I am short on time these days so here is a rather small update for all of you careing (or at least asking ;)
Poker is going so-so, more down that upwards. Either Katja or I played any live games (we are still too short on cash for our wild pot-limit games here) so most action is online. I tried 6 or 7 cash game sessions but despite small wins most went down in flames. Partypoker came out with those "Step higher" step tournaments and besides knowing that they are a rip-off rakewise I jumped right into them, investing into about 12 $30 step 1 toruneys and one $100 step tourney (about $460 investment). As you might know, there are practical no cashouts until you make first 3 in a step 5 tourney where they pay $100k, $30k and $20k. The entry fee for a step 5 tourney is a whooping $15,500 which easily accounts for the most expensive tournamant many have ever played.
So far I am doing good in those, I have about 6 or 7 freerolls for step 1 left, one pending freeroll into step 2 and most important one for step 4, a $3,000+300 SNG. So you could say I am only a 1:100 chance away from winning $100k. In fact I just need to bust 9 players in the step 4 event and then 9 players in step 5 event. "Just" could be an oversimplification, granted, especially considered how I am runnning this year. I am excited anyway and can't even think about how it will be should I really make it into step 5 for a $15,500 entry fee. It is all or nothing there - make money or drop out, no more freerolls, no small cash prices, just get to the top 3 and you're done.
There are good news, also. I won both weightbets and in such a dominating manner that both my opponents paid me off without even getting the final weight! In fact one did ask for a relief about 3 weeks ago for a discount, which I took (after that vegas trip I would polish your shoes for a nickel). I will publish some more details here next week.
Vegas. Heaven and hell as all of you might know. Getting there, being there with your pockets full of money is like to best feeling on earth. All doors seem open, live is good and just about everything looks promising and invitating. That is, until you'll loose.
This must have been my 30th trip to Vegas or something in that number and is was purly catastrophic.
No, not the trip.
The trip was good. We had a nonstop flight from Frankfurt to Las Vegas which took about 12 hours and went uneventfull. We got seated directly next to Toni, one of the regular players and opponents but a overall very nice guy so there was something to chat nearly all the way as it was a "day hours" trip for us and there was no thinking about sleep. It even went funny when we watched Phil Helmutths "Million Dollar Poker System" DVD's although I must say that these videos have at least something to them, while a lot if not all others (including Howards Lederer's DVD's) are just total worthless. We arrived, had no trouble at immigration or customs and the limo was waiting already. Our reservation was good and we got a very nice room in the 25th floor of the Mirage. At about 7 p.m. local time we had unpacked and were ready to kick ass!
No, it wasn't the city.
Vegas was as nice as always, no big constructions underway, the new Forum Shops hallway opened, the corner Caesar' Palace and Bellagio well reconstructed and the Wynn Resort looking very promising. Vegas is always changing but this time it looked kind of "finished" as nothing big was going on (all other times I was there something big was being build, Bellagio, Paris, Alladin, Venetian etc.). We liked the new "Cravings", the buffet at the Mirage, very much (it was under construction during our last stay) and went there nearly every day for breakfust/brunch. Vegas was in perfect shape!
No, it wasn't the weather either.
Weather was very good, mostly sunny and very nice if not perfect. On some days it was the ultimate weather to have, any amount warmer would have been to much already and just a small breathe. Wonderfull! At nights it was to cold, still.
No, it wasn't the games or the action available.
Bellagio was what it meant to be, the poker central of the world. There was so much action available at all limits and game types and the lists were loooong. The satellites and tourney had good fields and the management was first class. The tournament poker room was put into the Fountain Bar and must be the nicest poker room on earth. Out of the window you had a first row view of the fountains and if you know the Bellagio, it is the room directly in the center of the viewside with this big balcony where you can almost hear the laughing and flirting of the rich and famous when you stand at the streetside watching the fountains. It was incredible nice.
No, it wasn't that nobody we know was there
The meeting of old friends started already in Frankfurt. We were surprised when some other players from Hamburg were on the same plane like us and some more german players were meet there. Being in Vegas was like a gathering. I can't even count how many of our friends, know players and famous celebrities were there but it was a ton of them. And we also made some new friends there!
No, it wasn't Katja or something in our relation.
Katja and I come along very good, either if we are separated for many days like when I work in Stuttgart every week or we are kind of glued together for weeks or even month and this trip was no exception. Driven by our love we are having nearly no discussions or any other feelings than just the warmest and best for each other. Katja played 5 satellites for $180 each until she won her entry into the $1500 tournament and just one to get into the $3000 tourney. No, no problem here.
No, it wasn't that our bankroll was to small
No further comment here but it was big enough to cover a nice action week for two. Note that I said "was" which leads us to the only problem there was during the whole trip:
Now we are there. Deep down were it hurts most. If all and everything during the trip was so good how can it have been so catastophic? Well, unfortuantly this is an easy one: it was because I was there and I left all and any fusion at home. I have no clear understanding of what happened to me there but I got on tilt, a full week long (well, almost as the money was out earlier). I made everything wrong what could be done wrong and got very unlucky to, I guess that goes hand in hand. I will give you some of the "highlights", the most embarresing moments only:
We started of good, Katja won a satellite and I won nearly 2k on Monday in the 80/160 limit game, but only after a 10 hour session when I finally got some cards (I was honestly not getting anything for hours but played well and patently, maybe to long). So we entered the first tournament on Thuesday, the $1500 first NLHE event. I was very confident and calm, brought some fresh fruits and a big smile to the table and was playing there for almost two hours and already doubled up my stack when I lost two hands in about thirty seconds and was out. The first one I limped in MP with A9 of hearts. One more caller and the SB folded, we saw the flop three-handed. It was AK7 with two hearts. I had top pair and nut flush draw. BB checked, I bet the pot, got raised by the same amount and the BB folded. Hmmm. I flat called. Turn was the beautyfull J of hearts and gave me the nut flush. I checked. The other player moved his remaining stack in and I called, having him deeply covered. He opened AKo for two pair and went up as he saw my hand. Don't worry pal, a K on the river gave him a full house and I was back to my starting stack, about 3k. The very next hand I got AKs, raised and got re-raised pre-flop. I moved all-in, he called. He showed KK so I was in trouble until the flop brought an ace and the turn was a rag. I was not moving an inch and already counted the money in the pot when the river again brought a king and I was out of the tournament. Two hands in a row, both time against a rivered king. Outch.
Katja was doing well, playing only two hands that far, both times AA and doubling up so she had about 12000 inchips when I packed my things. I went of to the cash game to earn the money for the next day, the $2000 NLHE event.
From the start of something went very wrong there. I was still playing good but got beaten hard. Set over set, Flush over set etc. All of those hands were ok, nobody made a (big) mistake, they were all kind of "automatic" hands were I just happened to hold the bad end over and over. This was not the problem. The problem was one player who sucked out everytime against me. I mean really everytime we were both in a hand. Everytime means like 20 times in 3 hours. He was loosing (even his good hands) to anybody else, but against me he could not fail. Gutshot? No problem! Backdoor flush? Eaaaaasy! Runner-runner straight against set? Piece of cake! All in all I was 3 hours in the must-move game and lost about 30 big pots, winning maybe 1 or two. I was down about 40-50 big bets in that 80/160 game so far when I was moved to the main game. For about two hours my bad streak stopped and my stack was unchanged over that time. Katja was eleminated in the meantime, turning a straight but but loosing against a rivered flush (David Pham) and was with me, watching my game. She even was impressed how patient and calm I stayed being down that much and getting just no cards. We went to dinner. Afterwards she was tired and went to bed, I said I try to turn around things not feeling tired at all. That was around 9 p.m., the next thing I know it is 7 a.m. and I am sitting with 6 pros like Evelyn Ng and Carina Jett and being stuck 100 big bets! The big hands I lost were so hurting, like AA against Q3o (she, an asian california style player made it 4 bets preflop) or KK against K7s and so on and on. I just could not get there and everybody seemed to know that, so 3 betting me with trash must have felt like value betting to them already. I left the game at 8 a.m. with my tail between my legs and a merly $500 left out of 20k. I re-filled my bankroll with 5k, called Katja and asked her if she likes to join me, attacking a black jack table. She was there like flash (you would not believe for a woman that you just waked up), knowing that me being stucked and playing black jack could mean anything, from rags to riches or so. Anyway, even with her support loosing another 5k was just a matter of minutes (playing $200 a hand), the bad run just stayed with me. We took breakfeat then and went to bed about 11 a.m. were we slept a full 14 hours in one piece.
So we have been back in business Wendsday morning about 3 a.m. and directly went to the black jack tables. This time things were running better and after 4 hours of play (good for our hotel rating) we got back the 5k that we lost the day before. We dedided to use that money to buy us into the daily event, the $2500 NLHE, which we did.
I played horrible there, getting eliminated with slowplayed AA and not getting away from it on a 5-x-5 flop against the eventual winner, an india looking guy who had Q5o. I was out after about 60 minutes. Katja had chips so I left, telling her I would go to the Outlet stores to do some shopping which was what I wanted then. On my way back to the hotel I thought "Well, I could also quickly make some money at the black table like ealier today and buy some things for Katja and me then". This looked like a awfull good idea back then I next thing was me sitting at a black table being up 1k. Wow. That was so fast I hadn't even set myself a winning goal so I thought $1500 would very well do it for now. You all know it, I came close as +$1300 to my goal when a killer-bad-streak started. I lost 20 hands in a row (no kidding), $200 each with 3 doubling downs in there and was down about 3k. I re-concentrated while shuffling (tried to) and the first new hand was 11 against a 10. I always double 11 against 10, knowing this is the right play but this first hand after that brutal streak I decided to just hit it. A deuce came off for 13. I hitted again, a face card, busting my hand. The bank had a five under so I pretty much fucked that one up myself, getting paid for it by lossing about every other hand in that shoe except one or two. I never stood up, never changed my bet size (Cleeeever...). I did try to play 2 or even 3 spots to "shake things up" but that also failed. End of story: end of money. Veeeeeery clever from me.
Being very depressed about my own behaviour I took two hours of whining alone in the hotel room and then went over to the Bellagio, praying that Katja was still in there (the $2500 event). Yes, she was, at about 7 p.m. holding an average looking stack. I watched her until the dinner break (32 left, 18 paid) then we went to Bellagio buffet. She was very confident, having doubled up short before the break and holding an above average stack. Play resumed at 10 p.m. Being down to 24 players Katja was all-in the first time, AK against AK (Can Kim Hua) and the pot was splitted. A few hands later she raised, got re-raised all-in by a semi-small stack and called. She had AKs and he had AKo, with the king of spades. The flop came with two spades and the other player, a small kid started shouting "Spade! Gimme spade!". The turn brought a spade. Now he could not hold it any longer, jumping around and hysterical shouting "Gimme spade, gimme spade!". Sure enough the river brought the ace of spade (of all cards...) and she had to ship a lot of chips to him. This was exactly the kind of accident I had hoped will not happen, but it did. A few hands later the moved in against Can Kim Hua, who called holding AK against her AT which was good. It was about midnight, Katja got 22nd place, 18 in the money. When I told her on the way home that I had misused the shopping money (and all else money, to) all she could do was shrugg her shoulders in defeat. Sorry sweatheart!
What remains to be said is that we made our way into the $3000 NLHE event the next day by milking the credit cards (Katja won a satellite) but the cards were not with us and the exit was early.
So, we slept a lot the last two days, did some small-time shopping and left on sunday. Now I am back at my workplace here, still embarrassed how dump I acted over there. We will need some time to lick our wounds and recover from that experience.
Good news first: I won a heads-up tournament at Pokerstars, 64 players, $20 buyin. I think I really played well and got my share of good luck also. I was able to adjust on every opponent and select the right strategy, the games were lasting between 5 and 45 minutes. This was actually my very first heads up tournament and I felt very good about winning it although the won $448 got blasted in the following 30/60 session on stars in a few minutes when J7 made it 3 bets against my 99 and being agressive the whole way, just to catch a flush on the river... I love this game.
I also played another $150+10 double shootout for a wsop seat. I was really patient and when there were only three left at the table I had about 8k of the availabe 13,5k so I was in good shape. Then I got TT busted by 77, catching a gutshot straight with a 5 on the river. Three hands later I lost QQ against 26, catching a gutshot straight with a 5 on the river. Same player. First time he was all-in, second time I was all-in (he had me covered by 10 chips). Oh well. You must really love this game to sit down again and continue on your strive to success I guess. Remember my post from last week? Where I was in commanding lead against two others in the same $150+10 double shooutout tournament and one player catched a club flush within a few hands two times aginast my top pair/top two pair? It was almost comical yesterday how similar the situations were. Actually it really hurted me, way to much to be a good sign. I guess spending 2k in the 30/60 game right thereafter must be seen in some conjunction to that... well, nobodys perfect and there are so many holes in my game and dicipline that it sometimes looks like I have... well, 50 outs!
We are almost off to Vegas baby! Sunday we are leaving to the Bellagio Five Star World Poker Classic WPT final event (but staying at the Mirage). Tickets are there, passports checked, moneys changed, credit cards loaded to the max and excitement is already there, to. While our stay will last only one week if nothing really good will happen it is still great to return to Vegas. It is now 11 months we have not been there (WSOP 2004 being the last time) and we are hungry for action, show and adrenaline. I just hope it will not turn out to be so painfull like last year when (let me repeat this sad story for the x-th time) I was 20th in the $5,000 NLHE tournament with 18 paid and a nice stack and then loosing QQ against Barry Shulmann's AKo (board xxx-x-K, arghhh) and David Pham's AKo in the BB against my KK (board xAx-x-x, outch) to finish exactly there, 20th spot. This was hurting me about 45 minutes, an expericence I NEVER had before and did not had since (knock on wood here). Winning 28k over 4 days in 300/600 stud and then giving 26k of it back in one night (the very LAST night) did not help to make that trip a success, to. In other words: let's just hope that this finish-in-the-most-hurting-way phase takes a little break (next week would be convinient dear fate) and we get out there winning some well appreciated money, dammit!