My Journey From Red to Green!

Posted by Faiz Alam on 2020-03-21 at 5:37 PM

Hello Everyone.

Back with a blog after quite a while, and it’s more to do with the state of mind, I was in more than anything else. March last year was one of the best month poker-wise for me where I had multiple deep runs. The month ended with me in a profit of 16L+, but it was not enough for me to bring any money home as my losses (MU aka Makeup) till that point was close to 17L. At one point, I was just 18K away from getting to the green zone, but that was not to be. March ended, and so did my good run, and it was back in the Red Zone for me. No matter how much I tried, I kept getting deeper in the hole. It felt more like I was trapped in quicksand, the more I tried to wriggle out, the deeper I went. I ended 2019 with around 13L MU. 2020 started as 2019 ended, and nothing seemed to work. Jan and Feb 2020 were my biggest losing months since I started playing poker, and my MU has reached 22L+.

When I started playing poker around 4 years back, above everything, my biggest strength used to be my discipline. But being in the red zone for so long had a very negative effect on my strengths, and I was not focused. I lost my discipline, and most of the things which could go wrong did go wrong, and the only person to blame for it was, well, ME. I had the best coach available to guide me poker wise, the best team of Lungi, Kartik, and Maddy for poker/non-poker related stuff, but I was not able to take any mileage out of it. It got to the point where I was really close to letting it all go and get back to my IT job, which I had quit to pursue poker as a profession.

March 2020 started with me getting asked to drop down in stakes to try and get the volume and a bit of confidence up. I also moved from Mumbai to Kolkata in the first week of March to try to change the rut I had gotten myself in. I had read that a change in scenery sometimes helps in getting back the focus and my oh my how correct it was going to prove in a couple of weeks.

Because of the change in stakes, I was not going to play the Adda AOPS Main Event, but before the tourney was supposed to start, I was asked to play the main event with a 2 entry cap across all flights. I fired my first entry on Day 1 A and, as had been the norm, busted after some time. I had one more entry left, and I eventually fired it on the Day 1 D flight on the 14th. Things started out well, and I did manage to bag around 130k stack (around 35bbs).

My Day 2 AOPS Main Event Journey

Day 2 was held on 15th, and I was in the middle of the pack. I did not fire too many tables as I wanted to play day 2 with max focus as irrespective of how bad it’s going, you always imagine yourself of going deep in a big tourney.

The initial levels were smooth, I took down a few pots here and there and lost a few pots. I had come down to 97k @3.5/7k blinds. Then on one hand, sanghai (280k) opened to 14k from UTG. I picked up QQ in the high-jack and shoved my 97k stack. Everyone else folded, and sanghai looked me up with 33. I hit a set on the flop and doubled up.

An orbit later, at the same 3.5/7k blinds, sanghai (175k) again opened to 14k from UTG, and this time I picked up Ako in the high jack position. I shoved my 196k stack, and sanghai called off with 55. Thankfully I won the flip hitting a K on the river and improved my stack to 390K.

Soon the money bubble bust, and my first target of coming in the money was achieved. There were no interesting pots post ITM for some time – there was lots of opening, folding to 3 bets, small pots here and there.

Then at blinds of 6k/12k, I opened pocket 7’s from the high jack (again). vipervenom (200k) from the bb defended. Flop comes in 6s2h5s, vv checks I bet on the bigger side on the flop. vv shoved and I called. VV showed 6h9h. The turn and the river were safe for me and I chipped up to 600k. A couple of hands later, I folded 44 UTG as there were a couple of short stacks on the table, and to my amusement, the flop comes 6d4d.

It was smooth sailing for a bit until the final 3 tables were formed. With the blinds at 10k/20k, I had built up a stack of 1.1 million. At this point, I was among the top 5 stacks, and to be honest, I did start to get a bit nervous. But I calmed my self and tried to focus at the work on hand. The table was quite soft, and I had the table CL. The only issue was the person to my immediate left with the id “BaluGaWhale” with a 600k stack. My plan was simple at this point – avoid playing big pots with him and try to play with others.

I chipped up to 1.8 million in no time. Then a tight guy opens from +1 with an 800k stack. I pick up Ah4h on the button, which I flat, big blind with 520k defends. Flop comes 4cAcJs. BB checks, IR checks, I bet 120k, and the bb shoves his remaining 480k stack, I call. BB shows Ad6s. The turn and river were both deuces, and I picked up the massive 1.2 mil pot and moved my stack to 2.4 million to take over a gigantic CL.

I started opening up a lot at this time and was opening a decent no. of times and just trying to build my stack further by putting pressure and winning without showdowns. This didn’t actually work out that well. At blinds 14k/28k, I had around 2 million and finally picked up a legit hand pocket Kings. We were 6 handed, and I open 2x(56k) from the cutoff. To my delight, BalugaWhale ( 770k ) 3-bets to 140k from the button, I quickly shove and get the snappest call possible and get the bad news that I am up against the best starting hand in the game, pocket Aces. No surprises on the board, and just like that, I go down to 1.3 million. And to make matters worse, Baluga now had 1.6 million and position over me.

At this point, I was still 5th in chips, but I had seen this story play out umpteen times by now. Be near the CL, lose a few hands to coolers/bad beats, end up somewhere near the FT. My mind was filled with negative thoughts (a year and a half in the red can do that to you), but I was determined to keep going strong. I kept trying to play aggressively and was reasonably active, but my stack was not increasing.

Soon the final 2 tables were formed. The grind was getting tougher now, and I was getting no spots to do anything. Balugawhale had taken the table CL and was not giving any opportunity. At blinds 25k/50k, I had 1.1 million around 22 bigs. I pick up QQ, and open to 100k, sb with 780k puts it all in the middle with Ad9h. Thankfully there was no Ace on the board, and I take down the pot to move to 2 million.
Meanwhile, Balugawhale had dropped down to 1 million after trying to bluff my eventual HU opponent Rahulpalawat who now had 4.4 million. The blinds were now at 35k/70. Baluga (1.3m) limps from the btn, noobpro folds from the sb, and I look at As3h in the bb. I shove covering Baluga and who tanks, tanks, and eventually calls off with KsQd. To be honest, once he called in my mind, there was no way I was going to win this 60:40. Still, somehow the board bricked out, and I won the pot and moved to 4 million. The next hand, the final table gets formed, and I am 2nd in chips in my biggest FT to date.

My Biggest FT Ever

FT was a decent mix of players. A couple of known crushers in Sahil Chutani and Sidharth Singhvi, solid reg in AllinMaestro, super aggro cash game player in noobpro, couple of less-known regs, the chip lead rahulpalawat and me. Noobpro was to my left, Sahil to his left and Singhvi to Sahil’s left. I knew that all my play had to be from early position as the 3 guys to my left would not make it easy for me.

Thankfully Singhvi was the first bustout, and Sahil followed him out soon in a brutal all in pre-flop hand where his AK lost to the CL’s AK who hit a single carder flush. After Sahil’s elimination, I knew that I would not get a better chance to wash away my “Sins” :p from the last one and a half years than this. I just sat down waiting for decent spots and chipped up a bit, and maintained my 2nd place. All this while the CL kept busting people.

Soon it was down to 3 players with Rahul a big CL with 11.4 million, noobpro 5.6 million, and I with 4.4 million, and there was no deal option on the FT. So the only option left was to play for it all. The action was fast and furious, and all 3 at some point held the CL. It didn’t feel like we were playing for 50 Lakh 1st prize. noobpro soon busted 3rd when he shoved A5 from sb, and Rahul called with Tens from bb.

Head up started with both Rahul and I having almost equal chips, and we were playing for 27 Lakhs difference between 1st and 2nd. I tried to be fairly aggressive HU, but the lead kept changing, sometimes I moved ahead and was pegged back immediately and vice versa. At 100k/200k blinds, Rahul opens 512k. I just shoved my 10 mil stack in the middle with pocket 7’s and, to my surprise, got a snap call from the opponent. Fearing I was dead or in a big flip, I was sort of happy to see the opponent holding A3o. No ace on the flop and my opponent was left with 6 bbs. A couple of hands later, he shoves his remaining stack and is all with Kc9h. I hit 2 pair on the flop and take down the biggest win of my short career so far. The first couple of minutes after that, I just sat there looking at my screen.

This win was such a big relief more than anything for me. I was finally in the Green Zone after being stuck in the red for more than a year and a half. I immediately woke my wife up, gave her the good news. Its been quite a journey these past 2 years where I almost gave up, but somehow managed to survive and now hopefully will thrive.

Poker is such a beautiful but insanely tough game. It gives you so much joy if you are on the right side of variance and do the required work, or it can break you down with a feeling of despair. All in all, you have to keep the grind on without letting things which are not in your control from bothering or taking you down. But work extremely hard on the things which are in your control like study and discipline.

Now having got to the Green side, My target is to work my a** off and stay in the green zone. To take the lessons from the last 2 year and make sure, the same mistakes are not repeated.

Good luck with the grind, everyone!

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Faiz Alam

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