Saturday, January 28, 2012

Aussie Millions wrap-up

After my previous entry, I decided to skip the $2500 HORSE, $2500 PLO and $5000 heads-up, all of which were marked as "possible" on my schedule. But I did play one event which I figured I probably wouldn't play, the $2500 6-max NL. 6-max NL tournaments are awesome but it was a 2-day event, the second day being the day I was scheduled to fly home to Hong Kong. I felt reasonably assured that I wouldn't make Day 2 without making the money (with an outside chance of even the final table) so I decided that I'd play it and change my flight later if necessary.

The tournament started out with an annoyance: I ended up being seated at a late registration table with all the other people in the registration line, which included Jamie Rosen, Salman Behbehani and Joseph Cheong, the latter on my immediate left. The other late registration table (the one which opened right after us) was much, much softer, and it tilted me every time I looked over in that direction knowing that I had I registered just a couple minutes later I could have had that table. My HeroPoker teammate Aaron Benton knew the score and intentionally went back in the registration line so he would be seated at the softer table. While I think in general the Aussie Millions is a well-run tournament (and it was universally agreed that the structures were fantastic), this is the kind of stuff that is inexcusable in tournament poker and is really, really dumb. At least at the WSOP when they are forced into late reg tables, they break the table immediately, but at the Aussie Millions they do not break the tables nearly as quickly. As a result I ended up playing a couple of hours at this table, more than enough time for me to foolishly bluff off half my stack to Joseph.

I grinded back to the starting stack of 10k, then proceeded on a big heater. I coolered a guy holding Ah5h to his Jh9h, getting a ridiculous runout of Jc5s2h-4h-3h to get it in on the river. Then I made a set against a flush draw and held, won two flips, and was probably chip leader five hours into the tournament. It was a nice heater and once again, the kind of thing that potentially keeps people coming back to tournaments. But it wasn't to be. After the dinner break I ran ice cold and made a couple of questionable decisions that cost me some chips. I ended up busting less than 10 off the money when my JJ failed to hold against Jonathan Karamalikis' 99.

Despite bricking the Aussie Millions -- and actually not doing that much outside of it -- I enjoyed my time in Melbourne. Last year with Gavin and Amy Griffin was great because I got to explore with two of my best friends, but meeting and spending time with the newest HeroPoker pros, Aaron and Grant Levy, was also good times. And at the risk of sounding like I'm sucking up to the boss, HeroPoker CEO David Jung was awesome in taking care of the three of us. He drove us around, not just to and from Crown Casino, but even if I wanted to go train at the MMA gym. If we were hungry he threw steaks and pork bellies on the barbecue. It was first-class treatment and I feel like I was treated as well as any sponsored pro could be. (Well, without a gross misappropriation of player funds diverted towards obscene player salaries, at least. But who would do that?) HeroPoker itself is also starting to do well in terms of traffic and player base, and our presence was clearly noted at the Aussie Millions when a young kid in the 6-max looked at my patch and said, "wow, you HeroPoker guys are everywhere!"

No real plans going forward for me, but I foresee spending most of February in Hong Kong, playing cash games on Hero and mostly training MMA/BJJ/Muay Thai. I may run off to Thailand for a training trip as well, but it seems like a number of friends will be visiting Hong Kong within the next couple months, so I may well be hanging out for a bit. There's an outside shot I will get to fight MMA on a card in China in late March, and that would be very exciting. Other than that, a short jaunt to APPT Seoul (never been to Korea!) is the only thing marked on the calendar before WSOP time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

to play or not to play, my Aussie Millions so far

It's another beautiful, partly cloudy, 21-degree day in Melbourne, so I'm typing this while sitting outdoors on the front lawn of the HeroPoker house, where CEO David Jung has put up three of his pros -- Grant Levy, Aaron Benton, and me -- for the week while we play the Aussie Millions. David is chauferring Grant and Aaron to Day 2 of the main event, leaving me to sit at home for a while with a little downtime. I've spent most of the morning deciding whether I want to play the $2500 HORSE in the evening or going to train Muay Thai and no-gi jiujitsu tonight. If you're a regular reader of this blog you've probably figured that I'm leaning towards the latter.

I was really excited to come out here for the Aussie Millions. In Thailand while training every day, twice a day, I allowed myself the fantasy of taking down the thing, as I do for every major that I play. I looked forward to it, and I stayed sharp by trying to grind a few hours daily online. Those fantasies were quickly put to an end on Day 1A of the main. I raised with Ad3d, got called in the BB by 88, the flop came 2d2h4d, he check-called, and the magical 8d peeled right off on the turn. Obviously all the money went in and shortly thereafter I shipped what remained of my stack on a flip and lost that as well.

The Emotional Fallout: another bustout, but this one feels different

It was pretty frustrating. Insert here the standard bitching about how I played well the whole day; how earlier I had trapped a guy into floating me with overs and getting him to lose much more than he should have, only for that cooler to happen. Blah blah blah; no one cares. The fact remains that while a the hand was a cooler, I've certainly experienced far worse, as has anyone with a lot of poker tournament experience. It is part of the nature of the game. Nothing has changed except my attitude towards it all. The first thing I tweeted after the hand happened was, "I can't wait to quit poker," and many days I really do feel this way. I feel like I'm waiting for something. That something could be anything: a great professional opportunity, a lightbulb moment for personal development, a big score to go out on a high note. But it certainly seems that I'm rolling through the twilight of my poker career on inertia with no real exit strategy.

They say that no one ever says on their deathbed that they wish they had worked more. Of course, poker has always straddled the line for me, and for most pros, between work and pleasure. We got into it because it was fun, and often it still is. It's a great feeling to be playing well and running well. Those days in the sun in tournament poker are great moments and I relish going deep in tournaments. Those rare deep runs and even rarer wins are what keeps people coming back to tournament poker. But clearly most players have a love-hate relationship with tournament poker, and I wonder these days how that balance looks for me.

The bad days I have in the gym are rarely that bad. When I get tapped out, punched in the liver or kicked in the face, it's usually with a smile. But when I turn the nut flush against the nut boat, the feeling is so different. I want to get the fuck out of the room as soon as possible. I want to be anywhere but at the poker table, waiting for an opportunity to ship an 11 BB stack in the middle, sitting there and steaming about the fact that my chances of winning this tournament have gone from small-to-begin-with to now absolutely dismal. I have made a point of never, ever using the phrase "FML" because I think considering how good my life is that it's ridiculous for me to say it, but in that moment, I felt it.

So, where do I go from here?

And yet I say all of the above, I do so while thinking that I might still register for the $5k HU NL or the $2500 HORSE today, or the $2500 PLO tomorrow. Part of this is that I came to the Aussie Millions to represent HeroPoker and I feel like with a total of 12 hours of table time I haven't done a particularly good job of that. I haven't felt pressured in the slightest way to play more poker but I've been treated very well here by Dave and feel somewhat bad that I haven't done more to generate exposure for the brand. On the other hand, I just don't feel like I'm in that great a state of mind, my limit/mixed games are a bit rusty and I know that I'll be in a pissy mood if the most probable result (i.e. not winning or cashing big) occurs. On the gripping hand, there is always the off-chance I catch a heater, run deep, and feel better about everything again.

There is also the fact that, as I mentioned, while training in Thailand that I was looking forward to playing poker. And now that I'm in the midst of a poker tournament, I want to go train. That's kind of messed up and I wonder if it says something about me as a person. I've never thought of myself as the type of person who sees the other side's grass as perpetually greener, but maybe this is evidence that I am. I think I would also miss the social side of poker, as bizarre as that might sound. For as weird a group as poker players can be, almost all my best friends are poker players. There are exceptions, but I don't really get along with most of the fighters I meet and I can't have a real conversation with most of them, nor do we share much common ground outside fighting. It is bizarre to say, but I feel like walking away from poker tournaments would mean having a substantially less fulfilling social network. I crave real-life social interaction and I would actually miss getting it from poker players.

So, I'm torn.

I wish I could talk to the deathbed me, and ask him for advice. What say you, old man?

Monday, January 9, 2012

a funny hand history / wrapping up in Phuket; Australia soon

So, this was fun:

Starting Game #46658088-2182
gtownhustla22 is the Dealer
Shuffling Cards
TerrenceChan posted Small Blind $2
Albuquerquefreakout posted Big Blind $4
You Were Dealt (Ks,Kd)
ghstface1 folds
Cogitus folds
gtownhustla22 raised to $113 (wtf?)
TerrenceChan is All In
Albuquerquefreakout folds
gtownhustla22 calls $396.39
gtownhustla22 shows (Qd,Qh)
TerrenceChan shows (Ks,Kd)
Dealing Flop (8h,Ac,8d)
Dealing Turn (5c)
Dealing River (Ad)
TerrenceChan wins $794.28 from Pot 1 with : Two Pair Aces and Kings
Starting Game #46658088-2183
TerrenceChan is the Dealer
Shuffling Cards
Albuquerquefreakout posted Small Blind $2
ghstface1 posted Big Blind $4
gtownhustla22> website is such a jjoike
You Were Dealt (Qh,Th)
Cogitus folds
gtownhustla22> \CHEATING ***** SLANTY EYD ****
gtownhustla22> HONG KONG USELES FU CK

gtownhustla22 folds
TerrenceChan raised to $10.66
Albuquerquefreakout folds
gtownhustla22> did we drop a few bombs on you
ghstface1 folds
TerrenceChan wins $16.66 from Pot 1
TerrenceChan mucks
gtownhustla22> piece of sh it
Starting Game #46658088-2184
Albuquerquefreakout is the Dealer
Shuffling Cards
ghstface1 posted Small Blind $2
Cogitus posted Big Blind $4
You Were Dealt (6c,2s)
gtownhustla22 folds
TerrenceChan folds
Albuquerquefreakout folds
TerrenceChan> sorry, no speak english
ghstface1 calls $4
Cogitus checks
Dealing Flop (6h,3h,4d)
ghstface1 checks
Cogitus bets $8
ghstface1 folds
Cogitus wins $15.10 from Pot 1
Cogitus mucks
Starting Game #46658088-2185
ghstface1 is the Dealer
Shuffling Cards
Cogitus posted Small Blind $2
BumHunter357 posted Big Blind $4
You Were Dealt (5c,Qh)
gtownhustla22> shu t th e fuc k up u idiot
gtownhustla22 folds
TerrenceChan> only speak us dollar
TerrenceChan folds
Albuquerquefreakout folds
ghstface1 raised to $8
gtownhustla22> only speak my co ck in your girl s as s
Cogitus folds
BumHunter357 folds
ghstface1 wins $14 from Pot 1
gtownhustla22> ****
ghstface1 mucks
Starting Game #46658088-2186
Cogitus is the Dealer
Shuffling Cards
gtownhustla22> G O O K
BumHunter357 posted Small Blind $2
gtownhustla22 posted Big Blind $4
You Were Dealt (Qs,9s)
TerrenceChan> sorry no understan, you have more us dollar or no more?
TerrenceChan folds


(He would go on to busto his remaining $50 or so shortly after, then quit.)

I've been playing poker for so many years and yet I still never tire of this type of amazing immaturity. Suppose that doesn't make me too much more mature than them.

I have less than 48 hours left in Thailand. It's been fairly good, my standup has improved, my cardio has improved. But the last 10 days were a total write-off. I went to the beach for New Year's Eve on December 30-January 1, and that's when my first symptoms of a mystery illness showed up. On the evening of January 1, I suddenly got really bad chills; bundling up under the covers in a hoodie and sweatpants in 31-degree heat kinda bad. I had the hotel call me a doctor who in all honesty was probably pretty terrible. He diagnosed me with gastroenteritis and prescribed antibiotics. He actually didn't give me the standard spiel about taking the whole course of antibiotics, which I found odd. Anyway, I took the first one without thinking about it, then realized that antibiotics for a stomach flu is a terrible idea and decided not to take any more. I continued on acetaminophen instead.

On January 3, I felt okay enough to train, but hurt my ankle slightly. The next day instead of training I went swimming in the pool. I'm a terrible swimmer (which means I drink a lot of water) and the pool is not well-maintained here, so I suspect that I got sick from the pool water. I had a fever ranging from a mild 38 to a nasty 38.7 at its peak from the 4th-7th. Today, the 10th, was my first day back at training.

It sucks that I've been sick in Thailand twice in my three trips here, because it's such a great place for high-quality training at a very low price. My immune system is very robust when I'm in either Hong Kong or Vancouver but it seems to have trouble keeping up here in Thailand, whether it's from bug bites, pool water, food poisoning, heatstroke, or whatever. The veterans say basically everyone gets sick here, so I guess it's just something you have to deal with.

As somewhat of an aside, a follower on Twitter directed me to this excellent read about training Muay Thai in Thailand. I felt that while the tone of the author was startlingly negative and fatalistic that it still captured a lot of what it's like to be here.


So, in a couple days time I'll be back in Hong Kong for a week, then off to Melbourne for the Aussie Millions, one of my favourite poker destinations. After that ... who knows? Maybe I'll even be right back here, punching and kicking stuff under a corrugated roof now shielding against an even hotter southern Thailand sun.

Monday, January 2, 2012

some padwork at PTT

I'm now nearly three full weeks of doing nothing but training (other than a brief getaway for New Year's) here in Phuket. Last Friday I took a private class with one of the Muay Thai instructors. It was a very technical, low-intensity 60 minutes of padwork. Which is perfect because I wasn't feeling well that morning and as it turns out would end up being sick (stomach flu) the rest of the weekend. Nevertheless I think I was able to focus enough on technique for the class. I made the following video to give a glimpse of what this lesson was like:

I've got one more week to go. I think I've learned a lot here and definitely improved my conditioning! If only I could keep myself healthy in Thailand. Oh well, at least I didn't get dengue fever, like I did last time I was here.