Monday, March 14, 2011

Victory and Surgery...

I won the tournament, the $2500 Deepstacks Poker Tour main event at the Grand Sierra Resort. We resumed play on Day 2 with 17 players left and finished until there was a winner. Things went my way at times and I was lucky to come out ahead.

Early on in the day at 1k/2k a loose(ish) preflop player made it 4500 UTG with about 25-30bb stack. I played with him a lot on day 1 and was comfortable pinning his range here. Roothlus flatted 2 to his left with ~28bbs and another player I knew flatted with under 20bbs. I had TT in the small blind with 160-170k stack. I was really only worried about Roothlus in this spot and contemplated flatting or raising. I decided to raise since there was almost 20k in the pot already. I 3bet to 16k and it folded to Roothlus who went all in for 39k (high 30s or so) more. I had been pretty aggressive but I didn't love the spot against him. I knew his range was polarized to a few hands. I still was priced in though and made the call. He had JJ and I ended up flopping a ten against him. Another good player busted at the other table as well. It was good for me that a few of the really good players were getting knocked out.

I chipped my way up some more and when we were playing 5 handed I lost a big pot 99 vs 88 all in preflop for 150k pot at 1.5k/3k. The board ran out JT29Q. That was a rough one, but that's how it goes. You get lucky, you get unlucky. I was knocked down to around 200k after that hand. A player busted from the other table and we had to redraw seats for the final ten. Only nine places were being paid.

I had a good, aggressive player to my left who I used to play a lot online with. His online name is "ricestud." He didn't have many chips but he ended up busting the 10th place finisher for us to go to the final table. The final table was being recorded by the Deepstacks 360 degree camera and a couple other avenues of technology. It was cool to be a part of a filmed final table. That was my first recorded final table. There were some nuances such as the bright lights, having to use the hole card cam, and keeping your chips stack to your side. The CEO/Owner of Deepstacks, Chris Torina, also made the final table.

The first person to bust at the final table was actually ricestud. There was an older gentleman named Bill in the 9 seat. I was in the 1 seat and sometimes when Bill tried to show his cards to the hole camera they would be exposed. He raised the button one hand and I saw a jack of spades flash. I told the floorman and they made him expose it to the rest of the table. It was just me and ricestud left in the hand. I mucked A5o from the small blind and ricestud decided to move all in for about 20bbs or less. Bill decided to call with QJss and beat A6 on a T8x9x board.

The rest of the final table was pretty slow until a guy busted in 8th TT vs AK all in pre. The player who held AK, who was also a student at the Deepstacks camp (Leon), won the hand. The next guy to lose after that was Chris Torina. I actually knocked him out. He only had about 55k or less at 4k/8k and there was another player who had 40k. All of the other players had a minimum of 200k. I had 420k and raised to 17k with 35dd on the hijack. Chris moved all in with KJo and I won the pot and knocked him out in 7th.

Bill was crushing the final table now. He was playing 50% or more of the hands. I was playing a couple pots with him but I didn't get out of control. I was chipping up nicely and then lost a pot to Bill when he limped the SB with 69o and I raised him with QTcc. He called and the flop came QJ9c he check called, turn was a 3, he check called again, and the river was a 6 and we both checked. He rolled over 69 for a rivered two pair. That pot was pretty big at the time and knocked me down to about 300k. We were now down to 5 players. A few hands after that I opened to 17k UTG with QQ and a short stack raised me to 50k in next position. I put him all in for his remaining 60k and he called with AJo. The board ran out 723JJ and he doubled up. At first I didn't even realize he had AJ because I was anti sweating the ace haha.

I won a few big pots off of Bill after that. I had about 220-240k at 4k/8k 5 handed and opened T7cc UTG. Bill defended his big blind and the flop came T83dd he led into me for 25k and I raised to 65k. He called. The turn was the 2s and he checked, I fired 80k this time. He called. The river was another 3 and he checked. I checked back and he rolled over 79o for a missed straight draw. The very next hand he raised to 20k from the small blind and I called with T6cc. The flop came QJc6 and he bet 25k on the flop. He literally would bet every flop so I decided to float him here, I still could have the best hand. The turn was another 6 which was the best card for me. He checked, I bet 40k, and he called. The river was a 3 and he checked again. I fired out 120k and he called. I won another pot and took over the chip lead.

Bill busted a short stack with A9 vs AT and the other shortstack busted and we were now 3 handed. Me, Bill and Leon. I took a couple pots off of Leon and Bill. Eventually me and Leon got it in my 77 vs his AQdd. He only had about ~25bbs at the time so it was a pretty easy spot for both of us. The board ran out 723d6dAs and I won the pot after having a sweat. When I entered heads up I had 1.1mil to Bills 450k.

I decided to play really small ball against Bill. He wouldn't ever 3bet but he would call 3bets. He would limp the button and I even checked hands like 77. There was no point in building pots out of position vs mediocre hands. We went back and forth a little bit and then I won a couple big pots off of him. I min raised the button with AJo he defended. It came T87hhh I had no hearts. He check called. The turn was 9d, he check called, the river was an Ad, he check called again and I scooped a pretty big pot. I grinded him down some more and eventually limped the button with 44. He checked. The flop came 874cc he led into me for about the size of the pot, 25k. I made it 75k. He called. The turn was another 7. He check called 84k. The river was the 2d and he only had about 150-180k behind and check called all in with 86o. That was the final hand of the tournament. It felt great to actually win a tournament without making a deal or a chop. Typically in Florida that's not always possible because people know each other or just really want to make a deal. This tournament had a great structure and there was a TON of room for play. Entering heads up Bill still had almost 50bbs.

When Deepstacks gets the final table up somewhere I will link everyone to it so they can watch it. Thanks again for everyone who followed the updates on Twitter and everyone who reads the blog. I really do appreciate the support. It was overwhelming and awesome to have so many people rooting for me. Thanks again. Many more wins to come.

Final hand of the tournament.

Sterling silver coin/trophy I won.

The day after the tournament ended, Monday, I was supposed to get on a flight back to Florida. I woke up at 9am and got ready for my 12:40pm flight. A couple days earlier was daylight savings time and we had to spring ahead an hour. I set my watch and my phone automatically adjusted the time. I woke up, got ready, and headed down to the casino floor to meet up with Chris and Grinder. It was about 10:30am and they were trying to convince me to goto San Jose for the WPT Bay 101. I contemplated it for a while. I had two hours before my flight, so I hung around deciding what I should do. I had knee surgery scheduled for Friday. If I made a deep run at the WPT I'd have to cancel my surgery.

I sat on a bench outside of the Grand Sierra Resort (GSR) for about 20 minutes trying to figure out what I should do. I came to the conclusion that there was too many variables already set in motion for surgery and it was best not to mess with it. It's not easy to schedule a surgery, so I wanted to get it out of the way. At around 11am I got into a cab and headed to the airport.

The Reno airport is only 5 minutes away from GSR. I arrived at the airport and walked up to the US Airways desk. A lady approached me and asked me what flight I was taking. I told her the one to Phoenix and proceeded to check in through the kiosk. She told me it was too late to check in. I looked at my phone, it said 11:10am. I showed her and asked her why? She then told me it was 12:10pm. I was in shock haha. Apparently my phone jumped back an hour at some point the night before and I was operating under the wrong time. My initial itinerary was to fly from Reno to Phoenix, 40 minute layover, and then get in to Florida at 10pm. I now had two options. Fly the next day at 6:30am or take the next flight to Phoenix at 4:30pm. I chose the latter. I had to fly to Phoenix, wait 6 hours, fly to Charlotte, wait 2 hours, then fly to Florida and get in at 10am. It was an inconvenience but I wanted to get back as soon as possible.

The surgery went as well as possible. It's only been two days since it happened but I'm handling it. There's a lot of pain and I'm on some heavy pain killers. This operation went better than the first one though so I'm hoping for a quicker recovery time. I played poker Friday night (night after surgery) and then today as well. I am going to grind online tomorrow too but I will probably just play most of the bigger tournaments. I have been playing on my laptop with no extra monitor and I'm not used to playing more than 8 tables on it. Today I had 14-15 so maybe I will be able to adjust for tomorrow.

My leg after surgery.

Me playing poker today while hooked up to a machine that slowly bends my knee. I'll have to be hooked up to this machine 4 hours a day for probably 10-14 days.

Hopefully I can have a successful Sunday and a few sweats to take away some of the pain from my knee haha. See you guys at the tables in the afternoon.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


It’s been a while… Over a month since I’ve blogged. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to say, I just haven’t gotten around to writing. I will begin where I left off.

In my last blog post I was going into day 3 of the Hard Rock tournament. In disappointing fashion, I finished 12th. I basically lost three big coin flips in a row to lose my stack and eventually bust. There were only a few remaining players in the field that would have given me some difficulty I believe. There isn’t anything you can do when it comes to the luck factor in poker. I’ve learned that over my career and it is the one thing I despise in this temporary profession I have chosen. The FTOPS was taking place at the time and after I lost my last chips, I headed over to Jason Mercier’s house to play online.

I brought my laptop with me to the casino since Jason lives 10 minutes from the Hard Rock and I live about 45 minutes. I hopped in the 6-max PLO FTOPS and a bunch of other tournaments. I managed to make a deep run in the PLO tournament. I was hoping that I could erase the disappointment of the 12th place finish earlier that day with a big online win. Both tournaments were over 100k to first. I was running hot for a while in the PLO tournament and cooled off. I bricked a couple flops, blinded down, then lost a coinflip to finish in 22nd place. Rough day. I played online here and there for the remaining good FTOPS events but didn’t have any final tables or anything else noteworthy.

There was a good basketball league going on at the local YMCA and I ended up getting on a team the last week they allowed new players. I was super excited about playing in an actual league. The games I had been playing in weren’t that great and I hardly ran full court games. I was still working out lifting weights and doing basketball related exercise, I just wasn’t playing full court that much. We had two games I played in. In the first game we got crushed by my best friend/brother Brian. They definitely had a better team than us but we didn’t play great either. It was the first time most of us played together. The week after that we managed to win an insane triple overtime game. We were down 3 with 8 seconds left. I caught a pass at half court with a man guarding me. I realized he was on my left side so I spun to my right and set my feet at the three point line. I pump faked and another player from their team jumped by me while my defender stayed next to me with his hands up. I put up the shot and managed to make it with a couple seconds left to send us into the first overtime. I picked up two horrible fouls in the first overtime (the refs obviously suck in this league lol) and my team was stuck playing 4 vs. 5. We had another player hit a 3 to tie the game again and send us into double overtime, then they made a layup while time expired to go into triple overtime. We somehow managed to pull it out and win the game. I was just happy playing basketball again.

The next week we were playing a pretty good team and I wanted to make sure I was ready. On Tuesday I went to the gym and went through a tough basketball workout. I did dribbling drills, shooting drills, everything. Normally I just shoot off screens or set shots, but I wanted to get real competitive again. After that I got a quick lift workout in. I was feeling good. The next day I went to 24 hour fitness. I’ve been a member at this gym since they opened but I wasn’t going there much because I was working out at the YMCA with Brian instead.

I knew a couple of the guys in the gym playing and had to wait a few games to play. The games aren’t really that great in this gym but I wanted to play full court some more and get ready for the game the next day. I was shooting around on a vacant hoop while I waited for the games to finish. I was feeling really good, getting back into the swing of things. I felt like I was about to go off in this upcoming game. I picked up four guys that were in their 40’s to play with me. They were the first ones to ask and I really didn’t mind either way. The second play of the game I brought the ball up on a 2 vs. 3 fast break. I wasn’t going to attack but the third defender stepped up to me at the NBA 3 point line. I went by him and was met by the open defender at the free throw line, I had the whole lane to make a move and get a bucket. I hit him with an in and out and stepped with my right foot to the left side of him. I was a little left of the basket and had to twist back right to finish the layup. Once I planted my leg going left and twisted a little to the right to finish the play, my knee snapped. I immediately felt the nostalgia of my torn ACL/two meniscus tear injury to my left knee from my senior year in college. I landed on the ground out of bounds and a couple of guys ran up to me. I knew what the injury felt like but I was still hoping for the best. I laid there for half a minute, slammed the floor, and tried to get up. I could put some weight on my knee but it wasn’t good. I tried to stay positive because when I messed up my left knee I couldn’t walk off the court on my own. I managed to limp over to get my stuff and make it to my car. My leg was really weak. I got home and made an appointment for the doctor the next day.

The doctor couldn’t tell definitely if my ACL was torn from examining it. It was really swollen and sore. He told me he was 75% sure it was an ACL tear but of course we would need an MRI to confirm. I was supposed to leave to California the next day, Friday, to teach a DeepStacks camp at the Pala Casino.

Ironically, it was NBA All-Star weekend when I flew into Los Angeles. I met up with The Grinder at the airport and we boarded the same flight. The doctor gave me some pain killers but I was hardly able to walk. I had a bad limp, couldn’t straighten my leg or bend it all the way. I was advised to get up and walk around and stretch during the flight a couple times so I wouldn’t get a blood clot in my leg. That was a long shot, but that’s the last thing I needed. We made it to LA and then drove to Pala.

Pala Casino was very nice. The staff was great, they were really accommodating. We had probably 40-50 people show up to the camp. It was a great camp. Mike Matusow, Adam “Roothlus” Levy, Mike “The Grinder” Mizrachi, Chris Torina, and I all taught at the camp. That night we hung out and had a few drinks around the casino. The FTOPS was still taking place and the staff at the casino set me up with a router, internet connection, and power outlet in their poker room. I was playing online at an empty poker table while both Mikes played in a 5/10/25 NLH game. Like I mentioned earlier, nothing exciting to say there haha.

I stayed in Pala for two more days until Monday. I played online in my hotel room on Sunday and flew back to Florida Monday night. I landed in Fort Lauderdale at 6am and had my MRI scheduled for 7am. I was super tired. I didn’t get any sleep on the flight. During my MRI I was instructed to not move at all. I’m pretty sure I nodded off a few times but luckily I didn’t mess up the MRI results. My ACL was torn, but I expected this all along. Luckily I didn’t have any other damage aside from some sprains to other parts of my knee. Hopefully that diagnosis doesn’t change when they operate on me in a week.

Although it sucks to go through another knee injury to my other knee, I realize I’m still lucky to walk and be in the situation I’m in. I have a lot of things people wish they could have and no matter what, things happen and you just have to move on from it. It can always be worse so I definitely keep a positive mindset.

--- Now on to the present ---

Thursday I left Florida to come to Reno, Nevada. That is where I am now at the Grand Sierra Resort. My voyage to get here was a little crazy. I connected in Phoenix and we tried to land in Reno but it was too windy. Once we went down they pulled back up and said that they were going to take us to Sacramento. When we got to Sac they announced that we could either go back to Phoenix and wait for a flight to Reno after midnight, or stay in Sac. It was noon and I didn't feel like waiting around until the next day to get to Reno. I had to be there now. They said we weren't able to drive a car there because of driving conditions. Reno is only a 2 hour drive from Sac. The person obviously had no clue what they were saying, and US Airways was just a complete joke when it came to this situation. They did nothing to help. I rented a car with 3 strangers and we drove to Reno. It was an interesting time and everyone was nice and fun. I made it here safely luckily haha.

It's now Saturday night (early morning.) We had a training camp on Friday. Today was the start of the $2500 Deepstacks Main Event. It only got about 80 players. That was a little disappointing but it is still an awesome tournament and it has a sick structure. There were 17 people who survived the day and I happen to be one of them. I have 147k with blinds 1k/2k/300a. The average is 90k. 9 people get paid and first place is a pretty nice payday. There are still 4 other people who are involved with Deepstacks left. Adam "Roothlus" Levy, Hayden "nipsman" Fortini, Robert Croak, and Chris Torina. It should be fun tomorrow, we resume at 2pm. I'm going to get some sleep but hopefully I can take this tournament down. I have a really good seat/table and I hope some things go my way. I will update the blog more frequently so I appreciate everyone who stops by constantly to see if I've written anything. Goodnight!

Also sorry if this blog is all over the place. I tried to pile the last month into it and it's too late now for me to go over it. I'm pooped.