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HORSE TournamentSeptember 25
I have been thinking a lot about the HORSE tournament on PokerStars and about my 7th place finish. I have replayed a few hands in my head and wondered if things would have turned out differently if I folded rather than raised (or called rather than folded, etc). The bottom line is that I played to the best of my ability. Of course I made mistakes. We all make mistakes while playing, but I'll learn from them and hopefully grow as a player.

After playing five different games for twelve hours straight, its hard to pick two or three hands to talk about. Instead of talking about the hands, I am going to talk about my experience in my first ever HORSE tournament. Of all five games, it seems that players understand Razz the least. I don't know why players have such a difficult time with it. I am definitely not an expert, but I know that it's not a good idea to go for a jack-ten low. I saw this time and time again and I saw a lot of players lose a bunch of their chips in this particular game.

My worst game is Stud 8 High Low. Logically, it should probably be one of my better games since I play Omaha High Low so much. The two games seem worlds apart to me. During the tournament yesterday, I was comfortable during the first three games (HOR), but struggled several times in Stud and Eight or better.

I already knew the main thing to know about HORSE events so I was aware that HORSE tournaments are mostly decided by the final Holdem round. Even though I knew that, I had a rough time with it. Just before the final table, we went from playing Stud High Low to Holdem, and it was like we were playing five times bigger. Mixed game tournaments used to be often structured with Holdem getting a shorter amount of time devoted to it than Omaha or Stud because those games play much slower. We played about three times as many Holdem hands that round as in the Stud High Low. Instead of the relatively tiny ante $4000 ante, we played Holdem with $15,000/$30,000 blinds. In fact, we played that four-handed when we were down to nine players, and I was third in chips with about $450,000. In ten minutes, instead of anteing about $40,000 worth in Stud8, we had to put up about $300,000 in blinds playing Holdem in that same amount of time. HORSE tournaments are all about the blinds in the last Holdem round. The rounds of Omaha and Razz after that Holdem round both still played smaller than the Holdem round did.

I had originally planned on playing in the NL Holdem event yesterday, but I knew my brain couldn't handle jumping right back into the game. I decided to take the afternoon off and play the Omaha tourney instead. I managed to finish in the money (17th), but once again I couldn't pull of the win. Considering it's only been three weeks since my last treatment, I have had a damn good weekend.

September 24
It is 2:00am and I have been playing the HORSE event for the World Championship of Online Poker for the last 12 hours! I finished in 7th place and am currently having a hard time dealing with the fact that I couldn't beat out just 6 more players. I will talk about the tournament once I get a good night's rest.

September 19
I was going to sign up for the World Championship of Online Poker Heads up Match on PokerStars last night, but I got sidetracked and forgot about it. Today when I woke up, they were already "full" because they limited their entries to only 2048. I had thirty minutes before the start of the event and thought that a few players might unregister and I would have a chance at taking their spot. I had more than a few chances. I think I had sixteen chances in all, but I never got the seat. There were probably 300 players sitting at their computer waiting for a seat to open up like I was. It is extremely difficult trying to hit the "register" button, and then the radio button (the one that says how much the event costs) and then the "enter" button before all the other people. Every time I missed, I would yell "shit, shit, shit" and I would try again. Once the tournament started without me, I realized how the other players were registering so fast. I would imagine they did one of two things: They either moved the box closer to the register button on one of their failed attempts or they sacrificed one of their attempts so they could have the box ready and waiting for the next opening.

The next event that I am playing in is tomorrow's Omaha event. I won't be missing that one!!

September 18
I played in the first two WCOOP events on PokerStars and plan on playing in five more. The first event was Razz and it was a sight to see. I understand the basic concepts of the game, but I know I have a lot to learn. One thing I do know is that even though I don't know much about the game, I know a hell of a lot more than half the field in that event.

Yesterday's event was the $500 No Limit and I made it through about 2/3 the field. I was reading Rizen's (a very successful online player) blog the other day and he said that a lot of players would improve their game if they took away their call button. I thought about it and realized that I call way too often. Last year that might not have been the case, but over the last nine months it has. After reading that and adjusting my game, I think my game has improved greatly. I know I have been playing No Limit like crap (at least most of the time) since finding out about my breast cancer. One of my friends told me that I am more cautious in life lately and it is probably carrying over into my game. It kind of made sense to me. Once I finished with my chemo, it was time to readjust my game so I could get back in there and hang with the best of them. I really feel like I have done that over the past three days.

I know you can't win them all. As a matter of fact, you can't win very many given the size of the fields, but that doesn't change the fact that I was disappointed by yesterday's finish. Over the past week, I have played a much better game and I have been knocked out in ugly situations. Yesterday, I was knocked out when I held KK against my opponents AK. The situation was pretty similiar to the $20 rebuy tourney that I talked about in my last entry. A guy raised the $200 big blind to $600, I reraised to $1400, he reraised to $3600 and I moved all-in for $7940 and he called. The flop was JJT, turn a Queen giving him the straight and the river was a ten. My opponents better beware! When the cards start breaking even, they are in trouble!

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September 15
I decided to play in two rebuy tournaments tonight and I bombed out of both of them. The first tournament was the $20 rebuy on PokerStars and I got knocked out about halfway through the field. I managed to maintain and average or slightly above average throughout the tournament and then on one hand, they were gone. With blinds of $100-200, one player raised to $600 from early position. I decided to make a huge overbet (all in for 6k) of the pot with my pocket queens for two reasons: 1) I thought I might get a call from a mid pocket pair (99 etc.) because my opponent seemed slightly logical and might think that I moved in with a small pair or weak ace. 2) I don't like playing QQ most of the time. My plan worked and I got called by my opponent who had me outchipped. He turned over AQ and won the hand.

In the $33 rebuy, I was in pretty deep because I lost a lot of all-in hands in the rebuy period. I took TT against aces and JT of hearts against KK and AK against 55. At the end of the round I only had over 5,000, but I was able to do an add-on. After the break, I jabbed and jabbed and built my stack up nicely by waiting for prime opportunities. My best opportunity came when I was dealt AA. The blinds were $100-200 with $25 antes and the first two players to act called the $200. I made a decent size raise and made it $1,000 to go. It was folded to the small blind and he made it $3,000. I was trying to debate how I was going to play it if it got folded to me and then the second limper moved all-in behind him for $4550. I thought my best choice was to move all-in for the rest of my stack which was a total of $11,800. Do you think the guy could fold AK to a raise, reraise, all-in, and an over the top all-in. Hell no!! Once again, I only made it halfway through the field.

Hopefully things go better in the Moneymaker Millionaire Round 2 tournament tomorrow. I have to finish in the top 1/4 to 1/5 of the field in order to make it to round 3. Considering it is a FPP tourney, I like my chances.

September 12
I decided to take a stab at the Moneymaker Millionaire tournaments on PokerStars last night and ended up winning my seat into round 2. In order to win a seat, you had to finish in the top 50 out of more than 5,500 players.

My approach to the tournament was to gamble up quickly and play for all my chips when the time was right. There is no sitting around waiting for premium hands when you are facing thousands of opponents. On the very first hand of the night, I was dealt AT. Two players had limped in front of me and I made a huge raise to $180 (the blinds were $10-20). I ended up getting FIVE callers. The flop was ten high with two clubs (I had the ace of clubs) and I moved in and was called by one player who was on a small flush draw. It was exactly the kind of start I needed in order to get that seat. A few minutes later (I had about 4500 in chips), I make a ridiculous raise from first position by moving all in with AK. Since I got five callers making it $180, then why not try it? Some guy decided he wanted to gamble and called with 97 and I never looked back after that.

The funniest hand of the evening was right toward the end of the tournament. We took a break and I clicked the "sit out" button in case I took longer than the five minutes allotted time. I came back to my computer and saw that I had just won a hand. This is the hand history (minus some of the irrelevant info):

PokerStars Game #6256727382: Tournament #31463098, 10FPP Hold'em No Limit - Level XVII (6000/12000) - 2006/09/12
Table '31463098 338' 9-max Seat #5 is the button
Seat 1: rent.org (112776 in chips)
Seat 2: LKYLUCE (167766 in chips)
Seat 4: TexasBadGuy (218010 in chips)
Seat 5: ErickW23 (91318 in chips)
Seat 6: ihnsgaf (152584 in chips)
Seat 7: Siren (233856 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 8: plistachiot (150696 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 9: lei_kung (96380 in chips)
ihnsgaf: posts small blind 6000
Siren: posts big blind 12000
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Siren [Td 6c]
plistachiot: folds
lei_kung: folds
rent.org: folds
LKYLUCE: folds
TexasBadGuy: folds
ErickW23: folds
ihnsgaf: folds
Siren collected 16800 from pot
Siren: doesn't show hand
*** SUMMARY ***
Seat 7: Siren (big blind) collected (16800)

I have just breezed through the fpp tournaments I have played. Both of my round two tournaments are this Saturday. In the meantime, I might play a "real" tournament like the $33 w/ rebuys on Friday night.

September 9
I sat here tonight playing my heart out in a little FPP tournament for the Omaha HiLow WCOOP event. The buy in was only 200 FPP and they allowed rebuys and I couldn't believe the bargain they were giving out. They were awarding one seat for every 3000 points and I was just drooling at the mouth thinking how I was going to get myself into the Omaha event for basically no cost.

When all was said and done (I won my seat), I went to look for my name in the WCOOP tournament and couldn't find it. It was then that I realized that the tournament I played in was only a ROUND 1 tourney. I have to do it again next week in order to get my seat. Steve had a good laugh about it. He told me I wasted the biggest rush of my life to get that seat.

Yes, my mind is still out of whack. But the good news is that should be getting better from here on out. I did my eighth and final chemo treatment earlier this week. I am not feeling totally up to par yet, but it is such a great feeling to know that they are all behind me now. Its all looking good from here on out.

September 2
I am trying to round out my game so I have a better shot at the Horse tournament at the World Champions of Online Poker on PokerStars. My Omaha game is definitely strong enough as well as my Holdem game, my Razz game is decent, but I need some serious help in Stud and Stud 8 O/B.

Last night, I jumped in a small turbo satellite for event number 11. If I managed to win the seat, I would have used the buy-in for a different event. The truth of the matter is, I didn't even come close! I started off playing the event a little tighter than I should have. I folded pairs twice because they were low (deuces and sixes), but then realized that I probably needed to "gamble" with those because I needed to accumulate chips quickly. I am not so sure if you will find me in another small stud tournament, but don't be surprised if you see me playing micro Stud, 8 O/B, or Razz ring games. I've got to get prepared.

September 1
Now that the Legends of Poker is over, I won't be playing any live action tournaments for awhile. I am almost finished with my treatments and my focus for the next couple of months is to get healthy and fit.

I don't know how long I can stay away from the tournament circuit, but my plans are to make the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure my first tournament back after licking this thing. I know the WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) on Stars will at least keep me busy (and help me get my tournament fill) for the next month. As of now, I plan to play in eight events (#1,2,4,5,6,8,10, and 18).

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