Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Red Rock Day Off Trip Photo Essay

So, feeling like this after I busted the Main Event:


I decided to go touch the mountains, that for the last few years I've only looked at from the windows of the Rio, way off in the distance under a haze.



We headed to the Red Rock Mountains.  So named because the iron in the rocks have oxidized red.


Red.


Went Hiking.


In and around the mountains.



Saw some big vistas.


And little critters:


Little Hands:


Plant life:


Hidden streams:


Natural Monoliths:


Trees:


Trees:


Trees:


Big Critters:


Teeny, tiny, hidden chip 'n dale critters (look by the tree):


Sunbathers:


Mine shafts:


People:


Lichen:


Old West balconies:


Melting Mountains:


Mining Towns:



Old Wagons:



More ranges:


Soaring Opera:


Quick Nevada Wedding Chapels:


Quick Nevada Burials:



Monday, July 11, 2016

Main Event Blood Bath

At the Cabana at Mandalay the day before Monkey and I were talking about how bad you'd have to run to bust the Main Event early.  I said I'd need a lot of coolers/bad beats.  Maybe three or four massive ones.  Don't tempt the poker gods with hubris.  They showed me exactly how many I'd need to run through a 50k starting stack.

This will not be me this year.

( Another bit of hubris, I've had friends post hand histories usually turning monster stacks into crumbs late in a tournament, and I admit I suspected they were somewhat made up or at least exaggerated.  Part of me just didn't believe they could run so bad.  Well, now I'll believe anything.  This run bad may sound unbelievable but I did live it.  Just gross).

I had to Curb My Enthusiasm


What a day.  Crushing spiritually.  Kept saying this will turn-- it has to turn.  And part of me loves running bad early, because if I survive, and I keep surviving the potential is there to run great late.  And this story will only be more epic.  Been short plenty of times and turn crumbs into cash so I stayed positive, but it didn't matter.  Rationally, I only don't like a couple of spots and lines in the following hhs.  Feel free to be critical.  If I made mistakes you'll see them..
   
I just want to say thank you to all the support and belief by the investors the last couple of years.  Many of you have said things privately or in DMs that have made me treasure the experience.  So as a thank you, if you don't like being cornered in the Rio by a guy telling bad beat stories, turn away now!

Anyway if you enjoy torture, my hand histories in Main Event from Hell are all here for your displeasure:

1. Second hand two red aces. (SECOND HAND!)  Old man utg +1 raises.  He seems confident.  YUM!    Folds to me on button. I raise.  He 4 bets.  I tank.  He looks like he's never folding.
In my head, I can see he's prepared to make the trip home and say I lost with two kings on day 1.  YUM.

I want to give him that story.  However, I think prudent play is to let the board run out (he's never folding).  And blast away the river if it looks clean.  I will not pay him off if he makes a set and will be a little cautious if a Queen hits though I'm fairly sure he has only KK or somewhat less likely the other two Aces

Flop Jack high.  He checks.  Okay check behind for now (HE'S NEVER FOLDING I'M NOT LOSING VALUE).  Turn a third spade.  He bets.  Okay.  (No spade, no spade, no spade about to bet  at least half my 50k stack... on river) then a spade.

He checks.  Ugh.  I... check.  He says those four spades killed his action.  HE WAS NEVER FOLDING... what an optimal scenario had he not had... two black kings.  Seccond nuts and he checks.  Well, I  know I like this table.

2.  Run QQ into AA.  Fun.  Board saves me this time.

3.  KK into 1010.  Old guy opens.  I three bet he calls.  Flop is Jack high.  He checks.  I bet.  He raises.  Arguably I could have found fold here.  Turn brick.  He lessens his bet.  Odd.  Call.  River another small bet.  Call.  Set of tens.

4.  Ak.  Bet two callers.  Flop King.  Bet. One caller.  Turn 5.  Bet called.  River brick.  Bet called.  He shows set of 5s.

Did I mention I loved my table ... literally as you can see they want to keep me around and not get any value for their hands.  Just needed an uptick in luck.

5.  K10 suited on button with a limper.  I bet, limper calls.  King high flop.  I bet he calls. Turn is brick.  I bet big he calls.  River is an Ace.  He checks (again).  This time I check.  He shows A6.

6.  I have AK raise a limper.  He and a blind calls.  Flop is King high.  Limper donk bets, I raise, blind folds and limper calls my bet.  Turn puts three diamonds on board.  He check calls my bet.  River four flushes.  I don't have diamond.  He checks.  I turn AK into in a bluff.  He snaps calls with pocket 6s and the six of diamonds.  Ugh... what?

7.  I have Ad9d on button.  One limper.  I raise.  SB calls.  Limper calls.  Flop is Ace high.  Check, check.  I bet.  SB calls.  Limper folds.  Turn puts two diamonds out there.  SB checks.  I bet... really want to hit flush.  He calls.  Brick flush.  River air ball.  He checks.  I... check.  He flips AK.  Unbelievable.

Did I mention I love my table.  What's not to love about these guys?

8.  I have AsQs in sb.  Limps to me.  I raise.  BB calls.  Limper calls.  Flop is two spades but also two sevens.  Bet call call.  Queen ball turn.  I bet fairly large.  Blind folds.  Limper calls.  River is a 4 of spades.  I bet with Ace high flush.  Limper raises small.  I just laugh and just call.  He has pocket fours of course he does.  WTF!

9.  5d6d in bb just a limper.  Check my option.  Flop 7d4xKd.  I bet.  He calls.  Turn brick I bet he calls. River a brick (of course).  I feel he has a weak king at best but most likely a smaller pair.  I bet stiffly.  He snap calls.  *He had also shown an ability to call two streets and then fold river.  Otherwise I don't try.

Btw, I wrote these hands in different places on social media and texts so some may be out of order.

10.  AQ in SB.  Two limpers.  Raise.  Call. Call.  9 high flop.  I cbet both call.  Turn a six.  I'm done.  Check.  Bet. Bet. (i fold).  River brick.  Bet call.  They both turn over 96 o/s to chop with two pair.

Really, really?  Can this be happening.  How can I have the greatest table ever and run like this.  Limp, calling with 96 off suit.  Share outs and hit both their cards.  Huh?

11.  Short stacked.  I'm at 10 bigs.  (blinds 150 to 300).  Guy makes it 750.  I shove for 3200.  He...  folds.  What?  What?

I have?  Two red aces again.  I show table.  They are laughing at how bad I'm running.  Of course you have Aces when a guy makes a terrible fold with 60k in front of him.  Even the guy that I kind of made a rival (by stealing from him the few pots I actually won) is sympathetic.  They discuss how bad it is to run so bad in the Main Event.

12.  Bust out hand.  Suited A9 on button.  Shove.  SB calls with 88.  Okay, not bad.  Flop is KQ10.  Not terrible, any Jack, any 9, any Ace.  Turns is a king.  Wow.  Facecard, facecard, facecard...  River is a... the final tease.  A face card.  But one of the two that don't work.  King ball. Good game me.
Let's go team!

I'm playing a couple of bullets in the one drop.  And will be supporting/railing my friends and fellow minions still in the Main.  Congrats to Laura Crafton, Gene D, and Robert Harwell for making it through.  Also, a huge thanks to all the investors, and Monkey for putting me in and believing in me again.  Pretty crushed for you guys that I'm out so early.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity as well as all the wonderful people I've met or become social media friends with through this.  I think those still repping us are all class acts and easy to root for,  Let's go Minions!


Main Event Blood Bath

At the Cabana at Mandalay the day before Monkey and I were talking about how bad you'd have to run to bust the Main Event early.  I said I'd need a lot of coolers/bad beats.  Maybe three or four massive ones.  Don't tempt the poker gods with hubris.  They showed me exactly how many I'd need to run through a 50k starting stack.

This will not be me this year.

( Another bit of hubris, I've had friends post hand histories usually turning monster stacks into crumbs late in a tournament, and I admit I suspected they were somewhat made up or at least exaggerated.  Part of me just didn't believe they could run so bad.  Well, now I'll believe anything.  This run bad may sound unbelievable but I did live it.  Just gross).

I had to Curb My Enthusiasm


What a day.  Crushing spiritually.  Kept saying this will turn-- it has to turn.  And part of me loves running bad early, because if I survive, and I keep surviving the potential is there to run great late.  And this story will only be more epic.  Been short plenty of times and turn crumbs into cash so I stayed positive, but it didn't matter.  Rationally, I only don't like a couple of spots and lines in the following hhs.  Feel free to be critical.  If I made mistakes you'll see them..
   
I just want to say thank you to all the support and belief by the investors the last couple of years.  Many of you have said things privately or in DMs that have made me treasure the experience.  So as a thank you, if you don't like being cornered in the Rio by a guy telling bad beat stories, turn away now!

Anyway if you enjoy torture, my hand histories in Main Event from Hell are all here for your displeasure:

1. Second hand two red aces. (SECOND HAND!)  Old man utg +1 raises.  He seems confident.  YUM!    Folds to me on button. I raise.  He 4 bets.  I tank.  He looks like he's never folding.
In my head, I can see he's prepared to make the trip home and say I lost with two kings on day 1.  YUM.

I want to give him that story.  However, I think prudent play is to let the board run out (he's never folding).  And blast away the river if it looks clean.  I will not pay him off if he makes a set and will be a little cautious if a Queen hits though I'm fairly sure he has only KK or somewhat less likely the other two Aces

Flop Jack high.  He checks.  Okay check behind for now (HE'S NEVER FOLDING I'M NOT LOSING VALUE).  Turn a third spade.  He bets.  Okay.  (No spade, no spade, no spade about to bet  at least half my 50k stack... on river) then a spade.

He checks.  Ugh.  I... check.  He says those four spades killed his action.  HE WAS NEVER FOLDING... what an optimal scenario had he not had... two black kings.  Seccond nuts and he checks.  Well, I  know I like this table.

2.  Run QQ into AA.  Fun.  Board saves me this time.

3.  KK into 1010.  Old guy opens.  I three bet he calls.  Flop is Jack high.  He checks.  I bet.  He raises.  Arguably I could have found fold here.  Turn brick.  He lessens his bet.  Odd.  Call.  River another small bet.  Call.  Set of tens.

4.  Ak.  Bet two callers.  Flop King.  Bet. One caller.  Turn 5.  Bet called.  River brick.  Bet called.  He shows set of 5s.

Did I mention I loved my table ... literally as you can see they want to keep me around and not get any value for their hands.  Just needed an uptick in luck.

5.  K10 suited on button with a limper.  I bet, limper calls.  King high flop.  I bet he calls. Turn is brick.  I bet big he calls.  River is an Ace.  He checks (again).  This time I check.  He shows A6.

6.  I have AK raise a limper.  He and a blind calls.  Flop is King high.  Limper donk bets, I raise, blind folds and limper calls my bet.  Turn puts three diamonds on board.  He check calls my bet.  River four flushes.  I don't have diamond.  He checks.  I turn AK into in a bluff.  He snaps calls with pocket 6s and the six of diamonds.  Ugh... what?

7.  I have Ad9d on button.  One limper.  I raise.  SB calls.  Limper calls.  Flop is Ace high.  Check, check.  I bet.  SB calls.  Limper folds.  Turn puts two diamonds out there.  SB checks.  I bet... really want to hit flush.  He calls.  Brick flush.  River air ball.  He checks.  I... check.  He flips AK.  Unbelievable.

Did I mention I love my table.  What's not to love about these guys?

8.  I have AsQs in sb.  Limps to me.  I raise.  BB calls.  Limper calls.  Flop is two spades but also two sevens.  Bet call call.  Queen ball turn.  I bet fairly large.  Blind folds.  Limper calls.  River is a 4 of spades.  I bet with Ace high flush.  Limper raises small.  I just laugh and just call.  He has pocket fours of course he does.  WTF!

9.  5d6d in bb just a limper.  Check my option.  Flop 7d4xKd.  I bet.  He calls.  Turn brick I bet he calls. River a brick (of course).  I feel he has a weak king at best but most likely a smaller pair.  I bet stiffly.  He snap calls.  *He had also shown an ability to call two streets and then fold river.  Otherwise I don't try.

Btw, I wrote these hands in different places on social media and texts so some may be out of order.

10.  AQ in SB.  Two limpers.  Raise.  Call. Call.  9 high flop.  I cbet both call.  Turn a six.  I'm done.  Check.  Bet. Bet. (i fold).  River brick.  Bet call.  They both turn over 96 o/s to chop with two pair.

Really, really?  Can this be happening.  How can I have the greatest table ever and run like this.  Limp, calling with 96 off suit.  Share outs and hit both their cards.  Huh?

11.  Short stacked.  I'm at 10 bigs.  (blinds 150 to 300).  Guy makes it 750.  I shove for 3200.  He...  folds.  What?  What?

I have?  Two red aces again.  I show table.  They are laughing at how bad I'm running.  Of course you have Aces when a guy makes a terrible fold with 60k in front of him.  Even the guy that I kind of made a rival (by stealing from him the few pots I actually won) is sympathetic.  They discuss how bad it is to run so bad in the Main Event.

12.  Bust out hand.  Suited A9 on button.  Shove.  SB calls with 88.  Okay, not bad.  Flop is KQ10.  Not terrible, any Jack, any 9, any Ace.  Turns is a king.  Wow.  Facecard, facecard, facecard...  River is a... the final tease.  A face card.  But one of the two that don't work.  King ball. Good game me.
Let's go team!

I'm playing a couple of bullets in the one drop.  And will be supporting/railing my friends and fellow minions still in the Main.  Congrats to Laura Crafton, Gene D, and Robert Harwell for making it through.  Also, a huge thanks to all the investors, and Monkey for putting me in and believing in me again.  Pretty crushed for you guys that I'm out so early.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity as well as all the wonderful people I've met or become social media friends with through this.  I think those still repping us are all class acts and easy to root for,  Let's go Minions!


Saturday, July 02, 2016

888 2016 Wrap-UP

Bullet number one of the 888, the first big tournament in my package started out rather nondescript.  You get 5k in chips and 30 minute levels.  Essentially, the Harrahs weekly I grind all the time with just a little bit better structure.  Should be in my sweet spot.

We started five handed, max in this tournament is 8 handed, and a guy I recognized on my left seemed to be the best player of the other four.  I hit some big early hands, turned a straight and flopped a flush, both times my opponents showed and had nothing.  Hate getting monsters too early.

An older gentleman at the table I decided to target kept hitting hands so maybe a bad choice.  I tried to bluff him once after he bet pre, he c-bet the 9 high flop and then he checked turn and river.  I had A10 and some back door possibilities.  I thought I had some showdown value but there were also some small pairs and better Aces,  I might be able to fold out so I bet.  He called with JJ.  Based on what he had I was happy with my sizing but in reflection that's results oriented I should have bet more or just checked as my stack was so shallow.  Many of the hands I wanted to fold might have called for the price I set.

Earlier he checked down and got zero value with Aces after 3betting pre, so maybe I should have checked.

Then Praytush Buddigga sat down with his 4 million plus in live tournament poker winnings.  I recognized him but couldn't place him.  Probably means he's good.  Thanks to Ross Leitz for some first name suggestions and a google search, I discovered...

Guy is a bit of beast.  A Duke graduate (didn't know at time), he probably didn't like the Tar Heel on my hat.  He won the Scripps Spelling Bee as a 13 year old in the early 2000s.  His winning word was prospicience (a word that my spell check doesn't recognize).  Credit to him, he must have had to foresight to look ahead and study that word.

Six handed, then seven handed the blinds still came fast and furious.  You can not afford to lose too many hands. I played with my target when I defended my big blind with Ah4h.  I flopped a four on a pretty dry board and called his cbet.  Turn gave me a flush draw and he bet big-ish.  Before his bet I was pretty sure any 4, Ace or heart would give me the winner.  Now, I wasn't so sure my ace was live.  Still I called as I was pretty sure I could get a full double if I hit.  The river tricked me as I just saw a red flash while studying him.

After a moment, he shoved, I looked to the board and saw the bad news that it was a diamond.  His play prevented me from even having the option to bluff. I doubt I would have.  And I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have worked anyway.  Considering the way he played over pairs he was likely very strong.

That hand hurt and the blinds felt like they were circling even faster, with a ton of quick hands and numerous preflop folds.  Didn't help that I couldn't catch a hand.  Also Praytush fairly quickly went to work putting his full stack in the middle in a couple of hands and the others seemed to copy him.

Ultimately, I looked at AQ with ~ten bigs.  I put most of my stack in and then Buddiga stewed.  He looked to see my crumbs behind. Then he just flatted.  Ugh.  My spider sense told me he had a big hand, but he had the prospicience to just call and try and induce somebody else to join the hand.

Flop came 9 high.  I had too few chips to fold and pretty sure he wasn't going to let me check it down to river.  So I shoved and he called.  Showing KK.  Ugh.  No Ace or running cards came to save my first buy-in.

Then he looks at me and says in angry tone, "Can you spell... Bust out?"





*Okay, he totally didn't say that.  But some variation of that should be his catch phrase when he busts people (with a sense of humor), as it sounds like it's common for his opponents to ask him to spell things while at the table.

Here's more on him:

 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2015/05/25/from-spelling-bee-champ-to-professional-poker-player/

 So, flight be had to go better right?  It did.  Early on I had more chips than I ever did in Flight A.  Problem is I caught a lot of huge hands early where people, again, were less inclined to play big pots.
One big one, I had AK.  An older tighter player opened and I three bet from the button.  He called.  Flop came 2AA.  Ugh...  Not getting paid by a lot here.  Maybe should have bet really small but didn't.  Checked.

Turn was an A.  So yes, I had quad Aces.  I was happier because now all those pocket pairs he called with have a boat.  He checked, I checked with the plan to bomb the river and hoping he can catch something if he didn't have a pocket pair. An eight hit, he checked and I bet large and he snap folded.  Guessing he called me with KQ? How he didn't have a full house there so frustrating.

Next hand I defend my big blind with KJ against another tight player and flop comes KKx.  I bet small and he insta mucks.  Ugh.  I run a couple of semi-bluffs, some 3bets with air against an active player and chip up.  Then they bring this guy to my table:



You never want a friend at the table especially when you've been sharing a ton about each others game.  Steve Bierman also has been crushing this year and is an active player so I expect my rather docile table dynamics to change quick.  I'd been picking on the short stacks, but loquacious Steve did change things.  He fussed at the kids to respect their elders and to stop opening every hand.  I prepared to enjoyed the show, but it was short lived.  Steve 3bet shoved on a guy with pocket Jacks and didn't hit his outs.  He definitely had one shot to raise my big blind and took it.  Seems like he knows I don't like to play out of position against good players.  Yes, I'm keeping count of my big blind raises Steve.

Around us, people bust fast and furious.  I see several top pros at surrounding tables and oddly, I take pleasure when turning around and then seeing their seat vacant.  This may be the fastest WSOP tournament because it's the same structure as the Colossus BUT with a critical difference.  You play less hands because the max you'll have at a table is 8 and often you are six handed.  Blinds eat up everybody's stack and bustouts happen faster then they can balance the tables.  The few times we have a full table there is slightly more play.

We get some new additions to the table with large chip stacks.  I play a significant pot with a euro when I opened KJ suited.  He flatted from a blind.  Flop came Ace high.  He donk bet into me.  I called, thought about raising, thought about folding, but ultimately felt he was weak and would reevaluate on turn.  Turn was another Ace.  He checked, I checked (thinking my read was right) and planned on betting most rivers.

River brought a third heart and I figured I could be good with king high as played, but there were a bevy of hands I could fold out that were better than mine if I bet.  When he checked, I opted for pot size bet which was half my stack to indicate I was committed.

He promptly shoved.  Yuck.

Pot was so big I contemplated calling with King high.  Such an odd (impossible?) spot for him to bluff though.  I know I need to fold.  I try telling a couple of light remarks he shows nothing.  Then I say, "I have an idea... how about we do over this card and instead of me betting I just check.  You want to pretend that bet never happened."  He finally cracked.  A big authentic, eye crinkling smile, and I know there is zero chance for me to hero call and win.  I fold.

Now I have crumbs with the bubble coming.  Double yuck.

Fully four people at the table expressed some surprise I could fold on the river with so much of my stack in and so little behind.  (I kept track in my mind).

A couple of hands later there is an open and a call.  I look at AJ in the big blind and get it in.  Call, call.  Flop is QQ5.  Bet call.  Uh-oh.  Turn is a 9. Check-Check.  Come on Ace or Jack, I'm thinking.  River is a 9.  Wait, that's actually not a bad card for me.

Asian kid bets big into side pot.  Euro folds, and I say, "tell me you have pocket 8s."  He demands the side pot before showing his... 44.

My QQ99 with an Ace beat his hand as he had to play the board.  Nice.  That triple up, enables me to make it to the stone bubble.  All the guys that shook their head at my prior play?  Yeah, all busted.  Told you I was keeping track.

Going hand for hand, with the next person to bust not making the money, I look at AJ, UTG +1 with 8 bigs.  Normally, this might be a shove for me.  I muck, there is a bet, a raise and a call.  I would have lost to both hands as one player had AK the other a pocket pair.  The very next hand I had 1010.  I had already shoved that hand three times to survive (no calls).  This time I fold it.  There is a bet and a shove (!).  Kid that shoved, had been playing rather tight and said afterward he had Aces when the initial bettor folded.  He said he busted the day before with QQ on the stone bubble and laughing said his range in that spot is now exactly AA or KK.

Boom!  Money bubble bursts.  We have a cash in our second event of the series.  Now time to run it up.

I double and win a couple of pots.  Finally, they break our table, with me and the kid to my left having survived all day side by side.  It's always a tournament goal of mine to outlast everybody on my starting table.  Somehow, I don't think we played one significant pot over the course of the day.  I hope there was some mutual admiration as I pretty early on I rated him the other best player at the table and we chewed up the newcomers for long period.

I get moved to a new table and run card dead.  All big stacks.  I'm going to shove and get called somewhere so need to find a hand.  I get one through and they move a shortish stack to my table.  I recognize him (Michael Andrews?) from New Orleans.  Think he just cashed the high roller there.



Finally, a stack I could hurt.  He's also sensible so I know he's not just going to call off with any two.  As soon as it's his big blind I shove with out looking at my hand.  Folds quickly to guy one from the button. He stews and finally calls.  Michael has air and folds.

I turn over the cards to reveal 10 7.  Guy on the button with not that many chips had A3 (I don't love his call... it is a turbo but he seemed a little shallow to call with any ace with three players to act).  I'm not that big an underdog.

But... his Ace high holds and I go to the payout cage.

Well, back at it at 10 am today. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Suggestions for Fellow Minions

Here are my unsolicited suggestions for Monkey's Minions candidates that I'll pass on to the Monkey himself:

So, in no particular order here are my endorsements of players that I know who have submitted or probably will submit.

Gene D, alright, I lied, this first one is in order.  My man's always going to be my first recommendation. This is the guy that got me into poker and steered me in the right direction when I thought "Big Slick" was the nuts no matter the board. Any of my future, my current and  my past successes in the game wouldn't have come without him listening to me in the early years and steering my learning process.

Gene, my partner at GCP (and there would be no GCP without a fateful conversation years ago), is a family man, poker advocate, all around great guy, and a player with the style and patience to succeed in the WSOP main event.  Coolers, bad beats, and bad luck aside, he's got to be a favorite to cash.  He's not going to bluff off 200 big blinds.  We know that.  He's also able to pick off a bluff and to play against his image, to pick up chips in those long periods of being card dead in a 10 hour day and survive and advance.  We know that too.  Lately, he's played less.   He's a family man first.  Having to forsake the long hours of tournament poker, the travel and the weeks away from home that go into is an easy trade when you put your wife, son and job first.

That doesn't mean that his love for the game has diminished any less.  I'm sure this chance to play in the Main Event, possibly cash in the Main event, and represent Team Monkey might mean as much or more to him than any other applicant.  He's literally been a lover of poker since BEFORE Chris Moneymaker, growing up with the game, grinding in the student union in college, early games in back room of pool halls and bars, all the way to him winning a Casino Championship in the WSOP-C series and qualifying for the National Championship.  I'm pretty confident he'd have many people willing to buy into the cause.  Reading Will's requirements this year it almost sounds like he's describing Gene.

Kenny Milam, is another mentor of mine.  Kenny shared some of my biggest successes with me and used to be a backer/partial backer of many on the coast.  As such he's always been willing to put players in action in the past.  Kind of cool that the Minions might be able to put him into the biggest tournament in the world this year if he applies.  Kenny's also a good friend, and another all around great guy.  He too lives poker and probably plays online, in a bar, or at a casino every single day of the week.  He has results at this level too.  The last two main events he's lasted just a little bit longer than me (argh! silly bragging rights).  His bust out hand last year when he also finished in the low 200s... King King.  That's fitting of minion I think.


Steve Bierman, is relatively new player that I've been helping fine tune his game.  His progress from one year ago to now is incredible.  He's already in the top 100 of earners in Louisiana and he's only been playing for a little over one year.  Like the players above I can't say enough about this guy either.  He studies poker digesting almost a book a week, grinds cash and tournaments and is laser focused on getting better.  He's also got a pretty good coach (ahem).  His intangibles are a gift for gab at the table and an ability to get under somebody's skin when necessary or to charm somebody into a fold when it calls for it.  Even when he was a neophyte, his fearlessness and his presence earned him results maybe you'd think somebody with his lack of fundalmentals shouldn't earn.  Since then he's fine tuned his game, plugged some leaks, and probably is one of the best tournament players in Harrahs New Orleans.  What growth.  The pic above is after he crushed the January Million Dollar Heater at the Beau (Steve's in the middle Jeff Sager on the right, the fat guy on the left?  I don't know).


David Chocheles, kid has been on a bit of heater this year.  David has joined Steve, I and others (hello cash gamers Lee McAllister, Ben Saxton etc)  in regular little group study sessions of poker.  Yes, we are poker geeks who meet to talk poker.  Always room to get better replaying hands, strategizing, discussing poker books and training sites.  David's in my opinion has really grown as a player.  He's fearless and puts people to tests and grinds out results.  I'm a big fan of his game, and consider him one of my toughest rivals in the local tournaments.  Like I've done with Steve and others on this list, I've also bought small pieces of David in the past and will continue to.  Think he's a good investment. I believe David played in the Main a couple of years ago, and won't be overwhelmed by the moment.  A worthy selection.


Joe Hebert, another local player, I believe in.  Joe's had some deep cashes and is a devoted player.  Not many hands that end up with a fold on the turn stick in your head over a poker career.  But the fact, I remember one with him over a small pot, that I thought he played super creative, based on stack sizes, probably is a testament to his ability.  It may be the only such hand that's affixed itself to my long term memory.  I think Joe, who will play a pretty impressive schedule in Vegas this year, would also be a worthy minion.  I know that he, like Monkey, came out to play a small charity event in Metairie last year, with the goal of helping out the cause not to exploit a soft game.  Speaks to what kind of person he is (Monkey too).


Chris Canan, who I don't think has applied, yet, reminds me of Steve.  He's the Saints super fan that looks like Coach Payton above.  He's been devoting himself to the game and focused on improving.  He's playing a lot at the world series this year  and is strictly about tournament poker.  He's shown a similar trajectory to Steve and is willing to put in the time.  I think he'd be a great selection too.

Regardless, there are a ton of great players and friends that I haven't mentioned here.  Plus, I think all the past Minions are still deserving.  Several keep binking big cashes too.  My apologies if I missed anyone.  Happy to add on to my blog post later, I'm sure there are some obvious choices I'm missing.  Regardless, I don't envy Monkey there's going to be hard choices.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Monkey's Minions, WSOP Thoughts...

hat they gave everybody that cashed the main event
Wow.  I'm honored and humbled.  For the third year in a row, I've been selected to be a minion.  Huge thanks to Will Souther who runs this little investment group and to all the people that buy shares of the players.  It's the high point of any poker player's year to play in the WSOP Main Event and to have a seat locked up in April is thrilling, awesome, and comforting.  Thank you so much everybody!

My first two years I lasted the longest of the Minions (that's why I got asked back) and last year did the same cashing as I made making a run to almost the top 200 players.  (Btw, had they paid the top 15% the first year, as they do now, I  would have cashed then too).  In the aftermaths, I don't think I realized how well I ran to go pretty deep both years.


Last woman standing Kelly Minkin, me, and tournament chip leader at the time on my left. This table also featured 2015 November Niner Thomas Cannuli who stood out as an awesome player and several other studs.  HARD.  Maybe, I was lucky to be so card dead then.
The first year I was all in once (that tells you all you need to know in how that went  KK no good v. jj).  Last year, I was all in only three times.  On day two, I could only beat a bluff and called off after maybe the longest tank of my life.  I was good.   Then I had AA, I saw a 3bet and then a 4bet before me including November Niner Matt Jarvis.  


Neil Blumefeld at final table
I knew I didn't have enough chips to make them fold and knew they knew it too, so while I had a chance for a triple up I had two fade two players instead of one.  They both called. I beat AK and 1010 to right the ship on a day when eventual 2015 November Niner Neil Blumenfeld made a terrible play against me to cripple my chips earlier.

I say terrible because I asked Neil about the hand afterward and his rationale for calling me was garbage.  I wish he had said "I had a read," but instead he gave a rather silly reason for calling four streets of bets by me.  He literally could only beat a bluff or the exact hand I held (which he didn't even consider a monster draw that didn't get there).  Truly a nice guy, but it was hard to pull for him in November because that hand stood out so much for me.  So many other players have a fold button in that spot. But he was running insanely good so a lot easier for him to call.

My third all in hand last year... again my downfall was all-in with Kings this time v. Ace Queen.  Weirdly when the kid called I felt I was doomed.  Sometimes you just know when you are going to hold, sometimes you just know when you are going to suck out, and sometimes you just know when it's over.  I readied myself to leave the WSOP.  This time the flop and turn were clean.  As the dealer peeled the river, I allowed myself to think just for a second maybe my gut was wrong, maybe there is no such thing as a sixth sense.  In my head, I allowed myself to consider with that double I was going to have some chips to battle and they were about to move us to the TV table.

I liked my chances against the other players-it actually might have been my softest table of the Main Event crazy as that sounds considering how deep we were.  Since Norman Chad scouted us in the early morning and decided we'd make good TV, I planned on ratcheting up the aggression if I had any chips.  Pretty sure most of the players didn't want to risk busting not only because of the money but for the chance to show their family they made the telecast by sticking around that table for as long as they could.  Felt like a bubble situation +100.  Who knows if that plan would have worked but my focus wasn't about the TV it was about leveraging the table to accumulate more chips.  

Then the dealer turned over Barry Greenstein, an Ace on the River, and my Main Event was over.  I was gutted.  Just like Monkey who went out v. Elisabeth Hille Kings were my downfall again.

Anyway, I now know that I got extremely fortunate in one perspective, that I battled for days with very little chance of elimination.  I felt I played really well too.  For example, I didn't go broke and almost folded (yes) top set correctly (again Kings (that hand) that improved) vs. a flush in a blind v. blind battle (only three hearts on board).  Yeah, that one will stay with me forever.  I also hero called multiple times against some aggros including v.  pro Dan O'Brien to keep accumulating chips.  That said, it's a marathon and it's as much avoiding land mines and potential disasters as it is making good decisions.  Some things you can control and some things you can't.  My strategy to pot control and limit the variance worked both years.

I hope I run as well as I did the last two years, and I'm putting in the work (studying) to play as tough as I did last year.  Thanks again everybody for the opportunity.
Also, I will be playing some prelim events and probably get to Las Vegas a week or so before the Main Event.  I will be selling a package for those events and can facilitate anybody that wants to purchase shares of the Minions.  Email me at ezedcota (for spambots sake separating this address... now you  obviously plug in the old @ sign)  then end it with yahoo.com if you want information about what I'll be playing.  Though it's probably easier if you contact Will directly (details on the Poker Monkey blog) if you just want a piece of the minions.  Shares are $200 a pop for that.  I'll be buying as I always do to support the other minions.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Spring Poker Classic

I'm here at the Golden Moon one of the two casinos that make up Pearl River's Resort in Choctaw, Mississippi.  The room is modern and new.  Plenty of amenities to make the three hour drive from New Orleans worthwhile.  None moreso than the possible overlay in the Main Event tomorrow.

Gene D and I are finally at the same poker tournament at the same time.  Ruling out the rumor that we have merged into one GCP mega person.  Course we've yet to play the same tournament at the same time so perhaps that strange theorem still has legs.

Downstairs Gene has already won a mega for the this Main Event and will likely play tomorrow if he can get his ticket changed from his six pm start time tonight.  I'll play a mega later and join him tomorrow.  No idea if we'll have any company because the first flight only had 30 or so players in it.  While I'd prefer an overlay and fewer people to battle it out with... we told Paul and Eric, two of the guys running the tournament, that we'd promote things for them.  So... the cat's out of the bag people.  150k of prize money and probably too few people to fight for it.

Rooms are cheap.