Friday, May 22, 2009

$2,085 CSPC Final Table Recap

The bad news is I didn't make a staggering comeback to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The good news is I moved up one spot and finished 4th which paid $8,800. I lasted about an hour and went broke the hand after the 5th place finisher. When I finished the tournament I felt like I was 95% sure I'd play the $5,100 main event. An hour later I was 50/50. Now I'm 100% not going to play it.

I've been playing well, but feel like it will be better to go home with a few grand for my efforts and good momentum going into the WSOP.

It will be back to the grind for two weeks and then off to Vegas!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

CSPC $2,085 NLH Recap

This was a tough tournament. Only 46 players started, even the worst players were OK, and they only paid 5 spots (if 50 players had entered they would have paid 9).

I got off to the best possible start. On the second hand of the tournament I got dealt KK vs QQ and got it all in on the turn. We'd started with 7,500 chips and I was up to 15,000 before my seat got warm. I won a few more hands and was up to 23,000 in the first half hour!

Then things were steadily boring. I dropped to 17,000 or so at the end of the first hour and stayed there for a long time. After 2 hours I had 17,000. After 4 hours I had 18,000. After 6 hours I had 15,000.

Around 7 hours in some major good shit happened. The blinds were 300/600 with a 50 chip ante and I was starting to struggle. I had something like 12,000 and we were down to 12 or 13 players. I got dealt K9 in the big blind and the big stack (who was a great player) raised to 1,500 from the button. I decided to call at take a flop which came down T 9 6. Not exactly the nuts, but I did have 2nd pair. I checked, my opponent bet 2,500 and I went all in. He instantly called me with AT. But, I nailed a 9 on the turn and doubled up.

A round or two later I was on the button with 75. It was garbage, but the blinds were playing so tight preflop that I thought I had a good chance to steal the blinds and antes. I raised to 1,800 and the big blind reraised to 3,200. I still had garbage, but his reraise was so small I had to call and I thought I could out play him after the flop. The flop came down J 6 4 and my opponent bet 5,000. After about 10 seconds I moved all in. I had a straight draw and more importantly I had 23,000 chips which I thought was enough to win the hand right there. After 2 long minutes my opponent called with QJ. But the turn was an 8 giving me the nuts and a huge pot!

One the very next hand I got dealt 66 and again raised to 1,800. Both blinds called and the flop came down AK6! BINGO! To my total shock and delight the small blind moved all in unprovoked for over 25,000 with AJ! I called in a millisecond and was up to 80,000. A few hand later we were down to 9 players.

I was in first by a hair and it was 12:45 am (we started a 5 p.m.). Then I ran SOOOOOOOOOO bad. Everyone was making smaller than normal raises and since I was so deep stacked I was inclined to take a lot of flops with sort of marginal hands. I dropped 20K pretty quick. Then I lost another 20K with top pair vs AA.

It took until about 2 am to lose two players, another hour to lose one more and another TWO HOURS to lose the 6th place player. During this time I played almost no hands. I got total garbage, the big stacks were very good players, and even though I felt short I still had enough chips to wait it out. During the last hour I was really starting to sweat making the money, but in the end after the shorter stack had survived an all in 3 times, we finally lost one.

We go back today at 4:30 playing 5 handed. The blinds will be 600/1,200 with a 200 chip ante for a few more minutes and I have 18,100 chips. I'm in last, but the other players have 25K, 42K, 49K and 210K. Clearly that one guy is running away with it, but if I can double through one of the others I've got a chance.

5th pays $4,500, 4th pays $8,500, 3rd pays $13,500, 2nd pays $22,000 and 1st is just over $40,000. I'll let you know what happens.

If I go broke before 7 pm I'll be playing a $540 satellite to the $5,100 main event.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Change of Plans

Well, I went broke in about an hour in the $335 (top set vs a flush did me in). I feel pretty good right now so I've decided to go back to plan A and play in the $2,085 tournament at 5. Wish me luck!

Call the Sheriff! Somebody Stole My HORSE!

We started the $1,065 HORSE tournament at the CSPC with a field of 60 players. Most of them were very tough and included a few multilple WSOP bracelet winners. On the other end there was a guy at my table who kept asking how much he could bet and wasn't really sure how all the games worked! That's L.A. for you!

I started off good and kept it going taking my starting stack of 5,000 up to 12,500 by the time we had lost 20 players, which took about 5 hours. But after six hours we were down to just over 30 players and I was down to 3,700 chips as we took our third 15 minute break (there was one every two hours).

Then I went on a run. I went from 3,700 to 33,000 in the next two hours of play. I was feeling great. Around this time I was almost sure I'd make the top 8 spots and the money. By the time we made it down to 15 players, average was 20,000 I had 40,000 and was in first place. We were playing 800/1,600 stakes at the time and I was hoping I could press my advantage.

Then I went stone cold dead. I couldn't win a damn thing! I started with the best hand quite a few times, but the only pots I won from there on out were either just the blinds or just the antes. To make it worse there was plenty of action which made every brick more expensive.

In the end I finished 13th. The money in this tournament wasn't insane. First was $20,000, 8th was only $1,200 and I'd sold off a fair chunk of my action. But missing out on the final table after being in such good shape was a major disapointment. I'm not sure it it was because it was 5 in the morning when I went broke or what, but it hurt pretty bad.

I feel better today, but I still feel a little tired even though I slept until almost 1. So I'm 90% sure I'm going to skip the $2,000 NLH that starts at 5 and instead play a $335 NLH with a $200,000 guaranteed prize pool that starts at 2.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Final Table Dud

When I saw the chip counts for the 10 handed final table of my $335 NLH event at the CSPC I confirmed that I was in second place. In fact with 95,700 I was only 4,000 off of first, but I was only 55,000 ahead of 10th - the chip stacks were very tight.

This was an incredibly boring final table. It took close to 3 hours for us to lose one player and that player was almost me! In the same amount of time the $335 Stud tournament from the day before that restarted at the same time we did played from 16 players to conclusion (the made a deal when they were down to 4).

I dribbled away my stack for the first two hours, getting no cards, finding no good spots to make a move, and finding myself with about 60,000 chips. Then I picked up QQ and got it all in vs KK who had 50,000.

After that hand I was down to 10,000 when I found a real miracle. The blinds were 2,000/4,000 with a 500 chip ante and I looked down at KJ. I moved all in sure that at least the big blind would call me. Instead I got called by the big blind and the small blind. The flop came down A 6 4 and the small blind moved all in! YUCK! I was sure I was against an ace.

In fact I was against A4. I needed either running KK, JJ or QT to win the hand. As the turn was coming out I said "Put a queen up there." BANG, a queen comes. "Put a Ten up there" I called out. BANG, a ten. I was up to 35,000 and while still in last, I was back in it.

I never made a full recovery, but we lost three players while I was hanging on for dear life. I finished 7th which paid $2,227 (at least I beat lollipop who finished 8th!). Not what I was hoping for at the start of yesterday's action, but still a great result for the tournament as a whole.

The winner got a trophy that was basically just a big ass grizzly bear. It wasn't huge, but it was pretty big and I swear it was made of solid iron and weighed at least 40 pounds. With all the tournaments I've won, I don't have any trophies, bracelets, rings, ribbons, plaques or anything. I want one of those bears!

Today it's HORSE time! Maybe if I win I'll get myself a similarly sized horse and have it riding the bear trophy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Great Story and CSPC $335 NLH Recap

I had a great day yesterday in the $335 hold'em tournament at the CSPC. We started with 230 players each with 3,000 chips and I seemed to get good but not great cards all day. It made for interesting, fun play and I didn't often find myself sitting there doing nothing for long stretches.

I'll fast forward through the early stages to the point where I had about 25,000 chips and we were down to 35 players (27 spots paid). I had the best seat at my table, just to the left of the two best players who were both very aggressive Vietnamese fellows. I'll call one gap tooth and one lollipop since one had a massive gap between his front two teeth and the other was sucking on a lollipop and then a stick the entire time I was playing against him.

Gap tooth was good, but tilt prone. He had about 50,000 chips when I sat down (average was around 20,000) and was using his big stack to play a lot of pots against the short stacks. He's also made some big calls with very marginal hands so I knew I'd need to make a hand to get him, but if I did I was likely to get paid off big.

After almost an hour of waiting I got my chance. With blinds of 400/800 with a 50 chip ante the under the gun player went all in for 2,000. Gap tooth was in the small blind and just called. Later he said he got distracted by the loudmouth who was all in and forgot all about me which led him to call instead of reraising. I looked down at K3 which is total garbage, but there was already 5,200 in the pot and it would only cost me another 1,200 to call. Also I knew I could get action from gap tooth if I hit big.

The flop came down K 7 3. BINGO! Two pair! Gap tooth checked and I bet out 4,000. Against someone else I might have slow played or bet less, but I thought even if he missed he might try to take me off the hand. He reached for chips slowly, counted out 12,000 and pushed them into the pot. I tried to look worried as I thought for 30 seconds. Then I said "I'm all in."

He wasn't happy, which I knew meant I had the best hand. After the dealer counted down my stack he called with KJ. The turn was a 4, the river was a 6 and I was over 50,000!

I took out a short stack with AT vs 88 which put me at about 60,000 when the next hand came up. Gap tooth was steaming at this point. While he'd won a few big hands with garbage and taken his stack back to 50,000 he'd just lost 20,000 with AA vs 44 which had him back at 30,000.

The blind were 600/1,200 with a 75 chip ante and gap tooth made it 4,000 to go. I looked down at KK and had a tough decision to make. How was I going to play this hand? I could just call hoping to trap him and maybe get someone behind us to move all in. I could make a standard reraise to something like 14,000. I could reraise small to 9,000.

I took my time and eventually decided that I should just move all in. It would look weak like I didn't want a call and since gap tooth was on tilt he might just get fed up and call with a marginal hand.

So after 20 seconds I moved all my chips into the pot. Gap tooth looked like he was going to explode and said "I call." When the cards got turned over he had QJ off suit! The board was all garbage and I took down a huge pot. I was proud of myself for reading this situation right and getting someone with 150% of an average stack to get it all in with me 5 spots short of the money as a major underdog.

I won some more pots and found myself with 110,000 chips when the average was 23,000. I was in first place in the whole tournament by a mile and no one at my table had more than 40,000. But that 40,000 chip stack was in the hands of lollipop.

When we got down to 28 players - 1 spot out of the money - I made and extremely bold play (This is the great story part). I was on the button and the blinds both had about 10,000 chips. It was obvious to everyone that there was no way they were calling anything. They were just going to wait until they were in the money before the did anything. When it got to lollipop he made it 4,000. He'd be doing this time and time again stealing the blinds. I'd played back at him once with a reraise a while earlier and he went all in. He'd also shown a propensity to call standard reraises and take a flop. I wanted to stay patient, but I felt like I was getting run over.

I knew he could have just about anything, and I was tired of him stealing all the blinds that I should have been stealing! I was the big stack! This was my house! After he made it 4,000 I thought "If I have anything at all here I'm moving all in." I looked down and saw 72! The worst possible starting hand. I paused. "We're one spot short of the money. No one is going to call me if I move all in, it doesn't matter what I have" I thought.

In a moment of boldness I said "I'm all in." The blinds quickly folded and lollipop said "Really?" Immediately I knew he had something. I thought it might be AQ or a pair below JJ. He'd been thinking for about 90 seconds when someone went broke at an other table meaning we were now in the money. "AHHHHHHHHHHH!" I thought. Now the pressure was off him to some degree.

He kept saying things like "This is a $300 tournament. If this was a $10,000 tournament I'd fold. This is a $300 tournament." It was pretty clear he read me as weak, but didn't want to risk his whole stack. Now everyone had gathered around. After this hand we were going to redraw for seats and everyone was just waiting. There were about 50 people watching the hand and I could hear whispers about what I might have and what he might have. No one was saying they thought I had 72!

I was trying to think if there was anything I could say to get him to fold, but I decided to stay quiet.

Finally after close to 5 minutes he pulled a quarter out of his pocket and said "Heads I call, tails I fold." Then he threw the quarter at least 10 feet in the air as everyone held their breath. It bounced in the middle of the table and hopped up on to the rail (the edge of the table) looking like it was going on to the floor, but stopping just short.

It was heads. Everyone said "heads!" Instantly lollipop said "I call." "AHHHHHHHHH!" I thought. When I turned over my hand everyone said "OOHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!"

He had pocket tens and there was a ten on the flop ending any chance I had of a miracle. I was down to 70,000 and in the money which was still great, but I was feeling a little like an idiot.

At my new table I quickly lost two small all ins with 88 vs JJ and 66 vs A9. I was down to 35,000 and feeling like I had one foot out the door wondering how I'd gone down hill so fast.

But then things turned around! I won some pots made some head way I ran it back to 95,700 which is how many chips I have right now. We stopped at 10 players and I'm going back today at 4:30 to finish the action. I'm not sure if lollipop is still in it, but I think I'm in 2nd or 3rd chip position. While I'm only guaranteed something like $1,400, first place is close to $20,000. Hopefully I can finish the job and take this one to the house!

People often refer to a confrontation between a pocket pair and two over cards as a coin flip. They say "You need to win some coin flips to win a tournament." This is the first time I've ever lost 40,000 chips on a literal coin flip!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

CSPC $215 NLH Recap

There were over 1,700 entrants spread over two days in my first tournament of the California State Poker Championship. I played on Day 2 and got about what I expected from my competition - a bunch of crappy players!

We started with blind of 25/25 and 3,000 chips. My first good hand I raised to 75 and got 5 callers! OK I guess I need to go bigger. Next I raised to 100 first in and got 6 callers! Finally I raised to 125 under the gun and got called by 7 players! It was insane. The first guy in after me in that last one had 53s and the player after him had 56 off. We saw every single flop for the first hour and there were only one or two preflop reraises. These guys were weak!

Players tightened up a little as the blinds got bigger, but the play was still pretty weak. In my first big confrontation I raised JJ and got called by the woman just to my left. She was pretty tight and I'd seen her smooth call with 99 a few hands earlier.

The flop came down 8 7 5, I bet 500 into the 550 chip pot and she made it 1,000. ACK! This was screaming set, but I decided I wasn't sure enough to make a lay down this big. I decided to go for it and reraised all in. I wasn't surprised to see I was up against 55, but I was happy when the turn came a 9 and the river a ten. The only downside is I had to hear her bitch about this hand for the next hour as if it was the worst bad beat of all time.

From there I ran my stack up to 10,000 and was feeling good about my chances. Then I got 3,000 in preflop with TT vs QJ. After that I lost another 3,000 with JJ vs AQ.

On my final hand the blinds were 150/300 with a 25 chip ante and I had about 4,000 left. One player raised to 750 and got called by the guy just to my right. The first player was raising often and the other was calling a lot with a wide range of hands. I thought there was a good chance I could get them to fold if I moved all in and considered doing it no matter what I had. When I looked down at my first card and saw it was an ace it was an easy decision.

Sadly a third player woke up with JJ behind me and moved all in. My kicker turned out to be a 2 which meant I was in big trouble. The first card off the deck was an ace, but the second was a jack and that was it.

The good news is I went over to a nice $20/$40 game, won $500 in about 45 minutes and then got a call from my wife telling me her sister and boyfriend were free for dinner and I should head out.

Today I have $335 no limit hold'em at 2 and there is a $335 7 card stud at 5 pm. Late registration for the stud stays open for 2 hours so if I go broke anytime in the first 5 hours of the NLH I'll be playing the stud as well.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

WSOP Warm up In L.A.

The WSOP is right around the corner, but first I'm off to Southern California for a week of tournaments at the Commerce Casino. These tournaments are part of the "California State Poker Championship," which actually started April 30th, and should attract fairly large fields (for in person tournaments).

The great thing about tournaments at the Commerce is they do them right. They give you long limits, slow blind increases and plenty of chips even in the small buy in tournaments.

For example my first tournament (on May 16th) is a $220 NL hold'em ($28 goes to the house instead of $15 like online - it costs A LOT more to run a tournament in person!) and we'll start with 2,500 chips, 40 minute limits and 25/25 blinds (that's not a typo - in order to avoid using chips with less than a 25 denomination in the first round the big blind and small blind are the same). (I love parentheses!)

My second tournament is $335 NLH and if I go broke in the first 3 hours in that one I'll play the $335 7-card stud that goes off - as you may have guessed - 3 hours later in the day.

The day after that is a $545 heads up matches tournament. I think that one would be very cool to play in but since they are limiting it to 128 players I suspect it might be sold out by the time I get to town.

The tournament that was the real inspiration for this trip in on May 19th. It's $1,065 HORSE! I have never played HORSE in person, but the evidence that I kick ass at it is overwhelming. I'm pretty excited about it.

The day after the HORSE is $2,085 no limit hold'em which is followied by "Super Satellite Day." The main event in this series is $5,100 no limit hold'em (15,000 chips and 60 minute limits in that one) and on super satellite day there will be three $540 qualifiers - one at 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm. My plan is to play all three.

Of course if I go bananas in one of the earlier events or stomp the shit out of some people in the cash games I'll play the $5,100 event even if I don't win a satellite seat.

I'll be posting results daily so you can all read about my latest quest for glory.

This makes me think of a story!

It's been a little more than 5 years since my first trip to the Commerce. It was right about the time I first started playing online poker and I was still grinding it out at the Oaks club. The point of that trip was to go play a $1,500 no limit hold'em tournament. Before that the biggest tournament I'd ever played was $215, $500 was a big win for me and I still knew how many times I'd won over $1,000 in a day (it was about five at the time - now I'm not sure how many times I've won more than $10,000 in a day!).

I made the 6 hour drive with Matt Lessinger who also played the tournament. When I sat down I was crazy nervous. A few hands in I got dealt pocket kings and my heart rate shot up. It's not scary to get dealt bad cards and fold them, but I knew I had a hand I would almost certainly take to showdown and there was a chance I could go broke.

I made a standard raise and got called by one player on the button. I was terrified. I didn't want to come all that way for this one tournament and go broke in 10 minutes. "I don't know if I want to make a set. I could never get off a set and if I lose with a set it's going to take me a month to recover. GIVE ME QUADS!" I thought as the flop came out. I flopped a king and heart rate went up even more. I got hit with a gallon of adreneline and my hands were shaking as I put the chips in the pot to bet. I honestly think this might be the most nervous I have ever been in my entire life. Please God do not let me lose this hand. I am going to pass out if I lose this hand.

I got called and the turn came out. It was another f-ing king! I couldn't belive it! I had made quads in the biggest tournament of my life!

I checked and my opponent bet! "AH HA! PLEASE HAVE SOMETHING YOU BASTARD!" I thought as my heart contunied to pound at what felt like 200 beats per minute. "I'LL GET HIM ON THE END!" The voice screamed in my head. "THIS IS GOING TO BE SUCH A GREAT SLOW PLAY!" I just called and checked the end expecting a bet. But alas it got checked behind me and I took down the pot. A lowly pot. I'd taken my starting stack of 5,000 all the way up to about 5,700.

"How am I ever going to make it though this tournament?" I thought. "If I get another hand like that I'm going to be dead. Not from a heart attack, but from a f-ing heart explosion. They guys in the seats next to me will be lucky to survive the impact of the shock wave."

After a few hours I settled down. I'd budgeted for the $1,500 loss and won a few bucks in the cash games so it wasn't like I was in over my head. On my last hand I got it all in with 55 vs 99 and missed. I lasted about 8 hours and finished in 64th place out of 309.

I've come a long way since then. I've literally played millions of hands in that time and I've never been even close to that nervous again. It's not one of my favorite hands, but I know that hand with those kings is going to stick with me forever.

I can't wait to get down there and kick some ass!

More Comment Talk

After my post regarding the hand where the hero had T9s on a board of JJ9J I got the following comment.

Good point about the stack sizes preflop.

I'm mostly a sng player, and there it is very common for the big stack to float the flop the take the pot away on the turn if the raiser missed the flop since the stacks aren't deep enough to fire 2 bullets without committing to the hand. Perhaps I overestimated the chances of it happening here.

Also, since this was a small buy-in tournament I probably don't give the players enough credit.

You never mention the possibility of him having a smaller pocket pair. I thought this was a likely holding for him. He would just call before the flop hoping to hit a set, and call a c-bet hoping I missed with big cards. You also don't mention the possibility of him having a 9. When he calls the flop bet am I really beat almost every time here? I considered the fact that he was slowplaying but thought my hand was often good. I was more worried about him having a 9 with a higher kicker but when the Jack came on the turn we would chop.

If I check the turn and he bets, I think he's going to have a smaller pocket pair or a 9 a large % of the time so I don't see how I can fold. I agree that I should have had a lot more chips at the start of the hand then I could have still been alive by the time I realized I was beat.

Interesting that you didn't mention his actual hand. He had QQ.

Thanks for the feedback.

First of all the reason I didn't mention QQ is it's very rare for anyone to smooth call a raise with QQ because it's virtually always a terrible play, but a play bad players almost never make. So you have to have a someone who is at least a fair player making a bad play. It seemed likely that you were up against a big hand and whether it was QQ or AA was irrelevant given your hand and the board.

The reason why I didn't think an underpair was very likely (so unlikely that I guess I didn't mention it) is the stack sizes and the stage of the tournament. Most people give up on cold calling a standard raise trying to flop a set once the blinds go above 25/50. In this case I would expect pairs 88 and lower to either go all in (assuming there were no other massive stacks waiting in the blinds) or fold.

Similarly in order for him to have a 9 he'd have to call your raise preflop with a hand that contained a 9. Maybe A9 is a slim possibility, but only the very worst players would cold call 600 here with K9 or 89 or whatever. Given that you have a 9 and there is one on the board, it seems very remote that your opponent would have one too. Even if it was more likely your opponent had a 9, risking your whole remaining stack hoping to get half the pot is clearly not a great idea.

Of course there is always a chance that your opponent could be doing something that makes no sense (I've mentioned a few hands recently that proved that point). But I think the key to this hand is when you make it to the turn do you think it's more likely that you opponent has a hand like AK or AQ or an over pair. Both are somewhat likely. If you think it's 50/50 or even 40/60 given the money in the pot and the 5% chance that you could be up against a wacko then it's go time. If you think there's a 75% chance its an overpair, it's time for you cards to hit the muck.

I always find it interesting to think about these hands in great detail. That way when I come across a similar situation in the future I've already worked out what I think is the right play and can feel confident making it. Thanks for the comments!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mercielss Beatdowns!

I had a great day today. I stomped some poor bastards!

I started off playing a mix of $10/$20 and $15/$30 6 handed limit games 4 or 5 at a time. After about 1,000 hands I was losing about $2,000. Clearly this was a pretty bad start to my day. I'd lost about $1,500 of it at one table. This fellow named yojimbo (who I know from past experience is a bad player) was killing me. I was getting good cards and making good hands but it was as if he was getting to choose the best possible turn or river card over and over. Yojimbo isn't the worst player, but he plays way too many hands before the flop and overplays them with too many bets and raises post flop. If you can make a few hands you'll win a ton, but if you keep missing it's not going to be cheap.

Then I saw that he was uncharacteristically at two $30/$60 games in addition to the one $15/$30. I decided to drop all of my other games which weren't exactly stellar and get into both of these $30/$60. I quickly got a seat in both games.

After 100 hands or so things were going well. I was winning about $700 in one game and only losing $120 in the other. Then the folloing two hands came up at exactly the same time!

In game #1 I got dealt JJ, yojimbo open raised to $60, I three bet making it $90 to go and he just called.

In game #2 I got dealt 77, raised and got called by yojimbo who was in the big blind.

In game #1 the flop came down J 4 2 giving me top set! I prayed for action and I got it. I bet, got raised and three bet it and yojimbo just called.

Back in game #2 the flop was coming down K 7 6 giving me another set! Again I prayed for action and I got it. Jimbo checkraised me and I decided to just call planning to raise the turn.

Meanwhile the turn was coming out in game #1 - it paired the 4 giving me a full house! I bet and yojimbo just called. But then it got wild on the river which was a 2. It turns out my friend jimbo had come all this way with A5 and now he'd made a straight! I bet $60, he made it $120, I went to $180 and he capped it at $240! BOOM! $987 pot headed my way!

Of course I was still in the hand in game #2. The turn was a three and I still had a set of sevens. Jimbo was first to act and he bet out $60. I popped him to $120 and he three bet it making it $180! I thought about capping it, but decided it would be pretty clear what I had if I did, so I decided to just call and raise him on the river. Just like clockwork, he bet out and I raised him. He just called and turned over 67 for two pair! $852 pot headed my way!

This all took place in about 45 seconds. It was insane.

Yojimbo played another round or two and then took off. I decided I would do the same and took a short break and a shower. I was about even for the day and feeling great about my comeback.

Post shower I played about another hour and picked up what felt like an easy $1,000 in the $10/$20 games. Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch I got in about an hour of play while my wife was out running errands and my son was taking a nap. When he woke up I had to jump out of my games, but I'd somehow made another $1,000.

I played with my son for a few hours while we watched some Sesamee Street and a little bit of the Mavericks/Nuggets game. When my wife got home I decided to log back on and see what I could do.

I then went totally nuts in three $15/$30 games. I played 204 hands in a little over a half an hour. I won 18 of 25 pots at showdown and 40 pots without a showdown. I was winning a pot about ever three and a half hands playing 6 handed and there was A TON of action.

One of my opponents was a total nut. He was in almost every pot and was giving a ton of action. In one of the first hands of the session I raised in the cutoff with AT and he three bet me from the button. I called and the flop came down AKQ I check raised and he called. The turn was a J making me a straight. I bet and he called, The river was a blank, I bet and he called. Do you know what he had? Pocket fours! WHAT!?! I guess he put me on 89s, 22 or 33.

I just kept making hands and getting action. When the smoke cleared I'd picked up another $3,000! I'm not sure, but $5,000 might be the most I've ever won in one day playing cash games. Certainly I've never run so hot as I did in those $15/$30s.

It was a great day filled with merciless beatdowns!

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Hand From a Commentor

I got three comments within 12 hours of my last post. I think that's a new record. One of the comments was a questions about a tournament hand. Here is the comment:

Here's a hand from a tourney I'd like to hear your thoughts about:

$33 buy-in, 60 make the money I have an average stack with 300 people left.

Blinds are 100/200 and I have about 4700 chips. I open raise to 600 from the cutoff with T9s and the button calls with a very big stack. I'm new to the table so no read on him.

Flop is JJ9 rainbow. I bet 800 and he calls. I think it's likely he's floating with overcards (or nothing) or has a smaller pocket pair, maybe a 9. Less chance he's slowplaying a jack or overpair, or maybe QT/T8.

Turn is a jack. I check thinking that I'm risking him checking behind with overcards, but since he's the big stack I'm hoping to induce a bluff where he could easily be drawing dead. He bets 1800 and I checkraise all-in.

What do you think of my play and thinking behind the play?

I'll start at the beginning. One of the pillars of successful no limit play is avoiding tough decisions. The problem with a hand like T9s is you often end up with tough decisions when you make a pair. Unless you make a straight or a flush (which will only happen about 6% of the time - I think - and that's if you go to the river) it's hard to tell where you stand. While it's not crazy to raise T9s from the cutoff in the scenario you mentioned, it's not crazy to just fold it.

Think about it this way; by far the most likely things to happen are everyone folds or someone reraises you. If everyone folds you win 300. If someone makes a standard reraise (or an all in reraise) you lose 600. That seems like a breakeven play at best. It's better when there are antes.

The big problem here is the size of your chip stack. I'd like this raise a whole lot more if you had 15,000 chips and the 600 wasn't such a big chunk of your stack. Then if someone makes it 1,600 or 1,400 you can call in position and see what happens.

I'm realizing that I could go on and on about blind stealing at this stage of a tournament, but let me quickly say that the stack sizes of they players behind you are much more important that what you have in your hand if you're not going to call a reraise (you want to blinds to be a little short stacked, but no so short they are likely to just go all in). Even if you're going to fold to a reraise, having an ace in your hand doesn't hurt because if people are going to play back at you they usually have a pair or an ace and if you have an ace that's one less for your opponents to have.

I guess that's not really what you were asking, but it occurred to me so I thought I'd mention it.

So once you raise and get called now your in a tough spot. My first thought is that it could be AA or KK trapping. The deeper you get into a tournament the more worried you should be about getting smooth called like this. Of course if it's not one of those two then it's almost certainly big cards.

You have to bet the flop. I would be very worried when I get smooth called again. Overcards are a possibility (I like betting a little more like maybe 1,200 to unload the overcard hands that will take one off for 800), but much more likely it's AA, KK or AJ, KJ or QJ. I think you can probably rule out QT or T8 since he'd probably fold those hands preflop and if he took it to the flop, given the stack sizes he'd probably just move all in. It's very dangerous to hope that someone is floating you. Whenever I think "This guy could be floating me" I always screw myself over.

When you get called on the flop you have to think "I'm beat. I'm done with this hand unless the turn is a 9, 8, Q or maybe a jack." Of course the turn was a jack which means they chances of your opponent having a jack just went way down.

This is a really tough spot. If I was playing my A+ game I would check fold the turn, but 90% of the time I'd do what you did. If you're going to go with it, I like checking to induce the bluff or the bet from a worst hand. Certainly this was a hand that had a lot to it. I welcome additional comments on it from anyone.

I'm guessing he showed you AA and that was the end of the tournament for you?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Little Poker Quiz

I finally got a "why haven't you been posting on your blog?" comment today so I thought I'd put up a quick post.

I've been playing great poker lately. I don't know if it's because I've been exercising 5 times a week and lost ten pounds or if I've just gotten a little better after however much more experience or if the poker gods have just been with me. Whatever it is for the past month or so I've been steadily booking nice wins with a few moderate losses mixed in.

This success and some increased confidence has allowed me to take a few shots at the bigger games. While I still spend most of my time in the $10/$20 games I usually have at least one $15/$30 in the mix and I've been playing maybe 100 hands a day on average of $30/$60 with a sprinkling of $50/$100. I keep my eyes on the bigger games and if I see someone who is a real fish playing over their heads (usually in an effort to get even) I jump in. So far I've been able to scoop out a few small wins and get some more experience playing for those stakes.

I had two interesting hands come up in the past few days and I thought I'd share the action with you and see if you can guess what my opponents had. It's a little poker quiz!

In the first hand I was playing $30/$60 and got dealt QQ in first position. I raised to $60 and the soft spot in the game made it $90 to go. I capped it and the flop came down T 6 4 with two spades. This looked like a great flop and of course I bet. When my opponent raised I wasn't surprised, but I wasn't thrilled about it either. I thought he could have AA, KK, JJ, 99, 88, 77, AK, AT or two big spades, but I didn't think the pairs below ten were very likely. I could beat all but two of those hands, but given that I'd capped it out of position preflop my opponent was showing a lot of strength by raising me on the flop.

I considered three betting the flop, but opted to just call and see what the turn brought. It was a king! Yuck! I checked and my opponent bet $60. Now I liked my chances much less, but the pot was too big to fold so I called.

The river was and ace! Double Yuck! I checked and called my opponents bet mostly out of frustration. I didn't think I had much of any chance to win, but there was $583 out there staring me in the face and if I folded I would go from little chance to zero chance of getting that money.

What do you think he had?




D) QJ of spades

E) 63

F) 89 of spades

I'll put the answer at the end!

In the other hand of interest I was playing $15/$30 and got dealt AK of diamonds on the button. The player to my right who was one of two soft spots in this game came in raising and I three bet. We took the flop heads up and it came down Q T 5 with two diamonds. I didn't have anything yet, but I had a monster draw with two over cards, a flush draw and a gut shot straight draw, so when my opponent bet into me I had no doubt about what to do and raised.

My opponent just called and the turn came down a jack! BINGO! Not only did I have the nuts, but there was also a chance that my opponent just made two pair which would mean good action. My opponent bet into me again! Ah ha!

I raised and to my shock and delight he reraised me! I capped it, he called, and the river was the 2 of diamonds making me a flush. Double bingo! Given the turn action I thought there was a good chance that my opponent also had AK and now I'd be getting the whole pot instead of half. When my opponent bet out I was even more sure he had AK, but I had the nuts so I raised...and he reraised! I capped it, he called and I took down the $652 pot (which interestingly enough is only $9 more than the pot was in the first hand after I called the river).

So what do you think this guy had? Here are some familiar choices!




D) QJ of spades

E) 63

F) 89 of diamonds

In the first hand my opponent amazingly had 63 off suit! My mouth practically fell open when I saw it. I would have been devastated if I'd folded on the river and he'd shown his hand. Dan Harrington (the 1995 WSOP main event champ) says he assumes there is a 10% chance that his opponents could be doing something totally irrational. This was clearly a case of pure insanity from my opponent. He had about $600 when that hand started and was broke and gone about 5 hands later. If I ever see him again I'll make sure to get into that game!

In the second hand my opponent hand 89 of diamonds. I think he played the hand pretty well. I probably wouldn't have three bet the river, but I guess he was sure I had AK and didn't consider that I could have AK of diamonds. It's so sweet to make the best possible hand knowing you can't lose and get crazy action.

That's the end of my first poker quiz! I bet you all failed!

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