Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

August 31, 2006

New Goal

First off, I'm going to be giving the cash game a break for a while. I'm tired of this wave of variance, so I will just come back to it later. I'm going to be focusing on my tournament game for a while.

Speaking of which, I have found my new favorite tournament. It's an $11NL tournament on Full Tilt which runs nightly at 7PM EST and averages around 450 players or so, with first place taking home $1K and change. The play in this game is generally absolutely appalling, and I have made it deep in the three times I've played it. I made the money the first time I played, finishing in the final two tables. I got bad beat out of the tournament the other two times with less than 100 players left. Last night's fun hand was getting hit with a runner runner gutshot straight to send me and my pocket jacks to the rail.

My goal for the immediate future is to final table this tournament. Once that has happened, my next goal will be to win it. Hopefully, I will do it all in one shot. If you're usually playing at this time, feel free to join me. I could always use more chips. :-)

August 29, 2006


Made a whopping $20 today! Could this be the beginning of the end?! Only time will tell.

Stay tuned to find out! Same Matt time. Same Matt channel.

Yes, yes, I can hear the groans from here. Now you know maybe 5% of the pain I've been through!

FYI, I got two outered again last night for $50 and three outered today for $30. I'm just sayin'...

August 27, 2006

Does It Never End?

I will spare you the details (more for the fact that it would probably take me two days to write it all, but also for your mental health), but suffice it to say this is the worst swing of variance that I have ever experienced. Honestly, how many two and three outer bad beats can one person suffer in the course of a week? So far, I think I'm at 50.

I am not exaggerating.

August 24, 2006

Still Heading Down...

Had an unbelievable run of bad luck tonight. Got runner runnered out of a tournament when I was almost to the final table (7 placed paid), and I lost about 5 or 6 hands where I was either 80/20 or 90/10 to win AFTER THE FLOP. Down about another $100. This crap needs to end. I have lost almost 20% of my bankroll over the past three days.

August 22, 2006

Someone Call Daniel Powter...

...cause I had a bad day.

Down about $175 today, mostly due to 22 cracking my AA. The rest is a few tournament entry fees which didn't materialize into anything. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and the rest of you are doing better than I am. Hopefully I'll catch an upswing heading in to the weekend...

August 18, 2006

This Is Why You Pay Attention

Quick and dirty:

1. Decided to give $100NL one more shot last night.

2. Completely ran over the entire table.

3. Was actually able to lay down big hands. (!!!)

4. Recovered double what I lost the other day.

5. Out of town again this weekend.

6. Good luck to everyone.

7. That is all.

8. Seriously, it's over. Go watch a cat fight or something.

August 17, 2006

I Wasn't Listening

I played well in my tournaments yesterday. Made it to the final two tables in the Mookie, but got unlucky in a pair over pair shortstack situation. Made a mistake in a $10 NL tournament, but I think it was a correct play and a bad call on the opponent's part (mathematically, but not, it turns out, in actuality). I played in a $3 triple shootout to the Sunday million. I made it to the final four on my first table, and then ran AT into AQ in a shortstacked blind vs blind situation. So I played my tournaments ok, and I just didn't get the cards I needed.

But the cash games... Oh, the cash games.

I don't know why I don't listen to myself or what other people are trying to tell me sometimes. I played horribly yesterday, and yesterday just happened to be a day where I thought I would take a stab at $100NL. Definitely a fun combination. All of the following happened at 6-Max tables.

My first awful hand happened when I had KK. I raised it up preflop, and I get one caller. Flop came 78x, and I bet out. Opponent thought for a couple of seconds and called. I know that he is drawing to an open-ended straight. The turn is a 6. I bet into what I know is his made straight. He min raises me. I call, knowing I am beat. River is blank, and I check. He bets small, and I call, knowing I'm beat, because of pot odds. I see his 9T.

The next awful hand I played was when I had AA. It folded to the button, who limped, and I min raised. Yes, you read that right. I committed the cardinal sin of cash poker. I remember doing it, and it was almost like I was watching myself do it from outside my body. I couldn't believe I actually did it, but I did. BB Calls (duh), and so does the button.

Flop comes J9x, and I lead out for about pot size. BB calls (crap), and button folds. Turn is another 9. I bet out, and BB calls again (alarms going off everywhere are promptly ignored). River is another J. I check, and BB bets out. I call (???), and he shows his J9 for a flopped two pair, turned boat, and a useless higher boat on the river. Well played, Matt; you are a genius.

The last awful hand I played was when I had KQ, I think. I was heads up with a guy, and the flop came K2x. He checked, I bet out, and opponent calls. Turn was a blank. He checked again, I bet out again, and opponent calls (flat calls beginning to scare me). The river paired the x, and he bets out about half the pot. I know that he boated up on the river, but I just can't bring myself to fold my two pair. I pay him off, and he shows his pocket duckies.

In all, I ended up down about $100 yesterday. Not fun at all, and it was even more infuriating because I know I could have saved at least half of it if I had just listened to myself. Hopefully getting this down in writing will help beat that fact into my head. LISTEN TO YOURSELF, RETARD!

August 16, 2006

Review: Tournament Poker For Advanced Players

While I was out of town this weekend, I had the opportunity to read through David Sklansky's Tournament Poker for Advanced Players. While I think this book is pretty useful, I do not think it is the greatest of the tournament advisory books. If you were to purchase this book, it would probably be beneficial for no limit hold'em players to have read Harrington's first two volumes prior to reading this book and for other players to have read a book or two on their favorite kind of poker.

First off, let me make one point very clear: this is NOT a no limit hold'em book. The concepts of this book are very non-specific when it comes to the type of poker you are playing, which is where I think most of its weakness (but also its strength) lies. It gives you just enough information to play good tournament poker, but is not able to account for the myriad situations that you run into in all of the various forms. That is not to say that this is a bad thing; this book was not designed to teach you to be a master at all kinds of poker, but to give you valuable information which you can then apply to the tournament style that you enjoy most.

By far, the most valuable information in this book is the short chapter on the Gap Concept. Most of you are probably familiar with this concept from other books you have read, but those authors merely scratch the surface of what Sklansky presents in his book. The book is almost worth picking up for this chapter alone.

The major meat of this book, of course, is in the quiz chapter. Like Harrington, Sklansky sets up lots of tournament situations for the reader and asks them how they would approach the hand. Though you may not always agree with his answers, there is always good reasoning and logic behind them. The best part of this chapter is that he presents hands from many forms of poker, including no limit and limit hold'em, razz, stud, and omaha hi/lo. You will probably want to read this chapter several times through.

The last part of the book that I found especially informative was the section on making deals. The other poker books that I've read don't really go into this a whole lot. Sklansky goes deeply into the topic and informs the reader of the proper way to make deals at the final table to avoid short changing themselves when they are on the short stack. The math is presented in a very straightforward and simple manner so that even those who are not especially great with numbers can grasp the concept.

Most of the other information in this book is probably already known by most serious poker players, but there are tons of gems sprinkled throughout the book that, though you may already be aware of the concept, are presented in such a way as to allow you to see it from a new angle. It will probably take several reads of this book to get as much as you can from it; I know that I will need to go back and reread it a few times myself.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book to any serious tournament player. Though it will not help you with any specifc form of poker, it will provide a strong tournament foundation that you can take with you to any form of the game. Though not especially strong on its own, I feel that this book makes an excellent supplement to books that focus on whichever type of poker you like the most.

August 11, 2006

Final Table #4

My final table streak continues. I made my fourth final table of the week tonight in a $20 180 player SNG, reaching the goal I set for myself less than two days after I set it. My new goal is to actually win one of these things. Weak joined me for this game, but unfortunately he was pretty card dead the entire time and busted about halfway through the field.

I didn't have any really big hands that I remember early on in this game. I took a decent sized pot with a pair of aces the first hand, but that was about it. If I'm not hitting quality hands in the first few levels (which I generally don't), then I usually just sit there, rather than waste chips on trying to steal what are currently worthless pots. So I just bide my time, and eventually some decent cards come.

Usually by this time I've earned the reputation as a very solid player, so once I start raising with quality hands, I get more respect. That means I can steal more often, and this is usually about the time the blinds are worth stealing. I pretty much stole my way to the final three tables. I had a couple of well-placed double-ups in there to help out, but this was mostly a quiet tournament for me, chip-wise. I was below average in chips for almost the entire tournament.

When I hit the final three tables, one of the worst things ever happened. I raised from the button with A2d, and the BB (who was a complete idiot) called. The flop came A24. At this point, my wireless internet died. I was pissed. I was going to double up, but I couldn't play. I frantically ran to my room and fired up the desktop, but by the time I downloaded the PokerStars update, I had been folded, and my stack had been cut in half (due to my raise preflop). I was livid.

Luckily, I doubled up a few hands later through the same retard, so I was back to the stack I had before that hand occurred. That was little consolation, though, as I would have likely had a monster stack if I'd won that other one.

I didn't get too many hands in the final two tables. It tightened up a lot, so I was able to steal the blinds at least once an orbit to maintain my semi-healthy stack while the shorties continued to bust out to the monster stacks. Somehow, they would both have big hands at the same time, and the big stacks would almost always win.

I made it in to the final table pretty easily, around 5th place in chips. Unfortunately (for the rest of the table, as well as the player himself), a guy lost his internet connection just as the final table was starting. We had to sit through the extra time alotted every hand for at least a whole orbit, and it was definitely messing with the flow of the game. The guy finally managed to make it back just before he was blinded off (and after two others had busted) to push with Ax. He was called by Q8, and the other guy paired his low card to bust the poor soul. At least he lasted two spots in.

I managed to last until fifth place. Once the player in 6th place busted, I was the extreme short stack of the table. Any move I made would surely be called. I look down at A2 after a couple of hands and push. I got called by 44 and some other hand. The flop came 35x, but I didn't hit either of the other fours or my A. I get knocked out and go home with a nice $235 prize for my $20 investment.

This week has definitely been my best week of tournament poker in my (fairly short) career. Here's a look at this week's stats:

Sunday: $10+1 NL Hold'em
Players: 1793
Finished: 8th
Percent of Field: Top .45%
Winnings: $375
ROI%: 3409%

Tuesday: $10+$1 WWdN
Players: 48
Finished: 4th
Percent of Field: Top 8.3%
Winnings: $48
ROI%: 436%

Wednesday: $10+$1 The Mookie
Players: 45
Finished: 4th
Percent of Field: Top 8.8%
Winnings: $54
ROI%: 490.9%

Thursday: $20+$2 180 SNG
Players: 180
Finished: 5th
Percent of Field: Top 2.7%
Winnings: $234
ROI%: 1063.64%

I'm very excited about these statistics, especially the ROI%. I know that these numbers are not sustainable in the short run, but I would like to think that over the next few months, I will see a few finishes like I've had this week. Unfortunately, I won't be able to see if I can keep the momentum going the rest of this week. I'm heading out of town for the weekend tomorrow, so no poker until probably Monday. Hopefully I won't have cooled off too much by then.

Good luck to the rest of you, and I will see you on the felt!

August 10, 2006

Third Time Not Quite The Charm

I made my third final table of the week last night in the Mookie, another small, yet very challenging field of (mostly) bloggers. This game started off a lot like the WWdN in that I lost a third of my stack pretty early on. I hit top pair on a flop and was betting and being cold-called by SteelerJosh. When he led out big on the river, I knew he had hit a set, and I had to lay my hand down.

However, as I told my table last night, you don't want me on a short stack. I was able to double up when my top pair held against a flush draw, when the player didn't think I had him beat (I believe I had stolen a few pots prior to this). So with my new found stack, I went charging back into the field.

The only big hands I remember are my KK holding up against QQ and my QQ holding up against JJ to bust a couple of people out. The rest of the game was pretty much taking enough pots pre-flop to keep ahead of the blinds and watching the other stacks decimate each other. I found AA a few times, but each time I got it, I received little or no action.

The final two tables started to get a little stressful, especially when we were down to eleven players. We were five-handed at my table, and all of us were healthy stacks. The two short stacks were playing six-handed on the other table. My table tightened up immensely, and everyone was able to steal a few pots, basically moving the blinds around the table.

We finally broke to the final table, and I was greeted by familiar final table faces Hoyazo, Mowenumdown, and Surflexus. Needless to say, I was a little worried that I wouldn't make it very deep at this table.

Hoyazo was the first to bust out, when he lost his 60/40 AQ vs KJ to Dylan. A king spiked on the flop, and Hoy was out. Not a fun way to go, but Dylan had a monster stack and could afford the call. I made what I think was a good laydown a few hands later when I was in the BB with pocket jacks, and Mowenumdown pushed UTG with his short stack. It folded around to me, and I tanked for a bit. I figured it was either a race, or I was really behind so I let it go. I would pick my spot later.

My spot came about an orbit later when I found QQ. I forget the exact action here, but I ended up all in against Mowenumdown, who flipped over JJ. My queens held, and Kelly went out in 8th.

Grupper was the next to go, followed by love_elf on the bubble, and we were in the money! I had a healthy sized stack, and this is when I made what I think was a bad play. I'm not certain, though. I had A8 on the button, and it folds to me. Five handed, I'm definitely playing this, so I raised it up. Dylan calls in the SB, and the BB folds. I think the flop was AhJh8h or something like that, and Dylan led out for 2400. I called, and the turn brought an xh, giving me a flush with my eight. Dylan checked, and I checked behind. The river was a blank, and he led out for 2400 again. I called, and he shows the king of hearts. That hand cost me I think 2/3 of my stack.

Seeking Advice:
Please let me know how you think I should have played this one because I think this is a tough situation. If I raise on the flop any meaningful amount, I'm extremely close to committing myself here, but I wasn't even sure I was behind with his flat call pre-flop. The flop is definitely dangerous, but I could also be ahead. He had been playing very marginal cards the whole night, throwing people off, so it was entirely possible he had a pair of jacks. Let me know what you think.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Luckily, that loss didn't phase me at all, and I scraped and stole my way back up to third place in chips. Surf was the next player to bust when he was forced to push with an M of around two. His KJ didn't hold up against A5, and he was out in 5th.

Now for the hand of the night. We're four handed, and I'm pretty short stacked. I look down to find presto, pocket fives in the big blind. Marx limps on the button, and I immediately know he has a pocket pair. In fact, at the time I placed him on 33. I decide to raise and try to push him out or maybe get him to push, so I bet half my stack. He tanks for a while, and then he types, "I have a pocket pair." That's when I knew I had him. He ended up putting me all in, and I happily called. He flips over 44, and it was at this point I ran into an old friend of mine:

Matt: Hey, T.O.! How's it going man!

Two-outer: Hey, Matt.

Matt: Hey, dude, I just wanted to thank you for getting me out of that tight spot on Sunday. I mean if you hadn't...

Two-outer walks right up to Matt and kicks him straight in the nuts. Matt falls to the ground, writhing in pain.

Matt: *whimpering* Man, T.O., I thought we were cool.

Two-outer: Shut your face douche-mop.

Two-outer walks out into the night. Fade to black.

That's right, one of those two fours came down on the flop, and I bust out in 4th place, just when I'm getting ready to jump up to a fighting stack.

There was a brief flash when I thought I would be able to take down the whole tourney right between the spot when he flipped his cards and the flop was dealt. That didn't last very long. Overall, I'm completely satisfied with my play, except for that one questionable one I pointed out a few paragraphs back. Please let me know what you'd do in that situation; I'm curious to know what you all think.

Congrats to everyone who made the final table, and a big congratulations to Marxst1 who used my chips to take the whole thing down. Good luck to you all, and I'll see you on the felt!

August 08, 2006

Another Final Table

I made another final table tonight, this time in the weekly WWdN tournament, which is always a challenging game. Even though it was one of the smaller WWdN tourneys, with only 48 participants, it was still a very tough field. It would be hard to decide which I'd rather play against: a herd of 1700 donkeys where I have to survive a million races, or the small field of (mostly) bloggers in the WWdN game who have more combined skill than said 1700 donkeys plus Chris Moneymaker. I'm always up for this game though, and it's definitely one of my favorites.

It started off pretty slow tonight. I didn't put any money in the pot outside of the blinds for the first three levels. I just didn't get anything to fight with. Then I had the fun experience of running QQ into KK, which severely crippled me and left me with only a few hundred. I sat still for a couple of orbits and finally pushed in the SB with 57o, hoping that Surf would just let me go. However, he knew the dire situation I was in and called with KQ. Luckily, I flopped two pair and doubled through.

After that, I began to catch a ton of cards, which is not to say that I got incredibly lucky on the flops. I was getting killer hole cards. I saw AA and KK at least three times each, and I think I saw QQ four times. It was kind of ridiculous. I was a card rack, for sure.

I caught AA against SoxLover's KK to bust him out and give me a very nice chip stack as we collapsed to the final two tables. I continued to get great cards when I needed them, though things didn't always turn out as I wanted. Earlier in the game, I ran KK into AA and AT, but luckily I had both participants covered. I lost another key hand to Jules when her JJ flopped a set against my KK. That cut my stack in half, but I managed to catch quad threes a few hands later to double back up.

It was a bit of a roller coaster like that all the way up to the final table. I'm pretty satisfied with my final table play, though I did make one annoying mistake. I raised it up 3.5x one hand with AQo in middle position, and it folds around to the BB, who calls. The flop comes K high, and the BB checks. I just knew in my gut that he was trapping, but I went ahead and made a continuation bet. Sure enough, his response was to push all in, and I had to fold. That cost me about 1/3 of my stack.

I lost most of the remainder in a race with 88 against KQ. A king came on the flop, and I lost 95% of my stack. I pushed all in next hand with Jx, and the board was jack high by the turn. However, a rivered king did me in, and I failed to triple up. I ended up busting out in fourth place for a payout of $48.00. It's not as much as I would have liked, but you have to win those key races to move up the ladder.

Congratulations to RicoM, who took down the whole thing, and to dogtown73 who placed in second.

So that makes two final tables for me this week. They weren't both in crazy deep tournaments like Hoyazo did when he was on his streak, but at least one of them was. I'm hoping to make the final table of a $20 180-player SNG soon, and that will be my goal for the immediate future. In the meantime, good luck to the rest of you, and I'll see you on the felt!

August 07, 2006

I'm Getting There

Last night I got together with some bloggers for the $10+$1 tournament on PokerStars. No one gained any traction for a good while, and, unfortunately, we lost Garth pretty early. Of course, he was probably concentrating more on the $20+$2 180 that he was in. At least, that will most likely be his excuse.

SoxLover was the first of us to get something going when he doubled up with pocket kings. I was next to gather some chips when I doubled up with flopped trip 3s that I slowplayed, allowing another guy to catch top two pair. Weak didn't get anything going for several hours, but somehow managed to build up to 12,000 chips from 1,400 in the span of like five minutes. I didn't see any of the hands, so for all I know he has some kind of cheat code that he's not sharing with the rest of us. No wonder he's been doing so well lately!

I played solid poker throughout the whole tournament, and I only had two suckouts. The first suckout was the turning point in the tournament for me. We were at about 100/200 I think, and I was dealt 99 in the BB. UTG raised 3x, and it folded around to me. I flat called so I could see the texture of the flop before committing more chips out of position.

The flop came down six high, and I checked to allow him his continuation bet. He bet out, and I came over the top. He then reraised me all in... a little too quickly. I went into the tank and thought about it for a good bit. I was only behind to five hands that he would have raised with at this point, and I decided that his range was just too large to let it go. I called, and he flips over TT. Doh! However, I managed to pull my two outer on the river and doubled up.

My other suckout wasn't as critical, as I had both players covered. The blinds at this point were 1,000/2,000, and a player in EP raised it up to 8,000. The guy on my right called, and I decided to pull a squeeze play with AKd. I came over the top to 24,000, which would put both players all in. They both called and flipped over KK and 99 respectively. I caught an A on the turn and busted them both.

After this, it was just solid, aggressive playing that got me the rest of the way. Weak, Sox, and I all made the money before long, but Sox took some pretty bad beats, ended up getting short stacked, and busted out a little ways in. I'm not sure how Weak lost most of his chips, but I think he ended up finishing on the bad side of a race, AQ vs a mid pair or something. He went out not long after Sox, leaving me to trudge through the battlefield on my own.

I managed to get some well-timed doubled ups with KK and QQ, and by this point the blinds were enormous, so whenever I bought them, it added another 5% or so to my stack. There were a couple of points where short stacks were just busting like crazy near the end, so I just bided my time and made sure not to call down any all-ins with marginal hands.

Pretty soon I had made the final two tables, and this is where it started to get tough. None of the shortstacks were on my table, and I was pretty much one of the shortest at mine. However, even though I only had an M of 8 or so, raises had a ton of weight behind them, since the blinds were so enormous. The shortstacks at the other table busted after a little while, and the hand that brought us to the final table was the sickest of all.

The money went all in preflop, and both of the players flipped over QQ. The flop came down with three diamonds... You can guess where this is going. The bigger stack hit his fourth diamond on the river to four-flush the other QQ out of the tournament. It was just disgusting, but I wasn't about to complain, as that netted me an additional $100.

The final table was absolutely infuriating. Not only was I not getting any cards, but the shorter stacks who were around my size were absolute pansies. They would bet and raise and commit about 60% of their stack, and then fold to non-scare cards on the river when their opponent bet into them. It was so annoying that they survived as long as they did.

One person finally busted out in 9th, and I moved up to the $375 line. However, I remained severely card dead, and I was blinded down to an M of around 2 or so. I finally found KQ and pushed... right into AK. Nice. No Q for me, and I finish in 8th place.

I'm definitely satisfied with my play in this game. Even though this isn't the big score that I have been waiting for, this finish serves as an affirmation to what I've believed all along: I can win one of these things. I've been making great decisions for the past few months, and I've never been happier with my game. But for some reason I would always fall short. Well, I'm able to cross one of my goals off of my list now. I final tabled an event with 500+ people (1700+!!), and I took home a nice $375 payout for my $10 investment.

I will definitely be winning one of these things soon. I can feel it. I just need to keep playing the way I am, making the right decisions, and getting a little lucky every once in a while. Of course, I still need to work on not getting unlucky.

Is there a book on that somewhere?

August 03, 2006


Made the final two tables in a $4 180 tonight. Busted out as a 80% favorite when some idiot four flushed me. Three hours for $4. Screw you Pokerstars.

The Best Laid Plans

I left work yesterday fully intending to play in the Mookie at 10PM. However, as that time drew near, I began to realize that I was not in the mindset to play. I was quickly becoming exhausted, probably mostly due to donking it up the night before in the blogger cash game. Sorry, Mook. I will do my best to make it next week.

On the plus side, I did manage to make a little bit playing some cash games at Party right after I got home from work. I feel I must reiterate the following for the uninitiated: if you play cash games, and you don't play at Party Poker, you are doing yourself a serious disservice. The level of the play there is just abysmal. Either of my two cats could make money playing at that site.

Hmm...I may have to start making them play during the day while I'm at work. Guaranteed money!

August 02, 2006

Gigli Is Me

Short update today.

Went out FIRST in the WWdN game last night when I made a horrible misread of SoxLover's hand. I went out with 77 on a 5 high board (5533x), and he took me down with QQ. Of course, I probably shouldn't have played the hand in the first place, but whatever.

After that I earned my buy-in back playing cash games on Party, and then Weak hit me up for a blogger cash game on Stars. Had a great time donking it up with everyone, and I even had built up to almost double my buy-in. However, right before I was getting up to leave, I was dealt KJs in the SB. 23skidoo min raised, and I called to see a jack high flop. I checked, he bet, I raised, he reraised, I reraised, he reraised. I absolutely knew I was beat here, but I couldn't resist the urge to bust with "The Donkey," so I called, and his set of duckies took it down. It was only a $25 buy-in, so I didn't mind so much, and I still ended up for the day.

It was an all around good time. Hope to be playing the Mookie tonight. Have a good day everyone.