a blog wholly about POKER what?!?!?
I haven’t forgotten that I have not one, but two “TO BE CONTINUED” posts below this one. Well, this isn’t THE STUNNING CONCLUSION to either (but hopefully it won’t be a start of a new one), but I do have 3 rather long theory posts in various states of completion sitting waiting for me to do something with them. I did want to catch up with what was going on with me this week, though, as it’s been pretty busy, so you guys instead get a TRIP REPORT!
The past month has been sort of a blur. I went to LA for Commerce’s $10k, arriving the day that Vivek ended up winning the HU $10k, coming out of the loser’s bracket, no less. It’s hilarious (and awesome) that just a few days before he was debating whether to play it or not and said to me “well I’ll just play some 3/6 hu and then play it”. That was the extent of his “de-rusting”, and it speaks to his natural talents and intuition as a player that he can conquer such a tough field with relatively little experience heads up. He obviously ran really good to win, don’t get me wrong, but his mind is just on another level when it comes to poker than most people.
My $10K starting table was kind of tough – I had Nordberg, RainKhan, and PearlJammer all together with me. I don’t really remember many real interesting hands – there were very few – and I broke even for most of the day before getting moved to a new table and losing a flip to PokerVT Pro (I think?) Yevgeniy Timoshenko to get crippled. I ended the day with $4k at 250-500 or something, avg around 40k. That sucked.
I came into the next day with a “day” of pretty simple decisions ahead. I sat down to the right of tsarrast, who is on quite a tear these days online. I didn’t know anyone else, but some younger kid I didn’t know across the table was like SUP JCARVER NICE STACK JCARVER and I didn’t bother to find out who it was. This has happened to me a bunch on this trip and I guess it’s a result of PokerVT/CP intvw/Bluff article. I dunno if I like it or not, but whatever, I guess. Regardless of the trappings of my minuscule celebrity, I ended up running my stack back up to like 15k before getting coolered. Whatever.
I didn’t really do anything in LA other than go from the airport to Commerce. I don’t really travel much outside of the casino when I’m on trips – not really sure why, but my focus is usually just on poker and I don’t have much of a desire to do anything else. After we both busted the Commerce event, Adam Junglen and I got a limo from the Wynn to drive us from California to Vegas (because flying would have been a hassle, ok), costing us like $1500 but it was definitely worth it. It was a 4-5 hour drive, but went pretty quickly as I pretty much just played civ the whole time while Adam slept. Easy life.
After we got out of the car at the Wynn, the driver took our cash and then proceeded to give us the what I assume is an atypical warning about the “bomb sniffing dogs” the Wynn employs. We had no idea what he was talking about at the time (is he calling us terrorists??), but we eventually figured out what the driver meant. We didn’t have anything on us, but I guess it smelled like it as Adam had shared a room with THE shaun deeb for 2+ weeks, haha.
I ended up spending the next 3 weeks living at the Wynn. I shared a room with Adam for awhile then Vivek for the rest. I played maybe 8 events – one at the Venetian and then a bunch at the Wynn – whiffing all of them. I feel like I played better than I ever have before live, and I’m really confident it’s just a matter of time before I score something. I had a few stupid bubbles and needed to run good in a few key pots but didn’t – pretty standard stuff. Vivek suggested trying some different strategies the next time I play live which I’m looking forward to implementing – I’ll explain more once I give it a try.
There are a few interesting hands during the Wynn series, but I think for this blog, hilarious and awesome > interesting on a strategic level. One of my favorite ones from the trip : I open ATo from cutoff, older guy calls with a big stack otb. Flop comes Q22. I fire, he calls in rhythm. I plan on firing all turns. The turn comes a card, which I of course fire at. He takes awhile and calls. I had enough behind to fire a 3rd barrel if I wanted to, but I probably wasn’t going to on ALL rivers. The river comes down an A – certainly a good river for me to bet. The board is like Q227A. I pick a bluffy looking bet size of like 5/6 pot and fire it out there. The older man tanks for awhile, looking directly at me. I’m staring down at the table, unmoving. After awhile, mumbling a bit, he says to me directly, slowly, in a southern-ish accent “you have very nice blue eyes.” WTF? I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t there, haha. My eyes aren’t even blue! It was incredibly hilarious (awkward??), made even slightly more awesome by the fact that he called a few seconds later (obv he lost). Definitely one of my favorite hands ever.
The rest of the trip was pretty boring. The only time while I was in Vegas that I left a casino was to go to the PokerVT studios. BBCer StefanProdan got flown in to do some recording stuff in-studio after his big Sunday Million win. We recorded commentary together on his final table (the one stars puts up with holecards exposed) which I think came out really good. That should start airing this week, if what I’ve heard is true.
The last leg of my trip was my first ever stop in San Jose for Bay101. It’s a pretty cool event with a very unique structure – small level jumps, 1hr blinds, and obviously $5k bounties on certain players. Matt Savage is the best and I really like how he runs a tournament. I had a fun first table – eventual final tablist Kathy Liebert was my bounty, and we were seated with James “mig_com” Mackey. I’ve played with Kathy a ton over the years and I think she’s one of the nicer people on the circuit. She’s surprisingly competent at poker, too. I only knew mig by reputation (and in the FTOPS competition) prior to this event, but it was cool to meet him and talk a little bit.
Eventually mig busted which allowed bounty Allen Cunningham to take his place. Allen is an awesome guy and a really good player with an underrated sense of humor. I met Allen years ago at a FTP dinner at borgata with Leo right after his loss to Jamie and was struck then by his composure, thoughtfulness and outgoing personality. It didn’t seem he had changed much and it was cool to talk to him again after all these years and hear some of his insights on different pieces of news of the poker world.
As far as poker goes, I got off to a quick rush, getting to about $40K with $20K starting stacks before losing a $50K pot AJdd to A6 on a 66Qdd to put me about where I started. I ended up seesawing a few times before I got moved to another table and ended up reshoving 15bb into Aditya “intervntion” Agarwal in the last level of the day. Whoops.
The past week has been pretty good for me online at least. Last sunday, even though I ended up blowing my chip lead to Leo HU for a $12K WSOP ME seat, I managed to score a somewhat disappointing 2nd in the UB $200k. I’ve crushed that tournament – I think I’ve gotten like 8th-10th, then 3rd, 3rd, 1st, 1st, and now this 2nd. I have a pretty sick FT rate on UB – something like 13-14%. Insert potripper joke here, I guess. 2nd was good for $27K or so.
The very next day I managed to avenge my loss hu in the satellite by winning a WSOP ME seat in yet another shootout. It felt good to have some momentum going my way and was happy to see the cloud of seemingly-endless-result-destroying runbad start to fade away. In today’s sunday session, I got 3rd in a $150 on FTP for another $20k. Had I run a little better I would have been sure to win – I ended up losing A8 < A8, 33 < A3, and A9 < A3 all 3 handed for significant pots. That’s how it goes, though, and you can’t really lament it too much. I definitely have experienced more than my share of positive variance at final tables. The important thing is that I’m playing really well – better than I ever have before by a decent margin. I’m super confident, working hard, and hungrier than ever to keep killing tournament poker.
While sharing a room with Vivek at the Wynn, I commented to him that I was psyched it was Saturday night because tomorrow was Sunday tournaments. He laughed for a bit at that notion until he realized I was serious. Years after starting to play I’m still legitimately excited to play poker and put what I’ve been working on to use and get on the battlefields and do some crushing. I’m still devouring all I can, trying to improve, every day, and I’m pleased that I haven’t lost that feeling to burnout or distraction or boredom or whatever.
In regards to my student-search, I’ve started to back off from actively searching for prospects for a few reasons. I’ve contacted a few people whom I thought might make good students, and now, I’m waiting. I’m waiting for certain people to show initiative – to start playing more MTTs, approach me with theory, get PokerVT accounts and discuss stuff I say there, etc. My second reason is that my current protege, tommy, has become more amenable to higher levels of coaching – something I’m happy about as there’s a lot left that could be taught. We’ll see, though – I’m still interested in taking on another serious student, I just haven’t seen what I wanted to see yet from anyone. I’m not exactly sure what that is – but I think I’ll know it when I see it.