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. 😉