July, 2007:

July 2007 Poker Summary

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So, I just finished the month on a reasonable high note, coming 3rd out of 108 players in an Omaha Hi-Lo tourney. I was the leader going in to the final table, and when there were 7 left, I was in last (one really bad hand, very poorly played on my part!). So, coming in 3rd was satisfying, even though I lost on the river on the last hand, or I could have gone further.

Last month, I abandoned (perhaps not forever) the summary by tournament type, etc. I’ll skip that this month too. In fact, this is going to be a really short update, since I’ve covered the highlights already. To repeat the biggest highlight: I won qualifiers for 4 of the big Sunday tournaments in this month. I cashed in 3 of the 4 tournaments, to the tune of $900, $900 and $419.

I peaked at up $1983 (as reported earlier). After the third in my last tourney of the month, I’m up $1980 for the month (I rounded up $.03). 😉 So, I hung on to all but $3 from my peak, over the past 2 weeks. Not too shabby!

As reported earlier, I gave back roughly $300 in a one week period after I peaked (so obviously, I won it back). At the time, I said that I would comment on my style changes, etc. That’s what I’ll close with this month.

After the second $900 cash, my account was flush, and I felt that I could do two things: take some more chances and play in some slightly bigger buy-in tournaments.

I did both. Ironically, while I splashed around a few more dollars in buy-ins (the largest was $38, so don’t think I went crazy), I lost most of them on truly bad beats. I’m not complaining, just saying that I was (generally speaking) holding my own in the larger tourneys, which I’d avoided before, simply because a losing streak could have crippled my account. Now it would barely make a dent. Well, it definitely dented the account, but I won it back. Whew.

Second was style. I decided to play a little looser. In fact, I played a little too loosely on occasion, and that cost me money as well. That said, it was a fantastic learning experience, as I definitely hit a couple of big hands that I never would have even been in, and I got to understand a little better the range of hands that other people raise with (given that often before, everyone, including me, folded to them, and playing looser, I sometimes got to see their hands).

While I don’t intend to become a loose player in general, or even as a rule, I see value in being able to do it on occasion, situationally, and it’s an addition to my game that has already served me reasonably well, and I expect it to continue to serve me.

Anyway, looking forward to continue learning. Alternatively, if I can’t learn (because of having a thick head), then I’ll gladly take some better luck, so that the account can keep growing. 🙂

Final Sunday July 2007 Poker Update

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Well, got to play a bit of poker this week, but it didn’t go so well. I will still wait until the end of the month (just two more days) to report more generally.

Yesterday, I played in a qualifier to get into the big one tonight. Ironically, we were supposed to have company with us in the city this weekend (as we were supposed to last weekend), and they got rained in at the Durham airport, so we came to the house yesterday morning. For $31, I won an entry into the big one tonight.

Here is my log from while I was playing:

1048 entrants top 110 paid

Only played one hand so far, and won.

1000 left, in 129th
966 left, in 205th
934 left, in 57th
889 left, in 92nd
796 left, in 21st
684 left, in 34th
585 left, in 66th
468 left, in 15th
378 left, in 25th
277 left, in 55th
268 left, in 2nd
220 left, in 10th
194 left, in 19th
153 left, in 35th
144 left, in 47th
135 left, in 53rd
124 left, in 67th
122 left, in 48th
118 left, in 42nd
112 left, in 48th
111 left, in 50th

ONE LEFT TO THE MONEY!

MADE THE MONEY!

109 left, I’m in 52nd

I played way too tight from the moment I was in 2nd. Obviously, this was one of the shots to get a major prize, not a minor one, but I admit that cashing at all was more important to me. Oh well. At least the game is officially on now, and I still have enough chips to try and get lucky with…

98 left, I’m in 50th

That was a step up in the money!

94 left, I’m in 53rd
84 left, I’m in 50th

That was a step up in the money!

80 left, I’m in 58th

That was a step up in the money!

Oh well. Lost a “race” hand, and I’m out in 79th, and got back $419. Not too shabby, cashing 3 out of 4 times in the big one. 🙂

Ironically, that wiped out most of my losses in the last two weeks. I’m near my peak for the month, but not quite there. That said, I am above where I was when I cashed in the big one 2 weeks ago, so that’s good enough for now. 🙂

July 2007 Poker Streak Finally Ends

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Oh well, it had to happen. I went a week without playing any poker while we were down at Zope. Then we had an unscheduled business meeting in NYC that was too important to miss, so we cut our trip to Zope short by a week. The side benefit was that I got to play poker this past week when I didn’t expect to.

In any event, I still didn’t expect to play in the big one yesterday, because our friends were going to stay with us over the weekend. In case you haven’t been paying attention to the news, there was a big steam pipe explosion in NYC last week, right near our apartment, so our friends wisely canceled their trip to NYC. That put us up at the house for the weekend, with poker on the agenda.

The day we found out that our friends weren’t coming, I played in a qualifier for the big one, and won a seat! It seemed like destiny that I would extend my 2 for 2 streak of cashing to 3 for 3.

I’ll just paste my notes in from the tourney and summarize at the bottom…

965 entrants, top 100 paid.

I was in 3rd after the first hand.

Had some extremely tough laydowns after that, which cost me some significant chips. In one hand, I know for sure I would have won. In the others, I don’t know, but I suspect that in at least one, I would have won.

So, in the meantime, I’m now not doing so hot, but it’s early.

Before this one started, I entered a $15 tourney at 3:30 that had 364 entrants, top 40 paid.

I had some horrid luck and with 290 left, I was something like 280th (or worse). I fought back tooth and nail, and just lost (at 6pm, an hour into the big tourney!), and came in 27th. It was only worth $30 back for my $15, but was very satisfying!

Now I can concentrate fully on the big one…

726 left I am in 624th
690 left I am in 598th
676 left I am in 646th (oops!)
670 left I am in 468th (better!) 🙂

Just went out in 589th, so finally, no money in the big one… There had to be a first one.

I was a very short stack. I had JcQs in the small blind. There were two limpers and I limped, and the big blind checked, so there were 4 of us. The flop came Qc8c4c. I had top pair and a decent flush draw, and I had only 900 chips left. I went all-in. I got called by a guy with Ac4c, so he flopped the nut flush. Oops for me. The next card was a club, so if someone else had called, with anything other than the Kc, I would have won, so it was a good calculated play, but it didn’t work this time. Oh well.

So here’s the bottom line on July. After the cash in the big one two weeks ago, I was ahead $1907. I had some interim successes during the past week, and while dipping below that number a few times, at one point I peaked at up $1983. After the disaster this weekend (meaning, not just losing the big one, but a number of other heart breakers), I am now only up $1685 for the month. Boo hoo. 🙂

Obviously, still a fantastic month. Of course, since I won my entry into the big one (value: $215), and won a number of other qualifiers as well (which I’ve since lost as well), the real value of my winnings is higher, it’s just that I’ve already lost back some of those winnings in the tournaments that I qualified for.

I’ll report again at the end of the month, with an analysis of my play, which is definitely changing in a material way (we’ll see whether for the better or not!).

July Poker Roll Continues :-)

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So, we drove from NY to VA today. Most of the ride was good and uneventful, until we hit Springfield, which was at a dead stop, as it often is… Took an extra 30 minutes to get to the hotel. All in all, I guess we can’t complain.

Spent a number of hours shopping and running errands. By the time we got back to the hotel, I was pooped. I had one hour left before the big weekly tournament. I nearly nodded off waiting for it to start, which didn’t bode well for the necessary concentration.

I guess I caught a second wind. 😉

813 entrants today, top 90 paid. I won my entry on July 4th, for a total of $15.50. I also played in two other qualifiers trying just to win the cash, which I came very close to doing in one (I may or may not report on that at month end). So, I really had a bit more invested in than just the $15.50.

There were really only 6 particularly interesting hands, though obviously a number of additional hands where I had to make some serious decisions. Here are the notes that I took in the order that they occurred:

  1. I had AA in early position, and I raised. The small blind thought for quite a while, then re-raised me all-in. I called (obviously). He had QQ. Flop came 3 spades. Neither of us had a spade. I knew, with 100% certainty, that the next two cards would both be spades. They were. We split the pot. Ouch!
  2. I had QQ in the small blind (200 invested). UTG raised. Another guy re-raised a lot. A third guy called the re-raise. I folded. It wasn’t that tough a decision, but it stunk to have that many people represent a hand when I had a real one, that was likely beat.
  3. Had TT in middle position. Someone in early position went all-in. I had him easily covered, but it would have cost me nearly 40% of my stack, and because I was in middle position, someone behind me could have forced me all in, so I folded. So did everyone else, so I have no idea whether I would have won or not.
  4. I had 88 on the button. At this point, I also had a nice stack. A short stack went all-in. I called. The small blind re-raised all-in which would have been for most, if not all of my chips. I folded. The original guy had AKo. The small blind had JJ. A K hit the flop, so the original guy tripled up. I would have lost my original call, and would have lost the rest of my chips to the J’s, so I’m glad he re-raised, and that I folded.
  5. There were roughly 150 players left (60 to go to the money), and I was in 88th. Technically, I was still “in the money”, but practically, I knew from experience that if I wasn’t willing to gamble a bit, I could easily bubble. I got AKh and raised. The same guy who re-raised all-in with J’s from the hand above (this was perhaps 15-20 hands later) raised all-in again, and this time had me well covered. Everyone folded. I called. He had 22 (a horrible play on his part!). That said, I was in trouble, as I still had to hit. A K came on the flop, and held up, and I doubled up. He still had a marginal stack, and played on tilt from then on. He hit some hands and built his stack way back up, and still blew up way out of the money.
  6. This was the critical hand. I had enough chips to definitely drift into the money. There were 92 players left (two to go to the money), and I had 11,000 chips, which probably put me at around 70. I had KK. I decided to risk it all, really hoping for no callers, and to just pick up the blinds. I went all-in and got called by a big stack. Three hands earlier, he called another all-in, and had AA. I was nervous that he had it again! He had AKo, and my K’s held up, and I doubled to 23,000 chips, which put me in 32nd place. Whew!

After that, I was somewhere between truly card dead, and having cards that were likely 2nd or 3rd best hands, but facing very big raises. So, I ended up folding practically every hand, and kept drifting higher and higher in position. At the same time, once people make the money, all small stacks typically go crazy, so they start dropping like flies.

Cutting to the chase, I finished in 40th, and got the same exact prize that I received for 38th last week, $900. Not too bad! Here is the “log” of my positions along the way.

Remain My Position
====== ===========
719 384
687 358
586 313
532 222
489 251
344 44
335 40
319 6
281 15
239 23
191 37
180 64
143 23
125 40
117 48
104 60
98 64
91 32

ONE FROM THE MONEY!

MADE THE MONEY! 🙂

78 38

Next step up in the money!

70 48

Next step up in the money!

58 54

Next step up in the money!

50 47

Next step up in the money!

40 40

Next step up in the money!

I have nearly zero chips, and I am now out in 40th, and got
the same prize again this week that I did last week! Woo
Hoo!

Here’s hoping to repeat this again (and again). That said, being at Zope this week will mean little chance to win an entry into next week’s tourney until the weekend, and I have to be back in NY for an important meeting over the weekend. I might need to skip this tourney next week. Bummer!

Just another July Poker update ;-)

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I had an all-day out-of-the-office meeting yesterday. When I got home, after catching up on emails, etc., I finally got to enter my nightly $22 Omaha Hi-Lo tourney. 95 entrants, top 10 paid.

I was holding my own for a while, and then when there were 40 players left, ran into some bad luck and became a very low stack. So, while I continued to play, I entered an $11 Hold’Em tourney with 160 entrants, paying top 20. I played in both for a while, and caught a nice break in the Omaha tourney and quadrupled my stack and became a medium stack (quite unexpectedly).

Cutting to the chase on that one, I finished 13th, and missed the money by 3. I likely could have squeaked in to 10th if I would have played overly-cautiously (not definitely though), but I am very glad that I played aggressively, and even though it didn’t work out, I believe I played correctly.

I have played in the $11 Hold’Em tourney at 8:15pm once before, same number of entrants, and I came 13th the first time (got back $16 for my $11). I got unlucky on the river in that one. Last night, reasonably early on, I caught a straight flush on the turn, and thankfully, someone else caught an A-high flush on that card as well. I won a big pot and was in 4th with roughly 120 players left.

Then a few new players were moved to our table, including perhaps the biggest maniac I’ve ever played with, who was two seats to my left (generally speaking, you’d like a maniac one or two seats to your left). A while ago, I wrote about another maniac (who ended up missing the money by one after being a giant chip leader), so I’m not 100% sure this guy was the biggest, but he was in the top two.

He was also wildly lucky (as was the other maniac, until he flamed out without making the money!). So, he quickly became the chip leader. Others at the table started verbally abusing how badly he was playing, and he was arrogant and defiant, pointing to his chip stack and telling them that they didn’t know how to play. He was awful. He was willing to go all-in on every hand, as long as he had an A (any A!). He would call other people’s all-in bets if he hit bottom pair with a hand like J3o!

Anyway, this meant having to have patience, which I was able to do, given that I had already built a nice chip stack before he showed up.

If I concentrate on his play, I could go on and on, so I’ll summarize. I raised with 77 in reasonably early position. He re-raised me and everyone else folded. If I called, I’d be pot committed, so the decision for me was fold or go all-in. Our goddaughter was hanging out with us, and I explained the situation (I had commented on the maniac a bunch already, so she and Lois both were aware of the background), and she said “Go for it!”. I would have missed the money if he called and I lost, as he was the chip leader.

I went all-in, and he called. He had one of his “better” hands, ATo. That is not a strong hand to call someone else’s all-in bet, but he was in second chip position at the time (he had 20,000 chips, and I had 7,500), so this particular call wasn’t that bad. My 7’s held up (one of the very rare times he didn’t hit the board!). I had 15,000 chips, and he had 12,500! After the hand, I was in second place (there were roughly 60 players left at the time).

Then a few hands later, I had JJ and raised. He called. The flop came A66. I checked, he checked. The turn was an A. I checked, he bet a fair amount and I called. The turn was an 8. I checked, and amazingly, he checked (I’m not sure I would have called, as he had hit a few more incredible hands and was again chip leader by this hand!). Anyway, he called my original raise with QJo, and my J’s won, and I now had 17,000 chips.

A few hands later, I had TT in the small blind and he was in the big blind. Everyone folded to me. I limped in and he called. Flop was 963. I bet, he raised, and I re-raised all-in. He called instantly. He had 95o, so he flopped top pair and was willing to call an all-in bet. Amazing! My 10’s held up and I had 33,000 chips after that.

Anyway, cutting to the chase, he yo-yo’ed up and down, but went into the final table with 84,000 chips, and second place was 55,000 chips, and I was in third with 36,000 chips. He finished 5th, blowing up with an A6o, against AA. Again, a mind-boggling call of an all-in from the chip leader at the time.

I finished 3rd, and got back $184 for my $11. My account is now bigger (by $62) than it was after Sunday’s win, and that includes all of the qualifier “losses” that I’ve wracked up.

Very nice 🙂

July Poker Interim Update

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Well, as expected, I’ve given back a bit of money so far (nothing too material). That said, I’ve played in a number of qualifiers, and I’m doing reasonably well. Not always making the next round, but mostly yes.

For example, a month or two ago, I reported on playing in a free qualifier to get into the semi-final qualifier to win a full package to a big tournament in Aruba. There were 3500 entrants, top 50 get in, and I came in 34th. Yesterday, I played in the same qualifier, with 3500 entrants, top 50 get in. This time, I came 151. So, I didn’t make it, but was pretty close. I got rivered, or I would have doubled, and had a good shot of making it.

I won an entry yesterday to a tourney that normally costs $109. It cost me $31. I didn’t make the money, but in the past, I wasn’t even trying to get into these bigger tournaments, but my confidence level is rising, so I’m taking the shots.

Today, I played in a qualifier for this Sunday’s big one, given my great result this past Sunday. Last week, I played in a qualifier that cost $11 to get in, had rebuys and add-ons, and the top 15 made the big tourney. I put in a total of $31. Today, the tourney was $5.50, had rebuys and add-ons, and only the top 2 made it to Sunday. I put in a total of $25.50. 3rd place paid $45, 4th paid $27, and 5th paid $18. So, if I came 4th, I’d at least get my money back.

There were 31 entrants. When there were roughly 16 left, I was a very small stack. I limped with 88 and the giant stack raised me from the small blind. I went all-in and he called, and had 45o. Obviously, I had been playing weak enough that he felt that I would fold. My 8’s held up and I doubled up. Somehow, that put him on tilt, as roughly 10 hands later, he went from #1 in chip position to out of the tourney, nowhere near the money!

Anyway, I had one guy who folded nearly every hand, except when I had the big blind, when he went all-in, 80% of the time. While it’s possible that he had a big hand each time, I doubt it. What made it dangerous was that there were at least 2 very large stacks between him and me, who could have called him too, so perhaps he had great hands, but I folded every time.

At some point, we got down to the final table, and I was in 9th. The guy to my right raised, it was nearly all of my stack, so I reraised, everyone folded and he called the remaining few chips. I had KK and he had AJo. My kings held up, and I was in decent shape (7th). A few hands later, he raised again, and I reraised all-in, and only he called. He had A8o, and I had AKo, which held up again, and now I was in 3rd and he was out.

It then took forever, but we finally got to 5, so at least $18 was guaranteed. When we got down to 3, I was in 3rd, but at least guaranteed to get back $45 and make a profit. One of the three was the guy who was clearly picking on me earlier. At one point, he won a big pot against the chip leader and became the chip leader.

Finally, cutting to the chase. He raised me all-in when I was the short stack, and I had A8s. He had A7o. An A hit the board, and it looked like we might split, until the T on the board paired on the river, and my 8 kicker beat him. He was crippled. The next hand I had 22 in the small blind, and raised him all in. He had K7o and called, and not only did my 2’s hold up, but I hit a set to cement it. He got the $45, and I will be playing for free this coming Sunday. Woo hoo! 🙂

At the same time, I was in an Omaha Hi-Lo tourney that cost me $5.50. 95 entrants, top 10 paid. I got extremely unlucky on my last hand and finished 10th, getting $11.87 for my $5.50. Oh well, a cash is a cash is a cash.

Anyway, while I’ve given back some cash, if you include the theoretical winnings from the free entry fees (a few of the nightly ones, plus the $109 and $215 bigger ones), I’d be ahead even more. But, like last month, I’ll happily count those as losses, and count any profit I make in a tourney that I get into for free as pure profit.

Here’s hoping I have something nice to write about this coming Sunday! 🙂

July Poker begins with a Bang!

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Pretty good day at the poker machine today. 🙂

Started at noon. I entered a qualifier for $21.50 to win a seat for today’s $200k tourney. But, you ask, didn’t you already win a seat for that? Yes. If you already have a free seat, and earn another one, they simply give you the $215 in cash. Why is this good? In fact, it’s a great deal. As I’ve mentioned before, in these qualifiers, first place is as good as whatever number of places they pay the free seats for. In this case, there were 69 players, and the first 6 all got the free seat. That means that you can come in 6th, which is way easier than 1st, and still get the full $215 in cash for the $21.50.

Anyway, I bombed out quickly, so $21.50 down the toilet to start the month.

Then I entered the normal $1.10 qualifier for my normal $22 nightly Omaha Hi-Lo. I spent a total of $4.10, and came reasonably close, but bombed out with no return.

At 2:45pm, I entered an $11 Omaha Hi-Lo tourney. 89 players, paying top 10. I had some serious ups and downs in this one. At one point, the overwhelming chip leader was moved to our table. He had 13k in chips, the second place person had something like 7k, and I had 4050 (to put it into perspective). I was in the big blind, and the chip leader limped in, everyone else folded.

Flop came 5c 4c 5d. I had 3s 5h Jh Kd. So, I flopped 3 of a kind, which is OK, but not awesome. Of course, there were only two of us, so it was a little better than just OK. He bet the pot, 750 chips. I raised the pot, which was 3000 (leaving me with 750). He thought for a second, and called. He had AA6T, three of them spades. This was bad call. Even if he didn’t think I had the 5, he had no clubs, and a bad low draw as well. He was likely to be facing the nut low (making a split the best he could get), and possibly a straight and flush draw as well.

Anyway, on the river, he luckily caught a low, and we split. He made many such horrible plays, but remained the chip leader for a very long time!

Cutting to the chase, we finally got down to 11 players (the infamous bubble). He had 2750 chips left (oh, what a surprise that he frittered away his chips!). I was in the big blind, with 800 chips in the pot. He went all-in, the small blind folded, and I called the remaining 1950 chips. He had a slightly better hand. The flop came 662. I had A448, double-suited, which is why I called in the first place. He had A23K. He was looking good on the low, at least. A J came on the turn (no low so far). Then the river brought the lovely 6. Not only no low, but I had a full house with my measly pair of 4’s. It was very satisfying to knock out such a knucklehead…

Now I was in the money, and he bubbled out. Truly cutting to the chase now, it was a fast and furious final table, and the cards really rolled my way. I was the chip leader from like 8 left down to 3 left, then I flipped into 3rd. But, quickly got some good cards again, and I won the tourney!

Got back $156 for my $11 entry. Woo hoo!

The tourney ended at about 5:20-5:30, which was 20-30 minutes after the big one started at 5pm. I played slowly and carefully in the big one, since I was already at the final table of this one, and I was feeling bird-in-the-hand phenomenon. 🙂 I’m glad I concentrated here first, because the $156 was a very satisfying win.

Once it was over, I turned my full attention to the big one. 901 entrants. They paid the top 100.

Lots of interesting hands, but I basically played most of them overly cautiously. A few notable exceptions, where people folded to my aggression. Here is a verbatim copy/paste of an emacs buffer where I was keeping statistics on where I was as the tournament progressed.

620 left, I am in 235th.
535 left, I am in 320th.
475 left, I am in 192nd.
395 left, I am in 246th.
280 left, I am in 257th.
251 left, I am in 178th.
197 left, I am in 183rd.
180 left, I am in 109th.
160 left, I am in 128th.
146 left, I am in 135th.
138 left, I am in 91st.
137 left, I am in 65th.
130 left, I am in 70th.
121 left, I am in 67th.
117 left, I am in 60th.
110 left, I am in 70th.
106 left, I am in 80th.
103 left, I am in 78th.
102 left, I am in 77th.
101 left, I am in 75th.

ONE MORE TO GO TO THE MONEY!

Finally made it, with 99 left, I am in 77th, now the “real”
play begins!!!

90 left, I am in 75th.
84 left, I am in 75th.
80 left, I am in 74th.

This was the next step up in money! 🙂

76 left, I am in 41st.
73 left, I am in 71st.
72 left, I am in 69th.
69 left, I am in 64th.

This was the next step up in money! 🙂

64 left, I am in 41st.
59 left, I am in 46th.

This was the next step up in money! 🙂

56 left, I am in 43rd.
53 left, I am in 45th.
49 left, I am in 43rd.

This was the next step up in money! 🙂

44 left, I am in 41st.
41 left, I am in 39th.
40 left, I am in 38th.

This was the next step up in money! 🙂

Finished 39th!

81-100 paid $300.

71-80 paid $400.

61-70 paid $500.

51-60 paid $600.

41-50 paid $700.

31-40 paid $900, which is what I got, for finishing 39th. Notice the nice extra jump of an additional $100 for this next level from the previous levels. Sweet! 🙂

So, like I said in the title, July starts off with a bang. Total profit for July, all earned today: +$1,017.90! It will be hard to give it all back in July, but I’ll do my best. 😉

June 2007 Poker Summary

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Well, there have been quite a number of poker updates in June, so I’m thinking of not doing exactly the same type of statistical update I normally do at the end of a month. Since I doubt any of my readers really care (I usually do it for myself, to have an easy place to refer to the history). If I’m wrong, drop me a comment, and I’ll go through the effort of categorizing number of tourneys, types, wins/losses, etc…

So, since I will meander a bit with some tales of this month’s playing, I’ll start with the bottom line, usually reserved for the end of the post. This way, people who are only checking in to see whether I’m a winner or loser for the month, can skip the rest of the post.

Two of my previous posts recorded the highs (profit-wise) of the month. The first articulated the peak of $493 for the month, and the second just mentioned that I was up $10 more (without specifically mentioning the figure $503!).

When I got back to NY on June 24th, I got to play a lot more poker in the last week. On some levels, it was great. On a purely economic level, it would have been nice to simply not have played. I gave back $177 during the week, which left June at +$325.79. That’s by far my best month since starting to report here on my blog, but hardly my best month ever.

Those not interested in stories or feelings about my play this month, should click away now. 🙂

First, a meaningless side-story. One of the most famous online poker players in the world is Mark Kroon, a bar owner from Madison, Wisconsin. He goes by the moniker P0ker H0 (those are zeros not the letter O). The site PocketFives.com used to have a nice profile on him, but the pages are now invalid. Here is a link to Google’s Cache of the page, but this will eventually go away as well…

I watch him play a fair amount, and he’s clearly amazing. He finishes in the money so often it’s mind-boggling. He also makes plays that appear to be insane much of the time, whether they work or not, but that’s part of his genius. Since people know that about him, he often gets called with the nuts, because people just assume he’s bluffing. He also often blows up, but who cares. When he makes the money, it’s more often a win than a minor cash. From what I can tell, he mints money online.

He also plays in some live tourneys, and I think he holds his own, though I don’t follow him enough, and he doesn’t make lots of televised final tables, so I’m not as familiar with his play in the real world.

So, why am I mentioning him? I have been playing on the same site with him for quite a while, and I’ve never been in a tourney with him. I watch him, but never run into him. Then, all of a sudden, one day in June, I’m playing in a $1.10 qualifier for my nightly $22 Omaha Hi-Lo tourney. Top 5 players get the free entry into the nightly tourney, 3 additional places pay small cash prizes.

When there were roughly 15 players left, I look at the leader board, and can’t believe it when I see that P0ker H0 is in first place. I had never seen him play in any Omaha tourney, let alone a $1 qualifier. Even the $22 nightly tourney would normally be below his typical limits, though I have seen him play in a number of $33 SnG tourneys (but Hold’Em ones).

We were playing at different tables, and his chip lead was big, but not dramatically bigger than the 2nd and 3rd place players. When we got down to 10 players, he and I were at the final table together, and I was one to his left (which is the best seat to be in against a player like him). At this point, he employed a strategy that makes sense in a normal tourney (meaning one with cash prizes that escalate for first place), but made no sense (to me!) in a tourney where 5th and 1st were identical payoffs. He was already practically guaranteed the free seat if he just folded every hand (which isn’t what I am advocating).

Instead, he raised every single hand the maximum amount, on every single betting opportunity! In a cash tourney, this can work well, as most people keep folding hoping he’ll knock others out. In this case, it’s remotely possible that he wouldn’t have made the money, and he had no advantage to accumulate more chips (which is the real point!).

Now, here’s the amazing thing. He won practically every hand. No, he didn’t have the best starting cards each time, it was just an amazing streak. By the time we got down to 6 players left (the “bubble”, where only one player doesn’t get the big prize), he had over 200,000 chips, and the second place player had around 30,000. Wow! When there were 8 players left, I was in 4th. But, when there were 6 players, I was in 5th. Sounds good since they pay top 5, but I was the next to be the big blind and then small blind, so unless I won one of those hands, and had the small stack lose his blinds, I would be out before him.

So, I ended up with a very good starting hand UTG, with P0ker H0 in the big blind to my right. Of course he was going to call any raise, but my raise wasn’t even 20% of the big blind, so even an idiot would have called me. He called, and my hand was way better than his. Of course, like with every other hand, the flop fit him perfectly, and missed me, and I was out in 6th. I got back $9 for my $3, so I tripled my money, but didn’t get the free seat. Of course, I won the right to forever tell a story about how P0ker H0 knocked me out on the bubble of a tournament. 😉

At night, I paid my $22 and busted out. The only interesting fact about that is that I lasted a lot longer than Mark did. He played as wildly as he did in the morning, and was one of the first ones out. Since I know for a fact that he’s an amazing player (even if he was also lucky in the one I played against him), I realized that he didn’t lose his mind in this one where he bombed out. One of his strategies is to either build up a big chip lead early (in which case he is a master at pounding people), or just bust out early and not waste time in the tourney. Not a terrible strategy at all!

Even though I gave back a meaningful proportion of my June winnings in the last week, I have no regrets. For sure, I played looser than I normally do. I really wanted to get a better sense of what a style change would feel like, and when better to do that than when you are up a nice amount for the month. I feel that I learned a lot, even though my typically more conservative style would have likely yielded a few more in-the-money finishes.

I feel that I have moved my game forward an inch. For those of you who are experienced poker players, don’t worry, I realize that this isn’t necessarily a permanent move forward, and I fully expect to regress many times for many reasons. 😉

Let’s end on a positive note. Every week, my site runs their big tournament at 5pm EST on Sunday. It’s a $200,000 guaranteed prize pool, with a guarantee of $45,000 for first place. I have never played in it, because it’s $215 to enter, and that’s just too big an amount for me to risk given my skill level and the size of the field. In other words, both skill and luck conspire against me in this one.

Only once have I entered a qualifier for this tourney, but that was a qualifier to get a free entry into another qualifier. It only cost me $1.10, and I bombed out.

Yesterday, for some inexplicable reason, I entered a direct qualifier (meaning, winning a prize in this one got you directly in to the big one). It costs $11 to enter, had unlimited rebuys in the first 30 minutes, and one add-on (which could be a double). I didn’t rebuy at all, and did the one double add-on. So, I invested a total of $31.

There were 81 entrants, with tons of rebuys and tons of add-ons, so it’s like playing against 150+ players. Top 15 got the free entry into tonight’s weekly big one. I finished 5th, so I’m playing today at 5pm. I have zero expectations of winning, and extremely low expectations of even finishing in the money (given that roughly 1000+ players enter every week), but I’m really looking forward to it anyway. P0ker H0 plays nearly every week too, but lots of the top players are currently in Las Vegas for the WSOP, so there might be fewer pros in the tourney tonight.

I could have beefed up my June results by counting that win. In other words, I put in $31, and technically, I won $215 (which I was forced to reinvest in the tourney tonight). So, I won $184. That would have brought my monthly total to over $500! That said, to be accurate, I would then have had to start July with a $215 loss if I didn’t cash tonight. That kind of accounting seemed cheesy to me, so I chose to record the $31 loss for yesterday’s qualifier and keep it all in June. If I win even a penny tonight, it will be recorded as a win in July, with no cost associated with it.

Here’s hoping I start the month off with a $45,000 win, which will likely guarantee me a profit in July. 😉