jcarver : origins, continued II
Well I’m not really shocked that I didn’t stick to my once a day promise. Sorry about that! There should be about 2 more updates to post, give or take, which’ll come over the next week or so. This update is the first one where I didn’t have graphs anymore and had to re-add them, which is going to hold true for all future posts so it’ll be a little slower going. The feedback I’ve gotten has all been real positive so I’ll try to get them out asap.
Part VI : The Big Climb
After my switch to No-Limit cash games I pretty much stopped playing anything else. I played primarily $1-$2 NL on Pacific during this time, with shots as high as $3-$6 on Party between April 15th and June 1st. I did a good amount of winning, taking down nearly $8400 in cash games for that 45 day period.
During this time, I had a forgettable short love affair with Pot Limit Holdem. In addition to winning $8400 at NL cash games, I won an additional $4300 at PL cash games, making my total for big-bet games over that 45 day period slightly over $12,000. My best session for the period happened in a $2-$4 PL game on Party where I played for 2 hours and 30 minutes and won a little over $2400 in profit.
Part VII : The House Always Wins…
By the start of June 2005, I had earned over $20,000 and played over 2,000 hours of poker. I had started primarily playing $3/$6 NL on Party (the highest Pacific had was $1-$2) and was looking to expand my game further. I started playing on Bodog, Eurobet (a Party skin, but I had rakeback there), SunPoker (crypto skin), and started to take stabs at $5/$10.
The biggest change for you readers during this time period is that I started in June recording some of my big hands – both wins and losses – at http://www.pokerhand.org. Very few of these have any actual true strategic content, but I’ll include a few from now on in these posts.
I am scooping the whole summer of ‘05 into one big segment because, quite frankly, it was three months of break-even frustration. I played $10-$20 NL once [this has to be the biggest game online at the time], because Moquel wanted to watch me (and I wanted to be a big shot!), and won $3000 when my AK sucked out on A9 on a 9-6-2-K-4. I left right after that hand and didn’t go back for the remainder of 2005.
The pattern in the summer for me was : run good, then run twice as bad – recover back to even, then suffer the same loss as before, putting me back in the hole. This happened time and time again over the summer. My MTT game started to suffer as I attempted to gain a big stack early rather than “bust out to bad beats later on” through gambling in what were, retrospectively, badly -EV spots. I got frustrated. My parents and other adults constantly pounded me with helpful advice such as “QUIT WHILE YOU’RE AHEAD!” and “YOU GOT LUCKY, BUT YOU KNOW, KID, THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS!”
Over the summer I also expanded my play away from Pacific more and more. I played pretty much every major site on the internet, in fact, so many that the pie graph can’t accurately display all the colors. The most played location is at the bottom of the list on the key to the right, and then listed in ascending order from there by most played:
The best part of my summer was my two trips to Turning Stone. The first time I went and played a few MTTs and $2-$5 NL. I won a few hundred at cash games and didn’t cash in any tournaments. I loved playing live, though. I went on that trip with Chuck and it was a pretty awesome time overall. I went back for the Empire State Championships in August. After that summer, I would try to take every opportunity to play live that I could.
Little did I know that as well as an inspiration to play live I’d pick up another gem from my time at Turning Stone. I went downstairs one night to the poker room, late – maybe 2am. It was surprisingly packed, and there were a lot of games going. I went over to the game I wanted to play (the $5-$5) and started watching the action. Nothing exciting was happening, so I decided to go play a satellite to something. I busted quick, but I met this guy up there who was pretty bad. Young kid, maybe 23. He informs me that he is staying in the same room as his “superstar friend” named Peter, but who is legally changing his name to Ace (truly a perfect tribute to one’s cardplaying skills). I hold back an incredulous laugh, not helped by my realization that I only knew one famous Ace before then:
Before I bust, this other guy comes upstairs (Ace and my tablemate’s mutual friend) to tell my tablemate here that Ace got challenged to a $1000 heads up match [WHOA]. After I bust out, I go downstairs with the mutual friend to investigate, and Ace is at the $5-$5 game I was watching before. Ace was a young, slick kid, cocksure, slightly arrogant, and definitely very stubborn.
Across the table from Ace sat a huge man. The two players are impossible to miss as their dramatic blowup is currently the focus of the entire room. The two are engaged in a yelling contest that I’ll never forget. Let’s call the huge antagonist something clever, like Fatty McGee. I’m standing in the line of fire behind Ace during this whole exchange. Fatty never lets Ace finish a point without interrupting [sounds like he'd fit in with my family]. I’m summarizing the whole thing, as there was a lot of plain boring swearing at eachother. Yes, hands were being played during this whole rated-R dramabomb at the table.
Fatty McGee: Fucking kids these days, fucking think they know everything.
Ace: I don’t think I know everything…
Fatty McGee: …just more than me, right, moron? Fucking loser kid thinks he can bully the whole god damn table!
Ace: I didn’t say that.
Fatty McGee: I hate fucking punk kids like you.
Ace: What, just because I won your money and you can’t win a pot?
Fatty McGee: Fucking kid! I’ve won pots so fucking big! SO FUCKING BIG! (wildly gestures) You want to play me for $1k?!
Fatty McGee, growling, somewhat rising from his seat: YOU FUCKING KID! YOU THINK YOU GOT BALLS? YOU WANT TO PLAY ME FOR TEN FUCKING GRAND YOU LITTLE SHIT? ILL FUCKING CRUSH YOUR FUCKING BALLS (he now dramatically slowly gestures like he’s crushing grapes with his hand, I swear to god) LIKE THEY WERE NOTHING! [it wasn't Mike Matusow]
Ace: But…but…I don’t have 10k to play you.
Fatty McGee over there starts to grin in triumph. I am honestly fucking LOVING this. The drama, the drama! Just when I think it can’t get any better, deus ex machina, some random kid who has been silent this whole time, says firmly, but quietly to our villain (loud enough for all to hear):
“I’ll give him $10,000 to play you.”
Fatty McGee shuts up and never says a word to Ace the rest of the session. A little while later, we started talking to Ace and the $10k kid [I have a feeling this guy is a current well-known name in online poker]. Both were very nice guys – even Ace did seem (surprisingly) knowledgeable, much more so than his idiot buddy who I met in the satellite room. We talked for 15 minutes or so, discussing lots of poker-related things. He eventually told me about this secret place he had been crushing – “Bodog” . He said that the games there were enormously juicy, especially the shorthanded ones, and he had won a TON of money there. I hadn’t played on Bodog before talking to Ace and made a note to check this place out.
While I was in TS, I decided to play in a $20 rebuy multitable satellite to the $2,000 main event. I had never played in a tournament with that big of a buyin and had no intentions of buying in if I didn’t successfully satellite. Somehow, my magic luckbox powers held up, and I was one of the 5 seat winners to the main event [this turns out to be the only live satellite I've ever won, and one of max 3 I've ever played].
The main event of the tournament itself was pretty awesome. I love playing live tournaments – it provides a thrill that for some reason most cash games don’t give me [apparently later on I felt the way the rectify this was to play cash games I wasn't remotely rolled for]. In the smaller events, I had felt comfortable, talking up a storm and owning each successive table until some unfortunate circumstance came about putting an abortive bullet into my dreams of glory. I went into the $2,000 event determined not to let my game plan differ from prior events.
Unfortunately, my plan didn’t work. At all.
I sit down, one of the first in the room at the bright and early 9am start time [Turning Stone start times are the worst]. First guy to sit with me at my table is Pete “thebeat” Giordano, a talkative mid-50s guy who is friendly but very good, made a WPT final table and is a very well known internet player.
Pete “thebeat” Giordano, an online MTT legend
OK, whatever. I can handle one pro with me, I thought. Next guy who sits is wearing an “Ultimate Poker Challenge” bracelet [lol on like 4 levels] which probably qualifies him as being decent (even though I don’t usually automatically equate MTT success to “decent at poker” [probably the wisest thing I've ever thought]). A few unknowns sit (who I find out later are regulars in the NL2K game on stars) and then an older guy sits who has decent results. His name is Al Krux [!]. He’s sitting two to my left. Great, I remember thinking. At least I’ll have a good story to tell when it’s all over. [this is an amazing paragraph]
There’s one idiot fucker sitting directly across the table from me, obviously a qualifier or rich fish. The guy to my right isn’t too wonderful either. I play conservatively for a few hours, watching Pete Giordano bust Al Krux on a Q-4-Q board with AQ vs Krux’ JJ (Krux was surprisingly passive, limping UTG and such quite frequently). Pete built up a nice stack and was very intimidating (he yelled “PAIR THE BOARD!” every time a flop, turn, or river was dealt that he was in) and bullied the table quite effectively. I lost a nice pot vs him at some point with 6-4 on what must have been a 7-5-9-J-8, or something, because I remember rivering the “not best” straight versus his “best” straight.
I get my chips in versus the one idiot across the table preflop [somehow] with my AK vs his J7 and he sucks out to a 7 on the river to bust me just a few hours in. I, in classic JCarver style, immediately begin the long drive home, but felt pretty thrilled overall with how awesome the trip was and was really motivated to play some more poker.
All in all, I won my seat to the $2000 main event, got to play with superstars Al Krux, Pete Giordano, and some other mildly famous people, made a lot of new friends, and for the first time, felt like a member of a tangible poker community. I was way outclassed in the tournament [I doubt it], but even though I busted early, I was intrigued and hooked by live play. I left TS in August totally psyched to play poker, inspired by the stories I had heard from my new friends about check-raising Doyle at the WSOP and bluffing guys for $20,000 pots on Ultimate Bet.
Perhaps Bodog would be the site where I would dig myself out of my downswing and back into profit land? Could this August trip to Turning Stone be the turnaround on my summertime journey towards the abyss of Frowntown? WOULD I EVER WIN A POT OF POKER AGAIN?