Monday, April 30, 2007

Bad beats are good!

First off, before I start my rants, let me congratulate Lucko for winning the seat to the WSOP Main Event this year. Surely, it was just a matter of time but nonetheless, very impressive.

So recently, due to work, I haven't really had a chance to post anything worthwhile or even play much online poker. I played a decent amount on Saturday but even then, not quite as much as I wanted to. Locked in some winnings and it looks like April will just be another typical month where I won some money but no record shattering numbers to report.

So, I figured this might be a good time for me to talk about something I've been thinking about recently... a lot. This stems from the discussions I've seen on other blogs as well as conversations I've had with other players and so I wanted to actually write this down. Bad beats are good. Don't get me wrong. It sucks. But it's good. Let me explain.

I mean, how can bad beats be good? You make a perfect read, you put all your money in the middle with the best of it, only to be royally screwed by your clueless opponent who had no business throwing money in there only to hit their 4 outer... or calling with an open ended straight draw when he was clearly priced out... Puts you in a foul mood, all the profits you had from a very good session of focus and good reads evaporate in one nasty hand... but if you look past that, bad beats are good. Let's take a step back and evaluate the situation. Let's say that a following situation comes up. You've been playing tight for over an hour and you find pocket kings from the button. A clear donkey who's gotten lucky a few times raised from middle position and you reraise him preflop. He calls and the flop comes 6-6-4. He checks and you bet the pot size. He calls. Turn comes a J. He checks. You bet the pot again which pretty much puts him all in and so he pushes and you call the extra few dollars... only to find he has AK... and the river comes the dreaded ace... In instances like this, I've seen tons of people berate the caller asking "what the hell are you calling with? What the hell did you think I have?" But let me ask you this. If the opponent flipped over his cards and asked you on the turn if you want him to call or fold, what's your answer? Your answer better be "please call me." Because you want that call right? He's nearly drawing dead (3 outs = 7%) on the turn so there are only 3 cards that can beat you. He's willing to call another pot sized bet to draw to his 7%? Of course you want that call.

So why are bad beats good? Bad beats alone aren't necessarily great and I'm not going to go into the whole argument of how it keeps bringing the donkeys back because that's just obvious. If poker didn't involve luck, then how would the rest of us make money? I mean there would only be a handful of top players and then there's everyone else right? But even more so, if you think that you are experiencing a lot of bad beats, then that's good... because that means you are a very good player.

Think about it. For something to be a bad beat, there has to be one consistent factor. That is, you always have to be putting the money in the middle with the best hand. Because if you needed to improve and you didn't, that's not a bad beat right? It's a bad beat if you are a clear favorite and you lose. And if you are experiencing a lot of bad beats, don't let it get to your head. Take a positive spin and look at it this way. The fact that you are experiencing a lot of bad beats means you are playing rock solid poker. You are getting the money in there with the best of it. What more can you ask for (better luck, sure but I meant realistically, what can you ask for)? I've heard players complain that they experience so many more bad beats dealt to them than they deal to their opponents. That only means that they are better players than the opponents because that means that they are putting the money in when they have the better hand. And the more times you are ahead, the more chances of bad beats there are and there's nothing you can do about that.

So, next time you think you are starting to tilt because all these idiots call and get lucky on you, just know that in time, you will be the one scalping them of their undeserving money as long as you keep playing your game.

Friday, April 27, 2007

End in sight of a brutal week!

*** Nonpoker content ***

What a brutal week. This is the first time all week that I feel like I could take a breath. After my solid run at the MATH on Monday, all hell broke loose at work. I am currently working in the financial reporting department of a large corporation and as such, we have a fairly large quarterly filing due 30 days after the quarter end. And so this week was the last big push to get things done. Because of things that I won't go into detail (partly because I probably shouldn't divulge secrets but mainly because it will lose whatever few audience I have on this blog), I've had to work past midnight for 2 nights in a row. Nothing like leaving the office and 6-7 hrs later, coming back... certainly not what I had thought I signed up for. Even more upsetting is the fact that because of this, I've had time to play very little poker.

If you're wondering "very little poker? If you worked till midnight and had to be back at work by 7, when did you play???" Well, let's see... the degenerate that I am, Tuesday night, I didn't. I got home around 12:30am and was back at the office at 6:45am on Wednesday. Wednesday, I worked till midnight again (that's a 17+hr day if you are counting) but when I got home I decided that I couldn't just go to bed. So, I fired up my laptop and squeezed in an 1.5hr session at the tables where I played some 1-2NL 6 max just to switch it up and also to start gaining some 6 max experience. I went to sleep around 2am and found myself back at the office around 7:30am on Thursday. Fortunately, things started to finally hit the wrap up stages and so I was able to leave work around 6:30pm on Thursday. After much debate and battle with fatigue, I decided that going to play basketball around 8pm was a good idea to work off the stress so I do. Turns out it was an excellent idea because I hadn't done anything all weak in terms of physical activity. I get home around 11:00pm, shower and put in another 1.5 hr session on the virtual felt, playing 2-4NL and 1-2NL 6 max.

One discovery I made this week after being so busy at work was this... I love this network that is the blog. I haven't had any time to post anything all week since the MATH but I definitely found time to read other people's blogs. Sometimes it helps your poker game. Sometimes, it's just entertaining. Other times, it puts your life in to perspective. But whatever is the case, it gives me a break from what ended up being a very hectic week.

*** Brief poker content ***

Another discovery that I made is how soft the 1-2NL 6 max tables are. OMG... that is just people begging to have their money taken. The plays or the lack there of at those tables are atrocious. Ridiculous. I doubled my buy-in at the 6 max table while I was grinding out a little profit at the 2-4NL. I was down $400 early in the session when a guy in EP pushed all in for another $300 into an $80 pot when I had trip jacks... he had a flush draw, catches it on the turn and no paired board screws me out of $400... and he gets up and leaves right after that hand. Thanks for the hit and run asshole. Fortunately, I didn't lose my cool and just kept playing my game. By the end of the session, I had a little over $800 at that table pretty much breaking even there and so I went to bed pretty happy with my $200+ profit of the night from the 1-2 table.

Hopefully, I'll get to make up for some lost time this weekend and play.

Also, this weekend marks the first anniversary of Mr & Mrs Recess. We don't have anything planned for it which is funny because we tossed around quite a few ideas. We ended up deciding that we didn't want to do something just to do it so we'll probably play it fairly low key but something that the two of us could enjoy. Maybe we'll take a trip out to Vegas sometime soon. Vegas with the wife is an entirely different experience from Vegas with the boys. A lot less cards and dice and a lot more good food and shows. Which is good too. It's just a different Vegas experience. I also need to schedule a trip out to Vegas by myself for some much needed live poker games. I really want to go out when the WSOP is going on...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cashed at the MATH!

Even though my poker playing hours have been fairly low this month, I still try to make it to some of the blogger tourneys because it's fun and it forces me to play more tourneys rather than cash games. Having said that, I discovered what would be otherwise very obvious... playing cash games while playing in a blogger tourney is definitely -EV. I was too busy chatting and playing the tournament that I was literally just playing cards at the 2-4NL table I had open... and since I wasn't catching them, I just gave away money at the cash tables. Lucky for everyone else at that table I suppose.

On a more positive note, however, I finally cashed in one of these blogger tourneys! Considering that I truly consider myself a tournament donk (unlike some others who claim they suck as they continue to final table big MTTs), outlasting the other bloggers to come in 5th overall (out of 52 runners) at the MATH was certainly an accomplishment and quite a proud one at that. I, unfortunately, don't have a screen shot of the tournament lobby but here's the link to the results. The only thing I'm upset about is that I really didn't give myself a chance to win. Towards the end, I wanted to cash more than I wanted to win and I truly believe that Astin was stealing my big blind from MP every time. I KNEW it. And yet, I did nothing about it because I did not want to bubble out of the money. But it was literally a situation where lucko has described in his post here. That's where I learned the term "ATC" (any two cards) which is very frequently used by the bloggers (aka the hammer). The presence of the low stack (islandbum1) who eventually lasted to the money made me not want to bubble and as such, I tightened up... at the same time, went relatively card dead (there were marginal hands that I could have played back with but again, I was too scared to bubble). So, needless to say, I let him steal most of my blinds... by the time the bubble burst and we were all in the money, I didn't really have a chance to win. The only chance was maybe if I can finish 4th instead of 5th, etc but unless I got crazy cards, I was no longer a threat to anyone and as such, I pushed with J4 soooooooted, only to be called by the eventual winner with KJ and I'm out in 5th place. Astin, in case you read this blog, since I let you steal my blinds, I stole your screen shot. Thanks! Yours truly in 5th place. Next up, the Mookie!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm in!!! Or so I thought...

As I mentioned in my previous post, FTOPS IV will be starting in May and I personally like this tournament series. Though I'm definitely donkish in tournaments, I still enjoy them and so FTOPS is always something that try to qualify for as many events. However, I tend to be picky about tournament selection. In other words, I don't just randomly choose satellite tournaments. Rather, I try to find one that may have an overlay or one that seems like the ratio of winner vs # of runners is relatively small (like if only 1 per 20 entrants get in, that's not so good... but 1 in 7 or 8, not so bad). So tonight, I was gonna take a break from cash games anyways and maybe try to satellite into a FTOPS event... and I found one that I thought was ok. $24+2 buy-in, winner gets an entry and when I registered, there were only 7 players... it ended up with 12, so winner gets an entry to the $200+16 tournament and the second place gets $74.

Now here's where I'm supposed to tell you how I awesomely took down this tournament with well timed aggression, smart lay downs, etc... but that's not my style, nor does that happen often. However, I am happy to say that I took this baby down! I was fortunate in that I was to the left of an uber aggressive player (could be a blogger and wouldn't surprise me) and though he was clearly getting out of line, I held my ground, played my style of poker and also got some decent cards at the right time. Eventually, I thought I was gonna go heads up with him when he busted out on a nasty beat. Fortunate for me since the only other guy remaining was not all that great. I'm certainly not a great heads up player but this guy was pretty easy to pick off. After I had him crippled, he doubled up through me on a lucky river but in the end, I flopped a straight, slowplayed it until he caught a third 7 on the river, raised me and I put him all in.

It's rare that I get this screen/message so I'm pumping my fist in the air, enjoying my proud moment (funny how I wouldn't think twice about losing or winning $200 in a cash game but when you win a tournament, it feels so good!).

So then I'm capturing the screen to make sure I can blog (read brag) about it.

Until I realize, what you may have noticed by now (if you actually clicked on the pic above and saw the tournament lobby pic)... It says super satellite... wtf... $200+16 is a perfectly normal buy-in for a FTOPS event so I didn't even think twice. But a super satellite generally means it's a satellite to another satellite... sure enough, this was a super satellite to the FTOPS IV event #4 which is a $1000+60 buy-in event (largest online buy-in I've ever heard of for a MTT)... so, what does this win get me? It gets me a chance to compete in the satellite for the $1000+60... now granted, that's certainly a format I like (since it's a $216 buy-in, 1 out of every 5 contestants will win a seat to the $1000+60 event) and so I'm glad that I got to satellite into that one for $24... but still... I shoulda paid attention to what I was getting... I have to play in another tourney, just to qualify for the event I want to play in... oh well, a little damper but still doesn't take away from the win!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Do you play cards or do you play poker?

The other day, Mrs Recess was telling me about a discussion she had with her coworkers. When I told her about how I lost $600 on Saturday (she's unbelievably understanding and unrattled with the amounts I lose), she mentioned that that's what she hates about poker... the fact that you can be a better player and yet lose. And she went on to tell me that there was just too much luck element and that one of her coworkers agreed by saying that a construction worker can't just strap on a helmet and pads and compete in football... I then proceeded to tell her about Kurt Warner but I guess that's an entirely different story (you know, the bagging groceries to arena league to Superbowl MVP). But anyways, I thought that was an interesting discussion. In other words, how much of poker is really a skill game and how much of it is just luck?

My favorite quote from the great movie, Rounders: "Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the world series every year? What are they, the five luckiest guys in Vegas?" Well, back then, maybe only about 5 guys played in the WSOP... ok, I kid but that statement speaks volumes about poker. For a casual poker player/viewer, it may seem that it's the most random people that they see on tv winning tournaments. It seems that for every Gus Hansen or Daniel Negreanu on WPT, there's a math teacher, construction worker, former police officer, grad student, etc. And on the WSOP on ESPN, Robert Varkonyi, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Joseph Hachem!? I mean who are these guys? Only in the geekiest of the poker circuits do people know about Raymer and even though Hachem is also hell of a player, nobody has ever heard of these guys. So, I think it appears that it's almost like a lottery. And yet, if you pay attention, I don't think it's any coincidence that guys like John Juanda, Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, etc are finding success at WPT and if you look at Cardplayer Player of the Year standings, towards the end, you end up seeing a bunch of familiar names (still sick is the fact that Men "the Master" Nguyen has won 5 times) on that list. So, what does this all mean?

I told her that a very popular idea in poker is that if we all played the exact same amount of time and were dealt the exact same number of hands, over the course, we will all get dealt the same cards. In other words, statistics already determine how many times we're supposed to see pocket aces or 2-7 off, if we were all dealt a million hands. So, does that mean that in the long run, we're all just trading money with each other? I think even the most naive poker player would agree that that's not true. So, then, in order to profit, you have to find yourself on the better side of chance more often than not and also, you have to profit even when you're not getting the cards that should be your "fair share" of the deal. If you just play your cards, then you will eventually just be trading money. That's why you can't always just play your cards and instead, you have to play the person. It's such a cliche, and yet so true...

FullTiltPoker Game #2226965070: Table Courage - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:18:37 ET - 2007/04/16
Seat 1: Iridium ($412)
Seat 2: Dallas20 ($587.90)
Seat 3: idgaf61 ($327.45)
Seat 4: hedodave ($140)
Seat 5: RecessRampage ($367)
Seat 6: NMDynasty ($378.50)
Seat 7: therivercatcher ($388.60)
Seat 8: nsewell4 ($400)
Seat 9: mektin ($404)
NMDynasty posts the small blind of $2
therivercatcher posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [9h Th]
EP calls $4
RecessRampage calls $4 <-- call from the button (I sometimes raise here and sometimes, I don't. I felt that my hand was interesting enough to see a flop cheaply.
SB calls $2 <-- the player on the SB usually has my number. Fairly aggressive.
BB checks
*** FLOP *** [Qs 8h 8c]
SB bets $12 <-- as predicted, on a flop that looks like it didn't hit anyone, he bets out
BB folds
EP folds
RecessRampage calls $12 <--- why call? No, I wasn't really going for the gut shot straight draw, even though if I hit, that's fine too. I just felt that he's getting out of line and he could make a play but I was also worried that if I raise, it would look funny and he might pop me back.
*** TURN *** [Qs 8h 8c] [4c]
SB bets $25 <-- smallish bet... from this particular player, based on past history, I knew this was a weak bet, not a "call me" bet
RecessRampage raises to $75 <-- I think I set it up perfectly. Now's a good time to end this hand.
SB folds
Uncalled bet of $50 returned to RecessRampage
RecessRampage mucks
RecessRampage wins the pot ($87)

The call on the flop was actually a perfect set up. Poker is always about telling a story. I didn't raise from the button and I am fairly aggressive preflop when I have decent holdings. So, without me raising preflop, what would the villain in the SB put me on? On a flop of Q-8-8, if he bets and I raise, would he put me on an 8? It would seem unlikely considering that there's no flush draw out there. If I had a Q, what type of hands would I play with a Q that is limp worthy but not raise worthy? Q-10? QJ? There would be enough questions in the villain's mind and he's a decent enough player that I could see him popping me back if I raised on the flop to really see how good my hand is. At that point, I would have a hard time calling with my 10 high. However, by smooth calling, I just felt him uncomfortable. Maybe I limped with QJ, or worse, with a hand like 7-8 or 8-9 and hit the flop hard and trying to slow play. Because I had the position, he would have to guess and act before me and I could react to what he does. When a harmless 4 came, I knew it would be a good time to put in a raise and take down the pot that was clearly rightfully mine.

FullTiltPoker Game #2227013785: Table Courage - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:30:43 ET - 2007/04/16

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [Jd Js]
UTG folds
RecessRampage raises to $14 <-- from early position, normal pot sized bet
2 players fold
Villain raises to $48 from MP <-- pretty good player that will make this type of raise with AK, AA, KK and also not so obvious hands like suited connectors
CO and button fold
Both blinds fold
RecessRampage calls $34 <-- I felt that the raise was a little big if the villain actually held aces or kings... so I was sensing AK or one of his steal moves with suited connectors
*** FLOP *** [9d 9h 7c]
RecessRampage checks <-- I hate being out of position! If I bet, he would surely raise... so I wanted to give him the initiative and see what he does with it
Villain bets $76
RecessRampage has 15 seconds left to act
RecessRampage raises to $180 <-- I didn't check to give up this hand. I wanted to know if he really had what he represented (aces or kings) or if he was trying to make a play on me
Villain folds <-- AK?
Uncalled bet of $104 returned to RecessRampage
RecessRampage mucks
RecessRampage wins the pot ($251)

In both instances, the hands didn't get to showdown. And it's quite possible that in both instances, I could have had the best hand (2nd one, I clearly did). But there are opponents that will test you and you have to test them back. If you just play your cards, you're not gonna win enough to make it worth your while. Read the opponents, know your opponents, and play the players. Now play some poker!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sad & Happy News(Quick nonpoker update)

Let's start with the happy news. A friend of mine, known in our little poker circle here in VA as JT, now has a son as of 8:13am this morning. Wife and baby are apparently doing well and I told him that his first fatherly advice to the child should be "AQ is a rag hand." Maybe I should have told him that this should be his first advice: "Don't slowplay a set." Oh well, either way, congrats bro!

On a sad note, here in VA, the school shooting at VA Tech is obviously the big news with over 30 people killed. Here's the link to the CNN's report on the news. I'm personally an anti-Hokie but regardless of who you like and who you hate in sports, this is a sad news all around.

Weekend recap, FTOPS IV, MATH, and PAPT (or the lack thereof)

I don't even really know why I wait till the weekday to blog. I think this is relatively common in that I usually visit other blog sites on the weekdays so it makes sense that I update mine on the weekdays as well. Having said that, it would seem like it would make a lot more sense if I actually did the weekend recap on a Sunday night or something when I feel like I have time. But then again, I use that time to play poker so I guess it's almost a catch 22. Anyways, this weekend was really not all that exciting on the poker front. On Saturday, I only played for like an hour and got killed. Well, my "getting killed" is about $600. This is the hand that especially sucked when Presto wasn't so gold this time...

FullTiltPoker Game #2210341074: Table Karina Jett - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 18:02:21 ET - 2007/04/14

*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to RecessRampage [5d 5h]
UTG calls $4
RecessRampage calls $4 <--- from the button (yes, Fuel, I realize now that this is a raising hand)
SB calls $2
BB checks
*** FLOP *** [5c 7s Tc]<--- uh oh, Presto is gold!?
SB bets $8
BB calls $8
RecessRampage raises to $36 <--- slow playing trips is overrated
SB calls $28<-- must be on a draw
BB folds
*** TURN *** [5c 7s Tc] [8h]
SB bets $80<--- wtf!? did he make a straight? 4-6? or did he now catch a pair with his 8-9?
RecessRampage has 15 seconds left to act
RecessRampage raises to $307, and is all in <-my hand is still good right!?
SB calls $227 <--- oh f***
RecessRampage shows [5d 5h]
SB shows [4d 6h]
*** RIVER *** [5c 7s Tc 8h] [9s]
RecessRampage shows three of a kind, Fives SB shows a straight, Ten high
SB wins the pot ($707) with a straight, Ten high

That sucked. And admittedly, that was a situation where I should have just called on the turn. I'm not sure that pushing was the right move. However, I will say this. In terms of his likely holdings, I thought he would do that with 7-8, 8-9... 4-6 did cross my mind because he was also deep so I knew that he knew that he had enough odds to make that call on the flop... and admittedly, I wanted that call on the flop. Still, probably a poor play. Sometimes, it's such thin line between "Presto is Gold" series that Fuel does on his blog and this type of disaster (mainly found on my blogs).

Fortunately, like lucko mentioned before in his blog during his sick run last month on the cash tables, the weekends at FTP are softer than usual. There are sooooo many bad players who buy in short at these tables so, on Sunday, I made up everything I lost. It would be better if I can say I made up what I lost on Saturday and then some but then again, I'm not as sick as some of the other bloggers here. But, making up the $600 loss from Saturday still felt good. This hand came up on Sunday, when I got involved with a guy who took some of my money with a total donkish but lucky hand. But based on what I saw on Saturday, I had notes on him... a very simple one that said this "total calling station - will call down with any piece of the board regardless of the size of the bet."

So, when this hand came up, I decided to trust my note, even though my hand was definitely vulnerable.

*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to RecessRampage [Qc Ks]
EP calls $4
3 players fold
RecessRampage raises to $18 <-- from late MP
CO-1 folds
CO (cutoff) calls $18 <-the aforementioned donk
Button folds
Both blinds fold
EP calls $14
*** FLOP *** [Kh 4h 8s]
EP checks RecessRampage bets $50 <- pot was like $55-57
"the donk at CO" calls $50 <- here he comes.
At this point, I wasn't really worried about a set. He'd make this call with a hand as bad as 4-5.
EP folds
*** TURN *** [Kh 4h 8s] [5s]
RecessRampage bets $120 <-- now the board is starting to look dangerous with str8 possibilities and double flush possibilities so maybe I should've bet more here. The pot was like $150 so he was getting better than 2-1. However, I actually put him on a weak king so I felt like this was a good amount.
"the donk at CO" calls $120
*** RIVER *** [Kh 4h 8s 5s] [Jd]
RecessRampage checks <-- the river felt safe but now, I'm not too crazy about my hand. Plus, if he simply missed the flush, maybe he'll take a stab at it
"the donk at CO" bets $80.90, and is all in
RecessRampage calls $80.90 <--- my only thought here was "man, if he has KJ, that's so sick."
*** SHOW DOWN *** the donk shows [8h 7h] (a pair of Eights) <-- actually had more outs than I gave him credit for
RecessRampage shows [Qc Ks] (a pair of Kings)
RecessRampage wins the pot ($558.80) with a pair of Kings <-- thanks for holding on to my money but I'll take back what's mine!

The MATH hosted by Hoy last night had another good turn out with 49 bloggers. Yours truly, in true tournament donk fashion, busted out 21st as my stack steadily dwindled down. I'm such an uber weak tight tournament player, it's almost funny. I let my stack steadily dwindle down until the blinds increase or my stack dwindles (or the combination of both) to the point where my M is around 5 and then I just become a push monkey, pushing all in with half decent cards and sometimes not so half decent cards. I'm bound to get caught and eventually, I do... alas, my exit at 21st place when my 33 ran into a 99 in the small blind... I need to switch things up for the Mookie tomorrow night.

Speaking of tournaments, it must be that time of the year again. Already!? FTOPS IV Schedule is out so FullTilt is now running a bunch of satellites to qualify for the events. I need to start playing in these satellites as well as the WSOP satellites that I have been kinda neglecting...

And speaking of neglecting, I haven't talked about PAPT (Park Avenue Poker Tour) in a long time.... that's because I haven't been to it in a long time. I feel like the past several Tuesdays, something was always up whether it was work, family visiting, basketball league games, etc where I just wasn't able to make the 8pm starting time. As such, I still only have a meager 3 points on my quest to a PAPT POY which Tyke is furiously trying to get. And consider this. He was the second place finisher last year after Sia who decided to graciously move down to FL to give the rest of us a chance so Tyke is definitely picking up right where he left off. Hopefully, he'll be like the hare in that story and me the tortoise... funny how comparing myself to a turtle is never all that exciting...

Alright, time to start working! (read: check out other people's blogs!)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tax options for your poker winnings

As we all know, April 15th is right around the corner... and you know what that means... yes, the dreaded tax day. Well, actually, I guess this year, we have an extra day since the 15th falls on a Sunday. Anyways, I've already done my taxes (I'm sure those of us that are expecting refunds will complete their returns early) but when I was preparing my own tax returns (using TurboTax), I did wonder how to report my poker winnings. So, for those of you that may not be quite as familiar about how to report gambling gains and loss, let me break it down really quickly (as a disclaimer: I am a CPA but I DO NOT do any taxes so even though I put in a good faith effort in researching what I disclose below, please verify with a tax professional... taking my word is like asking a divorce lawyer what to do if you are charged with homicide):

Basically, you have to report your gross gambling gains on Form 1040, line 21. That's GROSS gambling gains. So, let's say you pay $200 to enter a tournament (including fees for simplicity) and win $5,000. Then you have to report $5,000 on line 21. So where does the $200 go since your net gain in this transaction is only $4,800? Well, the $200 can only be deducted if you itemize your deductions. In other words, unless you own a house and have a mortgage to go along with it or something along those lines, and you just go by standard deduction, the government doesn't allow you to net your winnings.

Well, the above example is pretty simple if all you do is play tournaments and you actually track them. But then the whole "gross gambling winnings" gets tricky when you play cash games as well. Plus, if you don't keep track of your tournament winnings or how much you pay to enter, how can you realistically say this is how much I won?

This was a question I struggled with, a lot. And then I found an article that I believe on that mentioned what the IRS looks for during an audit. And one of the most important things is to make sure that you can explain all your deposits into your bank account for the year. That makes sense because they want to make sure that all your income is accounted for. So, with no better alternative, I thought that maybe a good way to track my gross winnings was to actually see the amount that I withdrew from my poker account. I basically treated my poker account like an investment. If the money in my poker account grew, I considered that as "unrealized gain" much like your gain on portfolio until you actually sell your stock. So, once I withdraw money, that was how much I "realized" ie sale of a stock. So I took the total amount I withdrew as my "gross winnings" because I couldn't think of a better way to handle that. I am not sure that IRS agrees with my evaluation but I'm pretty sure that this would be considered a reasonable method. I'm not sure how else to track these things, short of being a ridiculously meticulous record keeper, tracking gains and losses separately especially when I jump in and out of cash game tables. I mean that's just unreasonable.

Well, this really sucks because based on this tax rate schedule, most of us will probably fall under the 25-33% rate and that's how much you will get taxed for your winnings. Assuming 28%, that's $1,400 that you have to pay in taxes on the $5,000 tournament win. Brutal. Well, another thing I considered was to claim the poker winnings as a self employment income. I don't know what the process of setting up a self employment is but I don't think it's actually that complicated. And even if you have a job and you get a W-2, you can still file self employment income as well.

So, what's the benefit of the self-employment income and how does that work? Well, first of all, if you consider your poker playing to be "self employment", then you can net all your expenses with the income. And in this instance, the expenses can be very liberal as long as they are legitimate. In other words, trips to Vegas or AC where you ended up playing poker are certainly includable as well as maybe a portion of the cost of your internet expense if you play online poker. However, there's a breakeven point where it's not necessarily beneficial to claim self employment income because you also have to pay taxes there so the expenses need to be enough to sufficiently bring down your net income. Ok, I know this sounds like mumbo jumbo so let me illustrate with an example...

Assume here that a) you are single and b) you can only claim one exemption and c) you normally would not itemize your deductions. This is for illustration only but the same concept applies even if you are married or if you itemize (granted, if you itemize, it might be a little more complex).

Let's also bump up the amount so that we actually have something substantial to talk about here. Let's say that this year, your gross poker winnings were $50,000. Let's say that you accumulated a portion of that by playing cash games and winning a few tournaments. And let's say you can quantify the $ amount for the tournaments... say $2,000.If you just file a regular 1040, you will claim the gross winnings ($50,000) on line 21 of your 1040. Then, with the standard deduction and exemption ($5,150 and $3,300, respectively), your taxable income is $41,550. Multiply that by the 28% as per the tax schedule and your tax due on your poker winnings alone is $11,634.

In the same example above, let's say you chose to go with the self employment route. As such, you decide to start quantifying all the expenses including tournament fees for the year, trips to Vegas or AC including meals, hotels and flights, approximate internet usage that is poker related, subscription to any poker related publications, etc. If you could find enough expenses to reach $16,000, then you will end up paying less than the $11,634 above... and this is why:

Your net income that you will report on Schedule C will be $34,000. Once you complete Schedule C, then you fill out Schedule SE which is the self employment tax form. On that form, you will follow the instructions so you bring the net income amount of $34,000 to this form and multiply by .9235 as instructed to come to $31,399 which is what's considered the "net earnings from self-employment tax." Then you multiply this amount by 15.3% (.153) which comes to $4,804 which is the self employment tax that you owe. Now, half of this is deductible from the AGI (adjusted gross income) as seen on line 27 of the form 1040 so then you will take the $34,000 that you report on line 12 of the form 1040, deduct the half of self employment tax ($2,402) and then deduct your standard deduction and exemption like above (totals $8,450) and you will now have a taxable income of $23,148. That amount will be multiplied by 28% to come up with $6,481 which is your tax personal income tax. (One assumption I'm also adding is that even though this new taxable income drops you to a 15% bracket, for this illustration, I won't change it because I don't want to further complicate what's already quite confusing and I'm also assuming that you might have another job so all in all, the tax bracket might not change). Add the self employment tax that we already computed which was $4,804 and the total taxes you owe is now $11,285. Not a significant difference from above but I think this illustrates the point. If you can find even more in expenses, this will clearly be beneficial. And if it does drop you into a lower tax bracket, I can't imagine how this would not be beneficial. However, if you don't have enough, then you will end up overpaying because you will pay self employment tax as well as your personal income tax.

As I mentioned in the disclaimer above, I'm pretty sure that this is a very very generalized view so you definitely want to get with a tax professional to discuss this as well as what type of items could be considered expenses. I think many of you would be surprised as to how liberal an interpretation the tax professionals can make. If this doesn't apply to you for 2006, well, start keeping records of any expenses that you may think is remotely related to poker for 2007 and you might be able to save some money come tax time next year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fighting off a slump...

Recently, I had an interesting discussion with another poker player. He mainly plays limit hold'em (which obviously is almost entirely a different game than the NL hold'em... nevermind the tournament vs cash game discussion) so it's hard for me to give him any suggestions because I only play NL. I don't hate limit poker... well, I hate limit poker. It could be fun once in a while but I just don't find it all that exciting. However, having said that, if there's a wait list at a casino for a NL table, I'll play limit to kill some time. At least it's still poker and since there's a limit as to how much I can bet or how much I'd have to call, I won't lose as much waiting for a table to open up.

Well, the discussion was not about the difference between limit and no-limit hold'em. In my mind, it's such a different game that it's like trying to explain the difference between 7 card stud and omaha. Ok, maybe not that different but close, I think. Anyways, the discussion had to do with being in a slump and how to get out of it. This guy claims that he's been in a slump for like a year or longer. My initial reaction (and I told him) was that if it lasts that long, it's not a slump. That's a lack of skill. But he claims that that's not the case. Well, we can choose to have an opinion on that but I decided that instead of pressing the issue of slump vs skill, I decided to think, what would you do if you were in that kind of a rut? He said that in any given week, if he plays like 3-4 nights, every night that he plays, there would be about 10 hands where he would flop a straight and lose or have trips to lose to a flush, etc. And again, keep in mind this is limit.

Well, let's just say that it's true and he sees a cooler every night he plays for over a year (that's a hell of a cooling streak and that might make me quit altogether). What would you do? Here are some things that I thought of:

1. First and foremost, take a break. Take a break from poker completely. No poker books, no magazines, etc. Maybe blogs but nothing related to strategy. Instead, focus on working out, playing video games, spending time with family, etc. Basically lay off of poker until you get that itch of wanting to play again.

2. Read nonstrategy poker books. There are tons of books that recap a certain tournament run or how they improved their games etc written by guys like Jay Greenspan, Chris Moneymaker, Matt Matros, and Jim McManus. Those are all great books that after you read, makes you think "hey, even I can do this!"

3. Once you start getting the itch, analyze your game. Purchase poker tracker if you play online. Also go to and many other sites mentioned by other bloggers here to study other people's games. Analyze your game and I don't just mean looking at your position stats, VP$IP, aggression factor, etc. That's part of it but I think you also have to look at hand histories and take a look at the big pots that you've lost. Flopped straight loses to a flush? Did you play it right? Those are the things that you definitely want to take a look at and make sure where you may have been able to limit your loss. Because without hand histories, I don't know how you can analyze your game. All the stats are indicators but sometimes you just have to scrutinize your play and go deeper than what's on the surface.

4. Quit while you are up. I think this is very important and once I even remotely start to run bad, I tend to do this. Planned to play for 2 hrs tonight but you won a few monster pots and you're up at the end of the first hour? Call it quits. Leave the table and you get to shut the lid of your laptop knowing that tonight, you ended the session up. Sometimes (actually, a lot of times), poker is such a mental game that mental boosts like this are also very important. Instead of going to be after a bad beat that killed your stack that you spent all night building, just quit so that the next day, you can attack the table with a good feeling of trying to build where you left off the night before instead of trying to make up for the night before. The difference is night and day.

Can anyone think of other suggestions to get out of a slump? Regardless of what game you play, since these are cards, I think getting into a slump/funk is not only possible but quite probable. But just like in baseball, the better players are the ones who can maintain their hot streak the longest and the slumps the shortest. Has there been something that works for you? Any input on this matter is much appreciated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Birthday weekend and MATH (not much poker content)

Quick note: I am experimenting with the title and such because as it stands now, there's no correlation between my screenname on FullTilt (RecessRampage), my blog address (pokertachi), and my profile (Alan). Basically, I'm all over the place so I'm trying to bring it together for less confusion...

This past Saturday was my birthday... I remember when I was a lot younger, I used to be very excited about my birthday. My parents would have parties, I'd invite all my friends (basically all my classmates because when there's a party, all of a sudden, everyone becomes your friend) and we'd have a fun time with presents and all... and then you get older and it's still kinda cool because you go out, maybe get drunk with your friends and most of the time, you don't have to pay for those drinks... and then you get older than that and basically it starts sucking... because it's another year that's gone by and that's about it. So, for my birthday, my wife took me out to dinner at this italian restaurant which was really good. But aside from that, we spent it like we do every other Saturdays... her napping while I play poker all day... I have to admit though, that's pretty much what I wanted to do so it worked out great.

Speaking of birthdays, in my previous job, I used to work in this office with about 50 people. And at one point, we had 4 people with the same birthday... I remember thinking that was so crazy... I mean what are the odds!? Well, few years later, I heard an interesting theory. William Chen was talking about this quantum theory "joke" about the odds of a person having the same birthday as yourself. The way it goes is this (and by the way, it's not a ha ha funny kinda joke... those quantum analysts, their crazy!!): If you grabbed 20 random people, the odds of them having a certain birthdate that you pick out is very low (20/365, right?). However, the chance that 2 people out of that 20 have the same birthday is actually not that unlikely. The reason? Because for each person that you ask in that group of 20, the odds increase. In other words, after you ask person A and person B what they're birthdays are, person C has to have a birthday that's either A or B. But by the 15th person, if there hasn't been a repeat at that point, there are 14 birthdays that are already "taken." When I heard that theory/joke, I remember thinking that that was very interesting (bringing out my inner nerd).

On Sunday, we had a family Easter dinner at a nearby upscale steak restaurant. They had a breakfast buffet that was fantastic. I love those things. Nothing like good food in unlimited quantities. So, even though there was no particular significance for me, Easter was enjoyable. Growing up, all I did was color eggs and go on egg hunts... I still want to know how that thing started. I watched Southpark the other day and they sorta addressed that... by saying that St Peter was actually a rabbit (ie Peter Rabbit)... hilarious.

Last night, I played in my first ever MATH (Mondays at the Hoy) on FTP (I did play the MATH on PokerStars once before). I generally played a straight up tight aggressive game which got me to the final table with my M around 7 or 8 which was the case with like 6 out of the 9 of us at the final table. Well, after my KK loses to AQ (all in preflop), I was crippled but a few all ins later, I was pretty much back up to where my stack was before that unfortunate beat... and then I'm in the big blind with AA. My stack was around T11,000 (again, M is probably 6 around this point). Our chipleader raises to T2500 and the button calls so with blinds and antes on top of that, it was a good amount in the pot so I pushed all in to get called by our chipleader who shows pocket 9's. Funny thing is, I felt a bad beat looming over my head.... and sure enough, a 9 flops and with no help on the turn or the river, I bust out in 8th place despite my valiant effort. Oh well, at least he put the chips to good use by winning the whole thing.... again.

All in all, a very fun time. I'm also glad that this tournament started at 10pm because it gives me time to do everything else I need to do before I could sit down and play.... the only downside is, I'm up till like 1am so I'm exhausted this morning....

Friday, April 6, 2007

Raising from the button (in cash games)

When you read a lot of books, strategy posts, and magazines, they all advocate raising from the button with a wide variety of hands. This obviously depends on the action of other players before it gets to you but since you are the last one to act each round, you have a tremendous advantage when you are on the button. So, if it's folded to you, a lot of these publications advocate raising with almost anything... I don't mean total rags but if there's any sort of coordination, it seems that you should raise. So, like everyone else, for a while, that's what I did. I'm on the button, it's folded to me, I look down and find A4, I raise. 5-7 suited, I raise. 4-6, why not? 2-7, ok. Ok, so I exaggerate. But I think the point is well made. If it's folded to you on the button, then you should raise because you can take the blinds or if you see the flop, you can possibly take it down with a continuation bet.

Well, personally, I'm not a big fan of raising from the button with weak hands. It also depends on the blinds but generally, here's where I have a problem:

a) if I raise and it's uncontested, I win the blinds. Unlike a tournament, I'm not convinced that taking down the blinds in a cash game is really all that important. Actually, I believe that it's not. Risking 3.5x the BB just to win 1.5x BB really isn't much in terms of risk vs reward when your stack is like 100x BB.

b) if I am one to raise with a wide variety of hands, then I'm also susceptible to a reraise from one of the blinds by a wide variety of hands. In other words, if I'm a tight player who's starting requirements from the button is not too different from my starting requirements in other positions, then I'd probably get a lot of respect for my raise. However, if they know that I raise a lot more from the button, then the blinds would tend to play back with a lot more holdings as well. I will not be able to narrow down their holdings. This is good if you're comfortable with the post flop play since you have position but I'm not too crazy about playing huge pots with super aggressive players.

In other words, raising with a wide variety of hands from the button has started to become a very widely accepted strategy and so now, there are players who are starting to react to that. Which is why recently, I've started to tighten up my raising requirements from the button. If it's folded to me, I will still raise with hands like KJ which is a hand that I would most likely fold UTG or even MP. Actually, with any two face cards, I will probably raise. But that's probably as loose as I get. And even then, it really depends on the blinds. If the blinds are also very aggressive, I don't want to start building big pots with hands like JT, QJ, QT, KT, etc. Instead, I don't mind just smooth calling, even with hands that you might normally raise with like AQ, AJ, etc, just for deception purposes.

So, last night, I was playing in my usual 2-4NL cash game and decided to raise a few times from the button with a wide variety of hands early and then tighten up later on. So, nothing eventful happened in the early going. Occasionally, when I raised from the button, I took down the blinds and maybe a limper or two. Other times, I've had to fold when I had callers and there was action after the flop that I missed completely. And then this hand came up...

One limper and I'm on the button so I raise to $18 with KQ. SB folds and BB reraises me to $38. Now, this was a warning sign for me. Usually, if the BB is raising because he knows that I could be raising with a bigger range than usual, they'd reraise a lot so that I can't make the call. However, this raise meant (or that's what I'm thinking) that he wanted action... Plus, he had to consider the MP limper... So, I was a little worried about what he had (ie, I'm starting to think that he has AA, KK, QQ or maybe AK even though I'd guess even AK would raise more because he wouldn't want a caller). But getting approx 3:1 to odds ($20 more for me to call with a pot of $62), I had to call (limper obviously folded). Flop comes K-x-x ($82 in pot). He bets out $38. Such a "call me" bet... or a "I didn't want to see that K" bet... but, in case it was the former and not the latter, I just called. Turn was a Q ($158 in pot), giving me top 2 pair. He now bets $120. Now, he could have either KK or QQ and have me killed but that means that the last K or the last Q in the deck hit... so very unlikely. Now, based on this sequence, I'm almost convinced he's got AA and this big turn bet was just a donkish bet on his part. So I push the rest of my stack which was like $200 more and he instacalls... and flips over his AA. A blank on the river gives me the $800+ pot...

In his chat box, he was like "are you serious???" I have to admit though that his play was pretty poor. Maybe my call on the flop was a little donkish but getting 2:1 odds and hitting top pair with a possibility (albeit, very small) that it was the best hand, was not that bad, I don't think. I think where he went wrong was to make such a big bet on the turn when a dangerous card hit. I mean if I didn't have any piece of it, a smaller bet would still have taken it down but instead, by him betting so big, he probably felt committed when I pushed and couldn't let go of his aces. Before calling so quickly, he should have thought about what I could be holding that he could beat... Only possible answer at that point would be AK and even that's unlikely...

I kinda got off topic with the example but I think the main thing to consider is to not become one dimensional in your play on the button. Sometimes, you can raise and sometimes you can just call. I think mixing up your play on the button is just as important since you will keep the opponents guessing and you'll have the benefit of acting after the opponents act.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

My first ever Mookie and some nonpoker stuff

So last night was the first time I participated in the "Mookie" and it was very interesting. I honestly had no idea what to expect from a blogger tournament so this was pretty fun. I also wondered how much people would actually disclose their hands and stuff because to an extent, you don't want to disclose all your bluffs and real hands right? Honestly, I just wasn't sure. I registered early because I wanted to make sure I got to play but I wasn't able to sit at the table till about 9:30. In my first ever tourney, I didn't want to get too far out of line so I played relatively tight aggressive but straight forward poker. Fortunately, I was rewarded with decent cards until right before break #2 when my 77 ran into Iakaris's pocket rockets... It's not even fair to say that my 77 "ran into" pocket aces since I was the one that called off all my chips in a donkish play though I kinda justified it in my head at the time. Iakaris built up a nice stack and so he was starting to bully the table a little bit. So, knowing that these bloggers can get pretty aggressive with a decent stack and since we were down to like 20 players, I felt that he was really trying to take control of the table. I also had a very healthy stack at that point (I think I had top 10 stack) so I wanted to keep him in check. From EP, he raised it to a T$1000 so I reraised it to T$3000 with my pocket 7s. He then pushed the rest of his stack for another T$4000. At that point, I felt like I might be beat but I also thought he could be doing that with two overs. If I fold, I would have approx T$3800 left which was not desperate time but close. So, I decided to call and hope that it would be a race.... it was a race that I was badly losing since he had AA and that put an end to my first ever Mookie (not quite the first ever blogger tourney since I played MATH once on Stars. So, that sucked but it was fun.

Early in the tourney, when I sat, Miamidon asked if I had a blog so I told him about this awesome site. :) He then said that he also had notes on me from the cash games. Funny thing is, I thought his avatar (the Italian mobster) with his name seemed familiar so I wasn't too surprised. So, I fired up my PT to see if I had any info on him (I'm not an avid notetaker) and sadly, I couldn't find anything. So, at least I found comfort in the fact that his notes had to be from 2005 since I just got PT in January of 2006. I mean I had to be better now than I was back then right????

The tournament itself was a lot of fun but now that I read the "live blog" that the host did, it's even more entertaining. I kinda wished I paid attention to the fact that this live blog was going on... It would just be an added entertainment. What was also fun was the fact that I was playing a $1-2 NL hold'em game at the same time (didn't want to do 2-4NL since I wanted to focus on the tournament more) and this hand came up:

MP raises to $5 (2.5x BB) on the 9 handed table and gets one caller from CO-1 so I limp from the button with 89 of diamonds, blind calls another $3 and we see the flop 4 handed. Flop comes 6-7-10 with two clubs giving me the nut straight. The BB checks and the initial raiser bets $20. CO-1 calls and I thought about raising here since there were two clubs. But I didn't want to kill the action too much so I decided to call here and see what happens. BB folds and the turn is a non-club ace. Surprisingly, the initial raiser bets $40 at which point the CO-1 calls again. I'm obviously not going to fold my current nuts so I decide this pot has gotten enough action and that it was time for me to take it down. Also, I figured, one of them had to have a set so if I push, that should get the flush draw (if there was one) out and the guy with the set considering how big the pot is now will definitely call. So, I pushed the rest of my stack and sure enough, the initial raiser instafolded but CO-1 calls... with pocket 7's for trips. River comes a 9 of clubs so my straight took down a $571 pot!!! Huge pot for a $1-2NL game. That's always fun!

Anyways, I intend to play as many of these tournaments as possible. The late starting time definitely suits me well. I'd like to play in the Riverchasers tourney as well since they are all part of the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments but I have basketball from 8-10pm and if there's one thing I cannot miss, then it's playing basketball on Thursday nights... so unfortunately, no blogger tourney for me tonight.


Last night, as I was playing the Mookie, I really wanted to go to bed. Not because I was tired (which I was) because I work hard during the day (which I kinda sorta do) but also because I had to get up early in the morning... how early? Try 3:45am.... that's almost not even morning... Well, the only reason I'd do something crazy is because I love my job.... of course, I kid. My mom has been visiting us this past week and the airport limo service was coming to pick her up from our house at 4am for her 6am flight. So, I wanted to see her out the door (I tried to do something similar when my dad was in the same situation but unfortunately, I came downstairs, just to see that he hopped in the car and left) so after I got busted from the Mookie around 11pm, I finished off my cash game which was closer to 12am ("finishing off" is a very ambiguous phrase for me) and went to sleep. Few hours later, I was up drinking green tea with my mom as we waited for her ride. For those of you that don't know me (ie other bloggers that may or may not care), my family lives in Japan... a mere 14 hr flight from here in VA. So, even though she was only here for a week, it was nice to get to spend time with her, especially because that wasn't possible in Christmas (when my dad came) because my grandpa passed away. It's always nice to be able to spend time with the family. I love playing poker and playing basketball but without family and friends, all this would be meaningless. So, in that sense, it was nice to be able to chat about the times I spent with grandpa (which was A LOT when I was growing up) and the random memories that I would have from growing up. And through all that, I still find time to play poker! Dedication? Maybe. Addiction? For sure...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Thin line between positive and negative...

I think these are the posts that make it obvious that I'm not crushing these games... instead, I play it fairly safe and consistent so I generally squeeze out profits and as the law of statistics suggest, in the end, I make money but not to the extent that guys do who are clearly playing at a different level. So, some nights, when I end up playing a very big pot, that could define whether I will be up for the night or down. Last night, relatively early in the session, this happened (this is not intended to be a bad beat story but rather an illustration):

I was dealt pocket 10's in middle position so I made a standard raise to $14. The guy right behind me paused for a little bit and then called. With online poker, you never know but for some reason, I got the feeling that he thought about raising so strangely enough, my initial reaction is that he might have a higher pair or AK. Everyone else folded so we went in to the flop heads up. Flop comes 10-5-6, all hearts. I bet $28 into a $34 pot because that's what I generally bet (approx 80% of the pot). He raises to $90 so it's $62 for me to call. I thought about just calling here but since I got the impression based on his bet size that he didn't want a call, I figured he couldn't have a made flush. The range of hands I put him on based on my preflop impression was AK, AA, KK, QQ, or JJ. There may be more but that was my initial thought. If he had trips too, that was just golden. So, unless he had AK of hearts, I am clearly ahead and if he's got a higher pocket pair with one heart, I wanted him to pay for his draws. Like I said, I considered the stop and go approach where I would call his raise and push on the turn as long as it wasn't a heart but here, I decided to come over the top. He insta-calls with AA, one heart. Turn was a black 9, and the river was a black.... A... brutal... I'd rather lose to a flush. No difference, I know, but still. That was a nice $800 pot for him... ($400) early in the session. I ended up battling back but I still ended the night down $200.

Like I said, I'm not complaining about the beat. Maybe if I called the flop and pushed the turn, he would have folded, though doubtful. Regardless, this is the type of hand where if I win, I clearly would have been up $600 for the night but instead, I was down $200. A big swing that I know is expected in the cash games but it affects me (not in a tilting kinda way but just my general profit) more than some of the other guys who are crushing this game because my game is more like chipping away at other people's money instead of dropping the hammer... Nonetheless, not a good start to for this month... after 3 days, I only have like $200 profit so far...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Thou shalt not doubt the power of presto...

After 42 "Presto is Gold" entries by Fuel55, you would think I would have learned...

$2-4NL 9 handed
One limper from EP and I make a pot sized bet to $18 from CO with AK. EP calls so we see the flop heads up. Flop comes 3-8-K with no flush draw. Checked to me so I bet $35 into a $42 pot. EP calls. Turn comes a 5. Checked to me again so I'm thinking he either has a weak K (like KQ, KJ) or he might have a set. Well, donkish me, I bet $70 into a $112 pot only to be reraised all in. Since EP was relatively shortstacked, it was only $50 more for me to call so I felt like at this point, I had to call. EP shows 55 (not sure why he called the flop bet considering he was out of position also) for a set...

Another $2-4NL 9 handed
Couple of middle position limpers and the CO raises to $22. I find 55 so I call from the button. Small blind, who is also relatively shortstacked reraises all in for $110 total. The two limpers fold and it's back to the CO who thinks about it for a long time and then finally decides to call. Now, I am in an interesting situation where I have to call another $90 but the pot is offering me close to 3-1. The problem is, after that call, the CO only has about $250. And since the SB is all in, I knew he had AK or a pocket pair that was better than mine. All told, I did not have enough equity in order to call for set mining since even if I hit a set, I'd have to get the rest of CO's money and even then, I don't have enough pot odds to call (7:1 to hit a set. Best case scenario with implied odds, I'm a little short of 6:1) so I naturally fold. I'm screaming as the flop comes A-Q-5 and with no help on the turn and the river, the CO wins the pot... with QJ suited!!!!! SB had pocket 10's. I'm not one to be result oriented so presented with the exact same scenario, I'd fold again but that always sucks to see a huge pot going to a guy who had no business being in the hand...

Monday, April 2, 2007

Quarter in review (and some nonpoker content)

First three months of the year has gone by and so I figured this would be a good time to look back and see how I have been doing so far this year. I also figured this would be a good time to look back at the goals I set for myself for this year and see if I've accomplished anything or come close to accomplishing any of them. A lot of my goals that I set were more in relation to tournaments. One of them was to qualify for a $10,000 tournament (whether it's WSOP, WPT, etc) and that, I guess I could argue that I came close to it but then again, I feel like this is one of those goals where you either did it or didn't. There's no "I came close to it", in my opinion, so that's still a goal for this year. Another one was to win an MTT tournament of any kind. I've come close in some of the satellites but I'm not sure that I can consider taking that down as winning the MTT. The irony is that I'm still not playing that many MTTs... I also had a goal in regards to successfully multitabling 2-4NL but in hindsight, that seems kinda silly to me now. Silly because it would seem like it would be hard to measure success. Obviously, making money would be one indicator but if I'm making x amount of money playing 2-4NL but I can make the exact same amount playing 1-2NL, is that playing it successfully? I think not. But since x is impossible to define, I'm not sure how to measure this... having said that, as long as I keep improving my results, I'd have to be happy about that.

So, in Q1 of 2007, one thing I have to say is that I made more money than I had expected. I didn't have any set number in mind but if at the beginning of the year, I said I should be able to make this much, I wouldn't have believed it. Possible, but unrealistic is what I would have thought. Funny thing is, now that I am looking at the amount, I am upset that I didn't make more. Expectation at the beginning of the year and what I expect of myself now has changed and that's obviously playing into my perception of how I've done so far. Also seeing what other bloggers have made at the same level tells me what I can potentially be making and comparing my results to that makes me realize that I'm way short of that. If someone can make 5 figures playing 2-4NL in a month, I should be able to hit that in a quarter... right?

I also learned that I am a total donk with AQ, both suited and unsuited. I really need to look at my plays with AQ and see how I am playing the hand because I am losing waaaaay too much money with that hand... to the point where I feel like I should just fold it preflop when the action is folded to me. Of course, I'm not gonna do that but I really need to reevaluate my play. I also think I tend to play a little too tight on the turn and the river. I'm not trying to overcall here but I need to realize that not every bet represents a made hand or a monster. I seem to fear the check raise a little too much and that leads me to be more passive and naturally, my opponents pick up on that and so they start aggressively betting... until I can't take the heat and fold. I intend to find some of these hands and maybe post them here or on the forum to get some thoughts.

On a more positive note, in the past three months, I've learned so much more from these blogs. When I first started this blog, I wasn't sure where it was going to go and what I was going to do with it. All I knew was that it seemed interesting so I figured why not. And as I started venturing into other people's blogs, I've learned so much more in terms of thought process, creativity, and moves that I never really thought about before. I've read a lot of poker books and that's obviously helped a lot but these blogs really illustrated those points I've read in the past.


On a totally different note, this weekend was Monument Ave 10k race in Richmond, VA. This has become a very large event and there were 24,000 participants this year. Well, I haven't really been training for the 6.2 mile run as much as I wanted to but I have been running a few times a week on top of playing basketball a few times a week so I was hoping to finish in about 51-52 minutes (a little over 8 minute mile pace) and I figured that was definitely within reach. My starting wave was supposed to start at 8:30 but because I couldn't find a place to park, I missed my starting group. I ended up starting with the group that was 5 waves behind me (but it really doesn't matter because the time is taken with the race chip that you attach to your shoe). The only concern there was that the pace might be slower but I got lucky and found a couple of guys who seemed to be running at a fairly decent pace. When I came through Mile 1, the clock read 30 minutes and I heard someone utter nearby that they were running 8:08 mile. So, I figured this was a pretty good pace and so I decided to keep it up. At mile 2, I was coming through around 37:40 so I knew that my 2nd mile was pretty fast in terms of my pace. However, I didn't feel like I was going faster than the first mile so I was fairly optimistic about my first mile. By the time I crossed the finish line, the clock read 1:10:xx so I knew that the last 5.2 miles, I ran it in approx 38-39 minutes so I was pretty excited about how I did. I don't know how fast or slow my first mile was at that point but I knew it was not a 10 minute mile so if that was the case, I was able to break 50 min which would be a very big accomplishment for me... that evening, I checked my time and my official time was 47:55!!! My 5k time was apparently 24:11 (didn't even know they tracked that) so my second half was stronger than my first half. I was very psyched about that and that was my personal best. Good stuff!