Today was day one of the Razz event at the WSoP, my favorite tournament of the year. I’ve cashed the last three years in a row, and last year’s 17th place finish was my deepest run yet. I’m hoping this is my breakthrough year. It was a long day, which leads to short blog posts, and lists are easy, so…
Stuff you might care about -
1. I bagged up 23,000, well above average, and will be restarting tomorrow with around 130 players left at 2 pm Vegas time. You can follow my progress on twitter @foxpokerfox or on pokernews at http://www.pokernews.com/live-reporting/2013-world-series-of-poker/event-33-2-500-seven-card-razz/chips.htm
2. Also still in contention at Tom Hammers with a short stack and Adeel Qureshi with an average stack. Both are strong players and I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of them deep in the money.
3. My table was fun today, with Brett ‘Gank’ Jungblutt, Tom McEvoy, Cindy Violette, Marco Traniello, and a number of other well known players.
4. Our first dealer, in a $2,500 buy-in event, did not know that Stud poker games start with one card up and two cards down. She really didn’t know that. Not her fault, she did her best, but who the hell thought she should be dealing this event?
5. I played a $275 sit and go today while I waiting for the Razz to start, and ended up chopping it heads up. I knew my opponent was strong, which is why I agreed to chop, but I didn’t know how strong until after we chopped and I found out that it was John “The Razor” Phan. I didn’t tell him that he is the most profitable opponent in my PokerTracker database from back in the day, and that I had made nearly $22,000 from him playing cash games. I never thought he was very strong playing cash online, but he played great in the SNG today.
Going to sleep now.
I’m finally on the ground in Vegas and excited to get started. So many people I know are doing well that I want to get in there and start crushing. I was rooting hard for Tom Hammers in the $5k HORSE, but he’ll have to settle for a min-cash this year. Still impressive in one of the toughest fields of the series.
I won a seat to the Player of the Year tournament at the Golden Nugget in a satellite at Running Aces. It was a surreal experience playing a tournament in Minnesota to win a seat for a tournament in Vegas and then flying to Vegas that night. I’m looking forward to the tournament on the 4th of July, especially with eleven other players from Minnesota in the field with me.
Tomorrow is the Razz event where I have cashed three years in a row, but for some reason the WSoP won’t list my cash in it for the last two years. Last year they list Jared Bleznich as cashing twice instead of putting my name in 17th place. Did I piss someone off at the WSoP? I even emailed them earlier this year about it and never heard back, but that’s customer service at the Rio. If I was a seven star I could probably get it handled, but poker players and customer service are both pretty low on the priority list at The Rio, so I’m not going to waste any more time on it.
Speaking of how irritating it is to play at The Rio and at Harrahs properties in general, why can’t anyone put together a contender for the WSoP? I know it’s an old brand that every donkey loves and they all think it’s important, but donkeys are easily swayed. Let’s start off by looking at the contenders.
The Venetian Deep Stacks
The VDS was doing really well there for awhile, but they made a few mistakes along the way. They have raised the rake high enough that the smaller buy-in events aren’t any better than any other series, and are worse than some, driving many players away to other lesser known series. They also failed to capitalize on their growing series by offering a special trinket to make players feel like they have something important to shoot for. Sharks aren’t there for trinkets, but the sharks go where the fish go, and the fish go where the fame and fortune and pretty trinkets are. That is why the WSoP still survives. The fish want a WSoP bracelet because they think it will make them special and change their life. It doesn’t, but try telling a fish that. It’s their dream.
The Venetian needs to offer bracelets, rings, or maybe some sort of trophy that sits in the Venetian poker room that has every winner’s name on it like the Stanley Cup. A lapel pin or a badge might even work. Something that allows fish to say “I have a Venetian Deep Stacks xxxxx” and pretend that it’s prestigious and they have accomplished something. Add money, offer huge guarantees, do something bring in the fish and make it a big deal, and you can actually compete with the series. You have an awful lot of hotel room to fill, and those poker players will gamble on your gaming floor as well if they are staying at your property because it is their main focus. If they just pop over for an event here and there, and then head back to The Rio, then you don’t get that business.
The Aria took over the title of the coolest place to play cash games a few years ago, but they seem less interested in drawing big tournament fields and making their mark in that arena. I’m not where they would put a big poker tournament, but it’s a huge building, there must be somewhere to put it, and any time they draw gamblers into that building they are going to make money. Everything is expensive, though much of it is worth spending cash on unlike the Rio’s twelve dollar burritos, and having people in the building makes them significant money. If they were to get serious about tournaments, I really think they have the clout to make their mark and challenge the WSoP as well.
When they sold the name, Binions probably lost all hope. They do run a pretty good series of their own during the WSoP, but it’s just a bunch of poker tournaments. Without something special, they won’t get any bigger than they are, which might be for the best since they probably have space for anything too big.
The Golden Nugget
The Nugget has a nice space for tournaments, but much like Binions they really don’t have enough space for a legitimate WSoP challenge. I would love to see the two properties work together to offer a downtown poker series and have five or six events a day with bigger buy-ins and some sort of place of honor for winners in both rooms. With the two rooms combined and a wide variety or events, they might be able to lure a lot of players downtown. Hotel rooms are cheaper, everything you need is nearby and food and beverage are cheaper too. Maybe other places nearby would even offer to help out just to get a huge number of poker players to come stay downtown during two slow summer months.
With low rake, good structures, and a nice variety, I think both rooms could be full and players would elect to stay at the properties downtown rather than at The Rio, giving them a chance to make some of that gaming and food and beverage money that is staying mostly at The Rio and Gold Coast the way things are right now. Once word got out that the real value was downtown, many pros would go there to eat the fish that would swarm into a big series downtown and the fields at the Rio might get tougher and smaller. Some people will always play the WSoP for the prestige they think that comes with a series bracelet and some pros who are independently wealthy, or just stupid, will always want to play in the toughest fields. Some people will also see downtown as slumming, but I’m happy to leave them at The Rio and The Aria while I eat all those fish downtown.
The MGM has a good card room, and they have Matt Savage, the most well known tournament director in the world. They also have a ton of players already staying at their long term condos during the WSoP, but they would need to get serious about a large tournament series to compete. A little gold lion statue for each winner might be neat, and they definitely have the space somewhere, but they don’t even have a tournament series going on this year, so while they might be able to compete, they don’t seem at all interested in doing so.
The Rest of the Field
While I love the Wynn, they really aren’t close and will probably never be that serious about poker tournaments, and The Orleans still has a reputation as a dirty hole in the ground, so they aren’t even contenders at this point. Obviously no other Harrahs properties will fight with the WSoP, so Caesars will stay where they are with a smaller series. Other poker rooms just don’t have the staff, the space, or the knowledge to compete, and most of them have no interest in doing so. The WSoP will be the 500 pound gorilla of tournament poker until somebody else starts working out and gets up near the same weight, and unfortunately I don’t see that happening any time soon. I guess I’ll see you at The Rio.
I’m headed to Vegas on Sunday night, and staying for a month, so I’ve spent most of the week at home getting things done and hanging out with my wife and my dogs. I’ll be playing poker at least 12 ours a day for the next month, so taking some time off right now seems like the best choice. Other than spending time with the family and resting up, I’m also preparing for Vegas in other ways. If you read my blog often, you know I love numbered lists…
Things I’m doing to get ready for Vegas
1. Looking at the new Blue Shark Optics product line. I can’t say enough good things about Blue Sharks and how much they will help your game. I know the good folks at Blue Shark, and they give me a great deal on a pair every year at the WSoP where I can try on ten or twenty pairs to find out what I like. Once a year seems to be about the right replacement rate too, I either scratch or break them by the time the WSoP rolls back around. There are no other shades that are even close to Blue Sharks, and with the strong fields in Vegas during the summer I will be wearing them most of the time. If you buy some, tell them I said hi and you might get a discount.
2. Getting some new cargo shorts with big pockets so I can carry everything I need for a long tournament day. Two extra cell phone batteries, headphones or ear buds, cash, wallet, cell phone, Blue Sharks, business cards, an E-Cigarette, and who knows what else I might need on a given day. The pockets on a pair of jeans or board shorts just won’t carry enough stuff comfortably and backpacks are banned at The Rio this year so I’ll need big pockets.
3. I just bought a new laptop so that keeping up with this blog and other writing I will need to do will be simple and easy. I bought a chromebook, and I love it. It starts up in 6 seconds, doesn’t catch viruses, and it’s small, light weight, and inexpensive. Perfect for traveling light and working in lots of different environments.
4. Buying protein bars. I have a lot of weird food allergies that mostly involve fresh fruits and vegetables, so it’s very tough to eat healthy in a casino. I’m also allergic to spending $15 on a burrito at the Poker Kitchen twice a day, so some protein bars in my pockets will save me some money too. Your brain power and mental toughness are badly degraded when you get hungry, and with a short break every two hours you will sometimes find yourself playing hungry if you don’t have a snack with you.
Have you seen the ridiculous amounts of money that Minnesota players are winning in Vegas this summer? Over $700,000 so far, and we will almost certainly break the million dollar mark by the end of July. Check out this list of cashes at MNPokerMag.com.
I’ll probably be playing the PPotY satellite at Running Aces this Sunday before I fly out to Vegas. Great satellite, and I was planning to play that event at the Nugget anyway. And they are adding two seats!
If you suck at poker, you need to buy my book.
I picked up a bunch of copies of my book a few weeks ago, and they are cluttering up my office. Boxes and boxes of books. My dogs have nowhere to sleep when they are in the office with me. I have to move books just to get to my book shelf full of poker books. It’s like having eight pounds of leftover turkey the day after Thanksgiving or harvesting your garden in the fall when you have too many tomatoes.
This is the last load from the warehouse, so when these are gone we’ll probably be done selling the book because it’s a hassle. We’ve made a nice profit on a self-published book, which is a rare and impressive feat, but this is probably the last printing. Maybe in 6 months or a year we’ll publish it for the Kindle and Nook, but we probably won’t print more.
Since this is the last bunch, and it’s a very big bunch cluttering up my office, I must urge you to buy a copy right now. Seriously. You’ll be very angry when they are all gone and everyone else is good at poker because they got a copy. You’ll be sitting there, a crap poker player with no understanding of the game, feeling guilty about not supporting a local author, while everyone who read the book is busy stacking your chips and calling you a fish behind your back.
Eventually, other poker players will shun you socially and your money will be gone. Your spouse will probably leave you, because who wants to be married to a broke ass with no friends? And when that happens, don’t come crying to me, because I wrote a great book that could have helped you learn about no-limit holdem and you ignored it. You probably bought Mileski’s stupid* book instead didn’t you? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Click here now to buy the book. Seriously. Go buy it. My office isn’t very big and this is too many boxes.
I’ve already covered where to play tournaments in Vegas, but I get a lot of questions about where to play cash games and most people flock to the least profitable spots to play cash games against other solid players, local pros, and ultra-tight bonus grinders. If you are playing poker for money, then go where the soft players are and get away from the strong players. If you just want to say that you played poker in a room that will make you sound cool, then tell everyone you played cash at The Rio or The Venetian and ignore the rest of this post.
You will probably be playing $1/2 or $1/3 no-limit holdem games, and the best places for those games are the less glamorous rooms at lower end hotels. The Venetian will be the toughest place for these lower limit games because so many local grinders will be playing there. They like the room because the rake is low and the tables are comfortable with a wide range of tables to choose from. If you are used to the room and know who the regulars are, then it’s probably just fine to play there, but for the rest of us it’s better to go where every table is soft and we don’t have to worry about table selection. The Aria is nearly as tough as the Venetian. While there will certainly be soft players in both rooms, they won’t be as soft as some of the lesser known rooms.
The Rio will have a huge number of games and lots of action, but the chairs are uncomfortable, the food is expensive, and the dealers are clueless. And last year there were many instances of extra cards in the deck and nothing was done about it. The cameras don’t work well in the Rio, and there are better places to play smaller no-limit games.
Caesars has good $1/3 games, and the slightly higher stake can increase your win rate, though the rake is slightly higher. You will find more annoying drunk idiots at Caesars, but if you can tolerate them you will find that they lose tremendous amounts of money. The room is nice, the food is good, and the chairs are above average.
The smaller rooms are where the real money is. Put in a few sessions at a place like Planet Hollywood or Harrahs and you will see why they are so profitable. Your opponents will be lost, and some of them will be playing in a casino for the first time. If there is a big sporting event, like the NBA finals happening right now, Planet Hollywood will be particularly good because the sports book is right next door and the gamblers will come play poker and pay more attention to the basketball game than the poker table.
If you are playing at a room with lots of table choices, look for a game where people are happy, drinking, and laughing. If they are having fun, then they are gambling, and that’s what you want. Big stacks aren’t necessarily good, they often mean that the players have been there a long time and the fish have all been busted. Shorter stacks will often indicate weak players, and it’s not like that is all the money you can win. Once they go broke they will rebuy or leave and another player will take their spot and you can bust them too. If your table is quiet and tight, get a table change right away – don’t waste any time on a bad table.
While my week of grinding tournaments at Running Aces was very profitable, I won’t run that good every week, and I came to some conclusions I wouldn’t have expected.
1. The promotion is probably a very good one. Once you get a few cashes you are going to play all week to try to make sure that you get some of those tournament dollars. I think they should probably promote it more, maybe with a big board behind the tournament desk and a webpage with the rankings and an explanation of the way the whole thing works. The Player of the Week page on the site right now links to the PotW standings from the third week of February…
2. One of the reasons that the promotion is so good is that it doesn’t cost the house anything. The money for the tournament dollars comes right out of the prize pools of the tournaments themselves. 3% comes out of the prize pool of each tournament for the PotW promotion. The $100 in tournament dollars I won last week is probably a lot less than I have paid into that prize pool from the 3% of the prizes I have won in tournaments since it has been running. This means that if you are not playing enough tournaments to get some PotW money, you are subsidizing the people who are in the hunt. If you are just playing the bigger tournaments, then you aren’t likely to be in the hunt, and you are subsidizing the players who are playing all of the smaller buy-in tournaments to get those PotW dollars.
3. The smaller buy-in tournaments are really tough to beat. The fields are ultra soft, and they are better structures than most lower buy-in weekly tournaments around the country, but starting with 5,000 in chips and short blind levels, as well as paying a very high rake percentage, makes it tough. The $50 buy-in tournament I played came out to $34+$16, or 32% juice. It’s tough to make any money paying that much rake in a fast structure no matter how soft the field is. This isn’t Running Aces fault, that’s how it always is in smaller buy-in tournaments and the house has to make a few dollars. Making a few dollars requires them to take a larger percentage when the buy-in is small, so I don’t begrudge them their money, I just can’t make any profit playing these tournaments.
4. Winning one of the top two spots requires you to play at least eight tournaments a week, and ten is probably a better number to have a good shot at it. I thought Kat and I had the top two spots locked up on Saturday, but Tim Votava final tabled both events on Sunday and flew by us when neither of us could play on Sunday. Well done Tim. Kat and I ended up tied for 3rd and getting $100 each. With what I won for the week, I was about break even with the PotW promotion because 3% of my winnings was close to $100.
If you wanted to play every tournament all week, or close to it, and you are a reasonable good player, you could average at least $300 a week, but you would be working a ton of hours and paying so much money in the extra PotW juice that you might be making an extra $2 or $3 per hour from the race. I’ll stick with the three $150 tournaments and the $250 Sunday Optimum for now, and I won’t always play those because the extra 3% I’ll be paying to subsidize a race that I’m not a part of irritates me.
The structures at Running Aces are good, but I play poker for money, and I have to go where the money is. These days it seems to be in home games with very low or no rake, so that’s where I will continue to play most of the time. They aren’t professional, and there isn’t great food in most cases, but the rake is right and the players are soft, so they are my best option for paying the bills right now.
I also heard zero response from my questions about a poker meet up group, so I’ll toss that idea in the muck. I figured I would get at least one or two responses since I get a few hundred readers a day, but as I’ve learned in the past, poker players don’t want to learn, they want to play. I also put up links to the schedules for every major tournament series on a separate page here on the site. You can get there by clicking on the Vegas Summer Schedule tab at the top of this site.
Follow me on twitter @foxpokerfox
Closed Circuit to Running Aces Staff – If I was a Running Aces pro, I would have all the PotW info up on a page on my own site already and you wouldn’t have to worry about it. I would also be working on helping you come up with a promotion for the PotW that makes it more profitable for serious players. Hint. Hint.
I’ve enabled comments on the blog so that I can get some feedback from you, the reader. I have a couple of ideas that I would like to bounce off you and I would love hear your thoughts on what you would like to read in the blog in future posts as well. Do you want strategy, hand reviews, local or national poker news, ethereal poker wisdom, or should I just be entertaining and irreverent every day?
If I ran a weekly poker study group for say $20 to come for one week or $50 for a month, would you show up? Should it be at one of the card rooms, bouncing back and forth between them, or at a more central location in the cities at a coffee shop maybe? Saturday at noon or a week night? I would present on some topic, answer questions, and everyone would help each other out. What do you think about this idea?
You can see a seven second tour of Erick Wright’s condo in Vegas HERE.
Congrats to Chad Holloway on shipping a bracelet in event #1 at the WSoP.
I will be on Minnesota Poker Weekly on KFAN Monday night at 9 pm on FM 100.3 in the Twin Cities.
I’ve been very frustrated with online poker lately, so I’ve given it up almost completely. I’m also trying to cut down a little on the amount of time I’m spending on the road and make a little more money, so local live poker games are the only way to do that. The games in Minnesota are tougher than any other place that I’ve played, but there is still definitely money to be made here and we are lucky to have two high quality card rooms in the twin cities. With the low limits on cash games, making more than about $25 an hour is tough, and even that number is only achievable by the very best players who have spent a lot of time studying. I do play in some home games where my income is a little higher than that, but tournaments are probably the best solution long term and I really enjoy playing them.
This week I decided to play a bunch of tournaments at Running Aces and see how tough the Player of the Week race is. I’ve talked to a couple people who are regularly in the running for the PotW race and run some numbers on my own, and I think I have a pretty good feel for how much I can make playing just tournaments at Running Aces. It’s not enough money to make me really happy by itself, but adding in lots of local series in the spring and fall, MSPT events, and whatever else I can find locally, I don’t think I will have to be on the road when I don’t want to. As of today I’m in the lead for the PotW race by five points.
Monday – The $5k freeroll is really a $50 buy-in tournament if you are playing it right. You start with 27,000 in chips that way, and they add $2k to the prize pool. Of course the $50 is half rake, which is the only reason this isn’t the best tournament in town, but with the added money, huge field, and terrible players, it’s still worth playing. I would probably skip it some weeks when I had a lot of work to get done, but it’s worth playing.
Tuesday – The $50 tournament at 2 pm may not be worth it just because smaller buy-in tournaments have such a high rake percentage, but the 6 pm tournament is $150 buy-in and a great structure. The 6 pm will be on my schedule every week when I’m in town.
Wednesday – In the past I have always played the $235 weekly at Canterbury, but if I have a cash at Aces already that puts me in the points race then I’ll play the Wacky Wednesday at 6 pm. The $50 rebuy at 10:30 am is probably profitable as well, but I don’t play tournaments before noon. Gotta get my beauty sleep.
Thursday – The $150 at 6 pm is the same as the Tuesday event and I will play this almost every week when I am in town too.
Friday – There are two $70 tournaments on Friday, and they are small enough that I’ll skip them unless I am in the points race from some good results earlier in the week.
Saturday – The $70 tournament at 9:30 is too early for me, but the $150 bounty event at 6 pm will only be on my schedule most weeks, and if I’m in the points race I’ll play it for sure.
Sunday – The $250 Optimum is one of the best weekly tournaments I’ve ever seen, and I’ll play it whenever I’m in town. If I bust the Optimum, and I’m still looking for points, I can play the $70 event at 6pm.
What I Might Make
I think I would be playing an average of $800 in tournaments in a typical week at Aces, and my ROI in those tournaments is pretty good, so making $1,000 a week should be doable. With $200 a week in PotW money, I’m up to $1,200 a week. Given that I’m self employed and have to pay my own health insurance, social security, etc., I wouldn’t be happy with $1,200 a week long term, but to make that on my “off weeks” when I’m not playing bigger stuff is pretty reasonable. Adding that to the bigger events, MSPT, local series, and the WSoP in the summer, I could get myself up to a pretty reasonable income and I might not hate poker so much if I was just playing tournaments and putting in less hours than I have been in the past.
It ain’t Vegas, or Florida, or California, but there is money to be made in Minnesota if you study hard and learn to really crush the games. In some parts of the country it is impossible to make a living playing poker, so we’re lucky to have this option even if players in some places are making more money.
Quick News Update
- I will be on Minnesota Poker Weekly next Monday night at 9 pm on KFAN 100.3 with Cory Cove and Bryan Mileski.
- My package for the WSoP sold out immediately and no more action is available.
- A new podcast is up at http://www.tourneytracks.com/podcast/
I have a long list of things I should talk about in my blog, so I’ll get right to it.
1. Erick Wright was named Running Aces ambassador and card room pro. Congrats to Erick, he’s a good guy and he works hard. I hope I get a gig like this myself some time soon.
2. I have some action for sale at the WSoP this summer. While my action in events $1,000 and higher is all promised to a backer that I have worked with since Black Friday, I am selling part of a package of smaller events. It’s nearly impossible to predict exactly what I will be able to play because there are so many events all over town and I have to work the smaller stuff into my schedule when I don’t have something bigger to play, but I will try to play at least $10,000 worth of smaller events in the $200 to $600 dollar range. I’ll be taking a portion of myself, and a couple people have already claimed pieces with offers like “I’ll take 20% of whatever you’re selling” but there is some action still for sale. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want in before it sells out. A more in-depth blog post is coming later this week about buying and selling action and if I still have some action for sale I will list the tournaments I’m likely to play.
3. I picked up some Koss Porta Pro Headphones and used them on Sunday for the first time. I’ve been through two pairs of headphones and at least five pairs of ear buds looking for the right thing for poker and I have finally found it. They sound great and they don’t block too much outside noise when they are turned off, so I can still hear what is going on at the table. The best $40 I have spent in a long time. And they fold up small enough to fit in a large pocket!
4. Aces finally changed their cell phone policy! Hallelujah! First Canterbury extends re-entry in the Wednesday night tourney and now this? I’m running out of things to complain about with my local card rooms. Now if they could just get a few more fish at the tables I would never have to leave town.
5. I chopped the Sunday Optimum at Running Aces this week. It wasn’t a huge score, but the extra cash was much needed in my household. The Optimum has the best structure for a weekly tournament ever. I had played it four times previously and never cashed, but this time things went my way. I suggested the chop and ran the ICM numbers because we probably had two more hours to play and I didn’t think the extra money I might make was worth the extra two hours given that I was getting over $3,000 in chop value and my opponents were not especially soft. I have definitely turned down chops in the past, but sometimes they are a good idea.
I also turned down the offer to “pay the bubble” which comes up in most small tournaments. I always encourage small stacks to make their own agreement amongst themselves, and if I’m a small stack I may agree to be part of one of these deals, but I won’t be part of them when I am a big stack. When there is very little chance that I will be the bubble, then throwing in $20 to pay the bubble is simply donating to charity. While I do donate money to charity, I have trouble offering $20 to a poker player instead of giving it to a more worthwhile cause. I caught a little crap about it, but I have vowed to never bow to pressure that costs me money at the tables ever again. I’m at work, and I’m there to make money. We can be friends, but begging or harassing me will not do anyone any good in a card room.
6. I’ll be playing a ton of tournaments this week at Aces. I’m curious how some of the smaller tourneys are and whether the Player of the Week chase is worth doing on a regular basis, so I’m giving it a shot this week.
Huge congratulations to my friend John ‘GStacks’ Hayes on his MSPT bracelet! He won the Northern Lights events on Sunday, crushing the table and setting a record for the fastest final table ever. Johnny has won more money online than any player in Minnesota, and has been crushing live tournaments for years too. He took third in a WSoP event last year, and fourth in an MSPT event at Grand Falls this year. Johnny is a badass and I couldn’t be happier to see him win this one.
Jarod Ludemann took 13th in the WSoP National Championship a few days ago. He’s another awesome poker player from Minnesota that is due for a huge score.
I’ve had a lot of people interested in buying a piece of my action in the WSoP. While I am currently stuck in a backing deal with makeup in tournaments with buy-ins of $1,000 or more, I have my own action in smaller events and will be selling some of it in a few days when I have my schedule solidified. As soon as that schedule is up and for sale I will post it here and sell it on a first come first served basis, though I do have a significant chunk reserved for a few friends.
I’m in Michigan to see my new nephew for the first time, so I’ve been a little busy, but I’ll be back tomorrow night with a more in-depth blog post covering the Vegas Summer package I’m offering and some thoughts on selling action in general.
Quick and dirty news both local, personal, and national.
Local – The MSPT is in Walker with their final tournament before the summer break, and Bryan Mileski will be doing a radio show tomorrow night with Cory Cove on KFAN 100.3. Listen in to Minnesota Poker Weekly at 9 pm every Monday night!
Personal – I’ll be starting day two today at MSPT Northern Lights today with 39,600. Blinds will be 1,000/2,000 to start the day, and if I don’t make the final table I will be doing commentary on the live broadcast.
National – The WSoP has announced the Carnivale of Poker, a separate series running during the World Series this year. Most of the early events are Monday and Tuesday, switching to later in the week when the series gets closer to the main event. If you are comfortable playing multiple games (there are some mixed and alternate game events) and going to be in Vegas for the whole series, I think it’s well worth chasing the $100,000 that goes to the top ten point earners in the Carnivale series.
I’m also happy that it adds some mixed game events to my schedule, though I don’t know how many Carnivale events I can play. The rake is high because of the $100,000 for the points race, and I hate to subsidize a prize that I can’t win because I won’t be in town for the first two weeks of the series. It’s tough to beat a $300 + 65 event if you have no chance at getting back some of that $65 later, but it’s a great value for someone who will in town for most of it because so many people will be subsidizing that prize that you have a chance to win.
After one of the longest bad runs of my life, I chopped the Wednesday $235 last night for $3,600. Not a big score, but anything that breaks the bad run of the last month or two feels like a huge victory. Even though I’m a bankroll nit, very conservative with my buy-ins, I was getting a little stressed. Just when I was really starting to hate poker too.
Canterbury extended late registration through the end of the first break, which is something players have wanted for a long time. Kudos to them for listening to their players. I bought in twice, and my second buy-in was during the third level, so I wouldn’t have been able to get back in and chop the tournament without the new re-entry rule. I think the rule change had an effect on the field size as well because we ended up with 110 entries which is a larger than usual field.
I’m headed up to Walker for the MSPT event on Friday, and if I don’t make the final table (fingers crossed), I’ll be doing the commentary on the live broadcast. Also hoping to make day two from Day 1A so I can go fishing (drinking) with Kou Vang and John Hayes. I haven’t been fishing in at least 15 years, but I think I remember how to drink a beer in a boat.
Here’s a list of my top ten favorite things about the are around Walker Bay.
1. Northern Lights Casino - A great place to gamble, and they are very good to the MSPT entrants. Cash games are always good here during the MSPT, and the casino staff is awesome.
2. The Bikini Ice Fishing Team – This pic says it all.
3. They know how to party.
4. They have their own brewery.
5. Jimmy’s Restaurant is an awesome restaurant, and it’s cheap!
7. The people are friendly.
8. The lake actually has a lot less leeches than the name would indicate.
9. Did I mention that the people are really nice?
10. Matt Kirby will be there
I’ve always thought those blogs with links everywhere were neat. You know the ones where they insert words into the post just to us them as links? Like if I said “I was playing on Bodog the other day… blah blah blah.” Anyway, I thought I would try one of those just to see how it went. By the way, I will always be a smart ass with my anchor text for links. It’s just become a habit. If you hover over a link in my blog, the text that pops up to describe the link will often be something snarky, funny, or ironic. And while it will probably never be anything too hardcore or offensive, do be careful clicking at work, there could be a dirty word in there somewhere.
I took my second shot at the Mayhem in May tournament tonight at Running Aces, but I continue to run bad and couldn’t manage to fade Nate Fair‘s three outer. It was a great tournament though, especially for those that managed to run a little better than I do. You should also remember that if I say something bad about someone in the local poker scene, it’s probably a joke. For example, I like Nate Fair, even if he is a huge donkey, so I can kid around with him. Someone will eventually take offense to something I write, that’s just how it goes, but I will probably just mock them mercilessly.
In other news, Russ Hamilton, former WSoP Champion, online poker cheat, and dirtbag, admitted all the shady things he did in the Ultimate Bet scandal, and implicated Annie Duke and others, including a company that is involved in the only licensed only poker site in Nevada, Iovation. Not only is their name, Ultimate Poker, similar to Ultimate Bet, but they hired a company involved in the UB scandal to handle their verification services. I’m sure your money is safe there, no worries.
I’ve also noticed that these blogs with tons of links in them always sneak in a plug for the things they are selling or promoting. Not that I would do that, I just noticed that some of them do it. That’s it for me, but I’ll be back every few days with more bloggy goodness. Until then, you can follow me on twitter.
It would make a great song title wouldn’t it? The Rooster and the Joker? I’ll have to drag my guitar out of the closet and see if I can whip something up. But it’s not a song, just a friendly twitter battle between a couple of local poker players that has turned into a team challenge. I am told that there is no money on the line at this point, just pride, but pride means a lot to poker players.
Josh “Rooster” Oien has put together ten players under the moniker Team Hammer Dong, while @the_poker_joker has a ten man team playing as Team Poker Joker, and a challenge has been issued for the Mayhem in May tournament at Running Aces. The teams will be scored according the PokerStars tournament leader board formula, and the winner will undoubtedly brag about it on twitter for months. The challenge brought up a few questions from people who were worried that money was involved, and there are legitimate concerns when it comes to teams playing in an individual event.
I highly doubt that anyone would engage in outright collusion in this case. I know many of the players on these teams, and can’t see it happening. Even if there were a little money involved, most poker players are not cheats and most of them know that the individual money involved in the tournament is much larger than any team bet that I have ever seen, so they would just cost themselves money by playing soft or chip dumping.
There’s also the question of how much it might hurt the other participants in the tournament. If you aren’t part of either team, then it is as likely to help you as hurt you. A situation where someone would play differently against an opponent who isn’t involved in the bet is certainly possible, but it’s not likely, and that different play might make you money instead of costing you money. The chance that anything like this will have a significant affect on people who aren’t involved is very small, but it is there, which is why there is no money on the line in this case. If they choose to play differently because of pride, there isn’t much you can do about it except to know about the teams and take advantage of it if you see the right spot.
These same questions come up with backers and their horses, or people who swap a percentage in an event or at a cash game. Even friends can play differently against each other, and do you think a husband really wants to bust his wife when they are in the same event? All you can do is play your best, don’t play soft against anyone, and go back to being friends once the tournament is over.
In other news, and good news indeed, Running Aces finally got another phone charger. From the pic it looks like there are lots of cables there, so they won’t be full like the single Verizon charger at Canterbury. Maybe Canterbury will feel a little competitive and at least fix the broken Verizon charger in their charging station or get a bigger station like this one. Putting together something with more plugs wouldn’t be that tough to do and I imagine they’ll get on it soon.
I’ll be headed down to Running Aces tonight to try it out. I usually play the Wednesday night tournament at Canterbury, but I was running late and they close registration after the first hour. Great tournament, but as I wrote about last week, it’s a tough field. If late registration was open long enough I would have played it again this week, even though I haven’t won it since January.
While I’m not selling any action, a few people have asked about my summer schedule and asked advice about what they should be playing when they go out to the World Series of Poker. I set my own schedule a few weeks ago, covering as many mixed game events as possible in the 31 days I’ll be in Vegas, with some no-limit events at the Rio, mostly $1,500 bracelet events.
If you, like most players, won’t be in Vegas for more than a week or two, you’ll want to make the most of your time in town and you’ll be hoping to make some money. Be careful with your bankroll, and decide what your max buy-in will be. I definitely think some events are much softer than others. Here’s a quick guide to finding the softest fields.
Where to Play with Buy-ins of Less than $500
There are so many good options at this buy-in size. The Golden Nugget and Caesars both have series right in this range, though the rake is fairly high in both. The Rio Daily Deepstacks are a good value too, with huge fields full of donkeys, but you may end up waiting an hour in line to register for them. That will never be a problem at The Nugget or Caesars, and you’ll be playing in a quiet and comfortable room with reasonably priced food and drink nearby at both locations, while you will be paying out the nose for those things at the Rio, as well as playing in the middle of the mess that is the WSoP. Even Binion’s has a good selection of smaller buy-in events.
The Venetian Deep Stacks are a good option too, though you may be seated close to some annoying slot machines and you may have a line to register, though it won’t compare to the ridiculous line at the Rio. The rake is pretty high at the Venetian too, but they have a great selection of events and the fields will be fairly large for the smaller buy-in events.
The Wynn has $400 and $500 buy-in events from June 7th to the 21st, with a good structure. I love playing at The Wynn, the tables are good, the service is good, and there is good, fast, within 50 feet of the tournament area.
Your best bet is probably to play whatever event is close to you, since cab fare would be much higher than the difference in rake. If you are downtown, The Nugget and Binion’s are the way to go, if you are at the Rio then play the deep stack events, and if you are on the strip, play wherever is closest to you with the buy-in you like on that day.
Where to Play with Buy-ins of More than $500
If you are playing buy-ins great than $500, you are primarily concerned with finding the softest fields, and there is a huge disparity. Venetian DS events with buy-ins over $600 have very tough fields and should probably be avoided. Special events like Binion’s and Caesars main events will be tough, but not as tough as the Venetian fields. The softest fields will be at the Rio, and don’t be afraid of the small number of starting chips, the structure is better than it seems. Half the fields in $1,000 or $1,500 or events will be clueless, just take advantage of them early while they still have chips.
There will be cash games everywhere, and a huge number of games at The Rio, but the best places to play most games will be away from the horde of grinders. The Venetian and Rio will be the toughest games, though there will still be a lot of soft spots. If you are playing $2/5, The Wynn will probably have the softest games, while smaller games will be best at places like Planet Hollywood where there won’t be any pros and most of your opponents will be sports bettors. As long as you get away from the few biggest rooms, the cash games will be fantastic.
I’ll be headed out to Running Aces to play the Sunday Optimum tournament today, and as always I checked the weather before leaving. Looks like it will be foggy by the time I leave tonight…
35E can be a lonely road at 4 am, which is usually when I leave Running Aces and head home. A foggy night on a lonely stretch of highway can be dangerous, but I’ve developed a set of rules to keep me safe on road trips and so far I haven’t had any problems. These rules were developed after years of reading horror novels and watching scary movies, and as long as you follow them you have nothing to worry about and can drive to Aces any time day or night.
1. If things look shady, get out.
This means that if we stop at a gas station, and Elvis (or a creepy clown) offers to pump our gas for us, and he has a gun on his hip, I’m out of there. If you aren’t in the car immediately, you’re screwed because I’m leaving. And if we stop at a country store and the owner has no teeth and a gorgeous daughter that’s flirting with me, I’m out of there too. Otherwise I end up killed or raped by her deformed brother in a creepy mask. Not my first rodeo folks, and I know better than to fall for the hot redneck girl in cutoff jean shorts when the situation is obviously crooked somehow. Nope, not the Fox.
2. It’s none of your business.
If you stop near a cornfield and a baby is crying in the corn, leave it alone. It’s not your baby. In fact it’s not a baby at all, it’s something or someone who is going to sacrifice you to the corn god. If you go investigate some weird sound in the middle of nowhere, I’m leaving. Good luck with devil baby in the corn field.
3. Finish off the killer.
If you find yourself in a bad spot, chased by a machete wielding killer, and score a few points on them, don’t leave them laying there and run off. They will wake up, and turn up when you least expect it. If you knock them down and stun them, take away their machete / chainsaw / scythe and cut their head off. Now burn the body and take the head with you. Keep it in your trunk until morning, buy a safe, and lock the head in the safe. Now dump the safe in a deep lake. No sequels, no coming back for you later, the bad guy stays dead.
4. Don’t go back.
Once you kill the bad guy, DO NOT go back to where it all started. This is a terrible idea. Move far away and never go back there for any reason. Let someone else deal with that shit. Whatever evil lives in that town, corn field, or old farmhouse, can stay there. Just stay away from it.
5. The cops can’t help.
If the police show up to help you, they are either in cahoots with the witches / inbred rednecks / corn worshipers, or the poor cop is going to get an ax in the back of his head pretty soon. Better you just leave them out of it and save either your life or his. The only exceptions to this are if you are in love with the cop, or it is dawn and they are coming to pick you up after the devastation is over.
6. Don’t get bitten.
Whether it’s a zombie or a wolf or a vampire, don’t let them bite you. If they get their teeth in you, it’s over, you are on your way to becoming one of them. If we hit a wolf on the highway, do not stop to check on it. While you are getting yourself bitten by a werewolf, I’ll be sliding into the driver’s seat and locking the doors. And driving away. Because you are an idiot and should have stayed in the car. Call the DNR if you want, but do not get out of the car to examine the injured creature unless you want to be stuck there with it as I drive away giving you the finger out the window.
7. Stay in the car.
How many times can I say this? If you get out of the car, the piece of shit won’t start when you get back in, and the crazed killing machine that is chasing you will have no problem smashing the window and dragging you out. When you wake up hanging from a meat hook in an old cellar or tied to an operating table in a barn in the middle of nowhere, remember that I warned you to keep driving.
8. Don’t be a jackass.
I can’t stress this one enough. If you are a guy who demeans women, a frat boy, or just a jerk, you have no chance. You will be one of the first to die. The same goes for women who are shallow, unlikable, or bitchy. You have to care about others, be strong, and have a troubled past, if you are going to stand a chance. And if you aren’t attractive, you’re screwed. The ugly ones never survive. If you put Joan Jett, Britney Spears, and an ugly girl in a horror movie, Joan Jett survives every time. The others die terribly. Be Joan Jett. A tough, troubled, dark haired, hero is the only one who stands a chance.
Be safe out there on the road in unfamiliar surroundings. Driving a foggy highway at night doesn’t have to be a death trap if you know the rules and exercise some reasonable safety precautions. I’ve driven through Iowa at night four or five times this year without incident, and I survived a trip through Wisconsin in thick fog a few months ago too. I’ll see you at Aces in a few hours. Unless you stop to help that girl on the highway half naked and covered in blood with no car anywhere nearby. If you do that then I’ll read about you on the news. Hopefully the scariest thing I see today is a three-bet from Erick Wright.
Tournament season is starting early this year. Starting next week, Running Aces has their Mayhem in May tournament, with five starting days and stack buybacks. As soon as that is over, MSPT qualifiers start at Northern Lights, and after Northern Lights the tournaments start up in Vegas. The WSoP used to be a month, but summer in Vegas has turned into an 80 day poker party with eight major tournament series running. In addition to the WSoP, there are series at The Venetian, The Aria, The Orleans, Binions, Caesar’s, The Wynn, The Bellagio, and The Golden Nugget.
Kenny Hallaert created a great spreadsheet with every tournament series, rake comparisons, and schedules on that you can see HERE. I used it to plan my trip to Vegas, which will be shorter this year, just 31 days.
As soon as the Vegas summer mess is over, the MSPT starts back up. The grind never ends, something we all asked for five years ago. Now that I have the chance to play a big tournament almost every week, it’s all about planning out my time. And of course I’m still working with students, making videos for PokerXFactor, creating content on Grinder U, playing a little online, and Bryan Mileski just told me that he would like to have me be a part of the new poker radio show on KFAN. Oh, and I have to write my article for Bluff this month. Did I miss anything? Probably.
I’ll see you next week at Aces, hopefully at the final table!
I played the Wednesday night $235 buy-in tournament tonight at Canterbury Park. I’ve mentioned this before on our podcast and probably in other spots, but that thing has got to be the toughest weekly tournament I’ve ever played. The Sunday Optimum at Running Aces is also probably pretty tough, though I’ve only played it a couple times.
They get between 70 and 90 runners on most nights for the Wednesday night tournament, and I know almost every one of them. And they all know each other. Because it’s the same damn people every night for years now. If you want to see how good you really are, or just play with some strong players to learn a few tricks, The Canterbury Wednesday is the place to do it.
Reasons why the field is so tough in this tournament -
1. It’s in Minnesota
I’ve done a lot of traveling, and I can guarantee you that the average player in Minnesota is much tougher than the average player in most other places. We have good schools, high literacy rates, and while there is some money here, there aren’t a lot of people with more money than sense like you might find in California, Vegas, or the East Coast. We’ve also had poker for a long time, so people have had time to learn. And to top it all off we have some serious poker coaches here.
Jason Senti worked for Blue Fire Poker, a top training site.
Mike Schneider is part owner of CardRunners, the net’s largest training site, and makes videos for them as well.
I work with PokerXFactor as well as running my own training site at GrinderU.com and wrote a book on no-limit holdem.
My business partner Adam Stemple makes training videos for PokerXFactor and Grinder U as well as coauthoring my book.
Bryan Mileski’s Minnesota Poker Magazine regularly has strategy articles in it, some of them from me. What other state, especially one this small, has a professional magazine dedicated to it’s poker scene with in-depth strategy articles?
We all combine to make Minnesota games tougher, and very few states have as many opportunities for players to improve by playing bigger buy-in events as often as we do. There are at least ten events a year with a buy-in over $1,000 that are full of strong players, which gives intermediate players a chance to learn quickly from the pros they play with.
2. The same tournament has been running for a long time.
This allows the same players to get used to it and adjust to the structure and learn how to play tournament poker. There are no antes in this event, and everyone who plays it is used to that fact. Raising with weak hands doesn’t do you much good in this thing with no antes to steal, and every one who plays it regularly has figured that out. Minnesotans also tend to be conservative with money, and conservative is a good approach in this tournament.
3. Re-entries end early.
Since the re-entry period doesn’t last long, neither do bad players. In many other events where the re-entry time is longer, the bad players re-enter more often and juice the prize pool. They also don’t get as discouraged by busting early, so they tend to come back more often. Very few people bust in the first two levels, so re-entries are rare.
I’ve done a lot of traveling, and talked to other players who travel as well, and we all agree that Minnesota poker is tougher than almost anywhere else, and this may be the toughest weekly tournament in the country. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it, it’s a lot of fun and the environment is friendly. You don’t improve if you don’t test yourself against tough competition, and if you are a strong enough player there is still money to be made. No matter how tough the field is, I’ll be there again next week, and almost every week when I’m in town because it keeps me sharp. Assuming that I’m sharp in the first place.
I’ll be posting hands pretty regularly here on my blog, and I thought this one was an interesting way to show how a play that some players see as amateurish, the turn check-raise, can be very effective. I feel like I bridge the gap between old school live players and the younger breed of new school players, many of whom learned the trade online, and both have value, so I’ll often be contrasting the two styles in my hand posts as well. This was definitely an old-school play.
In a recent $1,100 event at Running Aces card room here in Minnesota, a player at my table was very willing to go far with his hands, and was floating flop bets any time he had even the tiniest piece of the flop. He was also betting any time anyone checked to him. This can be a frustrating combination, because it is so often a profitable play and it threatens his opponent with high variance plays and big pots anytime they are in a hand with him. In this case, my opponent was also seeing way too many flops and had a small physical tell.
I started the hand with 35 big blinds about mid-day. We were nowhere near the money, but the blinds were getting big enough that most people were below 50 big blinds. My opponent had about 55 big blinds. I had Q8s (I know, a monster) in the hijack seat, and the blinds were tight, so I raised it up to 2.4 big blinds. My opponent called on the button, and the blinds folded. Playing a hand out of position was unexpected, but at least I had a predictable opponent.
The flop was Q93 rainbow, and I bet four big blinds, hoping that he would call. I got what I wanted as he called quickly. Against a very simple player, the quick call means that he has a draw or a medium strength hand. His decision is easy and he doesn’t have to think about raising or about folding. Good news for me, since he overvalued hands so much that he would have raised any top pair here, and since he wouldn’t have a monster when he acted so quickly, I am definitely ahead, and almost always facing middle pair. He was nuts, but won’t have a trey in his hand very often, so a 9 is definitely the most likely holding for him.
I knew exactly what my stack was on the flop, and thought it out. When he called my flop bet, I knew I had my double up. The turn was a 5.
On the turn the pot held 14 big blinds, and I had 28 big blinds left in my stack. I checked. Yep, I checked it. An amateur move to be sure. But I got what I wanted. He bet 11 big blinds, and I went all-in for my remaining 28. He only thought for a second before calling, as I figured he would. I flipped over my top pair with no kicker, and he nodded his head as he rolled over T9o for middle pair. I had him drawing to five outs, and he missed them.
As I stacked the pot, I noticed a confused look from a few players at my table. One player looked like he couldn’t believe that we had just played a pot with 70 big blinds in it and showed down top pair no kicker and middle pair no kicker. Another looked impressed, like I must have had a magical mind-read on my opponent. And a few strong players at the table just nodded their heads, acknowledging that they would have played it the same way.
I felt pretty good about it.
I have had trouble taking risks and trusting my reads in the past, because I’m not inherently a risk-taker when it comes to money. I’ve done some crazy things in my life, but when it comes to poker I have been fairly risk averse for most of my career. While plays like this one have become standard, and they don’t feel like a big risk at all, five years ago it would have been tougher to make this play and be so comfortable with it.
I will definitely cover some more advanced plays in future posts, but in the last week or two this was the play that stuck in my mind as something people could learn from. Remember to look at the stack sizes and think about how the hand will play out. If I had 60 big blinds in my stack, I would have played this hand differently, probably betting small on the turn and checking the river if I didn’t improve. That would usually earn me a free showdown from a mid-pair kind of hand and keep the pot size under control.
I first started blogging in 2005 on pocketfives.com. It was fun, and I was surprised to see that people were actually interested in the life of a low-limit grinder. When pocketfives got rid of their blog section a year or two later, I started hunting for a new home for my blog, but for some reason I just wasn’t happy with any one spot. I didn’t want to build up an audience somewhere and then have them disappear on me again.
Last year during the WSoP I tried to write every night and publish here on my site as well as on MNPokerMag.com, but after a few weeks it was just too much. After a twelve hour tournament day that ends with disappointment, I couldn’t do anything but go to bed. I would love to find someone to pay me enough to write every day that I could take an hour away from the table every day to write, and I’ve searched for that as well, but I haven’t found it.
The only option that makes sense at this point, since I really do want to write, is to host the blog here, syndicate it to whoever wants it, and write when I can. I think 2 or 3 times a week should be more than enough to keep my audience interested. And that is an amount of writing I can handle. I play enough interesting hands, meet enough interesting characters, and have enough thoughts on strategy in a given week to easily produce two or three blog posts and not have to struggle with what I’m going to write about.
The question I’ll start to ask after a month or two of writing will be -
“Will anyone actually read this thing?”
We just recorded our first short news podcast for the MSPT. These little audio news blogs will be recorded early in every event and posted so that you can get MSPT news about what is coming up, how things are going, and what to expect when you come to the event. Check it out below -
I’m proud to announce that I’m part of a truly unique and powerful poker training site – Grinder University!
With long time grinder Adam Stemple and poker psychology expert Dr. Alan Schoonmaker, I will be hosting a seminar every week and helping members work their way through the college style courses on the site as well as contributing on the forums and creating podcasts.
The site covers everything from poker tells to bankroll management, and tilt control to in-depth strategy advice, and since we are geared at live play, both cash games and tournaments, I think we are covering a lot of ground that no other training site has touched. And for $24.95 a month with no sign up fee, the site is a steal right now. That price may go up soon, so sign up now and say hi on the forums. I’ll see you inside.
I signed on today as the ambassador for the Mid-States Poker Tour! It’s an exciting opportunity to help promote the best tournament series in the midwest and work with my friends at the MSPT, a tour I supported way before they paid me to do it. I love the structures, the venues, the players, and the fact that the MSPT changed the game for all of us in the midwest.
Before the MSPT, we had rotten structures everywhere in the midwest. Even the HPT structures weren’t very good those first few years, because none of the local series had any competition and most of the players didn’t know any better. The MSPT did for the midwest what the Venetian Deep Stacks did for Nevada and now we have better
structures everywhere because players demand them and they can compare their local tournaments to the MSPT.
With multiple events in Minnesota, and trips to Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and other states coming soon, the MSPT is growing at an incredible rate and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Short blog today because I have to be back at the Rio for the restart tomorrow at 2 pm and it’s already 4 am. That’s good news though, it means I’m still in the $10k HORSE. Better than that, I have 56k and average is only 40k, so I’m in reasonably good shape. The field is tough, and I had to deal with Jason Mercier, Abe Mosseri, Scotty Nguyen, Daniel Alai, Jen Harmon Read the rest of this entry »
I know, I took a few days off. Quit whining. I busted 17th in the WSoP Razz event for $5,900, and unfortunately it was to Phil Hellmuth who went on to win his twelfth bracelet later that night. And in case you were wondering, I was ahead when we got most of the chips in, but I didn’t stomp off whining about how I should win every event but the donkeys always put beats on me. Grrr. Read the rest of this entry »
Yet another short blog because I made it through another day of the Razz event. We come back with 18 left tomorrow at 2. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I’m short stacked after losing a couple big hands. I was up to 170k a few hours before the end of the day, but ended the day with 54k. Still a fighting chance, but a little annoying to run bad when so much cash is on the line.
I played a lot with Phil Hellmuth today Read the rest of this entry »
Well a short blog posted very late is good news! I made day two of the $2500 Razz event with an above average stack and way above average skill level. It’s amazing how basic the thought processes are in Razz, even with some very smart players at the table. A number of people were confused by plays I made that I could easily have explained to them with a few minutes and a spreadsheet. We restart tomorrow at 2 pm in the Amazon room.
The Rio is the same old Rio, though slightly easier to deal Read the rest of this entry »
Today was my last day of rest for quite some time. I didn’t really rest, you never do what you work for yourself, but I didn’t play poker. I did walk through a few card rooms to confirm that things hadn’t changed significantly since I was in Vegas in the spring, and things seem to be about the same as they are every year at this time when it comes to cash games.
Tomorrow I play the WSoP Razz event. Read the rest of this entry »
I was going to write about some cash game strategy and talk about places to play in Vegas tonight, but we’ll just have to wait a day for that.
Once in awhile life comes along and puts everything in perspective. Today is that day for me. A very dear friend, one of my favorite people in the world, passed away after a long battle with cancer this morning. I took the day off today, and will take the day off tomorrow as well. Playing high stakes tournament poker when your head isn’t right is a recipe for disaster. Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome Fox in Vegas, a daily report from the World Series of Poker and other major tournament series happening in Las Vegas. I was really hoping to have this thing off the ground sooner, but when no one bought it I slacked off for a few days. I’ll be playing approximately $80,000 worth of tournaments, lots of hours of cash games, and talking to players around the city in an effort to keep you abreast of what is going on.
Some things I will likely be talking about – Read the rest of this entry »
Our new tournament tracking site at tourneytracks.com is officially open for business! The site tracks every major tournament series in North America, and includes a full interactive map, event schedules and structure lists, complete TDA rules, and everything else that a traveling tournament player could want to plan their next trip. Please link to the site and tell all of your friends. The faster we can get the word out, the faster we can become the ultimate resource for upcoming poker tournaments.
Here’s the heads up spreadsheet from my recent seminar. Nash solutions for 16 big blinds or less with and without antes are included as well as a SAGE calculator and suggested opening and 3-betting hands.
Download the spreadsheet HERE
Since the release of the book I’ve had a a number of people email asking for my cash HUD set up. Here’s what I use for full ring no-limit games. I think it would be a fine set up for six max games as well. To download the hud .xml file you’ll probably need to right click and choose “save link as”. Then import the file from the player preferences in your Holdem Manager and it should work from there, just two quick steps!
The top row is the icon (you’ll need to set up autorate rules for that, I have some up on this site if you need them), VPIP / PFR and the number hands. I like the quick glance information in the top row and I’ve gotten used to looking for it there.
The second row is more in-depth preflop information, with steal, three-bet and fold to 3bet numbers.
The bottom row helps for post flop play with aggression frequency and won showdown stats.
Here’s a screenshot of the HUD I use in tournaments lately. The auto-rate icon is first, and those auto rate rules are in the post below this one. The first actual number is the player’s tournament M, color coded to the Harrington system. The two numbers separated by a slash are VPIP / PFR and the last number is the number of hands to indicate sample size. I have used HUDs with more info in them, but I can get 3bet and fold to 3bet stats from clicking on the VP/PFR, and those are the only other stats I really use. Stats like W$SD and AG% (which I use in my cash game HUD) just aren’t very useful in tournaments because the sample sizes are never big enough for them to be accurate. Between the autorate system and the few stats in this HUD I know enough to make most of my decisions pretty clear.
Right-Click HERE and select “Save link as” to download the exported file. If the download doesn’t work, you can copy the text below the picture, paste it into a blank text document and save it. Then rename the text document with a .xml extension and you can import that file into Holdem Manager.
To import the file -
Open Holdem Manager and from the very top of the program, select HUD Options and then Player Preferences. This will open up a window where you can control most of what goes on in your HUD. In the top middle of this new window you will see Import and Export buttons. If you click Import and select the file you just downloaded or created, it will import that layout. Then you can set the new layout to be active during tournaments and it should work fine.
Here are the rules I use for full ring no-limit cash games for my autorate icons for Holdem Manager. If you have a typical install you should be able to go to
From there you can see all the text files for the autorate setting and paste the text below in to the file labeled Autorate – FR Holdem NL-PL to replace the default text.
My long awaited book on no-limit Holdem cash games is finally available for preorder and will be shipping within a month. The focus is learning how to think for yourself and handle any situation as they appear rather than trying to to learn what to think and memorize every possible situation.
You can buy it and read about the no-limit holdem book including a sample chapter and table of contents.
You should be able to visit this link, copy the text and paste it in to a text file, and import it to Table Ninja. I’m not an expert on this stuff, so if it doesn’t work try the Table Ninja forums because I don’t know anything else about importing these files.
The HUD layout above is a very simplified HUD that I use for playing lots of tournaments at once.
I ran some numbers today on when to call short stack shoves after you raise and they come over the top. With a simple spreadsheet and Poker Stove these things are easy to figure out. If I still played a lot of cash no-limit Holdem, I would make a bunch of these charts so that I was prepared for any possible short stack poker situation. Here are the two I put together for a couple of my students.
Assuming you have made a standard raise to three times the blind, the 20 BB short stack has come over the top all-in, and no one else is involved in the hand, you should be calling a hand that has about 42% equity against his range. That gives you the following chart for that situation -
Opp Hand Range = Opp Percentage Correct Calling Range
JJ+, AK 3 % AKs, JJ+
99+, AK 4 % AKo, JJ+
99+, AQo+ 5 % AKo, TT+
88+, AJs, AQo 6 % AKo, 99+
77+, ATs, KQs, AQo 7% AQs, 99+
77+, ATs, KQs, AJo 8% AQo+, 88+
66+, ATs, KQo, AJo 9% 77+, AJs+, AQo+
44+, ATs, KQo, AJo 10% 66+, AJo+
44+, ATs, KQo, AJo 11% 66+, AJo+
If you get one caller before the short stack raises all-in for 20 BB, then you can call a little wider because of the extra money in the pot. In this spot you need to have around 39% equity against their range, and I dropped that in to a spreadsheet as well, with the following results.
Opp Hand Range = Opp Percentage Correct Calling Range
JJ+, AK 3 % AKs, JJ+
99+, AK 4 % AKo, JJ+
99+, AQo+ 5 % AQs, TT+
88+, AJs, AQo 6 % AQs, 99+
77+, ATs, KQs, AQo 7% AQo, AJs, 88+
77+, ATs, KQs, AJo 8% AQo+, AJs, 77+
66+, ATs, KQo, AJo 9% 77+, AJs+, AQo+
44+, ATs, KQo, AJo 10% 66+, AJo+
44+, ATs, KQo, AJo 11% 66+, AJo+