How to Hedge an NCAA Bracket Pool Position

Today a friend emailed me with a rhetorical question: “Can I just cash out now?” He was referring to his NCAA Bracket where he was in second place in points going into the the NCAA Championship game. The problem for him was he selected Indiana to win and the guy in front of him had Louisville. He was pretty disappointed that he had no chance to win, as no matter what happened tonight he couldn’t win the tournament. 

ncaaMy friend was right that he couldn’t win the tournament. However, I answered his question with a “yes” in that he could actually cash out right now. The reason for this is from looking at his screenshot, I could see that no one in the tournament had Michigan winning. Because of that, the scores above do not change when Michigan wins, which would leave my friend with $500 of second place prize money. Meanwhile, he would be left with nothing when Louisville wins. Therefore my friend effectively has a moneyline bet on Michigan that pays $500. Because of that, to cash out he needs to make a synthetically neutral hedge, aka a moneyline bet on Louisville which leaves him with the same amount of money regardless of outcome. How much could he cash out now though, and how much does he need to bet?

Step 1: Find the Odds of Your Hedge and Convert it to a Fraction

Shortcut: go here, type in your moneyline with+/-, hit “Convert Odds” and get the Fraction value.

This was easy enough to do. I simply googled “Michigan Lousville moneyline odds” to find that Michigan was +159 and Louisville was -180. For those who don’t know, the plus number is the underdog and the minus is the favorite. Plus numbers is how much you get if you bet $100 and the minus number is how much you need to bet to win $100 profit. To convert a plus line number to a fraction divide the number by 100 (+159 in decimal form is 159/100 or 1.59). To convert a minus line number to a decimal, divide 100 by that number (-180 in decimal form is 100/180 or 5/9). The fraction we want to use for this is Louisville’s fraction since they are who we are betting on, 5/9.

Step 2: Find the Profit Number We Can Lock in

We know we are going to lock in some % of $500. Unfortunately our hedge is the favorite, so this number is going to be smaller than if our hedge was an underdog, which makes sense intuitively because we are betting the moneyline. Let’s call our fraction from step 1 X. To find the percentage of profit we can lock in P follow this equation:

P = (1-(1/(1+X)))

In our case:

P = (1-(1/(1+5/9)))

P = .3571

Thus we can lock in .3571 of $500, or $178.57.

Step 3: Find out how much to bet

Bet Amount = OriginalAmount-LockInAmount

= 500-178.57 = $321.43

Find somewhere / someone to bet with and you will have your profit locked in. As you can see, when Louisville wins we win 321.43*0.5555 and when Michigan wins we win 500-321.43, each of which equals $178.57

Congrats, you have just locked in the profit from your bracket. You can ask friends and try to get an even better price, since you probably won’t have to pay vig, and get an even better payout too. Sorry if this was too low level for the majority of people who read this (professional gamblers), but when my friend asked me this question and I googled to try to find the number to bet, I couldn’t find an equation anywhere so I thought I would post one and keep it low-level. Hope this helps those who find it.

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Are You Bettering Yourself Each Year?

I am a firm believer in New Years Resolutions. Each year I try to make at least one really big change in my life, and if I can think of more then I try to implement more… plain and simple. I actually do this year round but for some reason these kind of changes only stick  when it’s a New Year’s Resolution. I have no idea why, but I think mainly I actually WANT to make changes more in the New Year because I feel like I have a fresh start. After all, the most important element in making a major life change is to truly want to make a life change.

It’s a simple concept, yet one most people can’t grasp. People lie to themselves all the time and tell themselves that they will do a,b, and c, but in reality they don’t really want it that badly. The most common example is quitting smoking cigarettes. So many people try to quit but deep down they really don’t want to. They have that one cigarette and then they’re back to their old bad habits. Why does that happen? Because they don’t want it bad enough; “it” being change.

People have said to me countless times, “I wish I had your work ethic” or “I was I had your motivation”. It’s said a bunch of times in this thread and this one. I get a little annoyed when I hear comments like this. The thought that motivation and working hard is something certain people have and others don’t is a scapegoat in my opinion. People deny the fact that if you really want something then you can accomplish it. If you REALLY want something, then the effort it takes to do what needs to be done and the will power needed to avoid deterrents to your goal will seem less problematic. The real issue is that people don’t really want the things that think they want. That or they don’t want them as much as they want to be lazy, which is a pathetic excuse. I guess the foundation of what I am saying is that people can do whatever they want, it just takes a certain amount of hard work, more for some than others for various goals obviously, but I am a believer that most people are capable of accomplishing any reasonable goal.

This year I plan on setting and accomplishing several reasonable goals. Right now I have a few, so I’ll share them to add a little accountability on my part. Unfortunately, a few of mine are very common and generic goals, but I think that is fine because I really do need to make changes in the ares I’m writing about. Notice how I have general goals but a specific plan on what exactly I’m going to do. This is important because general goals are vague and you can fool yourself into thinking you’re accomplishing something when you’re actually half-assing it.

Start Reading Books Again 

Over the past five years instead of reading at night I have watched instructional poker videos before bed. This has really helped my poker game but I’m not playing much any more so it is not a good use of my time. Therefore I have decided to start reading. Per a friend’s suggestion, I will cycle between fun/entertaining books and educational books, and I will switch the educational books between something I know about and something I know nothing about. My volume goal is to read two books per month.

Get Back In Shape 

This was my goal last year, and I accomplished it in spades after losing about 15 pounds and really getting into good shape again. Unfortunately I got hurt mid-year and couldn’t exercise for over a month and after falling out of my routine I never got back in it and put on 20 pounds the rest of the year from eating horribly and never exercising. My goal is to exercise 5 times a week, that will actually be 6 times starting next month when I start playing basketball on Saturdays in February. I will lift weights twice a week, play basketball twice a week, do yoga once a week and do plyometrics once a week.

Eat Healthier for all three meals

  • Breakfast – Eat steal cut oatmeal 4 times a week, one cheat day per week.
  • Lunch – No chips, eat salad, anticarb wrap, or fish 4 times a week.
  • Dinner – Eat 1-2 servings of what we make, rather than 3+. No snacking after work before dinner.

Cut Back On Spending

In 2012 I spent more than I made. Not good. So we are making a lot of small adjustments to save money this year. Here are a few things my girlfriend and I have made:

  • Stop Eating Out for “Convenience” – We used to eat out once or twice a week just because we didn’t feel like cooking. In Chicago, this is pretty expensive. Even an average meal can be $40+ easily. Meanwhile, we have become really good cooks so it’s not like the food we order out is that much better. We are saving $200-300 per month by simply cooking an extra time or two each week. This does not mean we don’t go out any more, because we both love to eat out and try new places, and we live downtown in Chicago so it would be foolish not to eat out. All we have cut out here is the mediocre convenience food.
  • Cancel Cable Services – This isn’t a goal so much as it is a one and done thing. We don’t really watch that much TV on these channels so it is sort of a waste of money. Small savings but cutting down on small things adds up quickly.
  • Donated all our “junk” in our storage unit – We realized we paid $2200 since we moved in together to pay for our storage until which held about $1000-1500 worth of stuff. Within weeks of this realization we had donated or sold everything in there and cancelled the steep $150 / month fee for the storage.

In conclusion, I hope the motivation rant and example of some things that I’m concentrating on help some people. Set some goals this year, make them reasonable, and make sure that they get accomplished.

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Ben Sulsky (Sauce123) and the Pokerstars All-Star Showdown

This last week I witnessed one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in poker. Actually two, since watching Greg Merson ship the WSOP main event was pretty sweet. But on top of that, Pokerstars hosted an incredible competition where 8 of the (probably THE) best Heads Up No Limit players in the world played in a single elimination tournament to determine the best in the world.

The terms were simple, each player puts in $100,000 and in returns gets a seat in the 8 person bracket where competitors will battle on 4 tables with 1,000 big blinds. Each match would run until one player had all the money, and that person would move on to the next round. Unfortunately, this post will not summarize the amazing action of the tournament, because that has already been done at great detail in this thread. But long story short, almost every match took 15+ hours and the final match concluded with Daniel Cates (w00ki3z.) defeating Ben Sulsky (sauce123) in an amazing match. Despite the fact that every match was a marathon battle and incredible poker was played throughout, my favorite part was not railing these matches, but rather reading the thoughts of Sulsky in the thread I linked. After a grueling match, he decided to have a few beers and answer some questions from some readers in the thread. I enjoyed his responses so much that I decided to pick them out of the thread here and provide a more direct method of sauce knowledge injection. I apologize in advance for the poor punctuation. I’m just pulling Sulsky’s post from the thread and centralizing them because I found them very interesting.


Q: Going into the tournament, knowing the brackets, which two did you think would up in the final? And if this was played with group stages (everyone battling everyone), which two would you think would end in a final?

Replace you with Isildur in this tournament, how do you think he would manage?

A: i thought jungle was a significant fav in his half of the bracket. and i thought my side of the bracket was more wide open, id like to think that i was the favorite, but kanu and ike are amazing players as well. KT is also an excellent player, though i think a bit below those other two.

it’s really tough to tell tbh. isildur has always outperformed my expectations of him (ive always felt i should be winning more against him than i ever do, in nl at least). i think he’s a dog to me/ike/kanu though, but if im going to be wrong about anyone, he’s the likeliest person for me to be wrong about, mostly because the way i do analysis does kind of a poor job figuring out the ev of his turn and river play.

Q: I am curious why you think Jungleman did so well in this event and what makes him different from the other top players. Do you think he is adapting better, playing more fundamentally sound, just generally guessing better, or a combination of doing everything a little bit better than his opponents? What makes him tough to play against?

A: jungle does a lot of things amazingly well. that being said, it isn’t like winning for 10k hands makes him the undisputed heavyweight champ. i think jungle’s biggest strength is checkraising the right ranges in the right spots in single raised pots OOP (and playing those ranges well on future streets), i think he’s pretty unanimously considered the best in the world at this.

i think it’s better to think of players as being committed to strategies rather than thinking of them constantly adjusting and guessing. i don’t think either me or jungle did much changing in our strats at any point in the match.

Q: I know long sessions are the norm, but did you run into any issues with fatigue having to do so many marathon sessions back to back to back?

A: yea, these sessions are brutal. ive never wanted to grind 19 hrs at a stretch, there’s a reason im not a tourney player 🙂

i definitely felt tired and little off coming into today’s match. my match vs ike was just incredibly tough and extremely draining.

Q: Do you think there are others like yourself that will get interested in the game again and join you or do you think highstakes will just be plagued by bumhunters?

A: im not sure. there are definitely tons of very smart players who could get competitive at the highest stakes again, off the top of my (very tired) head, people like CTS or taylor caby, or hawrilenko or bryce come to mind.

maybe this is rich white man’s guilt or something, but it seems like the guys who are excelling at poker right now tend to come from less privileged backgrounds and countries. it seems to me like these people have had to deal with real ****, instead of people like me where the worst thing that happens is i buy bad pot, or get a ****ty roommate. it seems like people who’s families don’t have any money just don’t have time to give a crap about ego or being the best or being baller, and they’re just going to play well and get the job done while the games last.

it’s clear that this state of affairs represents a free rider problem though, where it is in everybody’s best interest to bumhunt, but it’s in the group’s (i.e. the group of all poker pros) interest to give some action once in awhile. the poker sites are very concerned with selling poker as a gambling game and making it attractive to recreational players. im just about the least predatory guy out there, and i don’t think it’s my job to sell the game to fish or court the fish, but i DO think it’s important for poker pros to have fun at the table, open their mouths sometimes, and enjoy themselves. i figure if im at the table to enjoy myself (as well as win), im ok with playing with people who are at the table to enjoy themselves and lose.

Q: p.s you’ve said in thepast that you talk a lot of strat w/jungleman, was their a clear fav coming into this match or was it up in the air?

A: id say it was fairly up in the air. i think most people (including myself) thought i was the favorite. i think most people (including myself) think im less of a favorite considering how badly i got worked in this match 

that being said, i have a lot of faith in the strat i was executing against jungle, and i think most of the results of the match were due to him running well, not in all in ev, but situationally.


Q: Wouldn’t it behoove you to take more time making decisions? I am surprised at how quickly you guys play when there is no need to force a quick decision.

A: id say i could make 95% of my decisions within one second or less, but i tend to take extra time just to balance my timing tells. i usually have a strategy in my head, which says something like ‘call 45%, raise 8%’ (for example) for some situation, and then i just balance my timing tells by mentally running over which sort of hands id stick in each range and trying to intuit whether they sum up right more or less.

at the biggest stakes, in hu nl, we are executing full scale strategies rather than playing hands. so the real grunt work is done away from the tables, when we’re deciding what sorts of frequencies to play vs a given opponent. at the table, we’re typically making fine tuning type adjustments, making sure we dont give off timing tells, and trying to pick up timing tells or flow tells on our opponents.


Q: sauce, favorite hand(s) of all of your matches? also, did the play of any of your opponents surprise you at any point?

A: one really fun hand was vs ike, where i raise AQ, he calls bb. flop AJTccc, chk chk, turn Q, bet/call, river Q, bet/ i jam for something like 14x pot and he calls with K8ss. throughout the tournament i tried to take advantage of situations where my opponent’s strat dictated he could never have the nuts, but my strat included some small set of nut hands. where my confidence in my opponent not having the nuts is near 100%, i was choosing the betsize of all in, to maximize my EV. it was cool in that specific hand that i was confident enough to make that betsize choice, and that ike chose to (exploitatively?) call down with only a straight!

as far as tonight:

Seat 1: w00ki3z. ( $181200.00 USD )
Seat 2: Sauce123 ( $76000.00 USD )
w00ki3z. posts small blind [$200.00 USD].
Sauce123 posts big blind [$400.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Sauce123 [ Ad Kc ]
w00ki3z. raises [$600.00 USD]
Sauce123 raises [$3200.00 USD]
w00ki3z. calls [$2800.00 USD]
** Dealing Flop ** [ 3s, 2c, 3d ]
Sauce123 bets [$2000.00 USD]
w00ki3z. calls [$2000.00 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ Qh ]
Sauce123 checks
w00ki3z. bets [$8400.00 USD]
Sauce123 raises [$23200.00 USD]
w00ki3z. calls [$14800.00 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ Ts ]
Sauce123 bets [$47200.00 USD]
w00ki3z. folds
Sauce123 wins $47200.00 USD
Sauce123 wins $57600.00 USD from main pot

i thought this was a cool bluff, for a lot of reasons. in actuality, i was just randomizing my play here, and this is a line i like to take with AK (or some other hands) once in a great while to punish opponents to value bet hands like 88 or Q8 on the turn, and who don’t slowplay their boats and/or 3x and/or AA/KK. it was also a spot where had i been called i would have been down to my last couple of stacks, and it seemed like i had no momentum in the match.

***** Hand History for Game 88740723607 ***** (Poker Stars)
$40000.00 USD NL Texas Hold’em – Sunday, November 04, 04:38:12 ET 2012
Table AllStar Showdown 200400 4 (Real Money)
Seat 2 is the button
Seat 1: w00ki3z. ( $75600.00 USD )
Seat 2: Sauce123 ( $48600.00 USD )
Sauce123 posts small blind [$200.00 USD].
w00ki3z. posts big blind [$400.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Sauce123 [ 7d 7h ]
Sauce123 raises [$600.00 USD]
w00ki3z. calls [$400.00 USD]
** Dealing Flop ** [ 4c, Js, 7c ]
w00ki3z. checks
Sauce123 bets [$1200.00 USD]
w00ki3z. raises [$4000.00 USD]
Sauce123 raises [$8400.00 USD]
w00ki3z. raises [$12400.00 USD]
Sauce123 calls [$6800.00 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 8h ]
w00ki3z. checks
Sauce123 checks
** Dealing River ** [ 5s ]
w00ki3z. checks
Sauce123 bets [$18400.00 USD]
w00ki3z. calls [$18400.00 USD]
Sauce123 shows [7d, 7h ]
Sauce123 wins $71200.00 USD from main pot
w00ki3z. doesn’t show [Td, 8s ]

this hand was also super cool because i correctly identified that jungle doesnt c/r turn very often after flop checkraising, and i felt that a lot of his flop checkraising range contained 8x or 4x. then i decided ot check back turn because i felt that he might c/f those hands on the turn but call a bet on the river. and i felt that he would call even more frequently on this runout, thinking i cant vbet without 6x, but that i myself dont hold 6x that much, and that i can have stuff like AK or QTcc, or 7x. so i sized my vbet ot eke out an exploitative call from exactly 8x, and slowplayed turn for same reasons.


Q: How much math do you actually incorporate into your descision making? Do you think incorporating math into your poker game is a must in order to become a elite player?

A: i didnt even notice this. it seems really bad to play suboptimally strat wise in order to ‘apply pressure.’ there’s no way playing 4 hands at the same time is going to cause me to make a bigger mistake than the missed ev which playing 4 hands aggressively when they shouldn’t theoretically be played aggressively costs.


Q: How stressed out are you when playing these matches? Hard to quantify obviously but what does your frame of mind tend to be like? Is it mainly just a constant focus on adjusting your strategy or does the money/pressure to perform creep in and make life hard for you?

A: well, this isn’t a lot of money for me, relative to the stakes i usually play. so that wasn’t an issue.

i was a little stressed out because my parents and girlfriend got kind of excited about this format, just because it’s a tourney and gets some media coverage. so they were rooting hard for me, and i wanted to win a bit more because of that.

other than that, i think the fatigue thing was really brutal. i dont like sitting in a chair in front on the computer for a zillion hours/week, makes me feel disgusting. not to mention the fact that keeping focus throughout was incredibly difficult, especially when stuck/running badly. i tried to do some downward dogs on every break, and got a bunch of healthy food to keep me on a relatively even keel given the circumstances. i definitely noticed i was more unfocused for this match than for the match vs ike, i can’t stress enough how draining that match was.

do any of you guys remember the feeling you had taking the SATs? I remember being so insanely focused for those 3 hours or w/e, that after it was over i was in a sort of daze, almost hungover. i think high level poker (at least when im playing my A game) is a lot like that, except it’s everyday, and it’s as much as 20 hours straight. in some ways that sounds horrible (so much effort!) but in other ways it’s kinda great. first, because poker is a lot of fun, and the SATs are balls. and second, doing this sort of intense focusing day in and day out for years just has flat out made me a smarter and more effective person. it’s hard for privileged white kids with hippy parents (like me) to learn discipline, and i think poker has helped out a lot.


Q: Why do you think you can get away with such a high VPIP from the BB against absolutely worldclass players?

A: three words.





Q: Is this much different from what you’re doing when playing 6max? Thanks for doing this.

A: 6max requires a lot more feel, in some ways. i think basic strategy and fundamentals are easier in 6max though, since you can just play tight and print money vs fish. the tough parts are especially in multiway pots (and remember, each preflop hand is a multiway pot!) there is all kinds of soft collusion, and it’s very important to get inside of people’s heads in those sort of situations. with those caveats though, i mostly have the same attitude, in that for each situation that comes up i have a set of frequencies/ranges i am planning on playing vs a given opponent. i would say im a bit more exploitative 6max, and i have somewhat less of an idea as to what optimal ranges are for each spot. but once u fix one part of the problem (e.g. villain raises 50% of buttons) the rest kind of falls into place.


Q: How much do you think hunl has progressed in the last year? Specifically I’m wondering about jungleman, we haven’t heard much from him in the last year and I’m curious if you think he could be this competitive and tough in this tourney if he hadn’t been playing a lot and keeping up with the game.

A: i think in 2009/2010, isildur, jungleman and ike were a lot better than everybody else. i think me and kanu have done a good job closing that gap in the last 2 or 3 years. i think in general, me/ike/kanu share a common methodology which really shows when you look at how we play pots. i think jungle and isildur have developed strategies of their own which are a little less fundamentally sound, but which they execute with a ton of precision and finesse, and which apply tons of pressure by turning the large majority of their opponent’s range into a bluffcatcher.


Q: How much math do you actually incorporate into your descision making? Do you think incorporating math into your poker game is a must in order to become a elite player?

A: i ‘incorporate math’ into every decision i make !

some caveats though. im not a particularly gifted mathematician, at all. id say was in about the top 10% of my high school in math. i think part of that has to do with the fact that i’ve never loved math. i think to be a really gifted mathematician you have to have a love of symmetry and order instantiated in numbers, and this drives you to think about math at a deep level. i have only ever really been interested in math as a tool to give precision to problems, and i think this is what has always made it impossible for me to be great at math. i have a lot of admiration for the personalities who love pure math though, i think it’s a really amazing trait.

i don’t think it’s necessary to be crunching numbers in order to be a world class poker player. if i had to guess, id say ziiigy and isildur have never crunched numbers away from the table in their lives. neither do ivey or PA probably, and i know phil G doesn’t too much either. all 5 of those guys are tops in the world, and ivey is pretty obv the best in the world! contrast also people like Bill Chen and J. Ankenmann (or even sklansky/malmuth) who are pretty obviously very gifted mathematicians and do a lot of analytical work, but who are just never going to be world class players, no matter how much effort they put in. i think the mentality of a world class poker player is more like a professional athlete’s, and less like an academic’s than most people think. as sklansky has said; doing math won’t make you a good poker player, but if you weight the % of good poker players bayesian style, doing math certainly contributes!

in my personal case, i find that doing math away from the table helps me to hone my intuitions about strategy. i like to translate my poker intuition into frequencies such that it’s more amenable to analysis, and i think the best way to do that is to do math away from the tables until the frequencies become like muscle memory.

Other Links relating to this article:

Graph / Stats from last match

Sauce123 Well

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Life Changes

Hi all,

It’s been a while since my last blog post. This is due to a lot of changes in my personal and professional life that have taken up a lot of time since mid-summer when I last posted.

I’ll start by talking a little about work, where the biggest changes have happened. In September, my boss pulled our 15-man team into a conference room to tell us that our trading group, the source of my employment since graduating college 6 years ago, was going to be shut down within a month. It was very unclear what was going to happen, and it remained that way for several weeks. Most got let go, while a few people were kept to form new teams from the talented individuals that remained. For me, this was a bit of a relief but also pretty stressful. I was very frustrated with my job and had been for a long time so the ability to move on and have the main source of stress removed from my life was a plus. At the same time, I am under agreement to stay with the company for two years because of my tuition reimbursement agreement, which made me feel a little tied down in my options going forward. Despite this fact, I decided to look around a little. I talked with several trading groups, but never really found anything that interested me. The more I looked, the less I wanted to leave, and the more I realized how many things I love about the place I work. To name a few:

  1. I live five blocks from my office and walk to work in 10 minutes.
  2. There is a gym and a cafeteria with great food right off the floor the trading groups sit on in my office.
  3. My job is very flexible and pretty fun.
  4. I have made a name for myself here

The list goes on, but these are the main factors that kept running through my head. In the end, I decided to stay. I am now working as an analyst for a HFT equity prop shop. I’m doing a little DBA work and operations / systems admin work a little too, especially as we set up the new group, but I think most of my work will involve model analysis going forward which should be interesting. Here’s a pic of my new setup at work. I’m really digging the vertical monitors in the middle for coding thus far.


On the poker front, I had a pretty long hiatus after the WSOP. I grinded a decent amount on Lock and made a few stacks at the small stakes 6m tables for fun. I ended up quitting about a month or so ago because the funds started trading too low in the HSNL transfer thread, so I ended up selling my bankroll at $0.80 on the dollar. Obviously that sucked but after black Friday my tolerance for having bankrolls disappear has gone down a lot. So I went a month or so without playing until the WSOPC came to Hammond Indiana where I frequent for live cash play. I don’t go that often because I don’t really like to play lower than 10/20 live and that doesn’t run too much at that casino. I went there and saw a bunch of my buddies from out of town there which was fun. What was even more fun was playing the 10/20 PLO game. The swings were sick, and the action was even sicker. There were three pretty massive whales in my game. I actually ended up leaving two of the best live games I have ever sat in from being really tilted from losing some massive pots, but that’s PLO.

Other than that not too much is new in the poker playing world. I started actively seeking stakes after the WSOP, and that has been going quite well. I really missed the excitement of constantly having horses playing for me. It’s like having a portfolio of high yield bonds, only you can talk to the CEO and COO of the company and tell them what they’re doing wrong.






The rest of my time has been spent taking trips and improving my condo. This summer I went to Detroit and other places in Michigan several times, Pittsburgh, Vegas, Cincinnati, Nashville, Toronto and Niagara Falls. Throw in a weekend of Lollapalooza and every Bears home game and I’ve been a busy man of late. I’ll try to post some cool pics from this summer sometime soon. I have some really cool videos and trip reports that could make for a good read so I’ll try to post that soon.

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My Favorite and Most Interesting Hands from the 2012 WSOP Trip

So in grinding over a hundred hours in 9 days in Vegas for the WSOP, I played a lot of really fun and interesting hands. Deep stack poker leads to spots you don’t see often online, and two interesting spots occurred from fish being fish doing things I’ve never even heard of before. I’ll start with two funny hands from the trip and link to the strategy threads I created as well.

Funny Hand 1:

10/25 at the Wynn night 1. It’s getting pretty late and I have to play the 10k 6m the next night. I’m up close to 10k and there are no tough seats at the table so I’m not doing anything too crazy, just picking good spots and trying to play pots with the two weak players at the table. I get AdTs in late position and open to 75 which was my standard. I get one call from the BB who is a fish who hardly speaks English. We’re about $15,000 deep. Flop comes JdTd9d. I flop middle pair and the nut flush draw. He checks and I bet 100, he instantly minraises to $200. I call pretty quickly praying to hit b/c this guy obviously has a huge hand and is never folding no matter what comes. turn is a blank 4s. He leads $400. I call pretty quickly and this is where it gets awesome. I throw the chips in the pot. This guy slams his KQo (no diamond) on the table thinking the hand is over LOL. The whole table exchanges looks with each other, some laughing, some in shock, but no one says anything. The dealer remains silent and professional as he burns a card and turns up the river. It’s a 6d! As the dealer is turning up the river the guy realizes that there is still another street to play! His pain is visible, not only is his hand face up, but the four-flush just came in and I know what he has! He starts cursing to himself. I try to keep a straight face, but I look at a couple regs and I can’t help but laugh. I think for about 20 seconds and bet $800. This guy hates himself, curses for about 40 seconds, and eventually calls. I flip up my hand, still laughing. The whole table laughs, and talks about whether or not it’s a call considering that I know his hand. I’m not sure if it’s a call or not but it’s 100% hilarious.

Funny Hand #2:

The game is 10/20/40 at the Aria. Table is playing pretty tight. I open AQo under the gun to 140 and get 4-5 callers before action gets to the the BB. He thinks for about 20 seconds and slides a mountain of the smallest denomination chips into the middle raising to $1000. He’s about 8k deep and has been playing super tight and hasn’t shown down a single hand that wasn’t a monster. I unhappily fold my AQ and it folds around to the CO who is a huge fish sitting with about 1200 bucks. He FLATS the $1000 raise and leaves under 300 behind. Everyone looks around with a “wtf is he doing” look and watches the KsJs4c flop be laid down. With almost $3000 in the pot and $300 effective stacks, we all assume the small blind who made it $1000 to go will jam, but instead he says in broken English “I want to see your hand, I want to see what you call with” and checks. The fish checks quickly. The turn is a blank 5d, again the SB says “I want to see your hand” as he checks quickly again, the fish follows suit and checks back a second time. The river is yet another blank 4h, this time the SB does not speak, but instead quickly bets $300. The fish folds quickly. I look at him and say “I thought you wanted to see his hand”. He JUMPS out of his seat and tables the 93 offsuit! The table ERUPTS!

Okay think about this for a second, because only after you think about it can you truly appreciate how amazing the SB’s play is. For one, he has zero fold equity and he has 9 high with no draw and he’ll be betting 300 into 3000. He can’t jam because the fish is never folding ANYTHING, so he has to try to get to the river when he can then bluff knowing the fish won’t call hoping to catch up with cards to come. He somehow thinks to say “I want to see your hand” as he checks. I would never think of that, and it’s pure genius. When he gets to the river, his story doesn’t check out but it doesn’t matter because the fish won’t pick up on it and probably has nothing, although its probably nothing that beats 9 high. The fish actually flopped a straight draw and whiffed. This hand is probably the most amazing hand I’ve ever seen. I have never even heard of anything like this. The table was so much fun after that, and we talked about it for 10 minutes straight, about how genius what the SB did was and how amazing he thought of that on the fly. Truly amazing display of psychological warfare.

Strategy Hand #1:

10/20/40 KK in big pot in tough spot

Strategy Hand #2:

10/20/40 KK multiway facing heat on turn

Strategy Hand #3:

10/20 Hero missed the world but wants to bruff

Strategy Hand #4:

10/20/40 2nd nuts in limped pot lots of action

As you can see, this trip was filled with tons of funny, interesting, and tough spots. I hope you enjoy reading and thinking about them.

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This year’s WSOP was the first time I played a $10,000 buyin tournament on my own dime in over three years. The previous $10,000+ buyin tournaments were all paid for from Supernova Elite package bonuses, and obviously those were not an option this year. Because of that and the fact that I’m not making as much money these days due to the fact that I’m not playing poker that much, I really wanted to focus and have a profitable trip. I put in for two full weeks off of work, didn’t invite anyone to accompany me on this trip, and was determined to put in serious hours on the felt and make it happen.

I arrived in Vegas on Monday July 2nd at 5:30 or so. I went and checked in at the Vdara, and was really happy with my room. I actually had tried to book a room at Aria originally, but they were full for the weekend, and they suggested that I try Vdara next door. I was under the impression that you could only book there for a month or more at a time, which apparently is not the case.

After getting settled, I immediately wanted to put in a session before the 10k 6 max which would start the next day. Following the advice of a friend, I headed to the Wynn where I saw there was a 10/25 game running thanks to the Bravo Live Poker app (if you don’t have this app and you play live, download it immediately). I sat down, started off a little slow after four bet bluffing an old guy one of my first hands (oops). But I stacked him in one of the biggest pots I would play there shortly thereafter. I ended up winning 11k that night despite getting K high flush vs A high flush the last hand of the night. I left the Wynn at what I thought was 5:30 am because I forgot to change my watch, and headed home to get some sleep before the 10k six max.

My starting table was tough, on my left was Griffin Benger, better known as Flush_Entity online where he is the #1 ranked MTT player in the world. To my right was Shaun Buchanan who is a total beast, and then Matt Stout and Jason Senti rounding out the group. I played pretty well all day but never really had a chance to chip up. I peaked at about 40k but never once had a big hand to play which was a little annoying. I got moved to another table in the last level of the day, where I doubled up one of my first hands, only to blind down the rest of the two hours and eventually bust with KQo losing to AJs of Layne Flack.

I was a little disappointed after the tournament. I grinded my ass off to win 10k the day before, only to play an entire day the next day for nothing. I woke up early and decided to grind cash games again. I checked my app and saw no games I wanted to play, so I decided to check out Aria because it was right next door. To my surprise, there was a 10/20 running there. I sat down and made friends with a regular there who was really good company and made the session a lot of fun despite a very rocky -7k start to my session. I stuck with it though, for 20 hours as a matter of fact, and eventually grinded to even, then up a little, then up a lot, and finished up somewhere around 10k. It was a huge truimph of a session. I would return the next day and play for another 20 hours, once again building a huge stack and playing great all day. I ended up winning 20k the next day, culminating with a massive 14k pot where a guy called me down with AT on T64Kx where I 3b huge preflop, bombed the flop into 4 people, and then fired the turn and river with AK. It was a great day overall but I was starting to get really run down, I had played at least 12 hours of poker every day, and 40 out of the last 46 hours. I got a 2 hour massage at the table just to keep myself awake, it proved to be a good move. My friend Joe Ingram got a nice pic of my massive 35k chipstack towards the end of the night and tweeted it.

The next day I woke up around 2:00, I was exhausted and debated whether to play. The next day would be day 1 of the WSOP and I wanted to be rested, but at the same time I was crushing cash games and really running well. I went to my computer and checked to see how my friends were doing in the original tournament I played. I quickly saw that my friend Timothy Adams got 7th in it for > 100k and my other friend, Greg Merson, shipped the bracelet for 1.1 MILLION. WOW was I happy for those two. Shortly thereafter, I found out that another friend of mine Will Jaffe had won the 1k event the day prior as well! They got their bracelts at the same time (Greg on the left, Will on the right)

These guys are more commonly known as Gregy20723, dankness3, and Tim0thee online, but they all have bracelets now (Timothy won the 4 max earlier this year) so they are making names for themselves in the live world as well. With that motivation, I headed to the Aria. I waited for a while to sit in the 10/20, and after getting a seat, I played like shit for 3 hours and left -7k and pretty mad at myself for playing when tired and playing when I knew I needed some time off. Despite that misstep, I was still freerolling the main event off cash game profits. I decided to get a good dinner that night and met up with my friends Chris and Seth (GoMukYaSelf and SethSethSeth) for dinner. I had a great steak and lobster bisque, along with a lot of laughs, and headed home for a good night sleep while most of my friends hit the clubs.

The main event would also prove to be disappointing. My table was hyper aggro due to two Italians at my table, on of which was Fillipo Candio, who were both maniacs. Fillipo is really fun to play with actually, he laughs and makes jokes the entire time and is basically a riot. I misplayed two hands pretty badly, one of which made me 22k and another which  cost me 20k, but that’s tournaments for you. I made it to day 2, where I Lost 2/3 of my chips the first fucking hand where some old Texas cowboy flopped a set on me. I chipped back up to my starting stack by winning a bunch of small pots with the first rush of monster pairs I had seen all series when I got dealt AA, KK, and QQ all in one rotation, but never saw an open in front of me on any of the hands. I busted first hand after a 30 minute break when I jammed 10k with QTo with half the table gone, including the BB, and lost to another short stack who called it off with 66. I went home immediately and saw that if I rushed my ass off I could make the last flight to Chicago that night, so I booked the flight, showered, packed, ran to Aria to cash in chips and made the flight which left in 2 hours.

All in all it was a great trip. I got to meet a few people that I have played a ton with online, I came out net about +30k, and I got the enjoyment of doing nothing but play poker for 9 days straight. I had my best cash day ever and won three of the biggest pots I have ever won so all in all it was awesome. I might write some interesting specific hands from the trip next week, as there were several, I tried not to include them in this post for fear of making it too long, but that should make for a good post later on. I’ll definitely be back next year, I’m not sure what tournaments I will play, if any, but I can’t resist the cash game action.

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Tom Dwan arrives in Vegas, massive action ensues

About two days ago, a post was made in the NVG section of 2+2. The post was titled “Tom Dwan Arrives in Vegas” with the post stating “fanboys unite”. No other information was given in the thread, because one poster posted a gif and the thread instantly turned into a hilarious dif dump thread. My favorites:

Now, three days later, there is a massive game running with a million dollar minimum buyin, $2,000/$4,000 blinds with $8,000 straddle, and a WAITING LIST to boot. Frank Kasella tweeted early morning today:

Frank Kassela ‏@fkassela
Million dollar buy-in No Limit Holdem game @ariapoker at $2k/$4kblinds with $8k straddle and theres a list long   enough to start 2nd game WTF







I’m not sure who is in this game, noone is, but it’s pretty easy to guess. Phil Ivey, Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Guy LaLiberte, and Sam Trickett are very likely candidates. John Juanda is almost definitely playing because he tweeted yesterday that he is playing in a game that could potentially bust him. It is also very likely that when Tom Dwan arrived he brought several mega robusto Chinese businessmen with him from the nosebleed games he regularly plays in Macau, but as of right now that is all speculation.


I will update this post when more information comes, but as of right now it’s the biggest game that has run in Vegas in years.







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He’s Back…

Ohhhhh Trueeeeee

What up party people. It’s been a while, over a year actually, since my last blog post.


But now I’m back, with less constraints and stress, and better than ever. “So what’s new Zep,” you might be asking yourself. The answer is quite a bit.

The first and largest change in my everyday life is the removal of the biggest burden in my life, graduate school. On December 5, 2011, I graduated with an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Graduating was one of the biggest accomplishments and reliefs of my life. By the end it was a grueling grind, comparable to December of a Supernova Elite chase, in terms of lack of desire to actually do work and finding motivation to do what needed to be done. Since then, not much has come directly from graduating in terms of changing jobs or getting a large raise or anything of that nature, but I have no doubt that this degree will pay for itself several times over eventually in my life.

My social and personal life has changed a lot as well. A lot of this had to do with graduating and not playing online poker and thus having a lot more time for… ACTIVITIES


So I’ve been going out a lot more, seeing friends, taking my gf out, basically enjoying all the awesome stuff Chicago has to offer. I’ve been travelling a lot, most often to Michigan for weddings, to relax at a lake house, or just go visit some friends / family of my girlfriend who is from the suburbs of Detroit. I have trips planned in the next month for Vegas (WSOP) and Pittsburgh (visit college friends) as well, so I’m taking advantage of the free time for travel as well. Also on the personal front, my girlfriend moved in with me last year, a big step in any relationship, so obviously that has had a huge (positive) impact on my personal life. We’ve been together over two years now and everything is great

My professional landscape has changed a good amount as well. I think I posted this in a previous blog, if not I definitely posted it on 2+2, but my boss left our group shortly after Black Friday, literally telling us so the Monday after. It was a classic case of one door closing and another opening. Since his departure, I have assumed a lot of his responsibility as system administrator and operations manager. I also was promoted in late 2011 to project manager, which wasn’t a promotion as much as just another hat for me to wear, but more responsibility none-the-less.

And now, for what I assume most of this blog’s readers care about… POKER! I took seven months off of poker. SEVEN. And by took seven months off I mean I didn’t play a single hand of any poker game. Since 2004 I don’t think I ever took more than two months off of the game. But obviously that would not last. Around March this year I got the itch. I went to the Horseshoe in Hammond, IA and lucked upon a 10/20 NLHE game that apparently ran extremely sporadically. I went after work on a weeknight, played for about 5 hours and won a very nice amount at a fairly soft table. I would go back 10-15 times over the next two months, but eventually tire of scum regs, having to drive 30 minutes each way only to wait an hour + to get in a game that may or may not break when I get there, and in the meantime play 5/10 1500 max with 8 nits that play 0 hands… it was soooo boring and such a grind. Eventually I decided to sign up for Merge and Lock and give it a try. That was ~6 weeks ago. Since then I’ve run up a nice mid stakes bankroll from essentially nothing by grinding .5/1 and 1/2. I plan on continuing my grind online after Vegas.

Vegas is less than a week away. I’m flying out Monday, Jul 2nd and I’m planning on playing the 10k 6m and the Main Event. The 10k 6m starts Jul 3rd which doesn’t give me any time to get any cash in before that but regardless I plan on playing a lot of cash. I’m probably the most excited that I’ve been for a Vegas trip since the first time I went in 2005… But I’m in a good state mentally and financially and my game is tight and solid so I’m hoping for success out there. I’m going to put in a ton of hours hopefully so we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I come back holstered up like Joakim

As for the blog, I’m going to try to start updating it frequently again. I’ll try to post poker results live and online, trip reports from recent adventures, current events / topics from the poker, sports, and technology world, and all sorts of stuff in between.

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Get Paid Son

Release from the DOJ

BOOM HEADSHOT. As I posted a few days ago, I expected to get my money back from these sites, especially PokerStars. Under an agreement announced today, the government will allow PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker to use their web sites to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. players’ funds held in accounts with the companies. The five-page domain-name use agreements with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will also let the poker companies continue to use their domain names to offer for-money online poker games to players outside the U.S. In return the world’s two biggest online poker companies have agreed not to facilitate for-money poker games for U.S. players and to let an independent monitor verify their compliance with the deal.

SHIP IT. This is amazingly awesome news. I would have been happy to get my money out within 6 months… let alone news I can get it out within ONE WEEK! Below is the official statement from PokerStars:

Also, stars has released a very informative FAQ that answers a lot of questions that I am sure many are asking.

Meanwhile, many online poker players are looking for options as to what to do. A hilarious thread started on 2+2 with MS Paints of US online poker players before and after. Here is my favorite:

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Party at the DOJ

Despite the fact that I just lost my main source of income and have a ton of money frozen right now, I am not too upset about it as I said in my previous post. In fact, I actually got a laugh out of the situation thanks to the video below:

[ ] land of the free

As for the author, SrslySirius is known for making some hilarious videos and photoshops on 2+2. Possibly his most well known come from this thread where a guy posts a beat about losing AK all in preflop to 10-6 suited. Its a hilarious thread with some great photoshops, but SrslySirius steals the show with some epic rounders photoshops.

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