Friday, April 29, 2011

Ballsy Call?

So I'm playing the WSOPc $1600 nl main event on day 1 today and this hand takes place. I'm in the bb...obviously still unknown to the live poker world. I just thought I'd post it because it is somewhat educational for live tournaments...

Gates Eliminated with "Ballsy Call"

Garry Gates
Garry Gates

Action folded to Garry Gates in the small blind and he raised to 3,100. The big blind reraised to 7,200 and then Gates moved all in for 29,800. The big blind tanked for a couple minutes and then eventually said, "All right, I call," with 12,000 chips behind after calling Gates' all-in amount.

Gates turned over the {K-Spades}{J-Hearts} with his tournament life on the line and the big blind tabled the {A-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}, ahead but with a risky call.

The flop came down {Q-Spades}{9-Clubs}{6-Clubs} and gave Gates a gutshot straight draw to go along with his two live cards. The turn brought the {7-Diamonds} and the river the {5-Diamonds}. Both of those missed Gates after his whiffed the flop and he was eliminated.

"Pretty ballsy call," said David Williams to the player after the hand


1) I called because...
2) This guy was chummy w/ David Williams (who was on his right) so I assumed this guy knew how to play a little (eg not afraid to 4bet shove light for his mtt life)
3) I was kinda torn between 3betting and shoving preflop but had a semi plan to induce a shove by worse by 3betting but when it happened I decided to take my time to reevaluate (maybe some of you will say it's just a clear cut shove....probably won't argue w/ that much)
4) Even if I was wrong or I lose I still have 10bbs
5) You need to win a couple of these in multiday tournaments
6) I am a force to be reckoned w/ with chips...w/ less than 30bbs or so I'm just like any other good mtt player (most are proficient w/ those stacks)
7) Great for my table image (willing to 3bet light, gambling, reading people well, not being afraid of calling based on my read, etc.)

So as you can see, what seems like a "Ballsy Call" is actually a well thought out hand, even though it seems simple on the outside (raise, 3bet, 4bet shove, call, bvb).

As for the tournament I had a top 5 stack going into the last level and lost a flip for a huge pot AQ < JJ then another 18bbs to a shortie 77 < TT very last hand of the night.

Oh well, I start back up tomorrow w/ 25bbs, 87 players left and 54 itm...1st being $153k.

You can follow PokerNews to see how I'm doing...oh wait, they just list me as some random dude...nm.

Follow me on twitter at!/nicolakpoker

In other news my new video where I focus on transitioning from online cash game to live games is out at Cardrunners. I'm making it a series and the 1st one is pretty basic (aimed at those who never set foot in a live poker room...w/ some advice for those that have) but they will get more in depth in the later videos.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


After everything that's transpired the last couple of days, I've had some time to take it in and form some thoughts. Even though I have a family, own 2 Las Vegas properties (not necessarily a brag because mortgages are sky high from buying at the worst time possible) and owe some taxes (shipping it Monday) I'm pretty upbeat about everything. Maybe because I've always seen the glass half full. Also has to do w/ my strong religious faith.

I read this piece today and I agree w/ most of everything the writer says...

Although Black Friday is bad for the short term I think it's good for the long term. Sure some will disagree but I see a push for the legalization of online poker. If and when that happens everybody will rejoice and it will be PartyPoker all over again (not really but things will be much better than the status quo we were in).

In the meantime what are professional poker players to do? Well since I consider myself a well rounded poker player (I've stressed before it's beneficial to be good at many forms of poker including live poker) I can go play live for awhile until we have a clearer picture of what's in store for us. Also I've strategically placed my family in Las Vegas for times like these (well, that and home prices were much cheaper than in California at the time) so I can play poker in the casinos. I blogged about my live experiences and how "soft" I consider the games so I expect to do ok although I think I will have to double, maybe triple my hrs to match my income from online poker (even then I may not be able to match my online earning power..we shall see).

I also have experience grinding live poker 40hrs/week. This was over a decade ago and games were much different then (just limit games and very soft) but I've become a much experienced and a better player so I expect to do ok until online poker comes back.

As for others, I'm not them so I can't answer for them. I notice some fellow Cardrunners' guys increasing their coaching profiles so good luck to them. I'm not sure what's going to happen to the online mtt'ers that depended on mass volume to eek out a profit (I guess it's going to cost Sheets and Bax a lot of money too), the hu specialists (see what bumhunting gets you, not skillz that's for damn sure), sit n go specialists (gl trying to find sit n go's in live poker rooms or trying to make a living playing $110 sit n go's when they at a time), the rakeback pros (Venetian and Wynn in Las Vegas pay back around $1/hr to play in their poker rooms...just think of it as a demotion guys), plo players (some rooms spread a $1/$2 plo game...or a $25/$50+ plo playing your A game in the small game waiting for the big game), and sponsored site pros (lol).

Most of the guys I've met that I played vs. online or heard about are really smart guys that probably won't have much of a problem getting a job. Others will probably move to another country and keep grinding online (probably applies more to mtt'ers than cash game players since the latter can just go live). A few will probably try to circumvent the US laws and install vpns and play on Euro sites from home. Some will move closer to live poker rooms and grind live.

I do think for poker players that choose to keep playing poker, this is a good time to broaden your game and knowledge and start learning other games and formats. After all, nobody has a clue if and when online poker will come back to the U.S. Even when it does it will help tremendously if you are experienced at many forms of poker. Trust me.

Which leads me to my last point...I'm probably going to start coaching live poker (all forms including cash games, tournaments, and mix games) and if anybody is interested, feel free to send me an email ( or shoot me a pm at Cardrunners. Next time I will discuss this in more detail.

Check my live graph...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mohegan Sun

So I'm at Mohegan Sun for a week of tournaments and live cash games. So far it's been about a break even trip for me. I'm up some in cash games and stuck in tournaments (usually that's how it goes). I played a $1k and the $5k main event. Unfortunately I busted midway on day 2 of the $5k. There was one very interesting hand where I could've played differently on day 1.

At blinds $150/$300 I opr to $700 w/ A6 of diamonds mp, aggro kid right behind 3bets to $1500, I call, flop QJ8 w/ 2 diamonds, chk, chk, turn blank, I bet $2k w/ intent of barreling every river except an ace and a ten (unless it was a diamond), river offsuit J, I bet $3800, kid raises to $8500 (we started the hands w/ about $30k each), and I think about 3bet shoving for my tournament life. After a few mins I figured it's too late to shove and fold, sigh.

Reflecting back on it I still think shoving is probably better than folding. If we think about villain's possible range it's capped at Jx that's not a fullhouse (because he bets flop w/ straights and 2prs+). If we think about what our perceived range is, it's uncapped to include straights and fullhouses and I think the villain realizes this which makes a 3bet shove profitable. What makes it actually tough to pull the trigger is that it's for my tournament life. There's a chance he hero calls w/ KJ or AJ anyways and I bust.

I decided to skip the $10k bounty shoot out because the structure sucks (got worse than last one in LA because producers wanted to reduce the amount of time it took for the winner to win his table so it becomes essentially a hyper turbo) and it didn't sell out which made the field incredibly tough. The possible tv exposure is nice but that's not worth $10k.

My buddy Joe Tehan (who I've blogged about before winning the NAPT LA) final tabled the $5k main event. Recently between him and I, it seems like one of us is final tabling every event we play together. He also happens to be one of Cardrunner's newest instructors. Some kid, Bryn Kenney's brother is chipleader and Vanessa Selbst is 2nd (she won this event last year...she's a sicko...having 6bet shoved 84s vs AA preflop and getting there late in day 2 to become chipleader). I laid 4-1 w/ a friend w/ 24 players left and her having about 12% of the chips that she wouldn't win this. Joe is 5th in chips heading into the televised final table tomorrow. 1st is $450k. Also wanted to mention Vincent aka Amurophil online is 3rd in chips. We've battled some in online cash games and he's got a good chance as any to win this. If Joe doesn't win I'm hoping he does. Should be a nice sweat tomorrow.

Other than that I'm in Uncasville, CT having a blast. The Mohegan Sun is huge...comparable to the big ones in Las Vegas (possibly even bigger). I'm realizing traveling costs a lot of money, especially from one coast to the other (well, from Vegas to the east coast), and traveling the live tournament circuit could get very expensive (this doesn't include the tournament buyins). For that reason I'm going to limit my travels to the western part of the US. Well I may come back out to Hollywood, FL in a couple of weeks for the WPT, mostly because high stakes poker is new there and the main event is expected to be softer than other places.

When I get back to Vegas I'm planning on grinding a lot online to make up for lost time. Also grinding live tournaments is a super tough way to make a living (not to mention it's not the most stable way). My 2nd video in my series "Quest for $100k" came out Friday on Cardrunners and the title sums it up...winning $100k in online cash games. So far I'm up $16k after 11k hands so my win rate is really good but my volume is really bad. Realistically I'd love to get to halfway done before the WSOP starts but in poker you never know. All I can do is play the best I can all the time and worry about results later, and I hope everybody follows that path ;) .