What’s up World,
I know I know… I haven’t written a blog in like 4 months. In my defense, I don’t have a laptop anymore because it fizzled out in Miami, and I have no need for a new one until I start playing online again. Also, I played a tournament almost every day this summer and had absolutely no desire to spend time writing after each long unrewarding day. Call it being lazy; I’ll just call it being honest. Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last blog.
I finished out the WSOP Circuit in St. Louis and New Orleans. With 6th place and 15th place finishes in tourneys (respectively), I earned enough points to qualify for the WSOP National Championship. I drove straight to Las Vegas with Jake Bazeley and Kurt Jewell in Baze’s car. I slept the first 12 hrs of the drive because I was still up from the night before. If you were at Baze’s house or have heard a story from a 3rd party then you know the reason(s) why I didn’t go to bed that night. New Orleans was a really good time lol. We got to Vegas and Kurt got us a room at Cosmopolitan that first week before we started the long summer grind. Needless to say we partied pretty hard. It was then time to go to work; I had a full schedule of WSOP bracelet events and Venetian tourneys to play over the next 2 months. I was as prepared for poker as I have ever been. At the top of my game, excited, confident and ready to breakout, I was eagerly awaiting the reward for all the hard work I had been putting in these last few years. And so it came…
2 months. Zero cashes in bracelet events. One single cash in a Venetian (17th) for $2795. Zero cashes in Rio Deepstacks; and I didn’t play a single hand of cash. What does this amount to? Yep, you guessed it… a $40,000 downswing. This was definitely not what I had in mind. Although my confidence never wavered, I was incredibly frustrated with what had transpired up to that point. I definitely hadn’t played perfect. I can think of 4 huge mistakes that may have/did cost me my tournament life. I also know there were several minor mistakes along the way that may have contributed to the end results. However, all in all, I played good/great poker the entire summer. I would honestly give myself an A- overall, maaaaaybe a B+. Regardless, I definitely played well enough to produce a better result that I did. That’s variance.
My brother Ralph, Kevin Saul, and Kurt were all having losing summers as well, so at least I had some people to relate to. We dissected every one of our hand histories, had life and mindset discussions, and did the best we could to keep a positive morale going since our biggest tournament was yet to come.
For Kurt and I, our 2 biggest tournaments. Now I have to admit, out of the 4 of us, I was by far the most miserable complainer of the group. I’ve been a bit of a baby my whole life and that has not changed. My brother and friends did keep me in check though, and kept me focusing on the task at hand instead of dwelling on the misfortune I had endured on the felt. I am actually very proud of the way I was handling the worst downswing in my entire life. I could have obviously handled it better, but all things considered, I was acting like a professional, which is very important in its own right. So with my head held high I registered for the National Championship, my 2nd to last tournament of my 2012 WSOP.
I had made this tournament a priority for an entire year. My goal at the beginning of the circuit season was to qualify for this tournament and I had achieved one of my most important goals. I really wanted to make a run in this one for many reasons. In a way, this tournament was my Main Event. With some of the World’s best players in my way I put together some of the strongest play of my life and made it through day 1. At one point I had Brian Rast on my right, Jason Mercier on my left, Elky on his left and Eugene Katchalov on his left. I also played with Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moorman and the rest of ‘em etc. I was 6th in chips, and there were only 35 players remaining between me, a bracelet, and almost half a million dollars. And so it came…
With blinds at 1500-3000 David Baker opened to 6k from the cutoff. The small blind then went all in for 21.7k and I looked down at QQ in the big blind. I raised it 60k for a couple reasons. 1) to isolate against the sb who went all in 2) to build a sidepot with David Baker (if he calls) who I assume I have in very bad shape 3) to induce Baker to make a move at the sidepot (putting me on a weak isolation play)
and re-isolate by shoving his entire stack in hoping I will fold. Well, Baker snap shoves about 200k and I obviously make the call having him covered by a few big blinds. The winner of this pot was going to the overwhelming chipleader with 30 players left. Here’s the rest of the story:
Me- QQ Baker- AK Sb- 77 --- Flop: J22 Turn: J River: K
According to pokernews I let out a “wail” when the river hit. I was crippled by the river card, Baker catapulted into a massive chiplead, and I was eliminated a few hands later.
This was by far the toughest hand of poker that I had ever lost in my entire life. I can confidently say this, even though I lost KK to 66 at a WSOP final table with 8 players left just 1 year before, where 1 st place was virtually the same as this tourney. The reasons why this particular tourney was so important to me is well known by those very close to me. I have to say I was demoralized. I didn’t have anytime to sulk though. I had to play the Main Event in 2 days and this tournament just happened to be a $10,000 buyin with a 1st place prize of over $8 million. I played very well most of the day, got unlucky in a few hands, played 2 hands poorly, then got my money in with pocket 10’s against A5 for a chance to get back where I was when I was rolling. The first 4 cards on the board were of no consequence but when the river Ace showed itself to us, my opponent fist pumped in my face and I realized my 2012 WSOP was over and
my downswing had exceeded $50,000.
I came back to the hotel room and told Ralph to pack his f**cking bag bc we were going back to Chicago. He obliged, and we literally got on a plane at 1am that same night. I was over it and really just wanted to go home and enjoy the rest of the summer. I figured I’d be home all summer but after only 3 weeks of grinding cash games and going out almost every night in the city it was time for me to split. I got a call from Kurt suggesting we head back on the road as he had put together a 3 month/ 7 city schedule for us. I agreed to do the tour with him and here I am in Kentucky. We played 2 tourneys in Lawrenceburg (near Cincinnati). Tourney 1) I got Aces cracked on the first hand dealt to me before I had even sat in chair (I played the hand standing up lol), I re entered and lost AQcc to KK on a 268cc flop. Tourney 2) I got it in KK to JJ on the first hand I played after the re entry period had ended… He turned a Jack and I was out.
We also played 1 tourney in Louisville where I was chipleader with 40 players left and ended up going out like 21st or something after losing a big flip, 3 consecutive hands, and then busting after I frustratingly jammed my 20bbs with 22 from the hijack. The cutoff had QQ, ooops. Kurt got 6th though and played great, he should have won the tournament. Talk about running bad, he runs into KK twice 6 handed with QQ and AQ. Stacks were shallow as hell to… Poker.
Now we are all caught up. We are watching the Olympics and waiting for laundry to be done so we can pack and leave again tomorrow. We have a 7am flight to Biloxi, MS in the morning to start the new season on the WSOP circuit. We are playing at noon lol. I am very excited and have a good, easygoing mindset at the moment. I posted on facebook today that I complain too much and its true. I
guess I woke up and am having a day of clarity. What do I really have to complain about? I get to do what I love to do. I get to do it whenever I want to do it, and I do it on my terms. The things that I complain about are misfortunes that happen to me while playing A GAME. I knew very well going into this that variance in a bitch and that many good and great players frequently go on bad runs. To be honest, the amount of money I lost this summer really isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things, but I make it seem like it’s the end of the world because I’m so competitive and act like a lunatic sometimes. With the schedule I play, I can clear that amount on any givin day. So I should have no reason to be so hard on myself for not winning at this year’s World Series. I need to take a step back. I am (and have been) jumping out of my skin at the thought of getting my first huge score. I gotta get my head outta my ass and focus exclusively on the next tournament and the next hand and the next step. Take the positive and move forward. I’ve really only been in the game a few years and it’s not like I’m going anywhere. My face is still going to be seen everywhere all the time. I stay in the game. I show up over and over and over. If I put in the work I can achieve my goals, and that’s it. My biggest leak is my emotional control. If I could
get a better grip on it I’ll do myself a huge service. I mean, whatever, I’m passionate about this thing. But I gotta stay cool and just let it come to me. I need to act like the player I know I am, I need to handle misfortune like a professional and be more cold blooded than the next man. My brother and closest friend’s tell me to relax. They honestly all say the same thing, “Chill out, it’s coming”. And it’s true. If I
keep showing up it will come. Besides, I love playing the game! I enjoy playing, I am more comfortable, and in my own element at a poker table than I am anywhere else. I have a great time out there so I shouldn’t bitch about the little things. I am going to try really hard to improve on this, I swear. If you see me bitching at the table and have read this please bring this blog up and I promise I will shut up.
I came home from Vegas and met my friend Dom out one night for his birthday. After a hug and some quick bullshit we had this exchange…
“Dom: How was Vegas? Me: It was alright. Dom: Did u win? Me: Nope.
Dom: Did you learn anything?
Me: Yes I did. (5 second pause) Thank you for asking me that.”
That’s it right there! You learn the most when you lose. You don’t learn anything when you smash the deck and your decisions are easy. You learn by analyzing what happened when things go wrong. You identify the flaw and correct it. It is ok to lose if you handle it the way you are supposed to... like a boss.
It was at that point that I realized how far I had come. I had another full WSOP under my belt where I played against the greatest poker players from all over the world. The experience I gained and the ability I have developed is immeasurable, and the value of what I gained this summer is well worth 50k.
So there you have it, my first blog in a long time. I really hope you guys enjoy it, and get something out of it. As for me, I’m gonna see if I can take my own advice and do things the right way. I need to apply everything I talked about here to the future. I gotta walk the walk… I gotta get it done. I’m really excited to play tomorrow. Biloxi... here we come.
One last thing,
I would like to give a shout out to a very special person, the lovely Jerilyn Totani. Jerilyn is a close friend of mine and is one of the most selfless people I have ever met. There should be more people like you in the world.
Thank you for following guys, I’ll holler back soon