Not as Good as I should be

Ok guys, so the plan is to keep the written blog and sprinkle in the video blog from time to time as well. As I mentioned in my last video blog from the speed way, I’m looking forward to playing some poker. I was scheduled to play on the first day of HSP and it was without a doubt the toughest no limit hold’em game I’ve ever been in. Arguably the toughest eight handed cash game in history. The group I first sat down with wasn’t all that tough, but in the night session it was absolutely as tough as nails: Seat 1: Daniel Negreanu
Seat 2: Patrick Antonious
Seat 3: Brad Booth (tough, tough, cash game player)
Seat 4: David Benyamine
Seat 5: Antonio Esfandiari
Seat 6: Phil Ivey
Seat 7: John D’Agostino
Seat 8: “Rugby” some awesome online player There was no weak spot in this game at all. It was a far cry from the lineup scheduled for day two. No disrespect to those players, but it was a much softer lineup headed up by Jamie Gold, Eli Elezra, Sammy Farha, Victor Ramdin, etc. Headed into the session with the “toughies” was already down 50,000 and it didn’t look like anyone in this game was going to be able to win 50,000. I actually flopped a couple of sets and ended up beating the toughies for much less than I would have against a weaker lineup. At one point I was actually up close to $140,000 in the session, but then I pretty much anted off about $40,000 playing a very conservative style. I even folded 8d 5d for no raise. That’s not something I would ever do in a game with weaker players that might pay me off big if I hit the hand. In this game, position was even more important than you can imagine. It was going to be tough to win any pots out of position against this lineup. There was more money on this table than ever before in the history of the show. Close to $4 million with Brad Booth buying in for $1 million, Rugby about $700,000, Patrick $600,000, etc. Near the end of the night, after playing exactly one hand in the last hour and a half (Aces), I made it $4000 to go from under the gun with 3c 4c. There was a $1200 straddle on the hand, so Brad called, as did Jdags from the big blind. The flop came 7c 8s 9c. Jdags checked, I checked, and Brad checked. The turn was a 4 and Jdags bet out $7000. I called, and Brad quickly raised it to $30,000. I figured that I was getting a decent price to hit trips, two pair, or a flush, so I called the $23,000 raise. The river card came the Ac. I figured that Brad could only call me with a very strong hand at that point, so I may as well make a value bet since he was unlikely to bet if I checked. I bet $55,000, and Brad looks over at me and says, “K-J of clubs over there.” When he said that I felt good about my hand. He obviously didn’t have the nut flush and it looked like he may have actually flopped the straight. He finally called and I turned over my flush. He then turned over the 8c 6c for a slightly better flush. I think I made a bad play on this hand. For one, I probably should have just folded to the raise on the turn since I was out of position, and then on the river, I should have bet $30,000 rather than $55,000. He was more likely to call a smaller bet with a straight so I could save $25,000 when I’m beat by a better flush. As the night came to a close I ended up winning a little over $20,000 in the game, plus another $10,000 from a side bet I made while the game was going. It was really strange how it came up: A young Russian kid named Ilya from New York was in the game playing pretty solid. He raised to 2100 from under the gun at one point, and from the small blind I decided to get creative and re-raised him to $8000 with 7s 8s. He called, and won the hand with 10-10 after a flop of K-K-K. A little while later, Ilya again made it 2100, this time from late position and this time Mike Matusow re-raised him to 8000 from the big blind. Ilya had 10-10 again, but this time he folded! I was like, huh? You called me after I re-raised you from under the gun, but folded to Mike when he re-raised you from steal position? Not to mention that Mike is at least five times more likely to make a play like that than I am. Anyway, I decided to say, “I’d be willing to bet that your 10-10 were the best hand.” I got action immediately! Ilya bet me $10,000 on the side and Antonio wanted to bet me even more. I decided to stick with the $10,000 bet, and Mike let us know that, “I won.” I had to be a big favorite in that bet. The only way I lose is if Mike has AA, KK, QQ, or JJ, but I win if Mike has AK, AQ, 9-9, 8-8, or some other random “Matusow hand.” I suspected a “Matusow” hand and that’s what he had… the old A-6 off suit. On day two I was given a chance to play for a few hours. I made quads against Victor on one hand scooping a decent sized pot and won another peanut. I got to come back again for a couple hours and won another peanut. All told, I ended up winning over $100,000 for all three sessions. Even though I won all three times, I was never comfortable. I was basically just “playing tight” and didn’t really do anything special other than hit some flops. I don’t think I played all that well, frankly, but I wasn’t giving away any money either. The “toughie” game was a little intimidating, frankly (A guy in the forums hates when I say frankly, so frankly, I plan on saying frankly as much as possible from now on) and I felt a little out of shape. My opponents all had their game faces on and mine was a little rusty. I wasn’t up to date on the players, their moves, their tendencies… I was just playing my cards. Pretty weak actually (doh, should have used frankly there). Confidence is the number one ingredient for success at the poker tables, no question about it. In order for me to get my confidence up, I need to get more hours in at the Bellagio playing in cash no limit games there. The games are not huge, but the players in the game are all improving and getting more sophisticated, leaving the rest of us behind. A lot of them play high stakes online as well, but I much prefer playing live. I do better when I can see my opponent react to certain cards, watch him throw the chips in, see if he’s steaming, etc. Not to say I don’t enjoy playing online, I do, but I am much better at live poker for sure. *************************************************************** Tomorrow is the WPT event at Bellagio and I’m actually preparing like I know I should. Watched some poker on TV, avoided people, avoided alcohol, and plan on getting lots of sleep tonight. No worries about missing flights, or buying in late (I’m already in). I’m also going to try my best to focus better than I have been. I don’t know if it’s because I have too much going on in my head right now or what, but I’ve had trouble focusing on the game when out of hands. You just can’t do that and win. Tomorrow I am going to focus on making sure that I really do see everything. *************************************************************** FCP and the OnGame announcement: As some of you may have heard, the OnGame network has decided that they too will be pulling out of the U.S. While that’s disappointing, this does not mean that FCP will be running away. As of now everything at FCP is business as usual. Over the next few weeks FCP will look to find a new home using a different software provider. FCP currently has several options available and there is a group of “wicked smart” people working on making any future transition as smooth as possible. On a personal level, I’ve taken a lot of the suggestions from the FCPer’s in the forums and have conveyed them to the people at FCP. FCP is a cool community, and your input is not only appreciated but also very important to me. I want to do everything I can to get the people at FCP to give you guys what you want. One last thing, thanks to all of you guys who’ve shown me and FCP support during this turbulent time. I wasn’t sure how you guys would take the news that FCP will be moving to a new network, but so far I’ve received nothing but positive remarks. Thanks again guys.]]>