.

Update: I finished the Stud 8/Big O game at +$203. I had a crazy Big O hand where I had T9886 in the big blind and the flop was 8x7c6c and I had the Tc8c. The board ran out clean and I ended up losing money in a 3-way pot because someone else had T9 and the other player had a low. I ended up 3-betting the flop and leading turn and river but I’m not sure it’s a great line. I’m drawing dead to half the pot – and I know it – and as robust as my high is I’m still getting freerolled by anyone with bigger clubs and a low.

I’m heading back to Commerce shortly to play the $350 Triple Stud tournament. Cards are in the air in 70 minutes and I haven’t even showered yet!

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Marathon Monday with special guest blogger Radio Mike!

January 15, 2018

9:45 AM: Hello everybody! It’s a Very Special Edition of the Marathon Monday $15-30 Poker Blog, with your guest host Mike. Your usual host loves to use nicknames, and he settled on ‘Radio Mike’ for me, but I’m not really into that.

I am your pinch-blogger today since the regular guy in these parts is down in L.A. trying to win poker tournaments. The bum didn’t let me buy a piece. However, his absence is a good development for the $15-30 game at Palace, since the best player in town isn’t going to be in the game.

It could be bad for me, though. After losing every pot I played against the Dark Knight for roughly two years, I’ve been cleaning up against him the last couple of sessions. So much that he’s even discussed it on this very blog. Let’s hope the trend continues when he gets back in town (sorry, Dark Knight, but you left me the keys to the house, and that comes with the risk that you might take some shots).

Before we begin I should note that I am not a professional poker player like Dark Knight. I’m a solid winner over a couple thousand hours at $8-16, and a confirmed loser over several hundred hours at the $20-40 level. I see this new $15-30 game in my home ballpark as an opportunity to improve my skills at higher stakes. Part of the reason I agreed to be the substitute blogger is so that Dark Knight can pick apart my play and tell me what a donkey I am.

That being said, I’ve been running hotter than the sun in this weekly $15-30 game since it started two months ago. I’m not out-playing the competition or anything – I’ve simply been hit by the deck. The regs have noticed and it gives me some added fold equity which I have been taking advantage of.

So let’s play a session. This is my first time writing about poker, and I have to warn you that things will be a little different on the blog today. There will be no meditation, no yoga, and definitely no trip to the gym. I won’t be bringing a backpack like I’m going on a goddam camping trip. I did, however, review a few Elements this morning while sitting on the can. That’s my poker bible. Nothing prepares me for a fresh session or heals the wounds of a tough loss like that book.

Also, these aren’t actual live updates. I’m going to take notes while I play and type the rest of this when I get home, and then Dark Knight is posting it all at once.

I’m optimistic that we’ll get a full table early today. There were seven names on the list when I left (after getting smoked for 2.5 racks in $8-16) last night, and I recognized five of them as reliable game-starters. The fact that it is a holiday for some workers should help the game – apparently Pay-Off Pete doesn’t have to work, because he was on the list. And maybe the fact that Dark Knight isn’t playing will sway some $8-16 players to take their first shot.

11:00 AM: Uh-oh. My initial optimism for a full game was unwarranted. A regular who surprisingly doesn’t have a nickname yet and seems to be a normal, reliable human being is a no-show – we later learned he called the floor and told them he wasn’t coming, confirming his reliability but not helping the situation. No sign of Pay-Off Pete, who put himself on the list as he walked out last night. Five players including me buy chips to sit down, but one of them – known around these parts as FBI Guy (retired) – claims he won’t play unless it’s seven-handed. Sheesh. A floor man sits in to make it six-handed, FBI Guy (retired) relents, and the cards are in the air at 11:20.

I bought in for two racks ($1000), with enough for two more in my pocket if needed – that’s my standard, Dark Knight approved strategy. The reality is if I get deep into a third rack I’ll probably quit. Unlike Dark Knight, if I get bludgeoned to death I’d rather go home than try to fight through the misery. I admire his massive comebacks but I’m not there yet.

11:50: Thirty minutes in and I’m already down a rack, still looking for Pot A. I’ve been very active, raising and firing with JJ, Q9ss, 33 and losing when I get out-flopped. Twice FBI Guy (retired) has gotten me on a four-on-the-board flush. Am I really going to add the third rack after just 30 minutes?

11:51 Nope! I won a pot. After multiple limpers I call from the cutoff with A6hh, flop AT5 with two clubs, bet all streets with only FBI Guy (retired) calling, third club comes on the turn and this time he doesn’t have the flush.

11:55 The blog character known as Chief Wiggum has arrived, making us seven-handed. He sits down and posts in MP, and two hands later we tangle in the first interesting hand of the day. Wiggum limps in UTG+1, a common move for him, and we see a four-way limp pot holding J9o in the big blind. Flop comes 955. I bet, he calls, someone else calls. Turn is a 4. I bet, Wiggum raises, other player folds. Wiggum plays a wide range of hands passively preflop, but he’s no fool post flop. With his raise he has either A9, T9, 98, a miracle 44 in the hole, or… the dreaded A5. Figuring I can beat most of his 9s and nothing else, I just call. River is a beautiful 9, double-pairing the board. I bet, he raises, I call while saying “Looks like we have the same hand,” and he replies with “I don’t think so, sir.” He turns over the pocket 5s for quads and a $499 Marathon Monday bonus.

12:42: Despite the Wiggum Setback, I’m surging into the black. Flop a joint with KTo and get paid on all streets. Open AJo in early position, no less than five people cold-call, flop comes JT6 with two clubs, I lead every street and my hand holds when all the draws brick out. The dealer throws me an AQ offsuit, flops K76 with two clubs, I c-bet and three people call. Turn is an 8 double-suiting the board, it checks around, river is an offsuit Q and I value bet but they all fold. Then I get a free look with T3 in the big blind, four players see an AQT rainbow flop, these guys all limped so obviously nobody has any of that let’s bet, two of them call, turn is another ten so let’s keep betting, people call with whatever hands limpers limp and call with, and we are tasting sugar for the first time today.

12:50: Meanwhile, Chief Wiggum needs to call the local fire department to put him out because he is aflame. He’s got a massive stack and has been here for only an hour. Someone says “you’re hot” and a few agree, he replies “I’m just catching cards,” and I can’t help but ask “Will you please stop?”

12:55: I was not in this hand, but I present to you: “How To Play Aces” – A Brief Document published by your local chapter of The Federal Bureau of Investigations (retired). With three preflop limpers in front of you, limp along to disguise your pocket aces and spring a trap later. They’ll never know what hit ‘em! When the cutoff raises, just call to keep your hand secret for now. See a flop of 863 and when one of the early limpers bets, call again because it’s too early to show your strength. Don’t worry about that K on the turn – just call, there is still a river left. When the river brings a deuce and the EP player bets for his third time, now you spring into action. Raise the river! Got him! Wait, what’s that? He has K8 for two pair? Oh.

1:15: First break of the day. When marathoning it’s important to take a break every two or three hours. I usually just walk a lap around the Chips/Palace building, which is entirely parking lot. There is some sort of landfill lagoon thing behind the lot and sometimes you see some wildlife, like a feral cat or a cool-looking bird. This time I saw nothing but a single black crow flying over my head, cawing at me. Umm, that’s good luck, right?

1:25: A classic spot with QQ: after two limpers (yes this game has been gloriously limpy), I raise, blinds call, five players see the A83. Both blinds checked in the dark, others check to me I bet and two of them call. That’s not good. Turn brings another A and now I have hope – but the passive UTG limper now leads with a bet. I’m not good enough to fold here, but I think I probably should. I give his A9 two streets of value. Dark Knight, can you fold here?

1:45: I draw some oohs and aahs by capping from small blind with AK off, four players plus some dead bets to the flop of J74, I lead all streets and get there with a running TQ and loudly reveal my “just close your eyes and keep betting” strategy. Actually up $250 now.

2:15: FBI Guy (retired) has retired from this game, and is replaced by the blog character known as Taz. He posts in the BB, I try to steal from the hijack with A8o but he three-bets. In retrospect I should consider folding right there knowing the player, but I call hoping to flop a bunch of 8s I guess and we end up checking down a board of all low cards. He wins with an unimproved AK, which I don’t believe I could ever bet him off of with a paint-free board.

2:34: I get dealt ‘The Grump’ in the big blind – my favorite place for The Mighty Deuce-Four. With a raiser and three callers I’m getting 9-to-1 so let’s call and see what happens. Flop comes 652 and we have a Bingo! I check with the preflop raiser next to act, hoping to raise the entire field, but apparently he recognizes the dangerous possibility that somebody may be holding The Grump and it checks around. Turn is a 4, I bet and they all know, and they all fold. (R.I.P. Poker Grump)

2:55: This is trouble: four players either go broke or cash out (Wiggum) in rapid succession, and we are five-handed including a floor man who has rejoined the game.

It’s been a very odd day at the Palace, and not at all what I was expecting. They have all ten tables going at this time – but only one 8-16 game with a short list, and our short-handed 15-30, and a whopping five 4-8 games along with two 3-6s and a 6-12 Omaha. Very strange to see one 8-16 with barely any list, and we weren’t taking the players in the 15-30 – we were short, too, with just four players and a floor man!

4:00: You may have noticed all of the preflop limping from my opponents in the hands described above. Let’s just say that these guys were not likely to fare well in a short-handed situation. I quickly ran my stack up to +1050 and then maintained it at about +900 over the last hour by playing aggressively and encountering little resistance.

But now we are filling up again. Part-Time has arrived, along with another player, and a couple minutes later Action Bronson shows up and someone else jumps in and the table is full.

4:05: Interesting hand. New player limps in EP, lady in middle position raises, I three-bet the button with AQo, the small blind takes three bets right to his face in a gruesome sight, EP and MP call and the four of us see a flop of T75 with two hearts. The limper bets, lady in MP calls, I call, and the small blind – still staggering from the force of all of those bets to his face – folds. Turn is an offsuit Ace. The limper bets in rhythm and the lady in MP insta-calls, and I’m now officially worried about a set in addition to the straight and flush draws. Remember, there is a $499 bonus for quads, which brings set passivity. I just call (typing that makes me feel terrible – I know I should be jacking that turn). River is the 2 of hearts, bringing the flush. Limper bets, MP calls, and I… overcall? WTF am I doing here? I play so bad sometimes. Turns out they both flopped sets, fives for limper and tens for MP, who takes the pot.

Two hands later I raise in MP with AK and… wait a second, Action Bronson button straddled, and I didn’t see it. Shit. Luckily everyone folds and the two of us see a JT6 flop. I bet he calls. Turn is a Q bringing me broadway. I bet and he says “I can’t fold now” and calls. River blank, bet he folds his K4 straight draw face up and then tries to put me on tilt by telling me how bad Cal Basketball is this year. I know, dude, oh boy do I know.

4:20: Time for break No. 2, another walk around the building. Out back I don’t see any wildlife, unless you count a couple of poker dealers on their vape break.

4:55 This game has changed. Everyone has agreed to straddle, and we are playing seven-handed, so a lot of chips are going in. I start to run bad. TT is no good on the 843 flop when the 2 turn and A river makes 75 a winner. I 3-bet the straddle with AQ from the small blind and fire all streets unimproved vs three players, getting two to drop off and one I was sure was drawing for a flush… but he calls my river bet and shows a middle pair of nines. I’ve lost a rack during this stretch and am now at +450.

Meanwhile the unknown player in Seat 6 is playing every single hand and flopping two pair repeatedly. He’s on the biggest heater we have seen today, and is up three racks plus he’s got another $499 in his pocket for quads.

5:00: Dark Knight checks in via text from Commerce. I tell him a little about the game, and how I was up two racks but am plummeting back to earth. He replies that as the designated blogger, it’s my responsibility to be stuck all day and make a late comeback to win $200. No thanks.

I’m starting to get hungry again, which is a problem. I had breakfast right when the game started, and now it’s time for dinner – but I am not a fan of the food here. Breakfast is fine, but I don’t care for the other items at all. Yes, you are reading this correctly: I am complaining about the free food.

5:30: The guy in Seat 6 is still on a tear, and he is now up about five racks. He has revealed that he is a golfer, and an extremely stuck Action Bronson – a scratch golfer who is a member of the country club here – is in serious negotiations to get him on the course so he can win his money back. This is quite amusing.

5:39: A brief bit of common poker strategy for y’all, which I maybe shouldn’t share: watch for fold tells. I raise ep with AJhh, only Part-Time and Seat 6 call. Flop K88 I bet and Seat 6 calls. Turn is a 6, and as I’m pondering if I should fire again Seat 6 faintly begins his fold motion – decision made. I bet, he mucks, we move on while stacking the chips.

6:00: Seat 6 leaves with $3500 in chips and a $499 jackpot in his pocket. He bought in for $1000 less than two hours ago. Wow.

6:19: With Seat 6 out, we hold on for a couple more rounds. But three players quit simultaneously and the game breaks.

This is the first time, I believe, that the Palace $15-30 hasn’t gone well into the night. There is still only one 8-16, with one name on the list. The higher-stakes players simply didn’t show up today.

Still, I had another good result in the game. A couple of late pots pushed me up to +719 for seven hours of play. Not bad, not bad at all!

Thanks for reading along. Hopefully the Dark Knight crushes some tourneys in L.A. and decides to stay there for a while.

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LAPC Day 1: $15/$30 @ Hollywood Park Casino

January 15, 2018

I will be in Los Angeles playing some tournaments at Commerce over the next few days.

I received news that the $30/$60 at Palace was alive and well yesterday and it lasted until about 5 AM this morning and Jesus sent me this ridiculous photo of his stack:

A lot of outside players came in to play it yesterday and I have to say I am excited about it. Word is already spreading and it’s only going to get bigger.

$15/$30 should be starting shortly in Lakewood and while there will be no Marathon Monday blog from me, Radio Mike has offered to blog the session for me. Whether or not he does so, we will see, but he has his own blog for the Tacoma Rainiers, writes all year long and is one of my funniest friends so I believe it will be high quality if he executes his plan. I will post it tonight or tomorrow morning if he sends me something.

I landed in LA about 3 PM and decided I wanted to play somewhere new. I’ve only ever played at Commerce in SoCal. So I headed to Hollywood Park Casino because I heard they had a $20/$40 O8 game and because it was less than ten minutes from my car rental service and I have to admit I’m nervous about driving in LA traffic because of my anxiety issues last year.

So I show up at HPC and there’s no big O8 game going and really no list to speak of so I found myself in a $15/$30 LHE game that felt more like a $3/$6 or $4/$8 game. It was absurdly passive for a medium stakes game. Players were checking the river heads up out of courtesy, begging for chops when it got folded as far as the cutoff, and multiple times I saw one player limp in and then chop with the blinds instead of seeing the flop.

Normally I would look like a maniac in a game like this, but I went on an epic stretch of being card dead. I was completely handcuffed by the deck – to the point where I was six hours in and I got 87cc folded to me in the cutoff and it felt like I was holding aces under the gun.

It’s funny how variance works sometimes. Last week in the $30/$60 game I had 99+ roughly 30 times and lost over $800 for the day. In this session, I was down like $100ish six hours in and I had had NO hands to play with. I was putting on a folding clinic. It’s pretty frustrating for someone like me to see the game conditions in front of me and not be able to do anything about it – unless I’m willing to start opening with legit garbage.

This is what my session looked like six hours in:

  • AK: 0-3
  • AQ: 1-2, lost to JT on AKQxx
  • AJs: 1-1, won with flop bet
  • KQo: won a couple times with
  • KJo: got the T9xQx runout for my only significant pot
  • KQs, KJs, KTs, QJs, QTs, JTs: zero times combined
  • AA, KK, QQ: zero times
  • JJ: 1-1, won with flop bet
  • TT: 1-1, won with flop bet, turn check, river bet heads up OOP on KJ3JK
  • 88-99: zero times
  • 77: 1-3, flopped set and won with turn bet

And I didn’t have any attractive spots with suited aces or suited connectors either.

My last hour or so went much better – to the point where one player (that was new to the game) kept saying how lucky I was and continually shaking his head while looking at me.

A few key hands:

There’s action in front of me, I 3-bet QQ on the button, everybody calls. At least five of us to the QT5, two spade flop – I have QdQc. I bet, two calls, there’s a check-raise, I 3-bet, and the check-raiser caps and four of us see the turn. It’s the 8 of spades, which probably ranks in my top three worst cards to see. The flop aggressor is still betting and I have the other two still to act behind me. Any of them could have a straight or flush so I can’t really see any merit to raising this turn card. I call and so do the other two. River is the 4 of diamonds; I call a bet and the other two players fold and this genius tables Td5d.

The it’s-time-to-go-home hand: I’m either in the small blind or big blind, I can’t remember. I’m in the 8 seat and I know the 1 seat limps in from UTG or UTG+1 and I see the flop for free or for $5 with K5o. The board comes down KK6 with two clubs and I lead right out in a 4-way pot and the EP player raises, I 3-bet, and he caps. I suppose I’m moderately concerned but then another king rolls off on the turn and I bet my quads. He calls. And then I notice something: the board is KQ6K. Wow. I don’t know how often I completely misread a board card or a hole card, but it can’t be more than once or twice a year. Now I’m perplexed about that flop action and the chances that I actually have the best hand are greatly diminished. But since he just called the turn, I go ahead and bet the blank river, he calls, and my K5 is good… because he has AA! Now when that other player is looking at me shaking his head, I look back and nod along like “you’re not wrong.”

I ended up finishing $15/$30 at +$786.

I will be headed to Commerce shortly for my first event: $350 Omaha 8 or Better starting at 1 PM. I final tabled this event last year and luckboxed a microstack into a 5-way chop for $6000 in my first ever LAPC event. Is a repeat in order? I will keep some notes and possibly post a blog tonight. Hopefully Radio Mike comes through with an entertaining $15/$30 Palace blog tonight!

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Pot Limit Omaha – Where Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

January 13, 2018

The PLO game at Palace on Wednesdays has $1/$3 blind structure but it is $5 to come in, so it plays more like a $2/$5 game. The max buy in is $1000. My strategy when I initially sit down is to buy $500 in green and red chips and keep $1500 in black chips in my pocket. I like to start with a shorter stack while I get a feel for how the game is playing and see what the other stacks look like after a few orbits. If some of that action players double up or max buy, I will top off myself, unless I’ve already doubled up. Also, Washington state law has a cap at a bet and three raises and the max bet in Washington is $300, so while the game is pot limit, it does have some restrictions.

I don’t think I’m an expert PLO player. Shoot, I don’t even think I’m proficient – I think I would struggle in a lineup full of competent players. Fortunately, the typical Palace lineup is ultra juicy and I’ve been able to murder this game even though I don’t think I’m particularly good. I make some really dumb mistakes at times and in the interest of authenticity, I will usually post those hands.

Session 1 – January 3rd, 2018

I limp along on the button with TT95 double suited. This is a pretty poor hand. I’m only playing it because there are people in the pot I want to gamble with and it’s $5 to call. I’m definitely not looking to play a big pot with a flush. The flop comes down T96 rainbow, giving me top set and a backdoor flush draw. One of the limpers leads out for $20 – which is probably near pot – I call and so does the small blind. The turn is the Qc, giving me a flush draw to go with my set and both players check to me. I think this is a good spot to bet in a typical PLO game, but the thing I love about the Palace game is that these guys are simply incapable of folding. I really think the flop bettor has 87 and I don’t think he’s going to fold it, so I decide to check back and see a free river. I brick, the flop bettor makes it $45, I fold, the small blind calls and the bettor wins with 87xx.

I raise in MP with AQT2 double suited and four of us see the KT9 two spade flop. I have no spades in my hand and this board is super wet, so I check and it checks around. The turn is the As and it checks to me again. I only have one player to act behind me and I would imagine he would bet his straights and good flush draws, the two players in front of me have checked twice, so I bet $60 and wind up taking it down. Not too interesting except I’m surprised to get zero resistance on this board.

Someone makes it $15, His Airness (one of my all-time favorites) calls and so does the other action player. I call with KK73ss on the button and 5 of us see a flop of 954 with one spade. It checks around. The turn is the 6 of spades, giving me the second nuts and a king high flush draw. His Airness leads out $60, it folds to me, I make it $140, it folds to him, he makes it $280, and I call. The river brings my flush in, he makes a blocker bet of $80 and I make it $260, worried that I might lose him if I go for max value. He calls and my flush is good.

I can’t remember who my opponent was in this hand, but I wish I did because it’s a classic. I forgot to note where I am in this hand, but I’m guessing I was in one of the blinds. I call $20 with JTss88. Four of us see the flop and I lead $50 on T96 rainbow. One player calls me and I bet $130 on the 2 of club turn. He calls. The river is the Qc, giving me a straight, but completing a backdoor flush. I decide to check and pick off bluffs or misguided value bets. He bets $205. I call. He shows… Ac7cK7.

A player I will refer to as Slimer (for reasons that need not be mentioned) makes it $15 blind from UTG, His Airness calls, I make it $50 with QcJcJs9s from middle position and both of them call. The flop is Tc8cXs and it checks to me. I have a wrap, straight flush draw, and an overpair, so I bet $100. Only His Airness calls and then he donks $120 when the ten pairs on the turn. I’m not buying it. I make it $420 and he folds 7c6c face up. 9 of clubs on the turn one time?! I wrote these notes a week ago, so I don’t remember all the particulars. I’m sitting here typing this and wondering if raising the turn is really my best line, but I’m guessing the stacks were shallow enough that I determined I was willing to play for everything and didn’t want to do any guessing on the river.

This was a totally insane hand. I didn’t choose to write about it because I was in the pot, but because of how crazy it was and some of the questions it raises. Someone makes it $10, the pot is already mulitway, and I call with AJ75 with a suited ace on the button. The flop comes down 432 rainbow giving me the second nuts with a redraw to the nut straight and a backdoor nut flush draw. It checks to the player on my right and he bets $35. I call, Pay-Off Pete calls in the small blind, and now the big blind makes it $235. It folds to the flop bettor and he makes it $535 ($300 max bet in play now). I snap muck and it folds back to Peter. In a shocking development, Peter makes it $835 and the flop betting is now capped. The other two players both call. The turn is the 8h, Peter goes all in for $202 and both players call again. The river pairs the 8 and the big blind bets $300 and the other player calls. The main pot has ~$3200 in it and the whole pot is now $4000! The big blind scoops it all with 44xx. He flopped a naked set of 4s and turned a flush draw before filling up on the river. Peter and the other player both had 65xx with no redraws.

Just bonkers. The big blind had the opportunity to close the action on the flop for $35 with two possible straights on board and three players invested in front of him already. Instead, he raised with the 4th best hand on the flop (granted, I’d rather have his hand than mine) and wound up having to pay $800 more to see the turn! And over $1000 total before he finally made the best hand. Just sick.

And I think Peter should have folded on the flop, as played. He opted to check-call with the nuts originally to avoid a high variance line before seeing the turn and by the time it came back to him it was $535 to go and it was obvious that at least one – if not both – of his opponents had the same hand he did. And while he had a pair of 4s with his straight, he had no actual redraws. He had $45 invested at this point and had to risk over $1000 to win, at best, half of what was in the pot – with basically no chance to win it all. There is just no way that’s a profitable play. Sometimes you flop the nuts in PLO and the best play is folding.

We are playing 4-handed at this point, Peter limps in, I limp on the button with KQ93dd, one of the blinds makes it $15 and everyone calls. The flop is AJT with two diamonds giving me the nut straight and the nut flush draw. It checks to me, I bet $25, and only Peter calls. The turn is a king and I bomb it because I want to charge Peter the max if he turned a straight and I’m freerolling. The river bricks though and he leads pot, I go all in, etc. and he escaped with half the pot with his ugly QTxx or whatever he had… all I remember is that it was super gross!

I ended up finishing this session +$1380

Session 2 – January 10th, 2018

This session had all the potential to be my biggest losing session in any game ever.

In my first disaster hand, Action Bronson limps, another action player limps, a good player makes it $25, and I call with AKJ5 with a suited ace. Five of us see the QT5 rainbow flop. I have bottom pair, a broadway wrap, and the backdoor nut flush draw. Action Bronson pots it for $125 and it folds to me. I’m only $600ish deep at this point, so I make it $425 to commit, he puts me all in. He has KJT9 which is actually a big favorite over my hand. I just ran the odds and he’s 50% to scoop and 23% to tie, which means my scooping chances are only 27% (and I did this calculation assuming has no backdoor flush draw). So I actually got it in pretty bad here and wound up getting stacked.

This is right after that last hand, so I’m on a fresh reload and reconsidering my approach. I don’t 3-bet in this game a lot, but by this point, it’s clear to me that the good player is constantly trying to isolate Action Bronson and the other active player and doesn’t necessarily have great hands when he’s doing this. So when Action Bronson limps and this guy makes it $20 again and another player calls, I decide to 3-bet with AQQ5 double suited to $85. Action Bronson folds, but the last two players call. The flop is T32 rainbow and since there is over $250 in the pot and I started the hand with $500ish and the board is super dry, I just bomb it to commit myself. They both fold. Eh. Maybe not the right line of thinking on the flop. The board is super dry, so a pot-sized bet is kind of ridiculous, as I’m only likely to get action from hands that flopped sets or big straight draws. I suppose I was just happy to take the pot down right there and not have to do any guessing on future streets, but I’m not sure it’s the right approach.

Active player (a major regular – I just haven’t thought of a good name yet) felted a hand or two ago and reloaded for $200 in red and opens to $15, the good player tries to isolate from the button to $35, the small blind calls, and I defend JJT7 double suited from the big blind. The flop comes down T85 giving me an overpair, a bad gutshot, and two backdoor flush draws. The active player leads out for $50 and the good player just calls. It folds to me. Since the good player is just calling here, I don’t expect him to have a hand that can stand a raise and the active player could literally have plenty of hands I’m doing well against and started with $200 and only has $115 behind now, so I decide to make it $225 expecting to get all in with the active player in a heads up situation. It almost goes to plan. The good player does fold… after the active player calls with $200 in green chips that he had hiding behind his stacks of red! So now I’m playing against a $400 effective stack instead of a $200 effective stack! Turn pairs the 5 and gives me a flush draw, so I put him all in and he calls me with… JJT7! The exact same hand! Minus a flush draw. I miss my freeroll and we chop the pot up. I had told this player last week that he needed to keep his big chips visible at all times so I now take this opportunity to give him a friendly remind of why he’s supposed to do that.

I call $15 on the button with JTT8 double suited and it checks to me on the JT6 all club flop. I don’t have clubs, but I do have a set and I like the fact that everyone checked to me. I bet $50 so I’m guessing there were four or five of us that saw the flop. I get called in two spots. One of the players is a bad LHE player that I’ve never seen play PLO and the other guy is a PLO reg that I don’t expect to have a big hand here. The turn is an 8 and now the second player leads out for $50. I thought they both might have weak flushes on the flop and now that one of them has checked twice and the other is making a very weak bet, I decide to put the pressure on with a raise to $250. It feels like a stroke of genius until the first player goes all in for $519 and now I’m sitting there wondering how I can possibly be so bad at this game. The second player folds and it’s back on me. I ended up trying to do some math while at the table, but I have to admit it’s not a strong suit of mine. I ended up calling it off, but I’m almost sure this is a fold. I’m blocking my outs pretty hard, having both a ten and an 8 in my hand. I’ll do the math now though. I will assume there was $75 in the pot preflop, $150 more on the flop, $300 plus $519 on the turn for $1044 total and it costs me $269 more to call. I’m getting roughly 3.88 to 1 to call and I have 8 total outs (the third player in this pot actually folded 66, so I’m in much worse shape than I think). I need 5 to 1 to call, so I’m coming up short. He always has the nut flush here and I’m not getting the right price. If all my outs were clean, calling is close enough to correct that it would be fine to continue, although finding myself in this predicament at all seems like pretty poor hand planning. I called it off and whiffed. I think my line of thinking on the turn is reasonable, but I had played less than an orbit with this guy and I really have no clue what his tendencies are. You just don’t see someone flop the nut flush in a multiway pot and check it twice very often in PLO. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Another disaster hand: I didn’t write details for this hand, but I can paint a picture. I have KQJ9 with a suited king and I believe I 3-bet this hand preflop. The flop was 953 with two spades, giving me top pair with three overcard kickers and a king high flush draw, and I made a bet of probably 60-75% pot and only the player on my right called. The turn was an offsuit 6 and I decided to bet again and he check-raised me $300 more. I called it off and we both checked when the 3 paired on the river. He shows A42x with no spades.

I’m running pretty pure at this point and find myself in the game for $2000 and I have $150 of it left in front of me. I did buy another $1000 in black chips, but they are still in my pocket, but I haven’t put any of them on the table yet because I’m unsure if I’m really willing to lose $3000.

I end up finding a spot to 3-bet with AKT7 from the small blind and commit myself before the flop in a 3-handed pot. I bet the rest of it in the dark and manage to go runner runner flush with the T7 in my hand to triple up.

I eventually build that $150 stack up to $1450, without reloading, before my next catastrophe.

I have AA54 with a suited ace and I decide to limp in UTG. A 3-bet in this game is super rare, so if I make it $15 UTG what will usually happen is I’ll be playing out of position in a 5- or 6-way pot. So by limping this hand (and I have a limping range in this game), I might have an opportunity to make a big 3-bet if someone else raises. The next player to act makes it $20 and he picks up two callers. I can only make it $100 and I feel like all three players are going to call and my hand will be kind of face up, so I just call. The flop is K32 with one spade. The PFR has never played PLO before, so I expect him to c-bet his entire range here – he does. The other two players fold and I am very happy to play for stacks (~$400 effective at hand start), so I pot it and we end up getting it in. Unfortunately he has KK in his hand and I whiff everything even though I turn a spade draw as well.

This was the last hand of the night. I’ve built back up at this point and I open with KK66 double suited. I get some callers and the big blind makes it $70. I call and so do the others. The flop comes down T82 with two spades and one club and it checks around. The turn pairs the deuce and gives me a flush draw and it checks to me. I bet about 70% pot and it folds back to the big blind. After 3-betting pre and checking twice postflop, he now decides to pot. He had around $600 to start the hand and his line doesn’t really make any sense, so I don’t see any way I can consider folding here. After his pot-sized raise, there’s not enough left behind for decision-making, so I put him all in. He calls and the river doesn’t change the board texture. He tables AsJs9X and my KK is good. So he flopped the nut flush draw and an open-ended straight draw in a bloated pot and decided to check on the flop… and it cost him the pot. And his stack. I would have folded to any reasonable bet on the flop.

Thanks to that last hand I managed to finish the night -$111 after being stuck $1850 at one point. Felt like a huge win for me. I realize some of these hands are pretty unconventional, but I’m constantly playing this game with inexperienced players with questionable card sense. I would play much tighter and take different lines against a lineup of competent players, but the money just splashes around so fast in this game, I feel like I have to try to get it while it’s there. It’s pretty rare for the PLO game to last more than four hours and it’s not uncommon for someone to double up and leave after playing for less than an hour. I can’t really say that I know what I’m doing but I think I make good adjustments in this game texture and my results in it have been tremendous.

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First Friday $15/$30 Session (LIVE BLOG)

January 12, 2018

11:10 AM: Today marks the first day of $15/$30 on a Friday at Palace. This game is starting full which is pretty cool because I left here last night with four names on the list and also because the game usually doesn’t start full on Mondays.

Palace also decided to start spreading PLO on Saturdays. So now I have the option to play $15/$30 twice a week, PLO twice a week, and $30/$60 once a week – less than ten minutes from my home! A year ago the biggest game they had was $8/$16.

I used to think that playing most of my hours at Palace was costing me money (and it certainly was – even though the $20/$40 at Fortune is a much tougher game than $8/$16 at Palace, my hourly is significantly higher in the bigger game). I’m happy to feel good about playing on my home turf. If the $30/$60 game takes off – and I’m not sure it will – then I really won’t have a reason to go to Fortune unless I want to play on a Thursday.

That’s a pretty cool turnaround from this time last year. It’s possible that I will spend less than 25% of my total hours in 2018 playing $8/$16, which has been my primary limit for three years now. I have to say I’m really excited about the opportunity and it wouldn’t surprise me if Palace eventually starts spreading $15/$30 every day.

11:23 AM: Starting lineup consists of Chief Wiggum, two $15/$30 regulars, one semi-regular, one action player, and three players I haven’t seen play this limit yet – one of which is a nitty $8/$16 regular.

I’m starting with $2000 – $800 in green, $1180 in red, and $20 in white. I have Overs button on my stack and so far no one has asked me for one.

11:45 AM: First significant pot: four limpers, SB calls, I check KJo. Flop is KJ3 rainbow – SB leads, I raise, maybe someone else calls, nit on the button raises, SB calls, I cap it. Three players see the 4c on turn – I bet, the nit just calls (ruling out 33 now), and SB calls. River is a 9c, bringing in a backdoor flush and completing QT, which is what I think the button has after capping flop and calling the turn. So I check-call and that is what he shows me.

It’s pretty uncanny how I get off to a rough start every time I play this game.

12:01 PM: One limper, I raise cutoff with QJcc, Chief Wiggum cold calls, maybe the big defends. Flop Kc9d6d – I bet and Wiggum and the limper call. Turn is a beautiful Tc, giving me the nuts with a Royal Flush draw. I bet, Wiggum calls, the limper check-raises, I 3-bet, Wiggum still calls (I’m thinking a diamond beats me now), and the limper caps. I miss my flush on the river, but it’s not a diamond, and I raise when the limper bets – and then I get the briefest glimmer of hope when he decides to do the let’s-not-waste-anymore-time-I’m-just-gonna-call-with-the-nuts move.

12:14 PM: Woah. Something good happened in my first two hours of playing. One limper, I raise AJo from MP, Wiggum cold calls (hmm… might need to change seats), and four of us see a J98 rainbow flop. The limper donks, I raise, Wiggum calls, and the limper 3-bets. Eh. The limper is capable of having Tx here. It’s definitely not always a straight. I could cap, but I decide to call and re-evaluate on the turn. It’s an ace. He still leads and I think my hand is too good to call down with, especially with a player still behind me. I raise and I’m pretty happy to see Wiggum fold and the limper just call. River is a 3 and I get another big bet in and win the pot.

Then I defended KTss from the big and outflopped the PFR and got paid off on all the streets.

A rare good early start for me in this game!

1:03 PM: The blinds just ran the board out and paid $6 to see if the big blind could hit a $250 High Hand that has to hold up for 17 minutes with 7 tables going. He missed… the small blind won the pot and I swear I saw him give the big blind $15 back. I actually get to play poker with these people.

1:23 PM: One limper, I raise with KK, button cold calls and three or four of us see the J88 two spade flop. I bet and only the button calls. I consider check-raising a blank turn but I opt to bet instead. He raises me. I think 3-betting here is plenty reasonable but I don’t know this player super well and decide to call. The river is a king. The standard line here is to check-raise but I think he will check behind a jack and there’s a chance he will raise me if he has an 8, so I bet… and he folds.

1:50 PM: Last night I fell asleep with The Roots discography on shuffle and it inspired me to make a special playlist for today. I added every Roots album, every Mobb Deep album, most of Prodigy’s solos, every Tribe Called Quest album, all three Q-Tip solos, every Pharaohe Monch album, and Organized Konfusion’s Equinox. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it.

It also made me realize that Black Thought is probably the most underrated rapper of all-time. I think a number of people would leave him off their top 10 all-time list – and that’s simply inexcusable. I’ve been going through Eminem’s discography recently and while many would consider Eminem a top 5 rapper, his discography pales in comparison to that of The Roots. Black Thought has simply been rapping at an elite level for 25 years now and has arguably been the most consistently great rapper over that time span. If someone wanted to argue that he’s the best to ever do it, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. His loyalty to The Roots crew is pretty amazing. 25 years and he’s never made a solo album. Dude is incredible. Can we please show this man a little respect?

Now back to the pokers.

2:18 PM: Open cutoff with KcJo, both blind call. SB donks on the K74 two club flop, BB calls, I raise, SB calls and BB folds while thanking me for raising. Turn is 2c and now the SB check-raises. I call, whiff my flush draw, and wind up losing to K4hh.

Fellow blogger playing $15/$30 again. I guess if he’s going to be playing in my games regularly I should give him a name. I will call him BlackJack.

2:43 PM: Back from a break and I post in the big blind. Chief Wiggum limps under the gun, MP raises, and I defend J4cc. Flop is J43, one club and I check-raise the PFR, he calls, and we are heads up. Turn is a 6 and it goes bet and call. River is a King and I’m pretty sure he has AK, so I check and my check-raise goes according to plan.

That player limps under the gun on my button and it folds to me. I decide to iso with the 97cc, but the big blind defends and three of us see the J83cc flop. The limper donks, I raise, the BB 3-bets, limper calls, and I cap for value. The turn is a 7 and the limper donks. That’s annoying – I was definitely checking behind. We both call. River bricks and I fold and the limper wins with a set of 8s.

3:11 PM: My desired seat finally opened up and I am now on Chief Wiggum’s direct left and can put a stop to that cold calling every raise I make nonsense.

I have to say this game is pretty amazing right now.

3:21 PM: I open UTG with QJcc, MP cold calls, and Wiggum defends. Flop is Q76 with two clubs, flipping me the world. It’s probably unbalanced to check here because I’m basically betting my entire range here but I decide to check for a little deception and because I don’t hate too many turn cards. It checks around. Turn is 5c and I get four bets in against Chief Wiggum and another big bet on the river and he flashes me T2cc.

3:31 PM: Folds to me in the small blind and the big blind asks me to call so we can run the board out for a possible High Hand and I say no.

😂😂😂

3:41 PM: Radio Mike is in the game!

And get your personal fans out because THE HUMAN TORCH is on the list!! He is sixth up though and it is highly possible that he will be bust long before he gets in this game.

Taz also just got a seat. That makes The Torch fifth up now.

I’m on a bit of rush. I outflopped JJ with AQ in a 3-bet pot and bets went in on every street and I played a rather large pot with 77 on an 8822x board vs 44. I think I’m up about $900 overall at the moment.

3:51 PM: Spoke too soon: AA < KQ.

4:03 PM: Private exchange between Radio Mike and me.

Mike: Consider yourself lucky. I only have 2.5 hours to try and kick your ass. Me: If you even have chips in 2.5 hours I will be surprised. It’s nice to have poker friends!

(Sorry about the formatting up there. No matter how many times I try to correct it, it just goes right back to that.)

4:15 PM: These are back-to-back-to-back hands:

Taz limps, I raise button with KJdd. Flop is QJJ and Taz pays me off all the way.

Taz limps, I raise with KK from cutoff. Flop is K73 and Taz pays me off the whole way.

Chief Wiggum limps and I raise hi-jack with KK. Taz folds his big blind. Dang it. Flop is K82, Wiggum check-folds and I give the table a courtesy show.

4:25 PM: Chief Wiggum open-limps the cutoff, I raise with AQ, and both blinds defend. Flop is AJ5, all spades, and I have none. The small blind donks (which means little) and the big blind, an $8/$16 reg playing $15/$30 for the first time, raises (this means something). Wiggum folds and I call, but I’m not loving this spot. The small blind also calls. The turn pairs the 5 and two of us call again. The river is a red deuce and they both check to me. I like this development and I’m debating whether I should be betting or not, but I ultimately decide to check and the big blind tables 98ss.

5:04 PM: Unknown raises UTG, I 3-bet JJ and get it heads up. Flop is K87 and he check-calls. Turn is a 3 and he check-calls again. River is a 2 of clubs, completing a backdoor flush. He checks to me again and I don’t think he has a king so betting feels pretty mandatory. He check-raises me and with no history I call to see what he has and he shows me QJcc. Yowza.

5:11 PM: Hi-Jack and cutoff limp, I limp with A5hh and five of us see the flop for one bet. It comes 874 with two diamonds and one heart. The big blind bets, HJ calls, and I call. I’m thinking in my head that the 6h would be my perfect card and somehow that’s exactly what comes. The big blind checks, hi-Jack bets, I raise, the big blind folds AA face up (😮😮😮), HJ calls. River is the Jh, making my flush and he check-folds.

5:25 PM: Running hot. Solid sequence: open AT UTG+1 and only big blind defends and he calls me down with QJ on QTxxx.

Then he opens button, SB calls, I 3-bet AQ, whiff, and lose to button’s 98.

Then I open button with QJhh and both blinds defend. I whiff my overcards and flush draw and fold the river. Pretty cool! That puts me close to even.

5:34 PM: Next orbit. Same player that went runner runner flush with QJcc on K87c flop also beat my AT with the QJ and AQ with the 98. He opens cutoff this time. I 3-bet SB with AQ. We are heads up. I bet the K85 flop. He calls. Turn 6; we both check. River 8; we both check. He wins with A5o. He’s already proven he’s not folding hands so I’m not trying to power through these whiffs.

No. He’s not annoying me at all right now.

6:00 PM: They showed me some mercy after I lost like 10-12 pots in a row and folded on the turn when I had TT. But the very next hand I get six way action with QQ and get outflopped by 77, which can’t beat 43 at showdown.

6:07 PM: Well my tilty image isn’t going to improve with this hand. Folds to me on the button and I raise with T9o, small blind 3-bets, and big blind calls. Flop is K74, SB leads, BB folds, and I can’t just fold here getting 10-1, can I? Seems like my pair outs should be live a decent amount of the time so I peel flop and the turn is a 6. Well, I certainly didn’t call the flop so I could fold on the turn when I picked up nut outs. River is an 8. Oh boy. He still bets, I raise and he snap calls and tables AA before I even show my hand.

I guess I should probably stop complaining now.

6:24 PM: Radio Mike has left and, as expected, The Torch did not survive long enough to make it in this game. Fortunately there is no shortage of people I want to play with on the list.

Action Bronson and Part-Time are in the game now.

Finally have some Overs going. Part-Time, Taz, Action Bronson, and a bad semi-reg (with $500 lol) are now playing $25/$50 with me.

6:39 PM: Part-Time straddles button, I 3-bet KQdd, Taz calls from MP and the three of us go to the K87 one diamond flop. I bet, Taz folds, Part-Time raises and I 3-bet. Turn is a 2 and now he raises me. I call and we both check on the river and he gives me a free showdown with K7 for some reason.

6:46 PM: Currently walking around outside on a break. I looked at my time stamps and I have shown one winning hand in the last 2.5 hours and that was T9 on a K74 flop. And I’ve been raising a lot of hands. I can’t even imagine what my image looks like right now, but since I probably look like I’m on mega steam I’m going to open tighter and c-bet less often for a while.

It has been a pretty brutal stretch. I think I was +$900 at my peak three hours ago and I’m probably down at least $500 now.

7:03 PM: Sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. You just get to lose. Part-Time limps UTG, I’m next and raise AK, the dude that’s been torturing me from the seven seat defends his big blind. I finally flop a pair on ATx and both players call. Then I get check-raised on the Q turn by the big blind and he winds up showing me KJ. The good news is he has an Overs button now too, so I got to lose even more on this hand. Holy hell.

7:21 PM: Seat 7 has like $2000 in front of him. He sat down with $400 and I’m the only person he’s winning pots against. So sick. He’s not a regular but we are playing a lot of hands against each other and he has a Cubs hat on so that will be his identifier today.

I open JJ, cutoff 3-bets, big blind all in, I call; then check-call flop and turn on Q high board before getting a free showdown against AA.

8:20 PM: Nothing exciting the past hour. I flopped a set of aces and got one small bet after the flop. I ate dinner. Street tacos. Yum. I’m down $800.

8:41 PM: Cubbies button straddles, I 3-bet AA from the big, everyone else folds and he folds on the Q82 flop. I mean come on. I guess little wins are better than large losses. Bright side!

8:50 PM: I can see a light! Folds to a regular action player in the cutoff I’ve mentioned many times before but have yet to give a nickname, but I will now. Megaton raises, I decide to 3-bet the Q9o on button and the big blind caps it. Flop is JTx, big bets, and we both call. Turn is an 8 and I get two big bets from both of them and the big blind pays me off on the river.

Just saw this line from Action Bronson: four players limp, SB calls, he raises in the big; it checks around on the flop and then he just power folds on the turn. I get to play with these people every day. 8:56 PM: I didn’t expect this game to be in jeopardy this early in the night but we are currently 8-handed and it looks like 2-3 of these guys could be leaving any minute.

9:06 PM: Sigh. Whole table just evaporated. 5 players literally just left at the same time.

Playing 3-handed with Taz and one other player. This is a pretty good spot but who knows how long they’ll play with me. Honestly, I expect Taz to eject as soon as he loses a couple hands.

9:20 PM: Unlikely to post any hands while we are playing this short.

10:15 PM: On a break. I’ve been straddling on the button every orbit. Playing 3-handed I don’t really see a down side to doing this.

In the straddle with Qd5x. Taz defends. I check. He check-calls me all the way down on K96dd-4d-J with… J5o, no diamond. Scratching my head on that one.

I call SB with 93hh. Other player checks big. Flop T83. I bet and he calls. Same on 9 turn. But when the 9 pairs on the river, he raises. I 3-bet and he calls with J9. What a runout!

I guess 3-handed play has been good for me. I’m down $600 overall now.

11:12 PM: Epic comeback. I crushed it 3-handed. Ended up finishing +$265.

I’m not going to lie. I ran really really good, but my opponents were making it pretty easy too. I won’t go into the constant mistakes they were making but I will give an example of just how pure I was running.

I straddle T4hh on the button. Both players call. Flop is T76 one heart and two diamonds. The small blind leads out and raises me back when I raise. The turn is the 7h and I raise him again. I don’t think I have the best hand, but I don’t think he will raise back unless he has a full house and I can check back if I don’t improve on the river – and I’m planing to call a river bet anyway. But he does 3-bet me. I call. River a flush and call again while saying “I might have gotten lucky.” He tables 98 and my flush is good.

Eh. Not a great session. Lots of hours of torture but, as usual, short-handed play was good to me and I’m pretty happy to finish with a win.

h1

Molly’s Game, The Shape of Water, A Ghost Story

January 9, 2018

I’m pretty far behind on posting my thoughts on entertainment content, so I’m just going to pump it all out right now.

Molly’s Game (2017) – This is a rare occurrence where a movie is significantly better than the book it was based on thanks in large part to Aaron Sorkin’s uncanny ability to translate stories to the big screen with his ability to write snappy and entertaining dialogue-heavy scenes. There’s a line in the movie where Idris Elba’s character says something about the best part of Molly’s story taking place after her book was published; he’s not wrong. In fact, his character didn’t even exist in the book. All the court drama is fresh material and it is quite great. Jessica Chastain and Elba are wonderful in their roles. Michael Cera’s character is actually the actor Tobey Maguire and while he’s painted pretty slimy in this movie, he plays a much bigger villain role in the book. For instance, Tobey insists on using his own personal Shuffle Master for the games and charges Molly to use it. I wasn’t moved by the book at all. I thought it was an interesting story, but I didn’t feel bad for Molly Bloom. This movie made me feel something. Kudos to Aaron Sorkin’s writing and directing and a great cast.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

The Shape of Water (2017) – This movie blew me away. Guillermo del Toro directs a wonderfully beautiful film with a fun (but kind of weird) love story about not judging a book by its cover. Sally Hawkins is ridiculously good in this movie, playing a mute that works in a secret government building as a cleaning lady and falls in love with a Sea Monster/Man they are holding captive. This is a film that is firing on all cylinders: visually, musically, and technically. Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins are great in supporting roles and Michael Shannon is terrific as the story’s main villain – goodness that guy can make you hate him. The Shape of Water might not wind up being my favorite movie of 2017, but it is almost certainly the best all around 2017 film I’ve seen so far. This movie is highly artistic and a little out there, so it might not be for everyone. My friend I saw it with had the audacity to call it “alright.”

8/10 (Must See)

A Ghost Story (2017) – This was an experience. I had no clue what I was getting into and was totally floored by the direction this movie takes. Casey Affleck plays husband to Rooney Mara, but passes away after a car accident early on in the movie only to return as the stereotypical-looking ghost in a white sheet. He returns to their home and watches her grieve – including an uncomfortably long four minute scene of Rooney Mara devouring a pie – and eventually move on. There is no interaction between ghost and grieving wife and even though the spirit was able travel from the morgue to their home, it remains behind after she moves out and other people begin to move in and out, and a serious amount of time passes. It’s a weird movie. There is very little dialogue after Casey Affleck’s character dies, as most of the film is music and a ghost observing. And yet, it was incredibly entrancing, moving, and quite thought-provoking. I really wanted my wife to watch it but I’m sure she’d hate it, so I didn’t even bother suggesting it. I’m hesitant to recommend this movie, but I loved it and I wanted to watch it again right after I saw it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Raw (2017) – Technically, this movie was viewed at film festivals in 2016, but I don’t think it was released in theaters until 2017. This is a pretty bizarre French-language film about a young vegetarian girl forced to eat meat while getting hazed during orientation at a veterinarian school and develops an insatiable desire for meat and discovers that humans are quite tasty! There’s lots of weird stuff in this movie – it’s overly gross and sexual at times – and I would not recommend it to more conservative audiences. I thought it was pretty fun though and fans of horror movies from other countries shouldn’t be put off by it’s boundary pushing.

6/10 (Recommended)

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) – Happened to watch this on Netflix and thought it was a pretty fun, but not great horror movie with a twist. Tucker and Dale are harmless “hillbillies” that a group of teens mistake for murderers and the teens accidentally kill themselves one-by-one while the survivors blame it all on Tucker and Dale. There’s a don’t judge a book by its cover theme here too, but it’s pretty superficial and this film is just a light horror comedy that’s worth a watch if you have some time.

5/10 (Watchable)