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Marathon Monday: $15/$30 Debuts @ Palace! (A Live Blog)

November 20, 2017

10:50 AM: Arriving at Palace and ecstatic to see 17 names on the list for this game. Last time I was here – late on Wednesday night – there were only 5 names on the list and I was legitimately concerned that this might not happen.

I like to buy in for at least 37.5 big bets for LHE games, but I typically buy bigger for red chip games. I will be sitting down with $1500.

11 AM: Okay, make that 20 names on the list. Not sure how many of them are actually here.

11:06 AM: Cards in the air starting 6-handed with the 20th name on the list getting a seat. Oh oh.

11:19 AM: Still 6-handed. I can see three people on the list that are in other games right now. If you scared, say you scared!

12:07 PM: This is fun. We are still 6-handed and the only reason this game is going is because the right players are losing (me!) and right players are winning.

Currently -$500 as the only pots I’ve won are preflop steals and small continuation bluffs.

I just had this awesome hand: open 66; cutoff and button cold call and big blind defends. Flop 742 two diamonds, I bet and get two callers. Turn 7h, opening up backdoor flush draw. I bet and both call again. River is a black ten and I check-call, losing to T8 of hearts.

12:13 PM: We gain our first player! And he’s a certifiable maniac. Game on!

12:37 PM: Taking my first break. I’m down $500 and still haven’t won a showdown. I was pretty close to reloading – which is at about 1.5 racks for me – but I just made a flush in a decent pot and didn’t get called on the river.

Had our first hit and run. No surprise there. Picked up two players though – we are now 8-handed.

12:46 PM: A new player sat down with $300 as I was getting up to take my break and was busto before I sat back down 8 minutes later.

1:16 PM: Game fills up for the first time!

People buying in for $500 and taking $20/$40 overs buttons. Uhm. Okay.

1:23 PM: The maniac is batting 1.000 against me. Seems like KJ will turn the tides on KJx two club flop but he check-raises me on 9c turn, and I decide to call down unimproved. He shows JJ and his expert slow play costs him multiple bets. Bright side?

Still haven’t won a showdown. Down ~$800 and working on my Zen deep breathing exercises!

1:35 PM: Reloaded! In for $2500.

1:46 PM: Early break. I’m officially steaming.

Maniac raises three limpers, I cold call KT of clubs, and we go six ways to T84 with two spades. Everybody checks to me and I bet. Folds to the maniac and he check-raises me. Unbelievable. I call him down and he shows me 44. Dude risks a free card in a huge pot with 5 opponents just so he can raise me? Oh, it hurts! This dude is SMASHING me.

2:06 PM: I’m down over $1100. I still haven’t won a showdown. The maniac has over $1600 in front of him on my direct right. If the Poker Gods really hate me today, he will rack up and leave in the next hour.

2:33 PM: I three bet a LAG with 66 and flop middle set. The flush gets there on the river and I’m actually ever so slightly disappointed when I don’t get check-raised. I won my first showdown! 3.5 hours into my session – and I was playing 6-handed for over an hour. Pretty impressive.

2:40 PM: I sit down and buy the button and the maniac button straddles. I defend Q9dd and two others come along. The pot doesn’t go off for five bets each so I might actually have a shot here.

Flop is QJ8 one diamond and only the maniac calls my flop lead. Check around on 9 turn and he calls when I bet the 9 river. He shows J8. We are breaking some serious ice here! Maniac is no longer 100% against me and I sucked out on him.

Finally picking up a little momentum with four showdowns won in the last hour.

3:30 PM: The Legend is in the box. The mother#%$*ing Legend!

3:47 PM: Someone asks for a setup. There’s no escaping that nonsense.

A short while ago, there were 11 names on the list, but when someone got up, half of them passed and now there are 6.

4:00 PM: Five hours into my session and I’m stuck $1200 or $1300. I have not been running good when I play pots but I’ve also been crazy card dead. I’ve had TT once. I’ve had JJ+ zero times.

This game is good right now but if the wrong people get up it could turn in a hurry. Three of the next four players on the list are either solid or nitty.

4:37 PM: Finally picked up QQ! In a 3-bet multiway pot no less. Didn’t show it down but I’ll take it.

Also added on for another $1000, so I’m in this game for $3500 now. I can hardly wait for people to stop by and comment on how well I’m doing.

5:24 PM: The maniac just cashed out. For like $200. He peaked around $1700, mostly winning pots against me. I got basically none of that back as he sprayed it around to everyone else. I’m still -$1500. His departure and replacement by a nit makes this game significantly worse.

6:09 PM: My buddy Peter sits down an hour ago and just immediately goes to crushing and already has a $499 jackpot under his belt. Dealer didn’t see the straight flush and I was trying to back him up, but they are paying Peter anyway.

6:22 PM: Peter raises a series of limpers and I 3-bet AK from the small blind. Limpers fold! Well that certainly doesn’t happen in a Palace $8/$16 game. 3-handed and I bet A98 and they both call (Overs). Turn is a 7. I bet, one snap folds, and Peter tank-folds and asks “Ace no good, right?” Claims A2. Peter, always a thorn in my side.

6:30 PM: Cha Mang in the game. Getting close to house game status.

7:07 PM: Just a brutal session so far. Currently stuck about $1800. Still super card dead and any step forward is followed by three steps back. Absolutely no momentum in 8+ hours of play. The game is far worse than it was a few hours ago. There’s a chance I might not try to stretch this into Marathon territory tonight.

7:19 PM: Now I’m really on tilt. Cha just took my extra water because he “didn’t want to wait for the server to come back around.” Oh, really?

8:04 PM: Captain America is in the box. I told him he probably won’t be saying “thank you” to me tonight and he promptly deals me QQ which flops top set and holds up somehow.

Before that, I picked up AJdd in the small blind. Peter raises the whole table on the button and since the limpers have been folding to 3-bets I just call and play a multiway pot.

The flop is all medium cards with two diamonds and I act without thinking – I check. With the PFR on the button I actually like leading out here better as it gives the field a chance to call one bet before Peter likely raises. I want to get as many bets in on the flop as I can and betting is the best way to do this. Especially since Peter isn’t a reckless c-bettor. If he flopped no immediate equity, he’s not torching a bet here.

He does check and I get zero bets in on the flop. Ugh.

Turn is another small or medium card and I don’t think I will win by betting so I check. There’s a bet, a raise, and a cold call back to me and this pot is large enough for me to continue.

It stays at two bets and, by God, I make my flush. Two players call and I scoop my only substantial pot of the day. Currently at -$1300.

9:12 PM: I’m finally on a little heater. Sets and overpairs winning showdowns and my buddy Mike sits down and immediately tries to triple barrel bluff me with AK high in a four bet four-way pot. I call down with 99 on T High run out. Only stuck $1100 now. I actually thought I was in better shape than that, but I’ll take the forward momentum!

10:29 PM: Heater over. Back to card dead and flop whiffs. Back to -$1500. Mike’s been playing for 90 minutes and has had QQ+ three more times than I’ve had them in 11.5 hours.

11:42 PM: Peter is no longer running good. He is running really, really bad. Like so bad, I can see that he’s in actual physical pain.

And then this hand happens:

Two players limp in, Peter calls, I check with AJo from the BB, which is something I basically never do in this situation so maybe I’m on tilt myself. But really I’ve been whiffing so many flops that I’ve been doing a lot of raising pre and checking on the flop. So I decide to check in bad position with a strong hand.

Flop is A62 rainbow and Peter leads from the small blind. Very tempting to raise here but the pot is micro and I have a monster for this situation. I flat and so do the other two players.

Turn is a 5 and now Peter checks. I bet, one caller, and Peter check-raises! What?! I can’t fold here so I call and so does our straggler.

River is another 5 and now Peter checks! I think about for quite some time before saying “I want the pain” and betting. The other player folds and Peter shows immediate vocal and physical exasperation which is basically like turning A2 face up. He doesn’t though. He folds it instead.

I’ve had some better luck recently and am currently stuck less than $1000 for the first time in HOURS!

12:45 AM: The Riddler distracting me for the last half hour.

1:15 AM: After going my first 14 hours of this session without getting AA, I get them twice in three hands, the first time flopping A99 in a 4-bet pot. I have come all the way back to -$500. I can still salvage this thing!

1:27 AM: AA again! Crazy how these streaks happen. All three hands good too.

1:32 AM: Variance is INSANE. AA again! Four times in less than 20 minutes. That’s just crazy.

1:50 AM: I took a short break as a player was cashing out and there were 6 people still on the list. I somehow came back to a 7-handed game with no list 5 minutes later.

3:35 AM: I just got home. I was severely distracted my last few hours, but a flurry of KK and QQ followed those Aces and somehow managed to book a +$25 win for the day. Perhaps the best $25 I’ve ever made. I’ve been stuck more chips in a poker game and booked a win, but I’ve never been stuck $1800 and booked one. I would say it feels amazing but I’m too drained and tired to feel anything. Looking forward to a real day off tomorrow!

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Justice League (2017)

November 20, 2017

Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jason Mamoa, Henry Cavill
Director: Zack Snyder (Man Of Steel, Watchmen, Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice)

Bottom Line: I can’t believe it. I didn’t hate it. It’s a miracle! Seriously, I really thought I would never like Justice League. Zack Snyder already disappointed me beyond belief with his abysmal Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice and I really thought the trailers for this movie looked like a total mess too. I had every expectation that it was going to suck and only a very small piece of me held out hope that it could be good.

I was so pleasantly surprised to enjoy this movie. I mean… it wasn’t amazing. It’s not going to crack my top 10 of 2017 and it’s not even in my top 3 superhero films of the year. But it didn’t suck! IT DIDN’T SUCK!!! YES!

All the members of the team get their moments to shine and the many concerns I had about Cyborg and Aquaman were quickly relieved. That’s not to say I’m looking forward to a Cyborg solo film – I really think that would do poorly – but he wasn’t cringe-worthy like I was expecting and I think he added to the film quite a bit. Jason Mamoa and Ezra Miller are great additions as Aquaman and The Flash, respectively.

Wonder Woman is still the star of this team. Gal Gadot is just perfect in that role and for whatever reason the filmmakers know how to make that character awesome.

I wish I could say the same for Batman. I like Affleck in the role, but in a lot of ways, I think Batman might be the weakest link in this crew – and it’s not because he’s a human being with no powers. Or maybe it is. A superhero like Batman worked amazingly well in the realistic world that Christopher Nolan crafted for his Dark Knight trilogy, but a movie like Justice League, which features heroes that can fly and aliens from other planets, well, Batman seems a little out of place. That seems to work just fine in an animated form, but something about seeing him involved in these crazy scenarios in live action form makes you think “maybe you should sit this one out, bud.” I dunno… maybe he will grow on me over time.

Justice League still has a really gloomy and grim setting, but there is a noticeable change in tone that adds quite a bit of humor and I think most of the jokes landed the laughs they were looking for. There are some great scenes involving Superman and Flash (weird… Superman returns – what a spoiler!) and another one with Wonder Woman’s lasso that you can’t help but think Joss Whedon added in post-production after Zack Snyder left the film due to a family tragedy. A little humor and charm certainly makes the movie far more enjoyable than its predecessor, which took itself so seriously it was almost comical.

Steppenwolf is the big baddie here and I’m honestly not familiar with him at all, despite watching the entire run of Justice League Unlimited and basically every animated film DC has released. Maybe I just missed him or forgot him, but I was pretty shocked when I heard a villain I’m completely unfamiliar with was who the JL would be battling in this movie. I thought he was okay. I guess he was believable as a formidable opponent for these superheroes, but there wasn’t anything particularly special or interesting about him.

All in all, I thought Justice League was a fun, but not great film. It certainly won’t convert anyone that’s anti-superhero movie, but it gives this fan of the genre hope for the DCEU going forward and it was honestly looking pretty grim last year. I am now looking forward to the next adventure. Bring on Darkseid!

Replay Value: I think I can enjoy this movie multiple times.
Sequel Potential: There are 19 movies in the pipeline for the DCEU at the moment, but only five of them have actual release dates and who knows how many of them will ever see the light of day. Aquaman comes out next year and Shazam! and Wonder Woman 2 are due out in 2019. A Justice League sequel will surely get made, but everything else DC has hinted at has to be taken with a grain of salt at this point.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 6 (Recommended)

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$20/$40 Mega Heater & Incoming Jinx

November 18, 2017

The coolest thing about tracking your poker results with a phone app is the ability to filter all sorts of information. For instance, my data goes back to August of 2014 and I can tell you that I’ve lost more money playing $8/$16 Omaha 8/Better @ The Orleans in Las Vegas than I have in any other specific game during that time span. Or that I’ve lost more money at Muckleshoot than any other location… by far.

The reason I bring this up is because it felt like I’ve been running way above average in the $20/$40 LHE game at Fortune lately. So I did a little filtering and discovered that my hunch wasn’t wrong.

While it hasn’t felt like I’ve been absolutely murdering the game per say, it has felt like I haven’t had to face much negative variance in a long time. I regularly post wins of 5+ racks in the Palace $8/$16 game, but those 5+ rack wins have been much harder to come by at the $20/$40 level and I only have one such win in this 15-session sample size I’m about to mention. Still, I’m on a run so good I thought it might be unprecedented in my statistical history (it’s not – but I’ll get to that later).

This is what it looks like:

-Since May 1st, I’ve played 15 sessions of $20/$40 at Fortune and I’ve only lost twice.
-My worst loss is -$199 during that span.
-It’s not like I’m hit and running: I average 7.5 hours/session during this stretch.
-I’ve won nine sessions in a row.
-My best win is +$2907 and that’s my only win of 4+ racks during this stretch.
-The overall damage is +317 Big Bets at 2.84 BB/HR.

This is not normal. Since I’ve been tracking on this app, I’ve played 824 sessions of LHE in casinos and I’ve won in 54% of them. Over those 824 sessions, I’ve won at a 1.12 Big Bet/hour rate overall across all limits, so I’m a solid winner, but I still lose almost half the time I sit down to play LHE poker. There’s a lot of losing that goes on in poker and heaters like this are pretty rare, so you really have to enjoy them when they do happen.

Out of curiosity I filtered those 824 sessions down to sessions of 6+ hours to see if it makes a difference. It does. My winning percentage jumps up to 61% over 431 sessions.

As I discovered, this is not the best heater I’ve been on in a specific game at a specific casino. Unsurprisingly, I’ve had better runs in the $8/$16 LHE game at Palace in Lakewood.

I have multiple impressive streaks at Palace but this is by far my best one:

-From June 23rd to August 10th of last year I had 14 straight winning $8/$16 sessions at the Palace.

-My best win was +$2377 which happened to be on my birthday and still ranks as my best $8/$16 win of all-time.

-Overall, I won 493 big bets for a win rate of 5.5 BB/HR during this crazy stretch.

What a sick run! But the timing of it makes it even crazier. I had just got back from a massive run at the 2016 WSOP and in early August I was on a road trip and played a $30/$60 with a $50/$100 kill at Ameristar in Colorado where I had my best cash game session ever: +$4245.

All in all, quite a life-changing nine weeks.

But the thing about streaks is that they all end eventually. I don’t expect to win every time I play $20/$40 and I keep expecting to book that inevitable brutal loss. It will happen. So will a bad downswing.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I jinxed this run good just by mentioning it!

Now on to some fun hands from this past week.

How Not To Play Kings

Hand #1

$20/40, I open from a later position with AJo and the button three bets me. The flop comes down AJx and I check-call the flop, check-raise the turn, and get paid off on the river by… KK. I feel like there may have been an opportunity to save a bet in there somewhere… I dunno.

Hand #2

$20/$40, same opponent, next day. They open UTG, an exceptionally loose player calls from MP, and I defend AJ from the BB. I check and overcall on A75 with two hearts flop. Same action on blank turn. River is the 9h, completing the flush draw and the 86 straight draw and I check and overcall again. And UTG tables… KK! Lol. My hand is good. I feel like maybe a bet could be saved somewhere but I dunno.

Hand #3

$20/$40, someone I’m unfamiliar with opens from MP as I 3-bet AQ, they flat, and then check-raise me on J73 with two diamonds. I call with my two overcards and backdoor nut flush draw. The turn is a pretty Q and now they check? Easy bet. River blank and I bet the obvious best hand and they call with… KK! This hand plays out the same way if they bet the turn and river but in that scenario I don’t think I have the nuts!

How I Play Kings… Sometimes

$20/$40, a very wide and aggressive – and reckless – player opens from EP, everyone else folds, and I defend KK from the BB. I like to have some strong hands in my defending range and I think it helps me collect extra big bets later in the hand.

The flop is 873 and I check-raise. Even though I’d ultimately like to check-raise the turn, I mix in some flop check-raising a portion of the time as I will occasionally be able to get three bets in on the flop and still check-raise the turn. My opponent just calls though.

The turn is a T and now they raise my bet. I think it’s still far too likely that my hand is good here – especially since it’s disguised, so I three bet and they snap-cap it. Gulp.

River pairs the board and I check-call while wishfully saying, “I hope you have Queens!” And they table… QQ. Yay! Now that’s a 4-betting the turn hand if I’ve ever seen one!

It’s Hard To Play A Full House Bad

But watch me do it!

$20/$40, another player I’m unfamiliar with opens from MP and I 3-bet 77 on the button. The small blind, a tight and solid player, calls which indicates a pretty strong holding and the original raiser now caps it.

The flop is J87 rainbow and the small blind leads out, the preflop capper calls, I raise, SB three bets, and I cap.

Turn is a J and the SB leads out again. The other player calls and I raise it. They both call.

I think this is some pretty optimistic thinking on my part. I have history with the small blind in O8, but not in LHE. I know she is a nitty player. I’m honestly not sure if she would call three bets with suited Broadway hands, so one has to wonder how many Jacks she has in her range. Even if she does call those hands, I highly doubt she goes crazy with them on this flop against an obviously nutted holding.

So what can she have? T9 suited? I really doubt it. It really feels like she has to have 88 here and this is running through my head as early as the flop action.

So what the hell am I doing on the turn?

But wait, it gets worse!

The river is a Queen and as that card hits the board I am watching the other player in the hand and he has a reaction to it.

But how can I check back a full house? Especially when it seems like only both of my opponents could very well have me beat now.

I bet, the small blind calls, and now the other player springs to life with a raise.

WOW, I SUCK.

I can basically throw my hand in a garbage can now – it’s that worthless. But I call. So does the small blind, now looking at me like “how big of an idiot are you?”

But my live read was a bad one. He reacted to the Q for some reason but he doesn’t have QQ. He has JJ. Quads. And she has 88.

A mega-cooler for sure, but goodness it’s hard to play a hand as bad as I played this one.

This Time I Have The Damn Nuts

$20/$40, I try to isolate a super loose player by raising 66 from the hi-jack but both the cutoff and the button come along for the ride.

Flop is TT9 with two clubs. Terrible board for me to c-bet since so many hands are calling even if they don’t have pairs yet. Everybody checks though.

The turn is a K and I have given up. Everybody checks though.

River is a J. Everybody checks and my hand is good.

TT9KJ. Take it 66.

This is a $20/$40 game. I think the fact that my hand was good is amusing enough but three different players at this level actually let me show it down… is, well, hilarious to me.

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Weekly Music Update: Kamaiyah, Jidenna, Eminem & Beyonce

November 15, 2017

New Playlist Additions

KamaiyahBefore I Wake (hip-hop/rap) – Kamaiyah is a double dose of rarity for me: a female rapper that I enjoy and a Bay Area rapper that I enjoy. She gets a lot of great production and has a really smooth vocal style and doesn’t abuse her sexuality. I liked her debut album and after 2-3 listens already, I’m a fan of this one also.

JidennaBoomerang – EP (hip-hop/rap) – I’m a fan of Jidenna. I’m a fan of EPs. This is a solid compliment to his LP The Chief released earlier this year – complete with a “Bambi” sequel!

Eminem & Beyonce – “Walk On Water” (hip-hop/rap) – Oh man. It’s becoming less of a secret that Eminem has a new album on the very near horizon and “Walk On Water” is the first song leaked from it… and it’s a disappointment to me. I can appreciate the message – the pressure for an artist to continually come with great content and better their past releases – and I enjoy Beyonce’s singing, but goodness the production is lackluster. Eminem is basically rapping over someone playing a piano and it sounds jarring at times and I have to say is quite a letdown overall. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.

Chris BrownHeartbreak on a Full Moon (R&B/soul) – I’m not going to lie: 45 Chris Brown songs is quite the chore and not exactly one I’m looking forward to, but my niece recommended this to me and I feel like it’s good form to listen to other people’s recommendations if I want them to listen to mine. I guess I don’t know much about Chris Brown, but I assumed I wasn’t a fan and I’ve mostly enjoyed the songs that I’ve heard from this collection so far.

Cam’ronThe Program (hip-hop/rap) – Literally just added this to my playlist as I was typing this post. Can’t say I’m checking for Cam’ron, but he’s always had talent and is probably worth giving a shot.

Other Notable Releases

Wiz KhalifaLaugh Now, Fly Later (hip-hop/rap) – This dude sucks now.

Too $hortHella Disrespectful: Bay Area Mixtape (hip-hop/rap) – Remember what I said about Bay Area rappers. I liked Too $hort when I was 12. Vocally and lyrically, I really think he’s one of the worst rappers ever.

Angel OlsenPhases (alternative)

Recent Albums Update

Sam SmithThe Thrill of it All (pop) – Definitely a good album that I can listen to all the way through.

KalelaTake Me Apart (R&B/soul) – Haven’t really listened to yet.

ELHAEAURA II (R&B/soul) – Haven’t listened at all.

LE$The Catalina Wine Mixer (hip-hop/rap) – A surprise release that I wasn’t initially aware of, but LE$ has been one of my favorite hip-hop artists over the past year and his work ethic is extraordinary: this is his fifth release in the last 18 months and last year’s Tecnnoviolet was a top 5 rap album of 2016 for me. Considering the volume of music LE$ is putting out, the consistency of the quality is extremely impressive. If this dude isn’t on your radar, he should be. I wouldn’t say he’s elite lyrically or vocally, but the guy knows how to make good rap music.

Brent FaiyazSonder Son (r&b/soul) – My goodness this is fire. I played a 16 hour poker session yesterday and I kept finding myself coming back to this album and “Stay Down” in particular. I must have listened to that song over ten times yesterday. “Talk 2 U” is another highlight and both of those songs sound like immediate classics. This whole album is good though. I’m pretty close to giving this a final rating and it will definitely be a strong one.

dvsnMorning After (r&b/soul) – I gave this a less than favorable first impression and I have to say this album has grown on me tremendously. I’m still figuring out how I feel about the album as a whole, but it’s a strong R&B release and I can say this much with certainty: “Claim” is a classic!

Big K.R.I.T.4eva Is a Mighty Long Time (hip-hop/rap) – Haven’t really given this a dedicated listen yet. As of now, I can’t say any songs have stood out to me.

YelawolfTrial By Fire (hip-hop/rap) – Yelawolf is a good rapper. He knows his niche, executes well, and has plenty of substance and authenticity. I heard two songs this past week that really stood out to me: “True To Yourself” and “Keeps Me Alive” – both added to my Best Songs of 2017 playlist.

H.E.R.H.E.R. (r&B/soul) – Still haven’t given this a full listen, but I’ve liked basically every song that has come up on random so far.

Hustle GangWe Want Smoke (hip-hop/rap) – Finally got the delete. Just no interest.

Wu-TangThe Saga Continues (hip-hop/rap) – From last week: “I’ve listened to the first half of the album four times and the second half twice, so I’m still getting a feel for some of it. I know this much: Method Man absolutely destroys over multiple appearances. He not only sounds completely rejuvenated, but as good as he ever has – so many quotables from Meth: “Mayday! Mayday! But no charge, I’m nutty with the bars/ that’s a Payday, so bruh (sober), this ain’t even a bar, this is AA.” The production is also a massive highlight. I stopped giving albums numbered ratings, but I can say this much: this Wu-Tang album is inching up my Very Good category and getting consideration for Top Notch, which puts it in Albums of the Year territory.” Not much to add. I still can’t get over how much Method Man crushes this album.

BeckTrue Colors (alternative) – Deleted. Not for me.

Dame D.O.L.L.A.CONFIRMED (hip-hop/rap) – Another album I gave a less than favorable first impression that has grown on me a little. Dame seems to be more entertaining to me in smaller doses.

Best of 2017 Playlist Additions

“True To Yourself” – Yelawolf, Trial By Fire

“Keeps Me Alive” – Yelawolf, Trial By Fire

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Happy Death Day (2017)

November 14, 2017

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard
Director: Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones)

Bottom Line: Hip-hop legend Nas once made a song titled “No Idea’s Original” and Happy Death Day is born from that notion, essentially stealing its entire concept from the 1993 classic comedy Groundhog Day in which Bill Murray’s character keeps reliving the same day over and over. Happy Death Day is Groundhog Day with a horror twist – the protagonist keeps waking up on the same day that she is murdered by a masked killer and has to solve the mystery in order to escape the time loop.

I was so close to loving this movie. Oh so close. And then a questionable ending brought it down a notch.

Jessica Rothe does a great job as Tree, an ungrateful and selfish sorority sister that undergoes an impressive transformation as the repeated experience makes her realize what a bad person she is. It’s quite the star-making turn as Rothe is a very convincing jerk before becoming unbelievably charming. I really enjoyed watching this character’s growth and Rothe embodies the role perfectly. She reminds me of a cross between Blake Lively and Emma Roberts, but I’ve never seen either of those actresses do as fine a job as Rothe does here.

The writing in this movie was very good. Tree reacts very believably to her situation and watching her try to solve her murder and go through the different emotional phases of her plight – from confusion to scared to gung ho to exasperation – is really a delight. The script is also very funny and the humor really helps the flow of the film.

Happy Death Day isn’t very scary, but it’s definitely enjoyable, funny, and was overall satisfying, even if the ending sort of let me down a little. It was very close to being a much for horror fans, but I’ll just give it a strong recommendation instead.

Replay Value: I would happily watch this again. Knowing the answer to “who is the killer?” question would make a second viewing pretty fun.
Sequel Potential: It really doesn’t seem like there could or should be a sequel, but apparently the director has been quoted as saying he has plans for a second movie. That seems like a bad idea to me.
Oscar Potential: None.

Grade: 6 (Recommended)

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Marathon Monday: An Ugly Losing Session

November 14, 2017

Since I’ve started making regular blog posts I haven’t been doing much losing which has been pretty nice. I know it’s been overdue. And even though the end of this session doesn’t look horrible, it was actually quite brutal.

I got off to a pretty good start. After 3-4 hours, I was up around $500 total and I was getting really strong preflop holdings. I already had AA, KK, QQ, and JJ multiple times each and I did pretty good with them except the one time my KK ran into AA.

I had another hand where I raised in LP with AT with the T of diamonds and decided to peel one when I got donked into on the J32 two diamond flop with one caller in between. The turn was the 7 of diamonds and I overcalled another bet. The river was the K of diamonds and now the caller in between leads out? I call, the other player folds, and I beat his set of threes. Eh. I wonder. Peeling this flop with the A of diamonds might make sense, but the T of diamonds might be too optimistic. Or maybe folding getting 10-1 is too weak? I don’t know. A spot worth examining more. That line with a set though? LOLOLOL.

An All-Time Classic – Super Torch

This is another hand that occurred during the first few hours of the day and, oh boy, was it a true gem. The action folds around to the button – a player that has become a recent regular and has a rather insane and unorthodox style that frequently includes absurd aggression as you’ll see. In this hand, he open-limps the button, I look down at A4 of diamonds in the small blind and raise it. The big blind – a player I would describe as overly aggressive and borderline maniacal – three bets it, and now the button turns his open-limp on the button monster into a 4-betting hand. Okay.

Andrew Neeme would probably describe the flop as “favorable:” 532 rainbow. The flop is capped and I put in zero of the bets or raises. I just knew these guys were going to go off and I wouldn’t have to reveal my hand strength until the turn.

The turn completes the rainbow with a Ten, the big blind bets and the button comes forward with two stacks of 8 chips lined up about to raise and then decides at the last second, right before the betting line, to just call. Technically, with a forward motion rule at this casino, one could enforce a raise here, but that’s definitely not my style. I enforce it the old fashioned way – by making it two bets myself. They both call.

The river is an 8. I bet, the big blind calls, and now the button raises! I am not afraid of the nuts here, so I have an easy raise, except the button only has three chips left after making it two bets. Obviously it is better for me to just call and let the big blind put in eight more chips than it is for me to raise him out of the pot, so I just call. And since I’m sitting in seat 9 and the button is in seat 8 and the big blind probably can’t hear me from seat 1, I quietly tell the button I still have him beat, so that my sudden passivity doesn’t make him think he’s won the pot. The big blind calls and I fast roll my straight. It’s good.

For whatever reason, the button decides to table his hand and shows… 82 of clubs.

Now go back and read that hand again. Enjoy!

$499 Jackpot! Club Straight Flush

As I’ve noted before, the reason Mondays are so popular now is because every jackpot that is not a Royal Flush is worth $499. On this hand, the cutoff open-limps and I look down at 54 of clubs on the button. I call? I raise?

Three players to the 732 flop with the 7 and 3 of clubs. There’s some action and we see the 6 of clubs on the turn – straight flush! Jackpot!

All of this is true… except one thing:

I folded before the flop.

I think one could argue that I could play this hand in this spot, but it’s really an unattractive situation. If I do play, I’m going to be raising to isolate the limper and use my position to try and win the pot, regardless of whether I hit the board or not. There are a lot of hands I’d do this with – 5 high is typically not one of them. The jackpot overlay isn’t enough to sway my decision. I wouldn’t even think about playing hands like 52s or 84s here and I don’t think 54s is doing much better.

Interestingly enough, the limper ended up winning this pot with 52 suited and that makes her an absolute prime candidate to isolate on the button with any reasonable holding. If I had seen this showdown before this situation arose, I may have won an extra $500 yesterday.

AK Is The Nuts, Right?

A player opens, I three bet with AK and we head to a flop with 4 or 5 players. It’s a pretty one: AK3! I bet and one or two players call.

The turn is a Q and now the original preflop raiser check-raises me. Interesting. I feel like he rarely has JT here. He strikes me as the kind of player that would typically limp JT suited. So he’s repping AQ, KQ, or QQ – and maaaaaaybe AK. I feel like he would bet or raise the flop with AQ or AK, so I’m somewhat discounting those hands. So this is an exercise in hand-reading and recognizing available combos. There are only three combos of QQ. There are four combos of AK, six combos of AQ, and six combos of KQ. Out of his most likely hands (and there could be some spazzy AJ or QT type stuff too, though unlikely) only three out of 19 possible combos beat me. Even if we add in four combos of JT suited, that’s 7 combos out of 23 possible and we are still doing very well against his range. Using hand-reading, I’d say his most likely hands are QQ and KQ and going off his preflop flat call of my 3-bet and check-call on the flop, I’d lean towards KQ – and there are twice as many combos of that hand as there are of QQ anyway. So I think this is a pretty easy 3-bet all things considered.

I raise and he calls and now I feel better about my hand.

The river is a blank, I bet again, he calls, and I lose to QQ.

A Painful Fold

In this hand, there’s a button straddle, the small blind calls, and I just call with A8 suited in the big blind. I think in this situation, I prefer to encourage other people to enter the pot rather than try (usually unsuccessfully) and isolate from one of the worst positions with the whole field left to act behind me and the button basically never folding. I think the small blind calling with help create a multiway pot as well. The under the gun player three bets, another player calls, a maniac calls, and the button, small blind and myself all call.

The flop is K86 with two diamonds. This pot is large and I have enough of this board that I want to create the best chance for me to win the pot. I think that’s by donking into the preflop raiser and hoping he will force the rest of the field to call two bets cold. So I bet, but he just calls, so do two other players and the button raises. If I can get heads up here, I think it drastically improves my winning chances, so I three bet in the hopes of narrowing the field. It doesn’t go well: the PFR and maniac stay in and the button caps it. We all call.

The turn is a 4 and everybody checks. My hand seems better now.

The river is a 7 and it checks to the maniac. He bets and the button calls. Hmmmm. I had the button on a draw when he checked back the turn after capping the flop, but this call is perplexing. This is one of those spots where it’s okay to take some extra time and really think it through. The maniac can literally have anything and if the button didn’t call, this would be a snap for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about it long enough and I made a hasty fold. The maniac shows A6o and the button shows J6 of diamonds before tossing his hand in the muck. In retrospect, the button’s hand made perfect sense and if I really thought about it, I think I can recognize that he flopped a diamond draw that paired at some point. It’s possible he could have 64dd, 76dd, or 74dd – all of which made two pair – but the rest of his flush draw hands end up with one pair only – and he would certainly bet the turn with 64dd. UGH.

The rest of my session was a rollercoaster of variance that ended with a plummet. I went from +$500 early in the day, to close to even, back to +$250, close to even, back to +$500 and then at 10.5 hours into the session, I was stuck for the first time all day after my AQ ran into AA on an A high flop in a capped preflop pot. It never got better for me after that hand as I was whiffing flops and draws pretty much every time I got involved.

And suddenly I felt really exhausted. I had been up since 7:15 AM, it was midnight, and I had been playing for around 12 hours. This was no different from last week except that I was now running absolutely terrible and it my alertness and focus was rapidly disappearing. I had been taking breaks every 90 minutes all day long and for the last 3 or 4 hours I hadn’t gotten up to clear my head and it occurred to me that my A-game was gone, the variance was taking a toll on me, and it was time to go home. I picked up at my lowest point of the day and booked a $303 loss. All in all, an incredibly disappointing session that could have been much better if I had played a 54 of clubs or called with that A8 and a reminder to keep taking those breaks and not get complacent deep into my sessions.

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LHE with Friends!

November 12, 2017

I spent Thursday playing $8/$16 at Palace after catching a matinee of Jigsaw (review coming soon) and I don’t have a whole bunch to say about that session, but I did coax my friend Daniel into playing some LHE with me, which is notable because he’s a NLHE player and has been pretty open about his distaste for limit hold em poker. I even made a joke, tagging him on Facebook, saying that watching him play LHE was like seeing someone stuck in a Jigsaw trap.

Daniel basically stayed out of my way as I smashed flops most of the night, but we did play one very interesting – and oh so close to horribly devastating – pot together. In this hand, Daniel was a preflop raiser, there may have been another raise, there were lots of players, and I happily joined all that action with the JT of clubs from the small blind.

I got a very good flop of JT3 rainbow. Daniel lead out, a player or two called, I check-raised, Daniel called, now the latest position back-raises, I cap because this kind of play frequently checks back the turn, and we wind up getting all the bets in at least four ways.

Now here’s where things get interesting. The turn is a King, which is definitely one of my least favorite cards. Daniel could possibly have KK – although he got passive on the flop after leading initially – and he can certainly have AQ, and that hand makes a lot of sense given his line. Also, any of the flop callers can have Q9 or KJ or KT, plus AK and KQ aren’t far behind now. With all of this in mind, I think checking is my best play. So obviously I bet. Daniel immediately punishes me with a raise and now everyone else folds. His hand is so blatantly obviously AQ that I can hardly wait to fold my hand face up on the river if I miss to show how smart I am.

I call and the river does brick and before Daniel does anything, I turn my cards over. And then he turns QQ over in tempo and I can hardly believe the massive mistake I was so eager to make. I mean I’m still sick sitting here typing about it over three days later.

This is one of those massive errors that seems to revisit me every once in a while and you see so many “smart” players make over the years. They narrow someone down to one hand and then they act on that read and completely disregard the pot size. I’ve done it multiple times and I almost never do it now, but goodness was I ever ready to do it here. Thank you Daniel, for checking and saving me a lot of pain and heartache.

Now let’s talk about Daniel’s line. The thing I forgot is that Daniel basically never plays LHE, so narrowing his range down so thinly just can’t be wise – he might make plays that don’t make any sense to me. In NLHE, raising the turn here can make a lot of sense because he has QQ and is severely blocking the nut hand (AQ) and can easily represent it, with little fear that anyone else can have it. The problem in LHE is that, even though the blocker effect is still in play, you simply can’t apply the necessary pressure. All I have to do is call two big bets and I get to showdown in this massive pot. Plus, he’s underestimating the stickiness of the other Palace players – they just don’t fold.

I think if we were heads up, his turn raise makes more sense, because he can have straights and I really can’t, so I likely will never three bet and he can just showdown on the river when he misses and bet when he improves. The problem here is that we are still multiway on the turn and any of our other opponents can easily have hands like Q9, KJ, KT, KQ, etc. that are never folding.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think either of us played this turn well and I can’t believe how close I was to losing this whole pot out of sheer stupidity.

Another crazy pot happened later in the night when we had a round of button straddles going and I had K7 of hearts on the button and had to put in four bets before the flop.

I got a reasonable K96 with two spades flop and really liked my hand when everybody checked to me. The small blind (preflop 3-bettor) check-raised me, two others (including the preflop 4-bettor) cold called and I just called.

The turn was a pretty nice looking 7 and they all checked to me again. If I hadn’t improved, I might’ve checked here, but turning two pair made me a lot more confident about my hand. But then the small blind check-raised again, the next player called, and now the preflop 4-bettor wakes up with a check-three bet on the turn?!!? What?

I don’t often go into the tank in LHE but I was flabbergasted. My hand’s too strong to fold and I’m plenty confused, so I’m wasting time thinking, but sometimes I like to make sense of things before I proceed. The action seems pretty scary. I shouldn’t have the best hand.

But let’s think about that three bet. This player four bet before the flop. Then, second to last to act on the flop, he checked and cold called two bets after it was bet and raised back to him. Now, on the turn, it’s checked to him again and he risks giving another free card by checking to me. Okay, so he is putting in a cold three bet here – which is normally super strong – but I think it’s safe to assume this player does not have us beat.

The small blind could have us beat and the other player looks like he’s drawing but he could also be hanging on for dear life with a better two pair. But really, it actually looks like multiple players are going crazy with hands that are worse than mine.

So I call. Everyone else does too.

The river is the Jack of spades, completing the front door flush and improving QT and KJ as well. Everybody checks to me again. I’m pretty happy to show down at this point and somehow my hand is still good.

I wasn’t planning to write about this session so I didn’t keep any notes, but I do recall one other fun hand where I opened with AA and got raised on the turn on a Q74J board and then check-called the river when the J paired and they had… A5 offsuit. Gotta love that creativity!

All in all, a pretty sexy Thursday night session to the tune of +$1025.

I went to Fortune the next day for some $20/$40 and even though I didn’t write notes for this session either, I feel it’s important for me to mention how great the game was because the last two times I’ve posted about the Fortune $20/$40 it has been pretty negative. The game this Friday was amazing. One of the best I’ve ever played in. There were two fun, loose players at my starting table and then when I migrated to follow them later I found myself on the left of two guys that were playing every hand no matter what the action was to them. One of them played rather reasonably after the flop, but the other guy was recklessly aggressive, betting and raising when he had any piece of the board, no matter how little it was.

Here’s a typical example: they both limp in, I raise with JJ, the flop is A65 and the crazy guy bets, I call; the turn is a 7, he bets and I call; river is a blank, he bets and I call; he shows 73 offsuit.

I got off to a rough start and found myself in the game for $3500 pretty early in the day, but fortunately I was eventually able to take advantage of the favorable situation and had enough hands hold up (and I lost a bunch of sick ones all day!) that I was able to make a complete come all the way back and even booked a solid win of $1409. It really did feel like I was running bad most of the day, but the game was so good that when I did win the occasional pot, it was almost always massive. I also won $63 in NLHE waiting for my seat for a total win of $1472 for the day.

Pretty fortunate start to November so far!