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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

To play or not to play, that is the question...

Big or small, it's been a month of winning sessions, so I've got that goin' for me... which is nice. Job questions are coming in from all fronts. Did you hear about that last job interview? Would you take a job with so-and-so? Are you gonna go on anymore interviews?

I don't know.

I don't know.

I don't know.

I'm making $24 an hour playing poker live here in the good ol' metropolitan area of Richmond. Extrapolated out, that means that I make $2400 a month in the 100 hours or so of live poker I get in playing around here. If I took a position with any of the companies I've been interviewing with I'd probably make in the neighborhood of $32,000 per year starting out. After you factor in taxes I'd probably bring home about $1875 a month working 160 hours or more a month.

To make it as a successful player and still live in Richmond, I have to go back online and start winning consistently at limit. It seems like 2BB/100 is the statistical standard of success. So assuming I could be a winning player at 5/10 limit for the sake of the mathematics, that's $20 per hour and multiplied by four tables it's $80 per hour. Adding in 25 hours of online play each week for another 100 hours of poker a month, that's $8000 at the assumed hourly rate. Putting together both take home numbers, that is $10,400 per month in income or $124,800 annualized. After tax consideration, that take home should be around $7200 per month.

So the heart of my dilemma revolves around the following: I am already making as much or more playing poker live at part-time job hours as I would getting any of the full-time jobs I had been interviewing for.

For the record, my heart still leans toward playing poker for a living.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Another big fish got away on Tuesday night but I still managed to double my buy-in once again. Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a karmic payback in poker once you've accumulated a ridiculous number of beats in one location. I had pocket kings and got my pre-flop raise called by Rob. Flop came Queen high with two spades, all the money got in and Rob turned over 64 of spades. He had bottom pair and the draw, I had the King of spades. Rob was favored and so I simply asked the dealer to put two spades on board as nicely as I could and wouldn't you know it, spade-spade. Who knew it was that easy? I think I might have to start just asking for my cards everytime.

After the session spent about ninety minutes talking poker with Don covering some of the interesting aspects of your regular game. Don is a very solid, tight player and brought up an intriguing difference in how players approach the two of us. I'm a very agressive player, playing a lot of pots with lots of raises. I also show a lot of hands, anything from 52 offsuit raised from early position to the stone cold nuts. As such, I get a lot of action in some of my hands but still manage to move people out and pick up a lot of pots with nothing. Don, on the other hand, believes he is universally cursed to get sniffed out when he's making a bluff. Of course the flip side of that coin is that he gets paid off on his good hands nearly every single time, and more often than not, a good hand is exactly what he has.

I spent the last day or so trying to figure that out but I can't really come up with a good reason. Logic would seem to dictate that he would be able to pick off more pots because of his tight table image and I would get called down because of my tendency to show more bluffs. The only discernable thing I could come up with is fear. I think I may have ingrained in these players that on any given hand all my money might be going into the middle and if they want to sniff out a bluff they are going to have to pay everything to find out. All in all, it's something interesting I'll be paying more attention to in the next few weeks.

I also went back and re-read my posts from the beginning which was an interesting look at my poker development. Although a prolonged losing streak from the end of March through the beginning of May prevented my World Series trip, my more long term goal of my first $10K bankroll is nearly a third complete. There is a trip to Atlantic City upcoming which well also hopefully be a boon to the bankroll, so the goal for the end of year I think is going to be getting it up to $6K. My game is still improving at a good pace but it's also bringing me to another critical decision time.

For all intents and purposes I have been playing poker for a living for about five months now. Originally I was out interviewing for jobs but it was a tough haul at first with that and now the interviews are not even on my radar. I love playing this game, getting better at this game and challenging myself to compete at a higher and higher level. But I've basically gotten to the point where I either have to start heading back towards that "real world" or give up all pretense of anything else and devote myself to being a poker player. And if that ends up being my decision, do I want to be an "internet pro" with a few regular live games or do I take the plunge and head somewhere where the live games are always available? There's still a lot of improvements to the game that need to be made before I would ever consider moving but it's certainly something that wasn't really even on my radar and suddenly is.

There's no doubt that this life is certainly not simple and the truth to the adage that it's a hard way to make an easy living becomes more apparent with each session. When you start to realize that one of the keys to success is the monotony making you so numb that AA feels the same as 26 offsuit, you begin to appreciate just how much love you need to have to keep plugging away. Of course a few of these guys I've been playing with for these months are in similar predicaments to me, so maybe we'll all just say the hell with it and move to Vegas together. Move over, Crew... well, I shudder to think what name would apply to us, so we'll just leave it at that.

A few more hours until "work" but I have some things to sort about Norman Chad in tomorrow's post. So nice to have the 2005 Series on now...

I'll leave you with the following bit of advice: Go see Wedding Crashers now.

Monday, July 18, 2005

This life ain't easy...

I had typed out nearly an entire post the other day but just before I finished it I realized what a whine-fest it had turned out to be, so it got scrubbed. Last Thursday was one of the toughest days of poker I've played. I got well over twenty pocket pairs over the course of the session and felt like I was involved in almost every hand. And the suckouts... oh, the suckouts. I was on the receiving end of every manner of them before finally sucking out on someone else at the end of the evening to finally turn a profit. Thirty bucks. Eight hours of work for thirty bucks but it's a helluva lot better than being down three hondo.

There was plenty else to be happy about though because I think I played nearly flawless poker. I set up my plays well, my traps all worked and of the bazillion times I was all-in, I only got my money in as the underdog once... and won. Strange how that works out sometimes. The one play I will relate easily moves into my top three reads so far in this short career. It was later in the evening and I had received pocket pair number twenty two, eights, in the cutoff. There were a few limpers early, a raise from middle position and then I raised again. Folded to the guy under the gun and he limp-pushes all in for another $80. It folds all the way around to me and I have to laugh as I once again am in a situation like this for about the fiftieth time that night.

The guy was a new player to the game so I didn't have a lot of experience to go on with him but I was pretty sure that he wasn't good enough to have made that play properly with Aces or Kings. I also figured that with any strong to medium pair he would have raised the first time action was on him. So I start eyeing him up a bit, trying to put a bit of pressure on him. I'm talking out loud about how the hand progressed watching him the whole time as he's sitting back in his chair trying to look relaxed. Then I look down at his chest and the kid isn't breathing. He's literally sitting there holding his breath. Um, thank you very much, sir.

"I call."

He turned over pocket sixes to my eights. Since I'm resisting the temptation to post any more bad beat stories, let's just say I didn't end up taking the pot. But it was one hell of a read.

Last night went a little better for me. I had decent cards again and this time was able to avoid most of the nasty donks at the table. I missed a few opportunities here and there but can't be unhappy with a $300 profit. For the last hour we played $1/2 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo which is fast becoming my favorite game. Since I know some of my fellow bloggers are Hi-Lo aficianados I want to post two hands that came up and ask for some analysis/help.

In both situations the game is five handed:

Hand #1:

AAK3, AK suited in hearts. I'm on the button and everyone limps in front of me and I pot and get three callers. The flop comes 578 rainbow and it checks around to me and I bet half the pot, $20 and get called in two places. Pot size is now $100.

The turn is a 10 putting a club draw on board. It checks around to me again so I stay aggressive and bet half-pot again and get called in both places, pot size now around to $250.

I figure player number two for having flopped the straight as he is somewhat inexperienced in the game and is too happy to call to be just drawing at something. The other player I'm figuring for a low, but I don't think it's the nuts so now I'm worried about a quarter. The turn bet puts player two all-in so now any river betting is just between seat one and myself. The river is a brick and I check and so does he. Immediately I realize that I've probably made a mistake.

Should I have pushed the rest of my chips in on the river?

Turns out he had A3 low as well and my Aces had him beat on a high. If I had pushed on the river I would have taken 3/4 of the side pot as well as my quarter of the main pot. I'm pretty sure I should have pushed in on the river but I'm curious to hear others' thoughts on this.

Hand #2:

Last hand of the night, I have 589J double suited in red cards. We all take the flop with a preflop raise to $10 and the flop comes down 10 9 3 rainbow. It checks around to me and I bet half pot and get called by three, so now the pot is $125. The turn is a 5 and puts a club flush draw on the board. It checks around to me again and I bet $50 with the open end straight draw and two pair. I get called in two places this time and the pot is at $275.

At this point I'm really not sure where I'm at. It's possible someone has now picked up a low draw and a club draw. I'm feeling like one of them must have hit trips on the flop to stay with the betting to this point. The river card is the Queen of spades. Seat one pushes all-in for $200.

Dammit. Seat two goes in the tank forever. The whole time he's thinking I'm trying to analyze the hand. I've made my queen high straight, but it's only the second nuts. Seat one can be a very crazy player and makes ridiculous draws sometimes. Because a flush draw came out on the turn I can't write him off having KJ in his hands for the nut straight but I'm feeling like he's being agressive. But with the guy in seat two going in the tank in such obvious distress I figure he's made the same hand I have, the queen high straight. There's just nothing else to be this distraught over. So if he calls I feel like I have no reason to call because at best we're splitting it three ways and getting our money back, at worst I'm putting in two hundred more to try and get $80 back and losing $280 to King-Jack. The EV just seems very, very negative to me in this situation. If he folds, it's pretty much the same, but I feel more inclined to call than if we're three ways.

Finally, after about six minutes, seat two pushes his $200 into the middle and I muck. Seat one turns over a Queen high straight and seat two turns over a bottom end straight. He was tired and thought there was a low also which is why he pushed in, so the whole pot ships to seat one.

That one hurt my feelings a little bit.

So any and all comments/analysis are appreciated.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Party: Day Two, Destruction at Vollmer and Greg "Fuckin'" Raymer...

Alright, so as last we left it, Cornholio went back over the fence and Rick and I put in a couple more hours of drinking before passing out. Wake up the next day and head out to purchase a basketball hoop for their pool. The following hours would prove it to be a solid addition to their home. So an afternoon of drinking, basketball and general tomfoolery follows before the real party gets underway. Did I mention the hot women yet? Yeah, hot women... everywhere... in bikinis.

Eventually the beer pong table gets broken out again and the inevitable domination that comes from the juggernaut known as Rick and Rossi. Throughout the course of the evening we ran our record to 62-0 over the last three parties held at the house. It's sad how little competition there is. Luckily, there are foolish people who are willing to lay it on the line and make bets with us on the outcome. Hot Girl #1, Trish, an avid Yankees fan, decides to make a wager with Rick (avid Mets fan) that ends up with her wearing a "Fuck the Yankees" shirt for the rest of the party. She had been talking smack all afternoon and continued to do so even after donning the shirt. This led to a rematch and this time her partner was Hot Girl #2, Katie. When pregame discussions of a follow-up wager commenced I had a lot of faith in Rick to man up, but as usual, he failed me. In listening to his ramblings on stupid bets involving the Yankees I finally interrupted to make the bet that is supposed to be made in this situation. We lose, Rick and I don your bikinis (yeah right), we win and the hot girls have to open mouth kiss. Agreed. I'm not above promoting lesbianism by hot women at any chance I get.

Rick and I win that game in about four and a half minutes, Katie and Trish didn't even rack it. We should have enforced the naked run on top of the wager but two hot girls kissing will generally make you forget rules for a bit. A short time later our reign is interrupted by Rick's white trash neighbor across the street threatening girls coming into the party because they parked on the public street in front of his house. A couple of unmentionable words, threats and calls to the police later, the situation is at a standstill. White Trash Willy proceeds to sit on his porch, shirtless, drinking a beer and smoking a cig just watching the party. Waiting for an opportunity to... I don't know what he was waiting for actually. There were about 20 guys at that party and almost every one of them was bigger than Willy. He was definitely dominated in every fashion.

All in all, it was an enjoyable trip up to Vienna. The next weekend brought a poker tournament that I was supposed to play in with Don. Unfortunately Don forgot to call and reserve our spots so we got stuck on the waiting list and didn't get in. Way to go, Don. We watched the first two levels before grabbing some lunch and it only served to make me more upset that I wasn't able to play with the assorted donkies that were populating this tournament. A quick example: Shortstack moves all-in and gets called in two places. The two remaining players check to the river where finally this one donkey bets and makes the other player fold. Turn over the cards and donkey had QJ offsuit, for you guessed it, Queen high nothing. Shortstack turns over Ace high and wins the pot. The folded hand would have won. Shortstack ends up winning the tournament. And he was a far worse player than the donkey who saved him.

End up playing in the $1/2 No Limit game that night and I had heard a lot about how solid the play was here. So I come out playing careful and limp in 45 suited in late position and flop comes 355. I bet out, get raised, reraise and she moves me all-in. I really don't like having to make this call but I move in and she turns over 25, the only hand I'm ahead of. Of course the only way I win this pot is if a four comes on the turn or river, and it did. Yahtzee! $80 to $160. Drag another decent size pot a couple hands later when I outkick the same woman on middle pair. $160 to $215. A few hands later I limp Q10 of hearts in middle position with about six people to the flop and hit the nuts. I check it and the turn produces an 8 as well as putting two flush draws on the board. Mike, a local guy who plays for a living, checks, Don bets out $11, I call and Mike check-raises to $33. Don folds and I move all-in knowing there is really no way for him to believe I have the straight. Finally after a lot of counting of pot-odds he calls and shows trip eights. The river doesn't pair the board and I double up again, $450. I proceed to get hit in the face with cards for the next couple of hours before I finally have to cash out long before I want to as I am completely exhausted for some reason. End result, $750 on my $80 buy-in, not too shabby.

To cap off, Greg Raymer is putting on a ridiculous move at the Main Event, and if he gets anywhere near the last three tables it will be one of the best accomplishments in tournament poker, ever. I can't wait to see these events on ESPN in the next few months.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

This is not a poker post...

So Friday night I head up to my northern Virginia to Rick's house. Naturally, the bastard passed out so I had to delve into my seldom used ancient native American roots to track the path to his house. I finally arrive at his place around 11:15pm, get him up and we head off to 7-11 to get some beer before it's too late. Once we get back to the house we realize that we don't have enough cups to play pong with, so back in the car to 7-11 we go. This time when we pull up the owner has some interesting looks for us but by midnight we are all set to get the game underway. We step out into his backyard and are heading up to pull the pong table into place when we pass by a gap in his fence. Suddenly, a head pops up in the blackness and asks if it can come over the fence for a minute. We look at each other quizzically but tell the guy that he can.

This goofy kid pops over the fence with some story about how he's visiting his grandma next door and she told him there were some college kids that live here now and usually party on the weekends. He was going to tell us to try and keep it down, but maybe did we mind if he just hung out for a bit? Uhhhhhhhh, sure. We gather the pong table and start setting it up and he asks us, "So you guys are playing pong?" Scene from Animal House flashes into my head, unfortunately, Dorfman didn't disappear this time when we gave him a funny look.

We start chucking the rock and we're about a minute into a game between Rick and I when this kid suddenly pipes in with, "Have you guys ever played a game called Cornhole?" Everything stops. Now, I don't know what happens in the backwoods of Kentucky or wherever the fuck you're from, kid, but where I come from if you suddenly appear out of the dark of night and then ask two strangers if they've ever played Cornhole before, it's grounds for getting beat down. Or at least for me thinking about it. And then staying with my back as close to the wall as possible.

Apparently while I was inside filling up water cups I missed the part where this clown was telling Rick about being sober for 67 days now, but I walk out to him cracking his first beer which should complete most all the information about this kid you need to know. He's 21, got three DUI's in two weeks, kicked out of his fraternity for being a general fuck-up (again, big blinking warning sign when a fraternity kicks you out for being a fuck-up) and apparently is very into some game called Cornhole. Well Cornhole goes from zero-to-drunk in about eight minutes. As soon as he finished his second beer he's stumbling all over the patio and now I'm wondering at what point we're going to have to fish him out of the pool when he falls in.

There's more incoherent ramblings for a while, something about him wanting to live in his grandma's house when she finally croaks (his words, not mine) and then he passes out in a chaise lounge for a bit. He comes to in time to play once more, at which point he tries to bend over and pick up the ball but instead falls down the steps behind him. That single event made putting up with him for an hour almost tolerable. Almost. Nothing like watching a drunk fall down some very shallow stairs in slow motion to make up for general stupidity.

We finally get Cornhole to go back over the fence and we drink for another couple hours before turning in. And I haven't gotten to Saturday where the white trash neighbor threatened to slash the tires of someone coming over to the party at the house. All that and more in tomorrow's post...

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