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JHDSS Main Event
March 21st, 2011 Poker 3,332 Comments »

The Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series Main Event is one of my favourite events of the year.  For a $550 buy-in you get a 3 day event, a decent enough structure, a pretty soft field and a pretty good prize pool.  I’ve played it twice for a 25th and a bubble, so I was pretty keen to get an opportunity to play again this time around.

I played Day 1b, with the mindset that I had a second shell to fire with the repechage on Saturday should I feel like playing again.

I arrived at my table to find Mat Hawker on my left and had to chuckle when I saw Nobbi Tanaka sit down to my right.  After some fun times against Nobbi in the 6-handed event, it would be nice to have position on him today.  I didn’t know anyone else at the table but there were a couple of faces that I’d seen before.

There was one Asian guy who decided he wanted to be table captain as he lagged it up pretty early.  I made a nice call down against him with ace-queen on a scary board, pretty early when he triple barrelled.  A few minutes later I gave some back when I called with KT on an AKx22 board.  It was a limped pot and I was in the small blind. The flop was checked, I check-called turn and river.  I knew he wouldn’t bluff me twice in a row, so I should’ve folded the river.  But I paid him off and he showed 2T – the only way he could win was with running deuces.  Sigh.

Nobbi was continually iso’ing the limptards, so I was trying to find a good spot to punish him for it.  When the cutoff limped, and Nobbi raised the button, I decided I was going to three-bet the small blind with any two cards.  I looked down at Kd7d which seemed reasonable enough.  It was 100/200 and he iso’d to 700.  I made it 2,100 but he came back over the top to 5,100.  My instinct was that he’s so full of shit, so often, that the right play would be to basically shove on him here with my entire range.  But I decided it was early enough to let it go.  It’s disappointing as my instincts were right, but I was just outplayed as Nobbi later told me he had Q7.

I lose a chunk of chips with pocket deuces on a baby board when I fold river, and next hand I find AQ under the gun and raise it up.  Mat Hawker is next to act and he three bets me.  I respect Mat’s game and he had been pretty solid up until this point.  I haven’t played with him before, and I know he grinds solidly online, but I guess I assumed his style was probably similar to my own.  I don’t often raise a full ring table light from UTG, so I wouldn’t normally 3-bet myself pretty light.  I didn’t want to call and play OOP, so I let it go.  He later told me he had As7s.  Owned again.  Sigh.

I didn’t find too many spots over the next few levels with my opens getting three-bet and my c-bets getting check-raised.  It was just one of those days where nothing stuck.  I was down to around 15BBs when Nobbi opened the cutoff and I shoved KdQd from the button.  He called with Ah8d and I spiked a queen on the flop, only for an ace to crush me on the river.

I was pretty frustrated but the next day, decided that it was worth raising some funds to take another shot.  Day 1c was the complete opposite to Day 1b.  I had a super-soft table full of nits, with Julian Cohen the only solid player on the table.  I had a Scandi on my left who was pretty bad, Michael Haddad who was good fun as usual but donked his chips off, and the rest were fish.

I called the Scandi down with ace-high in a blind versus blind and he showed queen-high, and I made a couple of other nice reads/calls to chip up a bit in the early stages.  With the blinds at 100/200, I opened to 525 with pocket kings and the Scandi called before Haddad moved all in (without looking at his cards) for around 5,000.  A nit in the big blind then moved all in for about 13k.  I wasn’t thrilled but I was never folding.  Scandi folded, Haddad showed Q4 and the nit had TT.  40k pot and of course the fkn ten hits the flop.  I was back down to 13k but kept chipping away.  I got a lot of good raising hands like QJ and KT in late position, and they just kept letting me steal their blinds.  Unfortunately the antes hadn’t yet kicked in, but I was happy to chip up and keep the table guessing.

Three times I raised with small pocket pairs, hit baby flops, and got called by fish with nothing but overcards.  Twice they hit their six outer, and the other, I called a guy down who had king-queen-high.  However everytime I’d chip up, I’d have something go wrong and get knocked back down.  I rivered two pair in a pot against a fish who already had a bigger two pair.  I thought for a moment about donk value-betting the river but I checked and for some reason he checked behind to thankfully save me some chips.  I then had pocket queens and had to fold on the river to heavy action on an ace-high board.

A failed bluff attempt against a super-nit put me back down to around 8,000 when I picked up AA in the big blind.  Two limps at 200/400/50 and I made it 1,200.  They both called and the flop was 678.  I bet, got check-raised, shoved and he snapped with 9T.  Game over.

I learnt a lot on Day 1b on a tough table, while there was nothing I could do on Day 1c after having AA, KK and QQ all cracked.  It’s been a tough few months poker wise, so I’ll be taking a little break with a few events coming up that I’ll be working at.  Hopefully a little run-good is around the corner.

However the week wasn’t a lost cause as I was able to rail Josh “procession” Bell onto 3rd place in the Main Event.  Well done mate!

Next stop Perth!

Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series – Prelim Events
March 17th, 2011 Poker 43,631 Comments »

So this week was the Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series at Crown Casino. It was the sixth instalment of the popular low-limit series and one of my favourites to play. The buy-ins are a perfect level for me, the fields are usually extremely soft as most of the interstate pros don’t travel to play it, and the structures are pretty good. They do get pretty shallow later on in the tournament, but you get plenty of gameplay for your buck so it’s pretty hard to complain.

Before heading over to the Crown Casino in Melbourne, I’d decided to play the $340 Terminator and $340 6-Max and then maybe some of the cheaper midday $180 events if I felt like playing. I’d also play the Main Event later in the week.

First event was the $340 Terminator event which I’d gone very deep on the last two occasions at the JHDSS, only to cop a couple of rough beats late. We got a 15k start bank and 30 min levels, so there was plenty of room to move. Trung Tran was the only notable on my starting table, but I started off by dropping 1,000 on the first hand of the tournament and pretty much went South from there. Not much went right, at all. Took a pretty bad hit when I raised AJ from early position and found one call from your generic old-school live player to see a J87 flop. I bet flop, then check-called turn and river for him to show me T9.

A few hands later there was a limp from the cutoff into my small blind. I completed with K9 and after a flop check around I check-called two streets on an AKxxx board. Of course the cutoff had “craftily” slowplayed his AA. WP sir.

Down to around 12BBs, action folded to the SB who completed and I shoved A4s in the BB. He thought for a moment and called with QJo. I guess the $100 bounty was too much to resist. Queen on the flop and I’m out around 110th of 156.

A few days later and got talked into playing the $340 8-Game Mixed Event. I used to play a fair bit of HORSE but haven’t played much PLO or 2-7, so I planned to tread lightly in those games. Turns out I knew 2-7 better than most. lolz. Within the first 6 hands we saw someone raise with high cards (it’s lowball dude), showdown ace-high (ace is high not low dude) and then a straight (straights count dude, or and before you play another hand, so do flushes). lolz.

I didn’t lose a single pot for the first two hours, only chopping one pot during the Stud H/L round. Unfortunately as solid as I was early on, it was the complete opposite for the next two hours where not much went right. I got outdrawn in three 2-7 hands, and rivered in PLO. I made one mistake in Stud H/L where I put in a third bet with a low draw and bricked.

In the end I made my last stand with 2345J in 2-7. I tossed the J and drew a 5. Tossed the 5 and drew a Q. Tossed the Q and drew a K. GG. Roughly 30th out of 56.

The next day was the event I was most looking forward to with the $340 6-Handed event. I love having a six handed event at that price range but surprisingly it only got 105 runners. I arrived a few minutes late to the casino and was pretty sick to see Nobbi Tanaka on my direct left. Probably the most hyper-aggressive player in the field. Sigh. Fortunately I knew how he played, and I suspect he didn’t know much about me. I was able to get a couple of 4bets in against his aggression to keep him in check, but unfortunately things didn’t go so smoothly around the rest of the table. I tried to triple barrel Jimmy Ghobrial off what I perceived as a flush draw – I was right except that the running aces gave Jimmy trips to go with his flush draw and he quickly called me down.

I found myself down to around 4,500 of my original 15k start bank with only about 20BBs. This was a level I pretty much maintained for the next few hours as I continually chipped up and held my spot without anything too special happening. I got one double up with AJ vs Nobbi’s 99, but he quickly got it back when his QJ paired up against my A8.

Andrew Scott and James Potter joined the table to make it a little tougher, but we were the next table to break. Nobbi 4bet himself into Andrew’s pocket aces, and I pretty much stayed out of trouble, other than getting berated for my min-raising!

We then broke to a new table where I sat with Manny Stavropoulos as we inched closer to the money. I doubled up with QQ against Manny’s 66, before flopping a flush in a battle of the blinds and getting three streets of value. I got myself up to around 90k at 1200/2400 which was about as deep as I’d been since the start of the tournament. I was above average with 20 left and 12 finishing in the money.

I raise-folded KTo preflop to a young Internet kid’s 3-bet, before a few hands later he opened the button into my big blind and I looked down at AsJs. In hindsight, I should’ve just called to keep things small ball and see a flop, but I wanted to give the impression that perhaps I was just playing back at him light, so I 3bet him pretty big. If he 4bet, I was ready to jam, but he surprisingly just flatted.

This indicated to me that he was intending to “outplay” me post-flop, with perhaps some sort of marginal holding. The flop was a draw-heavy QhJd6h. There’s lots of ways I could play this, but at the time my thinking was that I wanted to get the last bet in. If I c-bet and am raised, it’s pretty yuk. But if I check, I’m certain he’s going to be aggressive and bet. I can then check-raise shove which looks strong and shuts out a lot of the draws which he is likely to have on that sort of flop. Unfortunately he snap-called with QTo and the board bricked out. I don’t really like his call preflop, and there are like two hands (AK and AJ) that he beats on the flop, but I guess once he flops top pair he kinda has to go with it.

It was a disappointing end after I’d fought back from the short stack. I don’t mind so much how I played the hand, but perhaps I didn’t need to let the pot get so big preflop, when I had a decent stack to work with and continue to chip away small ball towards the money.

So I was 0/3 in the prelims before the Main Event in the Crown Casino on Friday. Hopefully I can turn it around for the big one!

World Blogger Championships of Online Poker
January 23rd, 2011 Poker 12,435 Comments »
Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.

Registration code: XXXXXX 089256

A Little Rush
January 23rd, 2011 Poker 8 Comments »

So after a little break from playing poker, I jumped back into some Rush Poker this week on Full Tilt. Rush Poker is poker on crack, played at warp-speed as you jump from one table to the next without a moment to catch your breath. Multiply that by four tables, and it’s the illusion of utter chaos. 800 hands an hour. I played a six hour session and churned out 5,000 hands – more hands in one session than I have been able to achieve in some previous months.

It took a while to adjust to the style of 6-max cash again after playing exclusively HU for the last 10 months. I found myself calling too light and generally spewing. So I tightened up the reigns, and when you throw in the ridiculous amount of rakeback, it’s probably a good option for me with my limited playing schedule.

While there are plenty of regs there, there’s still plenty of value. I mean, check out this hand from today’s session. I flatted AK in position as there were some aggro players in the blinds, so I was trying to induce a squeeze. I’ll sometimes call in position with big pairs/hands, and sometimes I’ll 3bet. This time I flatted and, well, I was clearly outplayed.

***** Hand History for Game 27515407446 ***** (Full Tilt)
$100.00 USD NL Texas Hold’em – Saturday, January 22, 07:40:59 ET 2011
Table Afterburner (6 max) (Real Money)
Seat 1 is the button
Seat 1: HERO ( $124.95 USD )
Seat 2: vengeneance ( $100.00 USD )
Seat 3: Medicine4Goat ( $120.05 USD )
Seat 4: Rosavita 66 ( $39.30 USD )
Seat 5: supermarsch ( $57.00 USD )
Seat 6: kenpokershiro ( $71.10 USD )
vengeneance posts small blind [$0.50 USD].
Medicine4Goat posts big blind [$1.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to HERO [ Kd Ac ]
Rosavita 66 folds
supermarsch folds
kenpokershiro raises [$3.50 USD]
HERO calls [$3.50 USD]
vengeneance folds
Medicine4Goat folds
** Dealing Flop ** [ 7s, Ks, 4h ]
kenpokershiro bets [$4.00 USD]
HERO raises [$12.00 USD]
kenpokershiro raises [$63.60 USD]
HERO calls [$55.60 USD]
kenpokershiro shows [2h, Th ]
HERO shows [Kd, Ac ]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 9h ]
** Dealing River ** [ 8h ]
kenpokershiro wins $140.70 USD from main pot

100k Hands In The Books
January 13th, 2011 Poker 31 Comments »

So I have just wrapped up my 100,000 hands of heads-up cash games. It took me roughly ten months to complete which isn’t great, but considering I’ve travelled/worked a lot more this year than I thought, and the distinct lack of action available in the second half of the year, I guess it’s understandable.

During that time I started out at $0.25/$0.50 and played up to $2/$4, exclusively heads up, across a variety of sites including Everest, iPoker, Microgaming and Party Poker.

I start out by smashing $0.25/$0.50 and $0.50/$1.00 but was a steady loser at $1/$2. I continued to learn and improve and decided to move up and leave $0.50/$1.00, where I was a winner at over 21BB/100 over nearly 40k hands. At that point I managed to turn things around at $1/$2 with some better game selection. I was smashing the fish, but occasionally I’d run into a reg and combined with a few horrible run-bad sessions, I’d give it all back.

At the 85k hand mark it looked like I was going to reach my $ goals, as I was unstuck at $1/$2 and winning at $2/$4, but unfortunately the last 15k hands were the worst of my life. I had my biggest ever losing day (by almost double) and followed that up the next day with my second biggest ever losing day. It was a numbing experience. I don’t think I ever emotionally recovered from those two sessions as I floundered my way to the finish line, giving back a lot of the hard work I’d done in the previous nine months.

Overall I made nearly 7,000BBs in 100k hands, which is profit I guess, but certainly well short of my goals setting out in this challenge.

I’m going to take a little break from poker for a while to shake some of the run bad and get my motivation back. I have learnt a lot about my game during the challenge, and my post-flop skills have improved. I’ve also learnt (learning) how to deal with the swings and variance, and when is best to play. Poker is so much mental, it’s something I really need to work on to make sure I only play when I really feel up to it.

The Year That Was
December 30th, 2010 Poker, Travel 77 Comments »

A long and rather tiring year has come to an end. It didn’t go as expected, but that’s not a negative. My year just headed in a different direction than I originally thought. My plan was to play more, but I ended up working more events than playing.

Here’s what I wrote on PokerNetwork at the start of the year:

My 2009 started with me winning a seat into the Aussie Millions Main Event and then the APT Manila before the first month had passed. I proceeded to bust out of the AM before the dinner break on Day 1, and then managed to bust in Manila in 40 minutes.

At that point I still considered myself a cash game player, and wanted something to motivate me in tournaments, especially live where I hadn’t cashed in anything of significance. Ducky came up with a prop bet of first to 10k in cashes which gave me the motivation to turn my attention to tournaments which I am thankful for. I didn’t particularly enjoy the variance compared to cash games, and still don’t, but I put time and volume into MTTs online, despite struggling to break even.

In March I then grabbed my first decent live cash with a deep run in the JHDSS Main Event. I finished the rest of the challenge online and won the side bet.

In around April-May, I turned a $16 sub-satellite into a $215 satellite entry for the ANZPT in Melbourne. There were two seats up for grabs, and when three-handed my QQ held up against KJ to win a seat. Ironic how QQ would haunt me later. The other chap who won a seat in that satellite was some poor sod called grunter321. Has a future that kid.

The ANZPT Melbourne event itself was an unbelievable three days. I remember talking to Ducky the night prior to it starting, and saying how awesome it would be to finish Day 1 with 100k. I ended up with 210k. I ran like God until heads up when that QQ would end up giving me nightmares as it lost to Chris Levick’s AJ for the title. I hope I one day get that opportunity again.

I went to Vegas for work and didn’t play any WSOP events this year. I was offered an opportunity to play the WSOP Main Event but turned it down for various reasons. One of my goals for 2010 is to win my way into the WSOP Main Event.

I won a seat into the ANZPT Queensland and had another deep run but missed the money. This was the most enjoyable event of the year for me, and another goal for 2010 is to qualify into as many ANZPT events as possible, as I think the tour is brilliant.

The last few months have been rather brutal, as variance got hold of me. I had some deep runs at JHDSS3 but swung bad at the wrong times, and didn’t cash, and then struggled online. But its a funny game as the last two days have been really good, and today I hit my biggest online MTT score to get myself back in the black. It’s been an amazing 2009 and exceeded all expectations, so I look forward to 2010.

2010 goals:
– Continue to put in good online volume
– Reach more online FTs and four/five figure cashes
– Get inside PLB Aus Top 100, then top 50
– Forget about cash games, maybe just play live for fun
– Play Aussie Millions Main Event
– Win into multiple ANZPT events
– Play WSOP Main Event
– Bring home a trophy!

Well I’m at pains to say that I achieved pretty much zero of my goals. Yay for goal setting! In March I received an offer for heads-up cash game coaching/staking which I accepted. For the most part it has gone really well. I’ve learnt a lot and improved considerably post-flop. It looked like I’d reach my profit targets when December started off at a record-setting upswing. Unfortunately it then spiraled out of control in a record-setting downswing that was twice as large as the upswing with my two biggest losing days ever. As such I’m floundering my way to the end of my 100k hands goal.

Is 100k hands in nine months good volume? Not really, but considering I’ve worked way more events this year than I anticipated, I guess it’s acceptable. After working my third WSOP in July, I received an offer to work the ANZPT/APPT events for PokerStarsBlog. This has been a really refreshing switch to work with such a well-respected and well-managed company. So this has meant that I qualified and played in exactly zero ANZPT events this year. Fail #2. It was pretty hard working the ANZPT Melbourne event when the year prior I was sitting there playing heads-up for the title. The good news is that there are so many tournaments on nowadays that I don’t mind missing the ANZPTs for now as I can easily get my fix of play time in other tournaments if I wish.

Since I was playing HU cash for most of the year, I didn’t play too many MTTs. I still play Mondays when I get the chance, as infuriating as it can be. I swear it’s shaving years off my life. I picked up the odd four-figure score but nothing major, and nothing close to five-figures. I really have to rectify this if I want to be profitable in MTTs online. My ITM% is good, but just too many min-cashes and not enough deep runs or big scores.

I won’t be playing the Aussie Millions Main Event this year which is also disappointing. But I really haven’t put in any effort into qualifying so it’s no surprise. If I ever get back into a fuller playing schedule then this is definitely a huge goal for the future, as well as the WSOP Main Event. I won’t be working the WSOP again, as it’s just too brutal, so that definitely opens the door to playing in future.

Still no trophy in the cabinet (sigh) but was proud to finish 3rd in the State of Origin event during the year in a super tough field. Again, if I play a fuller schedule then this definitely remains a goal.

So while I didn’t reach any of my playing goals in 2010, I certainly picked up plenty of work opportunities and was able to travel to some great places which was awesome. Cebu was the absolute highlight of the year and I can’t wait to go back, while it was also great to goto Darwin for the first time, and return trips to the Gold Coast and Macau. Perth and Queenstown are on the radar for 2011 as I’ve never been there before.

In 2011 I expect to be playing less, so maybe that means it will turn out that I’ll actually end up playing more! The December downswing has left me needing a break from playing and once I finish off the 100k HU hands, I expect to leave poker alone for a while. I’ll be pretty busy working at the ANZPT/APPT events again this year, and I want to make more use of my downtime in between events to work on other projects and enjoy some things away from poker.

I think it’s important to get prepared for life after poker.