$70 tourney recap

I don’t typically do my recap immediately after a tournament, but this one will be so short, I might as well get it out of the way.

During the first two levels, my table was doing a lot of limping, so I joined the party. I made trips twice (once with A8o on a board with two Eights, once with A4s on a board with two Aces) and won medium pots with both of them. I also flopped a lot of big draws (two nut flush draws, two OESDs to the nut straight) in big, multi-way pots, but didn’t hit any of them. I turned a double gutshot straight draw once and bluffed the river, but got called by second pair. I was just below even after the first two levels.

Blinds were 100/200 and I was in the CO with KQs. MP1 raised it to 600 and I flat-called. Everyone else folded. Flop was JT9 with two spades. He checked, I checked. Turn was a 6. He checked, I bet 700, he called. River was a 6. If he bet, I would just call since I thought it was possible he was slowplaying a set. Instead, he checked, I bet 1K, he called. He said he had AJo. This hand put me up to about 16.5K.

Blinds were 100/200 and I had TT in the BB. Three people limped (all very loose players), the SB completed and I raised it to 1200 total. The first two limpers (MP1 and MP2) called and everyone else folded. The flop was A8x. I hated to see that Ace as I was sure at least one of my opponents had an Ace. I decided to check and see what happened. I basically planned to fold, but I was open to other options. MP1 checked, MP2 bet out 1K and it was back to me. I took a read on MP2 that he was weak and it looked to me like MP1 had a weak Ace and that he didn’t like MP2’s bet. I decided to check-raise bluff to 4K total with the intention of getting MP1 to fold he scared Ace and MP2 to fold because he was bluffing. Sure enough, MP1 folded, but MP2 called. I’m done with the hand if no Ten comes off. Turn was a Queen and we went check, check. River was another King and we went check, check. He showed down A9o. I was pretty shocked that 1) he called pre-flop for 6 BB and 2) that he called a large check-raise on the flop. He was obviously looser than I thought. I was down to about 10K.

A few hands later, we went on our first break.

I played one hand in the 200/400 level. Everyone folded to me in the CO and I had A3o. I raised it to 1200 and only the BB called. The flop was AQ9 with two clubs. The BB checked, I bet 1500, he check-raised to 4500 and I folded.

Blinds were 300/600 and I was UTG+1 with AQo. UTG limped, I moved in and everyone folded.

Blinds were 300/600 and everyone folded to me in the BB with KQo. We took our second break a couple hands later.

First hand after the second break, the blinds went up to 500/1000 and we were playing eight-handed. Everyone folded to me on the button and I moved in for about 6000 with K2o. The BB was extremely short-stacked and should’ve called with any two cards, so I normally wouldn’t have moved in in this situation. But, he was a very inexperienced player, so I knew he’d fold most of his hands. Sure enough, he folded and I stole the blinds.

We were seven-handed and the blinds were still 500/1000, I got AQo UTG and moved in for 7400 total. UTG+1 took a couple seconds and said, “I’ll call you.” Everyone else folded to the BB who reluctantly folded (I think he had a small pocket pair). UTG+1 showed ATo. Unfortunately, the flop was KTx and I didn’t improve. I busted 23/33 without ever getting my stack over 16.5K.

I had one pocket pair–TT–and had AQo twice. Other than that, I basically had no cards. It was a very frustrating tournament and I was kind of glad it was over, although busting with AQo vs. ATo isn’t my ideal way to go out. As I think back on the tournament, my biggest enemy was probably the fast blind structture. We started with a generous 15K in chips, but we skipped a lot of blind levels. We started at 25/50 and it went 50/100, 100/200, 200/400, 300/600, 500/1000 and then I busted. So, we skipped the 75/150, 150/300 and 400/800 levels. Starting with 15K chips is nice, but the starting stack is only meaningful in light of the blind structure, which was very fast for this tourney. The only hand I think I might’ve played differently was the TT hand. But even with the 4K chips I check-raised into that pot, I only would’ve had 11.5K before the last hand, which would’ve been an M of almost 8.

Snap back to reality: $55 tourney recap

I played a $55 tournament last night and it was pretty frustrating. We started with 6K chips and 31 people. I finished 22nd after a little more than three hours. I never got my stack up to more than 9500. What was wierd was that nobody ever had a big stack. We were all sitting around short-stacked, trying to get chips, but really just moving them around the table in equal proportion.

I’ll write up a recap of the significant hands later, but for now I’m going to play a $50 + 5 freeze-out online. My first goal today will be to get my chip stack above 150% of the starting chip stack.

I finally wrote the recap, so here it is:

This tournament’s structure is very fast. We start with 6K chips (up from 4K earlier this year) and blinds of 25/50. Blinds increase every 20 minutes according to the following schedule: 25/50, 50/100, 75/150, 100/200, 150/300, 200/400, 300/600, 400/800, 500/1000-100, 700/1400-100, etc. So, the blinds don’t make big jumps between levels, but the levels go by very quickly. To put this in perspective, the starting stack is 120 BB, but if I were to break even for the first 60 minutes, I’d be down to 30 BB, which is borderline short-stacked. I believe the proper strategy for this structure is to come out firing and try to amass a large pile of chips early, so I have a lot of ammunition when the stacks start getting short and people start tightening up.

So, the first hand of the tournament, I was UTG with 54s and brought it in for a raise to 125. Only the SB called and the flop came down 43x rainbow. I felt very good about this flop since I had paired and it was very unlikely that the flop hit his hand (although the SB is a pretty tricky, solid opponent). He checked, I bet out 100, he called. The turn was an Ace, making the board A43x rainbow. I didn’t like this card very much, but he checked to me, so I bet 250 and he check-raised to 500. Since I had a pair and a gutshot straight draw, I called figuring I had good implied odds if I made two pair or a straight on the river. The river was a Deuce, making the board A234x and giving me the second nuts. He bet out 700 (by now I’ve got him on an Ace or possibly two pair with something like A4 or A5) and I raised him to 2000. He called and I triumphantly turned over my straight as he showed his 52o, which had made a straight on the turn. We chopped the pot and the whole table had a good laugh at the two of us putting in half our chips with five high. The interesting thing about this hand as that we have played against each other many times before, so we were both “playing the player”. I think we both had the other guy on a couple big cards (probably an Ace) and we both thought we had trapped the other guy.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the most excitement I would see during the tourney. There really aren’t any other good hands to recap, actually. I bluffed off a quarter of my stack with 9-high on an A46 board with two clubs. I got little to no action on my few big hands (I couldn’t really figure this out since I’d shown that I was crazy enough to play 54s UTG for half my chips). I never got about 9500 chips and most of my table was around or initial 6K chips when I busted at the 300/600 level.

My last hand was a bad one as I made the right play at the worst time. A middle position player raised it to 2200 (a little more than 3.5 BB) and everyone folded to me in the SB. I looked down at AJo and moved in for about 4800 more. He thought for a long time and finally called with QQ, which held up and I was done. The reason this was such a bad play was that I made it against the tightest player in the tournament. This guy simply doesn’t play crummy cards. For him to open in middle position with me in the blind, I’d say he had at least AQs+ and pairs 99+ (I think he would limp with pairs 66 to 88). Because of the size of his raise, I put him on 99, TT, AQs or AK. It just seemed like he had a good hand, but not one that he wanted action on. In this situation, I think he would’ve folded AQs, maybe AK, 99, TT and maybe JJ to my re-raise. Unfortunately, at this stage in the tournament, I think I gave him too wide a range. I think his opening range for that bet is more like TT+, AK, which means there are less hands he would fold here (I can no longer get him to fold 99 or AQ since he’s not raising with them there). The bottom line is I made a bad play against a really tight player and I got my chips in as a 7-to-3 dog.

That about sums up the whole tournament. I never really had a big hand, but I ran into plenty of big hands (at least one set, top pair and a flush draw) and I chopped my best hand of the night (the wheel from the first hand). It seemed like my cards didn’t matter as I missed virtually every flop I saw (again, except the first hand). It just wasn’t my night. I think I might have one more chance to get enough points to win a seat to the TOC, but I’m not sure. Last I checked, 10 people get a seat and I was number 11 or 12.

$50 re-cap from tourney on June 3

$50 re-cap from tourney on June 3

  • 1st hand is AKo, I raise, get one caller. Flop is rags, I bet he calls. He bets turn, I fold.
  • 64o, limp in late position. Flop is K6x. All check to me, I bet, get one caller. Turn is blank, goes check check (I put my opponent on a stronger 6 than mine at this point). River is 4. He bets 3/4 pot, I call and win with two pair.
  • AQo in SB. Two limpers, I raise to 5x BB, only button calls. Flop is K-high, I c-bet, he calls. Turn is a T, I check, he bets, I fold, he shows T8o (nothing on the flop… no draws or anything else). Button was a very, very loose calling station.
  • TT UTG+1. UTG (loose calling station) calls, I raise to 4x BB, everyone folds to UTG who calls. Flop is King-high. UTG checks, I c-bet, he folds after much “thought”.
  • I’m in SB with 95o, there are two limpers. Flop is T65 with two spades. I bet 1/3 the pot, two people call. Turn is 9 (not great, not awful). I bet 2/3 pot, BB min-raises me, everyone else folds, I call. River is a blank, we both check, he takes the hand with T6o for a bigger two pair.
  • I’m BB with ATo. Everyone folds to SB who completes. Normally, I raise to try to win this right now (this same hand comes up later), but against a calling station, I’d rather see a flop. I check. Flop is three rags, we both check. Turn is a King. SB bets out for 1/2 pot. By now, I have a good read and a few tells on him. I watch his bet, watch his mannerisms, listen to him for a second and raise to 3.5x his bet. He thinks for a long time and folds AQo face up. Normally, I don’t bet against a calling station like this, but I knew he was bluffing and I’d seen him make laydowns when he had absolutely nothing on the turn.
  • Nothing happens for a while and I get moved to another table.
  • I fold about five hands and then get Q2s in BB. Everyone folds to SB who completes. I raise to 3x BB, he calls. Flop is JT6 rainbow. He checks, I c-bet 1/2 pot, he raises to a about 2.5x my bet. I “think” for a minute and fold. He shows 66 for a flopped set. Against this player, this play will win the pot (either pre- or post-flop) about 75% of the time.
  • I get moved back to my original table. First hand, I get TT in MP1. I raise to 3x BB, both blinds call (this is for about 20% or so of my chips). Flop is A3x. Blinds check, I c-bet 1/2 pot, SB calls, BB raises to 2.5x my bet, I fold, SB folds. BB shows 33 for a flopped set (I have to assume was playing for implied odds against the calling station loose guy because I didn’t have enough chips for him to try to hit a set. SB showed A7o for a pair of Aces on the flop. I’m officially short-stacked.
  • Next time I’m UTG (about 10 hands later), I get AA and move in for about 5x the BB. Everyone folds and I take the blinds. Sometimes, I’d get cute here and min-raise or limp, but with a couple guys still to act who I knew would call with Axs, two broadway (especially if suited) or any pair, I like the all-in.
  • A couple orbits later, I get Q6s in the BB. Calling station limps, everyone else folds, I check my option. flop is J29 with two of my suit. I move in, he folds. I would’ve made the flush and doubled-up if he called. Oh well.
  • Next time I’m in BB, my M is about 5, and I have T8s. After much ado, calling station min-raises, everyone folds to me. I make a big mistake and call. He obviously has a very big hand here (I put him on AA, KK, QQ) and I simply didn’t have enough chips to call even a min-raise here. I knew if I hit the flop hard, I’d double up for sure, but I still shouldn’t have called. Flop was AJx all hearts, he puts me all in out of turn and I fold.
  • Next orbit, I’m in SB with 57o. Two players (calling station and button) limp, I complete (getting 7:1 even though I’m very short on chips) and BB moves in. Everyone else folds, I count it down and realize I’m getting 2.5:1 to call. I figured I had to call if I had two live cards. I decided that before I put my chips in, I should try to get a read on BB. He’d been playing VERY tight since I sat down and I knew he wasn’t just making a move. He had a hand and I had to figure out how strong he was. I decided that if I took a read that he had a bigger pocket pair than my 7, I’d fold. I looked at him and immediately knew he was very strong. I decided to keep my few chips and see if I could get them in before the next BB. I folded 57o face-up and he showed QQ. This is NOT normally a laydown I will make. The only reason I completed the SB instead of moving in was that I knew I’d get called by at least the calling station and I just didn’t like my hand that much. I was getting 7:1 before BB’s raise, but only 2.5:1 after BB’s raise and I put him on an overpair. I like the fold, but I know a lot of players would really hate it. It wasn’t an easy laydown.
  • Next hand, I get 67o on the button, UTG limps, I move in (for less than 2x BB), BB calls and limper (calling station) calls. I miss the board, BB pairs Jacks on the river, I’m out.

All that took almost 3 hours and 8 levels of play. I was shocked at how much time had gone by. It just wasn’t my night. I also played a $40 buy-in tourney the next day, but I forgot to re-cap it. 



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.


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.



Vegas: Day 1 report

As far as gambling goes, there isn’t too much to report. I played a $55 NL Hold ‘Em tournament at the Luxor and busted out 8th of 33. Here are the highlights:

  • Short stack moves in immediately to my right, I have QQ and move in for about 3 times what he has. Everyone folds, he turns over AJo and catches JJ (flop and river) to double up.
  • I have AJo in middle position, minimum raise by UTG, I move in, he calls with K7s. Sure enough, he makes a flush on the flop.
  • I move in with K7o and am called by K2o. 2-pair hits the board and we split.
  • I move in with ATo and it holds up against Ax and Q6o.
  • I play the waiting game and finally have to move in with KTo. Next player to act moves in for about triple my stack with KK.

All in all, I feel I played nearly perfectly. I was shocked how obvious some physical tells are when playing live. I’ve been playing online exclusively for several months, so I’ve had to learn more about the mathematics, betting pattern tells and other nuances. I was able to steal with absolutely nothing several times after the flop and that kept me in the game.

The tournament structure was a complete crapshoot. We started with 250 in chips, were allowed a 50-chip add-on immediately for 3 dollars (initial buy-in was 55), so we had 300 chips. Blinds started at 10/15 and moved up every 15 minutes (15/25, 25/50…). Also, we started with 11 people per table, so we didn’t even get around once before the first level of blinds was done.

Anyway, I lost, but I played well so I’m ok with it.

Then I played some 5-dollar blackjack. Ultimately, I broke even. I was up to about double my buy-in of 40 bucks, then dropped to 10 bucks, then doubled-up twice and left even. So I’m down 58 bucks for the day.