We started today's $1,500 stud event with 466 players (I think) and 1500 chips each. This event really brought out the old guard. Before about 1990 7 card stud was the most popular game around and while most new players don't bother to learn to play it's still a favorite of the seniors. On a side note, I'm sure it would surprise some of you to learn that you can't play 5 card draw anywhere. Even though it's the first game everyone learns, it's a totally dead game an no casinos that I know of spread it at any limit. I understand why (no one likes it because it only has 2 betting rounds and not much action), but it's always amazed me.
Things started out great today. I won what I thought was a big pot on the first hand of the tournament when I made a queen high flush, but when I counted down my stack I was only up to about 1700. Today was the first time the maroon $5 chips made an appearance and they made some medium sized pots look really big. Stud is played limit (as opposed to no limit or pot limit) 99% of the time and the first limit of the day was 10/20 with what amounted to a 1.875 chip ante. It sure is hard to figure out how much you've got when you have a pile of 1.875 denomination chips! Actually what they did for the first level, rather than use $1 chips, each player was responsible for anteing 15 chips once every 8 hands. 10/20 is a very small limit for 1500 chips and the first round seemed pretty insignificant (a standard buy in for a 10/20 cash game would be around $300 - even a very big pot would be around $250 and a small pot might be less than $50). I did use the first hour to get a feel for my opponents and had everyone pretty well figured out by the start of the second round.
Other than the first hand I struggled a little in the opening stages. Towards the end of round 2 (20/40 limits) I found myself with only 900 chips left after missing a few draws and having a few big pairs get squashed. Then I went on a mini rush. It started when I won a pot after starting with K J Q (in this notation the last card is the one face up). I raised the $5 bring in (the player with the lowest initial up card has a forced bet called the bring in which is larger than an ante but smaller than a full bet) to 20 and got called in two places. After a bet on 4th street, I paired my Q on 5th street (when each player has 2 down cards and 3 cards up) and got both players to fold. On the next hand I made Aces up (The phrase "blank up" means two pair with blank being the larger of the two pairs) and got good action from kings up. As I was stacking my chips from that pot I got dealt a 2 face up and looked down at my hole cards. They were both 2's! Starting with three of a kind is called being rolled up and it only happens once in every 425 hands. I had the bring in and put in $5 the minimum amount even though I could have put in $20. I didn't want to give away the strength of my hand and I was happy to see one of my opponents make it $20 to go with a red 5 showing. Another player joined the raiser and myself and we took 4th street 3 way. On 4th street the player with the 5 showing caught another 5, bet out 20 and got called by the other player. It was time to be a little more aggressive so I made it 60 to go (when there is a pair showing on 4th street every player has the option to bet or raise either a small bet- 20 in this case - or a large bet -40 in this case). I started with the 2c as my up card and had picked up another club on 4th street so I was hoping this aggression would be interpreted as pushing a flush draw. The player with 55 raised to 100, the other player folded and I popped it again to 140. There was no way this guy had raised on 3rd street with a pair of 5's so there was no way he had three fives now. Unless he had four of a kind I had him beat. He called and I hoped to NOT catch a club on 5th street because if I did I thought it would kill my action (I wouldn't make any more money because he'd think I had a flush). Sadly the Ac came off the deck and into my hand. Of course, I bet anyway and expected to win the pot right there. To my surprise my opponent, who'd caught a J raised me! What the hell is going on here? Doesn't he see my 3 clubs showing? I considered that maybe he had JJ in the hole and had made a full house (if he did my only out was the last 2 in the deck), but my hand was way too strong to fold. On sixth street I caught a red 7 and he caught another J. This was actually a good card for him to catch from my standpoint, because even though it made his hand look scary it made it much less likely that I was behind (if he's got two J's showing what are the chances he has two more in the hole?). It all comes back to third street. For him to have a J or a 5 in the hole it means he raised with X J 5 or X 5 5. What ever you put in place of either X it doesn't make a raising hand for a reasonable player. Maybe he started with 5 5 5 or J J 5, but since he has 2 of each showing, both are VERY unlikely. I figured he started with AA or KK in the hole. I just called figuring that if I raised he might fold two pair. On the river he checked, I bet, he called and I took the pot with my trips.
I went on my first break with 1700 chips and by the start of the 4th round an hour later I had it up to 2100. Then I went totally card dead. Over the next two hours I was slowly ground down. If going out of a no limit event is like getting shot this was like getting killed by a moderate amount of radiation. There isn't much you can do in a limit event when you get a ton of garbage hands especially when you're at a table with plenty of action (you're not going to bluff out several players when all you can bet is a small fraction of the pot).
To make matters worse at the start of round 4 I got moved to the most annoying table I've been at in a long time. To my right was a guy who looked like a South American gigolo (longish jet black hair, black collared shirt unbuttoned 3 buttons, HUGE sunglasses and a large silver pendant that was an eagle with it's wings spread hanging from a thick silver chain), but had what sounded like a French accent. To my left was a guy who was an advertisement for not smoking. This guy had ratty graying hair, heavy gray stubble and looked 60 even though he was probably in his early 40's. He rounded out this look with a faded black tee shirt and a half smoked cigarette pressed between his lips at all times (classy!). At the end of every hand that he played SAG (South American Gigolo) would tell everyone what he had and why he did what he did in the LOUDEST speaking voice you could imagine. Then smoking man (along with a few others) would tell him how no one cared and could we please just move on the the next hand. SAG would then say ok fine, but continue telling us about the previous hand. Or worse they'd hit SAG with some heavy sarcasm that would go right over his head so it only encouraged him. It would go something like this:
SAG: (in LOUD thick French accent) Did ewe see what I have? I have stride on fifth streed, but I know ewe have flish draw so I bit. Muney means nutheeng to me. I have plenty chips, but I bit to make ewe pay for flish. Then you make flish so eye fold. Do ewe see?
Smoking man: I know you had a straight. I think everyone knew you had it.
SAG: ewe see I make stride on fifth streed.
Smoking man: I know you had a straight. I don't care. Let's just move on to the next hand.
SAG: I know you have flish so I fold. Do ewe see? I had stride.
Other player: (with massive sarcasm)You had a straight? Really?
SAG: Yis I have stride on fifth streed.
Other player: (with more massive sarcasm) Really? Congratulations.
SAG: Yis I have stride on fifth streed.
Other player: (with even more massive sarcasm)You had a straight? Really?
SAG: Yis I have stride on fifth streed.
Other player: NO ONE CARES!
SAG: ewe need luck to win in the game. HA HA HA! (laughing for no apparent reason)
This would go on and on every time this guy played a hand. When I got to the table they were talking like this about a hand that happened five hands earlier. After an hour I was mercifully moved to a new game.
At my new table I found Mark Seif. Last year Mark won bracelets in back to back events (impressive as hell I think). I'd played with him in a $2,500 no limit hold 'em event I played in LA in the spring and was REALLY impressed with his play. Some of the poker celebs I've played against leave me thinking "this guy isn't any better than me," but Mark always comes across as unbelievably good. It seems like he always knows EXACTLY what his opponents have and takes maximum advantage of it. Unfortunately I didn't have much of a chance to test myself against him, because I was down to about 1000 chips with limits of 75/150 with a 15 chip ante. Shortly after arriving at my new table, I got involved in one hand where I started with Kc Jc 9c and caught the 8c on 4th street. I missed my flush draw and was lucky to escape only losing 390 chips on the hand. I was on total fumes and I knew if I didn't make a move soon nothing would save me. If I played a hand at all I was almost certainly going to have to commit all of my chips to it. I picked up A 6 6 and thought "here we go." But after a raise and a reraise in front of me I was forced to fold. Two hands later I picked up 6 6 J and decided to go for it. After a bring in of 25 and a call, I made it 75 to go. The woman to my left made it 150 and after the two other players folded I put her all in for 220. She turned up 9 9 8, but I caught a 6 on fourth street and won the pot with three of a kind. Great, I won a pot and busted someone, but I still don't have any chips! The limits went up to 100/200 and I with about 600 chips I decided to make a move with A Q 8. One player had called the 30 chip bring in and I made it 100 to go. The player to my left called as did both others. I caught an 8 giving me a pair and 3 clubs on 4th street and bet out. The player to my left made it 200 with a 5 and a 10 showing and I figured I've got half of my chips in this pot I'm getting them all in. We got them all in on fifth street and when the hand was over my 8's and 6's lost to his 10's and 5's. Two more tries on this leg.
Almost 1,000 posts since 2006 about poker including, tournaments, cash games, anecdotes, the overuse of exclamation points, and run on sentences from a retired poker pro who lives and plays in the Bay Area and is currently preparing for the 2023 WSOP.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
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