Monday, April 18, 2016

Project Manhattan Session #13B - The Tournament

After playing for 3 hours and booking a $487 win playing $2/$3/$5 on Wednesday I decided to play the weekly $185 Wednesday night tournament.

I'll always have a fondness for the Wednesday night tournament at the Oaks. When I was 22 and my biggest win to date was a $350 win at $6/$12 I played the Wednesday night tournament (which was at that point a $60 buy in with one $50 rebuy limit hold'em tournament) for the first time. I'd come in to play $6/$12 and after a hot hour was up $185 at the time the tournament was about to start. My total tournament experience at the time was 3 or 4 shots at a $10 tournament with 7 minute levels at Cache Creek (Ten dollar buy in! Seven minute levels!) where I never sniffed the money and one $20 with two rebuys piece of garbage at Casino San Pablo where I finished 30th of 30th. After what was probably a miracle run of cards I made it to the top 3 and we made a deal where my end was about $1,000. I'd cashed my paycheck that day and I remember riding home with $2,500 in my pocket and thinking how it was ridiculous to have that much money on me driving in a car that was worth no more than $1,000.

I had 11 times in my poker career where I won $10K+ in one day, 4 of those were $30K+ and one of those was $85K, but I'm not sure I was ever as excited with any of those as the first time I broke $1,000.

Fast forward 14 years and something like 5,000 multi-table tournaments of experience and I sat down as a 36 year old with 10,000 chips in front of me with blinds at 25/50 and 20 minute levels. When the action started only 3 of us where at the table and we spent a shockingly long amount of time (10 or 15 minutes) playing 3 handed before the table gradually filled in. I made two sets of jacks during this stretch and made no money. Grrrr!

My first big hand came in the 2nd level with blinds at 50/100. A few players called 100, I made it 450 to go out of the big blind with AK of diamonds and we took the flop 4 way. The flop came down T 7 3 all diamonds! Holy shit! I checked hoping someone would fire at it. Sure enough a guy who I knew to be a total nut from the cash games bet 3,000 into the 1,800 pot. Then the small blind moved all in for 11,000! I stalled a bit as if I was unsure, but eventually called, Mr. Nut folded and I beat the small blind who had flopped two pair with T3.

I was up to 26,000 at that point and in great shape. After 4 levels I had 23,000 at the first break, registration closed and I saw we ended up with 70 entrants.

With the blinds at 300/600 with a 50 ante I had two interesting hands back to back. On the first I called an all in to 3,750 with 99 and a guy who looked like he was in his 60's called behind me. At this stage of the tournament you'd normally expect either a raise or a fold, but I was quickly getting the sense that a large number of the players in this tournament were a bunch of loose passive soft spots who would just call in some situations where it was just flat wrong to do so. An ace flopped and Mr. 60's won that one.

On the very next hand I got AA and someone moved all in for 4,500. Hoping to get a repeat of the action from the previous hand I just called. Sure enough Mr. 60's called behind me. And then BOTH blinds called too! These guys love to call! We were 5 way going to the flop with more than two starting stacks already in the pot. The flop came down A T 4 with two spades! Top set baby! Send that pot to me man! The small blind moved all in for 5,800, the big blind folded, the all in was still all in, I made it 12,000 to go and Mr. 60's folded. When the hands got turned up the all in had JT of spades and the small blind had TT (flopped a set and was drawing totally dead!). The turn was a red 6 and the river was a red 8 and I took down a huge pot.

At the second break I had 49K chips with 30 players left, needing to make the top 10 to make the money.

The next big hand came with blinds at 500/1,000 with a 100 ante. The under the gun player just called the 1K with about a 30K stack, it folded over to me in the cutoff and I raised it to 4K with AQ of hearts. He called and the flop came down K J 4 with two hearts (and one spade) giving me 12 outs to the nuts. He checked to me and I bet biggish - 7K into the roughly 10K pot. He called without thinking at all. The turn was the 8 of spades, and my opponent checked again. I didn't like how quickly he called the flop, but he had a little less than 20K and there was 24K in the pot so I could put him all in without it being much of an overbet. Even if he called off a substantial stack, and I missed, I'd still have chips left. I decided to go for it. I moved all in, he quickly called and I thought "Well, I guess I have to hit it." But then he showed his hand - the QT of spades! I looked at this hand and the board and back a few times in rapid succession to confirm that he was in fact drawing. I was 70.5% to win and happily the river came out a 3 of hearts.

From there I cruised to the money guaranteeing myself at least a $315 payout. When the final table started an average stack was 70K and I had about 75K.

On the very first hand of the final table, with blinds at 800/1,600 and a 200 ante, the under the gun player made it 6K to go. 4 players called before it got back to me in the small blind. I looked down at 99. What a strange spot! Of the 5 players involved thus far 3 had me covered including the original raiser, but I strongly considered moving all in hoping to scoop up the roughly 34K in the pot without a fight. I decided I should be a little more tactical and just called. The big blind came along and we saw the flop 7 way! WTF! I'm almost positive I've never played a 7 way pot for a raise at a final table.

The flop came down T 8 7 with two diamonds giving me very possibly the best hand and a straight draw as back up. What do I do now? Do I just fire it in against 6 opponents? I decided to check. The big blind who was next to act moved all in for 30K and was quickly followed into the pot by the first caller of the preflop raise who shoved for 40K. If this was a cash game I probably would have called here. Getting a little better than 2.5 to 1 when I'm around 2 to 1 to make a straight with the added small chance that my pair might be good against something like two flush draws or that the two remaining 9's might be clean outs. But I decided to be conservative and pitched it. The big blind had T 4 (Ten four!) and the first caller had JJ. It turns out that if I'd shoved preflop or on the flop I would have smashed face first into those pocket jacks so check folding the flop was optimal.

The 10th place player collected his $315 and the 9th place finisher got the same.

The 8th place player followed him soon after collecting $410 and then 7th place got $510, and 6th got $620.

Meanwhile I was just sitting there getting garbage and getting blinded off. I did put in a raise with AT suited at one point and got 4 callers! These guys love to call! Normally a big part of my final table strategy is running over scared players, but there was no chance of that working with this crowd.

Playing 5 handed I finally got a real hand. With blinds at 2K/4K the under the gun player made it 12K to go and I shoved for 55K with TT. After some thought he made a thin call with KQ. Luckily the board ran out 6 5 4 2 A and I took it down. Mr. KQ was the next to go collecting $730.

I started 4 handed play with 96K of the 700K chips in play and we played 4 handed for close to an hour! Of the last three opponents one was weak tight, one was an inexperienced loose cannon, and the third is an Oaks regular who is a solid player and knows what he's doing.

At this point I was feeling tired. I'd been at the Oaks since around 2:30, the tournament started at 6:15 and we started 4 handed play around 11:20. I don't know if it's that I'm older now (To paraphrase Shaquille O'Neil - 36 ain't 26 bro.) or just that I'm not used to playing for 9 or 10 hours anymore, but I did not feel sharp.

On the first hand of consequence 4 handed, I made it 16K to go with blinds of 3K/6K with black AQ, I got called by Mr. Regular out of the big blind, and the flop came down KK5 with two hearts. He checked and I checked it back (this was questionable). The turn was a really interesting card - the A of hearts. Mr. Regular bet out 20K and I kind of figured he was on an ace, a big heart or total air with the big heart being the most likely. I decided to put on the pressure and went all in for 75K. He looked pained and took a long time before eventually calling. To my shock and horror he turned over K7 for three kings! I stood up to leave, but then an ace came on the end! ZING!

Then nothing I did seemed to work out for about 15-20 minutes and I dribbled back down from a peak of 200K down to 100K. It was very frustrating.

Eventually I ended up with KK on the button and made it 20K to go. Mr. Regular called me out of the big blind and the flop came down K Q 6 with two hearts. Top set baby! He checked to me and I bet an amount that I hoped said "I missed here, but I don't want to just check" - 15K. He hemmed and hawed and then raised to 40K. I quickly shoved and he practically beat me into the pot. I figured I'd be fading a draw, but to my delight he showed 66! He'd flopped a lower set! As the kids say it was so sick.

I had my chance to bust Mr. regular a few hands later. I was back on the button with AJ and made it 20K again. He moved all in for 70K and I quickly called him. This time he had QQ and it held up. Drat!

While all this was happening, Mr. Loose kept doing stupid shit all over the place and the other too dumb shits would never call him! He kept flashing me bluff after bluff while telling the other guys about how he hadn't bluffed all tournament and it was as if they were believing every word. He literally talked them out of calling multiple times after his money was all in the pot. They were folding good hands in spots where I felt like they should have been calling with almost any two. I couldn't believe that with only 58 big blinds in play among the 4 of us at the 6K/12K blind level, that no one went broke.

Eventually with blinds of 8K/16K, Mr. regular raised to 32K, I moved all in for around 80K with 88 and he called me with TT. There were no miracles this time and I was out in 8th.

I got paid $840 for 4th (3rd was $1,250, 2nd was $1,950, and first was $3,200 - SHIT! So close!) which was a net profit of $655.

After 55.5 hours I'm ahead $1,610 for the project.

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