Sunday, June 19, 2011

Best Father's Day Gift

So I've since gone 0-7 in Wsop events since my last update. I feel like I'm playing well, just running like crap. I'm 0-11 in all ins in the past week over 7 events. I ran into aces twice for my tournament life (once with queens, another with JTs where I 3bet shoved w/ a lot of dead money in the pot), lost 7 flips (yes I lost'em all), lost as a 3-2 fav, also got crippled in the $2500 10 game mix w/ JT95 ds (during plo round) when almost all the chips went in on a KQ96 ssxx board and my opponent w/ JJT7 (w/ 3 spades) rivers the flush, and I finally busted in a hand when I was behind today.

Well actually the hand played out where I opr ep w/ QQ to 350 at blinds 75-150, get a mp caller, flop comes 732r, I bet 450, mp raises to 1250, I call w/ about 2500 behind because I was pretty sure he was putting me all in on any turn card and if I shove flop he folds a lot of hands he was going to shove turn with, turn 6, I check, he shoves, I call, he rolls over 66, gg me. Maybe I could've shoved flop and won the pot there but I felt like there was more value in trying to let him bluff off or valuetown himself by just calling his raise.

Anyway I am still showing a profit due to having pieces of 2 friends that made final tables at the Wsop. I'm not too concerned about my own results because I'm very critical of my own plays and I feel like I'm playing very well but things aren't panning out results wise. That's poker for ya. Also we are only at the halfway point of the Wsop and all it takes is one deep run.

Also I can't feel bad because I have the best family in the world. Since I was going to be busy all weekend with the Wsop and a new venture I'm working on (announcement coming soon) my wife, kid, and their friends went to San Diego, California to explore LegoLand and whatever else is fun out there. Sure it's Father's Day today but I wanted my wife and kid to have fun out in San Diego. Plus my 10 year old kid left this for me, and I must admit this is about the coolest thing I've ever received in my life (birthdays and Christmas's included)... a montage of sorts, of my life (I scanned each page of the booklet she left me next to my bed)...

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3 (sure she should've used "Accomplishments" but can't be too nitpicky)

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Wsop bracelet or not, I win in life!

Friday, June 10, 2011

1 for 7 (so far)

That's just how it goes sometimes. I don't think I'm off to a terrible start but it is disappointing to only have 1 cash through 7 events. Last year I started off 0-9 before I reeled off 5 cashes in my last 8 tournaments to show a profit. Let's talk about the good news, the cash. Well actually it ended in a tilting way...

It was the $1500 6max nl event. Before people say "yeah of course Nicolak is expected to cash in that, that's what he plays online all the time", I do think I have almost an equal chance in just about any form of poker except nl deuce and plo. It just turned out my only cash happened in this event. Day 1 was fun w/ a starting table of Frank Kassela and Cardrunner's Taylor Caby. Kassela isn't that good at nl (yeah I said it, and yes I know he ft'ed the $25k 6max nl event last year) but Taylor is obviously good.

Anyway I had a tough table throughout day 1 and day 2 and ended up busting in 43rd place (out of 2k entrants) for $7400 or so. I opr utg w/ AK and kid 3bets in mp and I jam and get called by ATo and the board runs off A24AT. I had the kid covered by 5k at 1500/3k blinds and ended up having 2 blinds after that hand and went bust next hand. Obviously it's disheartening to lose that way but that's variance for ya.

I will talk about an interesting hand I played on day 2. I have about 140k w/ blinds at 1k/2k/300. Some Pokerstars pro named Jose Nacho Barbero opr to 4500 on button, I elect to call w/ K8s in the bb (I considered 3betting but Jose was very aggressive and capable of 4betting light) and the flop comes...


It goes check check, turn...


I bet 6k or so, he calls, river...


I check ready to give up thinking I just got rivered but Nacho bets 14k and I begin thinking (even in obvious spots like this where a fold seems automatic)....we know he never has flushes because he would've cbet the flop (especially since he's so aggro) so his range is capped to Ax while we can credibly rep flushes. I decide to c/r to 54k (initally I was going to make it 64k but thought 54k would be big enough to get him to fold Ax hands) and he tank calls w/ 99!

Sure it's risky trying to get him off a straight but I assumed he would be good enough to know I would take this line w/ flushes (he is a Pokerstars Pro, but I guess that's not always saying much). I don't know if he's good enough to realize I would take this same line w/ Ax hands as well (because again, we know his range is capped to Ax so I can profitably c/r in this spot w/ Ax to try to get him off of a chop) Also I was playing pretty straightforward up to this point. I guess I might've assumed he was a good enough hand reader and could figure this out, or maybe he just thought to himself "zomg I have a straight how can I ever fold it?!" Whatever the reason, he made the call and it dropped me down below avg. I talked to a few guys and they all liked my line and are amazed at the call he made (some even calling it a -ev call, I agree). I do think I should've went w/ my initial raise of 64k because he was counting down his stack before calling and I think the extra 10k would've made him fold. Oh well.

I bust and I hang out at the Rio trying to relay my sob stories to anybody that will listen...after all, that's what we all do...jk. I have a guy I have 10% of in the 6max and I rail him for awhile. They're down to 24 or so and he gets in over 300k w/ QQ vs the kid that won it last year (and who Pokernews is calling the king of 6max cuz he got a 2nd in the $5k 6max and a 1st in the $1500 6max last year...pfftttt) who's holding 99 and he rivers a 9 to bust my horse (he barely had him covered) and have a sizeable chiplead at that point (he ends up getting 3rd for over $200k). Talk about a double whammy that night!

I also played in the $1k nl which attracted over 4k entrants. I busted that one in level 2 when I called every street w/ AsJs on a 9s8c6s, Qh, 8s, and called all in at the river w/ the nut flush only to see him turn over 86. Standard.

Yesterday I played in the $1500 nl shootout and I love shootouts because the better nl players are at a bigger advantage. The last 2 years I finished 2nd and 1st on my 1st tables. This time I got hu vs. Paul "Gees" Volpes, some internet mtt pro who's ranked really high. I started out w/ 4k vs his 41k but managed to get it to 12k vs 32k when my AQ > his T8o aipf. At blinds 200/400 I opr to 850 w/ 44 and he shoved and I elected to gamble and called only to lose to J9s. I do think a better line would've been to limp so I can reraise all in had he raised from the bb there. I think that's one area of the game I need to work on, is the shallow stacks opening/raising/reraising range, but that's probably just memorizing a chart.

Today I played the $1500 Pot Limit Hold'em event and this had the shortest turnout at 760 entrants. I guess people are intimidated by not being able to bet more than pot (forcing people to play more flops), or the fact that antes never come into play. Anyway I pretty much lost a flip when I raised and called off w/ KQ on a JT3r flop and couldn't beat AJ at level 5.

The most important thing to realize is how well I'm playing. I think I misplayed a couple of big hands (including the last hand I blogged about, the 54s hand where it should've been a fold or 3bet preflop) but overall I am happy w/ my play. I would give myself an A- up to this point. Sure people can win a tournament playing like a F player and people can go a long time w/o ever winning playing their A game but hey, that's the risk we take when we play tournaments, especially at the WSOP where the fields are bigger.

Tomorrow is the $1500 Horse and I'm relieved to be playing a mix games event after all the hold'em events. I actually enjoy mix games more than hold'em. Heck, I'm almost to the point where I'd like the WSOP to be over so I can go back to my normal (post Black Friday) cash game grind (so I can actually start making money!).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sometimes I'm not sure (WSOP hand)

The setup is the $10k pot limit hold'em event. 250 entrants and it's accurate to say it's a tough field w/ very few weak spots. I get on a very tough table w/ 4-5 aggro Euro kids who know how to play + couple other young kids, Bttech, Jared Jaffee (who busted and was replaced by Sam Stein), and Rick Solomon (the dude that offered Pamela Anderson to pay her huge loss in a Vegas casino for a night of, ummm, fun...eventually they marry and divorce).

We start w/ 30k and I'm down to about 25k playing 250/500. Utg opr to 1200, I flat w/ 45s on the button, bb calls, flop J64r w/ 1 to my suit, chk chk I bet 1700 (to try to win it there, case can be made for checking but I like betting since bp is so vunerable and I should only have to worry about bb because utg checked which likely means he has nothing), bb folds, utg c/r to 4400 (he has me covered).

Now let's assess his range...1st of all, he seems like a young competent thinking player (although even some competent mtt pros don't seem to understand how to play postflop well) so I would expect him to lead w/ all jacks, overpairs, 66, 44 (to get value from jacks), 87, and some random air hands inc. AK. Given that he doesn't cbet flop means he's giving up or is slowplaying JJ, that's pretty much it. Well once he c/r's me I know he has JJ or air, and given that there's a lot more air in his range, mostly due to combinatorics, and his possible line of thinking being "well this good looking asian dude can be just trying to steal it on the button since we both checked to him and w/ the bb out of the way let me put him to the test and resteal vs his possible steal w/ my air + backdoor equity", I call w/ my bp (possibly the best hand) + backdoor draws + position.

Turn 9 bringing 2 hearts (not my suit), chk, chk (I just want to get to sd because my hand is likely good now but I can't stand another c/r so I elect to check), riv offsuit Q, he bombs 11k and I go into the tank. Once he checks the turn we can almost eliminate JJ unless he was going for a weird and rare c/r, c/shove line. Now I go through in my mind everything I just wrote and can't figure out what the heck he has or is repping. Again if it was a bad player, he's liable to show up w/ AQ, sets, AA, etc since they have no clue, but this kid wasn't bad. Also he wouldn't bomb the river w/ top pair type hands because he would know my most likely hand are busted draws or a jack so he'd value bet around 6-8k at the river.

The only hand I think he can have is A4s, T8, KT or air...but A4s is probably not in his range because he probably cbets that on the flop. Well if he backdoored a straight and it's either that or air I should call. My bp is pretty much equivalent to AJ (I won't totally discount overpairs since it's possible some mtt pros take this line).

Here are a few more reasons for calling (pros for calling)...

-He seems like a young mtt pro....probably not experienced in postflop play and just making plays for the sake of it to win a pot w/o having an idea of what he's really repping...this happens more often than you think, even in $10k's

-The field is tough and I don't expect guys to give chips away like they do in the smaller buyins so there isn't much merit to the "wait for a better spot" reasoning, so I need to seize the +ev spots, even if they're marginal

-I have a little over 10bbs if I lose and I can still come back

Here are my question marks on calling (cons for calling)...

-When he bombs the river like that, he's more likely to have the straight, as unlikely as it may seem from the flop I'm not 100% sure if it's +ev to call...I think it is, but not as much as I thought it was at the time

-It's a big bet and chips saved are more valuable than chips won in mtts so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to call in a very marginal spot even though I felt it was slightly +ev

I asked a couple of very good players and they both thought it was a fold but I think they were putting more weight into the actual river bet size (and 'waiting for a better spot") than the entire hand (my thoughts on it anyway)

I elected to make a hero call and lost to KT. I don't feel bad about how I played the hand because my read was spot on and I went w/ it. Again I don't know if that's enough reason to risk most of my stack though.

In a cash game I almost always call since I feel it's +ev, but again it's different in tournaments where it's sometimes correct to pass on marginal spots, including very small +ev spots.

Sometimes I'm not sure .

As for the tournament I built my stack up from 6k to 32k (illustrating why calling isn't bad since I can come back) and got it in at the 400/800 level w/ TT from the bb vs a Euro kid in the co in an obvious squeeze spot (button had called as well and we were playing 7 handed w/ 5 more hands left for the night) and busted to QQ.

Thoughts and comments are appreciated (and yes you can tell me my call is bad as long as you give reasons why).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WSOP Start

I just got home after busting the 1st event I played, the $1500 limit omaha 8 hi lo. I played 9.5 1 hr levels and busted during the last level of the day. I'm not that upset though for a couple of reasons. 1st is that I felt like I played really well, especially in a game which isn't my specialty. I know I'm +ev in this event but after playing today I feel like I'm hugely +ev in future limit om8 events up to a $5k buyin or so. This isn't to brag but to instill a self confidence in me going forward for this game. If there's one quality about me that has contributed to a lot of my longterm success, it's the ability to look at myself and assess w/ near certainty where I stand in relation to everybody else in poker.

When I reflect back on past om8 tournaments I play, I see the mistakes I made (just like I've done w/ other forms of poker)...this is a sign that I'm getting better and seeing what the right plays are. Today I felt like I played near perfect except for an obvious river value bet I missed (also compounded by not paying attention to my opponent's stack, so 2 missteps that led to 1 error). I might've made a couple of loose calls preflop but they weren't mistakes because they were situational and I felt the worse shape I could be was about even money.

I ran pretty bad during the last 2 levels, including losing 2 pots where I'm a big fav to scoop going into the river, instead had to settle for a chop when my opponents got there w/o much equity for half. I also folded some big hands including 2458 w/ 3 spades on a A77Q9 board where I turned a flush and just c/c'ed turn then c/f'ed river vs. an old guy where I'm close to 100% sure I'm beat; another hand where I c/f'ed to a 1 big bet w/ 3 big bets left on the turn w/ AJT2 on a J932 2 flush board vs another old guy and old lady (older people tend to "have it" a lot more in this game than other games), the old guy showed a set of 99s to scoop so I was right. My reads were spot on today and I took optimal lines whenever I played a hand so again I felt really happy w/ my play overall.

Anyway the 2nd reason I'm not upset for spending all day playing a tournament then busting late (like most others) is because I feel like I gain a little bit of experience every time I play, and the longer the better. Granted in nl tournaments I don't get that feeling much since I feel like I know almost everything I need to know (although picking up on tournament regs' playing styles and habits is valuable) but in other games I don't play as much I'm always observing and trying to gain that valuable experience.

As for the rest of the WSOP I'm planning on playing a lot of events and as long as I feel good mentally and physically I'm planning on playing pretty much every day. Since I'm a well rounded player I'll be playing in all sorts of events, mostly nl and pl hold'em but a lot of the mix game events as well. My ultimate goal is to win a bracelet or 2 (or more) and to know that I played the best that I can play.

I am sacrificing time that I could be playing the juicy cash games during the WSOP. I'm sure my hrly is higher playing cash games than tournaments but I just enjoy WSOP tournaments so much and I'm hungry for my 1st ever bracelet, so there's a lot of happiness and life ev associated w/ playing these WSOP events.

Also I posted in the CR forum but if I make a final table, anybody from here that come sweats me at a ft I will buy them dinner at my celebratory dinner (limited to $1k total for you guys, but not necessarily for the whole bill which will be bigger because of friends and family that will be there). Obviously I'll have to make a ft 1st which is not easy.

Other observations at the WSOP so far:

-Turnout so far doesn't seem affected by Black Friday. They had 128 for the $25k hu and a record # 925 entrants for today's $1500 om 8, granted it's only 3 events so far (other being employees' event which attracted a big # as well)...I'm sure the main event will be lower than years past though

-The featured table is a lot more elaborate...bigger and more eye catching....too bad only 3 events are supposed to be televised (WSOP rematches, $50k Players' Championship, and the $10k main event)

-Very few patches being worn, especially after yesterday when James Bord confronted John Juanda about FTP and security guards had to be called in...after all Juanda was wearing a FTP patch and was an easy mark; note: I wore a CR patch today, more brownie pts due my way from the higher ups at CR, even more so when I win my bracelet w/ it on ;)

-Lots of cash games going on...biggest I saw was a $200/$500/$1k PLO game and it was almost full

-Lots of railbirds as usual

-Phil Ivey is suing FTP (for $150 mil) and is abstaining from this year's WSOP (he isn't really boycotting it..that's just the wrong choice of words) for my thoughts on this, good for him, and a noble act from him, but put me in the boat that wonders if he did it for us, or because that was the only option he had for numerous reasons, including keeping that indestructible and and almost mystifying image he's always had...other theories were running around as well, including wanting to get out of his no compete cause

-Met Gakn29, a fellow CR vid maker today, nice guy...saw Mement Mori but not sure if he noticed me (or even knows me!)

Finally it looks like I'm getting a little more recognition with the poker media because I saw that PokerNews was updating my chip counts (1st time ever). For those of you that want to sweat me, follow on PokerNews or better yet, follow me on twitter located to the right of this blog (I update every couple of hrs, including stack sizes, notables on table, interesting or amusing hands, etc.)...after all, you may get a free dinner out of it.