Massey: Try Try Again

massey-bylineWell Guys... We did it.

In my last blog, which was my first blog in 4 months, I discussed my failures during this Summer's World Series of Poker. I highlighted the aspect of having "emotional control" while dealing with downswings, and the resilience necessary to keep competing at the highest level. I discussed my perspective on the importance of learning through failure, identifying the value gained, and continuing the uphill battle as a more prepared, improved warrior.

Perhaps I was having a moment of clarity the day I wrote that blog, but I did make a lot of sense. I had noticed a huge progression in the way I was handling everything. I felt more like a "grizzled veteran" in the game. I could feel myself gaining that grasp on my emotions, which has been the biggest leak in my game for some time. I also knew that a had a lot of work to do to improve in this particular area, so I made it the focus of my thoughts. I was on my way to Biloxi to play the WSOPC series... and that is where we left off.

During the Biloxi series I played very well and, more or less, laughed off each of my bust outs. This was obviously a very good sign. Throughout the week I played a lot with John Dolan and hung out with him away from the table. I learned a lot about a lot, lets just say that. In the $1125 event I played great... near perfect. I steam rolled everyone the entire day and made the final table of 9 with 40% of the chips in play. We came back the next day and I did just the opposite. I made 2 marginal mistakes, both times doubling up the short stack. I had a slipped a little but didn't lose that many chips, and was still in 2nd place. The old man who had just busted a player doubled his stack and had me barely covered, although we were both head and shoulders above the other players remaining. 4 hands later I got it all in pre flop against this guy with KK to his AA and was busted in 6th place. I made like $5K, but 1st place was $30k. Bad luck right? No. My marginal mistakes cost me the ability to have him covered and as a result I had no chips to fight back with. The way I see it, I had cost myself $25k. I was upset with myself but was aware of the errors I had made and identified them.

Also, read Aaron's interview with Cardplayer magazine: 

Massey: Emotional Control 50 Dimes Down

Massey Poker Emotional ControlWhat’s up World,

I know I know… I haven’t written a blog in like 4 months. In my defense, I don’t have a laptop anymore because it fizzled out in Miami, and I have no need for a new one until I start playing online again. Also, I played a tournament almost every day this summer and had absolutely no desire to spend time writing after each long unrewarding day. Call it being lazy; I’ll just call it being honest. Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last blog.

I finished out the WSOP Circuit in St. Louis and New Orleans. With 6th place and 15th place finishes in tourneys (respectively), I earned enough points to qualify for the WSOP National Championship. I drove straight to Las Vegas with Jake Bazeley and Kurt Jewell in Baze’s car. I slept the first 12 hrs of the drive because I was still up from the night before. If you were at Baze’s house or have heard a story from a 3rd party then you know the reason(s) why I didn’t go to bed that night. New Orleans was a really good time lol. We got to Vegas and Kurt got us a room at Cosmopolitan that first week before we started the long summer grind. Needless to say we partied pretty hard. It was then time to go to work; I had a full schedule of WSOP bracelet events and Venetian tourneys to play over the next 2 months. I was as prepared for poker as I have ever been. At the top of my game, excited, confident and ready to breakout, I was eagerly awaiting the reward for all the hard work I had been putting in these last few years. And so it came…

2 months. Zero cashes in bracelet events. One single cash in a Venetian (17th) for $2795. Zero cashes in Rio Deepstacks; and I didn’t play a single hand of cash. What does this amount to? Yep, you guessed it… a $40,000 downswing. This was definitely not what I had in mind. Although my confidence never wavered, I was incredibly frustrated with what had transpired up to that point. I definitely hadn’t played perfect. I can think of 4 huge mistakes that may have/did cost me my tournament life. I also know there were several minor mistakes along the way that may have contributed to the end results. However, all in all, I played good/great poker the entire summer. I would honestly give myself an A- overall, maaaaaybe a B+. Regardless, I definitely played well enough to produce a better result that I did. That’s variance.

Massey: Updates from the Tournament Circuit

What's up World,

I have been slacking on the blog I know.  My POS computer died in Miami and I have been lazy I guess.  Anyways, I'm sitting at the restaurant bar in the lobby of Harrah's St. Louis at the moment.  I'm watching the Bulls vs Heat on 1 screen and Hawks vs Coyotes (Game 4) on the other.  I came down to eat and write this blog.  Theres 2 other chicago area poker players I know, Manny and Dylan, sitting at the bar watching the game too so I joined them.  Its been quite a nice ride the last few months.  After winning the PLO tourney in Chicago for over $40,000 and a seat to the Main Event, I played the Main there and busted on day 2.  We went out for Lawton's birthday that night in Chicago but stayed home no longer, as i left for Atlantic City to pick up some WSOPC Points that I needed.  I only played 3 tourneys there, and had no cashes.  i did go out a lot however, partying with Kurt and Jacob Bazeley.  We had a really good time away from the felt.  After AC I flew down to Miami to play the tournament series at the Isle in Pompano Beach.  I stayed with my good friend Steve Karp.  He has a nice house on North Miami beach w a pool and an extra bedroom.  He also had an extra car for me to use…. Thanks Steve.

The first tournament was the day after I flew in. the $570 $75k guarantee.  The field was made up of 20% great players and 80% bad players, and this was a 1 day event.  To make a long story very short I won the tournament in 14hrs for $22,000.  This was the 2nd time in 2 weeks that I flew into a city and won the first tournament I played.  With my newly found fortunes I felt it was ok to skip the rest of the small tournaments at the Isle and basically just play the Main Event.  (another Chicago grinder, Zal, had showed up at the bar to watch the games and joins me on my right.  I've always liked Zal) My brother and Kurt came down for 2 weeks and stayed with Steve as well.  We went out and did a lot of stuff.  We went down to South Beach and partied, went to Space one night until 6am, went to 2 Heat games and was court side, did the beach a bunch of times and some dining,and shopping, etc, etc.. (wow, Hawks just tied it up 2-2 w 2 goals in last few mins!!! 1:26 left in the 3rd) I played the $3500 Main Event and busted.  I spent the next 2 weeks playing cash games.  i decided to skip going to Council Bluffs for the circuit and just stay in Miami and grind.

Massey - Variance and Run Bad - 30 Days in the Hole

Aaron Massey1st blog of the new year…. Unfortunately I have nothing good to report. I wrapped up 2011 with a blog that featured my highlights from the year and my passion for the game. I talked about the things I wanted to accomplish this year, listed specific goals, and even made promises to work hard and win. Fueled with optimism, I was eager to get back to the table and start the year right. I was ready to play a tourney everyday and crush it just like I did in 2011. I knew I was gonna get off to a fast start.

(Clears Throat)

Not so much. I went to LA and played the WSOPC at the Bike. I think I played 11 events; I came within 10 places of the money 6 of those times and did not cash once. I got 20th place in the $1080 event that paid 18, after losing AK to A8 on what was basically the stone bubble, and having the guy fist pump in my face after binking a lucky 8. I also bricked the Main Event twice. It was really hard to deal with bc I knew I was playing well and doing everything in my power (which isn’t much in poker in the short term) to win. I put myself in a position to go deep several times but the deck never cooperated with me. It was arguably the worst I have ever run in a 2 week span. Me and my friend Eli rented a car (Mustang convertible- Omar if you are reading this…) and stayed at White Brian’s condo in Venice Beach for a few days. Then we flew to Atlantic City for the Borgota Winter Open, so I could get back to winning. I knew my days of running bad were over.

Not so much. Another 11 tournaments, another 5 finishes within 10 places of the money, which included a stone bubble in the $1090 event (sound familiar?). I went out in 28th place when my KK lost to AA on the bubble while play was hand for hand, in a hand that took 7 minutes bc the third guy in the hand eventually folded QQ, with the entire tournament surrounding our table to see if they will make the money or not, add another 30-40 spectators and the fact we all had stacks, it equals one of the most tilting bustouts I have ever gone thru. I shook his hand and said good game then walked away to let the other 27 players enjoy their money in peace. The one positive thing was that none of the players celebrated when I busted and none of the spectators on the rail made any noise either, out of respect for me as a player. Usually all these mops cheer, hoot and holler when the money bubble bursts. Not this time though, so I appreciated that, but it still really stung. I kept fighting and playing well the subsequent days but was rudely met by a couple of 3 outers, a rivered straight, and half a dozen lost coin flips in a row. Oh wait, I did miss a nut flush draw in the 2k bounty tourney so that one is on me. I played day 1A of the Main Event today. A $3500 which is over 4x my average buyin, I really needed to do well…but, I got it in KK vs AA, 15 minutes into the tournament to bust. I have been beating myself up all day bc I know I should have folded. I am really hard on myself though, it is kings to aces after all so whatever. Still, it’s just demoralizing.

Rising Star Shines Brightest at Home

Aaron MasseyHello Everyone,

The last time you heard from me I was in the midst of the 2nd worst downswing of my career.  I had just busted the Borgota $3500 Main Event Flight 1A and was contemplating whether or not to play flight 1B the next day.  I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and I had to consider the bankroll management aspect of being in a single tourney for $7000.  I changed my mind at the last minute and got out of bed 2 hrs late to play flight 1B.  On my 3rd hand I got sucked out for 85% of my stack.  This was demoralizing with all things considered but I didn’t give up.  I played perfect and almost made it to day 3 of the tournament.  I didn’t cash… BUT I DIDN’T QUIT.  I fought so hard against the odds, did the best I could, and put myself in a position to go deep.  I had lost a lot of money but I didn’t care.  I was so proud of the way I composed myself, acting and feeling like a true professional.  I was down on my luck but still moving forward with a supreme confidence.  I had tunnel vision and I was still so hungry for glory.  So off to Tunica I went.

Kurt JewellI met up w one of my best friends, the great Kurt Jewell, when I got down to Tunica.  Kurt won the Hammond Main Event in 2010 for $242k (my home stage—foreshadowing), won another ring in St. Louis in an Omaha8 tourney, the first time he had ever played an Omaha8 tourney (foreshadowing again), then made the Main Event final table here in Tunica last year.  He didn’t win this one though, he held the chip lead w over half the chips in play 8 handed and got 8th.  He blew a big opportunity here, but would soon get a shot at redemption. 

I played very well this trip with 3 cashes; a 23rd place finish in the $355 where I overplayed AK and punted my stack off to some idiot late in the tourney, a 12th place finish in the $565, and an all important cash in the Main Event.  In the Main Event I got off to a horrendous start.  I got sucked out over and over again and was so miserable.  I made my friend Cory Gunz rail me the whole first day so I didn’t just give up and punt my stack away.   He encouraged me and I hung in there.   I showed a lot of heart and I put myself in a spot to go deep, but I fell just short after losing a big coin flip AK to QQ late to eliminate me.  But it wasn’t my tourney to win.  Remember that Kurt Jewell guy I mentioned?  The guy who gave away the Main Event in Tunica last year?  Yeah that’s him….   We stayed and rooted him on.  To make a long story short, I spent the next 2 days watching Kurt play the most unbelievable game of poker he had ever put together on his way to winning his 2nd WSOPC Main Event Championship.  What is even sicker is the REDEMPTION he achieved; a story that gives other poker players hope and inspiration.  There are a lot of other reasons that made this achievement so outstanding but I will not get into them bc this is MY BLOG and should be about ME, not Kurt… 

Just Kidding.  Riding high from his victory he led us down to West Palm Beach for more WSOPC tourneys.

Massey: 2011 - The Year of My Life

Aaron MasseyThis is Aaron @nevermissmassey Massey's last blog post of 2011.  Thank you, Aaron, for sharing your journey with us this year.  - editor

Wow…. What a wild ride that was.  

I’m sitting here, looking back on the last 12 months and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve come a long way.  This time last year I spent every single day sitting in my apartment, at my desk, with my computer and my 2 monitors, playing 10 tables at once for 12 hours a day.  I would wake up around noon and go to the gym, get home at 2:30pm, order food for the entire day, and play online until like 3am.  I was working my ass off when online was around and was 100% dedicated to learning, winning and working as hard as possible.  I watched players who I knew were better than me and it motivated me to catch up to them.  It was during this period that I took my game to the next level.  I played so many hands and discussed poker relentlessly.  I also had the privilege of having an unbelievable mentor.  

During the period where I played online every day, I was able to watch, play and discuss poker with Kevin “Bel0wab0ve” Saul for hundreds of hours.  He is among the greatest online poker players of all time and he took me under his wing.  I have always been a live player, I’ve been playing in casinos since I was 19.  I would drive to Indiana twice a day with Ralph’s ID to go play.  However, it was the online fundamentals that brought my game to where it is today.  To be honest, I wish I had started playing online 5 years ago.  If I had, who knows where I would be right now.  

Anyways, something pretty crazy happened… Online poker in the US got all screwed up.  And guess what?  It was time to play live again. This ended up being great for me because it forced everyone to have to play me in my arena, where I thrive.   Live poker is what I was meant to do; I honestly know and believe that it is my calling in life.  It’s kind of exhausting to explain but if you know me or have seen me play, then you know what I mean.

With live poker comes a lot of travel, and I have been to quite a few places this year.  It started with Tunica, St. Louis, and New Orleans.  I took a train cross country with my close friends to Vegas for the World Series.  We stopped at a few places along the way including the Grand Canyon. We hiked all the way to the bottom of the Canyon, slept there overnight, and climbed out.  When we got to Vegas we stayed at the Golden Nugget on Fremont Street in old Vegas for a week.  Then I moved over and stayed at the Gold Coast, next to the Rio where the World Series is held.  I lived there for over 6 weeks.  During that summer a lot of crazy shit happened and I had a lot of experiences.  I took part in some of the best partying I’ve ever been around in my life.  Cabanas, clubs, bottles and bullshit...  All of it.  I never really spent money at any of them either.