Harrahs Bayou Poker Classic

Poker is back in New Orleans. True it never really left, but the buzz that comes with a big time tournaments is back. There is a feel in the casino that hasn't really been there since maybe the last time the Main Event was a 10k buy-in. The feel has been like the feel you get on sundays when you play internet poker.

When there are 500+ people signing up for a tournament (most of the time to get to that number you have to play poker tournaments online, when the cash games have a list so long nobody can get on a table without "knowing" somebody, and there is an electricity coming from the Theater, the poker room, and all points in between it's hard not to enjoy the event--even if you are not winning anything.

Once again, Steve Frezer and the Circuit staff have outdone themselves. The structures have universally been hailed as player friendly and there are few if any spots to blame eliminations on escalating blinds. The $340s start with 9000 in chips. The antes don't kick in until the $150-$300 level. Many tournaments don't even have this level, these tournaments have it twice. Lots of times it goes 100-200, 100-200 25, 200-400 50. Here it's 100-200, 150-300, 150-300 25, 200-400 25. That is a huge difference.

The nightly "Turbos" follow the same structure only with 20 minute levels. These turbos play better than many tournaments. 7000 in chips gives you plenty of time to lose a pot or two before things get dicey. Many weekly tournaments on the coast give you fewer chips and faster structures. If only the Harrahs weekly (aka the Donkley) would take note of Circuit structures. I realize they want to be done early and get the tournament players into the cash games but adding a 20 minute level or two will only extend the tournament by 20 or 40 minutes and give the players a little more time to amass chips before blinds force decisions.

Individually, I’ve played several events. I’ve not done much, but I never felt like I was forced out because of a bad structure. In two events, I got starting tables that had so many weak spots I’d gladly start with either every time I ever played. On both, I’d see hands like two pair get counterfeited by straights, turned sets, and other bad beats I’ll spare you the details of but was so good about the structure and the opposition was even though my stack dwindled I still felt like I was a favorite. I could lose a few hands and still feel confident I’d get it in good with great odds to go deep.

The first tournament I didn’t. I’d watch my table limp fold to reraises (seemingly for everybody but me), so I bided my time and waited for hands to steal with. Finally that moment came when it was folded to the button. He limped and the small blind completed. I told myself I was shoving it the small blind completed regardless of my hand.

I did the fake look, caught sight of a queen, which wasn’t terrible, and I shoved.
To my surprise, even though my stack was half the size of the button, he basically insta-called. He had been folding to reraises all day, and I didn’t figure him for a trapper or a guy that might called with Ax thinking he’d be beating many of my hands. He turned over Queens, almost expecting them to be second best. “That’s not good I said.” I turned over a rag and though I picked up a gutterball it was not to be.

I was hoping to get backed for a couple of the nooners to limit some of the risk but things did not work out. Still, crossing my fingers maybe I can get bought into a mega or two and play for some real money for my possible backer and me in the main event.


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