Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Marathon Monday: A 16 hour $8/$16 Session

November 7, 2017

Oh, how I forgot how fun it is to be a complete sicko degenerate. Back in the dark times when I had a day job, the marathon session was a much more common experience for me. When I was flooring at Palace from August 2015 to October 2016, my schedule was tailor-made for me to put in very long sessions on my “days off” and on Thursday, in particular, I would make it a point to try to play from noon to midnight.

Now that I don’t have to put in those pesky suit and tie hours, my pathological need to put in massive sessions to get my poker fix have all but disappeared. I typically just play around eight hours four or five days a week, and while a 10-12 hour session happens occasionally, it is never my intention anymore.

Enter the new Monday promotion at Palace: Starting at 8 AM on Monday morning and extending all the way until 8 AM on Tuesday, every jackpot at Palace is worth $499. In addition, with High Hands running most days of the week during peak hours, it’s also one of the rare times the massive Royal Flushes are available to pay out. They recently had a Royal pay out over $36,000 and right now the biggest one is around $15,000. Needless to say, this promotion packs the room and if you aren’t there by 2 PM, good luck getting a seat.

The promotion and the Royal Flush payouts are cool and hitting any of that stuff would be a nice bonus, but the main attraction of Mondays for me is all the action players it brings into the building. With three $8/$16 games typically running on Mondays, what is already typically the best $8/$16 game I’ve ever seen, is even better. Mondays used to be one of the days of the week I don’t play poker and now because of this promotion, I’m not only playing, I’m committing to serious overtime.

While I have played some previous Mondays, yesterday was my first time sitting down for a Marathon Monday with every intention of playing 12+ hours.

I got off to a brutal start. After 4.5 hours, I was down around $700. At my lowest point, I was down $800 and in the game for $1600. And it was still early. I was planning to play at least another 7 hours and I was already approaching my worst sessions of all-time territory.

For context, I just filtered all my data that goes back to August 2014 and I’ve played 350 sessions of $8/$16 LHE over that span. My all-time worst result was -$1847 – a glaring outlier. I’ve lost $1200+ two other times and I’ve lost $1000+ five times total – and the last time that happened was a year ago tomorrow. For contrast – in case anyone might accuse me of being a nit – I have won $1500+ five times and $1000+ twelve times in 2017 alone (Note: these are $8/$16 results only).

So yesterday was shaping up to be my worst session of the year and possibly one of my worst $8/$16 results ever.

I lost with AT to 86 on a A97Tx run out. My AK lost to two people with QJ on a KTxxA board. I defended K6 of clubs and turned the second nut flush only to run into AT of clubs. AA lost to KJ on QTxx9. It seemed like every hand I lost to was a hand that I was blocking from improving.

And then there were these two gems:

I raise with A6 of diamonds from MP and the cutoff, button, and both blinds call. The flop is K75 with two clubs and one diamond and I decide not to continuation bet a complete whiff against four opponents and it checks around. The turn is the 4 of diamonds and now the big blind leads out. I have an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw now and while there’s some merit to raising here, I think I will have to improve to win and I’d rather keep other players in. The cutoff folds and now the button raises and the big blind responds with a three bet. With 11 big bets in the pot, I’m getting 5.5 to 1 to call and I will make a straight or a flush about 30% of the time. Obviously I’m continuing here. The button calls and the river is a blank. I fold and the big blind wins with K7 over the button’s AK.

I’d like to focus on the ridiculousness of the button’s line here. First, they just cold call my raise instead of punishing me with a three bet and forcing the blinds out. Maybe the K7 folds? Certainly not a guarantee, but they are far more likely to fold to a three bet than for one raise. And how about that flop check? You have AK on a K75 flop and everybody checks to you and… you check? And then you wait to raise the big bet street when three medium connected cards are on board and the big blind leads out? And, of course, this insane flop check lets me see the best turn card in the deck for free and winds up costing me three big bets before whiffing when I could have just check-folded the flop! Thanks a lot!

My other favorite early hand was when a player to my right, who raises a wider range than most, raises from middle position and I three bet with 98 of clubs (a rare move from me) and the player to my left caps it, the button calls four cold, one of the blinds comes along, the limper doesn’t fold, the dealer calls, a crow caws, and we end up going to the flop six ways for a cap. Not really what I had in mind when I tried to isolate with 9 high. The flop comes down 973 with one club and it checks to me and since I have poor relative position I decide to donk into the preflop raiser in the hopes that he will raise and the rest of the field will have to call two bets cold. I don’t necessarily think I have the best hand, but I think this is the best way for me to limit the field. Unfortunately, he just calls, as do the button and the player to my right. On the bright side, the chances of me having the best hand have drastically increased. The turn card is the 7 of clubs, giving me a flush draw. I bet and everybody calls. The river is the Jack of clubs, I bet my flush, the PFR folds and now the button raises all in for 1.5 big bets total and shows me… Q5 of clubs. Well, you can’t fold that hand for four bets cold preflop!

I did start to make a comeback after five hours of torture. Someone limped in with AA and let me see the flop for one bet with A5 of hearts (which I would fold to an under the gun raise) and I wound up making a flush. Then I switched tables to an action game and picked up my own pair of Aces in a button straddle pot that went off five ways for five bets preflop and somehow held up on a 63325 run out.

Just like that, I was fast approaching even. But it wouldn’t last. After having a period of run good, I cooled off completely and found myself stuck $500 again. I picked up AA three more times during this stretch and lost with two of them, including this interesting hand:

I raise after one limper in early position and go five ways to the 882 rainbow flop. The early limper donks into me and I have three players to act behind me. This board is about as dry as it gets, so it creates an interesting spot. It seems better to try and let some players call behind with very little equity, rather than raising and likely getting it heads up. Plus, the flop bettor could always have an 8. And after I call on the turn and river, that is what he shows me. This wasn’t interesting because I lost the hand, but because the best line on the flop wasn’t clear to me.

From this point on, I was on fire. After falling back down to -$500, I hardly lost a pot the rest of the night. Unfortunately, I also stopped taking notes on my key hands. I do know that I had 80% of a Royal Flush twice with cards to come and did not hit the massive jackpots, but… I did win both hands.

Ultimately, I ended up finishing the day up $890 after being down $800 at one point – without the aid of any jackpots. It’s one of the best comebacks I’ve ever made and really illustrates how key it is to keep your cool when things are going miserably. I’m not sure I’ve ever turned a four rack loss into a four rack win. Five years ago I probably would have left this session four hours into it and booked a substantial loss. These days I’m significantly better at weathering the storm and staying composed as I get throttled, trying to appreciate the challenge of it and find the humor in the run bad. I really feel this ability to play my A-game during brutal stretches is one of my biggest edges today.

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Headed to Hawaii

August 29, 2017

No updates while I’m on vacation.  I will have my September preview posted when I get back next week.

I will just say I can’t wait for IT!!

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Anxiety: A New Mental Game Challenge

July 27, 2017

As a professional poker player, one of the biggest areas to gain an edge these days is in the mental game. This means that when you lose a big pot or get sucked out on by a hand that shouldn’t have even dreamed of seeing the river, you don’t let it bother you. You just shake it off and move on to the next hand like nothing ever happened. More importantly, it means that when you’re getting absolutely demolished – for hours, or an entire session, or even weeks and months at a time – you just keep plugging along playing your A-game. Easier said than done. Most people simply can’t do it. That’s why it’s a real edge for me and it makes me think of myself as having incredible mental game strength.

But a new mental game challenge has arisen and it has nothing to do with poker: I have become dangerously and irrationally scared of traffic. Yes, you read that right: TRAFFIC.

Here’s how it happened.

I’m a Type 1 Diabetic so I wear a device that tells me what my blood sugar level is every five minutes and whether it’s stable or trending upwards or downwards. When we moved from University Place to Lakewood, I was gathering some things from the apartment in UP to take to our new house and as I was leaving I noticed that my blood sugar was kind of low, so I stopped at Taco Time and got a crispy burrito and figured that would be sufficient enough to raise my blood sugar to absurd levels.

I was wrong.

And I wasn’t prepared at all. I remember I had something like peanuts or one of those Clif peanut butter bars in the car, but nothing to drink and it felt like I was going to choke on whatever it was I was trying to eat since I couldn’t wash it down. And I needed to eat fast. My blood sugar was plummeting. I’m talking danger zone and going down. This was all scary enough on its own, but I had just reached the terminus of Highway 16 and I was stuck on the I5 South ramp. My blood sugar was in a dangerous place, I had nothing to fix it, and I was stuck in traffic – there was nothing I could do. My survival instincts were telling me to get out of the car and start running, but there was nowhere to run to. Okay, so traffic was moving a little. Maybe I’m not here to write this if it was really gridlocked. But considering the severity of my situation it felt like we might as well have been at a standstill. Aside from having crazy thoughts like evacuating the car, I was also starting to see darkness or what I have come to recognize as “tunnel vision.”

I made it to a gas station. Barely. I mean I really was on the verge of losing consciousness on top of having a full blown panic attack. And that’s where the irrational thoughts of fleeing my car and the tunnel vision came from. A panic attack. It gives me a little anxiety just talking about it. Ugh.

I had a soda at the gas station and got my blood sugar back to a happy level and I tried to drive home, but I couldn’t do it. I was too rattled. I had to have my wife come get and I left the car behind.

Obviously you live and you learn, so since this incident I have tried to be well prepared for these things. However, last week I was running some simple errands and I didn’t bring anything with me to combat a low blood sugar incident and, of course, that’s what happened, albeit way less extreme than my previous story. But it was enough to remind me that traffic plus low blood sugar plus lack of supplies is a very scary place for me.

And then I went to a Mariners game last Friday. I left my house with my blood sugar pretty high, but trending down and with a decent amount of insulin coursing through my body, so I made the wise move to stop at a gas station before I got on the freeway and picked up a Gatorade and a package of those orange cup cakes that Hostess makes. I ate the cup cakes and stashed the Gatorade and got on I5 heading north towards Seattle. As I was passing the Tacoma Mall, traffic started to build up and things began moving very slowly.

I looked at my device and saw my blood sugar was trending straight down and the panic started to creep in. It made no sense. I ate the damn cup cakes and I had a Gatorade in the car. Not only was my blood sugar going to stabilize, it was going to skyrocket if I wanted it to. Nevertheless, as long as I saw that down arrow on my monitor I had an almost overwhelming urge to take every exit I saw. A police officer drove past me in the right lane and part of me wanted to pull over to the side of the highway and flag him down. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. I wasn’t even thinking about the situation I was in – which was completely nonthreatening – I was thinking about what would happen if I didn’t eat those cup cakes or have anything in the car to save me. And the more I thought about this hypothetical situation, the more I panicked and I started to get that dreaded tunnel vision.

I was meeting a friend on the Light Rail and I really didn’t know if I was going to make it. I almost text him to tell him I was going to be really late or maybe not even go. Every time I passed an exit, I had to talk myself out of taking it. This was all in my head at this point. I knew my blood sugar was going to be fine, so there was absolutely no rational reason for me to be worried about anything. And yet, I was.

I made it to the game though. I managed to keep myself sane enough to keep moving forward, resisting the urge to exit the highway and eventually my blood sugar stabilized and the traffic cleared. And then I just moved on with my life like nothing happened. Not everyone seems to be able to do that. At least there’s no lingering affects for me.

Or are there?

Yesterday, with my blood sugar fine and plenty of escape valves in case of emergency, I was about to get on I5 to head five miles north and I saw brake lights and cars starting to jam up… and I almost didn’t get on. And then I almost did the same thing again today. It happened to be congestion because of a busy merging spot and then cleared up right away, but if this would have been full on traffic for five miles, I’m not sure I would have gutted it out. I had to call my wife the other day to distract me when I went to Costco because there was a little congestion before my exit. I’m getting hints of anxiety at red lights that take just a little bit too long to turn green! This is no joke.

At this point my fear is completely irrational. What I’m really scared of is having low blood sugar and not being able to do anything about it. When my blood sugar is fine and I have something like Gatorade in the car, just in case, there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. And yet, my fear of traffic has reached legitimate phobia territory. This is actually a real thing. It’s called vehophobia. Right now, I’m a vehophobic.

But it’s not real. This is all mental (although I’ve experienced some pretty physical sensations). I have no good reason to be scared of being in traffic. So that’s the challenge. How do I overcome this thing and leave it completely in the past? I know I have nothing to be scared of, so why am I scared? I guess these are the questions I have to ask myself when I’m in the moment. I really have no interest in dealing with this for any extended length of time. Right now I can’t even fathom the idea of driving myself to Fortune in Renton to play 20/40 because it gives me anxiety to think of how I might react if the 512 or 167 is jammed up and that’s simply something I cannot accept. So let’s see how strong my mental game really is. Strong enough to talk myself out of a serious phobia?

This is somewhat embarrassing, but I’m not really one to be super private about things – it’s the writer’s nature. It’s no secret I’m a recovering alcoholic and I’m happy to talk about it to anyone that wants to listen. I’ve written horrible rap lyrics and recorded them in songs that people have actually listened to. And now I’m dealing with anxiety. It is what it is. And if anyone that reads this has any advice or has experienced something similar, feel free to comment.

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Back From Vegas

June 22, 2017

Just landed in Seattle last night and I will get back to blogging as soon as I can. Likely, that won’t be until next week when my wife goes back to work. Here’s what I will be working on in the next couple weeks:

-2017 WSOP Trip Report
-2017 first half poker results
-New Poker Goals
-Wonder Woman review
-47 Meters Down review
-Baywatch review
-Brother Ali profile (start listening)
-my 2017 MLB All-Star picks (possibly)

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2017 WSOP Schedule

February 7, 2017

Somehow it slipped my notice that the 2017 WSOP schedule has been out for nearly two weeks now, but I got a good look at it last night and have a solid idea of what I will be aiming for.

For those of you that haven’t seen it yet, you can check out the schedule here.

June 1st: $1500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better (3 day event): This will 100% be my first event. I’m very happy about the timing of it. It allows me to be in Vegas for the start of the series and most of the events I want to play follow shortly afterwards. I had by far my worst performance in this event last year.

June 2nd: THE COLOSSUS III – $565 No Limit Hold Em (6 day event): Best case scenario, I final table the O8 tournament and have to play that event on the 2nd and 3rd, but if I bust out, I have a good 5-6 days before the next event I really want to play and the Colossus is a pretty good way to occupy that time.

June 5th: $1000 Tag Team No Limit Hold Em (3 day event): Very unlikely I will play this event, but could be a fun $500 sweat for my friend Vince and I if we fill up to it.

June 7th: $1500 H.O.R.S.E. (3 day event): This one is an absolute must for me.

June 9th: $565 Pot Limit Omaha (3 day event): Like the Colossus, I’m not really aiming to play this event. My PLO experience is basically zero, so I’d probably just be lighting $565 on fire and even if I did manage to do well, I’d much rather play this next event.

June 10th: $1500 8-Game Mix 6-Handed (3 day event): Another must play event for me.

June 11th: $1500 No Limit Hold Em MILLIONAIRE MAKER (5 day event): The chance for a huge score is appealing, but I’m not making NLHE events a priority over mixed limit events, so most likely I’ll be sitting this one out and focusing on the next one.

June 12th: $1500 Limit Hold Em (3 day event): Can’t miss the $1500 LHE, as limit hold em is easily my best game.

June 23rd: THE GIANT – $365 No Limit Hold Em (3 day event): I think I’m sold on this tournament. The scope of it kind of boggles my mind. There are going to be five day ones, all of which are a week apart, and each player is going to start with 20,000 in chips – more than the Monster Stack – but with 20 minute levels. A $365 turbo full of terrible players that will probably have well over a million allotted for 1st place? Yes please. I can’t imagine fitting The Giant into my first trip, but I can certainly pair it with the Monster Stack during my second visit.

June 25th: $1500 No Limit Hold Em MONSTER STACK (4 day event): Another must play event for me. Been looking forward to playing this one for a while and I don’t see any reason why I won’t finally get to in 2017.

In all likelihood, I will be playing at least five $1500 events and probably the Colossus and Giant as well. I will be selling up to 50-60% for my $1500 events, but will certainly be keeping all my own action for the smaller events. Hit me up with any interest!

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Creed (2015), Trumbo (2015), Popstar (2016), Star Trek Beyond (2016)

November 22, 2016

Was sick last week and watched more movies than usual, but I don’t feel like going through my whole individual review process… so here’s my quick thoughts on these films:

Creed (2015) – I love Michael B. Jordan and he’s great in this continuation/reboot of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky franchise as Apollo Creed’s son Adonis, an unknown up-and-coming boxer that wants to make it to the big time on his own merit, yet hunts down the legendary Rocky Balboa to be his trainer. Sylvester Stallone is good in this movie, but Oscar worthy? Wow. It’s crazy that this franchise is still relevant and not terrible in 2016 – 2006’s Rocky Balboa was enjoyable too – and yet this was another solid sequel.

6/10 (Recommended)

Trumbo (2015) – This movie inspired me to write this post on the basis of another great performance from star Bryan Cranston. Here, he plays Dalton Trumbo, one of Hollywood’s premier screenwriters in the 1940s before getting blacklisted for being a communist. I’m honestly not sure what it means to be a “commie,” but this movie makes it not seem like such a bad thing and you get the feeling that The List was highly unfair. Cranston is great in Trumbo but the movie itself wasn’t all that entertaining.

5.5/10 (Watchable/Recommended)

Popstar (2016) – Andy Samberg is hilarious as Conner, the world’s biggest pop star that has to deal with flopping as a solo artist after a mega successful career in a boy band. This movie is funny, absurd, and very enjoyable.

6.5/10 (Recommended/Highly Enjoyable)

Star Trek Beyond (2016) – It seemed like a lot happened in this movie and there was a lot of action, but man, it was super boring. I really loved the first movie in this rebooted franchise, but the films following have gotten progressively less interesting despite casting huge stars in the villain roles. Idris Elba isn’t given much to work with here as Krall, spending 90% of the film unrecognizable in full makeup. Dude has way too much talent to waste his time on roles like this. I still like the cast that makes up the crew of the Enterprise, but Star Trek was in much better hands with J.J. Abrams.

4/10 (Forgettable)

I also updated my Heavy Rotation page and, as always, my 2016 albums page is being updated almost every day.

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Current Rotation – iTunes Playlist (January 2016)

January 28, 2016

Apple Music has gotten me back into listening to new music and playing 30+ hours a week of poker helps me actually listen to a ton of it (when the other players will actually let me, which is actually kind of difficult because they usually want to have some sort of dialogue after every hand), so I thought it would be cool to share what’s in my current playlist every few weeks so I can give readers an idea of what I’m checking out and what is staying in steady rotation.

January 27th, 2016 Playlist:

Adele – 25 (2015)
Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (2015)
Anderson.Paak – Malibu (2016)
Big K.R.I.T. – All My Life (2015)
Boosie Badazz – In My Feelings. (Goin’ Thru It) (2016)
Cozz – Cozz & Effect (2014)
David Bowie – The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1973)
David Bowie – Blackstar (2016)
Dej Loaf – #AndSeeThatsTheThing – EP (2015)
Drake & Future – What A Time To Be Alive (2015)
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf (2015)
Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside (2015)
Lemonheads – It’s A Shame About Ray (1992)
Little Simz – A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons (2015)
Logic – The Incredible True Story (2015)
Mick Jenkins – Wave(s) (2015)
Mike Stud – These Days (2016)
Pusha T – King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude (2015)
Revenge Of The Dreamers II (2015)
Rubble Kings Soundtrack (2016)
Tut – Preacher’s Son (2015)
Vince Staples – Summertime ’06 (2015)
Yes – 90125 (1983)