Archive for April, 2012

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Wildhorse Casino: Poker Training

April 30, 2012

“It’s humbling, isn’t it?”

That’s what one of the regulars at my local casino said to me upon my return from the Spring Round Up at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton, Oregon. I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t right. This was my third trip to Pendleton and my third time coming home a loser. It doesn’t feel good and it proves I still have a long way to go as a poker player. I often get asked when I’m going to Vegas or if I’ll play the Main Event and my answer is: Let me conquer Pendleton first.

It’s not like I’m completely out of my league; there are plenty of pros that go for the series, but there are also plenty of fish and tons of money to be made in the live games. Plus, even pros are prone to making mistakes and everybody has leaks…you just have to find them and figure out how to exploit them.

My biggest problem is the kinds and sizes of the games they spread. When it comes to limit hold em–my area of expertise–the only limit they spread regularly is $4-$8, which is the exact same game I play every day back home. Whoopty doo, Basil! The most popular game at Wildhorse is the $2-$5 no limit hold em game. While I fancy myself a solid no limit player, my experience in live cash games is limited and $2-$5 plays way above my current bankroll. I’ve felt like I’ve held my own in this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m often the least experienced player at the table and have felt out of my comfort zone at times. I’m confident I can beat the game, but I can’t play it to my full ability because I’m absolutely not willing to lose a chunky portion of my bankroll playing in it. I take pride in the fact that I protect my bankroll and don’t take risky gambles with it. I am now gambling for a living–comfortably–while more accomplished players are broke, working day jobs, and advising me to take shots. “Why aren’t you playing the no limit game?” “Why are you selling your action?” Because I don’t ever want to work again in my life… that’s why.

All that said I did play 21 hours in the $2-$5 game and only lost $115 overall… But I did have the displeasure of running KK into AA for a $1200+ pot and I did turn a couple solid wins into losing sessions, which I feel reflects my inexperience as a no limit player more than a run of bad luck. The biggest thing I noticed was that I had a much tougher time the better the other players in the game were. When I was at a table of weak tight or inexperienced players, I could run over the table with little worry of anyone challenging my alpha male status or putting serious pressure on me… But I think the tougher players could sense my inexperience and continually put me in spots where I had to make difficult decisions. I wish they had a smaller no limit game that I could play in, but I suppose I just have to hope I have a bigger bankroll to work with on my next visit or maybe I will have someone back me in the cash games.

The biggest reason I had a losing trip was my first session of $4-$8 limit hold em I played. I was playing in the game with my buddy Vince and somehow we convinced the table to agree to an automatic straddle, which means that whoever was first to act after the blinds had to raise to $8 without looking at their hand… Or in the case of a kill pot, raise to $16 blind. Needless to say, it was a highly volatile game with lots of action and we were playing short-handed most of the night, which can dramatically increase short term variance. Well, I went three and a half hours in this game without winning a single pot. Unlike the no limit games where I can admit I may have been outmatched, these players sucked and were just getting continually lucky all night long while I was running incredibly bad. I saw a dude put in 4 bets on an all broadway flop with nothing but a back door flush draw and take the pot down with running sevens. It was sick. Everyone was playing so bad and I couldn’t get ANY of it! What it amounted to was the worst $4-$8 session of my life…or at least since I’ve been sober. Maybe I should have called it a night after four or five racks, but when you see everyone at the table playing so poorly, it’s tough to let them keep it. Luck has to even out in the long run, right? Well, it didn’t that night and I lost over nine racks. The good news is I made six and a half of those racks back in the $4-$8 games the rest of he trip… But damn, that loss stung and it put me in a pretty poor state of mind to start my trip.

The good news is that I cashed in two of the six tournaments I played and had a winning series for my backers. Unfortunately, I bubbled the final table in one of the events and neither of my cashes were too meaningful. I felt like I was playing good, deep stack tournament poker in four of the six tournaments I played. I played the limit hold em event on my own tab and on absolutely zero sleep. It was a bad idea. I suppose the lesson there is: just because you can’t sleep doesn’t mean you should go gamble. I’ve come to find out that one of the bigger leaks in my poker game is restlessness and playing when I’m tired or grumpy can be detrimental to my win rate. While I’m able to overcome these mental handicaps at times (when I’m running good), there are times when I’m clearly off my A game and losing more money than I need to be (when I’m bad).

I’m looking forward to the Fall Round Up and having my first winning trip to Pendleton. Hopefully my bankroll will be in even better shape and I’ll have much more no limit cash game experience by then. Also, I’m going to open up my action to more people and sell it at premium, so there’s less pressure on myself and my few backers to perform well. At times, especially deep in tournaments, I’m hesitant to make what I feel is the right play, because doing so and being wrong might cost me my tournament. But I have a pretty good feel for this game and going with my gut is usually correct and people invest in me because they trust my abilities. Next trip, it’s time to stop trying to cash and bring home a big prize. I got you guys.

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Pendleton Event #1 Write-Up

April 13, 2012

Ugh, it’s 4pm and I’m already doing a write-up for the first event.  You know that’s not a good sign.  Can’t say I’m displeased with how I played, I just had some bad connections at the wrong times.  Here’s a play-by-play of some of my more critical hands, as most of the other hands I play were open-raise and take it down, or open-raise and fold to a re-raise, or open-raise, continuation bet and take it down.

First orbit, blinds 25-50, I open to 150 with KK and next position re-raises to 450 and small blind calls.  I 3-bet to 2250 (too much?) and both players muck.

Blinds are 50-100 and I open to 300 with JJ.  Player to my right re-raises to 1250 and it folds back to me.  I already have a read on the dude from previous hands and put him on a bigger pair.  I look at both of our stacks and even though I think I’ll get his whole stack if I flop a set, I don’t think I’m getting the implied odds to try for it.  Also, if I flop an overpair to the board I might convince myself to change my read and get into serious trouble, so I just muck it.  He shows me two aces and says “I don’t want you to think I’m picking on you.”

Player to my right has been completely running over the table, opening almost every hand and betting recklessly after the flop.  I’ve been itching to get involved with him and haven’t found a good spot.  Folds to him in SB and he raises to 800 with blinds at 100-200.  I call with 5h3h hoping to hit a big flop in position against him.  It comes down 33T and he fires 1800.  He’s been playing crazy and I’ve been eyeing him for several hands so I feel like he knows I’ve been waiting to put him in his place and with that in mind, I might as well give him what he’s expecting and raise it up to 4000.  He instacalls and then instaships it when a 7 hits on the turn.  Pretty easy call for me and he tables A4 high, drawing completely dead.  NH sir, and thanks.

 

I have solid reads on my whole table and they are all playing pretty weak tight so I have been ramping up the aggression and raising with a wide range of hands Qs8s, Th9h, 7d6d, 62o, K2o, etc. and having good results… so naturally, the table breaks and I’m moved to a new one with all fresh faces. Folds to the button in my first orbit at the table and he opens to 1300 with blinds @ 200-400. I look down at AK. He has a stack of about 7000-9000, somewhere in that range. I have around 13-15k. Seems standard to make a pot-committing raise against his stack size, so I bump it to 4700, he ships, I call and he shows AA. Yay! Down to $5K.

Build my stack back up to over 8k at another new table. I open to 1500 with AdKd and blinds at 300-600 with a 75 ante. Folds to BB and he calls. Flop comes 923 with two diamonds. BB checks to me and I make a pot-committing bet of 4000. He check-raises all-in, I call and he shows Kh9h and I whiff my 12-outer and come upstairs to write this stupid fucking blog. Nap time!