Friday, August 29, 2008

The Full Details of Matt's WSOP main event

I know many of you followed the exploits of my good friend Matt Lessinger at this years WSOP main event. For those of you who are interested here is a very long, very detailed recap of how it all went down straight from the horse's mouth.

2008 WSOP Main Event Recap
By Matt Lessinger

This is compiled from the notes that I took during my five days in the Main Event. My thoughts will be in italics, some from the time of the tournament, some from after the fact. Suits will be denoted in lowercase; for example, Js is the Jacks of spades, 9h is the nine of hearts. 2x means a two, where the suit was irrelevant. After each hand will come my approximate chip count at the time. We started with 20,000.

Some of the notations:

SB – small blind
BB – big blind
UTG – under-the-gun, i.e. the player immediately after the blinds
VNH – very next hand, i.e. I was involved in two hands consecutively.

Day One, Level One: 50-100 blinds

-I’m in Seat One, which is good with all other things being equal. I can get a good look at the opponents to my left, whereas the ones to my right can’t see me too well.

-There are no name players at my table. In fact, it doesn’t seem as if there are any players at all. The whole table seems pretty soft.

-I win my first confrontation. One limper, I call on button w/Ks-Js, blinds call. Flop As-Jx-3s. Checked to limper, who bets 125. I make it 525, he calls. Turn 10x. I bet 800, he mucks. Up to 20,800.

-Brute aggression is clearly the way to go against this group, not finesse.

-I steal some pots here and there. Then 1.5 hours in, I pick up my first A-A. I make it 300, one caller. Flop K-4-3. I bet 600, he mucks. Up to 23K.

-A raise to 325, I call in BB w/2-2. Flop Qc-9c-2s. He bets 300, I check-raise to 900, he calls. Turn 5d. I bet 1,500, he makes it 3,000, I call. River 2x! I bet 2,000, he quickly calls (i.e. I clearly did not need the 4th deuce). Up to 29K. I never saw his hand, but it was clearly either A-A or K-K, with a slight chance of A-Q. On the turn I thought there was a decent chance I was up against a higher set, but I also thought if that was the case, he would let me off cheap because he wanted to ensure getting paid off. I did not want to reraise and risk going broke, especially when I considered it relatively easy to amass chips at this table, even if I lost a few thousand with a set. On the river, I thought the 2K bet was just right. If he had a set and filled up, I was going to get his stack anyway. And if he had only an overpair (as was the case) then the bet was small enough to get paid off. Perhaps I could have bet a little more and still gotten called.

-End of Level One: 28,925

Level Two: 100-200 blinds

-Button raises to 600, I call in BB w/J-10. Flop 10-8-7 rainbow. I bet 1,200, he calls. Turn 2. I bet 1,600, he calls. River 4, I check. Bad check here. I should have bet about 2,000. He checks and shows 9-9. Up to 32,600.

-Winning a bunch of small pots. I’m up over 35K without any hands of note.

-I encounter my first setback. Given that this was three hours into the tournament, I had no complaints. Two limpers, I make it 900 from SB w/As-6s. This was pushing it a little, but I wanted to see how much I could get away with. BB calls and limpers call, which is obviously not what I was hoping for. Flop 9d-9s-6d. I bet 2,200. BB folds, first limper makes it 5,200 to go. No one has raised on a draw yet, and I didn’t think he was doing it now. I fold, down to 31,800.

-SB limps. I make it 600 from BB w/Qd-Qh, he calls. He is by far the tightest player at the table. One of the reasons I accumulated chips so easily is that when everyone folded to him in the SB, I almost always won uncontested, either before or after the flop. This is the first time he’s called one of my pre-flop BB raises. Flop Jd-9d-4x. I bet 800, he calls. Turn Kd, we both check. River Ad! I bet 1,600 with the nut flush but he mucks. Up to 34,600.

-VNH UTG limps, next player raises to 850, I make it 2,500 from SB w/A-K. UTG folds A-K and raiser folds Ah-Qh. Cool. Up to 36,100.

-End of Level Two: 36,325

Level Three: 150-300 blinds

-UTG limps. I call in SB with Q-10. Flop Q-J-9. I bet 800, he calls. Turn an 8. I bet 1,600, he makes it 6,100. I call. River a 5. I check, he says, “I was just tryin to make a play at you, I’m sorry,” and shows A-J. I said, “You don’t have to apologize, I’ll take it!” as I show my straight. Up to 43,100. In reality, he wasn’t purposely making a move on me. What happened was that he thought he was calling my 1,600, but instead of a 500 chip he grabbed a 5,000 one, thus the 4,500 raise. In the back of my mind I thought he might be making an elaborate move on me, plus there was really nothing to be gained by re-raising, because he presumably couldn’t call without a straight, thus I chose to just call him down. I would have been happy with half the pot, since I was definitely afraid of K-10, but of course it was a bonus to find out I won the whole pot.

-Made standard raises with 7-7 and 9-9 but got reraised both times and was forced to muck. Down to 40,600. They probably had me beat, but this was also the first two times I got played back at preflop, and it took five hours for that to happen. I now had to worry that my image, (which was fantastic after the quad deuces hand), was now getting a little worse, since they were now seeing me lay down to preflop reraises.

-A-A for 2nd time, but everyone folded to me in SB. I make it 700 but BB mucks. Grr.

-I go 900 with A-K. One caller, then a reraise to 4K. I muck and they go all-in, Q-Q vs. 10-10. At that moment I was not happy I folded, but the final board came jack-high so I saved a good chunk of money. Still, down to 40,100.

-I go 900 in cutoff with 6d-5d, BB calls. Flop 5-4-2. I bet 1,200, he check-raises to 3,200, I call. Turn Q. He bets 4,500, I muck. Down to 34,800.

-I go 900 w/9h-9d, 2 callers. Flop As-Jx-8s. We all check. Turn Js. I bet 1,600, one caller. River Ks. We check, he shows Qc-Jc to win. Down to 32,700. Bad play on my part. I knew he either had a spade draw or a jack, and I should have bet to find out. If I bet the river he probably can’t call. Of course, he could have just as easily had K-J, which was part of what made me lean towards checking.

-End of Level Three: 32,475

Level Four: 150-300 blinds, 25 ante

I limp with 10-10 UTG, we get seven-way action! Flop A-A-4, we all check. Turn 7. SB bets 800, I call, everyone else mucks. River K. He bets 1,100, I call, he shows J-7. Up to 36,100. This was the beginning of the end for the SB in seat Eight. Four of the next five hands I will describe were against him.

-A-A for 3rd time. This is much better than 2006, when I went 14 hours without A-A or K-K! Cutoff in Seat Eight makes it 1K. I make it 3K from the SB, he calls. Flop 2-3-4, I bet 6K, he mucks. Up to 40,500.

-VNH he limps, and I limp from the button with A-Q. I had a strange feeling that if I raised him again, he would get frustrated and push all-in, and I didn’t want to be faced with that decision. Flop A-10-2. He bets 1K, I call, blinds muck. Turn J. He bets 1,500, I call. River 4. He bets 2,200. I groan and call. He shows A-9. I announce to the table that I played the hand like a giant pussy (and I throw in the hand signal for good measure) while I rake in the pot. Up to 46,800.

-Next round I go 900 on button with A-7, BB calls. Flop A-K-8. He bets 1,600, I make it 4,600, he mucks. Up to 50,400.

-I make it 900 UTG with Q-Q. One caller, then the SB (Seat Eight) makes it 3,000 to go. I make it 9K, which is enough to put him all-in. The player between us mucks, he calls and shows A-K, but the flop comes queen high. Booyah! He goes from 20,000 to zero in four hands against me, and I am up to 59,200.

-I make it 900 with 8-8, the button calls. Flop A-Q-6. I bet 2K, he calls. Turn 4. I bet 3,500, he calls. River Q. I put him all-in for a little more than 8K. He deliberates for about three minutes, then finally calls and shows A-K. Down to 45,600. At a table of tight players he was one of the tightest, and given his reluctance to raise on the flop or turn, I didn’t think he would have enough confidence to call all-in on the river. I actually thought he had A-J, in which case he would have had to consider the possibility that I had A-K. If I knew he had A-K I would have never done it, but even then it still almost worked, as he kept getting distracted by the river queen. “A-Q?” he asked. “K-Q? That would be sick…” Once he said that I knew he had A-K, but at that point it was too late. Thankfully I had built my stack up enough that this bad bluff only cost me 1/4th of my chips.

-Almost immediately after that hand our table broke. Double fuck! Not only will I miss getting to continue playing against this group, but if the table had broken a couple of hands earlier, I could be going to a new table with 60K instead of 45K.

-End of Level Four: 45,600

Level Five: 200-400 blinds, 50 ante

-There is much more action at my new table. In the very first hand one player got KOed and another got crippled.

-I picked up absolutely nothing for the first hour and a half. Blinded down to 42K.

-After 1:45 I stole only one set of blinds with 9-9. Then with ten minutes to go, UTG makes it 1,200, there is one caller, then I make it 5K on button with 10-10. Raiser folds, caller deliberates for like 3 minutes before turning up 6-6 and folding. Up to 45,900. He took so long that I really thought he had me beat. When he finally turned up 6-6 I had to laugh out loud. Apparently I was giving him too much credit.

-End of Level Five, End of Day One: 44,775

Day Two, Level Six: 250-500 blinds, 50 ante

-Again I start the day in Seat One, a nice advantage. It also seems like another good table draw. There are a few short stacks, and the table chip leader has only 66K.

-40 minutes in, I make it 1,600 w/Ah-Qh. Button calls, BB calls. Flop 8h-7x-5h. I bet 4K, they muck. Up to 46,800.

-UTG calls, another calls, I check in BB w/Kh-3d. Flop Ah-Jh-10h. UTG bets 2K out of turn. I call. Turn 2x. Again he bets out of turn, this time 4K. I muck, down to 43,800. He was a very inexperienced player, and I knew that he wasn’t making a move on me. I also figured that there was little or no chance of semibluffing him, therefore it didn’t seem like the right time to try anything tricky.

-I make it 1,600 w/As-Qs, one caller. Flop A-2-4 all diamonds. I bet 2,500, he calls. Turn 5s. I check. I probably should have made a small bet instead. He bets 10K, I fold. Down to 38,600.

-A-A for 4th time in tournament. I make it 1,600, button calls. Flop K-J-8 rainbow. I bet 2K, he makes it 6K, I reraise to 16K, he mucks. Up to 47K.

-I make it 1,600 UTG w/A-K. One caller. Flop A-9-3 rainbow. I check, he bets 1,700. I check-raise to 3,500, he calls. Turn 4. I bet 5K, he goes 15K, I go all-in, he mucks. Up to 66K. This was the same opponent who bet me off of As-Qs on an Ad-2d-4d-5s board. He had been fairly aggressive, and I thought I would use that against him. The check-raise on the flop was textbook. On the turn he put me to a decision, but in the end I decided that if he had me beat so be it. He had played enough hands and been aggressive enough that I could not lay down top pair/top kicker to him after having put over 10K into the pot. He claimed he laid down A-K. I give that about a 25% chance of being truthful.

-A raise to 1,200, I call w/Ah-10h. Flop 9x-8h-7h. He bets 3K, I make it 8K, he goes all-in for 11K total, I call. He shows 6-5 offsuit. Ridiculous hand, but I still have a ton of outs. Unfortunately the turn is the 4s and the river the 5c. Down to 54K. This elicited a very loud, “What the fuck??” from me, but it was highly justified. This player had played about 2 hands over the course of 2 hours, and I almost laid down my hand preflop, in light of how tight he had been playing. What made me decide to play was that I figured I could pounce on him postflop if he showed weakness. I couldn’t believe that he had folded so many hands and then decided to take a stand short-stacked with 6-5 offsuit. I guess I could be thankful that he was short-stacked, because I was going to be all-in on that flop no matter how deep he was.

-End of Level Six: 52,425

Level Seven: 300-600 blinds, 75 ante

-UTG raises to 1,600. I call with 7-7. Another caller, then the button makes it 3K to go. It was a very strange sequence. Anyway, I call, but muck after a flop of Q-J-3. Down to 49K.

-That’s the only hand I played for the entire first hour. Not even a blind steal. Down to 44,500.

-Button makes it 1,600, SB calls, I make it 6K from BB with 8-7 offsuit. Button folds immediately. SB deliberates a bit, but eventually mucks. Up to 47K. The probability that the button was stealing, combined with the fact that I hadn’t played a hand for an hour, made it necessary for me to make a play like this.

-A raise to 1,600, I make it 4,100 with J-J, he mucks. Up to 48K.

-End of Level Seven: 47,600

Level Eight: 400-800 blinds, 100 ante

-I make it 2,400 with 9-9, one caller. I bet 4K at K-6-5 flop and he mucks. VNH I pick up my 5th A-A but no action. Up to 52K.

-A raise to 2,300. I make it 6,300 from SB with Ad-Qd, he mucks. Up to 55K.

-Same guy raises to 2,300. I flat call with A-K offsuit, blinds also call. Flop 10c-9x-8c, and I muck to a 5K bet. Turns out he had 9-9. Good play, bad flop. Down to 52K.

-I make it 2,400 with Ac-Js, one caller. Flop Qx-8x-8c, we check. Turn 4c. I bet 3,500, he calls. River 6c. I bet 8K, he calls and shows 10c-9c for a flush. Down to 38K. Bad read on my part. I figured him for a pocket pair, not a club draw, especially given that I had the Ac. Given that read, I thought I could push him off of whatever he had, but obviously he was calling.

-A raise to 2,200, one caller, I call in BB with Qd-Jd, and fold to a bet after the flop comes 10-6-3. Down to 36K

-A totally dismal final hour and a half. No hands whatsoever, Didn’t play a single one.

-End of Level Eight: 29,900

Level Nine: 500-1,000 blinds, 100 ante

-Five minutes in I get moved to a new table. I am easily the shortest stack here.

-I make it 3,200 with 10-10. Three callers! Flop 9-8-3, I bet 10K, and thankfully they muck. Up to 40K.

-I make it 3,200 with 2-2, one caller. Flop K-8-6. I bet 6K, he mucks. Up to 42K.

-UTG makes it 3K, one caller, I call in BB with 7d-6d, but flop of A-Q-2 is no help. Down to 40K.

-I’ve been at this table for an hour, and I’m realizing that this table is the strongest group I’ve ever played against. I know it doesn’t seem that way from the hands I’ve played, but hardly any pot goes uncontested. People are betting correctly, folding correctly, and bluffing frequently. There are two non-players. The other six are all business. At this point in time, my thinking is that I want to break even for the rest of the day, and try my luck in Day Three at a new table, because it’s got to be easier than this one.

-Pocket aces for 6th time. Someone raises to 2,800, I choose to flat-call, hoping that the table’s aggressiveness will work in my favor. We get one other caller. Flop comes Kc-10c-6c. Raiser checks to me, I bet 8K, they both muck. I look back and see that I had the Ac. Perhaps I should have bet less. Up to 45K.

-Two limpers, I call in SB with Js-6s. Flop As-9x-2s. Button bets 2,500, I call, rest muck. Turn 4x, we check. River 5x, we check. He has 10h-6h! Up to 50K. This was a sick win. He inexplicably gave up on this hand, even though it seemed pretty likely that I could be on a draw. Again, I know it seems strange for me to say how tough this table was, when I was allowed to win a hand like this one, but I consider it dumb luck more than anything else.

-End of Level Nine: 49,800.

Level Ten: 600-1,200 blinds, 200 ante

-I make it 3,800 with 7-7, BB calls. Flop K-6-5, I bet 7K, he mucks. Up to 54K.

-VNH there is a raise to 3K. I make it 9K with 9-9. He thinks for at least a minute, then makes it 25K. I muck, and am back down to 45K.

-BOOM. A-A for 7th time in tournament. Black ones. There is a raise to 3,200. I make it 8,000, he calls. Flop K-Q-3 all diamonds. He checks. I bet 12K. I am not happy about the all-diamond flop, but I am committing myself to this hand, and I am betting an amount that shows I am committed. I refuse to be bet or raised off my aces by a hand containing the Ad, for example. He thinks for almost two minutes. He looks frustrated, and I’m nearly certain it is not an act. Finally he says, “OK, I’m all-in.” I shrug and call. The hand I am expecting to see is A-K with the ace of diamonds, but right before he turns his hand up, I think to myself that he would not have looked so frustrated with a hand that good. He turns up A-K with the ace of hearts. I have him drawing dead to two kings. The turn pairs the three, and the river is the five of diamonds, (i.e. if he had held any diamonds, I would have been eliminated). Instead I’m up to 89K. For what it’s worth, he was not one of the strong players. He had come to our table about a half hour earlier, and was chatting nonstop. It made me believe that he wasn’t as focused as he should have been, and that came out in this pivotal hand. After a flop like that, if I’m not bluffing, then there’s nothing he can beat. He has no business calling, let alone going all-in. I just got lucky to get so much action.

-Went the final 45 minutes without playing a hand, so…

-End of Level Ten, End of Day Two: 82,000

Day Three, Level Eleven: 800-1,600 blinds, 200 ante

-Seems like a decent table draw. I’m in Seat Two, which is favorable. The only name player is Alex Kravchenko (4th place finisher from last year) and he is in Seat Nine, so I’ve got position on him. Plus there are at least three short stacks.

-After a few minutes I realize there are only three guys who are real players, and they are all to my right, so I have no complaints or excuses.

-BOOYAH. A-A for 8th time. A player makes it 4K, I make it 11K from SB, he calls. Flop 8-7-5. I bet 16K, he makes it 40K. I take a few seconds to make sure I’m going with this hand, and of course I know that I am. So I stand up Kravchenko style, put my palms behind my chips, and push them all forward. I expect him to call, since he’s only got another 25K or so left, but he mucks. I’m up to 132K. I look at Kravchenko and say, “I saw that work for you all of last year. I guess that’s what I need to do.” He didn’t seem amused. J

-I make it 4,800 with 6-6. A tight player calls from the button, and I decide to check-fold once the flop comes A-10-8. Down to 127K.

-I pick up numerous small pots over the next hour, keeping me moving steadily forward. I’m feeling very comfortable at this table. I’m getting undue respect, plus I am close to being the table chip leader, even though my stack is only slightly above average.

-There is a raise to 4,600. One player calls, and I call from the BB with J-J. Flop comes Q-10-9. I check. Raiser bets 9K Caller folds. I make it 25K. He thinks for a long time, and it is not an act, (i.e. it became clear to me that I was beat at that point), but finally he lays it down. Up to 156K. I’m pretty sure he had A-Q, with an outside chance of A-A. That might seem like a huge laydown, but if my raise is legitimate on a flop like that, there’s not many hands he can beat. Plus, he knows I’ll probably put him all-in on the turn if he calls the flop, so he has to decide if he’s willing to risk his tournament life with one pair. Clearly he wasn’t.

-After that hand, the kid to my right says, “How do you do it? How do you win all those chips without showing a single hand? You are ballin’, man!” That last line cracked me up, although he had a point. I had gone from 82K to 156K, and never had to show a single hand.

-End of Level Eleven: 156,900

Level Twelve: 1K-2K blinds, 300 ante

-SICK hand. One player limps, then another makes it 7K to go. I have Ac-Qc in the BB. I make it 18K to go. He pushes all-in for 36K total, I call, he has A-A. But flop comes K-J-10! Turn 3, river the case ace. SICK. Up to 192K. I was genuinely torn about what to do preflop. My first instinct was to fold, and I truly have no idea why I ignored that instinct. I thought his raise to 7K, after a player had limped for 2K, was inviting action. But then I decided that I had been getting way too much respect, so I should try to use that. But I don’t know what I was thinking. I put him on a big hand, and if that was the case, then all the respect in the world wouldn’t make him fold. If I had flat-called, then the hand would have worked out the same way, but calling was honestly not on my mind. I was prepared to fold, and then I was like, “Fuck that. No one has called my raises yet, so I’m raising.” This was obviously my luckiest hand of the tournament. It would not have broken me to lose it, but I would have been down below 120K, instead of up to 192K.

-There is a raise to 6K I call with 7-7. Flop A-3-5. He checks, I bet 12K, he mucks. Up to 206K.

-Folded to SB, he limps. I raise 5K from BB with 9-2, he calls. Flop J-J-7. He checks, I bet 8K, he makes it 21K, I muck. Turns out he was slowplaying K-K. Whoops. Down to 189K. This was a very unnecessary play, but given my table image of aggressive and lucky, I saw no reason to leave any pot uncontested. Once he called, my initial thought was, “OK, I’m done.” Then of course the flop came and I told myself I had to take one shot at it, and of course that was a waste of 8K. I knew it even as I was making the bet. J Sometimes you just have that feeling.

-One limper, SB limps, I check 9h-8h in BB. Flop 9-4-3. Checked to limper, he bets 6K, I call. Queen on turn, we check. Ten on river, we check again, he has A-9. Down to 178K.

-I go an hour without playing a hand, and just as the level is almost over I get moved to a new table. New and much shittier. Instead of being one of the two chip leaders, I am now one of the three shortest stacks. I am hardly a short stack, but everyone has at least 120K in chips, with several players over 300K. I am in Seat Two, and I have Brandon Cantu to deal with in Seat Eight. Without question, this table change sucked.

-End of Level Twelve: 171,400

Level Thirteen: 1,200-2,400 blinds, 300 ante

-I make it 7,500 with J-J. I get re-raised to 23K and I let it go. Down to 157K.

-I make it 7K with 7-7, SB calls. Flop 10-5-2. He leads out for 12K and I muck. Down to 145K. Last two hands are examples of how the money pressure might have been getting to me a little. We were getting close to being in the money, and I was not in the mood to take chances. Normally I would raise the flop 3 out of 4 times in this situation. But here, I really didn’t want to take unnecessary chances.

-They just moved Hassan Habib to Seat Four with about 250K, as if this table wasn’t hard enough.

-Those were literally the only two hands I played. I could not even steal the blinds.

-End of Level Thirteen: 126,000

Level Fourteen: 1,500-3,000 blinds, 400 ante

-At the start of this level, my mindset was that we would probably be in the money by the end of the level, so I could just pay my blinds and make the money, but I would also be leaving myself too short stacked to do much more than that. So far my image at this table was tight but weak, so that was not in my favor. Plus Brandon was literally playing over 50% of his hands, so there was no room to breathe. I pretty much decided that I would be at the mercy of my cards for the next two hours. If I picked up a premium hand, (A-A, K-K, Q-Q, or A-K) I would take my chances with it to some extent. Anything less and I was probably folding, other than possibly taking one shot at the blinds.

-WOW. A-A for 9th time. One player limps. Brandon makes it 13K. I make it 60K. The limper goes all-in! Brandon mucks, I call, he has K-K, and the aces hold. Up to 256K. This demonstrates, of course, the total luck factor of a tournament like this. If we reverse the hands and give me the K-K, I’m the one that’s out just short of the money. Instead I end up lasting another day and a half, and the player with K-K ends up getting eliminated a few hands later, about 20 spots short of $21,000 in real money. I like his limp preflop. He was counting on Brandon to raise on his left, and that was a pretty safe bet. I just happened to wake up with the nuts.

-I make it 9K with K-J. The BB calls and then leads out for 12K on an 8-5-2 flop. I muck. Down to 248K.

-Soon afterwards we are playing hand for hand, which goes on for about an hour. Brandon raises literally every pot during that time. I do the opposite and fold every hand like a wuss. Still, we made the money by the end of the level, so we were able to get back to normal.

-End of Level Fourteen: 234,500

Level Fifteen: 2K-4K blinds, 500 ante

-I make it 12K on button with 2-2. SB goes all-in for 36K. I’m going to call, except Habib comes over the top from the BB, and I muck. Habib has Q-Q, SB has A-5 but flops an ace to survive. Turns out I saved money, but still down to 212K.

-I pick up A-A for the 10th time, but no action this time. I can’t complain.

-I make it 12K with A-Q, get reraised to 36K and muck. Down to 202K.

-Cantu makes it 13K in Seat Eight. Seat Nine calls, then Seat One goes all-in for 125K. I’m in Seat Two, in the SB with A-K offsuit. I decide to muck. Cantu calls with 4-4. The all-in player has A-10, and the flop comes with a king. Instead of being up to over 350K, I’m holding steady at around 180K. I don’t regret this laydown. I mean, I obviously regret it from the way it played out, but I was really surprised that Seat One had only A-10. He had been playing pretty tight, and I understood that people were going to play looser once we made the money, but that was looser than I expected. If I had called, Cantu just might have been wacky enough to overcall with his pocket fours (he certainly had the chips to overcall) in which case I would have been a slight dog, but would have flopped a king to end up with almost 500K. Still, I feel like that is playing results. I could just as easily have been up against K-K or A-A, or even a smaller pair, but with one or more of my cards being dead.

-I make it 14K UTG with Q-Q. I get called by a tightish player in middle position, and Cantu on the button. The flop comes K-8-3. I check. Middle position player bets 30K. Cantu folds. I check-raise all-in. He looks shocked. He then starts saying, “I think we have the same hand … I think we have the same hand.” Now I know he has A-K, and I’m basically ready to leave. But remarkably, he shows his hand and lays it down, saying I must have A-A. I could not believe it. Up to 235K. This was easily my worst play of the entire tournament. On the flop, my plan was to check-raise Cantu, because I was sure he would have reraised preflop with A-K and probably even K-Q, and I was equally sure he would bet the flop if we checked to him, regardless of his hand. I was not ready for the other player to come out betting. As I said, he was relatively tight, so for him to call preflop, and for him to bet such a non-drawing-hand flop, he absolutely had to have at least a big king, possibly even a set. All I can say is that I was fed up with having laid down A-K the previous round, and for laying down hands at this table for the past six hours. I had created the tightest image possible, and with only twenty minutes before the night ended and our table broke, I was desperate for an opportunity to take advantage of the tight image I had created by folding 95% of my hands. As soon as I made the all-in raise I regretted it, but I desperately tried to keep a confident face, and somehow my opponent laid down a hand he shouldn’t have laid down in a million years. His laydown eventually equated to an extra $20,000 in prize money for me.

-Last hand of the night, there is a raise to 17K, I call in SB with 10-10 and the BB calls. Flop A-8-5, we all check. Turn a five. I bet 25K. BB folds, raiser shows 9-9 and folds. Up to 268K.

-End of Level Fifteen, End of Day Three: 268,000

Day Four, Level Sixteen: 2,500-5,000 blinds, 500 ante

-Only name player at my table is Shawn Sheikhan in Seat Eight with over 700K. Chris Bjorin is in Seat Two, but with less than 40K. I’m in Seat Four, which is fine. It’s a nice mix of players, definitely not one of the tougher tables remaining.

-Sheiky make it 16K, another player makes it 50K, and I muck A-K in the BB. Sheiky mucked as well, so we’ll never know. I wasn’t going to take unnecessary chances until I knew my opponents a little better.

-VNH the reraiser from the previous hand makes it 16K. I make it 51K from the SB with A-K, he calls. Flop 10-5-3, I move all-in and he mucks. Up to 330K. So much for not taking chances. Basically, I wasn’t going to give him credit for two big hands in a row. This was a case of Peter Costa in my head, asking, “Do you need the chips?” And I simply needed the chips, thus the all-in. This hand added over 20% to my stack.

-SB limps, I check 10-2 in BB. Flop K-10-10. He calls 6K on flop and 12K on turn but folds to 30K bet on river Up to 340K. In retrospect he was the weakest player at the table. I have no idea what he had, but it could have been as weak as a gutshot straight draw.

-There is a raise to 16K. I make it 51K with Ah-Kh. He reraises another 100K. I consider for a while, but muck. Down to 280K. Maybe I should have taken a stand with one of these A-K hands, but I felt I had enough chips that I didn’t need to risk my tournament life on A-K. Plus, this player’s raise really reeked of strength, much more so than the first A-K I laid down.

-VNH I make it 15K with Kc-Qc, BB calls. Flop Ax-9c-6c. I bet 18K, he folds. Up to 310K.

-Pocket aces for 11th time. Someone raises to 20K, I make it 50K and he mucks. Up to 330K.

-I make it 16K with 9-9, both blinds call. Flop As-6s-5x, we all check. Qx on turn. Shieky bets 40K, I call, other player mucks. River 4s. We check, and he has A-K. Down to 260K. I thought there was enough of a chance that he was trying to buy the pot, hence my call on the turn. On the other hand, I knew that a big ace was a definite possibility as well.

-2 limpers, I limp in SB with K-9. Flop 8s-7s-5h, we all check. Turn 7h. I bet 22K, one caller. River Kh. We both check, and I’m pretty sure I rivered him, but then he shows A-7! Whoops. Down to 220K. This was the French player in Seat Two that was clearly the tightest player at the table. He plays a pivotal role in a later hand.

-There is a raise to 16K, I call on button with A-Q. Flop A-K-Q with two clubs. He checks, I bet 25K, he calls. Turn 8x, we both check. River 9x. He bets 40K, I call, and he mucks instantly. Nice. Up to 315K. He later said he had a club draw, but I’m not sure he even had that much.

-I make it 15K on button with Ad-10d, SB calls. Flop 2-3-6. I bet 22K, he folds. Up to 340K.

-End of Level Sixteen: 326,000

Level Seventeen: 3K-6K blinds, 1K ante

-UTG raises to 16K, I call on button with Jc-10c, BB calls. Flop Q-8-6 all hearts. We all check. Turn 7h. They check to me, I bet 25K, they both call. Whoops. River a blank, and we check around. UTG had As-Kh, but SB had 10h-9h for a straight flush! Big whoops. Down to 290K. He played his hand so slow he was almost moving backwards.

-There is a raise to 20K and two callers. I call in BB with 4-4, but the flop comes 9-8-8 and I fold to a 40K bet. Down to 250K.

-I make it 18K from cutoff with J-4, BB calls. Flop J-8-8, we both check. Turn a queen. He bets 27K, I call. River a jack! He checks, I bet 60K, and he folds. Up to 305K. As soon as I bet, I realized I had bet too much. If he had anything with which to call, it was either a weak queen or ace high or something like that. I should have sucked him in with something smaller, possibly even induced a check-raise bluff.

-I make it 18K with A-7, one caller. Flop A-J-8. I check-call 35K. We check 10 on turn and 9 on river, and my straight is good. I highly doubt that I needed it. Up to 400K.

-There is a raise to 25K. I call in BB with Ac-Qc. Flop comes A-A-10. I lead out for 20K. He thinks, says, “Excellent bet,” and folds. Damn, if he folded I guess it wasn’t so excellent. Anyway, up to 425K.

-Pocket aces for 12th(!) time. There is a raise to 25K, I make it 60K and he mucks. Up to 460K.

-I steal the blinds with A-K. Then VNH, I make it 21K with 9-9. There’s a raise to 61K and a reraise to 261K. Obviously I muck, and re-raiser shows A-A. Still at 460K.

-End of Level Seventeen: 468,000

As it turns out, this was my high mark for the tournament. At the time, we were down to about 350 players, and I was a good 100K-150K above average. I really felt good, and thought that if I stayed at the same table for the rest of the day, one million in chips would be an achievable goal. Of course, it didn’t take long to bring me back down to earth.

-Level Eighteen: 4K-8K blinds, 1K ante

-UTG limps and I limp with 10-10, then there is a raise to 42K. I call, but then the flop comes K-Q-8 and I muck to a 65K bet. Down to 370K.

-Sheiky makes it 22K, I call from BB with J-J. Flop comes A-Q-2. I lead out for 20K and he mucks. Up to 405K.

-The sick hand of the tournament. UTG raises to 20K. Three players call. I make it 140K from the SB with Q-Q. Blinds fold, then the UTG player almost immediately goes all-in. The next two players fold. Frenchman in Seat Two reluctantly calls with a relatively short stack. I just can’t imagine my hand being any good. As soon as I muck, UTG says to Frenchman, “I think you have me beat,” and produces K-Q. Frenchman has A-K, and the final board comes nine-high. Frenchman doubles up, and I’m down to 240K. This hand was totally fucked, but at least it was fucked enough for me to produce a Card Player article out of it. J My raise was an attempt to signify that I was pot-committed, but deep down I knew that I could get away from the hand if I had to. 240K was still enough to work with. I was really convinced the UTG player had aces, but still, he had to figure that there was a decent chance I would call, just because so many of my chips were already in the pot. Although I shouldn’t do it, what bothers me the most is when I play the “what if?” game. If he had folded like he was supposed to, I’m going to get the A-K player all-in, and when the board comes nine-high, I’m going to be up over 750K. That would have been HUGE. Instead, I had to nurse a below-average stack for the remainder of my time in the tournament.

-There is a raise to 25K. I go all-in with A-Q and he mucks. Up to 280K. At this point I can’t fuck around anymore.

-I make it 24K with A-Q, BB calls. Flop K-10-3. He checks, I bet 35K and he mucks. Up to 290K.

-VNH SB makes it 22K, I call in BB with Qc-10c. Flop K-9-3, we check. Turn a five. He checks, I bet 30K and he mucks. Up to 320K.

-VNH UTG makes it 20K, I call in SB with 9-9. Flop K-7-6. I bet out 20K, he makes it 60K and I muck. Back down to 280K. That 20K lead bet had been causing opponents to fold, or at least hesitate, so I figured I’d keep doing it until someone took a stand. Here was that stand.

-End of Level Eighteen: 268,000

Level Nineteen: 5K-10K blinds, 1K ante

-I make it 32K with A-K. Sheiky calls, then someone reraises to 110K. I go all-in, Sheiky folds A-K, other guy calls with A-K! We split. Up to 280K.

-There is a raise to 35K. SB calls, and I call in BB with 4-4. Flop J-4-3 all hearts. I bet 100K, they fold. Up to 330K.

-We are ending Day Four at 11 PM, with 189 players remaining and 40 minutes left in Level Nineteen. I have 308K.

Start of Day Five

-I’m at a new table. There’s not a single name player, but everyone except for one player has more chips than me. Que lastima.

-I didn’t play a single hand for the remainder of the level, so…

-End of Level Nineteen: 263,000

Level Twenty: 6K-12K blinds, 2K ante

-Nothing even close to a playable hand for the first hour. Blinded down to 190K.

-After an hour and a half, the cutoff makes it 35K, and I go all-in from the button with 3-3. He folds A-8. “Up” to 190K.

-I make it 38K with J-10. I get reraised all-in, and I muck. Down to 140K.

-I go all-in on button with A-5. BB calls with A-Q, but flop comes 6-5-4. Nice! Turn and river blanks. Up to 260K. Obviously I got lucky this hand, but I was also unlucky to have gone almost three hours without anything remotely playable. There’s never a good time to go card dead at the WSOP, and Day Five is definitely no exception.

-End of Level Twenty: 260,000

Level Twenty-One: 8K-16K blinds, 2K ante

-Only got to play one hand. The button raises to 35K. I go all-in from BB with 10-10. He thinks for a long while, then calls with K-J. Flop comes A-J-9. Turn is a queen, giving me some faint hope, but the river is a four. I’m eliminated in 144th place. Losing to this player was really painful. In an earlier hand, he put in a fourth raise preflop with J-J against a player who clearly had him beat. The other guy beat him into the pot with A-A, then the guy flops quad jacks. In this hand, he should have had an easy laydown with his K-J, When he thought as long as he did, I really hoped I had him dominated. I thought he might have a smaller pocket pair, or a hand like A-9. When he called, I was sure I was happy with the call, but I really thought I’d be happier. Instead it was a coin flip and I lost. Oh well.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. And if you had a piece of my action, you’re welcome. J

Thursday, August 28, 2008

They Say Poker is All Luck...

About 25% of the time I tell people I'm a professional poker player they do all but tell me I'm a liar. They know that you can't win at gambling. If it involves cards it must be all luck.

So I won the nightly $109 HORSE tournament AGAIN! Another $2,000 in the Huff coffers baby! This makes 8 attempts at $109 HORSE tournaments with between 55 and 72 players. I have 3 1sts and a 6th in those 8 attempts.

This was another final table where it wasn't even close. I simply kicked everyone's ass. I came to the final table in 3rd place when we were in the Stud round. There were two short stacks who went down the tubes quickly. During the Stud Hi-Lo I got great cards and found myself in first place playing 4 handed as we switched to Hold'em. I used my expertise in short handed limit hold 'em to take out two of my remaining opponents and dropped the last villain 5 hands into the Omaha.

This was another great victory and it's getting harder and harder to stop working early and skip that 6:45 HORSE tournament!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ten Tournaments

Today I played 10 tournaments with buy ins totaling $2,010. Here's what I played and where I finished (money finishes are in bold):

$109 Pot Limit Hold em 6 handed 47 of 54
$55 NL hold 'em 1671 of 1971
$55 NL hold 'em with 1 rebuy and 1 add on 319 of 459
$215 Sunday Million 708 of 7557
$530 Sunday $500K Guarantee NL hold 'em 341 of 993
109 NL hold 'em 771 of 1062
$109 with rebuys 375 of 477
$215 HORSE 104 of 240
$33 NL hold 'em 6 handed with rebuys 19 of 252
$215 Sunday Second chance NL Hold 'em 40 of 1338

Today is a great example of why it would be super tough to play multitables for a living. I had three money finishes in ten tournaments and I still lost $837!!! You really have to make a final table to make any money.

I was close to something sweet in the $215 Sunday Second Chance which was the last tournament I went broke in. There was a guy at my table raising 75% of hands. So with blinds of 2,000/4,000 I decided to see a flop in the big blind with K2 of diamonds after he made it 10,000 to go. I had about 70,000 total and I only had to risk 6,000 when the pot (including the antes) had close to 20,000 in it already. Furthermore I was 100% sure that my opponent would bet the flop no matter what came down so if I hit big I knew there would be a very juicy pot. When the flop showed up Q 8 5 with two diamonds I decided to check raise semi bluff all in.

Of course my opponent bet after I checked. He fired out 20,000 and I moved all in for my remaining 60,000. I was hoping he would fold, but he instantly called me with K8, I missed the diamonds and I was out. Winning that pot would have put me somewhere around 10th place with 39 players left. 18th paid $1,650, 12th was $2,850, 7th was $9,750, and 1st was $54,480.

When I get close like this I always tell myself to keep giving myself chances and I'll close out one of these big ones sometime soon. With two finishes in the top 10% and one in the top 3% in only 10 tournaments I have to feel pretty good about my performance even if I didn't win any money. I really feel like I'm playing great poker lately and I'm hoping I can catch the few breaks I need to do something special in the WCOOP which starts a week from Friday!

More Comment Responses

Here are two comments I got on my last post:

Congrats on your recent cashings, I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now, I find your opinions both intresting and imformative, What name do you play under ???, would like to quietly rail you sometime..!, Keep up the good work matey, onwards and upwards and gl with the Fpp's.
Dave from London.

It's always great to hear that people I don't even know are following my progress and rooting for me! My username on pokerstars is acesedai. Hopefully I'll be at a final table when you watch!

Here's the second comment:

Thanks for the response (the complexity of the HORSE issue is turning out to be fascinating). In any case, I've never heard you say anything like this when it comes to poker: "..I suspect I'd get my ass handed to me against top notch players in Omaha for example."

And so I have another question! Is it worth sharpening up your Omaha game, or trying to tune up your HORSE game, because there are HORSE games that are out there for such insane amounts of money? If not, why not? Jenn

Let me start by saying that I may have exaggerated when I said I'd get my ass handed to me against top notch Omaha players. I know enough and am good enough that I wouldn't get totally blasted. The problem is I've probably only played 25,000 hands of Omaha in my entire life. Whereas I've played over 2,000,000 hands of hold'em. In poker experience is a huge deal and I simply haven't had enough to compete with players who know all the ins and outs.

Actually this is all supposition since I've never played Omaha for big money. Maybe I'd find that I'm better than I think!

As far as trying to improve so I can play the super duper big HORSE games I have to say they are so far out of my comfort zone in terms of the amount of money that I couldn't see playing them even if I knew I was the best player. In the $200/$400 game just calling a hand to the end in one of the stud based games with no raising will cost you $1,600. With heavy raising you could easily put $4,000 in on one pot. I'm a few years away from being emotionally ready to handle those kind of swings.

If I want to play for more money I can play $50/$100 hold'em or bigger tournaments or whatever. There are tons of ways I can get more dollars into play if I want to. One of the things that has made me a successful pro is I've moved up the limits very gradually. As my skills have improved I've played for bigger stakes, but I haven't taken too many huge risks.

With that said I'm going to play a dozen multitable tournaments with buy ins totaling about $2,500 today! Hopefully I can take at least one deep.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A HORSE Comment Response

After my last post about my most recent ass kicking playing HORSE my sister posted the following comment:

Not to ask you to toot your own horn, but do you think your strength at HORSE is due to the fact that not many people are good at all the different types of games and able to switch back and forth between them? If so, could you make a name for yourself as Dave Huff, HORSE Champion? (That sounds like a taunt when I say it that way, and considering the source.....But it's actually a serious question.)

I certainly think it's a big advantage that I'm good at all of the games. Back in the days when I was a prop player at the Oaks Club I had to play Omaha and 7 card stud on a daily basis and got pretty good at both. Razz seems to come very natually to me and while stud Hi-Lo is my worst of the 5 games I have read a book about it which I'm sure is more than many of my opponents can say.

It's been obvious to me in these past few tournaments that when we switch games some of the players go from formidale opponents to having no clue. Most players seem to be comfortable with either the flop games (the H and the O) or the stud based games (the R, S, and E). It's actually tough to gain expereince in the stud based games these days since there are very few cash games for any kind of significant money and almost no tournaments.

I think this is mostly because in the stud based games you have to remember a bunch of cards that have come and gone and it's hard to do that playing many games at a time. As a result anyone who wants to play more than 2 or 3 games at once is naturally going to gravitate to flop games.

Another thing that I think has led to some of my success is HORSE tournaments are limit. This means that no one hand is going to do you in early on and it's more a sum of many small decisions rather than a few big ones that create my advantage.

Yet another thing that allowed me to win outright is my vast final table experience. I've played at hundreds of final tables. One more where 1st place is $2,000 isn't anything to take me off my game or make me nervous. On the other hand moving up a spot or two might be a big deal to my opponents (as it is for me when first place is $50,000 or $500,000).

As far as making a name for myself goes there are two problems. First and foremost there really aren't that many HORSE tournaments out there. To give you an idea, at this years WCOOP there are 17 hold'em events and 2 HORSE events (and one of those has a $10,000 buy in!!!) As another example, in the next hour on Pokerstars there are 18 tournaments starting: 15 are hold'em, two are Omaha and one is 7 card stud. By contrast there are only 4 HORSE tournaments in the next 13 hours and the biggest one has a $20 buy in.

The second problem is when you start playing for big bucks everyone knows how to play all the games at the highest level. While I feel like I can play Hold'em against the best players in the world and at least hold my own, I suspect I'd get my ass handed to me against top notch players in Omaha for example.

Behind the WSOP main event and maybe the $25,000 WPT championship the next most important tournament in the world is the $50,000 HORSE tournament at the WSOP (an event that's only 3 years old). Also the biggest cash game in the world which is a $4,000/$8,000 game at the Bellagio is basically HORSE with one or two other games mixed in.

You'll notice that the main point here is when you can find HORSE it's usually for very little money or insane amounts of money. On pokerstars there's typically a $5/$10game going and a $200/$400 game going. I could beat the shit our of the $5/$10 game and win enough for a nice dinner or lose enough money to buy a nice car in the $200/$400 game.

Since my last post I've played the $109 HORSE tournament on pokerstars twice: once finishing 6th out of 62 which paid close to $500 and then finishing dead last in a field of 64! Ha! That's poker!

I'm going to keep my eye out for HORSE opportunities and I'm certainly stoaked about the $215 HORSE event in the WCOOP. I think I have about 8 WCOOP cashes and my deepest finish came in the $215 HORSE in 2006 if I remember correctly.

Thanks for the comment!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Winning Leads to More Winning!

I played a ton of poker today. I managed 3,000 hands of 6 handed limit hold'em and played a dozen multitable tournaments. I won about $1,000 in the cash games, but I dropped $400 on one $55 with rebuys tournament and had a bunch of other duds in the morning. But I started 6 tournaments between 5 and 7 pm and had two cashes. The first cash wasn't super significant coming just into the money in a $109 NL tournament.

The second cash was much more interesting and came in a $109 HORSE tournament. We started with 56 players and since it only paid 6 spots the top 6 places looked very similar to those in the HORSE tournament I won the other day. More importantly the results were similar...I won again!

This time there wasn't nearly as much drama. I was in the middle of the pack when we made the final table playing Stud Hi-Lo, but once we switched to hold em I picked up a ton of chips with relentless raising. This tournament only had 12 minute limits so we switched games much more quickly. Two players went down in the hold 'em followed by three more in the Omaha. By the time we went to Razz, I had twice as many chips as my two remaining opponents combined. 10 quick hands later it was over.

First place paid $2,060! Apparently I kick ass at HORSE! This $109 tournament goes off every day at 6:45 and I may have to start planning my schedule to play it more frequently!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two Solid Finishes

I came back from vacation on August 12th ready to get back into my normal poker routine. I played a little on vacation, but it wasn't the type of play that generates many points. In fact I spent most of my time playing multitables, and oddly enough limit Omaha cash games and Razz (7-card stud where the worst hand wins) cash games. After a while I was feeling so good about my Razz play that I played about 250 hands of $30/$60 and won about $1,000!

Many people would say that Razz is one of the most boring games in the poker world, but I enjoy it. The thing I like about it most is there are so many situations that come up where you can be 100% sure that you have the best hand. For example after 3 cards if you have 3 cards 7 and below and someone is showing an up card 8 or higher you're ahead. On the next card even if they catch a 2 if you hit another good card you know for sure you're still ahead.

One thing people hate is when they start off with 3 or 4 great low cards and then catch a bunch of face cards. While this can be frustrating when it happens to me, I love it when it happens to my opponents. Sometimes weak players get so frustrated that they continue in a hand where they are totally dead just because they had a good hand on third street.

So with all that in mind, on Friday night I decided to play a $320 Razz tournament on Full tilt. They are in the midst of running a series of big tournaments much like the WCOOP (only much less significant and prestigious) which is the only reason they were able to run a $320 Razz tournament and get more than 3 people to sign up (normally $20is about the biggest Razz tournaments get and even then there's usually a very small field).

I'd already played a full day and the start time for the tournament was 6 pm. But since this type of tournament only comes along once every few months I decided to sit on the couch with my laptop, have a glass of wine, watch some Olympics and give it a go. I also jumped into "The Nightly Hundred Grand" on pokerstars which is a $162 tournament with a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool. Even though it had been a long day, I couldn't bring myself to play just one game at a time.

So after all that Razz talk I have to tell you that the Razz tournament was a total bust! I went broke about half way through that one, but I made the final table in the $162 tournament!

We started that tournament with about 750 players and I struggled for the first few hours. I was never in major trouble, but I never had a comfortable stack either. The tournament paid 90 spots and when we made the money I had about half of average. From that point on I played great in the small pots and poorly in the big ones. But sometimes you get lucky.

I got all my chips in when I was totally dominated at least 4 times that I can remember. The first one was just after we made the money. A player from middle position made a standard raise and I moved all in from the button with AT suited. I got called by AK and figured I was done. But I flopped a ten and doubled up.

When we were down to about 45 players I managed to get about 2/3 of my chips in with AJ vs KK. I flopped a J and turned another one giving my stack a nice boost.

A little later I once again had ATs against AK. The flop came AT2 and I doubled up again.

After all this great luck I was in good shape as we made the final table. 9th place paid about $1,500 so I was already looking at a nice score, but of course I had my eye on the $20,000 first place prize.

Unusually, everyone at the final table was very even in chips. In fact the chip leader only had twice as many chips as the player in 9th place! Normally when you make the final table there are a few short stacks and everyone plays pretty conservatively until they go broke since every spot you move up is big bucks. In this case 8th place paid $2,400 and I was happy to see the first person go broke after a very long half hour of final table play.

The player who finished in 8th place went broke and soon after I had my 4th miracle of the day. I was running a little short on chips and I moved all in with 44. I got called by QQ and figured I was done in 7th. The flop came 6 6 5 the turn was a 7 and the river was an 8 making me a straight! I was back baby!

That poor fellow soon went broke in 7th and took home $3,500 for his efforts. By this time is was well after midnight, and despite the fact that I'd started playing that day about 9 in the morning I was feeling surprisingly fresh.

We lost the 6th place finisher who got paid $4,600 and then we spent a long time playing 5 handed. We were all still pretty even and based on what I'd seen I liked my chances against my opposition. At that point two players got all their chips in: one with TT and the other with 33. The tens held up and I was happy to see the player with 33 get knocked down to about 45,000 chips. The blinds were 5,000/10,000 the rest of us all had more than 300,000 and I figured he'd be done in a hurry. Sadly I was wrong.

First he moved in with A5 and I called him out of the big blind with QT. He flopped an ace and was up to around 100,000 while I was down from about 350,000 to 300,000. A few hands later he moved all in with 99 and I called him with AQ. After no help for me we both had around 200,000. A few rounds later he moved all in from the button and I found myself with 66 in the big blind.

While his other all ins had been pretty standard moves, now that he had more chips moving all in was really excessive. I knew if he had a big hand he'd never put in all of his chips that way. If either of his cards was a 2,3,4,5, or 6 (18 of the 50 cards left in the deck) I be about 70% to win.

After some thought I decided to call and he turned over K5s which was just the kind of hand I hoped he'd have. Sadly the flop came with a K and I was done. The good news is I got paid $5,700 for 5th place!!! YAY!

One of the best things about winning is it usually leads to more winning. On Saturday I sat down feeling like even if I had a terrible day and lost a few thousand it would be ok. As a result I was feeling very relaxed and confident.

When I logged on to pokerstars about 9:30 in the morning I saw that a special tournament was going off at 10. They were running a $109 HORSE multitable as a test run for the structure they're going to use in the $10,000 HORSE event at this years WCOOP. This meant a looooooong tournament since we started with 25,000 chips and 30 minute levels. But since I was just starting play I figured I'd have the energy to play it all day if I had to.

For those of you who don't know HORSE is a combination of 5 forms of poker: (H)old 'em, (O)maha, (R)azz, 7 card (S)tud and Stud (E)ight or better (stud Hi-Lo split). We played each game in that order for 30 minutes and every time we switched to a new game the stakes increased slightly.

The thing I like about HORSE is I feel like I'm really good at all 5 games. Also having 5 different forms of poker adds significantly to the complexity of a tournament and any time you can make it more complicated it favors the stronger player. Stud Hi-Lo is probably my weakest of the 5 games, but I feel like there are very few experts in that game and even though it's my worst game I'm still way better than most of my opponents.

We started with 72 players and after about 7 hours I found myself in 3rd place as we started play at the 8 handed final table. Since this was a much smaller tournament that the one I described above the payouts weren't as exciting, but they were still significant. 8th place paid $360 and this time we did have a few short stacks who quickly went broke.

We started the final table playing Omaha and I struggled a little, but once we got the the Razz I started kicking major ass. By the time the half hour of Razz was over we were down to 5 and I was in first. During the half hour of 7 card stud I built my lead. At the end of that half hour while we were still playing 5 handed, but I had as many chips as all of my opponents combined!

In the Stud Hi-Lo I dropped the hammer and busted three of my 4 opponents leaving one player left. I had about 1.5 million chips and he had 200,000. 2nd place paid $1,440 and 1st was $2,160 so we were playing heads up for a little over $700.

I figured since we were going back to hold'em soon I'd make quick work of my last opponent and call it a day. But I was in for much more of a battle. We were playing FAST. I'm talking 5 or 6 hands a minute fast. And we played about 10 minutes of Stud Hi-Lo, the whole way through the half hour of hold 'em and into the Omaha before we were done. This was a TON of hands.

As soon as we started the hold-em my opponent started picking up a ton of great hands. He got AA at least 3 times and kept making 2 pair with garbage hands. Soon we were even and at one point he took the lead with about 1,000,000 chips to my 700,000 chips. That was only for a moment and I took the lead right back. It seemed like I'd get him down to 400,000 and then he'd always climb back up.

We stated the Omaha about even, but he clearly had no clue how to play heads up Omaha and I blew him out of the water in no time. I knew I was having a good run, but wasn't really looking at our stacks. Then all of a sudden I won a HUGE pot and saw he was down to 40,000. The next hand it was over.

I know I won much more money in the hold'em tournament, but there's something very special about finishing in 1st. Also I love doing well in HORSE tournaments. It makes me feel like a very well rounded player. It's certainly been a sweet two days!

Also my sister in law and avid blog reader Kristen was here and took 5% of my action in the HORSE. It was nice to be able to shoot her a $100 bill and share some profits for once!

Monday, August 04, 2008

More Battle of the Planets!

As of my last post I'd played 63 tournaments of a 100 tournament block in the $50-$99 division of the battle of the planets. On Friday, the day I left town for vacation, I woke up and played the remaining 37 tournaments I needed to complete my block. And I kicked some MAJOR ass.

Over the course of the 100 tournaments I finished in 1st 25 times! Every time I found myself in the money it seemed like I won. I ended up with 1566 points which was good for second place in the High Orbit leader board and a prize of $700! I also finished in 13th on the low orbit leader board (which is for blocks of 20) which was good for $80.

Of course I did make about $2,500 in the actual play of the 100 tournaments so that bonus money wasn't super significant, but it felt really sweet to have a high place finish.

My WSOP 2023 Plans and Missions

After four and a half years working for StubHub I wrapped up my time there in March. I've been at the poker tables 3-4 days a week since...