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Medium-High Stakes Full Ring Discussion of $400+ pot-limit and no-limit and 5/10 live texas hold'em full ring games, situations and strategies

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Old 02-15-2012, 12:09 PM   #1
DGAF
Pooh-Bah
 
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: West Coast
Posts: 5,077
2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

***This is pretty much just for the up ‘n’ comers/dreamers of quitting their jobs (I def remember when I was one).

I have always been a poker player. As a kid, I played for coins at friends’ houses during sleepovers. We played 5-card draw dealer calls the wild card, and we usually played until one person had all the money- or until someone’s mom busted up the game and made us all to go to sleep. While I can’t say for sure how much I won in these games (it was a long time ago and my spreadsheet only goes back to 2004 ), I remember always being the most focused kid at the table- by a mile. I was fascinated by the idea of being able to acquire money while playing a game, just by being smarter, more perceptive, more patient, and more courageous than your opponents. I also really loved the competitive nature of poker right away…

I grew up the younger of two brothers in a divorced family where sports was always topic #1--> I have always been VERY competitive. Most of my friends growing up were pretty competitive too, and playing poker (even for nickels and dimes) fed the competition addiction when the sun went down and we couldn’t play basketball, baseball, football, soccer, hockey, or whatever any more. ***Having an undying competitive drive (prob even a mean streak) is requirement #1 wrt making it as a live poker professional imo. You will get knocked down (and then kicked like crazy while you are down) routinely in your career no matter how good you are. The pace is just too slow/the variance is just too high (if you are doing it right) for anyone to be exempt from significant/regular downswings. Those who keep getting up, keep working on their game, keep making the right plays despite the temptation to play scared/safe- they are the ones who “make it” long term.

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I didn’t play a whole lot of poker during high school as most of my time was occupied by sports, girls and partying. The summer after I graduated though, a group of us started playing “pay the pot” games (guts, 357, kings and littles, dickweed loc, acey duecey, etc) a few nights a week. The way these games work- for those of you who grew up after nlhe broke- is everyone antes, and then after everyone gets a chance to pick up their cards, look at them, and decide what they want to do, the dealer announces, “1, 2, 3, drop!” If only one person holds their cards at this point and everyone else drops, that person scoops the pot and it’s onto the next hand (some games require beating a dummy hand or holding solo 3 times to scoop). If more than one player holds, there is a betting round (usually capped) and then hands are turned up. The winner then drags the pot and each loser replenishes the full amount (after the betting round) out of pocket. In 357- the game I would always call as dealer because it provided the most edge and biggest pots, there is no betting round but the winner drags half of the pot and each loser pays full- and it takes 3 solo holds to scoop. As you can prob imagine, pots can get big in a hurry in “pay the pot” games, no matter how small the initial ante.

No one who played in our games- except for one guy who was pretty much the town’s kingpin weed dealer- was even close to properly rolled, so there were always a ton of iou’s floating around. And because our player pool was almost entirely comprised of degens who had no earning power/drive in the real world, the iou’s were pretty much just promises of repayment if the ower went on a heater before the end of the night/it was agreed his credit was exhausted. Because of this, iou’s were constantly bought and sold for pennies on the dollar. They were also often exchanged for personal items of value, and many times just ripped up after the ower left if it was clear he wasn’t going to play anymore and there was no shot he’d ever attempt to make good on his debt...

I pretty much destroyed the “pay the pot” games right away. In addition to coming up with better holding thresholds than my opponents in each spot (accounting for number of wild cards and players and such), and also being pretty much the only one to figure out and implement common sense strategy- like hold everything early (while the pot is tiny) in games that require 3 solo holds (also called “legs” iirc) or gamble way more in pots that actually have cash in them as opposed to just paper, I also had a pretty significant “live edge”.

The guys I played with were such tell boxes- and I was very keyed in despite all kinds of distractions and debauchery going on around me- that I would often know when they were all dropping or if someone was going to hold, just based on mannerisms, preloads, what they were saying, etc. And if someone seemed like they were on the fence because their hand wasn’t quite a monster or the pot had gotten too big or whatever, I would often get meta and put my cards in my shirt pocket and light up a cigarette or crack open a beer or something before “drop” was called, letting them know I was going to hold, and I dgaf if they did or not. I got some pretty huge folds this way, and I always had air/was completely unbalanced lol.

I won a ton of money (for the time), a ton of iou’s that I would never be able to redeem for much (if anything), and lots of random **** like surfboard leashes, rash guards, weed, etc- one of my good friends played football at Colorado State and I won his Holiday Bowl ring one night, but I didn’t have the heart to accept it because he was such a cool guy and such an incredible fish. I did however drive lesser friends/acquaintances to atm machines on more than one occasion to settle debts if they had exhausted their iou credit and promised repayment that night. The ride to and from was always real awkward to say the least.

Around this time, one of my friends also introduced a few of us to gin rummy (he had played it with his mom after dinners growing up or something). We played hu matches, first one to 500 points for some predetermined amount of money. I don’t know if I was real good or if my friends were just completely awful, but I honestly don’t recall ever losing a match. I collected cards relentlessly, only laid bricks that only I could play, and only laid down runs that I had blocked. I could remember/figure out exactly what cards my opponents held, and once I knew they were drawing dead (sometimes pretty early in the match), I would just collect all the cards and it was game over. Gin rummy lost its luster pretty quickly and after like a month or so I couldn’t get any action. No complaints though, I had plenty of spending money (and other stuff) right out of high school.

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The next big game for me was spades. A bunch of us lived in an apartment in Newport Beach, CA while I was going to college, and these two dudes from Texas (can’t remember the connection) came and lived with us for a semester. They taught us 2 on 2 spades and that quickly became our game of choice. I’m pretty sure we only played for like 5 or 10 cents a point, but it def added up with people constantly overbidding (and getting set) and us playing around the clock…

Our 2 house guests bolted back to Texas just before we fully realized they had been cheating us to death with signals and information sharing during bathroom breaks or whatever. They also stuck us with their portion of the utility bills--> pretty ballsy on both accounts considering they were outnumbered and would have gotten absolutely smashed had they been caught (I’m not much of a tough guy, but some of my roommates at the time you didn’t really want to **** with). Spades is a great game that is a lot of fun to play with people you trust. Other than that, it’s pretty worthless imo because it’s so easy to cheat.

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It should be said that I’ve always (with the exception of ’07 and ’08, which I will get to later) been a pretty big degen and a pretty horrendous manager of money. If I have cash in my pocket, it’s pretty much always in play (at the poker table or otherwise), and if someone is up for having a good time, I’m pretty much always in. I’ve also never once in my life been accused of not being extremely generous when it comes to paying for tabs or treating friends and family to stuff they can’t afford. Excuse: I’m 100% Irish and I believe in “living in the moment”, “you only live once”, “life is short”, “it’s more about the journey than the finish line”, etc, etc (add any other cliché rationalizations for partying/having fun/not really worrying about anything you can think of )…

When I turned 21, I started going to Vegas regularly. I would try to methodically run it up (lol) in the pit or sportsbook and would inevitably go on tilt (either from losing or from winning too slow) and I’d dust off my entire net worth- which admittedly wasn’t much- pretty much every single trip. I would fund these trips/rebuild my Vegas roll with home game poker winnings and wages earned from a bunch of ****ty jobs that I briefly held. I also ran it up pretty good on credit cards. ***Credit card debt is absolutely brutal and can actually make you feel trapped or even depressed like they say in the TV commercials. I would advise any young person against acquiring it no matter how tempted, and it is a goal of mine to never carry a balance again.

On one debacle of a bachelor party trip to Vegas that lasted like 10 days because the groom-to-be binked a royal flush on some slot machine and kept paying for rooms, I got my first taste of casino poker. It was our last night of the trip and our collective funds were all but exhausted. As a change of pace (we were going at a very fast pace ), we headed downtown to Binion’s to meet a friend and his gf- God knows what they were doing down there. After dinner at the coffee shop, two of us walked into the poker room. We checked out the wall of WSOP ME champions and after a quick salesman job by the floor man, we took seats in a 1-5 stud game. I didn’t even know all the rules to stud at the time, much less any strategy, but the competitiveness of it/not playing against the house really appealed to me right away. I played all night (got accused of colluding with my also clueless friend by the lol Vegas nits) and lost my last 100 bucks or something. Didn’t matter, after one live poker session, I was completely hooked- I loved the competition.

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Back home in San Diego (I dropped out of college obv), I started going to the Indian casinos and grinding 1-3 high low stud- the only game I could consistently come up with enough cash to play. I read a chapter about it in some book and somehow managed to beat it over a decent sample (I prob just ran good as the rake was likely unbeatable no matter how bad everyone was playing). Then I started playing limit hold em, and I read a book or two on that as well. I played 3-6, 4-8 and 8-16, and I was a steady winner at each level- basically just by nitting it up beyond belief. I had part-time jobs all the while, and my income split was probably like 50/50 (50% from delivering pizzas or whatever, and 50% from being a pre-flop warrior).

I also had this on again off again job traveling with this group of outcasts to all the CA state fairs, which were conveniently set up at race tracks. While I was earning OK in San Diego between poker and working, I was still buried in credit card debt, still a money management fish, and there was no real light at the end of the tunnel wrt ever getting unstuck financially. So I decided to pack a suitcase, leave my friends and family for a year, and go travel the state fair circuit- just for the hell of it.

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My main job at the fairs was to hire local degens to work at the different food/cigar/whatever stands we set up and then supervise/make sure no one ripped off the registers too bad. It was brutal hours, ****ty pay, and ****ty living conditions. Other than that, it was a great experience wrt becoming a live poker pro later on imo. I learned how to deal with all sorts of questionable characters, and I became very perceptive/good at reading people and their intentions. I was also a stranger in every town we went to, so if I wanted to go have a good time one night I needed to be able to talk to anyone, whether it be the taxi driver who barely spoke English but knew what was good in town, or the girl sitting by herself at the bar he dropped me off at.

I credit my acquired street smarts from that job/year with being the main reason I’ve been able to remain relatively unscathed in the often dangerous/scammy world of live poker all these years- it’s worse than most think, especially if you are winning/have all the money and everyone knows it. Also, my acquired skill of ice-breaking and interacting with strangers has been invaluable imo wrt hitting it off/building a rapport with fish at the table- back when there were fish at the table before those mother****ers on wall street did what they did to the economy . ***Building a rapport with fish (not patronizing them but finding common ground, having good non-poker conversation with them, entertaining a little, and ultimately giving them loose action) is insanely profitable in live poker. To this day, when the rare fish (one that hasn’t been completely hooked by the economy) does show up at the casino, if he knows me, he will often table-change bumhunt me just as vigorously as the level .5 nits who think I’m going to go all in when they have AA do (lol, nits ). And soooooooo many times in my poker career I’ve won huge pots against a fish that no one else at the table could have because the fish would have just folded at some point if it wasn’t me doing the betting- and not just because I’m a slagtard (though that def helps obv).

The reality is that most fish know I’m a pro/I make a good living playing poker- and they don’t really care. They like and respect me and they don’t mind losing their money to me. Aside from the loose action I give them (with any 2 if stacks are deep or short enough), they like that I’ll never call an accidental string raise or whatever, I’ll buy drinks to no end, and I use my wit to talk about man stuff at the table- not “3-bet ranges”, “fold equity”, blah, blah, blah…

In addition to giving me more action than anyone else (considerably more than an equally bluffy villain who is less social/fun), it’s also not uncommon for fish to shake my hand after I beat them in a huge pot, or have them tell me they are glad they lost to me specifically. And on bad days, they will go as far as show me their miracle hand before I bet so I don’t go broke again bluffing or v-towning myself, or they will let me have a considerable rebate if they get lucky after the money has gone in. Seriously- they do this **** for me. The whole key is to treat them very well in a non-dirty/actually sincere/customer service type way.


During my time at the state fairs I learned how to handicap horses via the Daily Racing Form. I actually got pretty decent at handicapping, but it didn’t matter- I was completely terrible at betting. I never laid off a race, pressed always, and would never bet a favorite even if I knew it was a monster and the price was fair. I lost most of my wages earned that year betting on horses . One day I bet the last $600 to my name on a 4-1 shot at Pomona. It was the biggest wager I had ever made by a wide margin (I have since spewed off a lot more on many different occasions ofc) and I vividly remember having that sick, awesome, calm (and at the same time excited) degen gambler adrenaline rush as I watched the race on a monitor during a smoke break . My horse crossed the wire first, but by the time the race went off late money had come in and made it the even money chalk. I was so tilted with my payout that I bought a $100 pair of shoes that night and dusted off the remaining $1100 on longshots early the next day...

The group I worked with would also sit around and drink, smoke cigars, and play cards on random nights. I thought they were all pretty much fish in the games we played (low Chicago, draw with wild cards, stud with wild cards, etc), but I got pretty much whacked every time we played. It wasn’t a huge sample, and while I def might have just been bad at those games or just ran bad, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I got cheated by those crafty bastards.

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Back home in San Diego again, busto for the one millionth time and in some pretty heavy debt with very little credit card wiggle room left at this point, I got a job as a driver for a restaurant delivery company. The job was everything I was looking for- I didn’t have to think and I got paid (relatively) well in cash daily. I quickly became a double shift workhorse and not only made enough to pay my miniscule bills and throw the credit card companies a bone here and there, but also had enough cash to start playing poker at the local casinos again. I grinded 8-16 limit religiously, until one day, thanks to the perfectly stewed pot of 1. Online poker being born 2. Chris Moneymaker fluking it up like no other (and being the perfect champion) and 3. ESPN masterfully broadcasting the WSOP ME to the masses, the casino I went to started spreading nlhe. I was there the very first day it happened- some awesome Saturday in late ’03 or early ’04 (can’t remember exactly). The floor brought over 2 decks to some vacant table and there was an announcement made that they were going to start a 1-2 ”no limit” game. I took a seat despite never playing or even really thinking about the game before, and I was immediately (like one orbit in) infatuated with the freedom/edge it offered compared to limit. ***I have thought about it plenty, and I would never attempt to play any live game for a living that isn’t nlhe. I just believe nlhe offers more edge available (and just enough considering how rough variance can be) than any other game going by a VERY wide margin due to the lack of betsizing restrictions combined with all the information and psychological tools available at the table. I only get “in the zone” (where it seems like everything is in slow motion, I pick up on every little thing my opponents do, I have them pick up on exactly what I want them to, etc, etc) on occasion- I used to get in it a lot more when I was coming up/wasn’t bored ever, but when I do, I feel like there is almost nothing the dealer can do to prevent me from winning, no matter who is at the table.

(I’m sure I’ll get flamed for ^^^, but I drgaf, it’s legit how I feel)

I executed my first big bluff about an hour into that first nl session on that Saturday. I was heads up in position against some old guy who had raised pre and bet flop and turn, and I had missed my flush draw (standard) on the river. There was like 40 bucks in the middle and the old man checked to me with about 120 effective behind. I thought for a second and then semi-impulsively said, “all-in” (repping nothing obv lol). He tanked, postured, and then folded his overpair face up. I was like, “Wow, this is the game for me- I don’t need the best hand to win. I’m never playing anything else again!” ***Not needing the best hand to win a pot is a huge part of the edge difference between nlhe and other live games imo. With stacks so deep and people so under-rolled in general, it just makes a ton of sense to bluff at a very high frequency, and I do it significantly more than any other winning player I’ve ever met- until I get someone to the point of not being able to fold anything to me, then I just v-town them incessantly. It can look REAL , REAL SPEWY on those days when I keep running into the top of people’s ranges or I miss every draw, but overall it’s just a steady stream of income in between cold-decks, and as mentioned, it enables me to get max value any time by the grace of God I do in fact make the best hand!

After that first nlhe session, I started reading a bunch of books to get better, highlighted by Super System, Hold ‘Em For Advanced Players (I think that’s what it was called), Mike Caro’s Book of Tells, and Theory of Poker. I started going to the casino every day after work and was a decent winner despite running like absolute death.

I vividly remember one beat I took, not so much for the improbability of it (I’m numb to all that by now), but because of what I was told afterwards. I had been running extra bad for like two weeks straight, and in this particular hand got it all in for a big pot with AJ on AJ2r. I lost to J8o . As I was reaching into my pocket for more money, a grizzled vet (and a pretty awesome guy iirc) called “Booga”, who had been playing every day as well, turned to me and said with total sincerity, “You are the unluckiest person I have ever played with.”

Booga’s little speech got me thinking about variance in live poker for the first time really, and I’ve been fairly obsessed with it ever since… A few years later, I would be told by another vet at a different casino that I was actually the “luckiest person ever.” In fairness to this guy, I was running hotter than the sun and winning all the money at the time he made that statement… Sadly though, a few years after that, I would be once again dubbed (by yet another vet at yet another casino), “the unluckiest” .

In all seriousness, if I ever did convert my spreadsheet into a lifetime graph it would probably look like the EKG of someone doing coke while climbing Mt. Everest. This is obv due in no small part to me playing an extremely high variance style/trying to maximize profit in a very slow game. And there is also zero doubt in my mind that like everyone else who has a pulse, my runbad leads to play bad (and vice versa) to some significant degree. Having said all that, I can objectively say that I have run exceptionally hot and cold/streaky for most of my career so far, making the whole experience both very exciting and very stressful…

The other thing I remember Booga telling me (unrelated to my runbad at the time) is that he would never raise any hand pre-flop out of the blinds- this obv isn’t a great absolute policy, but it was my first real light bulb moment wrt just how important position is in no limit.***It’s the most important thing, ainec.


What I failed to mention (I was trying to keep this ‘super-long/omg why am I still reading this/will it ever end’ op as much about poker and as little about my personal life as possible), is that shortly after I returned to San Diego after doing the state fair circuit, I landed the girl I had always wanted growing up but was always way too degen to get- she finally caved I guess. We moved in together around the time nl broke, and for the first time ever, I actually gaf about getting out of debt.

The restaurant delivery company I worked for was a pretty shotty organization, owned and operated by a couple party animals/cool young entrepreneurs. One of the major problems with the operations was that one of the owners did the dispatching, and he didn’t know the area or the drivers very well at all. And while he was def of above average intelligence, he wasn’t really much of a quick thinker/multi-tasker imo. One morning, suddenly itching to come up in the world because my love life was serious for the first time/marriage was possibly on the horizon, I basically just grabbed all the orders from said owner/dispatcher and dispatched everything myself. I knew every street, every restaurant tendency, every driver’s capabilities, etc, and I could think and make decisions/adjust very fast. I was hired as dispatcher the next day.

Soon the company I worked for got bought out by a more legit company from Orange County. My friend (he was the start-up company’s first employee and had actually recruited me for the driver job when I got back in town from the state fairs gig) was named GM of the San Diego sector, and I retained my job as dispatcher. As dispatcher, I usually had a ton of down time if I did a good job planning routes (and I usually did). There was also a long break between the lunch shift and the dinner shift, so my friend the GM and I were often left to do nothing but BS, smoke cigarettes and play video games. I somehow convinced him one day to play me hu 1-1 nlhe in the office. He wasn’t very good, but he loved the game and soon started getting the drivers to join us. It wasn’t long before we were playing all the time, even when we were slammed busy .

My winrate was pretty unbelievable in these games, and I easily made a lot more fleecing (in a non-dirty way) my boss/friend and the drivers than I did on my paychecks. Whatever driver owed me the most money (iou’s were prevalent there just like in the home games), I would just make the most money on his deliveries so he could pay me off. It was a really, really nice situation for me at the time.

My friend/boss eventually went overboard and “borrowed” a bunch of money from the company to go degen it himself at the casinos after work. He soon got canned and I got promoted to GM on the condition that the office game was to be no longer . As GM, I made a decent salary, but significantly less than I was making as a dispatcher who got to play poker all day against stoned drivers and an impulsive boss…


Immediately after my promotion, I started grinding at the casinos again each day after work- primarily 2-3 nl. Almost all of my time was occupied between my two jobs (GM and 2-3 grinder) and I hardly got any sleep or saw my gf. I always fed her a healthy portion of my winnings though, and I spent the rest like crazy on nice dinners, gifts, shopping sprees, etc. Surprisingly (or not?) that kept things pretty cool overall on the home front.

I got married in the summer of ’05 and the pressure (pretty much all self-imposed) to become a provider was really on. In addition to working and grinding live, I started playing online poker whenever I was actually at home. I opened accounts on Party Poker and Bodog amongst others, and I did well. I made enough money playing online to buy all new furniture, TVs, some exercise equipment, etc. Problem was, I REALLY didn’t like how spun out I felt with hands/decisions constantly popping up on my screen while I was wayyy sleep deprived, slamming red bulls like a madman, and trying to do a bunch of other **** like watch TV, surf the web, listen to music or whatever. One of my friends (who played a ton of mtt’s back then) gave me a heads up about the UIGEA, and so I took my entire balance (whatever I hadn’t cashed out for home furnishings), bet it all on sports parlays, lost it in a day, and that was that. I was kind of happy it was over for me- even though I was a decent winner.

Note: I didn’t re-open an online account until ’08 or ’09, and I only really goofed around on it, usually just bombing it off in super turbos from my laptop while having a beer in my Jacuzzi or something. Occasionally though, I played some semi-serious hu or 6-max nlhe. I was a miniscule winner overall, but that money is locked up (fml, I guess that makes me a loser?).

I’ve always been aware of the differences between live and online poker, and I know I’m much better suited for live due to my reading/social skills. Ironically enough though, I had semi-decided to maybe try and make a run on Full Tilt for fun/as a personal challenge just before BF, and I put in like 3 legit sessions just before it got shut down. I was starting to see the light wrt to volume, working conditions, etc. I was also playing a lot less distracted/tired than I used to back in ’05 and ’06...


Despite grinding pretty much the same stakes (2-3 nl) throughout at the casinos, I won considerably more in ’05 than I did in ’04, and then considerably more than that in ’06. Still, I wasn’t really building a roll at all or making any dent in my debt because I always took a blowtorch to whatever money I won. Midway through ‘07, after my little brother (my mom remarried) sat in a 5-5 game one day and I had to play 2-3 because I had no roll, I decided to make a very important change.

After a tough conversation with my wife seeking approval (she was no longer going to get those baller dinners or gifts or shopping sprees and I was still going to be gone all the time), I opened a player’s bank at my local casino and vowed to keep my poker money 100% separate from the rest of my money. This decision coincided with a heater, some really inspired play, and in a few months’ time I went from being about 35k in debt and never saving a penny despite crushing poker for years, to being debt free, pumped up, rolled for and crushing the biggest game in the casino (10-10nl) on a regular basis. In ’07 I made considerably more (and a ton more/hour) playing poker than I did at my job, which I had been promoted to Regional Manager at. Working both jobs/hardly ever sleeping or seeing my wife was beginning to wear me down though, and after another tough conversation or two, I “quit my day job”.

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I got absolutely whacked my first day as a professional poker player without any other form of income. It was pretty disconcerting at the time, but really just a very small hiccup. 2008 was and still is the best year I ever had. I ran very well overall, games were soft, I was fresh and focused, and I just crushed. Being the financial nit and great planner that I am I bought a brand new car, a small house, and had my wife quit her job (she hasn’t worked since). Then on a whim, I moved us to Vegas, where I rented us a pretty baller pad with a pool, pool table, 2 bars, a bunch of rooms, etc.

Vegas started out terrible as I ran like death for like 2 weeks and no one seemed to be giving their money away like they did in San Diego. This is when I first started lurking 2p2 like an absolute madman, trying to get as good as possible in order to beat the tight, tough (by live standards) Vegas games. Then I realized that most Vegas players (even pros) sat wayyyy too deep in the uncapped games, and so I adapted by covering everyone always, and running over the table with relentless aggression and overbets (my non-attachment to money has always given me an unteachable edge over otherwise very good players imo). I got real good at figuring out stackoff thresholds for my opponents, and it didn’t really matter too much anymore how I ran (as long as it wasn’t too icey), I was going to earn consistently.

After trying to make Bellagio my go to spot and being completely disgusted with how I was treated there, and then Wynn not giving me a box even though they had some available and I was sitting with something ridiculous like 40k the night I asked, I made the Venetian my home away from home. I won a lot of money there for a couple years, had a lot of fun with the players and staff, and can easily say it’s the best run poker room I’ve ever played in.

One day while grinding away at the V in late ‘08, my wife called and told me she was pregnant… 9 months later, I got another call from my wife during a marathon session at actually the worst run poker room of all time (I’m not going to say which one but there’s a huge guitar outside the casino )- we were going into labor. Delirious and sleep deprived (much of my life has been spent this way come to think of it), I raced home, grabbed my wife, and raced to the hospital. A few hours later I was a father. ***You hear people who have kids talk about how it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever done and the ultimate game-changer all the time- I have no original thoughts on the matter/can’t argue with them one bit. It’s ****ing amazing... I have a very good friend who is in a good relationship and asks questions about fatherhood/reproducing all the time (basically, do I think he should do it?). He’s a huge Eminem fan, and without trying to push anything (that’s not my style), I reference Em’s consistent and almost fanatic love for Haley in his songs, despite seeming pretty unhappy with almost everything else going on in his life. And how she’s the reason he doesn’t really go off the deep end, etc. It’s like that…

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A month after my daughter was born, I decided to pony up 10k to play the WSOP ME. I knew nothing about tournaments at the time (still don’t really), but was convinced by the Vegas cash game regs that it would be great value due to the deep structure and the soft field. I almost busted early day 1 playing my default deepstack run ‘em all over style, but adjusted just in time. The field (at least my sample) wasn’t nearly as soft as I had been told it would be, and I found out pretty quickly that it’s impossible to run over Euro’s or internet geniuses- especially with donkament chips in front of you/them. So I ended up played STAG most of the tournament (I would fold every hand and then 3-bet and take it down once an orbit or so to stay afloat) and I made it to day 6 and a decent cash despite being fairly card dead throughout.

My maiden ME voyage was unlike any other poker experience I ever had wrt excitement/adrenaline, mainly because the prize pool is so big and family and friends can follow you online (the ones who don’t play poker think you must be real good if you last longer than the name pros they are used to seeing on TV ). I have since entered a bunch more events hoping to get lucky “one time.” I’ve had some other cashes/decent runs, but nothing life changing like some of my friends have, and I’m probably just a slight winner lifetime in tournaments overall. Maybe next year…

As my daughter was approaching her 1st birthday, it became clear that we needed to move back to San Diego. As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It also never hurts to be 15 minutes away from 3 sets of grandparents if you value relief/free time. We moved back into our small house (which I had been renting out while we lived in Vegas) in June of ’10. The plan was to live there while we looked for a baller pad in a gated community somewhere in a good San Diego school district. We looked for a few months and didn’t get any of the places we put offers in on. Good thing, my roll would soon be decimated .

---

How do you decimate a roll when you’ve never had a losing year in your life and have had 3+ doctor type years in a row wrt income? Easy.

1. Walk into a Lexus dealership and buy a brand new car in 100 dollar bills.
2. Have your wife quit her job so she has no income + a lot more time to shop/spend.
3. Celebrate your first real taste of success (the first time you have 100k in a bank account or whatever) with lavish meals and entertainment and general spending- get used to those things and make them your SOP.
4. Don’t be proactive/responsible with your taxes, just wait as long as possible to file and pay. Then have your accountant tell you that you need to amend 4 previous years’ filings (to account for poker winnings) and that you also need to start paying quarterly estimates for the current year too.
5. Gift and then loan a bunch of cash to family and friends and then watch the economy die, making it impossible for them to pay you back.
6. Have poker/the stakes you are playing become so boring for you that can’t find your A-game hardly at all anymore, and then start feeding your gambling side by shipping draws without fe or calling with them without proper direct/implied odds. This isn’t enough to make you a losing player if you are good otherwise, but it’s def a leak.
7. Start staking losing players out of kindness/the desire for more action.
8. Start partaking in some fairly heavy neutral EV gambling (like props and sportsbetting without juice) and run straight awful.
9. Play some high stakes games that you are not a favorite in (200 400 lhe, 100 200 hu stud8, etc) just for fun, and run bad each time.
10. Have a kid- very expensive wrt insurance, medical bills, etc- obv incredibly worth it, but still very expensive.
11. Move to a place where you can’t commute to play the stakes/games you like--> start racking up those business/travel expenses.
12. Go through a 12-month stretch where your all in results are an estimated 100k+ below expectation.
13. Watch poker dry up right in front of your eyes.
14. Etc.

---

After a good 4 months of searching for a house, falling in love with one particular foreclosed beast (5k sq ft, gated, great school district, 7 acres, panoramic views, indoor pool, etc), being pre-approved for and offering its listed price, only to have someone else swoop in and pay all cash for it, I decided to stop looking for a while to see if the market (for what I was looking for) improved.

This was at the end of 2010. Since that time, I’ve earned policeman money- not doctor money, and I’ve had a real tough time curbing my pro athlete spending habits--> I’ve gone from wayyyyy over-rolled for 5-10/10-20, to just barely rolled for those games, occasionally even selling action. My friend/protégé (who has earned considerably less than me but has kept his expenses down and still has boxes full of cash at different casinos) says I MC Hammer’d my roll. To an extent, he’s right. And now he gets to play big when a good game pops up and I don’t (without selling action), and he’s the one I call if I ever need to borrow cash short-term because most of my boxes are empty. Now is that a tough pill to swallow???


Surprisingly… not really. Remember, I’m more about “the journey” than anything else. So I got way pumped up and then essentially torched it all off. Big deal. While it’s def not something I’m proud of, doing it once is hardly the end of the world/the most shameful thing a person can do imo. I’ve had a lot of fun and have done a lot of people right- including helping people keep their homes, cars, etc. And I’m not busto or out of action by any means, I’m just not rich any more… Now would I ever take the same path (build it up, torch it off) again? I don’t think so/I hope not. ***Making mistakes is fine imo, not learning from them just seems pretty dumb though.

---

So where does this leave me? Well, at the time of this post I’m coming off a VERY disappointing year. Not only have I seen games shrink incredibly/get way worse, but I’ve also run like a complete ******* for a very long time- at least in the games/pots that matter most. Even in a terrible economy, I’ve been able to use my image/spew equity to consistently get it in for all the loot with like 70-90% equity. Lately though, I just haven’t been able to fade the beats often enough in the really big pots, running it twice or whatever. And that’s completely separate from the almost comical amount of times I’ve been coolered, getting over-setted or over-flushed or whatever, while rarely ever being on the other side of it.

So what’s the positive? The positive is that earning policeman dough for a year has shined a very bright light on my irresponsible spending/money management--> I’ve finally stopped staking everyone and their mother, I now pass on any non-nlhe game (being the fish isn’t all that fun it turns out), I’m at least flipping for tabs instead of just auto-picking them up now lol, I’m neutral EV gambling much more under control, I’ve reduced my travel expenses by sharing rooms or staying at cheaper hotels, I’m no longer loaning or gifting any significant amounts of money to anyone, I’ve convinced my wife to reel in her spending a bit (she’s “working on it” ), etc… I’ve also gotten REALLY good at poker imvho/I think I might actually be getting the fire back- the fire I had when I was coming up…

In addition to tightening up my game (not playing tight, just spewing less in bad spots and never paying off a nit), I’ve also become a better gambler in general. While my poker ego is prob as big as anyone’s, I’ve become a very disciplined game/casino selector because I’ve learned that being a favorite (even the biggest favorite) isn’t enough. In order to keep variance manageable/disaster out of reach, you need to be playing in soft, passive games- not “juicy games” where the fish are aggro. I’ve also consciously changed my schedule to graveyard, pretty much because that’s when games get short and the most edge is available. Lastly, I’m only playing deepstacked structures now (like I did in Vegas) because playing TAG (and it is correct/optimal to play TAG in 100 bb cap games imo) isn’t really a strength of mine. It also seems to kind of suck the life out of me (no offense, TAGs- I do respect what you do).

---

So why the 2k post/novella? As inspired as I am to get pumped up again and avoid making the same money management mistakes I made the first time around, I know the opportunity is not near what it used to be in poker. Poker (even live poker) is pretty damn dry these days in reality, and I’m not sure anyone can become wealthy at it running even any more. I plan on taking care of my family and accumulating some wealth over the next few years playing poker, but I have no pipe dreams about it. Poker in this economy has become my “day job”, and I’m looking to do something else a lot more lucrative on the side. I don’t want to grind forever (it’s rough on the body, mind and soul), and I actually hope to only do it for like 3 more years max. I have other talents and ideas beyond live nlhe, and I think I at least owe it to myself and my family to try and pursue them (while continuing to SLAG it up late night at the casinos to pay the bills). I would love nothing more than to be the set for life entrepreneur dad who is at every dance recital, soccer game, whatever, taking his girl out for ice cream after each accomplishment/milestone.

In order to free up time for my side projects (I have ideas/plans but don’t really want to get into them), I’ve decided to stop posting on 2p2. Even though it’s been a while (months actually) since my last post, and I see there has been a lot of turnover wrt mhfr strat poster regs, I still thought a give-something-back farewell 2k post was in order. Without being too dramatic, I have spent A TON of time on 2p2/mhfr over the past 4 years and believe I have gained immense poker/gambling knowledge and skill because of it. Most specifically, I feel like I’ve become VERY good at thinking about poker hands because of the time I’ve put in on here posting/debating in threads. ***I’ve always looked at threads as thinking exercises, rather than reference points for future spots. With all the variables associated with live nlhe, no two spots are the same imo, and the only goal when lurking or posting should be to get better at quickly processing (and assigning proper weight to) all the variables, and then coming up with the most optimal line for the specific scenario. I REALLY like where I’ve gotten to wrt this, and so I’m comfortable “stepping away”. Having said that, if I find my game starts slipping significantly because I’m not posting, I’ll prob be right back in here keyboard spewing like a madman. Hopefully that will not be the case…


Thanks to all the people on here who made me better/have entertained me (limon, jloc, soah, pizzle, jimmyvjv, Clorox, kwansolo.., **** it, the rest of you know who you are) over the years. I will answer any poker/gambling questions if there are any for a while, and then that will be it for me on here- I will return to 2p2 lurker. If reading all these words just made your head hurt and didn't provide you with any insight or wisdom and you feel you need to flame- do what you gotta do. Please respect my privacy though if there are any questions and know that I have family who might read this .

Peace/thx/etc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeGz9...eature=related
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:36 PM   #2
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

holy wall of text!

I'll make sure to read later. Thx for writing this.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:56 PM   #3
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Thx DGAF. Great post.
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:03 PM   #4
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Was a pleasure to have you around these boards....even if it was just a brief time. Thanks for your time, effort, and knowledge you have given to MHFR.

Good luck with poker, rekindling the passion, and most importantly....fatherhood!
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:34 PM   #5
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

I was about to start a post asking where you went, DGAF; the forums are not the same without your highly wild, highly entertaining posts.

Great farewell post. Congrats on fatherhood, and much success to being an entrepreneur.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:41 PM   #6
rbenuck4
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

You will be sorely missed DGAF. Thanks for all your posts. I have learned so much from your posts. You were on a very short list of poker pros who's game styles I try and emulate (successfully sometimes), and it's very humbling to read some of the "behind the scenes" on you.

I'm very thankful to have a good job outside of poker, and always thought that worse case scenario I could always grind for a living and be like DGAF, but I have a lot of those vices like you have (wife spends too much, kid on the way, a little too much time in the pits, etc...), and I very well could end up with empty boxes at the casino.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, thank you for being honest with us, and again thank you for the contribution you made to this forum.

Best of luck at the felt.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:57 PM   #7
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

how do you have aces when you 3b me at 100bb eff when i have ak?
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:03 PM   #8
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

I always wondered what DGAF meant, now I know. Thanks for your contributions and good luck in life
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:52 PM   #9
DGAF
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwansolo View Post
how do you have aces when you 3b me at 100bb eff when i have ak?
Because that's my entire 3-bet range (don't tell anyone)!
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:22 PM   #10
sarganaga
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

It was always a treat watching you destroy the old 10-10 game at Ocean's back during the Golden Times. Fortunately, at least the way I remember it, I was mostly able to stay out of your way.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about poker from a successful SLAG's view. I've certainly learned from you to think about some situations differently, especially identifying /evaluating bluff opportunities against specific players.

Good luck on focusing your talents on your new ventures. From my cynical point of view, I think poker is going to be tough for a long time
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:29 PM   #11
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

I actually read every word of this. I strongly agree with all the bolded statements (except the "having a child" one which I can't speak to yet but that I'm sure I will agree with one day.) I hope everyone at least reads these paragraphs with bolded parts if nothing else due to the massiveness of this post.

One thing I want to say to you after reading this is always try to remember why you play poker. If you know where I'm going with this then disregard but if you don't think about it and if there's no good answer you have some thinking to do, esp with kid(s) growing up. I also want to say thanks for being a solid member of the community, one of the best for sure. You're one of the few that actually gets it, and one of the vast few of the live guys on this forum that get it, try to never lose that.

Also I read this today as well. http://lifehacker.com/5885282/not-be...ternet-citizen. This dude basically describes DGAF's approach to MHFR which I always thought was about as upstanding and honorable as one can be.

Overall, cool post, great story, and thanks for the shout out at the end. Good luck man.

Last edited by jimmyvjv13; 02-15-2012 at 04:36 PM. Reason: Link
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:53 PM   #12
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

great read, and i feel like a pay the pot / drop game fish for not thinking of that stuff.
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:26 PM   #13
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Read the whole thing, awesome story. GL bro.
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:40 PM   #14
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Great post. As a very rare poster and admittedly, mostly a troller (although i only play in 1 home game and have not been to a casino in years) i have found your posts invaluable and very helpful to me in thinking about my own game. I had wondered where you have been for the past months.

Good luck.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:07 PM   #15
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Good luck in your future endeavors. Was fun playing with you in San Diego as well as discussing hands on the forums.
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Old 02-15-2012, 09:49 PM   #16
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Good stuff. Hope to see you around sd. I think poker will bounce back just like everything else but who knows when or where and hopefully by then you will have moved on to bigger and better things.
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Old 02-15-2012, 10:14 PM   #17
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

I stopped posting in this part of the forum some time around September for 2 reasons. One was that I havent been playing live and the other was that I havent seen you posting. I got a lot from your replys in threads, probably more so than any other poster on all of 2p2.

Im sad to see you go but I wish you all the best in your personal/poker life. Thank you for everything that you have contributed here!
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Old 02-15-2012, 10:50 PM   #18
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Awesome read. Well played. Stay strong.
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:30 AM   #19
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

I have to admit that I've been basically a lurker (I've posted some, but not that much really), but it didn't take me long to realize that you have a very unique way of looking at poker. I think your posts have opened many people's eyes to the possibilities of the game.

It takes a lot to open up and share so much about oneself (I just had a daughter myself not too long ago (she'll be two this year)). I sincerely wish you the best in all endeavors. It is an understatement to say it's been a great pleasure reading your posts. It really has.
Thank you.
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:53 AM   #20
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

first 20! btw you're one of my fav posters in the live threads
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Old 02-16-2012, 06:28 AM   #21
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Inspirational post, DGAF. Thanks for sharing your story. I read every word of it and it was well worth the time. Best of luck to you on your future endeavors.
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:59 AM   #22
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Read through it and enjoyed the piece thoroughly, good luck in future endeavors.
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Old 02-16-2012, 01:30 PM   #23
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

nice read - I always enjoy reading from the guys who have been around for the longrun and not just the ones that hit nice upswings and dissapear......glad to see someone also being pretty straight forward/honest with how things have gone and the ups and downs of poker....wish you the best but will def miss your strat posts
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:32 PM   #24
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

Read most of it and can really relate to a good portion of your story as the beginning of 2011 always had me in the biggest games available (as high as 50/100 nl and deep 10/20/40 nl game) to ending the year playing mostly 2/5 nl. So much of my early 20s were the same degen style, but instead of cc debt, try owing $33k to a bookie? That took me like 2 years to pay off! Anyways grats on the family, good luck in life. I will miss your analysis on hands were I was LaGging it up deep because I felt not to many people besides you really got it.

A little advice, use your money to start up a business, preferably with a trusted friend who has experience in the field. I started my business in the beginning of 2011 (part of the reason I'm playing 2/5 now) with a friend of mine and it is so much better than grinding poker for a living. You may not see immediate results like a reg job or poker, but I can def see myself playing in those big games again as business improves over the next few years.
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Old 02-16-2012, 05:17 PM   #25
chilidog0425
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Re: 2k- a poker story (wtmfl;dr obv)

dgaf-
at the table last night, someone randomly brought up that classic slow-roll hand when you got in like 350 BBs by the flop with a straight flush draw vs. top set. (i didn't remember this guy at my game last night being at the table for that session, so it caught me by surprise that he was telling the story. plus we were playing at a different card room !)


------
flash back: nov 2010. villian and dgaf get about $300 in preflop with some notable bad blood between the two. the villian was / is a tweaker and can certainly be a scum bag and bad for the game (one of dgaf's pet peeves). flop was bet/raise/3b/4b shove/call for 300 BBs or so.

turn : brings flush.
river : pairs the board. villian fist pump yells "Yes!!" while standing up and knocking his chair over. he physically reaches into the middle of the table to scoop the chips for himself as he shows Kings full. DGAF sits quietly watching in seat 9. after about 7-8 seconds of celebration and raking in chips, DGAF says (with cards still marked), "ummmm......what are you DOING?" then proceeds to show the villian the bad news that he was drawing dead (to a jackpot) on the turn.

oooohhhhhhs and aaaaahhhhhhs from the gallery as the villian was stunned into silence and slinked away into the night / morning.

----------------
anyway, remembering that hand last night reminded me that there is more to this game than winning the chips. though i remember running like death with you in the game, it was still entertaining and fun.

btw- it seems that i keep hearing a similar story of how pros / semi-pros had their worst year ever in 2011 -- and that includes me. so don't think you are special !
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