New Orleans trip re-cap

So far, we haven’t done too much. We left Wednesday nigh after watching the Mav’s game in Dallas. We stopped off in Shreveport to get some sleep, then continued on to New Orleans early Thursday morning. We rolled in around 3:00 pm.

First thing we did was bring out the cards and chips for a quick $20 Sit ‘N Go. I had a pretty crummy run of luck and went out fourth of five. Then a few of us went upstairs to get a quick workout before we headed over to Harrah’s to play some satellites.

I decided that the $65 one-table satellites would be my best bet. The sat pays out a $500 tournament entry trip and $50 in cash (the vig. for the tourney). In my first one, I ended up playing with three of the guys I drove out with. That was pretty silly and we vowed never to do it again. There’s just no point in four of us battling it out for one seat against six other people. The main problem was that the four of us were probably the four best players at the table. We hadn’t been seated together intentionally, but we’d need to go out of our way to make sure we didn’t get seated together again.

Anyway, I busted fourth because I caught no cards. I had TT once, played in conservatively and got out as cheaply as I could when an opponent with KQ flopped top pair.

Next, we went to dinner at Besh Steakhouse and had a pretty good time. “Time” being the operative word because we were there for over two hours. Service was really, really slow and I’m pretty sure it’s because the hotel hasn’t been able to staff enough people since Katrina.

After dinner, a few of us decided to try another satellite. This time, only three of us were at the same table and one of the guys was directly on my left. I ended up getting heads up with one of my buddies and we chopped it down the middle. We basically had an even chip stack. If I hadn’t been heads-up with a friend, I probably wouldn’t have chopped.

So now we’re going to register for the $500 tourney and get some breakfast. I hope to do well in the tourney, but it’s going to be a crapshoot. We start with $1500 in chips with blinds at $25 and $25. There are 40-minute levels. I guess we’ll have to see how it goes. I’m in for $350 total.

$500+50 tourney re-cap

Well, the $500 didn’t go as well as I’d hoped it would. I played to the end of the fifth level, but just couldn’t get anything going. The structure was a bit fast, but nothing crazy. We started with 1500 in tournament chips and played 40-minute levels. The following is a list of all the “good” hands I got (I’m obviously stretching a little bit with some of these): 33, 44, 66, 99, JJ, JJ, QQ, AK, AK, AQ, AQ, ATs, KJs. That’s it. I had suited connectors–87s–once in the BB, but UTG+1 raised pre-flop and bet out on a flop that totally missed me, so I dumped it.

I figure I’ll just go through and describe what happened with all the hands I listed above. That should provide a pretty good summary of how the tourney went:

Early on, the guy to my right showed a pretty nasty bluff. UTG had made a decent raise pre-flop and this guy cold-called. Flop was JJ7, UTG bet out about 3/4 of the pot, guy to my right pushed. UTG thought for a long time and finally folded. Guy to my right showed 44 (obviously convinced that UTG had laid down AA or KK).

So, the guy to my right was pretty LAGgy. Blinds were 25/50 and he made a standard raise to 125 from UTG+1. I had JJ, so I re-raised to 400. Guy two to my left thought for a while before folding (after the hand, he said he had 99). Everyone folded back to UTG+1 who thought for a while and showed me AJ.

Fifteen or 20 minutes later, almost exactly the same thing happened, only I had QQ this time. Same result, but guy to my right didn’t show this time.

Some time in the 50/100 level, the guy to my right raised to 275 and I made it 700 to go with JJ. Guy two to my left called and everyone else folded (including the original raiser). Flop came all under cards and I moved in. Guy two to my left folded and said he had AK.

Everyone folded to me on the button with ATs. I raised to 300. Both blinds called and the flop came down KTx. The SB checked, the BB checked and I bet half the pot. Only the BB called. The turn was a Jack, the BB bet around 1/3 the pot and I called. The river was a blank, the BB bet 1/2 the pot and I folded.

Later in the same level, the guy to my right limped UTG+1. I limped behind him with AQo (I respected his UTG limp a lot more than his UTG raises). Two or three other called and the flop came down all low cards. I check-folded. Not long after that hand, we got moved to a different table in a different room. We kept most of our players, though.

At our new table, the first hand I got was 99. I raised it from middle position and took the blinds.

Later, the guy to my right limped UTG, I limped behind with 33 (again, I respected his UTG limps and suspected the rest of the table did too). Several others also limped. When it got to the BB, he moved in for a pretty big overbet. He’d bee doing this sort of thing all day (moving in on limpers, check-raising all-in, limp-re-raising all-in, etc.) and he usually bet a lot more than he should’ve. This time, as soon as he moved in, I thought, “He has junk, but I can’t call with 33.” Fortunately for me, UTG moved in over the top of the BB and the rest of us folded. BB showed K5o, and UTG showed 99. UTG busted the BB with a set of nines.

Next time I took the BB, I had KJs. The player in the CO made it 450 to go, the button called and I called. The flop came down King-high and I checked it, hoping to check-raise all-in. Unfortunately, both the CO and the button checked behind me. The turn was a blank and I thought for a few seconds before moving in. I took it down and had about 2200 chips.

A bit later (with the blinds at 75/150 and my stack around 1800), I had AQo in early-middle position. UTG raised it to 450 and I realized I’d either have to move in or fold. I took a while studying UTG and decided he was pretty strong (I put him on 99+, AQ+). I laid down my AQ because there were still several people to act behind me and I knew UTG would call if I moved in. I didn’t want to race if I could avoid it. As it turned out, the button woke up with AK and moved in; UTG called with TT, but lost when a King hit the board. I felt that I made a good read and made the right laydown given the circumstances.

A couple orbits later, I got AK in the SB. Of course, everyone folded to me and I raised it to 600. The BB folded showing trash.

A bit later, I got moved to a new table. We were just starting the 100/200 level. I folded my first hand, then got 44 in the BB. Several people limped around and I just checked my option. If I’d known more about the table, I probably would’ve moved in here. My problem was I didn’t know how strong the limpers were and I had no idea if any of them was trapping. On balance, I thought it would be risky to push into a possible trap and I liked that several people limped so that my implied odds were very high if I hit a set. I checked, the flop came high cards and I check-folded.

Two hands later, I was on the button with 66. The CO moved in for about half my chips (I think I had 1700 left at this point) and I moved in over the top to isolate him. I figured my 66 was good and I was probably racing, but I figured it was also possible that he could have a smaller pair, or a very weak Ace. Even if I was racing, I was getting a good overlay as a 10% favorite and I was only risking half my chips. Anyway, the guy turned over A7s. He flopped a flush draw and turned an Ace to double-up and leave me with about 900 chips.

Two hands later, I had QJ in late-middle position. Everyone folded to me and I moved in. The BB called with A8 and I doubled-up when I rivered a straight. I was now back up to around 1800 in chips.

Next time I was UTG+1, I picked up AKo. I made a raise to 600 and the player two seats to my right began counting down his chips. He eventually moved in and had me covered. When it got back to me, I called and he turned over QQ. His QQ held up and I was out.

Psychologically, I felt very prepared for this tournament. I wasn’t the least bit nervous or intimidated by any of my opponents. Some of the people playing were really awful poker players. I felt I played well considering I was card dead for two hours. I didn’t take many flops because I just never had cards that liked flops. I only had suited connectors once, and they totally whiffed. Most of the time, I was getting junk (Qx, Kx, Jx, unsuited two-gappers, etc.) and I had very few spots to make any moves. I also couldn’t win a race, and everyone knows those are key to going deep in a tournament. My best hand all day (post flop) was a straight, which won me very few chips. My second best hand was top pair, second kicker. I never flopped a flush draw or a straight draw, never made two-pair or trips and generally just missed every flop.

Overall, it was a great experience and I feel like I played well. I was reading people very well, but my read usually told me they were strong, so I saved chips, but rarely made chips because of my reads. I ended up busting about 230 of 606 after about four hours of play.

And the rest of the weekend…

After the $500+50 tourney, I went to watch some friends play the WSOP Texas Hold ’em Bonus table game. It was pretty entertaining. The house makes a killing on that game. After a few hours of that, we all went to the buffet to get dinner. One of us was still in the $500+50 and doing pretty well. After dinner, I decided to head back to the hotel to unwind. Playing tournament poker really takes a lot of energy for me.

Anyway, I hung out and watched basketball all night. A few of my friends went out to experience the New Orleans night-life and experience it they did. Aside from basketball, a lot of my entertainment for the evening was watching them act like idiots.

While all that was going on, my friend was busy making the final table of the $500+50. They wrapped it up around 1 am when they had 9 people remaining. The final table was scheduled for Saturday at 4:00 pm.

Saturday, we all woke up late and had a plan to go watch our friend at the final table. We all grabbed breakfast and tried to prep him for his day of making big money. Around 3:30, we all went to the theatre at Harrah’s. The final table was on a stage with a single video camera mounted above it to capture the action.

The final table began around 4:00 and our guy busted around 4:08. He had AJs and moved in on the turn when the board was 445A with two of his suit. Unfortunately, his opponent had A5 and he filled up on the river. He finished 9th and cashed for $5500.

After that, we went to get dinner on Bourbon street and then went back to the hotel to play a $1/2 NL cash game. The five of us all bought in for between $100 and $200. I ran my $100 up to over $180 before I caught some bad luck. I ran into trips and sets FIVE times in less than half an hour. This was only a five-handed game where we were self-dealing. I figure we probably played less than 20 hands in this time. Anyway, I went from $180+ down to $60 and then they decided to quit. I was pretty peeved because 1) I had been running so badly and 2) if I’d known we would up and quit after only an hour or so, I would’ve taken my $80 winnings and called it a night.

So, I went back to my room and the other guys decided to out on the town. I watched TV for a bit, then went to bed about 11:00. I didn’t wake up till 1:00 pm the next afternoon. Apparently, I missed out on quite a bit including one of the guys breaking his foot after he decided to run and jump down a flight of stairs. Sleeping seems much safer.

Sunday, the big winner decided to stake a couple of us to play satellites for him. First, all three of us bought into a 1-table $125 satellite that awarded $1100 to the winner. One of my friends sat directly to my left and knocked two guys out in the first few minutes. I hung in there for a while and eventually doubled my initial stack. I ended up busting after I made a solid read on a guy and moved in on him with A4s after he min-raised in EP with J9s (same suit as mine). He spiked a 9 on the flop and took most of my chips. The other guys didn’t make money either as they both took nasty beats to bust out. The guy who ended up winning the satellite was all-in at least three times with a dominated hands and he survived anyway. There’s a lot of luck involved with winning one of those satellites.

After the $125, I went to a $65 and did about the same. I didn’t play a hand for the first two levels (which is an eternity in a short-stacked satellite), but I got lucky to double-up then knock a guy out with AKs and AQs within a few hands. I ended up busting when I bluffed off my chips. I had KTo UTG and raised it up. The SB immediately said, “Not too much!”, which I’d heard him say earlier in a similar situation when he called with J9o. I said, “Not too much. One-fifty is just right.” He called and everyone else folded. The flop was 666 and he checked to me. I bet out about 60% of the pot and he moved in. I did the math and realized I had to call because I was getting 3:1 on my money and I figured I had 6 live outs. At first, I thought maybe he put a good read on me, but I think maybe he just went with a hunch that I didn’t have a pair. He had 33 and I didn’t improve. I don’t really like him check-raising there because he is almost guaranteed that he’ll have to fade the turn and river cards (if he’s not already behind). Anyway, I busted on that hand. Later, I realized I should’ve just kept my mouth shut when he said something to me. I think I gave away too much info by answering him pre-flop.

After that, we all went to get some dinner. During dinner a few of us decided to go back and play some blackjack and Bonus Texas Hold ’em. The guys each gave me $100 so I could try my luck with card-counting. They made it clear that they didn’t care if I lost it all, so I didn’t mind gambling their money. I played a $15 table with $300, which is a pretty short stake. The count only got moderately high once and I lost all my money within about two hands. My friend was sitting to my right and hit a blackjack on both of the hands while I got dealt a 12 and a 14 (both with my first card as a Ten). I think I can do well at card-counting with some practice.

After that, we all went back to the hotel and crashed. We got up at 7:00 Monday morning and started our trip home. We got back to Dallas about 6:30.


Another $40 live tourney

This week, there were 20 people and I took third. Turned $40 into $85. I played very well and I’m looking forward to getting everything down in the re-cap. For now, I’ll say that I don’t think my recent string of success is due to luck.

This is a pretty crummy re-cap. It’s all over the place, but I guess that’s the nature of the beast. I’m trying to think of a way to be more concise in these re-caps, but I don’t want to lose any information. I occasionally read back over the hands to see if maybe I missed something, or if I can tweak something to improve my game. Anyway, here goes…

We started with 10K in chips and the blinds were 25/50. There were 20 people at two tables. I’d probably played with half the guys on my table in previous events, so I felt pretty comfortable from the get-go. This would affect my strategy by allowing me to open up my game a little earlier and spend less time getting a feel for the table. We were playing for almost seven hours before I busted, so my memory may be a little spotty on some of the details.

Before I get into specific hands, I’ll say that I really felt like my radar was working very well during this tournament. Although I wasn’t focusing much on physical tells, I seemed to be able to sense weakness and go after it. I did this several times and had very good results. There were several instances where I forced opponents to fold hands that were far superior to mine. I think this was due to a combination of respect and intimidation. I felt like the table respected my play and at least two of my opponents knew I’d made a couple of final table recently. I also wasn’t afraid to make a re-raise and I think that intimidated some players. I felt like their line of thinking was often, “Well, I don’t know if I’m ahead right now or not… I like my hand, but there are a lot of scare-cards that could come off and I know I’ll have to call big bets on the later streets if I call this raise.” In general, I don’t think it was a good day to have me sitting on your left.

The blinds were 50/100 and I limped with 66 in late-middle position. There was already a limper in front of me. The big blind, a pretty mediocre player who likes to chase, raised it to 400. EP limper called and I called. The flop came down 234 rainbow. I considered this a very good flop. The BB checked (I now put him on two overs as he liked to gamble it up and I couldn’t see him checking an over-pair here), and the EP limper bet 600 into a 1200 pot. I thought for a minute decided my 66 was probably good and announced a rise to 1600. I chose the size of my raise for several reasons: 1) I thought my 66 was probably best here and I felt like I need to raise enough to represent a good hand 2) Although I put the BB on overcards and the EP limper on medium-to-large suited connectors (I was thinking like 78 up to QJ suited) it was possible someone had flopped a set or even a straight and I didn’t want to throw too many chips into a trap 3) I wanted to represent a very strong hand and a moderate raise would do that very well. I felt like that raise was big enough to say, “I’ve got something”, but small enough that it could confuse my opponents into thinking I was just massaging the pot. Anyway, the BB folded and the EP limper thought for a while before saying, “Man, that smells like Ace-Five to me. And that’s a good raise.” He then folded TT face up! I was shocked. My bet was NOT designed to get any better hands to fold. It was an informational bet designed to run overcards out of the pot and take it down right then. This guy had been playing pretty solid poker and I couldn’t believe he folded there. I was very surprised that he had limped and then called a raise with TT. If anything, I would expect him to limp-re-raise in that spot.

Late in the 50/100 level, an interesting hand came up that I didn’t even play. UTG (a guy I know to be ultra-tight) raised it to 500 (I immediately thought he had AK, JJ or TT) and UTG+1 smooth-called. Everyone else folded and the flop came down something like J95. UTG checked and I thought, “He just flopped a set of Jacks.” Sure enough, UTG+1 bet about half the pot, UTG check-raised all-in and UTG+1 folded. UTG then flipped up his pocket Jacks.

I’m pretty sure the blinds were 200/400 and I was in the BB with A7s in clubs. An early-middle position player limped, the button limped, the SB completed and I checked my option. The flop came down J98 with two spades. The SB checked, I checked, the first limper bet 600 (into a 1600 chip pot), the button folded, the SB folded and it was back on me. I’ve played with this guy a lot and his bet seemed really, really weak to me. I decided to check-raise* “with air”, as they say, and take the pot away. I popped it up to 1800 total and he called pretty quickly. I put him on a flush draw because he called so quickly. The turn was an offsuit 6, giving me an open-ended straight draw that was really just a gutshot (if a Ten came off, a Queen would beat me). Since it wasn’t a spade, I bet out 2200 chips. This was about half my opponent’s stack and he called. I still put him on a flush draw, but I thought maybe he had a pair also (I was thinking A9, A6, AT, Q9, K9 and hands like that). I had pretty much decided I was done with the hand when he called here. I couldn’t think of many hands I could beat (I could beat KQ of spades and that was about it). The river was an offsuit 7, making a board of 6789J with two spades. Although I now had a pair, I didn’t like it much and decided to check and hope he checked it down with a busted Ace-high flush draw or something. Instead of checking, he bet his remaining 2400 in chips. There was approximately 12500 in the pot and it cost me about 2500 to call. I was getting 5:1 on my money and I thought that was a decent price. I started trying to figure out what hands I could beat, and there weren’t many: any hand with an 8, 9, T or J beat me. He’d called off a big portion of his stack and I just couldn’t give him credit for a flush draw without something else going for it (a pair, straight draw, etc.). At this point, I had about 14K in chips and I decided I was beat more than 15% of the time here. The only hands I could be ahead of were Ace-rag of spades. I folded and he triumphantly turned up his K2 of spades to show his awesome bluff. I kept my composure, said “Nice hand.” and watched him call off all his chips on draws to bust 8th of 20. I’m obviously questioning my play on the river. Honestly, I was very pleased that I had a good enough read to check-raise the flop with nothing, then bet out on the turn with nothing. I was right that he was weak, I just didn’t know how weak he was. I wish I had the heart to fire the final bullet on the river… or at least call his bluff. I’ll be re-thinking this hand for a while. The more I think about it, given how few chips he had left, the right play was to check/call any bet.

A few hands later, I got KK UTG+1. UTG raised it to 3x the BB

At the end of the 200/400 level, I was in the BB w/ 66 again. There was one limper and the SB completed. The flop came down something like K42 rainbow. The SB checked, I bet about half the pot, the limper called and the SB folded. By this hand, I had a few tells on the limper, and those tells (or lack thereof) indicated to me that he didn’t love this flop and that his call was reluctant. The turn was another King. This time, I bet about 3/4 of the pot and the limper thought for a long time before he folded JJ face up. Again, I couldn’t believe it. This was the second time someone had folded (and shown) a big pair on a relatively non-scary board. After this hand, I realized that the table was basically playing scared and I couldn’t wait to get back from the break and collect some chips.

After the first break, things were pretty uneventful until we combined for the final table. Even then, nothing much was happening. That was ok with me because I was using the time to get a read on my new opponents. There were three or four guys that I’d never played before, so I had some catching up to do. It didn’t take me long to peg a couple guys and it was smooth sailing from there.

I only busted one player in the tourney and it was with KQs. A pretty loose player to my right limped (I think he was UTG+2), I looked down at my KQs and raised to 4x the BB. The player to my left moved in for something like 2x BB more, everyone else folded and I called. He showed A7o, but I spiked a Q on the flop to bust him.

Ironically, my first big hand at the final table was against a guy whom I’ve played with several times. He knows a lot of my tricks, which was unfortunate for him on a few hands. Earlier in the Final Table, I had made a “button move”, which is where I’ll raise in late position to steal the blinds and a couple limpers’ chips. I think two people had limped, I popped it up and everyone folded. On that hand, I had Q2o. A few orbits later, the same two people limped in and I was on the button. I raised it to 5x BB and the SB (the guy I know) re-raised to about 15x BB. I thought for a few seconds, then scooted my chips in and said, “I’m all-in.” He reluctantly called (he was getting almost 7:1 on his call) and wasn’t pleased to see that I had AKs and his AQ was in bad shape. He was the chip leader before that hand, so it didn’t hurt him much, but I was down to about 14K and the blinds and antes were 400/800, so I wasn’t very comfortable. After this hand, I had almost 30K so my M went up to about 25 and I was in good shape to make the money. The interesting thing about this hand is that my opponent later told me that if he didn’t know I was capable of making a button move in that situation, he would’ve just let the AQo go.

After that, people started busting left and right. I didn’t bust any of them, but I was glad to see them go. I didn’t have all that many chips and I wasn’t getting many cards. Before long, we were down to three-handed. I don’t even remember who busted fourth.

About half way through the first level after we were three-handed, I picked up 97s in the BB. The button folded, the SB completed and the flop came down 954 rainbow. The SB bet out about half the pot and I raised to 3x his bet. He called. The turn was a 6, making the board 9654 and giving me an open-ended straight draw to go with my to pair, medium kicker. He bet out again about half the pot and I moved in. He thought for a couple minutes and finally called with 9To. I was pretty shocked because I’d represented a hand that could beat his. I spiked a 3 on the river for a straight and doubled up.

Later, when we were down to three-handed, the “button play” scenario came up again. The guy I knew pretty well was on my left and an unknown was on my right. This time, I was on the button and I had AQs. I had a pretty good chip lead (I had 110K and my opponents both had around 55K and 35K) and I had been pushing them around since I took over the chip lead. I made a standard raise to 3x BB on the button, he moved in for about 9x BB and I called. He had AJo and spiked a Jack on the river. This was the beginning of the end for me.

I continued to grind down the other player and he was down to about 18K at one point. He had told us he was on “all-in alert” and had been moving in almost every hand. He had stolen blinds and worked up to around 45K with the blinds at 2K/4K. I was on the button with AQo and limped, intending to trap. The SB folded and Mr. All-in raised it to 14K total, leaving himself with about 27K (he had 45K less 4K for the BB before this hand). I thought for a second (mostly about how I was about to steal his chips) and then moved in. He called instantly and turned over AKo. Of course, his AK held up and I was down to about 55K chips. We only had about 7 minutes till the blinds would go up to 3K/6K.

I folded a few hands and then got 53o in the BB. The button folded, the SB completed and I checked. The flop was TT5 rainbow. He bet out about 10K and I thought for a while… I decided my pair of fives was probably good and decided to move in. He thought for a little bit**, said, “You don’t have a ten do you?”, and eventually called. He turned over K5o and I was drawing to 8 outs. That was it.

The thing I enjoyed most about this tournament was that the blind structure allowed a lot of room for play, especially once we made the money. With three people left, the average chip-stack was about 65K, but the blinds were only 1K/2K. I think this was the first time I’d ever played short-handed when there was room for making moves and such. It was really fun and we played three-handed for over an hour.

*On a related note, this is a play I occasionally use to isolate against a player I think is weak or bluffing. Basically, I check the flop because I’m out of position and there are still two (or more) players left to act. In this case, I knew the SB had likely whiffed the flop because he checked. The limper’s bet seemed weak to me, but the button still had to act. Since the button and the SB both folded, I no longer had to worry about them. I now had it heads-up against a player who I knew was weak, and bluffing heads-up with information about my opponent’s hand is much more +EV than open-bluffing into two opponents on a coordinated board. I will also make this play when I have a small pair in the BB against multiple opponents. Specifically, if one of those opponents has made a play that I think could indicate that he either 1) has a monster or 2) has a drawing hand, I’ll check to see what happens. Here’s an example of when I might use this play:

I’m in the BB w/ 77. UTG+1 makes a min-raise, the button calls, the SB folds.
[What I’m looking for are two things: 1) the opponent that min-raised should be straight-forward (ie, he’ll bet the flop if he has AA and the board is all under-cards, but he’ll check the flop if he has AK, KQ, QJ and misses) and 2) the player on the button is aggressive and likes to steal pots.]
The flop comes down TT8 rainbow. I check, the min-raiser checks (indicating he had a drawing hand and missed), the button bets 1/3 to 1/2 the pot.
[Now, both players have done what I expect them to do when they miss: the predictable player checked and the aggressive player took a stab at the pot when two people checked to him.]
Here, I spring my trap and check-raise to about three to four times the button’s bet.
[This will force the initial min-raiser to go away if he has a hand like AK or KQ. It will also likely get the button to go away if he was just taking a swing at the pot. He may even fold an 8 as I am representing a Ten. Obviously, if someone has a Ten here, I’m in trouble and I’ll shut down if they re-raise or if I don’t catch a 7 on the turn.]

**Later, I realized (too late) that this guy always called big bets. This was the same guy who called my raise and then all-in with 9To on a board of 9654 earlier. I don’t think I saw him make a big laydown all night. Earlier, a very, very tight player raised UTG, this guy re-raised from early-middle position, it was folded around to the UTG player who moved in and this guy called… with 33. His 33 held up to knock out the UTG player who held AKo. A little before that, a UTG player raised, this guy re-raised from UTG+1, everyone folded to the UTG player who moved in for a significant amount of chips and this guy insta-called with AQo. His AQo held up against UTG’s JTo (I was shocked at the play on both sides of this one). The tourney ended when the guy I knew flopped a pair on a 2-flush board. He moved in and this guy called his all-in (without proper odds) with a Q2 flush draw. He hit the flush on the river and it was over. To my knowledge, this guy didn’t have any reads on these people and he’d never played them before.


$60 tourney re-cap

This tourney actually happened on April 15 and I just never got around to posting the re-cap because I’m lazy.

I finally made the money… sort of. We played for about six hours before I busted, so this is going to be long, but might be more vague because I’ll skip over large clumps of hands because they weren’t very interesting.. We started with 15K chips and blinds of 25/50 with 30-minute levels. The structure was basically really slow early and ramped up very quickly near the end. Also, we started off with 12 people (seven people cancelled), so we were 6-handed on two tables. Six-handed with deep stacks is pretty unusual, but it gave me some really good opportunities to get reliable reads on my opponents.

I can skip a lot of the early hands because the ones I played for in very small pots and I was doing a lot of ducking and dodging. I wasn’t so interested in winning pots as I was figuring out my opponents. I did some unorthodox things specifically to see how my opponents would react. The first time it was folded to me in the SB, I limped to see how the BB would respond. He raised and I threw m J3o away. Next time it was folded to me in the SB, I raised and the BB folded. Now I knew he probably wasn’t going to let me limp in behind him (without protection), but I could raise and take it from time to time.

I’d played with the guy two to my left before and I was glad he was on my left. He’s the type of player who’s annoying to have in late position when you’re in the blinds. He does a lot of min-raising with weak cards. But, he doesn’t like to enter pots unless he’s the first one in. He will very rarely come in behind a raiser. This was good for me because I didn’t have to worry too much about him coming back over the top without a really big hand. Three to my left was very aggressive and was constantly over-betting pots. He would sometimes check-raise for twice the pot and I knew he was overvaluing pairs and such. Early on, I decided he was a guy I wanted to get big hand against. Four to my left was basically just a rock. He only played with great cards and he always played them for a raise. Immediately to my right was a guy I’d played with several times and he’s also very, very tight. I think he also might give me a little more credit than he should because we played a big pot in a cash game last week and I got him to put all his money in the pot as an 88% underdog… he hit a 3-outter on the river to win it, but he didn’t forget that pot. He even apologized when I first saw him today.

So, those are the reads, now on to the hands. Blinds are 50/100, I’m second to act and I limp with 77. The aggressive guy three to my left min-raises to 200. Everyone else folds and I call. I put him on a big hand. He’s been overbetting a lot and I suspected he didn’t have much when he overbet (he hadn’t shown cards, but I had a hunch). His min-raise felt like a “tricky” play to me, so I was wary that he might have a monster. The flop came down 78x with two spades. Basically, I know he’s not going away on the flop and we’ll be doing some betting on the turn. I decided to start trying to build a pot to justify some big bets on later streets. I also thought if I bet right out, he might make one of his huge overbets (although since I put him on a big hand, I suspected he might continue to play it tricky). I bet out 100, he raised to 200, I re-raised to 700, he called. This was the perfect result for me. I knew he had a big hand and I had already managed to build the pot to around 2000 chips and he still has to make it through two more streets. The turn was an 8, pairing the board and giving me sevens full. This is good news and bad news. It’s good because I’ve got a mortal lock on the hand, it’s bad because that could be an action killer for me. He might put me on top pair and slow down because he thinks I made trips. I decided to throw him some rope with a check. He bet 1000, I raised to 2500, he called. The river was a T, which I considered a great card. By now, I’ve got him on a big pair, AA-QQ, and that card couldn’t have helped. I decided to go for a small value bet hoping to get paid off, or maybe he’d try to blow me off the hand with a big all-in or something. He just called and showed AA. In retrospect, I probably could’ve gotten at least 1000 more chips out of him on the river, but I was happy with the result. In fact, I think if I’d played the hand differently, I could’ve made a lot more money, but I guess that’s just something I need to work on. I don’t get big hands that often (this was my first full house in my last eight live tourneys or something like that).

A bit later, I got 22 on the button. Everyone folded to me and I limped. I didn’t feel there was much danger that the blinds would raise and I had position if they did. The SB completed, the BB checked and the flop came down 447. I considered that a good flop and was planning on betting or raising. The SB checked, the BB made a little bet that I felt was weak, I tripled his bet and both blinds quickly folded.

Everyone folded to me in the SB and I thought I might try to steal the BB. I looked down at J5o and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the BB do something he hadn’t done yet. I won’t go into it, but I felt it was a reliable tell that he had a big hand. I decided to abort the steal attempt and fold. He immediately let out a “shoot! I had good cards that time!” groan and raked in my small blind.

This was sort of a theme today. I had reliable tells on a few of my opponents and I felt I exploited them well. There were several pots that I won because of weakness tells and I was able to avoid throwing away chips because of some strength tells. I caught the “glance at your chips” tell a couple times, and I was able to use that tell both to get out of the way against strong hands and to steal pots with weak hands. There were a few guys who would check their hole cards before it was their turn to act (usually when they were in the blinds) and they would virtually announce when they had weak hands.

I basically just maintained my 25K stack until we combined for the “final table” (quotes because we started with 12, so making the final table didn’t actually mean anything). First big hand I played at the final table was an interesting one. A short-stack (the ultra-tight guy from my previous table) moved in when I was in the BB. At the time, the blinds were 300/600 and short-stack’s all-in was only 800 total. A big stack called, another player called, the SB folded and I looked down to see QTs. There’s no way I fold here because it only costs me 200 to call. But, I took a look around and realized there were 3300 chips out there and nobody seemed to want them too badly. So, I bumped it up to 4000 total. Everyone folded, I pulled back my raise (less the 200 to call the all-in) and he showed AKo. He flopped and Ace, but I made a flush on the river to knock him out. There were still nine or 10 people left, so we weren’t on the bubble and I liked getting 16:1 on my money, heads-up. An interesting side note is that I’m not sure I should’ve been allowed to raise in that situation. Short-stack’s raise wasn’t actually a full, legitimate raise and I’m not sure the betting should’ve been re-opened. I wasn’t angle-shooting, but I think I got away with one there.

Even at the final table, I didn’t play much after the flop. Most of my chips came from “raising the limpers” pre-flop and the occasional continuation bet in position. There was a big stack who I’d played before. He would constantly limp with weak hands and would fold to a raise. Last time we played, he was directly to my left, so even though I noticed his tendencies, it was tough to take his chips. This time, I had position and made the best of it. He would also get tied onto hands like top pair with a weak kicker. He basically replaced the overbetter from my previous table as the “guy whose chips I’m after”. Here are a few of the interesting hands where we at least saw a flop:

First hand involves the big-stack constant limper. The blinds were 700/1400, and everyone folded to the big stack who raised it to 3000 (basically a min-raise) when I was in the BB. He was three to my right at this point, so he was raising from the Cut-off. His min-raise told me he had a big hand and wanted action. Everyone folded to me and I looked down at 57s. This is the perfect hand to play against a guy who will overvalue single-pair hands after the flop. I called and we took a flop. The flop came down 689 w/ two clubs. Fireworks started going off in my head and I decided to slowplay. The blinds were creeping up and I figured it was worth the risk of him catching up to maybe double up and have a shot at winning. Also, the only hand I was really scared of was AK of clubs and I figured he would’ve raised more with that hand. I basically figured he was drawing dead, or close to it. I checked, he made a smallish bet and I called. The turn was a Nine, pairing the board, but not really scaring me, and I check-raised him for about half my chips. He thought for a while and called. The river was a Ten and I moved in for the rest of my chips. He thought for a while and called. “Straight”, I said, and he showed me AA as I raked in the pot. Second time I cracked Aces in the same tournament, and both times the guy with Aces basically min-raised before the flop.

This hand put me in the chip lead and I felt I had a good shot at winning. I had about 45K chips and I was playing great poker. What I didn’t anticipate was that the blinds would start going crazy. The next four levels were 1000/2000, 1500/3000, 2000/4000, 3000/6000. At the 1000/2000 level, I misplayed back-to-back hands and cost myself a bunch of chips. Here’s how they went:

The first hand, I was UTG with TT. I made a standard raise to 6000 and everyone folded to the BB, who looked at his cards, agonized for a minute, then announced he was raising all-in. His raise was about 26K more on top of my 6000, so I was looking at calling 26K to win 39K, exactly 1.5:1. I put his range of hands on JJ or AK and tried hard to stretch the range, but I just couldn’t. He sees me as a very tight, solid player and I knew he wouldn’t make a move like that with junk after I raised UTG. I knew he probably wouldn’t make that big a re-raise with AA or KK because I wouldn’t give him action. I also didn’t think he’d go all-in with QQ, but I guess that was a possibility. The odds of him having TT were terrible and I didn’t think he’d make an all-in move with 99 against my likely range of hands. I knew I needed 40% equity to make the call and I wasn’t sure what the numbers were, but I knew it was close. It turns out I was 45% to win (against a range of AK or JJ), so even if I didn’t give him any credit for a bluff, I should’ve made the call. He showed AK, the dealer ran the cards for kicks and I would’ve won. If I won that pot, I would’ve had 65K chips and there were only 180K chips in play. I think there would’ve been five people left and I would’ve had about 35% of the chips. I would’ve run over the table. This is the second consecutive live tourney where I’ve laid down a medium pocket pair to an all-in raise from a player holding AK. I’ve got to stop doing that, or I won’t be winning any tournaments any time soon. This hand cost me the tournament, plain and simple.

Next hand, I was in the BB and I picked up KK. The table just had a big discussion about the previous hand where I said, “I didn’t think he’d move all-in with AA, KK or QQ. I figured him for AK or JJ there.” The player UTG+1 made a min-raise and everyone folded to me. I had him covered and I decided that, based on our recent discussion, an all-in from me would look weaker than it should. I figured I might get a call with AQ, AK, JJ or something like that. He had about 25K chips left and he folded pretty quickly to my all-in. In retrospect, I was tilting a little from my bad fold on the previous hand. My all-in was a huge overbet that wasn’t getting called by anything but QQ, which would’ve gone to war with me anyway. All I did was chase out hands I had totally dominated and that was stupid. At this point, I was pretty upset with myself for basically blowing a chance to bust two players on consecutive hands. The bad news was we could’ve been 4-handed and I could’ve been sitting on about 80K chips. The good news was I still had about 45K chips and I was playing well other than those two hands.

Unfortunately, I went totally card dead from there on out. There were only two more significant hands and I lost both of them. First, I got A8 in the BB, there was one limper, who was the big stack. I checked because I didn’t have a read on the guy and I didn’t know if he was limping to trap or not. Also, I felt like I could outplay him after the flop. The flop came down 789, so I flopped middle pair, top kicker. I felt like it was good, so I bet out 2000 (about half the pot). He called. The turn was a rag, I bet out 3000 (1/3 the pot) and he called again. River was a K, which was a card I didn’t like at all. I checked, he bet 4500, I thought for a while and folded. He showed me a KT for an open-ended straight draw and two overs. I showed my A8 and he said, “Well, I figured I’d take one off on the flop and fold if you bet big on the turn.” I definitely under-bet the pot on the turn, especially considering I thought I was ahead.

Later, against the same guy, I made a standard raise on a bluff. He called. The flop came down 8-high and he bet out. I put him on a pair, thought for a long time and folded. I didn’t see any reason to make a move because I was confident he had me and would probably call an all-in because of his stack size.

That’s it. I ended up busting in 4th place and getting my money back. It was bitter-sweet because I played very well, but ultimately messed up on two hands that took me out of it. After this tournament, I realized that I needed to take more calculated risks with medium-to-big pairs. This was two tourneys in a row that I’d folded JJ and TT to all-in raisers who held AK. This is a serious leak and I need to make sure I plug it. I have to take a 10% advantage whenever it’s offered to me, especially if it won’t bust me if I lose.


Another $50 tourney: My first MTT win

I just got back, so I’m pretty beat. I’ll be posting a re-cap tomorrow or later this weekend. There were 32 people, I took first and won $450. I got very lucky at the Final Table. I think I ultimately won it with aggression. Ironically, I’m thinking more about hands that I misplayed than anything else.

This is going to be a long re-cap. Right when I got home from the tourney, I wrote a one-line description of all the hands I thought were significant. There are something like 30 lines. Here we go:

Early on in the first level (25/25), I got AA. I raised to 100 and everyone folded. I was bummed, but it was good to see the bullets. I hadn’t seen them in a while.

Not much else happened at my first table. I stole the blinds one other time, but mostly just sat back and enjoyed the show. We had three people eliminated in the first two levels. That’s pretty crazy considering we all started with 160 Big Blinds. I guess these people were in a hurry to get somewhere.

At my second table, I was lucky enough to have some very tight players on my left. Typically, I prefer tight on my left, loose on my right. That way, I’m less worried about someone coming over the top of a raise, or even calling it. I can also steal blinds pretty liberally. Also, I get position on loose players and that means I get to collect their chips by isolating them and making them pay for playing crummy hands.

After I’d been at the second table for about 45 minutes, I picked up AA UTG+1. The blinds were 150/300 and I raised it to 800 because it just felt right. A guy in late position moved in for about 3000 more (I knew he had a hand because he is ultra-tight) and the small blind started debating whether to call his all-in. I should’ve done some acting to get him to call, but I kind of thought he’d call on his own. Unfortunately, he folded and my AA beat the all-in player’s AK… the other guy folded AK also.

A bit later, I had KJo in late-middle position. I looked down at my cards, figured they were good enough to raise (because I’d been raising and taking it with Q2o, J5o, and junk like that for a while) and started counting out chips. The BB said, “Hey! Wait a minute! This is my blind here!” Unfortunately, I didn’t realize he’d look at his cards. I said, “I know, but I gotta’ do it.” and raised to 3x the BB. It got to him, he said some more stuff about it being his blind, then he moved in. Unfortunately, I basically had to call his all-in, but I wasn’t happy about it. I knew he had AA. If I’d realized he had looked at his cards before his initial speech, I would’ve just mucked. This hand cost me quite a few chips. C’iest la vie.

A few hands later, I had QQ in the BB. UTG raised it to 2.5x BB, everyone folded to me, I did my best to sound peeved (I was acting like I was still steaming from the KJo vs. AA hand) and said, “Alright, I’m all-in.” He called quickly and showed AQo. My QQ held up and I was right back in it.

About four hands later, I was on the button with TT and made a standard raise. The guy who previously had AA and made the speech called. The flop came down A8x and he checked to me. Now, this is the guy from a previous tournament who’d told me that he had a tell on me that indicated when I had a strong hand. What he didn’t know was that he’d gotten that tell on a hand where I was bluffing with Ace-high on a flop of KQx. I’m pretty sure this “tell” happens regardless of the strength of my hand, just because I’m playing a pot. Anyway, he checked to me and I could tell he was “getting a read” on me. I realized that the “tell” was happening, so I bet half the pot with my TT and made sure that his read would lead him to think I flopped a monster (I wanted him to put me on AK). He said he new what I had and folded. I think he even said I had an Ace. I told him I’d tell him later. Later, I did tell him I had TT and that I thought his tell on me didn’t actually tell him anything. That’s ok because he’s the type of player who will look for other reasons to fold big hands against me.

The blinds went up to 1K/2K-100. I was on the button with the mighty Q2o and decided to steal the blinds. Unfortunately, I was still stuck on the previous level (400/800) where my standard raise from the button had been 2000. I announced a raise to 2000 and immediately realized that was only a min-raise. Oops. The SB called, the BB folded. The flop came down KTx. The SB bet out, I thought for a while and folded. I told him I had AQ, but hated that flop. He said he had a weak King. I don’t know if he was lying, but I’m pretty sure he could beat Ace high and I didn’t want to pay a lot to find out how much he really liked his hand.

It wasn’t much longer and we combined for the final table. I had been card dead for a while and didn’t have too many chips. I didn’t play any hands before the end of the 1K/2K-100 level. The next level was 700/1400-100. Everyone folded to me and I moved in on the button with K7o. I think I had something like 4000 chips. The SB called, then the BB called and I knew I was in trouble. The SB had KTo, the BB had 54o. The SB won the hand and I stood up to leave, only to be told I still had chips. How many? 1400 chips, or exactly the BB. I folded two hands, but had to pay the 100 ante, so I was down to 1200.

Next hand, I posted the 100 ante, leaving me with 1100 chips. I looked down to see 74s, which was pretty close to the ideal crummy hand for me. I figured it was suited, and semi-connected, so I called all-in for my last 1100 chips. I then began goading everyone into calling: “Come on guys! Everyone get in there and quintuple me up! I need some chips!” I got two callers. The flop came down something like K4x. The BB checked, the button moved in and everyone else folded. Turns out the button only had Ace high and my pair of fours, seven kicker held up. I now had about 3600 chips. Next hand, I got KJo and moved in. I gave the same speech and got two callers. I also did a little acting and made my hand shake as I put the chips in. I figured maybe someone would be perceptive and make a crack about it, possibly inducing everyone else to fold for fear that I had AA. As it turns out, I had no such luck and I got two callers. This time, I made Kings up and tripled up. All of a sudden, I had about 12.5K chips and I was right back in it. That’s when the carnage began.

Two hands later, I was in the SB. MP1 made a standard raise and it was folded to me. I looked down to see QQ and moved in. He thought for a long time and eventually folded, saying he had AK. I think this was a terrible fold considering 1) I’d been moving in with junk and 2) It only cost him something like 8K more to call into something like a 18K pot. Against my range of hands, his AK was certainly getting odds to call. Nevertheless, I was glad he folded. The dealer ran the cards and he would’ve flopped a King, but lost on the river when I hit a set of Queens. I said, “I’m still glad you folded. I’d rather win 20K one-hundred percent of the time than get knocked out 50% of the time.” I was up to almost 20K and closing on the chip lead. This was the same guy who’d doubled me up at the previous table when I had QQ in the BB and he had AQ UTG. I think maybe that hand was on his mind when he folded. If I’m in his situation with AK, it’s an insta-call.

From here on out, I won’t talk much about bet sizes relative to the blinds and such. It just didn’t matter because everyone was basically short-stacked or extremely short-stacked. It was going to come down to catching cards and playing aggressively.

Now that I had some chips, it was time to start stealing blinds. We’d been at the final table for a few orbits and I had a pretty good idea who was just trying to survive and eke into the money and who was unlikely to play a pot if he wasn’t first in. I went after these people virtually every orbit. I was raising mostly with junk, but I occasionally caught a hand like KJo, although it didn’t matter because people rarely even called my raise, much less made a play at me. One of those blinds steals was with AA, unfortunately. The table was so tight, I just never got action on my raises. That was bad for AA, but good for my overall final table experience.

I busted the guy on my left when I made a standard raise from the button with KTs. He moved in with 99, I called and spiked a King to knock him out.

It turns out the guys to my right were really in to messing with my blinds. The guy on my right made a standard raise one time and I laid down A7o (I thought that was a big mistake after I did it). I figured I’d give him one pass, but I was moving in if he tried it again. Next orbit, he completed the SB, I raised with junk, he folded. Next orbit, he made his raise again, I moved in and he folded. A few orbits later, he limped from the SB, I moved in, he called and he showed 85o. My Ace high took it down and I busted him.

A few hands later, the new guy to my right (formerly two to my right) completed the SB and I moved in. He immediately folded. I was determined to make sure they knew that my BB wasn’t just there for the taking. You were going to have to beat me out of a pot to get it. A few hands later, the same guy made a standard raise from the SB into my BB and I called with KJo. I thought about moving in, but didn’t see any reason to go crazy. I’d already shown I don’t mess around in the blinds and since I knew he knew that, I thought he might actually have a hand. The flop came down T95, giving me a gutshot straight draw and two overs, but he moved in and I thought about it and folded my KJo face-up. He showed 53s for bottom pair, crummy kicker. I had a really hard time figuring out why he would play this hand against my blind like that. I hadn’t been giving up my blind, so he had to knew we’d be seeing a flop. There were a lot of hands I could’ve had that crushed him there (I definitely would’ve called with A9, AT, KT, JT, T9 and hands like that).

We were now four-handed and I got 66 UTG. I made a standard raise and got called by the button. Flop came down 996 and I fainted. Actually, I remained calm and bet out about half the pot. He quickly mucked. I was immediately disgusted with my line. Why bet out? This guy hadn’t been showing much aggression anyway. I should’ve checked to let him catch something on the turn. Big mistake.

About six or seven hands later, I was in the SB. The button, who’d become short-stacked, but not extremely short-stacked, moved in for about 20K. I peeked down to find AA and started thinking about how I could extract maximum value. I decided to play it nice and slowly, so I asked how much the raise was (even though I already knew), counted out the chips from my stack and eventually said, “I call.” I was hoping to induce the guy to my left to call or move in, but it didn’t work. Regardless, I busted the guy with QTo and we were now 3-handed. I had the chip lead and no fear whatsoever.

Next hand, I was on the button and the BB was extremely short-stacked. I’d been picking on him for a while as it was obvious he was folding his way up the money ladder. I asked him how much he had, he counted it out and I made a raise to about that amount. In retrospect, this was a poor play because I wasn’t paying attention to the not-so-small stack in the SB. If I was in the SB, I would’ve realized the button was picking on the BB, but wasn’t all that strong. Indeed, I only had K4s. The SB called my raise and the BB folded. The flop came down T94 w/ two diamonds. The SB checked and I moved in for about twice the pot with my bottom pair, King kicker. He shrugged and said, “I guess I call.” He had KQ of diamonds. That left him with a gutshot straight flush draw and an overcard (Queen). He was a slight favorite. I couldn’t figure out why he’d check/call all-in there, but that’s how he played it (I would’ve just moved in with it in his position). The board didn’t help him and my fours won and knocked him out.

We were down to heads-up and I had a monster chip lead (something like 9:1 or 10:1). I basically just went completely aggro until I busted him. I offered him a chop based on chip count (we each take second place money and divide the remainder of the prize pool proportionally by chip count), but he didn’t take it. Actually, when I first offered it, he said, “I dunno’. Let’s play one more hand.” The dealer dealt, I moved in, he folded and I said, “Ok, you wanna’ chop?” He decided, “Nah, I just wanna’ play it out.” I said ok and busted him two hands later. Actually, I doubled him up first. Then, the next hand, I had 84o, moved in from the button and he called with Q9o. I spiked an 8 on the flop to end the tourney.

So, that’s a re-cap of my first MTT win. It’s strange how little I really remember about the final table. I don’t remember many actual bet sizes, I don’t remember a lot of the hands I stole with. It just happened very quickly. I think the entire final table took less than an hour. It was crazy to come back from being short-stacked with less than the BB to running over the table on my way to a win. It’s also crazy that the hand that turned it around was 74s. The jury is still out, but that might be my new favorite trash hand.


April $50 tourney re-cap

I usually try to write my re-cap within 24 hours of the event, but I just didn’t feel like it on Saturday, and I was pretty busy playing online Sunday (more on that later). This will probably be a pretty long post, although it’ll be shorter than in would’ve if I’d written it Saturday because I’m sure I’ve forgotten a hand or two. Here we go:

After re-reading previous re-caps (that is why I write them, after all), I saw a common theme was that I was “card dead”. While I think that was true, I think I was also probably playing a little weak-tight. Over the past few weeks, I’ve begun rethinking my pre-flop strategy and I basically concluded that I simply wasn’t opening enough pots. This was either because I wasn’t getting cards or because I was playing rocky-tight. I think it was a combination of both. I decided to increase my range for opening hands to include some medium suited connectors and a few other “speculative” hands. My reasons for doing this were three-fold: 1) I simply needed to be in more pots to win more pots. I also needed to make SURE I got action when I picked up a big hand; 2) I feel very comfortable playing with these opponents after the flop, and I needed to give myself more chances to do that; 3) if I hit a hand with one of these “speculative” hands, I’d be sure to get paid off because many of these guys overvalue hands like top-pair and even big overcards.

So, I basically started out raising more pots that I normally would. I was playing in position and even playing well out of position. The first pot I won was from the BB when everyone folded to the button, who limped. I had 92o and the flop came 2Jx rainbow. I bet out about half the pot and the button called. I’ve played with this guy enough to know that he’d raise if he hit top pair, so I immediately put him on a draw of some kind (keeping in mind that a draw could be just two overcards). The next card off was a rag and I bet out again. He called. The river was a Q, which wasn’t a good card for me. I decided to check and see what he wanted to do. He checked behind and showed AKo and my deuces took the pot.

Two hands later, I was on the button with TT. Normally, I’d raise this hand, but there were threee or four limpers and I saw a chance to win a big fat pot if I flopped a set. I called, the SB completed and the BB checked. The flop came 98x rainbow, everyone checked to me and I bet the pot. Everyone folded. No set, but I’ll take it.

I stole the blinds a few times before I made a standard raise from late-middle position with AQo. Only the BB called. I’d played with him before and knew him to play according to his cards in the BB. He would call with decent cards (QJo, JK, KQ, pairs, medium aces) and give up on the flop if he didn’t connect. The flop came down K-high and he checked. I bet half the pot and he called. I immediately decided I was done with the hand unless I hit an Ace. Turn was a blank and we went check, check. River was a blank, he bet out and I folded.

We had started with 4000 chips and I’d worked up to about 4500, mostly by stealing blinds (my best hand so far was my pair of deuces). Blinds are 75/150 (this is the fourth level, but we only play 20-minute levels) and we’d been playing for just over an hour. Everyone folded to a pretty weak player in the CO (I’ve played with him before and he makes a lot of dinky 2x BB raises and does a lot of limping; usually his bet directly correlates to the strength of his hand) who limped. The button folded and the SB called. I was in the BB and looked down at two black Jacks. I popped it up to 600 total. The limper in the CO thought for quite a while before he called, and the SB folded. I immediately put him on a medium pocket pair. The only hand I could see limp/calling with (for this guy) was AK, and I was sure he would’ve raised with it to begin with. I don’t think he would’ve called the raise with hands like KQ, KJ, QJ, or medium suited-connectors (he might’ve limped with them, but I could tell he had a tough decision on whether to call and I felt if he was going to call with these mediocre hands, he would’ve just thrown the chips in quickly). I figured him for TT-66 or 55 (also allowing for a very unlikely AK or KQ). The flop came down K79 with two hearts. I felt that was good and bad. As much as I hated to see it, I didn’t think the K had hit his hand and I was more afraid of the 7 and 9. I put out a continuation bet of 600 (just under half the pot) and he quickly raised it to 1600. I put on a “thinking” act for about 20 seconds and then mucked the JJ face-up. He showed 77 (flopped a set) and took it down). I was ticked, but I played it perfectly and he just got lucky. I was down to 3300 after playing great poker for the first hour.

A few hands later, I made a steal-raise from the CO with 54o. The BB is calling station, but he’ll give up his BB if he has a weak hand. Unfortunately, he called and the flop came down Ace high. Normally, I’d represent the Ace, but he bet right out at me and I knew he had an Ace. I just let it go.

About five hands later, we were about to go on break when I got dealt JJ in early-middle position. UTG folded, UTG+1 called and I raised to 600 (we’re still at the 75/150 level). Everyone folded to UTG+1 who quickly moved in for the rest of his chips, which was about 1300 more. There was about 2700 in the pot and it cost me 1300 to call. I put his range on exactly AK, AA, KK. This guy was a tight player and I’m sure he would’ve raised with QQ. I had a tough decision to make and I took a couple minutes to think about it (this was for about half my remaining stack, thanks to JJ busting me up earlier). This was a pot-odds problem and a tournament equity problem. I was getting about 2:1 pot odds to call with JJ against a hand-range of AA, KK, AK. I didn’t do the exact math, but I knew he was about 60% likely to have AA or KK, which would have me as a 80% underdog. The other 40% of the time, he’d have AK and I’d be a 55% favorite. If I had a lot of chips to work with (say, if I was sitting on 6000 instead of 2500), this would be an easy call. But if I called this and lost (which I would, most of the time–about 66%, I found out later), I’d be crippled: I’d have about 1300 chips left and the blinds were going to 100/200 on the next hand, so I’d have 6.5 BB. If I folded, I’d have about 2600 chips left, or about 13 BB. I decided I’d rather fold and keep out of short-stack range. I also kind of felt it was a little more likely than normal that he tried this with AA or KK than AK. I mucked the JJ face up and he showed AK. The deal (even though we didn’t request it) ran the board and my JJ would’ve been cracked on the river. As it turned out, I was getting almost EXACTLY the pot odds required to call based on the range of hands I gave my opponent. I think this is one of the situations that David Sklansky talks about when he says to avoid very close decisions for a large portion of your chips early in a tournament. In this case, I was getting odds to make a marginal call that would’ve crippled me about 66% of the time (I would’ve been down to 5 BB in the next 4 hands).

From here on out, I didn’t catch any cards for a very long time. I was literally catching T7o, 62o and trash like that for about 15 hands. I did manage to get a walk (everyone folded to my BB) and steal the blinds twice in three consecutive hands, but that did little to stop the bleeding. Finally, with the blinds at 150/300 and with about 2200 chips in front of me, I moved in from early-middle position with QTo. The player to my left immediately called all-in (he had about half the chips I did) and everyone folded to the button called all-in (also for about half my chips). Obviously, I knew I was in bad shape. The player to my left had JJ and the button had QQ, which held up.

I was down to something like 1100 chips and I picked up K9o on the next hand (UTG+1). I moved in, the guy to my left (previously two spots to my left) looked at his cards and practically said, “Oh boy! I have to call!” (I’m not making that up) He called, everyone folded and he showed AKo. The board made a straight and we chopped it.

Next hand, I got AKo UTG and moved in. Mr. “Oh boy!” looked at his cards, thought for a second and said he had to call because, “I’m just getting cards.” Everyone else folded and he turned over QJo (!!). This call was for about half his chips, he was UTG+1 (with about 6 people to act behind him) and he called with QJo. I was pretty shocked. Even if he puts my range at something that QJo might be a favorite against, he still has six people behind him and we’re early in a tournament, so he can’t count on any kind of “cooperation play”. But I digress… The flop brought an Ace and two rags (making me about a 95% favorite to win the hand), the turn brought a Jack and I began shaking my head even though people were congratulating me. The river brought another Jack and I was out 21st of 32 players.

Although I busted earlier than I had in any tournament this year, I felt I had played my best tournament poker in a long time. I made good reads and simply didn’t get lucky.


$40 live tourney re-cap

My run of crummy cards continues. I’m sure it seems like I’m making excuses, but I can objectively say I’m just running very badly in live tournaments. Anyway, here are the significant hands from today:

Early on, there was a lot of action at my table. The blind structure moved pretty slowly, but it seemed like a lot of the guys wanted to gamble. I just sat back and tried to learn about my opponents (I’d only played with two of them before) for about the first hour. We started with 10K chips and 25/50 blinds, and we played 30-minute levels. There were 21 or 22 guys total and we had 10 at our table. I could see early that there were several LAGs (Loose/Aggressive players) who probably learned most of their poker from TV. They were from the school of poker that says any Ace is good enough to play from any position, hands go WAY up in value if their suited, etc.

Once the blinds reached the third level, I had a good feel for most of the guys at my table. The first “big” hand I played was a blind-defending hand when I was in the BB. It was folded to the CO who min-raised. He’d been playing tight-aggressive poker so far and had picked off a small bluff of mine earlier with a check-raise. I would’ve put him on a very wide range of hands, but his min-raise indicated strength to me (I see people do that a lot when they have a big hand in late position and they don’t want to discourage action with too large a raise). I figured him for a couple big cards or a medium-to-big pocket pair. It was folded to me and I called with Q8s. The flop came down K86 with two of my suit. I checked, he bet half the pot, I moved in, he folded and wasn’t very happy about it. I also noticed that he would try and get me to show my cards by mumbling about my hand (“Of course you catch a King there…”, that kind of thing). I didn’t oblige and mucked as I took down the pot.

Next level, he min-raised my BB again and I called, this time with AQs. In retrospect, I should’ve popped him for a big re-raise right there because I was giving his late-position min-raises too much credit at this point. Anyway, I called and the flop came AAx with two spades (I had hearts). I checked, he bet, I called. Turn was a blank. I checked, he bet, I raised to a little over three times his bet, he folded and mumbled something about “Why do you have to keep getting Aces there.” Of course, I mucked my cards face-down.

A little later, I got AA in Early MP. UTG was new to the table, sort of short-stacked and limped. I briefly considered limping also because the guys behind me liked to raise, but I realized they were probably thinking what I was thinking: UTG is short-stacked and limped UTG, he probably has a hand. Knowing there was only a tiny chance of a raise behind me, I popped it up to 3x the BB. I got one caller behind me and everyone else, including UTG, folded. (As an aside, it turns out UTG is pretty new to poker and was limping just because he had pretty cards. His EP limp meant absolutely nothing as he essentially limped himself right out of the game within a couple orbits). Flop came down pretty ragged, I bet half the pot, and the late position caller basically said he had a medium pocket pair and that he hadn’t flopped his set, so he’d fold. He also said something like, “I missed my set, but I had to call because I knew I’d bust him if I hit it.” Of course, he was wrong because I knew he had a medium pocket pair and was prepared to dump if he started going nuts with raises and such. He probably tried about 20 times to flop a set before he busted out.

By this time, our table is down to 7-handed and I finally start catching some cards–AQs, AJs, AKs–and raising every other pot. I basically doubled my stack and never had to show a hand. I got called a couple times, but they dumped their hands to a continuation bet after the flop. I had raised so much that I started actually folding hands that are typically raise-worthy because I was afraid I’d get action I didn’t want. (For instance, normally 7-handed at a tight table, KJo is good enough to raise with from EP, but because I’d been so active and hadn’t shown any hands, I had to fold it to give my later raises more credibility. There were some pretty big stacks at the table and I didn’t want people to start itching to look me up.)

A few hands after my little rush, I got AQs in the BB. The SB was short-stacked and I’d been picking on him (you can pretty much pick on any player you want at a short-handed table), so I knew it wouldn’t take much of a hand for him to put all his chips in. At this point, the blinds were 400/800 and I had close to 20K chips. He completed in the SB and I raised it up to 2800 (I couldn’t see his stack, but I estimated that was probably about half his stack or a little less; i wanted him to think I was trying to steal and that maybe if he moved in, I would go away). He thought for a second and moved in for 2800 more than my raise (5600 total). I quickly called and he showed A3s. The board came 39933 and he took it down with his quad threes. I think this was a pretty big hand because it meant the difference between me having a stack of about 25K and having a stack of about 15K.

Next hand, I got KJo in the SB, everyone folded to me and I moved in. The BB only had something like 3K chips left. He was frustrated, but eventually folded. I showed my KJo to let the table know I wasn’t just going nuts and raising every hand with junk.

I think I folded every hand until the next time I had the BB. Before this hand, I had about 15K. Everyone folds to the button (previously the CO) who, of course, min-raises me. The SB folds and I decide that I’m willing to make a move with two good cards–any pair 77 or higher, AT or better, KQ, KJ, maybe QJs–but I had a wimpy little J9o. I figured he wasn’t too strong and I was getting good odds, so I went ahead and took a flop. Blinds were 400/800, so there’s now 3600 in the pot. The flop was T94 with two hearts. I flopped middle pair, Jack kicker. I decided to throw out a probe bet and see where I was at. I get 2K, he raised to 5K, I thought and called. I figured I only had 5 outs, but my implied odds were pretty solid if I hit. I figured him for maybe AT, KT, AQ, AJ. I also considered making a move if a heart hit the board because I was sure that it looked like I was drawing. The turn was an 8, giving me an open-ended straight draw. I checked it, he bet 4K. Basically, I figured I was behind here, so I started counting outs: two 9s, three Jacks, four 7s, 4 Queens. I counted them all as full outs because i couldn’t put him on a hand that would take any of those outs from me. So, I have 13 outs, there was 17.6K in the pot and it cost me 4K to see the river. With odds like that, and about 5 or 6K in implied odds, I really only needed 8 or 9 outs to call. It was a tough decision, but I decided to just call. One reason I didn’t make a move was that I was pretty sure I was behind AND I’d made moves (check-raises) on the flop and turn already against this guy in similar situations. I didn’t feel I had any fold equity if I was behind, so I didn’t want to do anything stupid. The river was a 6, making the board T9864. I checked, he moved in, I folded. He told me later that he had T8 for 2-pair. He also told me he had no idea what I had and he was “terrified” of me throughout the hand. What I don’t get is why he kept min-raising my BB even though I’d taken two pots off him when he tried that earlier. I especially don’t get why he would do it with Ten high. I guess he got about 10K of my chips, so more power to him.

So now I’m basically crippled. Five hands later, we move to the final table and we’re back to ten-handed. I fold for the first orbit (I started in the BB) and then, the next time I was UTG, I got dealt A5o. At this point, the blinds were 500/1000, but going up to 700/1400 either the next hand or the one after that. I had about 6300 left, so I was in pretty bad shape. A5o was good enough for a move, so I pushed. It was folded to the SB who called with ATo, which held up and I was out.

An interesting side note: During my rush of cards, when I was stealing pots like made, I played one hand out of position against a bigger stack. I had AJs, made a standard raise and everyone folded to him on the button. He smooth-called, the blinds folded and the flop was KTx, giving me an overcard and a gutshot straight draw. I made a continuation bet of about half the pot, the button studied me for a while and said something like, “I fold to the set.” Later, as we were all heading to the final table, he mentioned the hand. He said that when I bet, he could see something that he interpreted as a tell, and that’s what told him I was really strong. He said he figured I flopped a set because of this tell, so he got out of the way. Of course, I didn’t have a set, or even a pair, so his radar was a little off. I told him I didn’t remember what I had, but I did know that I hadn’t flopped a set all day. I told him I’d had a lot of AQ, AJ type hands, but I didn’t remember that one specifically. I began to realize that this guy is just one of those poker players who constantly expects his opponents to turn over the nuts. That being said, I will pay more attention to the tell he mentioned, just to make sure it isn’t somehow a bluffing tell. I have a feeling that it means nothing since I am pretty much doing the same things every time I’m in a hand.


Another crummy $50 tournament

I’m pretty frustrated, so this would be pretty short even if there weren’t too many hands to report. Let’s see… I basically stole a lot of pots early and was barely keeping afloat for about the first 80 minutes. We started with 4K chips and I never made it to 5K, but hung pretty well around 4K. Blinds were 100/200. I was dealt JTo in the CO. UTG+1 limped (he’d been limping with some junk, so I knew he wasn’t super strong). I limped (that’s a little loose for me, but this table was playing pretty tight. The button raised it to 400, the blinds folded, UTG+1 called, I called. 3 people to the flop and the pot is 1500. Flop comes down Q99 rainbow. UTG+1 checks, I check, button checks (the button’s min-raise, check makes me a little suspicious, but I’m glad to be getting a free shot at an open-ended straight draw). Turn is the 8d, putting 2 diamonds on the board and making my Queen-high straight. UTG+1 bets 300, I raise to 800, button moves in for 3400 total, UTG+1 re-raises all-in (I think it’s another thousand or so; he has about as many chips as I do). When UTG+1 moved in, he gave a little speech, a big shrug and said something like, “Well, I guess I’m gonna’ go all-in.” I’m obviously thinking my straight’s no good. I thought for a while and folded my JTo face-up. Button turned over KQc (two-pair, Queens and nines), UTG+1 showed JTo for the same straight I had. The river was a Q and the button doubled-up with a full house, Queens full of nines.

I was pretty sure sommeone had a boat with all that betting, but I turned out to be wrong. What’s interesting is that if I called off all my chips, I would’ve been playing for half the pot and possibly only half the side-pot. Later, I’m going to crunch some numbers to see what the proper play would’ve been if I could see everyone’s cards. I think it was a marginally bad laydown, but given the action, I was convinced I was beat. I should note that this is the third tourney I’ve played with this group, and I’ve probably played about 10 hours total. My best hand so far was the straight I folded. I’m pretty sure I have not flopped a set. So, I’ve been running pretty badly.

That covers the first 80 minutes. A little later, I got moved to a new table. I continued stealing blinds and getting crummy cards. I got my first pocket pair when I picked up AA in the SB. Everyone folded to me, I raised the minimum (blinds were 300/600 and I raised to 1200). BB studied me for a long time and finally folded.

A few hands later, I changed tables again. We were down to two tables and 19 people. After about 15 minutes, I picked up my second pocket pair, 66, and made a standard raise from middle position. Everyone folded and I took the blnds.

The blinds went up to 400/800 a few hands later. I folded for a while, then picked up AKs in middle position. I moved in for my last 3200 and everyone folded. I was up to 4400. I flipped up the AKs to show I wasn’t messing around. The table was relatively tight and I wanted to make sure no one called my next all-in with AJ or 44 or something. I knew I’d have to be stealing a lot to stay in it and I didn’t want much resistance.

Next hand, I had A3o and folded.

We’ve got one more hand before we go to 500/1000 w/ a 100 ante.

Next hand, I was in UTG+1 and got ATs. UTG folded, I moved in for my last 4400. Guy two seats to my left looks down and I can immediately tell he has something. He says “I hate this hand”, thinks for a few seconds and calls. Everyone else folds. I said, “You got Ace, Queen?” He flipped over AKo. It held up and I was out.

So, to sum up, my best hand of the night (of the last three tournaments) was a straight, which I folded. I had two pocket pairs all night: AA took the BB, 66 stole the blinds. That’s it.

I guess the encouraging thing was that I paid my entry fee with the money I won playing in the cash game last Friday night. Could be worse, I guess. In all, I felt I played very well. I was card-dead all night, but I managed to steal some blinds and tread water for a long time. This was probably the worst I’ve run of the three tournaments and that’s really saying something. I busted 19/36 on the last hand of the 400/800 level. The last two tourneys, I’ve busted during the next level (500/100 w/ 100 ante).

PS This is my 700th post. Swell.


Another big bust

Here’s the hand that busted me:

We’re 7-handed, down to 21 players at 3 tables. I have just under 9000 (8800, I think) in chips. Blinds are 500/1000 with a 100 ante. Pot was 2200 before the flop. We’ve been at this table for about 25 minutes. The table is playing pretty tightly, but people don’t seem to be afraid to put their chips in with two good cards.

I’m UTG and I look down at TT. I move in for about 8800. Everyone folds to the cutoff, who has me covered. He moves in, everyone else folds and he turns over KK. His KK holds up to win the pot.

I thought for a while about the hand and I’m certain I played it correctly. There was just no way I could avoid going broke in that situation. The flop came 7-high anyway, so I’m sure I would’ve been all-in after the flop.

What was interesting was that there were still 21 players at this level. Last month, we played the same structure, only we had a smaller starting level for the blinds (tonight, we started at 25/50, last time we started at 25/25). Last month, with the slower structure, we only had 13 left at this point. Also, I think I may have busted on exactly the same hand as last time. Blinds/antes were identical and I was at a 7-handed table.

Other highlights:

My best hand of the night was a Big Blind special. I had 23o, the SB completed, I checked my option. (Blinds were 25/50) Flop came down A25. SB checked, I bet 75, SB called. Turn was a 4. SB checked, I checked. River was a T. SB bet out a little over 75, I raised to 200, he called. He told me later that he had AK; I have played with him before and I believe him.

I hadn’t caught any cards all night and finally got AJo in the cutoff. There was one limper, UTG, and everyone else folded to me. The limper had limped with KQo two hands ago. I raised to 4x the BB, he gave a little speech and moved in for the rest of his chips. I had to call because of the pot-odds being offered (I needed to be almost 100% certain he had AA in order to fold). He turned over AA and it held up.

Not too much later, I got 88 UTG+1. UTG raised to 2.5x BB. I thought a bit and folded. That’s a little tight, even by my standards, but here’s why I folded: UTG is a very tight player. He’s the same player who completed in the SB with AKo, rather than raising when no one else had entered the pot. His opening requirements from UTG are pretty limited. The best hand he could have (for my 88) was probably AQ. Also, we were at a 9-handed table, so there were still 7 players left to act. Finally, the button, SB and BB hand ALL shown that they would raise frequently if multiple limpers/callers were in ahead of them. There was too great a chance that 1) I was totally dominated by a bigger pair from UTG and 2) I wouldn’t actually get to see a flop by calling his bet.

Blinds were 75/150 and I picked up KK in the BB. Everyone folded to the button who had been playing very aggressively, especially on the button with no one in the pot. He made the minimum raise to 300 and I just called. After my call, I had about 3000 chips left. My plan was to check-raise on the flop, unless it was extremely safe. Flop came J-high with two hearts. I checked, he bet 600, I moved in. There was 1500 in the pot and I didn’t want to get cute in case he had a flush draw, hit the Jack or had an Ace. I figured I would grow my stack by 50% if he simply let it go, but I didn’t mind doubling up if he called. He said something like, “I guess top pair was no good there.” and folded.

Later, I had 77 in middle position. UTG raised to 4x the BB, I thought he looked pretty strong, so I folded. He took down a big hand with QQ.

I started getting short-stacked and went into “all-in” mode. I picked up A5o in late-middle position and pushed. Everyone folded.

Two hands later, I got A4o in early-middle position. I pushed again and everyone folded to the BB… who was taking a bathroom break. His absence didn’t affect my decision, but I think his hand should’ve been folded since he wasn’t at the table. We waited about a minute for him to return, he found KK and called. I hit an Ace on the flop and doubled-up. Dude was pretty upset that I put a beat on him.

That was about it before I busted out. I managed to accumulate some chips after my double-up (the double-up put me at about 6000 chips). I ran up to about 9000 before I busted. I felt like I played pretty well considering I ran pretty badly. I ran into AA and KK twice and basically just had completely unplayable hands all night. Best unpaired hand was AQo and it won a small pot. I had 73 of clubs probably 5 times. I was never dealt suited connectors.



$50 poker tourney

I played in a $50 poker tournament tonight. There weren’t many memorable hands, but the one that busted me was very memorable. No, it wasn’t a bad beat. I simply donked off my last chips. Here’s what happened:

There are 13 players left of 40 entrants. We’re 7-handed and I’m in the cutoff (CO). Blinds are 500/1000 with a 100 ante. I have right at 7000 chips. The table is playing pretty tight. Both the button and the Small Blind (SB) have been playing very tight. The Big Blind (BB) is one of the chip leaders, but I think it’s mostly because he’d been catching cards (the players at the table were talking about that). My table image is pretty tight.

I’m going to raise to 2500 with a decent Ace, any pair, any two big cards, any two suited connectors from 87s on up. Everyone folds to me and I look down at A2s (two spades) and make my raise to 2500. Everyone folds to the BB who looks at me, counts my chips, then calls. Pot is now 6200.

The flop is J85 with two spades. The BB bets out 2000. I have 4500 left, I figure the best he can have is a Jack, which leaves me with 9 outs to the flush and 3 outs for an Ace (assuming he doesn’t have AJ, in which case I assume he would’ve moved in on me before the flop). 12 outs means I’m about 48% to catch a winner by the river. Right now, there’s 8200 in the pot, so I’m definitely getting odds to call here getting 4.1:1 on my money. Of course, calling will leave me with a measly 2500 chips and I’d be pot committed. I decide to raise all-in, which means I’m betting 4500 to win 8800 plus his call of 2500 more. I’m betting 4500 to win 11300, which is almost 3:1 (assuming he calls). He calls.

He turns over 89o (9 of spades), which means I’m actually 42.5% to win because he has one of my outs. I flip over my A2… And realize I’m not suited after all. I actually had the Ace of spades and the 2 of clubs. I was actually 16.9% to win and his hand held up. I’m not entirely sure why he called with 9-high getting no implied odds, but like I said, he was catching cards.

So, I totally misplayed the hand and busted out after playing 4.5 hours of very solid poker. Here are the mistakes I made on the hand:

  • If I’m going to play A2s in this spot, I need to raise all-in pre-flop.
  • I misread my hand (I’ve never done that before)*

*I think I misread my hand in part because we were using cards with the “jumbo” index. I should’ve made sure to get a good look at the suit on both cards before I played. That’s no excuse, but it’s a lesson learned.

So, I was stupid and I busted 13th. Other than that, made a nice bluff early by playing position. It was a small pot, but I had Jack high and won the pot. I made a good laydown with AK in the SB early when UTG+1 open-raised 2x BB, the button re-raised to 24x BB; button later told me he had KK. I won a race (AK vs. 44). Made a nice button steal when 3 people limped and I raised to 5x BB with KTo. I had AA and KK, both in early position and neither got any action when I put in small raises. My best hand all night was a pair of Aces (that includes any hand where I saw the flop, turn and/or river).

I played well until that last hand. I should not have busted with A2o. My live tourney performance has been terrible lately. I’m definitely starting to doubt myself.

Afterthought: It’s been two days since the tournament. I was thinking about this hand again today at lunch and I realize why it was such a big mistake to raise to only 2500 rather than moving all-in (for about 7000) before the flop: My raise to 2500 made the pot 4700 (1500 blinds, 700 antes, 2500 for my bet) and the BB only had to call 1500. That means he was getting over 3:1 odds on his call and he was one of the chipleaders at that point in the tournament. 1500 chips was nothing relative to his stack, and calling with 89o wasn’t a mistake according to Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker.

Against any other player at the table, I think my 2500 raise would’ve been the proper play. Everyone else was playing tight, solid poker and not gambling it up. My raise would’ve been about the standard raise at the table and most players had been respecting that raise amount unless they really had a hand. I was prepared to let the hand go for a big re-raise (the pot would’ve been 8700 and I would’ve had to call 4500, so I would’ve been getting less than 2:1 facing a re-raise from a hand which would certainly have my hand dominated) and to re-evaluate the hand after the flop if I got called.

I didn’t take enough into account before I made my play. I should’ve seen who was in the BB and adjusted my play accordingly.


Back in DAL to ring in the New Year…on my couch

I made it back without any trouble. I spent a little while playing poker (more on that below) and then made the short drive to Dallas. On the way, I used my super freaky psychic powers to predict the exact location of what may be the only Cracker Barrel between here and Shreveport. Before I started driving, I decided I was in the mood for some of their Chicken Fried Chicken and I wasn’t going to be stopped.

After driving 50 miles or so without seeing a Cracker Barrel, I said to myself, “You are stupid and you’re almost out of gas. Just stop at the next exit with a reasonable food selection and a gas station and give up on Cracker Barrel before you get stranded…” But then I saw a sign that told me it was only 36 miles to Tyler, TX and I said to myself, “Tough it out! If there’s a Cracker Barrel in Texas, it’s in Tyler, Texas! You have enough gas to go a measly 36 miles, wimp. If Kramer had the guts to see how far he could go after he hit empty, you can push it a few more miles to score some Chicken Fried Chicken.”

Sure enough, Tyler had a Cracker Barrel and several gas stations. One a side note, I got 450 miles on my last tank of gas, which means I got 25 mpg. That’s pretty stinkin’ good in my car. Maybe the hail damage has improved the aerodynamics or something. Golf balls have lots of dimples, just lot my car. What am I talking about?

Today’s poker recap

I played $1-2 No Limit for about three hours today. The lady from yesterday (with the reliable tells) was back, but everyone else was new. Here are the hands I remember:

Not long after we started, I got QQ on the button. There were 2 limpers and I raised it to $12. Both blinds called, everyone else folded. The flop came KTx, the lady bet out $10, BB called, I thought for a while and folded. I knew there was no way I was ahead here and I was right. The lady had flopped a set of tens and I think the other guy had a K. The turn was another ten, and the lady took down a big pot with quad tens. I gave myself a little pat on the back for making good reads and not getting married to the queens.

A bit later, I got K6s in the BB. Two people limped and I checked the option. Flop came down K67 rainbow. I bet out something like $8, everyone folded to the button who called and the SB called also. Turn was the 5 of hearts, putting two hearts on the board. SB checked, I bet $15, button folded, SB check-raised me all-in (for about $65 more). I thought for a while and mucked my two pair face-up. SB told me he had 34h for a turned ignorant end of the gutshot straight to the 7. My turn bet was a little small (assuming the 5h didn’t make someone a hand), but it was more of a feeler bet with “value” overtones. I’m still thinking about whether I could’ve played this any differently, but so far it looks like the answer is “no”.

A few orbits later, I got K9s in the BB (I didn’t catch cards for a while… this seems to be a theme for me lately. I don’t know if I’m running bad, just imagining things or playing too tightly.) with, as usual, 3 limpers. The flop came down QcJsTs, giving me a straight to the King, a King-high flush draw and a gutshot straight-flush draw. I bet the pot, UTG and Hijack called. The turn was a red Queen. I didn’t like this card, but I also needed to protect my hand in case someone had a bare Queen or maybe an Ace. I also felt that I needed to find out where I was at in the hand. I bet about half the pot. This was also a value bet since, assuming no one had filled up or flopped a higher straight, I was a big favorite to win the hand with my straight or a flush. Again, both players called. Now, I’m concerned. The river was a blank, non-spade. I checked, UTG bet a little more than half the pot, Hijack called (!!), I thought for a while and, again, mucked my K-high straight face-up. Both opponents turned up AKo for a flopped broadway and it turns out I was behind from the beginning. I was pretty surprised that neither player raised on the flop considering there were many cards that could come to either counterfeit their hands or flat-out lose them the pot.

About this time, my $100 buy-in has dwindled to $33. I’m UTG+1 and I have AJs. I raise it to $12 and everyone folds around to the BB who calls (this is my buddy who turned a gutshot to the 7 with 34 earlier). Flop comes three low cards, BB bet out $12 and I fold. He hadn’t bet out like that since he sat down and since he was playing trash most hands, I gave him credit for at least a pair.

Next orbit, I have QJo in MP1 and I limp (this was uncharacteristically loose for me, but I only had $21 left so I was looking to gamble it up, I guess). Several other players limp behind. There weren’t many pre-flop raises at this table, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have tried limping here. Flop came down JTx rainbow. It was checked to me and I got one caller who held J9s. My Queen kicker held up and won the pot of about $45.

Two hands later, I picked up AQs UTG. I raised it up to $12 and get 2 callers. Flop came AK9. It was checked to me, I moved in for my last $33 and it was folded around to the lady. She studied me for a while, so I did a little acting and mostly stared blankly at the table and occasionally looked up and away from her stare. By now, I knew she probably had Ax (she probably limped into 75% or more of the pots at this table) and I definitely wanted a call. She mumbled a call and said, “Do you have Ace-King?” This pretty much sums up the action at this table. It seemed like it never occurred to her that I might have AQ, AJ, AT or A9, which would all beat her A8o. She had called 6BB cold in middle position with A8x, and then called an all-in from an early position pre-flop raiser (I was also known to be tight as one of our dealers and another player had been joking about that earlier). Anyway, the turn was a K, leaving her drawing to an Ace or King for a split and my Queen kicker held up to win a $115 pot.

I left not too long after that because I’d been playing for three hours and it was time to get back to DAL. To sum up, I was down to $21 thanks to some bad beats and a tough beat, but then more-than-doubled-up twice in three hands to go up for the session.

I write too much about live poker sessions. I need to get a life or a muzzle… for typing.