Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Omaha Win!

Hi guys, I'm happy to have won another Omaha tournament! This time it's PLO and again tiny stakes. I chopped 1st and 2nd with this guy who's been chipleader for almost the whole tournament. (When we got to heads up I had 122k chips and he had 148k). The payout was about US$200, the game had 180 players and it took about 4 hours 45 minutes. I hovered around and above the 30BB mark all game until I got into the money, when my stack-building lagged the pace of the blinds. I was down to as little as 12BB at one point, which at the time was around 18000 chips. This was when I got dealt AA76 rainbow, and I pot it after 2 limpers. The flop was pretty rag and I shoved the rest of my chips in (not much, only 7k more into the 22k pot) and the lone preflop caller didn't call me! The pot's almost $30k and I took it down without a showdown. Sweet. I was back up to around 20BB.

I didn't really get the chips towards my direction until it was six-handed on the final table. At this point I was dealt KK33 double suited, and I potted after chipleader (who had over 130k chips vs my 35k) limped, and he called me with AQT4 double suited. We're both on diamonds and spades so we dominated each other on each suit. I flopped a K to make top set and it held up. The rest of the tournament was pretty routine but there was this mad chaser to my right who I knew I could beat. I eventually outlasted him when he got out 4th. I asked for a deal as soon as we got down to three players (chipcount: player A = 55k, moi = 65k, chipleader = 150k). I was about to offer the chipleader 1st place for a bit less than the designed payout but he turned me down before I could even give him the number. Funny enough as soon as we got to heads-up (chipcount: moi = 122k, chipleader = 148k) he asked for a chop. I was thinking "hmm sure why not. I was ok with less money than this when it was three of us. lol." So we chopped.

I'm very happy about this win as I'm pretty rusty in Omaha (or known to be). WOOHOO!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Manila. Sigh. Sydney. Yay!

Hi all, Im on the flight to Sydney at the moment. It's a good 8.5 hrs before I get to touch any solid ground. So what's better than recounting a painful experience which I wouldn't otherwise be motivated to write about? Manila.

I got knocked out on level 4 of the tournament, which was a very early stage. At the start of the game I got seated to the right of this guy who I couldn't figure out. He's filipino, and he's got me outplayed bad. On top of that, I was very card dead. I dwindled down to just above 5000 chips, from the 10000 starting stack. It came to my rescue when my table was the very first one to be broken up. When the break up happened, I got relocated to a slightly better table, neighboring JJ Liu. I doubled up to 10k on AK vs JJ and then got up to 20k with a straight hit on the river which also happened to knock JJ out of the game.

Things turned bad when I raised from MP with A6s and was called by the SB. I missed the flop which was Ts9s5h. SB checked and I checked as well. The turn was an Ac. SB checked again and I felt that I had to bet (first mistake, could've actually check-called all the way as my kicker sucked). I bet 600 into the 750 pot but SB raised me to 2000. I knew him as a guy who liked to test his opponents. I felt that he's doing just that, so I decided to not back off and reraised him to 6000 (second mistake, check-calling again was a much better option. Folding ain't bad either.). I seriously don't put him on any Ace. Any ace or pocket pair he would've reraised me preflop. He wouldn't call me preflop with T5 or 95, but he might with 9T. He went all in after my reraise, and I was put to the ultimate test. Do I stick to my read and put my tournament life on the line, or do I let it go? I still had 10k chips at that point and it's still a formidable stack. I decided after five minutes of deep thoughts to fold.

I never got to know what the guy had, but he said he had KQo for just a gutshot. I bought it cuz that's one of the two hands I put him on (KQ and KJ) but he could very well be bullshitting me and actually had the 9T. Bleh.

Very shortly after I had AKo under the gun and I raised it up. BB called me and we went to the flop. Flop showed A96 all diamonds and I had none. BB checked and I bet the pot to see what happens. BB called me so that doesn't give me too much info at all. Turn blanked and we checked. The river blanked as well and BB bet 3500 at me which was about the pot again. I called and he showed me KdTd. Disgusting.

My Knock Out Hand was AQ. Doyle said it's a horrible hand and he wasn't lying. I shoved it in and swiftly ran into AK. Boohoo.

So that's my (short) conquest in Manila. As for the trip itself I haven't got much good things to say about and I don't like to say bad things about other people's city/country so I'll stop right here.

As for Sydney, I'm SO EXCITED! I've never been down under before and it's cool to fly down! I have my rental car ready for me at the airport and I'm still deciding what to do on my first day. I'll be playing Day 1c of the APPT Grand Final so that will give me three full days to see the city! I plan to do lots of eating and roaming around and try to not play much poker. (Exception: there's this 6max tourny at 12;30pm today (Dec 1) and if I can't decide what to do by then I might play it.) I'll write about my trip as often as I can and I'm sure it's gonna be a great one! Australia here I come!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's start that money making machine again

Hey all, first off, I must apologize for the missing of my APPT Manila blog(s). It was a bad run of events and I won't lie, it's not as fun write about badbeats. But I promise, it'll be there. It will. I plan to write it on my (long) flight to Sydney this Sunday. PROMISE!

Instead, I'm gonna write about this little thingy that I've started doing, called turning change into errr money. (Not that chump change isn't money. But you get the point.) I found $0.97 in my Pstars account after failing to win the APPT Sydney Mega Satellite last weekend, so I shopped around to see what I could play. It's not enough for the smallest tournaments, as they start at $1+0.20. I decided to play the 0.02/0.04 Limit Hold'em. Within 30 minutes I cashed out $1.96 and moved to the 0.04/0.08 table. I cashed out $3.41 after another 30 minutes. Without going into much details, I've basically built it to $81.56 after two days by playing:

- a $3+0.40 NLHE SNG (placed 2nd);
- (many) $6.25 Turbo Heads-Up NLHE SNG (and winning all of them, of course);
- a $3+0.40 27-handed NLHE SNG (placed 4th);
- a $4+0.40 180-handed NLHE SNG (busto);
- a $10+1 HORSE MTT (placed 18th);
- a $5+0.50 PLO MTT (busto);
- a $5+0.50 45-handed NLHE SNG (placed 2nd).

If you've followed my run from $5 to $1500 this February, this is something similar. Let's see how far I can take this.

(Current target = $150. Current Bankroll: $81.56)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

4 cards!

Newsflash people! Phil got game in 4 cards! The once dark spot, black hole of my game's now NO MORE! I won (or tied) a No Limit Omaha donkament (and yes this is literal, it's NLO) on Stars. Baby stakes, and just 99 players. But still, it's my first Omaha win! Check the screenshot. We chopped 1st and 2nd. Payout's micro I know. But it's the first-time that counts! The game took around 4 hours. Oh, special thanks to BrianL for giving me loads of pointers during the course of the game. Many thanks. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dear Dou Dou

Dear Dou Dou,

It's sad to hear that you've left us. It was my pleasure getting to know you and have you in my memory. I'll remember brushing your hair to help you with your itch. I'll remember cooking meat for you. I'll remember your snore when you sleep. I'll remember your grumpy look when you're disturbed while eating. I'll remember your super warm welcome when I visit. I'll remember your sad face when I had to leave. This time you're the one leaving, and I'm just as sad. Rest in peace.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I am become death, the destroyer of the worlds.

"I am become death, the destroyer of the worlds." -- J. Robert Oppenheimer, 'The Father of the Atomic Bomb'.

A nice sounding quote (with a sad tone) from the creator of one of the world's first nuclear weapon, I feel that it accurately portraits our current global condition and how Subprime has changed our financial system forever.

I wasn't gonna write an entry about the financial mess but the panic in the recent days gave me the right incentives. Global markets basically came to a crash-and-burn last Friday and today. Financial institutions are facing unprecedented liquidity dry-out. Corporates (in America or not) are facing drastic slowdown in profit, sovereigns are facing default risks (Iceland, Argentina, Korea, to name a few).

First and foremost, I would like to follow-up on a conversation I had with a few fellow players on how this mess will affect the world. I would like to ask them to rethink about their opinions, as I highly doubt that they will remain unchanged. Previously, my witty friends confidently told me that this crisis is nothing compared to the Great Depression, that it's just a reset. Everything will be fine after the crash-and-burn. Also, they saw this crisis as created by the financial institutions, and limited to impacting the financial institutions. I would like them to rethink, and reassess how big the impact is likely to be.

In my view as a hedge fund trader, I see the upcoming years being extremely difficult, and not just for the financial sector. I see businesses across the board come to a huge deterioration in profit, and a lot of them will not be able to make it through the downswing. The weaker, less well-managed, business will go bust, and unemployment rate will soar to at least a 20-years high. The layoff trend will spread from the financial institutions to nearly every sector.

Interestingly, I'm already seeing behavioral changes. I personally am less comfortable in spewing money on a 5-star dinner or an expensive vacation. I see lots of idle cabs at taxi stands which previously guarantee a queue. Expensive restaurants which costs more than US250 per head and required a 3-weeks advance booking can now be booked for same-day. Most of these stemmed from the losses people are taking in the stock market, but also the fact that they might be laid-off the next morning. Good time to be holding a lot of cash.

In terms of poker, I think now is a GREAT time to win a major donkament. A million dollars now is worth a lot more than a million dollars a year ago simply because things are (and will be) much cheaper and people around you are less rich. Also, I see the ring games getting tougher because the live ones will have a tighter bankroll. No more Chinamen who don't give a ding about shoving with 5Jo in a 3-way pot people! Time to play some quality poker in games which were previously donk-fests! So, in general, I see the EV shifting from the cash games to tournaments, especially the televised ones. (If you can land a sponsor deal now, it'll beat your day job by about 10x.) Personally, I'm gonna play less cash games (and I'll need more value at a table than previously for me to sit down), but I'm gonna play more tournies as long as the traveling cost doesn't kill me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First post!

Hi all! This would be my first post at this new location. It's sad to say that this will also be the only blog which I will be keeping up to date. The main reason being directed me to a "Page Not Found" as of today. (EDIT: pwa was offline yday only it seems.) Boohoo. I wish that site could be better attended to, but hey, I gave them my best effort. My blog was definitely the most read section of that site and it's about as much as I could've done.

I was gonna write my first blog about the current financial mess we're in but then I gave up the idea. There're just enough of these blogs (some very good ones) online and I don't need to add to the repetition. If anyone's interested in how I see this mess as a hedge fund trader please voice it out here and I'll write something about it.

So, instead of writing about the ridiculous mess, I'm gonna write about something much more pleasant, such as my upcoming traveling plans. Here it is:

Nov 13-16: APPT Manila (main attraction for me: poker. errrr... no kidding.)
Nov 30 - Dec 8: Sydney (main attraction: APPT Sydney, see what's down under, see gf's 'hood.)
Apr 2009 around Easter: JW Marriott at Sanya (main attraction: resort, sunbaking, sleep.)
Jun 27 - Jul 5 2009: Toronto (main attraction: see friends, Canada Day at Nick's cottage, Fallsview, show gf my 'hood.)

Yes folks, I'll be in T.O next June! Start saving up! Whoever'll be in town at the same period pls holla! Let's hit up Fallsview together!

I'm so very excited about my upcoming plans.... given the current market it's not a bad time to be traveling. BTW, this Sunday I'm gonna be in Macau playing the satellite for APPT Manila. Please join me if you can!

Monday, October 20, 2008

15 outs on flop 3 ways...

Posted September 26th, 2008 by phillau

Hi guys, this is a hand I came across just now... would love to hear all inputs because it's debatable... here it goes:

Game is NLHE MTT, blinds are 150/300/25, I have 11000 on button.

hole cards = 6s 7s

pre action: limped 5 ways. pot = 1725.

flop = 5s Ks 8c

flop action: Player A (who has 2750 left) bets 750. Player B and C folds. Player D (who has 8500 left) min raises to 1500. I'm on the button. What would you do?

**UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for the active participation. This is easily the best thread I've done.

Mon, 09/29/2008 - 21:21 — Anonymous

Quickly raise to 3000 (around the amount player A has) without trying to figure out what player A has left in chips, hope you get called by both and check down the turn. This is a hand you want action on early (you should have raised preflop. see below), and then you want to freeze people until you make your hand or decide to make a move.

Since its likely Player A is looking to reraise all in with such an underbet, you might as well try and neutralize Player D into giving you at least one free card (or a chance to make another move) by showing strength (without him thinking that's what you are doing, since if he comes over the top, you need to get into tournament position calculations). With that min raise move out of position, he shouldn't be folding unless he's a complete donkey, so nothing you do should get anyone decent to fold.

You should know by now that you should have raised 3x preflop so you could represent a big hand on the flop (or taken the pot) or even better, get called by more players preflop and then again by someone on the flop thinking you are bluffing when a flop like this comes, and then you clean up if you make it on the turn or river. Looking like you are trying to steal the pot, and then killing people trying to push you off on what looks like a bad flop is a great way to advance in tournaments, plus it's so enjoyable.

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 19:24 — Anonymous

You should have raised pre-flop that way you wouldn't have put yourself in this spot. You have the stack to bully the table.

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 19:47 — phillau

Possible but that's outside the scope of this discussion.

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 12:48 — mikezee

I hate to be results-oriented but......

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 09:15 — phillau

wow guys. wow wow wee wow. i'm loving the inputs! here're my takes:

Mikezee: you play too much Omaha. The spades are live and i know it. No way i'm folding this. My choice is really to just call, or raise? If raise, by how much?

bshen: you have the right idea but I think there's a hint of "push and get it over with" in it. It's a simple solution and it probably works, but is there anything more delicate that could be done?

Anonymous: same with Brian. I like your math tho. Math is always the basis for my reasoning.

BrianL: "Why put your tournament life on the line when you're at most 50-50? All you have is 7 high. So I think you should go all-in." -- You sure you're not drunk over virgin margarita when you wrote this? a) you don't want to put your tournament life on the line, and b) you would shove all in!?


I have 3 different angles to this problem:

a) Math: With 15 outs, I'm a 56% favorite against any number players. In 3 handed, that makes me a good favorite since the other two guys will have to split the remaining 44%. (Here i'm assuming my spades are good because as bshen pointed out, they probably are. From the betting sequence, I would say they are good with 95% confidence.) Under this logic, I would want to maintain my mathematical edge and keep it 3 ways. Hence, CALL.

b) Poker: As we all know, poker decisions can go against the math. If I just call, I risk being moved off the pot by the raiser if I miss the turn. At least within the 60 seconds I was given to think, that was my biggest fear. This, i would assume, is also the strongest reasoning for all the people who roots for the shove. So we RAISE. Now, by how much? I have the raiser covered by 3500 chips. Do I really need to shove? Is there a bet size that can yield the same effect without putting the maximum chips at stake? (note: see bottom of this post for my final decision.)

c) Game Theory: If I were given more than 60 seconds, I would actually get to this level of thinking. In game theory, if a short stack is all in and the side pot is dry, people will 95% check it down. (Pls correct me if I'm wrong.) This assumption would overthrow my fear in (b). I can fully assume raiser would check it down with me, giving me free turn and river, if I just call or raise just enough to put shortstack all in. Now, which is better? I would think just calling is better as (if you look at the respective stack sizes), if I raise just enough to put shortie all in, raiser IS allowed to reraise! I don't wanna put the action back on him. Hence, CALL.

It looks like the best choice is to go against our gut instinct and FLAT CALL.

My final decision:

Given the little amount of time I was allowed to think, I made what i would now consider a bad decision. I chose to go with (b), but I didn't shove. I raised it up to 5000 (3500 more) which was enough to get the raiser out while preserving my stack. However, I blanked both the turn and the river and at the end of the hand it looked like I gave the guy free protection. OUCH.

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 16:34 — mikezee

you make some really good points here. good post.

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 13:35 — mikezee

what did player A have?

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 14:55 — phillau


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Sun, 09/28/2008 - 22:08 — Anonymous

me Donkey, here are my comments.

Equity perspective:

semibluff odds - 11000/(3975+11000)=73%
equity range based on players hands on pokerstove assuming that player A has Kx, and player D has a high Kx, two pair, set, or flush draw-

2,402,883 games 0.125 secs 19,223,064 games/sec

Board: Ks 5s 8c

equity win tie pots won pots tied
Hand 0: 49.537% 47.37% 02.17% 1138231 52096.33 { 7s6s }
Hand 1: 32.396% 29.19% 03.20% 701460 76974.83 { 88, 55, KJs-K8s, K5s, 7c6c, 7d6d, 7h6h, KJo-K9o, 76o }
Hand 2: 18.067% 16.69% 01.38% 400929 33191.83 { A9s-A5s, Ac4c, Ad4d, Ah4h, Ac3c, Ad3d, Ah3h, Ac2c, Ad2d, Ah2h, K2s+ }

a less spade drawy version puts you at anywhere between 49-52% ahead, so:

if you push all in and get a call from the short stack and fold from the raiser you make:

49.5%*(14975+2750)=8773 or lose a similar amount. here you are basically risking 1500+2750 to win 8773. pretty positive to me. especially when he's only 18% to win.

if you push all in and get a call from the reraiser then you make:
49.5%*(14975+8500)=23475. note that you dominate his range where he can only win 32% of the time relative to the players involved. i don't think he has a flush draw here much because he'd push much harder. more likely he's got two pair or a set in which you have equity against.

add in some fold equity in the range of 30% from player A and 15% for player D and its a pretty positive EV play.

That was cash game analysis. In a tourney, how valuable are your chips here? will they let you take command of the table? if this is mid tourney far away from the real money, i'd do this all day. you have to make yourself competitive with chips in play and since you chose to limp with this hand, you've hit the hottest flop you can hit. play it!

this also kinda works as a squeeze play in reverse since player D must have a huge hand to want to play for his rather deep stack against you. in other words if he has a nut flush draw, he'll likely fold and even if player A has a nutflush draw you're risking very little to gain control of the table since 2500 won't kill you at this stage where you have 40bbs.

so i would shove all day. even if villains know your hand face up they would be hard pressed to call against their range. my math up top is a little fuzzy but i think its close enough.

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 17:28 — phillau

Thanks for the in-depth analysis. Great to know that someone out there is as math-geeky as me. Comments:

- "i don't think he has a flush draw here much because he'd push much harder." -- Can't agree more.

- "add in some fold equity in the range of 30% from player A and 15% for player D..." -- This might be read-based but I would price fold equity for player A and D at 5% and 40%, respectively.

- "if this is mid tourney far away from the real money, i'd do this all day." -- This is pretty early in the tournament (first level with antes), so yes, I would be going for building my stack more than safe-guarding it. What I wouldn't do, even at this point of the tourny, is to risk my tournament life. And since I cover everybody, this isn't a concern.

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Sat, 09/27/2008 - 02:04 — mikezee

To Anonymous----Fair enough. I agree that winning tournaments would require a lot of aggression but I'm inclined to think that a lot of that aggression is controlled aggression. In a cash game, I'd understand taking the risk of pushing after the bet and raise on the flop (just another buy-in to hop back in), but midway through a tournament where we've got slightly above average chips, I think a careful assessment of where we really stand in the hand is a good idea and is warranted, no matter how pretty the flop is for 6s7s.

When you ask "How much better are you hoping to get your money in?", my thinking is that it's very possible that your spades aren't live and that you're actually not going to be getting your money in good at all if you push. What I mean is that what you have, at first, looks like an all-exciting combination of open-ended straight and flush draws but actually turns out to be a straight draw net the spades for 6 outs. Like I said, in a cash game I'd understand pushing. I love that gamble and would push every time there. But, in a tournament with a good amount of chips, I think there's something to be said about being able to adjust our level of aggression and to choose spots carefully in order to navigate through the field.

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Sat, 09/27/2008 - 01:39 — BrianL

Why put your tournament life on the line when you're at most 50-50? All you have is 7 high. So I think you should go all-in.

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Fri, 09/26/2008 - 21:42 — Anonymous

Here's the perspective of a guy who's way less humble than MikeZ: Anything but a shove here is horrible for all the reasons that Brian mentioned but even more. Winning tournament poker is about aggression. Can you imagine any of the top online pros (who, i believe, are the best in these situations) folding this hand? I mean how much better are you hoping to get your money in? In fact, I would have to have incredible reads/personal information/tells to not make this shove in any format. The math is beautiful; your position is beautiful. The biggest decision to make here is how do i sell it. If I wanted a call (which means I'm willing to accept some variance) I would try to sell that with my body language and if I wanted a fold I would try to sell that.

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Mon, 09/29/2008 - 17:19 — phillau

Couple of quick comments might help with future problem solving:

- "The math is beautiful; your position is beautiful." -- These are actually two facts warranting opposite actions. Math being beautiful means at the point in the hand if no more decision are to be made, I would be the favorite. Hence, math is beautiful implies SHOVE. Position being beautiful means if the hand were to play on I can make a play with my better position. Position is beautiful implies CALL. (Note: raising all-in generally has more equity when you're out-of-position.)

- I LARGELY agree that aggression is essential in winning poker tournaments. However, I don't necessary agree that aggression is synonymous to "all out betting".

- I 100% agree that this hand is not to be folded.

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Fri, 09/26/2008 - 17:21 — bshen

Based on the betting, it's hard for me to put either of the players on a spade draw. The argument of not wanting to gamble most of your chips (if you push and player D calls) without a made hand or at least the nut flush draw (say if it were 5s Kc 8s) is a good one. But if you read that your spades are live, then I think a push would be the best move albeit aggressive...and if you run into As8s, then I'm sorry.

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Fri, 09/26/2008 - 16:53 — mikezee

Here's the perspective of a weak player who plays way too much Omaha: It seems likely that whatever you do, player A is looking to get all his chips in behind you and the min raise from player D looks pretty strong so my guess is that among the three of you your spades probably aren't live. If you call, you may be faced with an all-in reraise by player D if in fact player A moves in, in which case you'd have little choice but to call off the remaining 7000 hoping that your spades are live but basically knowing that what you probably have is just the open-ended straight draw, and even worse, minus the spade outs. If player D doesn't have spades, then the side pot may be worth the gamble, but would it be safe to assume he doesn't have spades? Why would he min raise with a naked flush draw in that spot? As8s maybe?

My opinion is that it's either push or fold here and I know that the stronger way to play would be to push because (1) there is fold equity for player D if in fact he isn't as strong as he represented and (2) if we're going to play suited connectors then that's exactly the flop we're looking for, but in this case, given the action in front of you and given that you still have decent chips, I think folding would be a better move here. (See what I mean by weak???)

Anyway, my two cents.

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Posted September 5th, 2008 by phillau

Hi Guys, I've finished my run in APPT Macau just few hours ago with a rank of 31st. No final table but not bad either. Gotta give myself a pat on the back for outlasting over 500 guys, right?

I opened the day with 41k chips, and I wasn't even the shortest stack on the table. In fact, including myself 4 out of the 8 on the table were around the 40k mark. I opened my first hand with a shove after John Juanda raised it to 10500 on 2000/4000/500 blinds. I had ATs so I was rooting for him to call. Unfortunately he folded so I was up to only about 60k.

An orbit later a guy with about 40k shoved it in. Everyone folded to me and I looked down at KTs. I mean, not great, but the guy could've had much worst. Better yet this doesn't take away my tournament life. So I called. The guy showed KJo and the board bricked. Boohoo. Down to 20k.

With 20k chips I could see about 1 orbit. Yeah that's 8 hands. Erm, so I shoved it in twice without any caller to build it back to a marginally healthier 35k. At this point i was dealt KJo and everyone folded to me on cutoff. I shoved again, only to be called by the button. The blinds folded and button showed 99. This was as much as I could ask for in the situation. We were off to the race and the board bricked again. Damn, I was out.

Not a bad ending, I don't feel sick or anything, i had a shot and that's about as much as I could hope for.

After the tourny I jumped onto the 20/40 cash game and had a few beers. I ran the table over and took out 10k within 2 hours. I was a sick mofo and was bluffing with all sorts of garbage. Heehee.

Tonight I'll be playing the $10k buy-in 6-hand max tournament. I hope to see a sizable field and hopefully do good in this one too!


Thru Day 2, IN THe MoNey!!!!!

Posted September 5th, 2008 by phillau

Guys! i made the money! i've made it thru Day 2 with a little stack of 41k, but at least i'm still alive! Day 2 started with 208 players and finished with only 39. It was an action packed day.... and i'm very happy for me progress so far.... given the situation... here's the rundown... pls get a bucket ready cuz it's pretty damn sick:

I doubled up early on this sick hand... with 38k and 400/800/100 blinds i had 73s on the BB. Everyone folded to the button so he raised it to 2200. I thought I could see a flop so I called.

Flop: 9c 4c 2x. We both checked.

Turn: 7c. Button checked, and I bet 4000 into the 5800 pot. The guy raised it to 12500. It was a pretty sick raise cuz it's 8500 more out of my 32000 remaining stack. I thought about it and decided to move all in. Guy snap-called! I asked "flush draw, right?" He said "yeah." and turned over AcQx!

River blanked out and I was up to 60k.

On that same table I ran pretty okay and stacked it up to 82k. This is when the table's broken and I was moved. Nightmare begins.

I was moved to this table, and seated to the left of Emad Tahtouh, right of Quinn Do, and also sharing table with Isabelle Mericer. Not a pretty scene. I got pretty beat up on this one and was down to about 70k. Luckily the table was broken up about 30 minutes later.

I was moved to this next table. And before I can get my seat warm, floor manager announced that this table will be broken up too.. I was like an orphan kid being thrown around... but on the last hand before the break up, I had A6s and turned the nut flush. I managed to get my stack up to 77k before being moved again.

I landed at this table, and OMG. God, no. Joe Hachem, and Emad Tahtouh again!? I couldn't seem to get rid of the guy! To make matter worse, the guy to my left, Charles Chua, was running red chilly hot. (To illustrate the picture he went from 15k to 365k to close the day.) As if that's not enough, I went completely card-dead. I didn't play one single hand for over 2 hours, and when I finally picked up a few good hands, here's what happened. With ATs, I raised only to get reraised. I had to fold. With AJ I raised and took just the blinds. With AK I ran it all the way with Emad, who had 88, on a double paired board. That costed me over 10k. My stack was down to 37k by the time I stared down at 22. They seriously looked like aces to me. I shoved it all in only to be called with QQ. I was super lucky one time and I hit the deuce on the river to survive!

After that hand I went completely dead again.... and things got worse when Berstand "Elky" Grospellier sat down two to my left, J Choi say down across me with over 250k, and another guy with over 200k sat down right to my right. It's just that kind of day when I get nothing going my way and I just had to grind my way into the money.

I'm pretty sure tomorrow will be ALL IN TIME for me... I'll see what happens... if I get lucky enough, i might move up the ladder a level or two. If I go on a hot run I might even end up on the final table. Who knows.


Thru Day 1!

Posted September 4th, 2008 by phillau

Hi guys, I've made it thru Day 1 of APPT Macau Main Event with a stack of 35,600. It's pretty healthy... tomorrow the first round of blinds will be 400/800/100, so i can see about 16 orbits...

Had a pretty card dead day today... the best hand i had was 99 which i won a small pot on a preflop reraise... My stack went from 10k to 12k to 6.5k(!) during the first 3-4 levels of blinds.... (I made a bad bluff and got caught... oh well) at 6.5k I immediately stole the blinds twice to build it back to 8k, and then won a few hands to turn it into 15k. Nothing spectacular.

On about the 5th level of blinds i was dealt 62o on the cutoff. Everyone folded to me so I raised it up. Yeah it's a pretty shitty hand but hey, any two cards, right? button called me and both blinds folded. Flop comes 6x 4x 3x. I was first to act so I bet the pot. Button didn't believe me so he called. Turn comes 6x. I bet the pot again! Button again didin't believe me and this time he minraises. I call. River blanked out but before it landed I checked dark. Button moved all in for the rest of his chips and I snap called. This took me all the way up to 31k.

After that hand it was just a matter of stealing and playing some preflop/flop pots. I finished the day at 35,600 which I'm pretty happy about.

Onto Day 2 tomorrow! I'll keep y'all posted! Peace!


Posted August 20th, 2008 by phillau

So as you guys might have read, I've accepted Henrik's challenge for a Head-Up game for HK$25,000. Many people have asked me why I would accept a challenge outside of the stake I original set. Well, I guess it's mainly because I've been running good this month and my profit in August well covers this stake. That could be why. Plus, playing for the APPT seat sounds pretty catchy.

The game is NL Hold'em, best of 3. Each game will start with reasonably deep stacks, and blinds structure to allow lots of play. Since this is by no mean short, we can opt to reschedule the 3rd game if time doesn't permit.

So, it's all gonna happen this Saturday, August 23, at 7pm sharp. Come by to watch and support (either side). Also, I'm pretty sure prop bettings will be made on the sideline!

$100k Guaranteed.

I played at this great tournament in Macau this past Saturday... It was a HK$100k guaranteed, and the field was well covered. 56 players showed up for a total pot size of $126,000. I did pretty well and got 3rd place, cashing HK$25000. Not bad, not bad. But a much better highlight of the game isn't the placing, rather it's the fact that I had Huck Seed sitting to my right thru the final table! Yes people, Huck Seed, the 1996 WSOP Main Event Champion. It's a good experience playing with one of the best, and it's definitely amazing meeting a world champ!

So that's that for now, I'll write more later when I regain my energy... I need some sleep! But I'm pretty happy, this is a good outing before APPT!


UPDATED: I've been asked to write about memorable hands during the game so here's one.... and for those reading who're struggling in late stages of their tournaments, this might be a fix:

This is 6-handed aka bubble time (as tournament paid top 5), and blinds are 2000/4000. I was 2nd in chips in the big blind with 60000. 4th in chips, with 35000, raised it up to 10000. Sitting next was our 3rd in chips, he had 50000, and he just called. Next up was our focus of the table, aka the short stack. He's got just 6000 chips, and he folded. Action was to me and I stared down at 77. I said to myself, I have no way of pushing both of the raiser and the caller out without risking my whole stack, and I didn't want to gamble with shortie almost blinded out. So I folded my 77, and we go to the flop.

Flop: 2x 7x Jx

D'oh. I just folded middle set! This is insane! This would be my chance to take 2 people out in one hand or at least cripple them. Oh well, I still have my stack. Let's see what happens. Original raiser bet out in a sort of continuation way, punching another 12000 into the pot. The original caller, decided to raise it up. He made it 28000 to go. It's a cheap raise in terms of pot odds, but if you look at stack sizes, it's either this much or all-in. Raiser decided to fold his probably complete miss. And now, *drumroll pls....* Caller showed JJ! That's a big HOLY CRAP from me! It would've been set over set if I had played my 77 and although he couldn't knock me out, I would be stripped down to 10000 chips!

Lesson here is, it's generally correct to NOT play those mid to low pairs down the late stretch of a tournament, as these hands are hardly dominating favorites. They're usually coin flip (with a slight lead) hands.The diminishing utility of chips says the chips you can potentially gain aren't nearly as valuable as the chips that you can potentially lose, in a coin flip. A lot of us find ourselves busting out of tournament in late stages on "hands that were preflop favorites", and we tend to say to ourselves "if only that guy could miss, I could be the table leader". Don't be that guy. Revisit your small-ball mentality and make jabs at stealing pots with minimal risk. Avoid the big coin flip showdown. This could be the very last weapon you need in your arsenal in order to take your game from a "close one" to a cash.

Good luck and remember to keep it small.

Luck is more than about hitting those two-outers...

Posted August 3rd, 2008 by phillau

So I'm sitting on my couch today on a Sunday morning reading... all of a sudden I came to the realization that just how fucking lucky I am. And I'm not talking about poker or anything on that scale... It's about life in general... It's just fulfilling to be sitting in my flat with a pleasant view, reading a good book, listening to my favorite DVD concert, with my lovely dog lying right beside me, and a bright sunshine outside... what more can anyone ask for? It's pretty mind-numbing living in a place like Hong Kong, where everything's just so damn materialistic. It seems to matter here to be aggressive and live hard and play hard... it can be easy to miss how fortunate I am... but it doesn't have to be this way... it can really be as good just laying it low and living it easy....

it's probably a good feeling of many things combined... not having to worry about living, my career, my poker career, a great partner who loves and understands me... this is just great.... and i strongly believe feeling good in general has a great impact of doing well in poker... =)

p.s. this saturday at 8pm, Pokerstars Macau will have their first $100k guaranteed tournament for a buy in of just $2500HKD. I'll be there. Come join me.

Macau Poker Cup

Posted July 23rd, 2008 by phillau

Hi guys, I know I haven't blogged in ages... please don't think that I've given up this fabulous medium to express myself... i've just been very very busy and I promise blogging will resume and be frequent when the poker season starts in Asia (*droolzzz* on APPT, APT, Pokernews Cup, Macau Cup, Aussie Millions....)

Very quickly, I'd like to invite anyone interested in a little fun game with me to step up. Please leave your details here, or email me at (if u wanna be discreet), if you're interested in playing a Heads-Up match for up to $10,000HKD. The time of the game will be somewhere between 2pm to 8pm on July 26th, at the Pokerstars Macau room in Grand Waldo Hotel. We can play on the poker floor, or if you wish, we can play in the more private VIP room which I can gain access to.

Note: I'm not gonna take anyone who normally plays with me (let's not waste money by paying tournament fees).

Phil's one sporty fella

Posted June 12th, 2008 by phillau

Hey y'all, I've been laying off blogging for a while... not because I don't like doing it, but because my time's been pretty much eaten up. By what? you ask. SPORTS BABY! I've been having my very own triathon of basketball, tennis, and soccer. And no, I'm not playing, I'm watching. It's been NBA Finals, French Open, and Euro 2008, over and over again.

First off, as a guy from the East Coast, I'm very VERY happy that Boston's leading the series 2-1. Go get'em Celts! Do one for the East for Christ's sake. For everyone's info, I'm a big supporter for any East team that makes it to the Finals except for the Pistons. I've also made a promise that if this Finals is Pistons versus Spurs I'll boycott NBA for next year. I mean, if that series happen, the TV people will hate the association more than I do. IT'S BASKETBALL PEOPLE! YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO SCORE! A combined score of 130 or below just won't fly with the TV ratings. Fortunately, both of my MBTs (Most Boring Team) didn't make it. Good. GO CELTICS GO!

Onto the French Open. Nadal's a monster. A total beast. He totally DESTROYED Federer. Federer won a total of FOUR GAMES in the whole contest. Boy, being the second best player on Earth isn't really all that bad.

Now onto Euro 2008. Boy oh boy, I usually don't follow soccer extensively, until it gets to the international level. I just somehow get hooked whenever the World Cup or the Euro Cup is played and I always find myself watching most of the games. I also have a pretty good eye on betting on these. Up till today, the tournament has played for 5 days, and I've made money every single day.

Day 1, I had money on Portugal to win against Turkey. Pretty easy there.

Day 2, I had Germany to win 1-0, 2-0, or 2-1. They ended up winning 2-0, and the bet paid off beautifully.

Day 3, I decided to go outside the norm and bet on Romania to tie the game with France 0-0, or to win 1-0. Yes, I had money leaned towards the Romanians even though the French were the bookie's heavy favorite. Why? I looked at the qualifying matches, and Romania played like a rockstar. They won their group which consist of the Netherlands and Russia. They beat Netherlands twice and Russia three times! And for France, hrm, they barely made it while losing to Scotland. That's enough for me to make up my mind against them. Oh, and I was reading the roster and Patrick Vieira failed the fitness test and Thierry Henry is a maybe. Cool! The game finished nil-nil, and my 6.5 to 1 bet looked pretty handsome. Oh, and I was smart enough to stay away from the Holland vs Italy game. That could've spelled my first disaster of the tournament. Three goals? Italy? By the Netherlands? When was the last time this happened?

Day 4, I had heavy money on Spain and also for the score to go over 2.5 balls. Actually, I believed it would go WAY over. Spain beat Russia 4-1. A guy at poker was fine enough to prop bet against me by taking under. Thanks for the money bro! By the way, does anyone out there got money on David Villa taking the golden boot? My colleague at work took Podolski before the tournament started and he's pretty iffy now.

Day 5, I had money on Portugal beating Czech, and also on them winning by 2 goals or more. I mean, Portugal played great in their first game, and I've upgraded them to one of my two favorites (the other one is Germany) to win the title. Their fast-tempo game rocks. Czech on the other hand, wouldn't have won that first game against Switzerland if not for the injury of Alexander Frei. Portugal ended up winning the game 3-1, and cha-ching for me!

Today's Day 6, I have money on Germany winning the game against Croatia, and also on them to win by 1 goal. Both teams are already sitting on 3 points so I think Croatia would happily take a tie. I think they would go heavy with the "D" but that's still not enough against the Deutsch's firepower. I'm guessing 1-0 but just wanna cover all my bases.

Before the tournament started I was rooting for Italy and Germany. But after seeing the Azzurri's first performance, I've downgraded them heavily. Instead, I think Portugal has what it takes to ride it home, but being on the same side of the tree with Germany, I think their biggest test would come before the final match. Seems like I favor Group A and B over Group C and D ehh? Spain's well-known to rock early in major tournaments and choke as soon as the elimination stage begins. So let's not go against the statistic and get too crazy about their 4-1 win. GO GERMANY! GO PORTUGAL!

Close But No Cigar

Posted May 25th, 2008 by phillau

Hi guys, I finished 7th in the $10k Red Dragon Event, which pays top 5 players. Yes I know, this bites. It's six hours of practice for nothing. For more details on the hands that went down, I'll be writing on a seperate blog. Let's just say I was unlucky enough to have ran into quads twice, having survived the first one and then fought all the way back, only to the dismal of the second one. Overall I'm a bit disappointed in myself and I would sure hope to do better in my next tournament.

Review of the weekend:

On Friday, I arrived at the hotel on time at 3:30pm and checked into my hotel room. Wow, sea view. And there's nothing else but well.... sea. I like it as it's quiet and peaceful, and here's a special thanks to for arranging everything. I settled in and went down to the poker room. I met Lee Nelson, and was very excited to be invited by him for some upcoming work in Macau (details will be released when I can make it public). We did our fair shares of media work, photo-taking, and interviews. By 7pm, I was exhausted and my sore throat was creeping up. I was arm-twisted into playing the $2000HKD charity event for the Sichuan earthquake, and i mean, it's for good cause, so who was I to turn it down. Heck, it was a super-turbo tournament. We started with 40 big blinds and level went up FAST. I got knocked out without much of a fight early on, but it's ok. Again, it's for good cause. I didn't completely manage to stay away from the cash game, which was my original plan. I played a bit while waiting for my friend to show up for a drink and dropped $1k. Not a big deal. I went out for a drink with a friend at the beautiful Macau Fisherman's Wharf, and it felt totally great to be out in the open, sipping a beer, and eating some chilly cheese fries. I hit the PokerStars after-party later on, and had lots of fun (*smilez*). Went back to hotel room at about 3:30am, only to find an exciting (despite being a re-run) game of Orioles versus Yankees. Game was tied at 1-1 until bottom of the ninth, when the Yanks score the winning run! So there I was, crashed in bed at 5am.

On Saturday, I got up at noon, and I went down to the poker room to check out the action. I found sitting there none other than the legendary Johnny Chan! He proposed a $200-$400 cash game with minimum buy in of $100k HKD. And oh, my friend Kenny was sitting there too! Very exciting stuff. The game was 6-handed. I watched them play on and didn't realize it was 3:30pm and I still haven't had any food. I ordered the usual BBQ pork rice, and ate and watched at the same time. Kenny finished the night up over $100k HKD. Woohoo! I went out for dinner at 6ish, had some decent Portuguese food. Came back at 8ish and sat down at the table of the $10k event. I grinded my way to a decent stack, and I worked the table good. I was putting up my usual wild image, but inside I was actually playing very tight. I got knocked out at 7th, and oh well. That's that. I went back to my room and crashed at around 3:30am.

On Sunday, I got up at 10am. I checked out of my room and went out for lunch. We decided to eat at the Fisherman's Wharf again, as there's a very good Portuguese restaurant. Oh the food was SO good.... I took the 1:30pm ferry back to HK and that concludes my Macau weekend!

In general, it was a weekend well spent. I enjoyed myself and had some very good poker action. I'm definitely looking forward to my next tourny tho, I'll do better and I'll get into the money, I swear.

Gotta Love a Poker Trip!

Posted May 23rd, 2008 by phillau

Hey all!! I'm getting ready to travel to Macau for the upcoming exciting weekend of the Macau Poker Cup! Plan for these 3 days:

I'm gonna take the 2pm ferry from Hong Kong to Macau, arriving at the door of the hotel at about 3:30pm. I'll then check-in to my hotel room (provided by PokerStars, thanks peeps!). At 4pm I'll be doing some work for PokerStars, in educating media and celebs on poker. I'll be doing this together with none other than 2006 Aussie Millions Champion Lee Nelson! I've met Lee back in Singapore in 2006, and it's certainly a pleasure seeing him again! This should last me till 7pm, when I would be free to goof away for the rest of the night! I'm not seeing big action though, as I wanna save my brain juice for the big game tomorrow. Might just chill out with peers at the cash game table and try my best to stay away from playing.... hahaha.... (i vowed not to play cash game again cuz I suck real bad but external forces always lure me back in.... urgghhh.... external forces....) I might also go out for drinks with some macanese friends of mine.... we shall see....

Sleep in. As late as I can. Yup, this is what I love about a poker trip. All I do is sleep, eat, and poker. I should be waking up by noon, and will brunch it up good on room service (i like room service about a million times more than the breakfast buffet. I never feel like seeing strangers before I'm fully awake...). Think a friend of mine came up with the idea of go-karting? I love that idea and will probably spend an hr or two at the track in the afternoon.... and OF COURSE we're racing for money.... lol.... after that I should be back at the tables playing some SNGs, just to warm things up.... cuz at 8pm, I'm gonna play the $10k HKD Red Dragon Event. That should be very exciting as I know many good players are gonna enter, and the pot should be a healthy HKD million! This should last till 4-5am depending on how deep I get, but I should be ready to crash after.

Sleep in. Yes, again. Room service. Yes, again. And then I'm gonna ferry it back to HK at around 1-2pm in time to spend some quality time with my dog before the sun comes down....

Think this weekend will be a splash... in case I get any down time, I've loaded up my laptop with WSOPE Season 7. Muahahahaha, hey, it's a poker trip!

Macau Poker Cup

Posted May 20th, 2008 by phillau

Hi guys! I'm getting very excited about this upcoming weekend, as I'll be heading to Macau for the grand opening of Pokerstars Macau! It's Macau's newest poker room, located in Grand Waldo Hotel... There'll be plenty of action this weekend, here's a shortened summary of the schedule:

Friday May 23:
4pm: Grand Opening
5pm: Cash Game Opens
7pm: Charity Event (Top 3 gets APPT Macau entry, next 4 gets entry to $10k Saturday event, next 5 gets entry to $4k Sunday event, next 15 gets entry to $1k Saturday early event.) Entry fee is a donation of no less than $2000HKD to Red Cross.

Saturday May 24:
12:30pm: Macau Cup Deep Stack Event: $1000 buy-in
4pm: Mega Satellite to Sunday $4k Event: $900 buy-in
8pm: Macau Cup Red Dragon Event: $10000 buy-in

Sunday May 25:
12:30pm: Macau Cup Blue Dragon Event: $4000 buy-in
4pm: Mega Satellite to APPT Macau

I'll be playing in the $10k Red Dragon Event and maybe the Friday Charity Event. See y'all at the table in Macau!

Holiday Tournament - May 1st, 2008

Posted April 28th, 2008 by phillau

Hi guys! I'll be hosting a NL Hold'em Tournament on Thursday, May 1st, at 7pm. It's a holiday in Hong Kong so let's come out and have some fun! The buy-in is $2000HKD and there's no-rebuy. We'll also be using a deeper stack structure, so we'll be seeing lots of quality play. Sign up here: .

Oh, about the tourny this past Saturday, I came 3rd. Not bad, but not perfect. I had the chiplead for the major part of the final table, but didn't manage to hold on. It wasn't really my fault, as both hands where I shipped major stacks away were inevitable. One I was racing against a lowstack with two over cards over his medium pocket pair, and another I ran into pocket Aces with my second nut flush draw. Being in the money is still good, and it provides room for improvement!

I credit a major part of my performance this game to the readings I've done. It's really paying off. If you haven't read about my booklist, please take a look here: . I've had many inspirations on so many different aspects of poker since I started reading!

See you at the table this Thursday!

p.s. Apart from tournament poker, I'll occupied by another equally exciting activity, GRAND THEFT AUTO IV. That's right people, my pre-ordered copy has arrived!!!!! I'm gonna make sure I put the shotgun to some grandmas head and melee some hookers this holiday!

Bookworm Phil

Posted April 25th, 2008 by phillau

Hi all, I've just received my shipment from! Time to start reading. Here's my list of items, these are definitely recommanded by me for all of you book lovers out there:

1) Phil Hellmuth Presents Read'Em and Reap: A Career FBI Agent's Guide to Decoding Poker Tells, by Joe Navarro. This is a book focusing in nonverbial expressions. Navarro's a FBI specialist and a human lie detector. Read about how he explains tells even professional poker players give away.

2) Harrington on Hold'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol 2: End game, by Dan Harrington. Recommanded by my good friend Rich, a very good book on details in tournament strategies, more keyed towards advanced players.

3) Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell. Explains how the human brain makes up your mind for you before you know it.

4) The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A very highly regarded author on the matter of randomness. I loved his previous work Fooled by Randomness. This book foretells the possibility of a drastic downturn of the global economy before the subprime crisis submerged. Very insightful and offers an alternative way of thinking to the improbables.

5) Heroes, Vol.1, by Tim Sale. A compilation of the Graphic Novels of the TV series Heroes. Each Graphic Novel complements an episode of the series. I LOVE THIS SHOW!

Looks like I'll have my hands full for the weekend!

Donked Out Bad

Posted April 23rd, 2008 by phillau

Hi guys, first off, apologies for not writing about last Saturday's tournament until now. I've been waiting until the fume clears and I can finally calm down before I describe what a horrible outing it was.

So there I was, playing in the 14 handed, 2-tables rebuy tournament. I got knocked out very early on, but I lost most of my chips in this one hand. I had JJ, and I had about 3000 chips with blinds being 50/100. One person limped and I raised it to 350. SB called and limper folded. Flop comes 789 rainbow. SB checked and I bet 475. SB called. The turn is another 7. I actually liked the 7 more than I hated it. I wasn't really worried about SB holding a 7, but if he had top two he would've been counterfeited. I went all in. He thought about it for about a minute, and he called! He showed A8 which is ridiculous. He called all-in for ALL HIS CHIPS with second pair. What the hell was on his mind!? Obviously I floored my JJ and the river comes.... an 8. All hell broke loose. I was so pissed I got up ready to leave the table, only to be reminded that I still had 700 left. This is unbelievable. What an idiot. He called with a stupid medium pair and hit his river. And then the thing that pissed me off the most is, he said he saw it coming. I was like, WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN YOU SAW IT COMING? JUST ADMIT YOU'RE A LUCKY MUTHAFUCKING IDIOT AND GET ON WITH IT. He kept his mouth shut and head down afterwards, but what's done is done. It's war. All I know is, he better not show up for another game, or I'll personally break him. I swear.

It's these idiots who pay you off in the long run, but it's just so sick. As Hellmuth would put it, "these IDIOTS can't even SPELL poker." What an insult to my game to be on the same table with them. I would happily play a $100k Heads-Up cash game this idiot, on the condition that he can't quit until one of us gets cleaned out. Gosh, it's just so sick.

Enough ranting, for this upcoming tournament I'll play my best damn poker. Bad calls can only be profitable in the long run, I'll try to keep that in mind.

Taking down the house...

Posted April 14th, 2008 by phillau

Hey guys! I won I won! i know it's getting repetitive but I'm totally loving it! I took down the top prize of the 19-handed rebuy live tournament. We were down to 3-handed when we decided that I could take 1st place with a $20k HKD prize money, and 2nd and 3rd will chop roughly $12k each. I also won the $1000 bonus for knocking out the most players (I knocked out 5), and I won two last longer prop bets. All in all, a very fruitful night.

I'm very proud to say that I made zero crucial mistake in this tournament. I mean, obviously I've lost pots, but I've played no hand wrong nor have I lost any that were damaging to my stack or my chipleader status. Oh, and about the chiplead, I was the chipleader right when the rebuy period was over, and then there was no looking back. I rallied my way onto the final table, and there I took advantage of my big stack well and took down a lot of blinds and antes. I owned half of the total chips in play when we were down to 4-handed.

In addition to the fundamental gameplay, my read was very accurate for the night. On one particular hand, I was in the small blind with 78o, I was the chipleader and the only limper got nearly as big a stack as I did. I picked up a tell on him when he read his cards. Gut feeling tells me that he's not super strong, ie not pocket pairs. Being my tricky self, I min-raised it to 400 (on 100/200 blinds). Big blind folded as expected, and limper called. I checked dark before the flop was dealt, and the flop shows 26T rainbow. I had a gutshot straight draw. Limper made a pot sized bet of 1000, and i paused a little and then raised all in. This was for all of his chips people, and he had a pretty healthy stack. There's no way he could call. This is a very advanced play here, it's 90% based on my read on the limper, but if he calls I'm still live. He went into the tank and after at least three minutes of contemplation, he laid his hand down. What I'm trying to show here is, the play I made was decided even before the first raise was made. It really didn't matter what the guy had, he's folding it.

I'll try to compare my combo moves to the Street Fighter game. (For all of you who doesn't play the game, bare with me...) By min-raising him, it's like I threw a probing jab to take out some of his possible hands. He, by not reraising or folding, was clearly not on any pair nor any extreme rags. Then I checked in the dark. This is like a block or parry to slow down and let him hit into you. And then comes the big Super. By going all in, I gave him no choice but to lay it down and hand the pot to me. I would recommand anyone who wants to try this out to be extremely selective with your hand and your opponent, but when you do make a move, please do me a favor and don't get cold-feeted.

For the coming week there'll be a $20k HKD guaranted tournament which will happen on Saturday, April 19th. I'll be playing, and better yet, there will be a $1000 bounty on my head. So please sign up here ( if you wanna take a stab at it! As always I will accept any $500 or $1000 last-longer prop bets. Please post here for the prop bets.

See you at the table!

Bet Size Matters - Part 2

Posted April 6th, 2008 by phillau

Hi all, I won I won! Well, to be exact, another good player and I chopped the pot evenly when it got down to Heads-Up, as we had almost the exact same amount of chips and we both wanted to head for the cash game. Anyways, not a bad payday for me.

I want to talk more about how bet size matters in poker, and if it's not treated with care it could serve as a very big tell for your opponents. I was sitting at the table and we were down to 8 handed. I was holding AcKc so time to get my feet wet! I raised to 90, which was the standard 3xBB. The guy on the button called, and we headed to the flop. Flop showed 5c6c9h. Not ideal but definitely got potential. I was first to act and I checked. Button bet 100, and I raised to 250. The check-raise move was well within my agenda, as I expected the guy to be only on high cards. To my surprise, Button reraised all-in. That, was out of expectation. I took my time and tried to see how far he might be ahead. Obviously he wouldn't already have a made hand or he would be smooth-calling my raise to set his trap. So no straight. Two pairs or a set? Didn't smell like it. So whatever else he had, I had 15 outs. That's pretty decent. I announced I CALL. Yup, with the Ace High. Time for the show-down, and to my pleasant surprise, Button showed 34o! He was on a stupid straight draw. Super. The turn's a blank while the 7c hit the river. He made his straight but at the same time I made my flush! That was pretty sick but I mean, that's the beauty of having closing out people's outs. The point here is, if he hadn't shoved all-in on the flop and just called, he could've made a move on the turn and that I was sure to have laid down. Bet size matters people, bigger isn't always better.

Now that I'm done with recapping, it's time to look forward to the next one. There'll be a tournament in Hong Kong this coming Saturday (April 12) at 7pm, and it's a rebuy tourny. Please check it out here and make sure you sign up cuz it's gonna be a great game: . *UPDATE* This is now a $15k HKD guaranteed tourny!

p.s. On the Heads-Up Challenges, I lost the NLHE/NLCP Heads-Up to BrianL, and I still haven't got around to playing the one with Vikram. Good job Brian!

Hosting a Tournament - Friday April 4th, 2008

Posted April 2nd, 2008 by phillau

Hi all! I'll be hosting a live tourny on Friday, April 4th, 2008, at 8pm. Check it out and join in for some fun! Details can be viewed here: . The tournament will be followed by some Heads-Up action. Oh and about that, I've decided to take up Vik's Heads-Up Challenge and we're gonna bring on the action! (obvious the game of choice is NLHE. I'm not stupid you know...) So do c'mon down for an action packed poker night out!

On the same note, I would accept any Heads-Up challenge, which will be played out on the same night. So don't be shy, post here if you're interested. I only do tournament style (with increasing blinds) and I take any bet up to and including $2000HKD.

(dang, this might turn into Vik and I playing host to two Heads-Up tables with a grand finale of us fighting each other.....)

Ups and Downs and Ups - A Quick Update of the $5 Challenge

Posted March 24th, 2008 by phillau

Hey all, i haven't blogged in 16 days! It seemed like forever since I last wrote anything related to poker, or anything period. Between the last update and now my Bankroll had taken a few ups and downs.

Since playing the Knock-Out Tournament, I've been sticking to Sit'n Gos, following the rule that I play 5% of my bankroll per buy-in. At a bankroll of $1300, I was going at the $50+5. I eventually built it up a little and reached $1450. It was time to level-up and hit the $69+6. So I did. Sounds good except I quickly went into a drastic bad run, where I lost consecutive SNGs. As soon as the bankroll fell below $1400 I reverted back to the $50+5, but that didn't help. I just kept running real bad and the result wasn't pretty. My bankroll dropped to as low as $900 before it bounced back. As soon as I had it back up to $1350 I started losing a few again, and it was down to $1100. Eventually, I've grinded it out and right now the bankroll's at $1550. This really shows the importance of bankroll management. If I had played larger buy-in SNGs, my bankroll wouldn't be able to sustain my bad run.

During this time, I've took a trip to Taipei, which is one of my favorite short haul getaway destinations. I had plenty of uber good street food, excessive amount of bubble tea, and then even more street food. The trip only lasted a weekend but it was time well spent. Plus, I had wireless in the hotel room so I could spend the spare times playing online.

Plans for the upcoming months: I target to built my bankroll up to $5000 by hopefully end of April, so when the satellites for the APPT comes around, I can comfortably buy into it without it violating my 5% SNG limit. On the other hand, I'll be playing the satellite for for Melbourne Poker Championship, which is set to take place on May 23rd to 25th. The buy-in is AUD$1100, which is equivalent to about US$1000. I've won step 1 which is the $14+1 satellite into the $50+5 qualifier. Hope all goes well there!

Bounty Hunters!

Posted March 8th, 2008 by phillau

Since my last update I've been playing mainly sit n gos, and i've just broken even. It's Friday night and what's better to do than some serious tournament poker? I registered in the $70+5 Knock-Out Tournament with a $10,500 guarantee. The field had 210 players, and we started with 3000 chips. Of the $70 of the buy-in, $55 went to the main pot, and $15 was the player's bounty. In other words, everytime I knocked someone out, I would earn $15 straight up. Oh and top prize was $3000. Sweet.

Over the course of the tournament I made 7 knockouts. That earned me $105, so I'm better than freerolling. Of the knockouts, a more interesting one happened when I was dealt 88 when blind was 60/120. (This would be my 3rd KO.) A guy raised to 360 and I reraised to 1080. He called. The flop showed 792 rainbow. The guy went all in and I was thinking "there's no way you have a 9, and with any overpair over a 9, you didn't reraise me all-in preflop?" I called. He showed a weak 56 suited. He needed an 8 to make a straight but I already have 2 of his outs. Better yet, a 9 came on the turn and he's drawing dead. (ie if he made a straight I would've made my full-house.) Sweet indeed.

I finished the tournament ranked #14. I picked up $115 from the pot, so including the bounties, I made $145. It's not a lot of money but I had a good stab at the $3000 first prize. Not too bad. One thing I noticed about these KO tournaments is that the tables are more action-packed during the early blinds, making the whole game slightly faster. On the downside, the bounty might rush a player into a bad decision, usually a loose call or a loose all-in.

Newest bankroll: $1300.

Bad Hands, Good Hands, and a complete reversal of the definitions

Posted March 5th, 2008 by phillau

So much for being sick and no poker and all that jazz, I've once again committed myself into the $69+$6 45-handed! That's right, it's the same one that I got 3rd place in. This table's flipping unbelievable. I was totally card-dead! I've sat thru most of the early levels and got my chips down to 995 from 1500, and thru a few tactically shoves, when the blinds mattered a little more, I managed to boost my count to 4010. All of this was done with the best starting hands no better than A5o. That's Ace-Five-Offsuit people! I can't recall a worse run of cards. I got so detached to the good hands I almost felt lost when I finally landed myself an ATo. On this hand I managed to seize the pot without much of a showdown. However, not much later I was dealt AKo. At first, I was like "sweet, about flipping time." but then when the two shorter stacks went all in and the chipleader called, i knew I had a decision to make. I could either shove or I could lay it down. I decided to lay down.

Only a couple hands after I was dealt AJo. I was SB and all folded to the Button who raised. Under normal circumstances, I would reraise as I put him on a steal. But since I'm so detached with the good hands today, I decided to lay this down as well! And guess what, Button flips open AQ! Amazing laydowns Phil. So I've now come to the conclusion that good hands are very dangerous as most people would go all out betting. Bad hands, on the other hand, aren't so bad because if they're played right, it gives very high return.

Final result of this game? I landed myself 2nd place, so that's an improvement from last time, and it adds $775 to my bankroll.

Update on the bankroll: I've been running a little bad before this game as I lost 3 consecutive $50 Sit'n Go's and a $20 MTT. Adding the cashing from today, bankroll stands at $1101.

Again, amazing how much $5 can get you.

Bankroll breaks $500!!

Posted March 2nd, 2008 by phillau

Tonight is a very special tonight, as my bankroll broke above $500 for the first time! Here's what happened...

After my last update, I've been mainly playing $10 Sit'n Gos and $0.10/$0.25 NL Hold'em cash games. I did so-so in the SNGs, cashing in twice in 4 games. However, in the cash games I ran real bad and I got the bankroll down to $89.24. I figured things cannot go on like this and it's time to make some serious money. I picked a night which I feel really good and am free of distractions, and I played in a $69+$5 45-handed NL Hold'em Tournament. I understand that this is a big chunk of my bankroll, but I feel good about taking the risk and am confident in making it to the money.

The field was divided into 5 nine-handed tables. We started with chipstacks of 1500, and money goes to the top six finishers. As usual, I started by playing very few hands, concentrating on the premium ones. The major turning point of my night came when I had 1890 chips, and blinds were 120/240. Obviously, I was shortstacked and I needed to make a move quick. I held 45 suited under the gun, I decided to flat call. The cut-off guy (person who acts before the button) pushes all in for 5100, which was way more than my stack and also more than every remaining players'. As expected, the button, SB, and BB folded and it was up to me. I had a very strong feeling that he's trying to take down the action right there, and I had a good drawing hand. I thought about it carefully for a moment, and surprising even myself, I called! That's right, I called an All-in bet with 45 suited. Cards were turned over, and the guy showed pocket 2s! OMG, I have two overcards! The flop shows 499 and it was all over. I doubled up. Magic moments.

Later on, I advanced to be the chipleader when it got down to 7 handed, but I also managed to lose the chiplead only 15 minutes thereafter and I was actually the shortstack when it got down to 5-handed. Fortunately, two of the remaining players decided to commit suicide and I finished happily at 3rd. I picked up a prize money of $496. My bankroll is now at $511. Yay.

Amazing how far $5 can get you. My next target will be $2000.

Phil's Jesus Challenge (sort of)

Posted February 27th, 2008 by phillau

I decided to try out the Jesus Challenge, except instead of a bankroll of $0, I’m starting with $5. I know, I’m skipping the hardest part of the challenge. But hey, I’m not exactly Chris Ferguson. My goal, however, is the similar. It’s to turn $5 into $20,000. Here’s what happened in Day 1.

The game of choice was $0.25/$0.50 + ante $0.05 Limit HORSE. I chose this because I like the brain massage the HORSE game gives, and the limit version can reduce the disadvantage I’m taking for having a small bankroll. The games included were (1) Limit Hold’em; (2) Limit Omaha Hi/Lo; (3) Limit Razz; (4) Limit Stud Hi; and (5) Limit Stud Hi/Lo. I bought in with every cent of my $5. Hey, that’s 10 big blinds everybody. It’s absurd. I sat down to fill up the table to 8-handed and started working. Of the games in play, I’m most comfortable with Hold’em, but I also like Stud and Razz. Omaha’s definitely my weakest link, so I figured I would need to play a little tighter and reduce my exposure every time we went around to Omaha. After two and a half hours of grinding, I built my $5 into $30.05. However, I started running bad, and within 30 minutes, I was down to $19.85. At that point, I decided that as soon as I get back up to $22, I’ll leave the table. After another 30 minutes, my chip-count is exactly $22.00, so I left.

After almost 4 hours of limit cash game, my head’s pretty bloated. I took a break and then registered myself in a $20+2 NL Hold’em Sit’n Go. It’s business as usual, and I was lucky enough to land myself two pocket rockets during crunch time. Those two hands took out the 4th and 5th place to get me into the money. I ended up getting 2nd place with a payout of $54. Bankroll: $54.00.

So now that I’ve played a cash game and a Sit’n Go, I didn’t feel like grinding my way into money anymore. I registered myself in a $50 + $2.50 NL Hold’em Heads-Up Match, and immediately I got a game going. The guy I was playing against was very tight, tight enough that I could comfortably fold every time he bets. This type of player is very easy to play against in a heads-up game, as it’s almost certain that you can get an early chip lead. After that, all you have to do is lean on him until he finally makes the inevitable showdown. The key hand I played was a TQo, which I limped in. The flop showed 9J2, and we both checked. The turn showed an 8 and he betted out. I smooth-called as I held the nuts and there wasn’t much threat on the board. The river was a 7 and I betted half his stack. He insta-called showing T6 for the lower straight. I took down the pot and improved my stack to about four times his. Hereafter the game’s pretty standard and I forced the guy to go all in on QT and I took the game down. Bankroll: $101.50.

That’s it for today, I’ll keep grinding it out tomorrow and hopefully can hit my first target of $500 soon.

Decision Making in Tournament Play

Posted February 24th, 2008 by phillau

Poker's all about making the decision with the best expected value at all times. This applies even more when it comes to tournament play, when the "value" in a hand doesn't only embed in the chips in the pot, but also the players you can potentially eliminate. I made a decision last night at a tournament that costed me my tournament life and got me feeling really blue. But thinking back, is it really that bad of a move?

I was playing in a single table tournament last night, the pot was about $2,300USD, and the structure was winner takes all with deals allowed. The game was down to 5-handed and I was the chipleader. I had 7000 chips, which was about 30% of the chips in play, and blinds were up to 200/400 with 25 ante. The table had been on all-in mode for the past few hands when I was dealt AJo. I'm UTG so I decided to set a trap and flat-called. Within my plan, Button moved all-in for 1/3 of my stack. However, out of my expectation, BB also moved all-in, his stack being half of mine. The logical move here was to lay down my AJ, but there's an external factor. Of the 4 players left on the table whom I'm playing against, Button and and BB were by far much better players than the other two. I figured that if I could knock them out in a single hand, the tournament's mine. In addition, my gut feeling is neither of them had AA, AK, or AQ, so I assumed my Ace was live. I decided to gamble and called. To my relief, Button showed pocket tens, and BB showed pocket nines. Wow! Even my Jack was live! I got double my assumed outs! Unfortunately I totally missed the board the the pocket nines actually hit his set on the turn to miraculously take down the pot. Very online-poker-esque.

According to the odds calculator, the winning percentages of the three hands (AJo vs TT vs 99) are 36.51% vs 45.25% vs 17.96%. I mean, it wasn't a bad call. I had the right odds (2 to 1) and I could potentially take out the two better players at the table. In contrast, if it were the two weaker players making the same shoves, i would've been more likely to fold as taking them out would yield much lower utility. It seemed like a loose move after the cards were shown, but if I were given another chance, i would be at least 50% likely in calling again.

oh well, that's poker, I guess.

Bet Size Matters

Posted February 20th, 2008 by phillau

When we first started learning poker, we’re told to pick the spots and shove with the best hands in order to enhance the probabilities. It’s probably the most novice style of poker. I mean, it’s so mechanical and repetitive even a machine can do it. Poker is much more human and it involves playing the players much more than the cards. One thing I pay a lot of attention to is the sizes of the bets. This is a very important tell professional players look for, and it’s definitely one of the very few things you can read off of in online poker.

Here’s an example. I was playing a live tournament a few days ago and came across this very interesting hand. I had 7d 9d in my hand and I limped in preflop to go heads up with the Big Blind, whose chip count covers my 2500 stack. BB is a tight solid player. Flop comes Ks Qh 6s. BB checks, and I check. Turn card shows a 9s, giving a potential flush and potential straight, it also gives me a pair of 9. BB thought for about two seconds and then went all-in. I’ve got less chips than him so I can either call or fold my hand. I’m sitting on my pair of 9, without a flush or a straight draw. I analyzed the situation. The bet is definitely too big for the pot (which has only 675 in chips), so I don’t see possibility of a set. I mean, even with that board, a solid player would still seek some value, maybe by betting half of my stack. Similar for two-pairs and top-pair. Furthermore, if he had the middle pair of Queen, he would’ve bet on the flop. I also do not put him on a complete draw since he’s a bit too tight to be risking it all on a draw. Everything indicated to a nearly complete bluff. So even though it could end my tournament life, I made the call. It turned out I was right, and BB showed only the bottom pair of 6. My pair of 9 held up and I took down that massive pot, all owing to good reading skills. The message is, by paying attention to the sizes of the bets, you can learn so much about the players in the hand and the hands they’re playing.

Without giving away too much of my play, my general guideline for intermediate players playing on an intermediate table is to size your bets according to the value of the pot and the board. This applies both when you have the winning hand and when you’re bluffing. Value betting the winning hand should be straight forward. But the value-bet-bluff is a very good idea too. I mean, it’s always tempting to overbet on a bluff, as it pressures the other players. But if you’re playing against anyone with some decent skill and a half decent hand, he’ll call you down because the bluff is just so obvious. So, you might ask, when is shoving appropriate? The short answer to that is, it’s appropriate to go all-in when you don’t have position and you want to eliminate all further plays. You want to leave it all to the cards and even out any positional edge the other players might have on you.

More to come on this topic later. Cheers!

First Stab at the Big Double

Posted February 15th, 2008 by phillau

So there I was, registered in a normal looking $69+15 buy-in MTT on the FullTilt. Not until 2 minutes before the registration closes did I find out that this is a paired game. Explanation: the name of the tourney is “Big Double – A”, and the idea is to play it simultaneously with the other $69+15, “Big Double – B”. Here’s the catch, of the $15 entry fee, $9 goes towards a bonus pool that’s paid out (a) to the players who get ITM for both tournies (splitting 3% of the pool); (b) to the player with the highest average ITM ranking between A & B (getting 2%); (c) to all players who finishes in both final tables (splitting 20); and finally (d) to the player who wins both A & B, if any (getting 75%). The pool of the day is worth around $46k, so there’s a lot of money up for grab.

Back to the topic, now that I figured out the structure of the game, I rushed for the “Big Double – B” registration. So here I am, committing $150 on 2 tables. Total players reg’ed in BD-A is 280 and BD-B is 279, so most players are going for the bonus. To keep the story short, I busted out of BD-A on the 4th level of blinds holding ATo, where I repopped all in on the SB after button raises. I naturally put him on a steal until he shows his AJo. So there goes my shot at the bonus, but it’s alright, I still got BD-B.

The starting chips for the game is 2000, and I was down to 450 at 50/100 blinds, which is pretty bad. I decided it’s time to play some top grade small stack poker, so I found the best hand of AJ to push all-in. I hit my top pair on the flop and it held up. Stack up to 1000. Repeating the drill, I found myself with a decent stack of 4300 after 2 more doubles. This is when it’s almost bubble time. Even with my stack, I’m still half the average count, and I definitely needed another boost. I found one when I raised preflop with AQ, and the BB called. I land AQQ on the flop, and was able to suck plenty of chips out of the guy. I was up to 8100. Continuing the salvation mode, I only made it as far as 27th out of 279, which is exactly where the money is. Overall the payout is $100 so it isn’t enough to cover the cost of the games, but hey, it’s a pretty fun ride.

Here’s what I learned from this session: (1) I’m not good in playing 2 tables; (2) poker’s fun but it’s even more fun with a bonus; (3) poker always finds a way to take my money, even when I make it to the money.

Cheers everyone, till next time.

Saturday afternoon tourney FTW*!!!!!!

Posted January 23rd, 2008 by phillau

A sunny Saturday afternoon's good for 2 things, going out with
my dog, and staying in to play some good'o onlne poker. So
there I was, sitting on my bed, clicking away on my laptop.
That's the beauty about online poker uno, I don't even need to
get out of bed! So back to the topic, I reg'ed myself in a
$100+9 tournament on PS, and the total headcount was 357.
Starting chipstack was 1500, which I like much more than the
3000 of those larger tournies. Why? I'll come back to it later.
I figured I don't really need to play for a while, So I fell
back onto my pillow and set an alarm that reads "30 minutes

When I woke up, I was down to 1380 chips, which was completely
cool. I checked my hands history (which is my habit after
sitting out for an extended period), and found to my relieve
that the best hand I folded was just KK. Yay! I did NOT yonk
away rockets! Now given that I could care less about my stack
in the early stage of a game, this is completely cool. I
figures I'll start playing as we've just headed into the 3rd
level blinds of 25/50.

As this game is about grinding, and no one's ever interested in
reading about grinds, I'll skip to the fun part. I was up to
72000 chips with 12 guys left, and bubble was at 36, so I was
way in the money. I was also 2nd place in chips in the tourny.
Let's put our thinking caps on, the total chips in play was
1500 * 357 = 535,500. I owned 13% of the chips in play, so I
figured there's no flipping way I was not making this final
table. Oh, and a 5 minutes break was coming up. I figured I
needed to take my dog out for a walk before I get into this
final table which could be a stretch (yes, I love my dog and
yes, a sunny Saturday afternoon). I estimated my walk to be
around 15 minutes, so I'll be losing 10 minutes of action. I
was guessing my stack to be down to around 65k when I returned
(blind will be 1500/3000 with ante 150). So I headed out.

When I returned, I was (a) very surprised that my count was
down to 59k; and (b) staring at pocket Kings. I was like
"sweet, I can make it back in just this hand." Well, not quite,
my KK was cracked by a donkilicious all-in and the guy hits a
straight with his JK. All of a sudden I was down to 39000
chips. That's a big blow. However, I didn't panic. And in no
time, thru tactical blinds stealing and raises and reraises, I
rebuilt my stack up to 109000, and by the time this deed is
done we're down to 6 handed, and I was 3rd in chips. The rest
of it came pretty naturally as I took out the 3rd guy to get
into heads up.

Heads up play lasted about 10 hands, with the opponent taking a
"I'll let u nibble and wait for a good hand" game. Well, I like
those players, they're so dang predictable. Not only are they
predictable but they're also self-defeating. They encourage me
to raise with garbage I can improve on, and when I do hit my
garbage against their genuine hands, bingo! That's exactly what
happened. I raised to 3x BB* with small suited connectors and
managed to catch my straight on the turn. The guy ran into a
wall. He couldn't lay down his top pair high kicker. Game
Finished. I won. I picked up close to $9000USD for the win,
and it was a Saturday afternoon well spent (AND my dog got the
walk he wanted).

So, that was a good outing, and I'm hoping to ride the momentum
and cash more larger games.

* FTW = For The Win