Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Reap What You Sow

I get a lot of good nuggets listening to poker podcasts.  This video was inspired by a comment I heard from Brandon Adams:

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm In the Zone Man!

One of my favorite poker thinkers is Tommy Angelo.  Last week I was catching up on some podcasts and ran across two interviews with Tommy.  As I set out to go play one evening last week, I was thinking about achieving the state of mind that Tommy talks about.  This video talks about the results:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Seeing the World through Half Full Glasses

In my latest video I contemplate the difference between confidence and optimism.  These thoughts were spurred by a comment made by a local Vegas player I met through the forums at  All of my video entries are cross posted in a thread on their forums.  For those not familiar with the site I would highly encourage a visit as it is a great source for information focused on playing live poker in Vegas.  Anyway, on to the video:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Vegas is the Heartland Right?

This week the Heartland Poker Tour is running an event in Las Vegas. I decided to take a run at this when I saw the event announced a few months ago. They basically have a three tiered structure to the event. Single table satellites lead to qualifiers, qualifiers lead to the main event. There are two different structures for the qualifiers, $130 buy in with the top 10% of the entrants getting seats and $250 buy in with the top 20% getting seats. After looking at the different structures, I decided that the $250 was the best way to go and that I should skip the satellites altogether.

I played in my first qualifier Tuesday night. I was a little nervous going in as I'd never attempted to play in anything but Vegas daily tournaments before. As play started, I was observing what was going on and began to get more comfortable seeing nothing that was too out of line with the type of play I had seen before. I was able to double up early with a couple big hands and chipped up a bit more as stealing opportunities arose. People seemed to really not want to get in against the bigger stack. Then .... (warning, bad beat stories ahead - I know bad beat stories suck, but hey this is my blog)

The first thing that happened was being on the wrong end of AA v KK against a short stack, but that didn't take too many of my chips. A few hands later, I picked up KcQs in the hijack and made a standard raise. The button called and everyone else folded. The flop came KdQhXd. I led for about 2/3 the pot and the button raised a healthy amount. I took some time - he had a good sized stack, but I had him covered, I thought there was a good chance I could knock him out here. I 3-bet, and he hesitated a moment and shoved. I snap called and rolled top two. Rather then rolling the AK I expected to see, the button rolled over KhJd. I had him dead to either two running jacks or two running diamonds. The turn was not a jack, but it was a diamond. It seemed to take an eternity for the dealer to roll the river - a diamond. Wow.

That left me with 7 big blinds and looking for a hand to shove. The next hands I had two face cards and put my tournament life on the line. I got called in two spots and tripled up when I rivered trip jacks. Then a few hands later I doubled up when my A10 held against Arag. I was now sitting at just under the starting stack and was left with about 13 blinds. I was able to chip up some more by shoving playable hands and taking the blinds - it was a pretty passive table.

Right after that, our table broke and I was seated immediately to the right of a big stack, probably around 40k after starting at 10k. As expected, this player was very aggressive. He frequently three bet when there was a raise in front of him often taking the pot down preflop. When he did see a flop he would keep firing till his opponent would fold. It was clear that he felt that with his stack he could simply run the table over and I was sure his range was wide. This was confirmed when he shoved post flop against another big stack. The other guy called with an underpair of deuces and aggro player had shoved A5 with no pair. The board bricked off and agro player was now down to about 10 big blinds. Considering that aggro player was probably pretty close to what average chips would be when the 20 % mark was hit, that was certainly a questionable play. I knew that if I played a big hand in a way that looked weak, he wouldn't be able to resist going after me.

I kept place with the blinds and antes by shoving (I hadn't made any bet other than all-in since getting moved to that table) and eventually looked down at two black queens on the button. This was the spot. I raised to 3x hoping that it would look like I was trying to steal without risking to much. Aggro player looked at his cards, paused a beat and announced all-in. I snap called and he literally groaned. I rolled my ladies over and he rolled over A6 of diamonds. The board was K82 with no diamonds. The turn was another K and as the dealer got ready to burn a card and put up the river, aggro player said, "nice hand" which was of course promptly followed by an A on the river. I shook his hand and left the table actually feeling pretty good. I could play at this level. I adjusted what I was doing to meet the table conditions and it took some sick beats to get me out. I had already planned that failing to win an entry in this event I would play the Thursday night qualifier. Having observed the play Tuesday there was nothing to discourage me from that plan.

Last night's qualifier didn't start as well for me. I tried a couple of steals, but people caught hands so I tightened up. Then I had a couple of good, but second best hands which altogether ended up cutting my starting stack about in half. I was back in shove or fold mode and was able to make some recovery. I went through an orbit where I couldn't play a hand that left me at 5600 with blinds at 300-600. I was in the BB and watched the table fold around to the button. Button was a young kid who seemed to have some idea about what he was doing and he raised to 1700. SB folded and I looked down at two red kings. I shoved of course and button went into the tank. Obviously he didn't have aces, so I just sat there quietly waiting for his decision. He called after about 1:30. I rolled over the kings and he turned over A2 of clubs. I should mention that the call was probably about 3/4 of his stack. That's just such an ugly call for him because there's just no way he's anything better then flipping with me there. Even if I'm making a move with something like J10 he's not in great shape and any pair or any A has him totally dominated. Of course, I wouldn't be talking about what a horrid call he made unless the hand played out the way it did - at least the dealer made it quick this time with an A in the door. The turn bought a third heart raising my outs from 2 to 11, but alas, the river was a brick and for the second time in three nights I walked out of the tournament room well short of the top 20%.

Unlike the night before this time I felt the full disappointment that usually accompanies a bust out. I think it was because my original plan was to play no more than two of the qualifiers figuring that if I couldn't make it in to the main event in two tries that it wasn't to be. Was this really the end of my Heartland dream?

The last qualifier is tonight, and I think I'm going to take another run at it. On one hand, I don't want to be throwing good money after bad, but on the other hand - I'm confident in my play. I definitely can't say that 20% of the people that I've played against so far have outplayed me, so I do feel like I'm +EV in these. Yeah, I think tonight I'll see if the third time is the charm.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Video Freerollin'

I played last weekend in a freeroll tournament that is actually pretty large as it takes qualifiers from the largest group of locals oriented casinos in Las Vegas - Station Casinos. Here's a video recounting what happened:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Poker Christmas and New Year's Resolutions

Here's the latest vlog entry talking about what poker goodies Santa brought me:

Big Hands are Fun

The other day I had a genuine heater that contained a couple of hands worth mentioning.

I bought into the 1-3 game for $300 and had "invested" $30-$40 in hands that didn't produce a return when the first big hand came up. Let me tell you about the other players involved. V1 can only go by the name "Cash Machine". He was a big fan of things like calling to the river with gutters regardless of bets, calling raises with offsuit gappers, and showing down second pair weak kicker in hands with lots of action. Once he'd used up his chips in front of him, he'd consistently go into his wallet, pull out a couple more hundreds and get more chips. I have to say, Cash Machine was without a doubt my favorite player at the table. V2 had just recently sat down and hadn't done anything especially remarkable at the table. We'll refer to him as "Average Joe". I start the hand with about $260 - $270, Cash Machine had a little over $200 and Average Joe had a bit under $150.

Cash Machine limps UTG, Average Joe limps UTG +1, it folds to me in the hijack and I look down to discover AcAs. I raise (to $13 I believe) and it folds back to Cash Machine who calls, Average Joe also calls. The dealer puts out an AKx flop with the A and K being hearts. Nice flop for me. I'm thinking about what my bet should be as Cash Machine checks when Average Joe fires out about $20. This made me pause a bit. Generally I'm not a fan of slow-playing without a true monster and by that I mean better than top set on a board with two to a flush and two broadway cards on it. However, this seemed to be a good time to deviate from that approach since I knew Cash Machine would come along with lots weaker hands. I wanted to keep him in the pot, so I just smooth called. I also suspected Average Joe had the case ace and I was happy to let him keep thinking that was good. I was pretty confident that Average Joe wasn't leading out with the draw. Cash Machine calls as well.

The turn is the oh so beautiful king of diamonds, giving me the second nuts in a situation where it was highly doubtful that either of these guys are playing kings. Cash Machine checks again and Average Joe keeps the lead putting out about $60 leaving a little over $50 behind. Now his hand looks a lot like AK or AQ, so I'm getting his stack and now I don't care if Cash Machine catches up so I just call again. The River is the 6 of hearts completing the flush draw - I hope Cash Machine got there. He checks again, Average Joe goes all in and I just call one more time in the hopes that Cash Machine comes over the top. Cash Machine takes his time an appears to be really struggling with his decision which means he doesn't have hearts. He finally just calls.

I immediately turn my hand over so as not to come anywhere near a slow roll and sure enough Average Joe had AK for kings full, no good against aces full. Cash Machine kind of shakes his head and finally flashes the case king before mucking.

It struck me a few minutes later that the hand bore a lot of similarities to the first scene in Rounders. One player flops aces up while the other flops a set of aces, they both fill up on the turn, flush card hitting the river. I can just say that I like Teddy KGB's seat in that hand much more than I like the other. It also really struck me how many different events have to come together to win a really big pot when you have players playing reasonably. This was definitely the Perfect Storm of poker for me. For example - how often is it that between three players and the board do you have all four aces and all four kings in play?

After that hand, the other big one seems almost trivial by comparison: Early position player raises up to around $13, Cash Machine is still around and calls. I'm in the small blind with KK and three-bet to around $45. Both Vs call. The flop is K67 rainbow and I find myself in the position of slow-playing top set twice in the course of an hour. The original raiser led at the pot, Cash Machine called and I called. An A came on the turn and I led with a small be wanting it to look like I floated an A on the flop. The original raiser goes all in which finally gets Cash Machine to fold. I snap call and roll my hand. The original raiser had AK, so yeah, don't be bringing that AK nonsense up against me!

That was enough for more than a double up and so I decided to go ahead and cash out. Just to show what a heater it was, as I'm racking up the dealer asks if I want to look at one more and I do and look down at QQ. I raise, the V from the KK against AK hand calls saying he wants to get some back. There's an A on the flop, I lead, he calls, I check fold the turn still more than doubled up. It'd been quite a while since I had a heater like that. I'd forgotten how fun it can be.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Aria Tournament Review

The new poker room at the Aria Casino has started a daily tournament. Here's a video clip with my thoughts on the tournament:

I'm a poster over at the All Vegas Poker Forums which is a pretty fun poker forum. There's a thread for all of the Vlog posts that you can find here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

NY Weekend Report

Here's a VBlog update talking about playing in Vegas over NY weekend and also relating the aftermath of someone deciding to tap on the glass ...