Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Still Alive, Part 2: APT Sydney

Whoa two updates in a week, I must be going crazy. I thought I'd give this blog some more love, and since I recently played and ran deep in a major (for Australia) tournament, I decided to do a small little tourney wrap up. The tournament at the Star Casino here was branded a billion ways - a "special event" of the Asian Poker Tour (APT), NPL Million/Main Event, Star Summer Series, etc. Basically, it was a $2000 freezeout which attracted 648 runners, with 282k going to first. Big, for sure, and I was happy to try my luck and aging poker hand in this donkament!

On Day 1, I was seated at an eleven handed table due to lack of tables; I don't think I've ever had the pleasure of so much fine company in such close quarters... and fine company it was. The players were mostly "pub" players, meaning many of them had qualified in small local or regional satellites. aka, this was a fish fest of greatest proportions. My first table was a poker player's dream - 10 other passive, never-raise-without-"it" players who would rarely get out of line, so you didn't have to worry about being outplayed or bluffed too often. One of my first notable hands was when EP opened and received 6 calls, including myself in the SB with JTs. Flop came Q95r, and the whole table checked around (I was so shocked). So when turn came low, I fired thinking that if anyone even had a Queen, they'd be way too weak to defend against a big river bet. 3 people called me haha...then I brick river naturally. I figured AQ KQ were surely raising preflop right?? And I'm repping incredible strength when I bet into 3 people on river, so fire river I did, a healthy 3/4 pot. I think KQ QJ is folding always, would have been so surprised if they did call me there, in that spot. I was pretty sad to leave that table, and grinded the next few hours at a slightly harder table. But not too much harder...promptly stacked a dude's 20k @ 100/200, when I had KK, he limp/called with QJo.. and we somehow got it all in on the turn on a Qxxx board, him check/shoving me. gg

One interesting hand was when I had T7o in the SB limped pot, CO had limped. I check/raised the A98 flop (two clubs) since I figured he was just stealing, but he called me which was slightly annoying. I bricked the turn, but led thinking I'd get him off his non-premium Ace since he hadn't raised pf, and I was in the blinds damnit! I always have some shit there. The glorious 6 arrived to my great surprise, and I fired huge. He tanked for like 3 minutes, eventually called, and I experienced the best live poker feeling for me...rolling over rags no one suspects that have turned into the absolute nuts. He had turned two pair, oops! My plan was probably to shut down on the river, but if river was a 3rd club, I might have fired huge again.

My best bluff of the tourney happened a few hours later when I raised over a shorty's late limp with K4c, flop AK8, and I checked it back which seems alright/standard. He led 2k into me on a blank turn and I called just because I might have the best hand, it's a bit disguised and I might be able to outplay him river, which came another blank. He fired 2350 with about 9k left in his stack. I put him on exactly A9 or AT, and because I didn't think he'd be the type to call off his tourney with only 1 pair, I threw out a bunch of yellow 5k chips to set him in. I knew if he thought about it, I don't really rep much by checking the flop, just calling his turn bet, and shoving a meaningless river. It should have been an easy call with just his Ace, but I was sure enough that he didn't see it that way. I'd never pull this sort of bluff on someone I knew was a thinking player. After all these hands, I bagged up 115k (start with 30k) and called it a night.

On the long 14 hour next day, my chip stack see-sawed mightily. One of my 3 or 4 freeroll-should-be-out of tournament spots happened early on. I was big stack at table, with almost 100 BB, and opened in EP with KK, only to find a capable player 3betting me in position (who had a giant stack too). I thought that there was not enough history for me to 4bet and get him to 5bet me light here, and his 3b range wasn't limited to premiums, so calling easily seemed like the correct play. Plus we were extremely deep (for poker tournies) and I strongly doubt he was getting it in with me with AK. And finally, I like being tricky. Flop came Jack high rainbow and I check/called on flop. To me, there were tons of bluffs/air in his range (he seemed like that kind of guy?), so no point in raising this flop. And I really get no value in this pot from KJ/AJ if I raise. The turn was a Queen, not a great card since QJ/QQ got there, but not to worry I thought to myself, I still have fucking Kings. He checked behind which relieved me a bit, since we wouldn't have to play for stacks now. River was a low blank and I checked because I thought he would 1) bluff very high % of the time thinking I'd fold 77-TT, 2) value town himself with J-x or Q-x, or 3) not call my river bet since he probably wasn't that strong overall for checking the turn. He bet quite large, like 19k, and I snap tossed in the only blue 25k chip on the table. But he rolled over the hand I literally least expected to see, AA! That hand seriously almost never entered my mind, except in a "oh wouldn't it be funny if he had..." moment. If I had had fewer chips, we woulda gotten in preflop and I woulda been done. Instead I still had 100k and plenty to work with at 600/1200.

I dwindled mightily during the course of the next few hrs, openings and cbets not really getting through, in addition to whiffing every board. With the increasing blinds, I dwindled to about 15 BB before my 2nd tourney-saving moment, I shipped it pf with TT and got flatted by a player with JJ...however he folded when a player with KK reshipped over the top. QQ was also in the blinds but he folded! Flop came T high and I more than tripled up, was so hot to suck outtttt. I finished and went on the best dinner break ever...the thai fried rice was amazing....

When we went back at night, the blinds had gotten huge and I was once again a bit short, below average. Got in JJ vs TT fortunately, flopped quads, and held phew. Lost a huge pot with 88 to T4c on a J87cc board, kinda sucky to lose that one, would have had about 400k. One of the most fun hands I played this tourney went down when I failed to see UTG had opened to 20k, and I looked down at 84s in the SB and completed lol. BB called as well, and flop came 832r, I thought to myself, "Andrew you idiot what have you gotten yourself into" as I check/called 32k. Turn was an Ace, but I was undeterred to his 67k bet since I thought he was just muscling a big stack, so I called. River went check check and I won a huge 270k pot with that dumb hand. Later on, I lost A4o to K9o in a blind on blind shove in a pot worth 350k, so ended the night down to 120k, 10 BB for tomorrow's day 3! We had gone into the money sometime earlier that night, and got down to 43 people.

Day 3 was fun up and down as well, and I had hopes on nursing the short stack I had into something. I ran extremely well and picked up KK against QQ, got a guy with 300k to stack off to me when I opened A6o and he defended with 54s...board came A654 and we got it in on the turn after a sneaky check of mine on flop. Stayed a bit below average for the majority of the day after being above average all day yesterday. Won a nice pot off my friend and poker pro buddy Jim Collopy when I opened QTd and he defended BB. Flop was 993 and I checked behind waiting for some backdoor draws to develop. I spiked a T and he bet/called my 71k on the turn and 140k on river. After I took out a shorty, I was up to 1.2m at 12k/24k, which despite being only 20 BB, was plenty to work with this whole tournament. At one point in the final 18 players, I got all in with AK against the eventual winner's AJ, and we chopped a 1.6m pot, very annoying as I would have been among the leaders. Then a blah hand came up, expertly played by my friend, where he called my triple barrel bets of 110k, 155k, and 255k with T8s on a T43K7 board, where I had A-high. I finally bowed out in 11th place when I made a trivial reship with A6s with 15 BB against the large stack's open on the final table bubble, and he happened to have 88. I had great fold equity for sure, just unlucky he had 88 and I couldn't outdraw. 11th paid a nice 14k, and brought my great, unexpected and lucky run to and end!

I thought I played very well throughout this tournament, at least for someone who hasn't really played a significant live tourney since EPT Madrid 2.5 years ago. The level of play was definitely much lower than I have been accustomed to, but never underestimate the power of cards and hands. No pro in the world can win anything without some cards and luck. This time around, I was lucky enough to FINALLY cash in a poker tournament at this terrible casino. It took me long enough (stretching back to 2008).

My next tournament will most likely be another random little $800 freezeout, up in Macau this time as part of the Red Dragon series. I have a bit of time to kill and I get to splash around in Asia! Right L?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I'm still alive down under!

Hello World! I realize this latest blog post comes almost exactly 2 years to the day I last posted, and many apologies for having sorta dropped off the face of the poker and blogging world. I just wanted to say that I am indeed alive and definitely enjoying my time in Australia to the absolute fullest these days. Boy, 2 years, there really is so much to catch up on. For this post, I'd like to focus on highlights of my travels and life stuff (yawn?) The next post that I'll write shortly will focus on the poker side of things, including a deep run I made at the recent APT Sydney main event, which I took 11th in. Guess I can still play some cards :)

The hugest change/transition for me has been my semi-retirement from poker. As many of you poker followers may have noticed (or not), azntracker is no longer found at the tables on PokerStars. In fact, I've lurked on the PS lobby at times, and it seems like the games I used to play are pretty much dead. Gone. Sure there are hypers going all the time, but I know I chose the absolute best time to stop playing when I did and move on, which is just about as amazing timing as when I first got into it. I reached that turning point last year, both financially and mentally, where poker was no longer the most important thing in my life. And I am so happy for that.

Since my retirement, I've decided to chase my dreams of working with the future adults of this world...I'm now a graduate student pursuing my master of teaching degree, specifically in primary school! I know. Up until 4 days ago, I have known exactly 0 people that have had a passion in both poker AND teaching. This has been such a change for me, and since meeting her, I realized just how incredible and unique my ride has been. I have a renewed sense of appreciation for where poker has taken my life and allowed me freedom to usher in the next phase of my life - contributing and enriching children's lives instead of endlessly shoving on people's blinds... So I thank you for the renewed inspiration to write, Miss L.

So what's been happening since 2011, tough question. The biggest trip I've ever taken comes to mind, and I was able to pull this thing off successfully at the beginning of this year. Remember that this is a mixed poker and travel blog so I'd love to briefly mention that trip! After a pretty meh end to a relationship I had here, I was excited and ready to get out and travel for a little while before college started up. After celebrating New Year's at the beach near Sydney, I flew to New Delhi to meet an American classmate I hadn't seen in ages. We roamed around the "Golden Triangle" part of India (New Delhi-Jaipur-Agra) and I was able to see some of the most incredible sights and horrific living conditions alike. While I would recommend India to just about everybody (I'd love to go back again), no amount of preparation will ready you for what you'll see, hear, taste and smell. The crowded and dirty streets will smack you in the face and the smells will burn and linger for hours. The Taj Mahal is the most beautiful thing my eyes have ever seen, and the daily life and conditions are the most brutal and sad things I have experienced. If you are not humbled after passing through here, I have no words. And you will get Delhi Belly... google it :)

From India, I went to an even poorer place according to GDP stats and whatnot: Nepal. Beautiful mountain scenery, the most serene canoe on a gorgeous lake with the Himalayas towering above, and hiking pretty terraced hills and landscapes - that is what Nepal is to me. And some of the friendliest people too! I randomly met someone in a stopover in China, who was flying to Kathmandu, and she invited me to stay at her family's house in the city. Being the optimistic/naive person that I am, I actually hit her up when I arrived, and lo and behold, I spent 3 nights at her family's house in Kathmandu! Talk about getting a taste of the real life there. This was definitely in contrast with the people I met in India, night and day.

After Nepal, I had a day and night to transit in Doha, located in Qatar, the richest country in the world by GDP/capita (100K per capita, the US is ~50k by comparison). Wanting to check out the site of the 2022 World Cup (not really), I got my first taste of the Middle East. It was a pretty unique day spent under the desert sun, exploring the Souqs (markets with literally everything you can think of, even hunting falcons) and walking by random parked orange Lamborghinis in a country swimming with oil money. Following my little time in the oasis, I was off to Osaka for some truly contrasting experiences as you can imagine. Went out for a little bit there with friends before separating and exploring Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Nara on my own. I'd never been to Japan before and was told that I'd love the weirdness, amazing Jap food and pretty sights. And it certainly did not disappoint. Some of those temples in Kyoto are out of this world beautiful and the deer in Nara certainly were entertaining. I spent another few nights in Tokyo after I rejoined my friends before flying off to the next destination with my friend.

We went to explore Seoul, South Korea and the DMZ border with North Korea. That was a pretty awesome experience, and I finally heard the American accent again since the American military is stationed there.  After a bunch of Korean food, we were off to Shanghai for a similar 5 day stay and exploration. If you've ever been to China, especially the large cities, you would discover that it is a wildly contrasting place. Just across from the bustling metropolis with towering mega-scrapers and an Apple Store you need to see to believe, lies traditional China in terms of old run down buildings, street markets and general dirtiness. It's definitely the crown jewel mega city of China and I'd recommend anyone to visit. Unless of course you were choosing between it and...

Hong Kong, my next destination. As always, I like to call HK my 3rd home, as I have tons of family here to visit and it is a wonderful metropolis where I can use and practice my Cantonese. I know the city very well and try to make this a yearly destination. After my usual hangouts with friends and family, my final stop on the way back to Sydney was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was by myself once again so I just went around the touristy places, including the Petronas Towers. Movie tickets, even at the posh theaters were only US$4! And I finally got my first taste of an Asian massage after much internal debate... lots of "FOMO" "YOLO" and "When in rome" thoughts finally persuaded me. No, I did not opt for the ending, though it was proffered by the masseuse.

After 7 long weeks, I was back to Sydney for the start of my new phase of life, as a graduate student. It initially felt so strange to be a student again; it had been 5 years since I last stepped into a classroom. But because of my looks (young), I fit right in and have since made some very close friends whom I am very fond of. A few months ago, I was in a month-long "prac," which is a placement in an elementary school where I would take over the classroom for lessons! The class assigned to me was Kindergarten, an age group I was a bit wary of. Aren't they a bunch of snot-eating babies I thought?? But upon meeting them, very rarely (if ever before) had I felt such love from so many tiny cute human beings. I really died. It seemed like my heart melted every time I came in, even if I was stressed about doing my lessons and being observed. I can't express how much I think I will enjoy teaching. It's almost more of becoming a role model for the children and setting good practices for them to emulate, and I cannot wait to be that for them. Certainly beats winning a meaningless flip in a random $200 SNG hahaha.

The first year just finished and I am excited to be embarking on yet another adventure in only a week. I'm getting my scuba certification this weekend, so I'm extremely stoked to be scuba diving in Western Australia along with a 2 week roadtrip up and down the coast. From there, it's onto Kuala Lumpur again for a couple days before a long stay in HK. I may be visiting Myanmar and/or Taiwan from there since they are so close, not sure yet.

Stay tuned for my next post on more poker specific stuff, including my deep run in the APT Sydney a few days ago. There were some interesting hands there and it was certainly a fun splash back into live poker.

Cheers and thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Light December Grinding

So it turns out that instead of pushing for 3m or 2.75m or any other number of VPP "goals" that I had set for myself earlier, I have ended up taking December very easy and haven't logged too many hours. I feel that I've worked hard enough this year where I don't need to justify another big month in grinding out 250k VPP just to get to that milestone, as I'm currently on 2.5m or so. It really is pretty nice to not have to make yourself play when you don't have to, really. So, when all of you finally DO hit your goals, definitely treat yourself and relax in life! I just purchased a sweet toy for myself - a 13" MacBook Air. It really is a beautiful piece of art. I definitely recommend this to anyone who even has an inkling of an urge to get it - you won't regret it (just get an external HDD to go with it). I waited far too long to get it!

My December running, during the sessions that I have played, has been pretty gross. I'm doing very well with my EV/redline which is nice to see, but my running in high stakes (300s and above) is simply a mess right now. No matter, I know I'm playing quite well these days and eventually it will show. Just gotta put some volume in, if I feel like it, that is.

In other news, I have booked a 3 week trip to Singapore and Hong Kong in mid-January-early Feb, right around the Chinese New Year. I've never been in Asia during this time, so it'll be cool to hang out with my extended family and friends during that time up there. Not sure if I'll make it over to Macau though... maybe if I get bored. Because of that, it will be another light VPP month to start off 2012. I'll be away from Sydney for the first time in 6-7 months, so that will be kinda awesome. Surprisingly, I haven't traveled much at all since getting here, something I'm not too accustomed to!

Good luck to everyone making their last 17 day push to get to your goals. Hang in there, and make sure to enjoy the holidays too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Grind!

Hey guys, it's been a while since I last updated, so here's a quick update to my pokering as well as some random banter on the European economy and American politics that I've found highly amusing. I don't normally talk about non-poker or travel stuff, but why not change it up once in a while!

My grinding of late had definitely slowed down as I mentioned in my last post. However in the past few days, I've figured out why the action has been so dry in the mornings lately. There has definitely been a shift a few hours backwards from early mornings in terms of peak action. Now the middle of the night here, which corresponds to mid-afternoon in Europe, seems to be peak. Apparently the euro regs are out in full force then, so I have been adjusting my schedule accordingly. Riding the reg train is never fun results-wise, but I've been able to get back up to 10k+ VPP days, which puts me ahead of pace for finishing 2011 with 2.75m VPPs. I plan to finish out the next 350k VPPs by mid-December or so, taking a break here and there, then relaxing for the rest of the year and probably a month into 2012 as well.

In addition to poker, what's on my mind constantly these days is the European economic contagion that seems ready to just explode day after day. Not only are markets way down already, the worst part is that there's no end in sight for the economic woes of Greece, Italy, Spain, and even France. My stock portfolio has performed beyond abysmally and has really overshadowed any of my profits in poker these last 6 months.That has been the overwhelming dis-motivating factor for me and poker since a good week's grinding can be wiped out in a single day in the stock market! But of course, as in poker, investors cannot be emotional about this kind of stuff, so I've practiced that philosophy and haven't made rash decisions. Let us hope that both the new leadership (of Italy and Greece) and existing officials can steer the Eurozone from disaster.

In a completely different topic, I hope all you international readers of my blog are enjoying the circus that is going on in American politics at the moment, specifically the Republican party candidate debates! In an entertainment point of view, the stuff that is going on is pure gold, but from a political view, it's just highly embarrassing for Americans. One of the early frontrunners, Rick Perry (who is now governor of Texas, same state our old lollable president George W. Bush was from) recently made a super funny gaffe during the debate where he forgot a key part of his statement (The Third Agency..umm..oops). I almost want to feel bad for the guy, but then I realize this is serious stuff we are talking about... the potential leader of the United States! Not to be outdone, another candidate named Herman Cain also had his moment recently (Cain on Libya) where he had little to no clue on a major recent worldwide event. And then of course there's Michelle Bachmann (A good montage here).

Anyways, as the year draws to a close soon, I hope everyone's doing well either in the pursuit of SNE, or whatever goals you may have. There are only 43 days left, so let us gogogogo!

Monday, October 24, 2011

2.25 M Update

Hey all, just checkin back in here after a bit of a hiatus. In the good news department, I recently just cracked the 2.25M VPP milestone at long last! The bad news has been the severely decreased action on Pokerstars in the past few weeks, especially at the higher stakes ($200 games and higher). I'm not sure if you guys have noticed the same or not, but the difference has been very significant. Consequently, it's been a very slow grind each session in terms of volume. It makes me wonder how it was at all possible that I attained 30k VPP every session back in February... it's taking me days to get 30k VPPs now. Granted I was playing way more hours (~10/day vs 2-4/day lately). There simply aren't 10 playable hours in a day anymore, only 4-5. And even during those times, the rake reduction, limited action, and new players registering have causing my VPP rate to plummet. I will still aim to to play as much as I can, as my profits are directly correlated with how much I play, as is the case for any long-term grinder.

As I write this, it is easily the hottest day in Sydney since I've been here. It is currently 33 C (92 F) outside on just a completely beautiful clear day. It's almost too hot! I am really thinking of getting back into cycling these days because I just can't let these upcoming great days go to waste. I've been running a fair bit, but back home in the states, cycling was my huge passion. I'll be buying a used road racing bicycle, and if I ever do leave, it shouldn't be a big problem to re-sell it for maybe 60-70% of the price.

Here's to hoping the action picks back up on Pokerstars, although I'm not counting on it. As has been my mantra throughout the year, I'm just going to push myself to play only as much as I'm comfortable with while still being responsible and realistic with my attainable goals.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Revisiting EPT Madrid :)

Hey all, hope everyone's been enjoying the changing weather (for the better for the bottom half of the world hehe)! I recently stumbled upon the broadcast for the my final table at EPT Madrid 5 months ago and thought I'd share a link to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQBfetxPkgk. They only show one hand of mine, my bustout, so it's not that interesting but thought I'd post it anyways. If you go to 7:20 of the video, you can marvel at one of the biggest nitfolds that has ever been made at an EPT final table. It annoys me that AK guy made such a terrible laydown (given his effective stack of only 23 BBs) and was still able to get 2nd in the tournament. My late friend 'Dana Gordon' would be absolutely rolling over in his grave if he ever saw this one...

I'd like to respond to some of the comments I've been getting or have received in the past. First off, I DO use Table Ninja to all those who question how I can get by without it. Honestly though, I wasn't using it as late as last year... and have no idea how I got by without it. The preset raise and flop/turn/river bet settings are invaluable, in addition to the auto sit back in feature. I also use TN to simplify registering into SNGs. Easily the most worthwhile $60 I've ever spent.

I actually don't use a HUD because when I'm in as many tables as I am, the overload of information from having people's stats displayed on the table would be too hectic for me. If I played cash games, then a HUD would be of utmost importance. However, I feel the dynamics are quite a bit different in SNGs as people's VPIP/PFR stats change throughout the different blind levels. I believe I have a feel for how most people play, even unknowns, and I certainly already know the tendencies of the most common regs (at least I think I do :p)

Also, it may look like a massive jumble of tables in that video if you've seen it, but there's actually method to my organizational madness. I always start with a standard cascade that goes down my screen, then pull aside the higher stake games ($300s and above) to the bottom left of my screen. I also drag out games that are on the bubble, ITM, or HU to the center/right. It's a flurry of activity that could make someone dizzy, but it's actually quite fun and enjoyable for me, if I'm not losing everything that is.

I've been playing quite a bit more these days, although it is hard to rack up the VPPs as action seems to be a bit limited especially at higher stakes. I'm getting roughly 8k-10k per full session, which boggles my mind as to how I got 30k+ each day back in February :) No matter, I'll see what I can do. Good luck everyone on their grinds!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


My last blog post wasn't really a post at all, and it was a rather depressing one at that, so this'll be a short, fun, happy one!

In the past, I've been asked to show what it's like to mass-multitable SNGs, aka record me doing so. Well wait no longer! I recently uploaded my first video to YouTube (my late friend Paresh and our rental car exploits in Uruguay) and it really wasn't that painful. Therefore, I decided to attempt to record myself playing during one of my sessions, which is never a great idea since I'm busy enough as it is. I think I was in about 30 tables as I recorded this, which is pretty high, and something I'm looking to limit in the future (read below). You can view the fruit of my efforts here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kMOW--2Su0

I was sitting pretty close to my monitor as I usually do and my phone was even closer, so I was unable to record the whole screen. You get the overall idea though! Depending on your previous notions about multitabling, the action is either not as fast and furious as you would think (I'm in that camp), the complete opposite, or just... what you expected. I'm not trying to impress anyone, but just simply showing you what my daily grind looks like for hours at time :)

On a serious note, because the vast majority (more than 80%) of my games are 6max, I am convinced that the high # of tables is having a detrimental effect on the quality of my game. It has definitely contributed to my downswing here, that I am sure of. Consequently, I've been meaning to scale down the number of tables I'm in; no more 30+ tabling if I can help it. In addition, I've actually been making some pretty significant changes to my play style in an effort to improve my overall play. I won't get into specifics, as I suspect many of the regs I play with probably read this blog. Suffice to say that I'll be becoming harder to play against even as I do maintain a solid load of games (anywhere from 15-20 range).

In other news, if any of you guys are American and/or care about baseball, holy **** what just happened??? According to my friend, the Red Sox were 95% to win their game vs the Orioles going into the bottom of the 9th, and Tampa Bay was less than 1% to win their game vs the Yankees when they were down 7-0 going into the EIGHTH inning, but both outdraws occurred to push TB into the playoffs. What an unreal run for both Tampa Bay and Boston in September, just wow wow wow.

Cheers for now!