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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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Weekly Music Update: Sam Smith, Kalela, ELHAE, LE$

November 7, 2017

New Playlist Additions

Sam SmithThe Thrill of it All (pop) – I’m not familiar with this guy’s catalog at all, but he seemed to be the most prominent release of this past week, so I added his album to my playlist and I must say I’m impressed. I’ve already listened to this a couple of times all the way through and that says a lot. Very easy on the ears.

KalelaTake Me Apart (R&B/soul) – I think this came out a week or two ago and I just added it last night after reading some promising comments online.

ELHAEAURA II (R&B/soul) – Same as Kalela.

LE$The Catalina Wine Mixer (hip-hop/rap) – A surprise release from last week that I wasn’t initially aware of, but LE$ 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.

Other Notable Releases

21 Savage, Offset & Metro BoominWithout Warning (hip-hop/rap)

Maroon 5Red Pill Blues (pop)

Blake SheltonTexoma Shore (country)

Kid RockSweet Southern Sugar (rock/country)

Recent Albums Update

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 last week 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!

Snoop DoggMake America Crip Again (hip-hop/rap) – The opening track (“M.A.C.A.”) and the closing track (“Fly Away”) are pretty good. Everything in between is trash bin material to me. Rating: Decent

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) – I’ve listened to this album all the way through once and it was definitely enjoyable. I think Yelawolf is an artist I’d rather have come on randomly in a big playlist as opposed to song after song. “Sabrina” is a highlight and a chilling song where Yelawolf imagines his daugther dying.

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) – My interest level in this project is pretty low. I’ve heard songs on random but this will probably get deleted before I ever really listen to it.

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) – I’ve liked the few songs I’ve heard on random, but nothing spectacular.

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

“Claim” – dvsn, Morning After

“Stay Down” – Brent Faiyaz, Sonder Son

“Talk 2 U” – Brent Faiyaz, Sonder Son

“Pearl Harbor” – Wu-Tang, The Saga Continues

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$20/$40 Session Report: November 3rd

November 5, 2017

Actually most of my interesting hands happened while I was playing in the $1/$3 No Limit game at Fortune while waiting for a $20/$40 seat. I almost never play $8/$16 at Fortune and I guess my theory is that I’d rather warm up in games I don’t get much playing time in, like NLHE or Limit Omaha.

The Accidental Min-Raise

My first fun hand happens early in the session. The $1/$3 game has a max buy in of $300, so I always sit down with four $25 chips, $180 in $5 chips, and $20 in $1 chips – plus $500 in my pocket to add on and reload as I dip below the table max.

The player to my direct right makes it $16 to go and I have 77 next to act. This is an annoyingly large open-raise but we are deep enough (barely!) that I can call and try to set mine or simply play a good hand in position. So I call… or I think I do. I mentioned my buy in method because instead of calling with three $5 red chips and a blue one, I accidentally throw in a green $25 chip and three blue $1 chips. Whoops. I am now committed to a minimum raise to $29 because I put in multiple chips and over half the raise size.

I reacted pretty genuinely to my mistake, but the no limit players have basically no history with me so I wouldn’t blame any of them for thinking I could be running an angle here (i.e. pretending like I accidentally raised when I have a hand like AA). However, if I were the original raiser I would give serious consideration to four-betting my entire range here and expecting to get a lot of folds. He just calls though, which I thought was kind of surprising.

The flop comes out 944 with two diamonds and he leads out $35 and I almost have to stifle a laugh. Oh, now you want to be aggressive? I think it’s safe to assume my hand is always good here and I’ve debated with a friend about the merits of raising on the flop in this spot because there are a number of turn cards that we won’t love and I’d like to deny equity to those hands. On the other hand, we are in a tough spot if he goes for the hammer with a flush draw and we don’t really mind him betting the worst hand either. So I call.

The turn is a 5 of spades, opening up a backdoor flush draw, and he bets $52 rather quickly and nonchalantly. Another easy call for me, but I make it look like I’m thinking about it.

The river bricks out and he checks and it’s hard to imagine what hands I would get value from by betting, so I check back and he shows AK of spades. I said earlier that I would consider four betting his entire range in his spot preflop, but trying to get all the money in with AK suited is a slam dunk! A honest mistake from me and a really weird line from my opponent here.

Another Profitable Mistake

By this time, I’ve come to realize that the villain in the previous hand is very aggressive preflop, probably opening or raising over 30% of his hands. That makes his flat call with the AK suited even stranger. Well, in this hand, he decides to open-limp on the button. I’ve seen him do some limping, which is atypical for him, but the button open-limp is a new one.

I call with J2 of diamonds from the small blind and the big blind checks his option. The flop is A92 with two spades and one diamond. There is basically no money in the pot and my hand is pretty piddly but I think a $5 bet should take the pot down very often here, so I toss a red chip out. The big blind folds and the button almost immediately makes it $17. I have basically zero respect for this raise, so I call and I’m probably going to try and win the pot unless a spade comes.

The turn is the 3 of diamonds, which gives me a flush draw in addition to my pair. I check it and he bets $25. I still think he is weak here and now I have a lot of equity so I check-raise to $70 and he thinks for quite some time before eventually folding AQ face up! I actually said “wow” in genuine shock because that was not a hand I was trying to get him to fold because I didn’t think it was possible he could be that strong.

I have to wonder why an overly aggressive player would choose to open-limp with AQ on the button. Isn’t it to set a trap? Well, I fell right into it and then he decided to just be like “naw, you have this one.” I guess he had no idea what I thought of his image.

I Get Stacked By A Shocking Hand

I open to $10 from early position with AJ of clubs and only the big blind defends. The flop comes 732 with two clubs and he checks it over to me. I think this is a good flop to consider checking with in order to balance my checking back range, but a) I’m a part-time player in this game, b) I don’t think this opponent is really thinking about ranges, and c) I want to build a pot against weak players. So I bet $10 and he check-raises me to $25. He started the hand with about $215 and you really have to wonder what kind of hands he would check-raise on this flop. The only hands I’m in bad shape against are the sets and he doesn’t appear strong at all to me. I decide that I am willing to play for all the money if he wants to, so I stick in a commitment raise to $85, which is roughly 40% of the remaining stacks. The only appropriate response to my raise is all in or fold, so obviously this guy calls. *face palm*

The turn is a brick, like an 8 or something, and he stuffs his remaining $121 in the pot and I snap call, annoyed. I’ll be even more irritated in a second, but first I want to look at the math here. I committed myself to getting all the chips in on the flop, but he thwarted that plan by just calling and letting a turn roll off with money behind. So after his all in and subtracting for the rake ($6), there is now $306 in the pot and it costs me $121 to call. I’m getting a little over 2.5 to 1 to call, so I need to win about 28.5% of the time to make calling profitable. I think it’s safe to assume all my flush outs are clean, but I’m going to make a flush less than 20% of the time on the river. If one of my overcards is live I’m still a little short, but if they are both live, I have an easy call. Plus there is some remote chance that I have the best hand. He could be doing this with a naked flush draw himself, or even a combo draw like 54 of clubs. With my perceived outs alone, it’s a pretty close call, but when you add in the chances of having the best hand, I just have to go with it.

Well, I do call. The river is a 2 and he shows…

AK offsuit.

Ouch.

Okay, so I didn’t exactly get stacked, but I doubled him up with most of my stack and I really have no idea how he got all the chips in after the flop but… maybe I should’ve balanced that checking range!

Image For The Max

This hand happens shortly after that last one and I try to isolate one limper by making it $10 to go on the button with 54 of spades. Both blinds and the limper call, which is not very ideal considering I have 5 high and I think my credibility is low at the moment.

What is ideal is a T55 flop. Everybody checks to me and I bet $15 and one of the blinds snap calls, practically salivating from the mouth at the thought of picking off my upcoming barrels.

The turn is a 2 and I bet $35 into $64 and again he calls quickly.

The river is a Q and he checks again. There is now $134 in the pot, I have $234 behind and he has me covered. I’m thinking long and hard about my bet size because I was going to size large on the river but I’m a little concerned that the Q might kill my action a little because it creates a lot of chops and brings an overcard to the obvious pair of tens my opponent has. However, while I’m thinking this over, he says “Oh come on, you know you can only bet if you have a 5” and I really felt like that was my cue to go for it all. I shove and he SNAP CALLS! Gotta love it. Bet almost 2x pot on the river and he gives it zero thought. Wow!

I finished my 82 minute $1/$3 session up $183 despite being down a full buy in at one point. I’ll take it!

$20/$40 Snooze Fest

Goodness the $20/$40 games at Fortune have been bad the last two times I’ve played. I have now logged 15.75 hours over my last two $20/$40 sessions and I would say I’ve been in a good game for less than two of those hours. Both times I’ve played I didn’t find my way to a good game until the very end of my session when I was practically ready to go.

On the plus side, I love to terrorize nits. If nobody wants to play hands, then I’m just going to play them all and they’re either going to let me win $30-$50 every hand or they’re going to have to get out of their comfort zones. Usually tables will get tired of this and I can back off as they start playing looser and fail to adjust to my change of pace.

But I have been in some seriously nitty lineups. Like, to the point where I was comfortably raising hands like K8 suited and QT offsuit from under the gun. In the later positions, I was frequently raising and betting until they made me look at my hands.

I admittedly ran very good when they did play back at me. I raised dark on the button and got called by the small blind and three bet by the big blind then flopped trip threes with A3 offsuit. I raised dark from the cutoff and the button three bet me and I flopped quads with K2 suited. I opened with 55 and both blinds raised me and I flopped a set of 5s! Pretty lucky… and it really makes the table feel handcuffed when you are steamrolling them and then flopping huge when they do fight back.

I ended up leaving that horrible game up about $800, which is no small accomplishment when no one is putting money in the pot.

Naturally, I started to run like crap when I got in a good game. The first hand I played, I turned the nuts with JT suited in a massive pot and lost to a rivered flush, a solid $700 swing in the wrong direction. I also got really card dead and then whiffed the flop whenever I did find a hand to play.

All in all, I finished up a disappointing $241 in the $20/$40 game and booked a $424 win for the day.

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November 2017 – Most Anticipated Movies

November 1, 2017

Before I get into my November list of movies I’m looking forward to, I feel it’s necessary to mention that I basically watched no new movies in the month of October – with the exception of non-theatrical releases Cult of Chucky and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father – so I have some catching up to do.

Top 5 October Movies I Still Need To See

Blade Runner 2049 – Only reason I haven’t seen this yet is because there’s a long wait on Netflix for the original and I really feel I need to watch the original again before seeing this sequel.

Jigsaw – I’ve always loved the original Saw and I’m a huge fan of the horror genre, but I’ve been pretty ho-hum about this franchise and I don’t even think I’ve seen the two films leading up to Jigsaw. But I was looking forward to the Saw maze more than any other maze at Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights (it didn’t disappoint) and I started watching the movies from the beginning. I’m currently on Saw V, so there’s some chance I might make it to the theater before this one leaves.

Happy Death Day – Another maze at Halloween Horror Nights and another one of my favorites. I like the concept of slasher flick meets Groundhog Day meets murder mystery. I’ve seen enough PG-13 horror movies that have been enjoyable and somewhat scary lately that the rating doesn’t overly worry me… but scary movies should be rated-R.

Brawl In Cell Block 99 – This prison drama starring Vince Vaughn as an inmate has already been highly recommended to me. It’s available on Video On Demand (iTunes) and is definitely something I want to check out this month. As is the writer/director’s last film Bone Tomahawk.

The Foreigner – This looks like Jackie Chan’s Taken and actually that’s enough to pique my interest. The trailer has looked better than the reviews so far though.

Top 5 November Movies

1. Justice League (November 17th) – There is no November release that I’m just dying to see so a film that includes Batman naturally has to be my most anticipated movie of the month, right? I don’t know. I feel more nervous about Justice League than I feel excited about it. The trailers kind of worry me. It looks like it could be every bit the mess that Batman Vs. Superman was. Joss Whedon‘s late involvement and reshoots probably won’t change the tone of the film or Zack Snyder‘s vision too much. My expectations are pretty low, but my anticipation will always be pretty high for these things.

2. Murder On The Orient Express (November 10th) – A murder mystery. A Train. A great cast. An Agatha Christie adaptation. I’m sold. I’ve been looking forward to this since the first minimalist trailer.

3. Thor: Ragnarok (November 3rd) – I think the Thor movies have been my least favorite solo adventures among the core Avengers, but I have reason to believe Ragnarok could be the best one yet. First off, director Taika Waititi is responsible for the wonderful What We Do in the Shadows and should bring a solid comedic touch to the film. Secondly, Hulk is in this. Battling it out with Thor. On another world. Yes please!

4. Coco (November 22nd) – Has anyone else noticed that Pixar has kind of fallen off? I was personally underwhelmed by 2015’s Inside Out despite the rave reviews and last year’s Finding Dory is really the only Pixar movie I’ve loved since Toy Story 3 all the way back in 2010. That’s a one hot movie every seven year average! Pixar used to release an amazing movie basically every year. Well, until they decided that Cars was their most important property. With all that said, I’m ambivalent about Coco. I’ve read that it’s a return to form and that’s promising, as is the culturally diverse story. Here’s to hoping the early reviews are accurate!

5. Wonder (November 17th) – This is kind of a default pick since nothing else is really jumping out at me. The director wrote last year’s Beauty and the Beast and 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s a story about a young boy with a facial disfigurement that begins attending public school for the first time. It looks like it could be a tearjerker and it stars Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay, the same kid that was so amazing in Room. Not exactly a must see for me, but I will probably go see it.

Other Notable November Movies

A Bad Moms Christmas (November 1st)

Daddy’s Home 2 (November 10th)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (November 10th)

Mudbound (November 17th)

I Love You, Daddy (November 17th)

The Man Who Invented Christmas (November 22nd)

The Current War (November 24th)

Call me by Your Name (November 25th)

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New Music Friday – 10/27/2017

October 31, 2017

New Playlist Additions

Snoop DoggMake America Crip Again (hip-hop/rap) – Snoop has released approximately three projects since Doggystyle that I’ve been a legitimate fan of. Needless to say, I don’t care about this, but I’ll let it spend a couple weeks in my most prominent playlist and see if anything catches my ear.

Big K.R.I.T.4eva Is a Mighty Long Time (hip-hop/rap) – There was a point in time when K.R.I.T. was unquestionably one of the best up-and-coming rappers. I admittedly haven’t listened to his last couple albums and that’s probably because they didn’t get overwhelmingly positive feedback –
but also because I was kind of in music hibernation. I will give this a dedicated listen at some point this week and I really have no idea what to expect.

YelawolfTrial By Fire (hip-hop/rap) – I wouldn’t say Yelawolf is exactly my cup of tea – his style definitely has a southern and country twang to it – but he’s plenty capable of making some good rap music. His last album Love Story had multiple songs that made my Best of 2016 playlist. Yelawolf has proven he’s worthy of checking out, so I will also give this album a dedicated listen this week.

Other Notable Releases

Yo GottiI Still Am (hip-hop/rap)

Ty Dolla $ignBeach House 3 (hip-hop/rap) – I maaaaaaay add this to my playlist, but I’m pretty sure this dude doesn’t grab me.

Kelly ClarksonMeaning of Life (pop)

WeezerPacific Daydream (alternative)

112Q Mike Slim Daron (r&b/soul) – I was just wondering the other day what happened to 112… I guess I could find out?

Previous October Albums

Brent FaiyazSonder Son (r&b/soul) – I’ve listened to this album about 3.5 times now and I’m loving it. There are multiple songs on here that sound like old classics and that I’ll eventually be adding to my Best of 2017 playlist. It’s early, but this could possibly be my favorite R&B release of the year.

H.E.R.H.E.R. (r&B/soul) – Can’t say much about this yet because I’ve only listened to two songs so far.

Hustle GangWe Want Smoke (hip-hop/rap) – Hustle Gang is a lot of T.I., some B.o.B. and a bunch of guys I’ve never really heard or care about. I’ve listened to one song so far and I doubt I’ll ever give this a full listen.

Wu-TangThe Saga Continues (hip-hop/rap) – 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.

dvsnMorning After (r&b/soul) – I learned something new this weekend: this dude’s name is pronounced as “division” – I’ve always sounded the letters out individually. Interesting. I gave this a full listen driving back to Washington from Reno and while I found it enjoyable enough, nothing really jumped out at me like “In + Out” or “With Me” did on last year’s SEPT. 5TH. I can’t imagine I will give this many more dedicated listens, but it will remain in my top Playlist for a while.

BeckTrue Colors (alternative) – My play count says I’ve listened to zero songs so far, but I know I’ve heard at least one. Either way, I clearly have no opinion yet. I’d really like to branch out of the hip-hop and R&B genres, but I rarely know what albums I should be listening to. Beck has been nominated for Album of the Year three times at the Grammy Awards, which seems pretty strong.

Dame D.O.L.L.A.CONFIRMED (hip-hop/rap) – NBA star Damian Lilliard is also an accomplished emcee that goes by the name Dame D.O.L.L.A.. CONFIRMED is his second major release, following last year’s The Letter O which sort of shocked me and I found to be very good. After a couple listens, I’m not liking this album as much. Compared to his first album, this one seems to be lacking in substance and I didn’t notice any actual growth from Dame vocally or in his songwriting. I don’t have a full grasp on the album yet, but I’m pretty confident there’s a handful of songs I never need to hear again.

New Best of 2017 Playlist Additions

“Found A Way” – Dave East, Paranoia: A True Story

“If Time Is Money (Fly Navigation)” – Wu-Tang, The Saga Continues (Method Man solo)

“Memories On 47th St.” – Vic Mensa, The Autobiography

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Three Crazy $20/$40 Hands

October 28, 2017

So my goal with these session blogs is to do a couple of week and last night I didn’t take any notes for my $20/$40 limit hold em session at Fortune, but there were three hands that I don’t need any help remembering and really feel the need to share:

Hand #1

Hi jack opens, a player I don’t have a ton of experience with but I imagine is quite good three bets on the button, the small blind calls and I have KK in the big blind. I decide to just flat. As I said, I don’t have much history with the button, but I know he’s astute and I feel like capping it here out of the big blind will really tip my hand strength. 

The flop spoils my dastardly plans by bringing an Ace, as well as a 6 and a 2 and two spades. I check to the cutoff and he leads right out; the button calls, small blind calls and I call, holding the King of spades in my hand. 

The turn pairs the Ace, which is a pretty good card for me, but I’m still playing defense and check it to the cutoff and he fires another bet and now the button springs to life with a raise.

The small blind folds and I go deep into the tank. I felt like I’m supposed to fold here. I really can’t imagine what hands the button is flatting, with two players behind him, on the flop that have me beat. Surely, he would be raising an Ace on the flop. The cutoff can definitely have an Ace, however. 

I wanted to fold, but I could feel something telling me I would regret it and, in the past, when these “easy” folding spots have come up and something doesn’t feel right, my instincts have almost always been correct. Unfortunately, I have made about 5-6 folds in substantial pots that I would have won and I almost always had this feeling beforehand. Like, folding seems standard, but something is off. It’s my instincts telling me: “DON’T DO IT!

This time I decided to make the tough call and slid the $80 cold into the pot. I believe the cutoff folded and then the river bricked out and the action went check-check and I won the pot.

Hand #2

This is an insane hand. It’s especially crazy because I had logged a total of less than one hour lifetime with the villain in question to this point. I also rarely consciously use physical tells to make my poker decisions. Every once in a while they may factor in, but most of that is so subconscious that I’m not even aware of it. But I had noticed something about this player that I couldn’t help but inventory. He was a confident dude, to the point where I felt like he was bordering on cocky, but more importantly, he practically dripped with hubris when he was betting the best hand. 

So when he raised my big blind and I defended with the K3 of diamonds heads up, I checked it over to him on the 752 rainbow flop and I couldn’t help but notice that when he bet, that glaring cockiness was missing.

Time to execute: I check-raised. 

He called and I led into him on the 9 of hearts turn, which opened up a backdoor heart draw. My read was really being challenged when he decided to raise me. Again, his strength wasn’t convincing, but I had King high with literally no draw. I felt like I should probably just fold and give it up, but what’s the point of picking up these tells if you aren’t going to utilize the information? I really believed what I detected was true, so I went ahead and three bet him. He called pretty quickly.  Shit.

The river was a 2 of hearts, completing the backdoor flush and pairing the board. There was a chance that he rivered a flush and I felt like he would never ever fold a better hand than me at this point, so I just checked it over to him. Would I call a bet here? Absolutely. Sure, it may feel like a torch, but I’ve come too far now. I didn’t have to call though because he checked behind.

I announced, “King high.”

He waited me out, so I said, “is it good?”

He asked, “King high flush?”

I said, “no. King high.”

I tabled it and…

…he mucked!

Don’t try this at home, kids.

Hand #3

I have moved back to the third $20/$40 game at this point and I am playing four-handed near the end of my session when this hand comes up. 

 The button opens, a really bad player in in the small blind calls, and I defend with A7 offsuit. 

 The flop comes 752 with two hearts (I have the Ace of hearts) and the small blind leads out. Obviously, I have an easy raise here, but I also have a massive amount of intel on the small blind at this point.

 In the past, I’ve seen him donk the flop with top pair hands and quality draws – this will be important later.

 So I raise and now the button three bets it and we both call. 

 The turn card is a beautiful Ace of spades and we check to the button; he bets, the small blind calls, I check-raise, and they both call. 

 The river is a 6 and now the small blind leads out. Okay, now I’m officially perplexed. My first instinct is to call. When I’ve seen the small blind lead out on the big bet streets he has been pretty nutted, so flatting and trying to get an overcall from the button made a lot of sense to me – it may save me a bet or two when I’m no good and it will probably win me the same amount when I have the best hand. 

 But then I really started thinking about it and realized that his most likely drawing hand was 43 and that hand made a straight on the turn and all he did was call twice then. 

So I raised. I didn’t think about it long enough. 

The button folded and then the small blind three bet me. I mean, this is basically a fold now. I think if I thought longer about the river and realized that this player can actually show up with a hand as bad as 66 here or that he may have started with 98 of hearts, I would have determined that calling was my best line. 

He didn’t have either of those hands. I reluctantly made the call and he showed 98 offsuit. Ouch. 

 I had never seen him bet the flop with a draw that weak, so I wasn’t even considering the 98, but for whatever reason I overlooked the fact that he could have 98 of hearts and because of that I cost myself an extra $80.

On the bright side, it was a pretty amazing session for me considering I spent about 8 of my 9.5 hours in very bad, super nitty lineups. I ran pretty good in one of the worst $20/$40 games I’ve ever played in – so bad, I would probably play something else if I didn’t get off to such a hot start. Plus, for whatever reason, I have a tendency to get unwarranted action even from normally tight players. All in all, I was pretty happy to book a +$1445 win under these conditions.

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PLO Wednesday!

October 27, 2017

Wednesdays are Pot Limit Omaha day at Palace in Lakewood, but the game doesn’t start until 6 PM and I had to be up early the next day, so I tried to be at the casino by 4 PM so I could leave around midnight and still get about eight hours of play in.

This meant I was going to do some game-hopping. I was like 4th or 5th up for $8/$16 limit Hold Em but $6/$12 limit O8 had a seat open, so I started with some split pot four card poker.  The game was unreal – one of the best O8 games I’ve ever seen.  There was only one other player folding before the flop and she limped with 9883 in a kill pot, so who knows what kind of hands she’s not playing.  That’s a lot of dead money in every pot.  I did win about $70 but I ran far below average in the few hours I was playing, considering how much overlay there was in every hand. 

There were a number of pots I got unlucky on – specifically my premium suited A2 hands were coming up with no pieces – but this was probably my favorite hand of the session: everybody is in for one bet, I call 9932 single suited on the button.  The flop comes A85 rainbow and it checks to me and I bet my nut low.  One of the blinds calls, a limper raises and both of us call.  The turn pairs the Ace, the middle player bets, I call, and now the other guy check-raises.  We both call.  The river is another Ace and it is a bet and call to me.  I actually say out loud: “can you ever have 88 here?” before calling and to my pleasant surprise the bettor has 55xx with no low and the other guy has the nut low, so the fives full are counterfeit and I win the high with Aces full of nines and split the low.  The player with the 55 verbally expresses his pain and misfortune and all I can think is “wtf are you doing on the river, buddy?”

$1/$3 PLO starts at 6 PM and the lineup is amazing, but I get off to a terrible start by making a loose flop call that ends up costing me around $400 when the turn greatly improves me to an expensive second best hand.  It’s one of those spots I look back at and realize I’m still not very good at this game.  “Small” mistakes can lead to huge losses in big bet games.  

Very next hand, after reloading, I 3-bet an AA hand to $50, bet $120 into $150 on the 963 rainbow flop in a three way pot and then stack off when the blind check-pots it.  I dunno… maybe this is a fold?  At best, I’m against a random two pair hand, but I’m more likely against a set or something like 9876.  I might have to look at this spot closer because when I bet the $120, I thought I was committing myself and maybe that’s not exactly true.  Anyways, I’ve been playing less than 30 minutes and I’m already down $800and that’s a bad spot to be in a game where lots of players love to hit and run and the game tends to not have very long legs; a four hour spread is not uncommon.

Next interesting spot I try to isolate a fun player with KK52 with hearts and both blinds call, as does the limper.  The flop is an amazing AK9hh, giving me middle set and the nut flush draw and I bet $40 into $80 when they check and only the limper calls.  The turn is a black ten – one of the few cards I hate – and he checks but doesn’t seem strong, so I confidently bet $85 and he calls again.  The river is a black 8, which doesn’t really change anything, and I bet $125 and he folds.

I call a min-raise from the big blind with K5ssJJ and bet $20 into $50 when I flop the nut flush on AT4.  A middle position player calls and so does the small blind and then we all check when the Ace pairs on the turn, an absolutely terrible card for me.  The river is a 9, the SB checks and I check for pot control and to throw the action player some rope because he bluffs a lot.  He bets $75 and the SB calls and now I’m perplexed.  The river bettor can easily be bluffing, but can the SB ever be check-calling a full house?  It seems unlikely, and I doubt he’s folding flush to this particularly gut, so I don’t see how I can fold the nut flush in this spot.  I call and they both show full houses.  The river bettor has A9 after flopping a Jack high flush and the small blind has 99 after flopping a nine high flush. Pretty sick run out and super unfortunate because the player with A9 is the type that will pay off for the max with a Jack high flush.

I then got AA97 all in preflop for about $500 effective and was pretty fortunate when his AAxx hand flopped a flush draw and bricked out for a chop. I later stacked this same player when I had T766 in the big blind and got him all in on a Q96 flop vs his 987x hand.

My last key PLO pot was perhaps a missed opportunity. I limped behind with AK73 doubled suited on the button and one of the blinds made it $15 to go. Four of us saw a flop of KK4 with two clubs and they all checked to me. I bet $20 and only the preflop raiser called. The turn was a ten, I bet $60 and he called again. I thought he had naked Aces or maybe a hand like QQJx, so when the river came an Ace, I can’t say I was overly excited about it. Granted, I’m blocking AA, but just because you’re blocking a hand doesn’t mean they can never have it. Still, it would be ludicrous to check my hand behind, so I bet $100 and I wasn’t exactly thrilled when he check-raised me to $300. I then did what no respectable player should ever do: hemmed and hawed about my misfortune before calling with the second nuts and winning the pot (he had JTT9). My antics are deplorable here, but really, no reasonable player would check-raise the river with his hand so while my fear of losing to AA here might be valid in a normal game, this one is full of all sorts of wonderful surprises.

I won solid pots on the last two hands I described and chipped away at my early deficit and managed to book a small profit of $101 when the game broke at 10 PM.

I was considering calling it a night since I was planning to leave around midnight and I loathe playing short sessions. Plus, I had a doctor’s appointment early in the morning, but my wife was still wanting to play and the $8/$16 game looked pretty good with some unfamiliar faces. “Allow me to reintroduce myself – my name is…”.

The game had some empty chairs and one of the first pots I played, I opened with K9 of clubs and barreled all the way when I flopped a flush draw and rivered a club. I didn’t show my hand, but I couldn’t help but notice one of the players (not in the hand) staring daggers at me the whole time. I don’t consider myself cocky, but I’ve been doing extremely well at limit Hold Em for many years so I carry myself with a lot of confidence at the table. I think this sometimes puts a target on my back and I’m perfectly okay with that. When people try to go out of their way to beat me or show me up, it’s usually pretty advantageous to my bottom line. Anyway, I could sense I was about to enter into an ego battle with this guy. I’d like to think I don’t play with ego, but I am aware of when other people are and I try to adjust accordingly.

The first hand I play against this guy, I open from the hi jack with 98 of spades and only the two blinds call, including him. The flop is 772 with one spade and they both check-call my continuation bet, which is not surprising as this board doesn’t induce many folds – people will literally call with any two cards. Because of this dynamic, I will typically double barrel my bluffs on the turn even when I miss completely – and I don’t have a lot of bricks. Any J, T, 9, 8, 6, 5 or spade give me a pair or a draw, and cards like Aces, Kings, or Queens are good bluffing cards. Needless to say, I’m betting a lot of turns when I’m not sensing any strength from my opponents. A Queen hits the turn, I bet, and I’m now heads up with my man. The river is an Ace and he quite mindlessly leads out. I already know the guy is going to try to outplay me and he looks blatantly weak, so I feel this is an easy bluff-raise spot, something that basically never comes up on the river in limit Hold Em. I raise, he folds, and I can’t resist the urge to show him the 9 high. Sometimes you gotta give them what they want.

One of the downsides to showing a hand like that is that it raises the stakes of the ego battle a little. Rather than looking for a spot or two to show me up, this dude is now 100% gunning for me and has moved two seats to my left. We definitely prefer to have him on our right under these circumstances.

In this hand, an early position player raises, another cold calls, and I have 88 on the button. I can definitely three bet here, but I feel like the under the gun player is tighter with his aggression and decide to just flat. The small blind calls, as does our new buddy in the big blind. The flop comes down T63 rainbow and everybody checks to me. This is an obvious bet. The SB calls, our friend check-raises and both players in between cold call. Well, I wasn’t expecting that. I call and the five of us see the Jack of hearts on the turn, putting two hearts on board. Everybody checks to me again. At this point, I don’t really know what’s going on. Someone could definitely have a T or a J, so I check back. The river is the Ten of hearts, completing the backdoor flush and I get checked to again. This is a super thin spot, but when you really think about it, it seems apparent that I have the best hand. The problem is, can I get called by worse? I certainly think so. I doubt anyone would check trip tens on the river even though the backdoor flush came in and it seems pretty obvious that the two early position players have nothing, so I’m targeting the blinds with a value bet here. I’m almost certain the big blind has a weak pair here and that he will pay it off, so I bet. He does call and so does the preflop raiser, but I confidently table my hand and win the pot.

I’m not done with this guy quite yet. It folds to me on the button and I raise with 98o and he three bets from the small blind. I call and he checks to me on the 854 with two diamonds flop. He checks and is holding his chips across the betting line waiting to call like he is never folding. I bet, he calls. Turn is the 3 of diamonds and he does the same thing. I bet, he calls. River is the 9 of diamonds, putting four diamonds on board and giving me top two pair. He does the same thing he’s done on the flop and turn and waits for me to act, but I have no diamond so I check behind. And then he bets. I look at the dealer like WTF and I can see that he wasn’t watching the river action and now the big blind is yelling at me for saying he checked when he didn’t do anything. Yeah, okay buddy. I’m new here, I have no idea what’s going on. The floor gets called over and since I’m not sharing my side of the story I know it’s going to be ruled a bet because the dealer wasn’t paying attention, so I just put the call out there expecting to pick off a bluff the majority of the time anyway and that’s exactly what it is and I win the pot. Then I have to listen to his yammering about saying he checked when he didn’t do anything, even though after my initial objection I haven’t said anything about it.

I play one more hand with this dude before he physically threatens me. I have the QT of spades and call his raise from the big blind in a multiway pot. The flop basically bricks me completely except for the Jack of spades and I get trapped for a cap on the flop on the off chances that I can hit a backdoor Royal Flush for $35,000. Yes, that’s a real number. The Spade Royal Flush is over $35,000 right now at the Palace in Lakewood. I’m not going to be the dude that folded a $35k Royal because I didn’t want to make loose calls on the flop with only backdoor potential. Anyways, as I’m getting owned for the four bets on the flop, I tell the player capping it on my right “this could be ugly” – an advance quasi-apology in case I end up winning this pot with a hand I would almost always fold.

I missed the turn and did not continue, but after the hand, the dude I’ve been battling with says something to his friend in their language and then says things like “I don’t like that shit” and “that’s why I moved over here” in English. I can’t help but feel like he’s talking about me and because of my comment to the other player during the last hand, I kind of feel like he’s insinuating that we are cheating in some way and attacks against my integrity are about the only thing I won’t put up with while playing poker.

So I say, “wait, why’d you move over here?”

He responds aggressively with “am I talking to you?”

“No. I just wanna know why you moved over here.”

This goes on for a little bit and he doesn’t share what he said to his friend, but continues to talk loudly to me and say things like “I’m the wrong one to mess with.” I dunno. I’m never looking to fight anyone, but if someone is accusing me of cheating we are going to have a conversation about it because I pride myself in playing a very fair poker game.

The floor comes over due to the commotion and now the guy is telling me I’ve been playing “straight up” and acting like he wasn’t talking about it.  Eh.  Whatever.

He ends up leaving soon after and that’s too bad because he probably would have enjoyed watching me get massacred from that point on.

First, my AQ loses to TT on a AJ5TJ run out where the TT player has to put three bets in on the flop before spiking his set.

Then I get four bets in on the turn with J8 vs 87 on 8328 against a guy that has no clue what his hand value is and he gets bailed out by a 3 on the river for a split pot.

Finally, a hand so unbelievable it will seem like I have to be making it up – but I have witnesses!

We are playing 5-handed now so I have little respect for a cut off open and I three bet with KT offsuit.  Both blinds come along and the cutoff also calls.  The flop is QTT and I bet when it checks to me, the SB calls, the cutoff raises, I three bet and both players call.  The turn is a 6 of spades, putting two spades on board, and the cutoff donk again.  I raise, the SB calls two bets cold and the cutoff now folds.  Lol.  The river is the 7s, completing the backdoor flush and the small blind leads out.  I kind of thought he had a ten and the only missing ten was the spade so it seemed pretty likely his trips backdoored a flush and I just called.

He shows the 93 of spades.

To recap: he called three bets cold from the small blind before the flop; he pays three bets on the QTT one spade flop to see the turn; and he calls two bets cold on the turn when he finally has a prayer.

God bless him.  Poker is far from dead.

I ended the $8/$16 session down $85 and called it a night with a meager win of slightly less than +$100.