Monday, January 31, 2011


So a friend told me I shouldn't be putting up magazine articles on my site, even if I wrote it, so I had to take down the last blog. I guess it had something to do w/ copyrights. Anyway I'll be updating soon about my January and for the meantime if anybody is interested here is a Q&A I did for Cardplayer magazine a couple of months ago. My article is on pages 34-36.

Links are ok though.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I had a weird weekend in poker, mostly good though. On Friday night I cashed out $1100 at the Wynn poker room and thought I put the money in my wallet but when I woke up the next day I couldn't find the money. I haven't found it since so I assumed I lost it...doh! On Saturday I took a piece of my buddy in a $150-$300 mix game at Aria and won $1500 for myself. Yesterday I lost a few hundred in mtts and mix games. I did bet Green Bay and Pittsburgh and won both my bets. Also I bought a big chunk of my friend in a few tournaments and he managed to get 2nd in one for $14k. I had 50% of him in that one so the day was pretty good.

For myself in poker it's been going ok. After having a -$9k session earlier in the week I've managed to win it all back. I'm in kind of a rush at this moment, preparing to go skiing/snowboarding w/ a few buddies in Brianhead, Utah, so I'll post snapshots when I get back.

I did go to the UNLV-New Mexico college basketball game here in town on Saturday and bet UNLV -9 which lost. That's ok because I got to witness Phil Hellmuth get introduced to the crowd and get booed nonstop. He was asked to shoot a layup (made), free throw (missed 3 in a row), and a 3 pter (never had a chance since he couldn't make a ft). So I consider my experience of losing a couple hundred on my bet and seeing Hellmuth get booed and suck so bad on the court a wash (break even).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


So I was watching the PCA main event final table on tv the other night when this very cool hand went down. Before I get to it, I thought it was cool to see the entire final table broadcast on tv (w/ a 1 hr delay) and James Hartigan and Daniel Negreanu did a good job covering the action. Anyway I copied and pasted the hand from another site and I give my thoughts on it.


Galen Hall entered heads-up play in the 2011 PCA Main Event with 66 big blinds to Chris Oliver’s 167 big blinds, and in one of the first hands he made an epic lay-down that saved his tournament life and propelled him to victory.

Hall opened to 450,000 on the button with {8-Clubs}{4-Hearts} and Oliver defended in the big blind with {a-Diamonds}{2-Spades}. The flop came {5-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}{2-Clubs}, giving Hall an open-ended straight draw and Oliver a pair of deuces. Oliver check-called 575,000 from Hall and the turn brought the {2-Hearts} giving Oliver trips and removing Hall’s ace outs. Both players checked. The river was the {a-Spades}, giving Oliver a full house and Hall the wheel, and Oliver sneakily checked to Hall who bet 2 million. Oliver thought for a moment before check-raising all-in for around 9 million and Hall went deep into the tank. To the astonishment of all, Hall mucked his straight.

“We have a lot of history online,” Hall said about the hand after the tournament. “His shove looked like it was for value.”

Hall never gave up despite being short-stacked, and four hours after the lay-down he found himself with the chip lead and eventually the title. His river-fold will go in the history books as one of the best of all time, especially considering the circumstances and results.


When I was watching it I wasn't sure if Hall was going to call or fold the river but I knew it was a super tough decision, especially w/ what was on the line (PCA ME title + $2.3 mil). Anyway after I saw it I thought it'd be an interesting hand to talk about but when I saw Hall talk about the hand after he won the tournament, I thought he provided a lot of valuable insight that would help other poker players (that I could share).

First let me express my thoughts on the hand. I think the hand was well played by both guys except for the river overshove by Oliver, but I didn't think the overshove was that bad. I know he was hoping to end it right there and if Hall had a straight (which he did), there's a good chance he calls all in. I think, given what I was sensing on the table at the time, that Oliver should just make a standard value raise to about 5-6 mil (I think he overshoved for 11mil total) and get a call from Hall and have a commanding 45mil to 4mil lead. Instead Hall folded and Oliver had a 40mil to 9mil lead and w/ blinds at 100k-200k there was plenty of play for Hall to try to get back in the match. That was one of those times where one got too greedy, and it ended up costing him (granted Hall might've won even down 10-1 in chips but that seems like a much bigger mountain to climb than being down 4-1 in chips).

Anyway I think Hall's hand is more interesting and brings up a lot of good poker concepts to talk about, notably the river fold. Everything up to the river was "standard" (I guess he could fire the turn as well, but in mtts chips are very valuable so you don't want to be barreling off like in cash need to be a lot more selective in mtts). So Hall talks about his river fold and explains why (w/ lots of good poker stuff in it directly and indirectly).

He says he bet 2million because he felt like Oliver had an inelastic calling range, meaning Oliver was going to fold or call regardless of any bet amount. There is some truth in that, in that Oliver probably has trips or Ax a lot there and will call any bet amount (or fold to any bet if he had bp or a missed draw) but he could've held a 5 or a mid pp where Oliver would've had an elastic range. So I don't mind Hall's near pot bet at the river given his read.

Now what really impressed me was not only Hall's laydown but why he laid it down. When Oliver shoves the river his range is polarized to nut straight, boats or air (he'll just call w/ the same straight, doing anything else would be dumb). Hall knew this and even though a straight is a huge hand in hu play (absolute strength is strong as well), he realized the relative strength of his hand was weak given the river overshove. How did he realize this?

Well he says when he bets big at the river, Oliver should know that he has a polarized betting range as straights, boats, or air. So if Hall has a polarized range, then Oliver only needs to raise small to get Hall to fold the air portion of his range because Hall will probably call almost any raise w/ a straight. Yet Oliver goes for the massive overshove. So the thinking from Hall goes something like this, "well he should know my range is polarized w/ my big river bet so any raise will get me to fold air so he should raise small if he was bluffing, yet he's overshoving all in, and since any raise will get me to fold my air hands, he must think I have a straight and might be willing to call all in to his overshove, therefore he is overshoving for value w/ the nut straight or a boat so I must fold". Now that was some really impressive deduction on Hall's part and it all makes sense.

As you can see what seems like a tough spot can actually be broken down and the correct decision can be made if you really think about it, like Hall did. One thing he never talked about, which I think is critical in times like these, is the pressure or lack of focus that happens in such a big spot like this. I bet most poker players call off here either because they don't break it down correctly like Hall did, or they just feel tired or get antsy to try to double up (and bust). So that was impressive that Hall didn't succumb to the pressure or the moment (of trying to double up because he has such a huge hand himself).

The reason I bring this hand up is for a lot of educational reasons. Besides applying elasticity, inelasticity (not sure if that's a word really), polarization, betsizing, and reads, this hand shows how vital it is to stay in the moment and not get caught up trying to double up (or some other mistake). Imagine if we all took a step back when it was our turn in a hand and broke down the hand as best as we could (and ignored all the impulses to do something irrational), we'd win a lot more money.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 Goals

My biggest leak in poker has always been complacency and laziness. The 1st few years of my poker career that wasn't the case as I grinded 30-40hrs/week consistently. I guess most people like to play a lot early on because it's fun and seems like a good way to make money whenever you want (given that you're a winning player) and I was no different. Also I was starting to build my roll and net worth and support a family along the way (w/ help from my wife who also played poker) so I put in the volume to provide a good life for us and reach some goals.

Well once we had built up a good bankroll, accumulated a respectable net worth, started investing for our future including our retirement funds, and bought our 2nd house I started feeling like I could take time off whenever I wanted. I think I took that too far at times though. It might have been some cockiness on my part though, which is bad. I just felt like I can resume playing anytime and expect to win lots of money. That isn't always the case though because we all know how tough poker can be at times.

This is the main reason I've stayed at midstakes, primarily nl400 to nl1k the last 3-4 years. I played enough and won enough to maintain our standard of living but never played more to build my poker bankroll to take shots at higher stakes, even though I think I can do ok at the bigger games. The trade off is that I got to pursue my hobbies and spend some quality time w/ my family, but there were also lots of times where I wasted time watching tv, browsing the internet, etc. that could've been used to play poker.

Well no more! Wait, I tried this last year and set a monetary goal of $1 million dollars and failed to a degree. I ended up playing 15hrs/wk which is up from the 13hrs/wk from the previous year. Well I think I figured out a better way to motivate myself to play as much as I can and hopefully build my roll and take shots at bigger games. My game plan is to go after supernova elite on Pokerstars.

Now I know this is really difficult to do, especially for somebody like me w/ a family. There were a little over 300 people that achieved sne on 2010 so it's not impossible. I already calculated that I would need to avg about 30hrs/wk playing the games I am playing now to get it (less hrs at higher stakes and in limit games). That would be doubling my hrs from last year which on paper doesn't seem hard but irl is.

I'm also planning on playing a few more live tournaments, especially the ones in Las Vegas and possibly some in Los Angeles. I think I have what it takes to win a major live event and I'm going to give myself as many chances as I can afford (within my means of course). I will probably sell pieces of myself at a markup because we all know how expensive it gets playing a bunch of $5k and $10k events. For now I'm planning on going to Los Angeles in February to play in the LAPC events.

I am not going to set any monetary goal for this year because I don't think it helps and can actually be a detriment. I'm not really susceptible to it but I can see how somebody can feel pressured to win and play less than optimally under those conditions. I'm just going to focus on putting in the hrs and playing the best I can at all times (this should be the mindset for all professional poker players though). I will continue to post my monthly results because I know readers like to see that, and that allows me to be honest w/ myself (if I'm not doing well), plus let's admit it, I get a certain satisfaction when I make an x amount of money in a month and get to share it (who doesn't though). If I ever start making 7 figures on a consistent annual basis then I may stop posting but that is very unlikely.

I'm going to work on my game some as well. I'm definitely an advocate of always working on one's game and I want to make sure I'm at least staying w/ the curve of the new generation of poker players, and hopefully I'll be able to stay ahead of that curve. I don't want to get into how I work on my game but I will be working hard on getting better. I do want to improve my PLO game and have been dabbling in it this year. I'm planning on playing a lot more PLO this year. I feel like the games are softer than NL in general and I'm an advocate of learning as many games as possible. Specifically I've been working on 3betting ranges in PLO lately.

Also I want to contribute however I can to improve Cardrunners. I am an employee of the company and want to take my position seriously and make my bosses happy. I'm still working on my video making and narrative skills. It's definitely not easy to produce videos and I'm going to work on producing the best ones that I can.

Along the same lines I'm planning on cohosting CashPlays w/ Jeremiah Smith (broadcast on CR and PokerRoad). I really enjoy my gig there and I get to share my experiences and knowledge of poker on the show. I've gotten to know Jeremiah better over the months and he's a really good guy (goes w/o saying I guess w/ him having been a about a career change...pastor to poker player-poker host). Remember anybody is free to email us and ask us for potential guests or send in hand histories for us to break down.

Random PokerRoad story...few years ago Jeannie and I were in line buying a snack during the WSOP at the Rio, Barry G was standing behind Jeannie and started hitting on her (talking nicely and all to her, so I assume he was hitting on her) while he was oblivious to the fact that I was w/ her (as her his defense I'm sure he didn't even notice me). I guess I should take it as a compliment he was hitting on her? Also he owns PokerRoad so I hope there's no repercussions from me writing this, and if so, oh well . :)

I guess for poker that is it but I'll leave my mind open for whatever new may pop up. After all last year I was only shooting for $1million but ended up getting a cohosting poker gig and became an instructor at CR. As for coaching I'm not sure if I want to do it yet. My 2011 itinerary seems pretty full but again, we'll see.

Since this is the new year, I, like many others, want to get in good shape and maintain good health. I want to get to the gym at least 2x/wk (there's a really nice one that's part of my community right behind my house so it's even easier to get to one) and I want to try to eat healthier (much This might actually be harder than my poker goals but might be an even more important goal.

Now I set all my poker goals but poker will never be my 1st commitment. That will be my family (and as a spiritual person, God). In a perfect world I'll achieve all my poker goals and get in great shape but more importantly make everybody around me happy. In 2011 I'm hoping to live in a perfect world. Gl to everybody in 2011!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010 Recap

Before I get to my 2010 recap let me do a quick recap of December. I started the month off playing a $10k WPT event and cashing in it for $13,725. Unfortunately that capped off a weak month in mtts where I played a bunch of online mtts for once and only cash a couple of times. In cash games it was just as bad, if not worse...

I played 41hrs and ran pretty bad as evidenced by the graph. My all in ev lies at $6141 while my actual $ won was -$314. Overall after rakeback I made $1905...not exactly the way I wanted to finish 2010.

Now on to recap my 2010. I guess the best way to describe my year is underwhelming. It wasn't a disappointment because I did set a lofty monetary goal of $1million and got about 1/4th the way there. I thought I made more and recently said I made 1/3rd of my goal on my recent CashPlays podcast but I was estimating and I was off . For the year I made $264,500 in poker. The breakdown is on the right of the blog. Sure it wasn't close but hey let's not kid ourselves, that's a lot of money.

2010 Graph 1st...

2010 snapshot of my online NL cash game results for 2010...

A detailed breakdown on # of players...

I am ok w/ my overall winrate (in PTBB) at around 2.65 BB/100 for a few reasons. One being that the games are supposedly the toughest they've ever been. Also the fact that I play 15-16 tables at once and can maintain a 2.65BB/100 doing so is pretty good. Finally I was not very selective when it came to game selection and pretty much played on whatever tables were going. Sure I might have chosen a softer table when I had 2 options but for the most part really didn't seek out softer games. Also I played everybody when it came to hu and am proud of holding my own considering this was the 1st year I really started playing hu.

A couple of observations regarding my HEM...I went through all my hands at $5/$10 and felt like I ran bad and actually had my worst run of the year (in April) while playing $5/$10 only. Yes the games are tougher but I feel like I can win at 2+ BB/100 at $5/$10 w/ normal variance. I do think I will need to cut down on tables if I want to maximize my earning power at $5/$10+ since the games are tougher. I did not show my PLO HEM because I had minimal hands at the game. I played 2772 hands at PLO stakes ranging from $1/$2 to $3/$6 and won $2204 for a winrate of 24.5BB/100 which is obviously unsustainable. I will be looking forward to studying the game and getting better at it in 2011. I will talk about my 2011 goals and outlook next time.

Also I played 760 hrs and won at a rate of $253/hr, or $295/hr if I include rakeback. For sake of simplicity I will say my hrly for 2010 was $300 which I'm happy w/. Now let's talk about what I am disappointed w/ and most of that is the volume I put in. Sure I played 720k hands online and that is a lot but I really can and should be playing more than 15hrs/wk in cash games. Now I did play a bunch of tournaments and I'm not exactly sure how much time I invested in them but I really should be able to double my hrs/wk in cash games (maybe even triple them if I scale down on mtts and push myself). Again next time I'll go into how I'm going to approach 2011 and find a way to at least double my volume from last year.

W/ my results out of the way, I'm gonna mention some things that happened to me in 2010, mostly all positive. I did start my own blog and thank everybody that spent time reading it and followed my life/career in 2010. I also expanded my network in poker after having spent most of the past few years sitting behind my monitor grinding away w/o really trying to get to know others. I never felt alone though because I did have friends outside of online poker and I have my family that is always here w/ me. I do think it's important to have a good network of friends that understand poker and play it to the degree you play it.

I met a few guys over the summer that I play vs. online and it was cool to put faces on players I play vs. on a daily basis. Granted almost all of them were 10-15 years younger than me but that is the sign of the times I guess. Also I met Jeremiah Smith during the summer, at church of all places, and I duped him into thinking I can make a good cohost on his CashPlays podcast...actually he asked me but still a great dupe job on my part (probably had a lot to do w/ the extravagant lobster/crab/steak dinner we hosted for him, his wife, and a few of his friends).

A little bit later I pulled an even bigger dupe job by convincing Cardrunners management I knew how to teach poker and make nl videos. Seriously it was a big decision I made and I feel good about it. I had been holding back on joining an instructional site for a couple of years and finally decided to take the plunge. Why not w/ the biggest site and w/ guys that know what they're doing and do a great job putting out a great product (man I hope they're read this and I get brownie points for all the kiss ass here).

As a professional poker player I'm going to experience the ups and downs that come w/ this job and there are a lot more ups and downs in poker than in just about any other job. One of the early high points was being the biggest winner at $2/$4nl across all sites in January. I made about 100 buyins in January and PTR had an article of who the biggest winners were across all sites and they had me topping the $2/$4 games. Next I started grinding $3/$6 and $5/$10 and continued to do well, capped by a +$17k day (more like a sick 3 hour session) in March. Sidenote (and brag) I won $100k at $5/$10 back in March 2008 so that was another month I won 100 buyins in a month, but the games were a little softer back then. I guess March is annually a good month for me!

Well along w/ good runs comes bad runs and boy did I run bad in April. I went from $12k winner to $27k loser in 2 weeks but managed to lose only $12k for the month, which turned out to be my worst month of the year. I had a decent May and was ready for the WSOP.

I ended up going in w/ high aspirations, mostly because I felt like I was one of the favorites in every event I entered. Like every poker player I dreamed of winning a bracelet. Well I played 17 events and cashed in 5 including the main event, which isn't shabby but none of my cashes were very significant. My largest cash was in the main event for about $24k. I did show a profit at the WSOP which most poker players won't do. Actually this was the 4th of the past 6 years that I showed a profit just off WSOP events so I have a fairly good track record in the WSOP although the bracelet still eludes.

During this time I didn't play much online, but played some live, which is a great time for it. Anyway I resumed online poker in August and had a good month clearing $62k, helped by my best mtt score of the year when I won $25k (3rd place finish) in a $540 tournament at the Hard Rock of all places.

Well, as it happened the last 2 to 3 years, complacency took over the final 4 months of the year and I jogged, well more like walked, to the finish line. Part of that had to due w/ football season and the holidays but mostly it was my fault. I'm hoping to not get into that state of mind again...the scientific term for this condition is laziness. I did win about $25k the final 4 months but the volume was just not there.

In terms of life outside of poker it was mixed. The family was great and I really do have a great wife and kid and love the fact that they support me to the fullest (I guess it helps that I do well at poker so they can spend the money). I have a great core of friends that I hang out w/ and some of them did well in poker. For somebody that lives in Vegas, and "gambles" for a living, I'm blessed to have a good group of friends that are genuine.

The downer part outside of poker is that I was pretty bad when it came to my health, notably improving it. I started off the year w/ a bang, going to the gym 2-3x/week for 3-4 months then the WSOP came around and I fell off the wagon. I'm sure lots of you guys can relate w/ me, but it's hard keeping a routine every week when it comes to exercising. I'm hoping to get back into a regular exercise routine and also looking to eat healthier (more organic, drink lots of water, no sodas..well maybe diet only, more fish, vegetables, less shellfish...damn the Vegas buffets!).

Also I had a profitable year when it came to ventures outside of poker. I won in sportsbetting overall and did well in fantasy football. I lost in pit games, mostly craps, but it was minimal compared to what I made overall. I think I lost a little bit backing people in tournaments though, which is unusual because I tend to run really good when I buy pieces of people (I've won $50k, $25k, and $20k in the past taking pieces of people in single tournaments so all my poker playing friends think I'm good luck and ask me to buy pieces).

Finally I just want to say I write about poker in general and offer some advice from time to time, just so people know it's not all about how I am doing in poker. However poker does not encompass my entire life and it probably shouldn't encompass anybody's entire life. Also I like to think I lead a well balanced life where poker is a means of providing for my family and living a comfortable life and I really do believe that's the best way. Anyway I thank everybody that reads my blog and continue to do so and hope you guys learn from my mistakes, conquests, and experiences to possibly enhance your poker ventures or even your lives.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

NYE at Palms

I was not planning on going out for New Year's eve. Actually I was planning on doing what I've been doing for the past 8yrs while I've lived in Vegas. That is just having a quiet celebration w/ my wife and kid in our house and taking in the fireworks over the Vegas strip from our balcony. Also I was planning on grinding a little w/ one of my 2011 goals being achieving supernova elite. Well my kid was staying w/ her cousins in Los Angeles and my buddy Joe T sent me a last minute text saying he got Jeannie and me VIP passes at the Palms for the NYE celebration.

We've always avoided the strip during NYE because it gets closed off to all automobiles and it becomes a zoo w/ thousands of people walking shoulder to shoulder on the strip. Well Palms happens to be just off the strip so I knew we were able to drive directly to it. Once we got there there was literally no parking available so I had to park across the street at a bank's parking lot.

Anyway we get our VIP wristbands and get into Palm's primary nightclub Rain. We were happy to see that we got our own booth. For those of you that don't know, booths in nightclubs are expensive to rent out. I remember spending $3k on one in LAX (at Luxor) on my wife's birthday last year. A lot of that is paying for the alcohol which they overcharge you immensely for. For her b-day we had to order a minimum of 2 bottles and we ended up getting 2 bottles of grey goose for $300-$400 a bottle. Yeah, you can get the same bottle for 1/10th the price at any liquor store.

Anyway this was a booth in a hit nightclub on NYE so I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to hang out in a booth all night. Besides the alcohol hot girls bring, there is plenty of space and sofas to sit down on. If you aren't fortunate to get a booth you have to spend the whole time standing up in the club, not to mention being jammed in space.

I guess Joe's roommate's new gf had some hookups and got the booth. I'm not sure of the price but I heard somewhere between $5k and $10k. Also Rain had Oakenfold as their DJ for the night. I'm not sure who he is but I heard he's some world famous DJ. Well we ended up drinking, partying, and ringing in the New Year's there and had a blast. My wife and I are not much of drinkers but we'll shoot down a glass or 2 on special occasions and I guess NYE would qualify as one.

Somewhat funny story of the night...walking out of restroom, some guy asks me if I have a light, I say no, he says you sure, I say yeah but my buddy might have one...I turn to my buddy, he says he asked you for white, not a light, I say wtf is that, he says it's coke, I think really? Do I look like a %^$& coke head?!

Anyway besides talking about my awesome NYE night out, I thought this would give me a chance to post some pics for those of you that wanted to put a face on myself, my wife, and some Vegas friends (along w/ pics of the scene last night)...

The booth awaits...


Joe's fiance getting drunk on Fiji...

Oakenfold dancer electrifying the crowd...

Oakenfold the DJ...

Hemma and his gf Laurie...

Joe, Jeannie, and me...

Yeah I run good in life :)

On balcony of Moon, another nightclub/bar at Palms...

Hope everybody had a great New Year's eve!

Next time I'll recap my 2010 and talk about my goals and outlook for 2011.