Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Back

A lot has happened in my life since my last post. Enduring 13 months down time in a federal tax camp, pulling the plug on a very real, and deep relationship with the woman I considered spending my life with, the continued building of my business- I've taken a couple of life's bad beats but feel I am in a place where I am stronger and wiser than before. My interest in poker has waned, but never gone away entirely. I view the game through a different lens. I have seen more of the fraud that poker can be, but still find myself drawn to the game.

After returning from my hiatus it didn't take that long before I started logging on to various poker sites to see if "just by chance" I might have a few dollars in an account somewhere. I checked all of the online poker rooms that I used to frequent and found a dollar or two on Full Tilt, ditto on Pokerstars, and a little over $100 on True Poker, as well as a few bucks on Bodog. I got a 3rd place in a $10 Bodog tourney good for $300 and was back in business! Several bad beats later, and after depositing a few hundred on Full Tilt, I was nearly felted with only the $100 bucks on True Poker left. I played the $25 buy-in no limit games there and built that up to $350, then after jumping through several hoops managed to cash out and move that money over to Full Tilt Poker which is my preferred online site.

At first things seemed to be going well, I had several small cashes and at one point I cashed in 4 out of 5 tourneys. My bankroll was slowly starting to build and hit a highwater mark of just under $500 before I started running bad. Time and time again I would be in position to make a go at the money and would run into a cooler or take a bad beat. This is mostly over the last 2 - 3 weeks. Having pocket Kings cracked at highly inopportune moments seemed to be Full Tilt's favorite trick but she had others too. Idiots calling my raises with hands like 63o, only to flop 2 pair. I could bore you for minutes with my tales of woe but suffice it to say that I was running poorly and it started to affect my play. I began to view poker as a stupid luckfest, and I while not proud of it on a couple of occasions I just gave up in small buy in tournaments and intentionally blew off my chips. I took a day off and before I played again I wrote on paper a little pact with my self, that as long as I had chips I would play my hardest to win and never give up again.

This is starting to read like the build up to some life changing event like winning a world series of poker bracelet, or making my first 6 figure score, unfortunately that is not the case. However yesterday I did have my largest tournament poker cash by outlasting 1,110 other players in $10 buy in tournament on Full Tilt Poker, taking first place and a cool $2110.90 to go along with it. To win a tournament of that size was a complete rush, the best feeling I have had in poker yet, (however it did feel pretty damn good to bust Cyndy Violette out of a WSOP event back in '05). I feel a little vindicated, that I have been playing well, and now I have the knowledge and confidence that I can take down and win a large field tournament. How many people can say that they have won a poker tournament with over 1000 players in it? I also know that I have made some missteps along the way and that I still have a lot to learn. My poker enthusiasm is definitely back, as is my desire to soak up everything I can and continue to learn and progress as a poker player. I feel that now I have a little more of a bankroll that will enable me to play sub $100 buy in events and hammer away until my next "big" score, that this is the first of many and bigger poker achievements to come. But last night, at 1:55 am it sure did feel good! Now it's time to take the lessons and experience from last night and parlay it into more wins.

Time for one poker hand- a quick tutorial on how to play QT off suit.

The set up:

$10 buy-in on Full Tilt
1,111 players, 2 remain
First pays $2110.90, Second place $1299.87
Hero Chip Stack: 1,449,444
Villain Chip STack: 764,556
Blinds: 15,000/30,000 with a 4,000 ante

With a chip stack that is 50 times the size of the big blind and having my opponent out chipped nearly 2 to 1 I am not looking to double up my opponent, but would rather keep the pressure on and chip away at his stack mercilessly. Villain has the button and raises it 75k, I smooth call with QhTd, which is a strong holding heads up, even out of position. The flop: Ks7d3h
The action is on me, I have nothing and want to keep the pot size manageable, I check. He opts not to fire a continuation and checks behind me. The Turn: Qc
I felt that his check on the flop was suspect, and was a little concerned that he could be slow playing a K, however my pair of queens is most likely in the lead and with 158,000 in the pot I lead out with a bet of 100,000 hoping to take down the pot right now. Our villain has other ideas though and shoves all-in for 689,556 putting me in a very difficult spot with my middle pair, so-so kicker. My first thought was that he slow played a hand with a K in it, perhaps KJ, KT, or KXs, and checked the flop so that he could win more after I fired at the pot. Additionally I did not want to double him up! And the pot was laying me 1.6 to 1 to make the call. I tanked, the more I evaluated his bet the stranger it felt to me, if felt like he wanted me to go away. Additionally the temptation to end this thing right here, right now set in and I made the call. He showed ThJc for an open-ended straight draw . . . please Jesus just one time let the best hand hold up! The river was the Kd, giving me 2 pair and the win!

There were other hands I could have written about, one in particular were I felt like I made a misstep when we were 3 handed but this one has a happy ending! I really didn't have too many difficult calls to make in my road to victory, as my style of play favors making lots of small bets and raises to win pots and when I play big pots I usually have a solid hand. Incidentally in some ways I don't like big starting hands, you are married to them and end up playing big pots and hope your hand holds up. People say that you have to get lucky to win a tournament and that is definitely true, but it's also crucial that you NOT get UNLUCKY. As I move up in buy-ins I would anticipate more players, playing back at me more aggressively and forcing me to make more difficult decisions.

And one last note. In support of national poker week, the PPA (Poker player's Alliance, a lobbying group), and HB 2267 to legalize online poker, I phoned Sen. Christopher S. BondSen. , Claire McCaskill, and Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer to voice my support of that bill and ask them what their position on poker was. I spoke with staffers at all three and the assured me that they would pass on my thoughts. Just a few moments ago I received this from Claire:

Dear Mr. Yeager:

Thank you for contacting me regarding gambling on the Internet. I appreciate hearing from you, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

As you may know, Congress passed a law in 2006 that prohibited banks from handling transactions between online gambling sites and their customers. The Treasury Department issued the final regulations based on this law in November 2008, and they came into force in January 2009, with a final compliance deadline of December 1, 2009.

I was not in Congress at the time this bill was passed. Some in Congress have advocated amending or repealing the law. For instance, one proposal is to allow banks to process online gambling transactions, but only if they first receive a federal license. I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind if any relevant bills come before the Senate.

Thank you again for contacting me. I hope you will continue to reach out in the future with your thoughts and advice.

All best,
Senator Claire McCaskill

P. S. You may sign up for my email newsletter at .

Interesting that the day I voiced my support for poker I won my biggest tournament ever, perhaps there really is a poker god!


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