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Thursday, July 19, 2012

True Colors...Not Always So Pleasant.

I saw a quote one time...correct me if I have it mixed up...but it went something like this:

"Measure a man's character, not by what others say about him...but how he talks about others."

About a month ago...I posted a blog here that was titled 'Nit vs. Maniac, Which One are You?' I talked a great deal about tournament strategy...and how it pertained to me, and my own style of play. I think on many occasions, I have shared my opinions with all of you, one being that were I to find a way to play 10-15 $5k or $10k tourneys a year, I would have been a millionaire a long time ago. 

I got a couple of unsavory comments from some of my stereo-typical haters telling me all the reasons why I was delusional for such statements. Some who went as far as to suggest I was 'stealing people's money' by selling shares of myself. It's not like these comments don't have 'some' kind of impact. I mean, I 'am' a human being, after all. But more than anything, they buoyed me to prove them wrong. To make them eat crow.  And despite the disappointment that came with getting KK cracked by 10-10, and NOT going to over 1m chips..and getting deep, probably easily into the Top 100 (out of 6,598 players from all around the world) I emerged with a pretty good sense of accomplishment in this year's Main Event...finally getting off the schneid after going out of the Main Event in Day 3 in all four of my previous attempts.

I think I did a pretty in depth job of sharing with all of you almost all of my hands throughout the tourney. In Day's 1, 2 and 3...I literally kept the notepad open on my iPad and documented nearly all my hands. Some, even detailed the action in the hand. It became impossible on Day 4...since once we got in the money they banned all of our 'electronic devices' from the table. Besides that, the pace of play became so mind-numbingly slow...that I could practically commit every hand that I did get to see to memory.  So there really was no point in documenting them on my iPad. :)

One of the annoying things that started on Day 4, and got worse on Day 5...were the players (mostly young) who you could tell had always dreamed of being in the Main Event and being on TV. Every time a hand developed where the camera crews were called...they just came to a screeching halt. Sitting there riffling their chips, over-analyzing their opponent, asking the occasional irrelevant question, the stabs at humor that just came off as awkward and ill-timed. I wanted so bad to tell these idiots that maybe 5% of what was being taped would ever be used in post-production, if, for no other reason, to speed up the action. With the shitty hands I was getting on Day 5 (seemed like a deuce in every hand in about 85% of my starting hands) it would have been nice to see a few more hands per hour.

So...uh...I got a little side-tracked there. This post is titled 'True Colors...' and relates to just that, people's true colors. Sharing my hands with everyone, of course, opens up a lot of room for people to jump in and start criticizing my play. I probably posted hands on Twitter about 4 or 5 times where I was just very brief about the hand...leaving out a lot of details about how it played out. Why? Because Twitter only gives you 140 characters. And I had some 'caring' friends, family and investors, who I was trying to provide a more entertaining experience for, by providing little details along the way to keep them informed.

Enter the haters...and a few of those 'poker pros' who think they are the poker masters of the universe. One such guy...Chad Batista...who goes by the name online (well used to...before online poker was sledge-hammered last year) of 'Lil Hold em' wasted no time blasting me. Now...this is a little guy, and by little, I mean...I could curl him...who I had always had a pretty cordial relationship with in the past four years. A guy who always 'liked' my Facebook posts. And a guy who last year was talking all kinds of scary talk on Facebook about killing himself. Well, I kept reading that, and concluded that even though I didn't know him THAT well, I would never forgive myself if I didn't TRY at least to reach out to him...and found out he had offed himself. It's just kind of the way I am. I call it....being a HUMAN.

Well, I think I helped him...we chatted back and forth in the wee hours of the morning, and before long he seemed to be back to 'normal' or whatever normal is expected to represent. 

Cue the Main Event. I started posting a few hands. And it seemed with each hand posted...Chad started weighing in with his analysis. And with each hand, it seemed to get more and more harsh. Asking what I'd ever won. Asking my REAL name? Then wanting my online username. Excuse me? First of all...I haven't played online now for a year and a half (unless you include the occasional foray on Lock, Feltstars or Bovant, or Bovine...or whatever that site is called) and secondly...I never was one to run very well online when I DID play a lot online. So I wasn't really sure why he decided Day 3 of the Main Event was the day he decided it would be fun to dissect my play and eventually tell me how gawd awful I was. But he did. 

I'll be honest...for was like Chad Burns had hijacked his account. A lot of the same verbiage coming out of his mouth had a Burnsian-like flavor to it. Fortunately, my supporters were beating the shit out of him with their own comments...and the cries came from many to 'JY' his ass. 

JY: To whack someone from your Facebook as a friend in the fashion Jason Young made famous.

But I was more mystified than anything...wondering if he was trying to taunt me in the manor that my good buddy Kai Landry does. Oh...and on another note...Chad Burns...since I know you are reading have basically been punked, you stupid fu**ing Kai himself.

See, Kai told me he was going to attempt to get Chad to accept his friend request so he could wage all kinds of fun against him...and to finally convince him that he 'really' wanted to be his buddy, he fed him a line about me owing him money and some more blah blah blah that only Chad would buy hook line and sinker.  Which prompted this message from his Royal Orangeness...causing me to giggle like a little school girl.

  • Oh, and i received a message from Kai Landry saying what a piece of shit you are because you fucked him over! When does it end for you dude?

Its amazing how gullible and completely STUPID some people are. But then again, why would it surprise me that a sociopath would also be an ignoramus? To celebrate the Idiocy of The Chads...Kai created some kind of cartoon that no one seems to be able to get to play on their computers. But there is a pretty hilarious screen shot...if I can get it to load on here.

 But...if any of you think that how I played, and the criticism I received from either of these clowns, and answer your question, I DID eventually have to 'JY' Chad Batista from my Facebook....caused me any amount of trepidation, the answer would be 'no.' I've been laughing off guys like these two for so long that its become par for the course. BUT...there was ONE person who's assessment caused me to take a long, hard look at the people I consider 'friends' in the poker community. 

I'm not even going to name this guy. But what he had to say about my WSOP run was pretty much repeated to me (in confidence) word for someone who had NO reason to ruffle any feathers, only that he knew I counted this guy as a friend and would be incredibly disappointed to hear him talking the way he was talking. He was right.

This guy is someone who actually came seeking me out when I got to Vegas...wanting to go hang out. I was in one of the nightly tourneys at the time. He is someone I've never said a single bad word about...not once. Not about him as a person, or as a player. I've even defended him to other people. So when I heard what he said, it really left a bit of a mark.

It had become pretty common knowledge that I was getting AA a lot in the Main Event. To be exact, I got them 12 times. Which pretty much made up for the past 6 months of not seeing them at all. And admittedly, they were responsible for helping me get as deep as I did. But to hear this guy, if I was HALF the player he was...I would have gotten much deeper. He wanted anyone who would listen to him to know that if he had gotten aces 12 times he would have easily made the final table. Then went into a bit of detail about how bad he thought I played the aces when I got them. Well...putting aside the personal affront of such a comment...lets explore (or examine) how I played those aces when I got them. And then I will invite you guys and gals to find the errors in how I played them.

First let me was an absolute pleasure playing this year's Main Event with players who almost NEVER made a single overbet. From Day 1 to Day 5...the standard preflop raise was between 2x to 3x. More min-raising than I've ever seen before. And this is a pure reflection of talented players who aren't afraid to play after the flop.  The really nice thing about it is that it enables you to play a lot more hands you would typically fold, since you get 30k in starting chips, and 2-hour levels with which to operate. I probably see 25% more flops in a tourney with a structure like the one in the Main Event than in one that starts with a third of that stack, with missing blind levels, and shorter blind levels.

The first time I saw AA was in Day 1, level 2. The blinds were 100/200. A player in early position raised to 450. The action folded to David "Nightmare on Every Street" Kruger...who (with KK) re-raised to 1100. I looked down at AA. Now...there are a lot of ways to lose the Main Event...but very FEW ways to win the Main Event on Day 1. One of the ways to lose on Day to screw around and get cute with a simple pair, albeit aces. Me calling the 1100 there would have surely resulted in player #1 joining the hand. It might have also invited a few other players...sensing the opportunity to play 'giant killer' with a speculative hand like suited connectors or a small pair. Kruger's raise to 1100 was effective enough in letting me know that whatever he had in his hand...he wasn't folding. The dream hand for him to have there is, obviously, AK. But it was more likely that he had JJ-QQ or KK. So, in an attempt to get heads up with him, I re-raised to an amount that would likely price out other players, including (possibly) the initial raiser....making it 2350.

I was correct, as it folded around to him. He decided to flat my raise. The flop came out 10-5-2...with two spades. Kruger led out for 3500. Creating a pot of about 8700. I couldn't put him on 10-10...having played with him a lot in the past...and knowing he would check top set I was 99% certain he had one of those three pair. And his bet was made hoping that I whiffed with AK. So putting in a raise was an automatic...which I did...making it 8500 to go. He then gave me the only information I needed, when he announced "well, if you got aces, you got aces..." and pushed the rest of his stack into the middle. I don't ever like getting my whole stack in that early in the Main Event...and would have puked if he had turned or rivered his set...but when a player TELLS you he has KK...and you have can't fold. Luck didn't help him...and he was my first victim with AA. Not sure how much different I could have played that one.

The next two times I got it...I merely raised 2.5x and had the action fold to me. Whooops, my bad! The fourth time I got them...a guy raised at cutoff...when we were at 150/ 750. I re-raised to 1600. Both blinds folded, as did he. What? I should have called his small raise there? He was one of two players at the table who had me covered. See...the way I play Main Events? I play them to survive til 90% of the field is gone. I try to keep my stack above average...which it was nearly throughout the entire tournament. I try to minimize the times I put my whole stack at risk. Putting in that third raise...whether you get called or not, always lets your opponent know, or at least think...that you have started with a superior hand to theirs. Which makes it a lot easier to control the board after the flop.

For example: Say a player raises in late position with 9h10h. I simply flat them with AA. The flop comes 9-4-2, rainbow. He bets. I either flat, or raise. Either way...he isn't folding. Because he thinks he is ahead. Had I re-raised preflop...the doubts creep in that his pair of nines might be way behind...reducing him to 7 possible outs.  But I didn't. I just called his raise he thinks he's ahead probably. So he is still around on the turn. Say the turn is a 5? With a heart. Now giving him top pair with a flush draw. Think he's going anywhere now? Nope. More money goes in the pot. Now his outs have increased to about 14. See where this is headed? I hope so.

I read so many players' accounts on Facebook and Twitter about how their aces got cracked...and how they want to blast the guy who took them out. I point this out because I am a player who survives in tourneys by winning small battles...battles that lead to putting myself in position to win the war. 

I could point out all the times I had AA...but I'm not going to. Bottom line is...I either put in a small raise preflop and got a walk....or put in a small three-bet and was never called, due to my table image mainly. Or, on two other occasions, I had a guy stuff his stack in behind my FIFTH raise...with AJ....and another time with his KK...and all I had to do was say 'call.' Which admittedly doesn't take a lot of skill. I think I pretty much maximized the full value on the times that I was blessed with pocket aces. 

Reflecting back on my blog post of 'Nit vs. Maniac' I think its pretty easy to slap the label of 'nit' on me. When that annoying little guy (A.P.) in Seat 8 on Day 5 doubled me up with KJ when I three bet shoved AK...and later donked off his entire stack with 88 against AK when there was NEVER a reason to get so many chips in at that was amusing when I looked on Twitter at his reaction to having doubled me up when...having only called an UTG raise of 35k...he thought calling off 185k more was 'impossible for me to fold to.' More amusing was seeing Michael Hallen responding to his Tweet by commenting..."In case you didn't know, that guy in Seat 9 is a Super Nit!"

Anyway, as I sat there playing the Main...I kept thinking back to my post, the one I'm talking about...and realizing just how spot on I was about that post...and how it applies to the Main Event. I sat there watching one maniac 3, 4 and 5-betting player hit the rail, one after the other. It was both amusing, and reassuring. Reassuring in that I had decided on the correct path of survival in the world's largest poker tourney. What players don't once they decide to brand themselves as gun slingers, guys who want to take down every pot...they paint a target on themselves, both of angst, and of competitive disrespect. The aggressive players find their ego start to get involved, not wanting to lose a single hand to 'that guy.' And before you know it, its like they forget where they are...and what they are playing for. 

For a player like's just a matter of patience. And developing a nice, tight image. People ask me all the time "why do you show people your hands when you win?" I love that they ask me...because they are automatically letting me know that they think it's stupid.  Why? Human beings are creatures that are stimulated by pictures. When I show my winning hands...and they are usually in the top ten of starting hands....those pictures in their mind go hand-in-hand with their impression of me as the player. 

"That guy always has a big hand....I'm not fucking with him...."

And when does that come in handy? When I really don't WANT any action. Say...deep in a tourney...when my average stack has dipped to a few thousand below average...and I've been looking at 2-9 and K-3 a lot...and suddenly pick up 88...with a raise and two callers behind me. That is when my decent-sized three bet re-raise will usually result in me getting them to lay down hands that would easily beat me after the flop...and instead watching my stack get back to over average. 

I basically sat there on Day 3, 4 and 5 and employed this strategy. Playing as deep in chips as you do in the Main Event...there is absolutely NO reason NOT to play this style of play. The cards? They will come. The spots will present themselves. When I sat there watching people ship all in with 30bb's holding A-7 offsuit...I was chuckling inside. Simple impatience sank those players. They spent all that time looking at the stacks around them...and not focusing on the structure, and how much better shape they were in than they thought they were. When I got down to 27k on Day 3...with the blinds at 600/1200...I didn't freak out. Hell...two hour blinds...20BB's...plenty of time. But I had the smallest stack on the table...and that was where a lot of players were making panic shoves.

This blog entry has gotten pretty long, and I apologize. I think I've given you a glimpse inside of my brain...and shared what I wanted to share. I knew going out to Vegas who some of the backstabbers were who were debunking my shares program...bad mouthing me to other players. It gave me a real sense of joy that I was able to shut them up with my results. To their credit, they took my advice, either reading my blog, or being told by others...and stayed the hell away from me...knowing I would give them the icy cold shoulder if they attempted to blanket me with some of their phony-friend greeting.

I will end this with a real nice story...a story that has to do (also) with people's true colors. A couple guys (who asked to remain anonymous) who have read this blog for years...and supported me through tough times...let me know this week that they wanted all or a portion of their shares to go towards setting up a college fund for Carley Grace. So this morning...I woke up, drove to the bank...made a deposit, and set her up with her own College Fund...making a nice starting deposit into it. I know college is a long way down the road...which I was reminded of when I got back home and saw her grinning little face laying on our bed; but I also think those years are going to fly by faster than I want them to. So we might as well make sure she gets everything in her future that she deserves. I am so amazed at some of the people Squirrel and I have in our life. Her friends, her family...just incredible. My friends and family...every bit as wonderful. 

This was a great trip. And a good year turned great. Whatever is next....I'm ready for. Thanks for being there with us!



Anonymous said...

These online guys feel there's only one correct way to play a hand and only one correct style (agro). And their right, if we are talking about online only.the problem comes when they transition to live that's not the case. It has been proven time and time again that's both agro and tight aggressive styles can be very profitable in live play. The very best use both, and a lot of the agro online guys are not adapting and hence not finding success live like they did online. It almost shows how little you know about the game when you try to discredit someones live play. There are so many factors that go it to each decision live that its somewhat silly to even attempt to know what going on if your not at the table. Anyway I guess I shouldn't tap the glass, just my thoughts. BW

MattObie said...

Good Job! You are a lucky man!

Johnny said...

As always another great blog. As for the haters I have one word.............JEALOUSY!!! You should pay zero attention to the Chad's of the world. You have a beautiful wife and a beautiful daughter. You get to play poker for a living and have had a great year. What do these young punks have?............None of the above. They are only hating because you have what they want. I respect how much love you have for your family. I am a proud husband and a father of a daughter and a son. I can totally relate to your feelings for your family. I like most that read your blog am very happy for you and enjoy following you. Enjoy your time off with the family and forget about the 1% that try to knock you down. They will NEVER have what you have because of their character. It's pretty simple, you are a good person and they are not. It's all about the karma, "good people" like you are rewarded and "bad people" are left wondering why they have nothing.

Anonymous said...

Good job in the ME. i played with "lil holdem" in Hammond In. last year, and he had a new grill, regular looking teeth, but was still a "lil prick" to other players. ignore that POS.
GL in the future.

bigtonyk123 said...

sounds like youre on track for a happy life, meatball. my best to you and your family....

Anonymous said...


I hope you don't let the critics bother you. I guess it's good to write it up to release your frustration with them. Congrats on the run good with family and main event. Enjoy your time with Carly.