Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back From Disney World

Did it seemed like I just upped and disappeared?  Well, I did.  At a very late moment we made a family decision to go to Disney World.  Found a cheap trip through the mouse and instead of waiting a year or two for another time, made the most of the last week of my wife's maternity leave.  Sorry, I left this blog dangling in the wind (so too GCP) but despite my intentions to update things during my two year old's naps I discovered two year olds don't take naps at Disney World.

But I'm back...  Surprised by the number of hits I've gotten in my absence so I must reward those of you who have been checking in.

Anyway, with my memory a little less clear let's get back to the 1k.  They move to a table with Chris Tyrba, (who's on fire this year), bracelet winner Captain Tom Franklin and on my left maybe the best women's player ever, bracelet winner Kathy Liebert.  I love her outspokenness on twitter and I respect her chip on the shoulder and her game.  She's also fun at the table.  The other players also seemed pretty capable including a young kid I traded chips with but kind of felt like he had my number.

Early on I three bet him from the blinds with AQ and he called from the button.  The flop was babies and I check raised him and he called.  Whoops.  On the turn, I checked and he shoved.  I told him AK was good.

Kathy said "If AK is good you definitely weren't winning that hand."  For my image, I had hollywooded my decision trying to convey I was laying down an over pair but for some reason I still felt like he was weak, but he had taken all the leverage with his shove.  So, in opposite of my postering I changed tactics when he started to muck I made the Ak comment just to see if I could get a read on him.

Now in a hole, I informed Liebert that sometimes I just suggest a junk hand I didn't have.  The pro wasn't buying it.  Which was correct in that spot, but not in all spots because, that is a strategy I employ when I fold.  I might suggest I was thinking of a hero call (when not) hoping to induce the victor to show the nuts or close to it.  You'd be surprised how often this works and I can pat myself on the back for making a marginal fold.  I explained the gambit to her and she didn't think much of it.  At that point, I didn't care, I'd rather her think I didn't know what I was doing.

I reinforced that when the tabled folded to me in the small blind.  I had noticed a lot of players thinking better of messing with Kathy's big blind.  I looked at Qx (garbage) and remarked "Everybody's scared of you Kathy... but I'm not."  I completed. 

Then to my surprise Kathy did a move many lesser players make when I complete in the small blind that tells me how weak they are.  It wasn't that she raised but how she did it.  Oh... wow.  I like to just call from the small blind sometimes because of this "tell" and recognize I can steal out of position with a lot of flops, but that wasn't my motivation for calling Liebert initially.  I wasn't ready to raise with that hand in a clear stealing spot but I was willing to test the waters.

The flop comes AKx which is great for my hand.  I check and she duplicates the move with a bet.  I suppose if I had real guts I should have just raised and taken it down there but like the call on the flop I wanted to play a little bit of pot control with her and calling looks stronger for me to steal later.  I didn't think it was a good idea to keep reopening the betting for her either.  She didn't win 5 million + by betting and folding.

The turn pairs the board and I check call Lieberts next barrel (again same read).  The river was garbage and I checked and mulled over shipping it should she fire again (yes with queen high) but decided my hand had a lot of showdown value.  She could have caught the last card but I knew she didn't have the A or the K and didn't think she had trips on the turn.  I felt like my  queen high was the best hand.  After a while she checked behind and showed a Queen with a better kicker (that didn't play because of the paired board) to my surprise.

She was miffed that I played her with that hand and put a lot of my stack at risk.  She was almost tilted by the hand as I think she though she just ran into some donkey who chopped a pot with her being a donkey, though my read was pretty close to dead on.  Much later on in the tournament a player at my table who saw that hand despite seeing me show down mostly tight hands since then stewed on a call of me (when I was in fact stealing again... lol) said "I've seen you put most of your stack in with Queen high, so I know you are full of it sometimes."  He folded.

Okay... some more highlights from that table.  Captain Tom broke out his iPad and he and Liebert were talking about sports betting.  She asked if she could place a bet on it and he passed it to her.  Apparently she had never used a touch screen before and Captain Tom said "Just treat it like a computer."  Pretty good advice... just treat the computer... like a computer.  Just treat that Dalmation like a dog.  I laughed in my head. 

A couple of hands later I said, "Captain Tom.  Kathy's looking at porn on your iPad!" 

The joke fell flat because the rest of the table looked at me like I was out of line.  Don't know if it was because it was at the expense of poker royalty in the IP or that the porn line was too risque.  Liebert played along saying "I don't even look at porn on my own computer."  This time I missed her joke.  More awkwardness ensued.

My tournament hit liftoff when Tyrba hit the table.  Captain Tom called him "Mister Fast" and he wasn't kidding.  The dude had a stacked and was bullying.  Watching him at play the strategy was simple trap him.  Sure enough, I catch pocket 7s in my big blind.  He raises and we get a couple of callers.  I say to myself hit this set and snap him off. 

Board comes out 107(yippee)x.   I check.  Tyrba leads out folded to me, I call.  Turn is another baby.  I bet, Tyrba shoves I call.***(I'm not positive on this action because it's been a while but I think that's how it went).  He had A10 I think.  Suddenly I had some chips.

About one round later I'm in a blind again with pocket 8s.  Tyrba raises I call.  Flop is 8 high.  Really?  Been a LOOOOOOOOOOONG time since I flopped a couple of sets in so short a time.  I think I should check, but then I consider a donk bet might look weaker to him especially since I already trapped him.  I'm legitimately indecisive and notice the board had two to a flush out there and recently everybody seems to have the flush cards I can't fade so I start to check and pull it back.

I throw out the weak bet and Tyrba announces all in.  To my amazement.  After our last duel I had him covered and we might have been the two big stacks at the table.  I don't insta-call because I'm surprised by the huge overbet.  Yep, just to make sure, I'm not reading the board wrong I have the best possible hand I call looks like I'll have to fade this flush.  He turns over AK no pair and only one of the flush draw. 

As the board bricks for him he gets up and chastizes me saying "I can't believe you did the "fake check thing."

Now with a stack I'm on cruise control and I'm aware the tables are dwindling.  Gene's still alive with almost as many chips as me.  At about three tables left they put him on my left.  I'm the button and he's the big blind.  Incredibly I catch all my hands on the button.  Usually, folded to me.  I get action from Gene and the guy in the small until I knocked him out almost every time.  I expose a couple of my hands to the table to let Gene know I'm not keying in on him.

Then, he ups his aggressiveness and as two of the bigger stacks we start mixing it up quite a bit.  I felt like, and it may not be true, but I felt like after yet another raise and legit c-bet from the button on Gene (with pocket 10s) that he tilted a bit.  I only saw him make one mistake all tournament and he made a real thin call on a guy a couple of hands later.  It was strange to have those conflicting emotions.  My pressure from the button I felt like had negatively impacted his game.

Obviously, Gene and I are never going to collude but I would say we play things pretty straight forward in hands we get heads up with.  I not trying to bluff him and I doubt he is trying to bluff me nor do we want to collide with such big stacks.

Anyway, at this point we both chip up and up.  I think when we broke at two tables I was the massive chip leader.  I barely remember the bubble but I do know at that point, the maniac from earlier in the day suddenly got plopped down on my left.

I revveed up the aggressiveness even more and me and the maniac starting destroying the bubble.  If he didn't raise I did.  Then he started to raise almost every hand.  I get mad at being shut out of the bubble play and I fire a big bet back at his open when I peel back a hand.  Embarrassment prevents me from sharing the hand or the details of this hand too much because it turns out I made a terrible lay-down.  He calls.  He bets a flop I connect good with and I check raise him.  He calls.  On the turn... he open shoves.  The board is AK9--K.  This is basically for my entire stack even though half is in it.

I stew...  I stew. 

I fold.  He scoops with a wry I got away with it smile. 

Suddenly, my image of indestructability is destroyed for the rest of the table.  They know my raises can be overcome and even though I get a steady diet of solid starting hands I can't hit a flop and start to bleed chips.  I don't shift gears and recognize my shorter stack isn't scaring anybody and in fact, the other stacks are cognizant that now I have to be wary of their double ups.  The bubble breaks and so do we.  In the break, Gene asks me what happened to my stack and I tell him I lost a lot in the big hand.  I hope he won't share the ludicrousness of my fold.  "Okay," he says, "what happened to the rest of it....  I say "I spewed."  He replied, "At least you can admit it because I was watching you spew from our table." 

Oddly, another player at my table, perhaps in meta-game form, complimented me on not losing it and keeping my composure after folding in such a big hand.  Either he was trying to get me on edge again or he couldn't spot the spewing Gene saw from a table away.  Or maybe he saw enough of my subsequent folds to know I was doing well not to lose more.  I thanked him for it and decided it was best if I treated it like a legitimate compliment and put the bubble play behind me.

Then I went card dead almost all the way to the final table (or whatever number we broke the night at).  When we restarted we trimmed the fat to the final table pretty quickly and Gene and I had both gotten a little short.

I got in a spot where I needed to shove when we were still at 9 but couldn't find a hand.  Then this action happens.  A guy who had played tight all tournament opened, another tight guy three bets, there's a call and action finds me.  It's AQ and it's ship or fold.  I'm pretty sure it was Ace Queen of clubs.  At the very least one was a club, this is only relevant because of the next two paragraphs.  I fold because I'm pretty sure KK or AA was out there based on the players.

I think they went three to a flop, and all probably would have called my stack had I shoved.

Flop?  KcJc10c.

Action?  Bet.  (ugh) Raise (double ugh).  Okay, then it gets normal.  Fold, fold.  Raiser claims KK.  Action would reinforce it but he never showed.

So, I folded either a royal flush, or just broadway with a royal flush redraw in case the sets of kings boats on the turn.  AWESOME laydown bro.  I start to tell my tablemates and then realize who's going to believe me and even more importantly who cares what I folded.

The maniac I gave all my chips to is quietly amassing chips.

A guy shoves on Gene and he wakes up with JJ in the big blind and it holds and he starts to turn a short stack around.  Well, if it ain't me thank goodness it's Gene.

I get folded around to on the button and decide J10 is worth a ship and the big blind wakes up with Aces.  First 30k.  8th... 3.8k  yuck.

So I collect my winnings and do the sensible thing and sit down immediately at a single table sit 'n go for the main event.  We get six to do a $100 last longer.   Playing standard sng strategy I don't mind missing hands to sweat Gene, early.  Late in the event we get three handed all three in the last longer.  This guy Miguel or Michael... he's Greek so can't possibly be Miguel who is wide open in the cash games at harrahs goes on a three handed run where he gets at least one ace for about 15 hands straight.  Crazily, me or the other guy get an ace too quite often.  Even more crazily nobody goes broke despite aces coming out on the flop.

Finally, Michael gets knocked out.  I turn to the guy I'm heads up with and ask if he wants to split the last longer, he says let's split the whole thing despite having me outchipped 2 to 1.  ...okay.  Michael can't believe the deal I just got.

I decide to sweat Gene some more.  I know I'm going to buy-into the Main Event that night in the second session.  I find the guy who took 15% of me and slip him his cut from the 1k.  Four handed it's taking Gene some time to win the thing so I tell Ross I'm going up to take a nap.  I start to close my eyes and he gives me the call that Gene is heads up.  So much for that.  Gene has the maniac outchipped by a large measure.  Wow.  I have visions of Gene's ring photo and know this will cinch the Casino Championship for him.  I hurry downstairs to watch the coronation, so happy for him.  I've legitimately lost all my disappointment in finishing 8th.  Or my desire to sleep.

---more to come.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Run Good at the IP Part one...

Okay... It's coming I promise.  Blogtacular posts await.  Just have to play catch up on all the family time I missed.  So, we'll get started a little bit today and come back to wrap it up in a post or two later.

Let's get the niceties out of the way, I have a very special wife who thought I was just going to Biloxi for a night or two last week only for me to return late Monday night.  My heavier pockets eased all the stress of the trip and for the first time she got to enjoy sweating me on the Internet in a poker tournament but I still need to fill up on some quality time with my two young uns.  Leaving her with a newborn and son who's in and out of his terrible twos is quite a bit different than life was a couple of years ago when I'd take off for a tournament with no worries.  Big thanks to my in-laws for helping out.

Yes...  I had a hell of a run at the IP which I need to encapsulate.  I hate posting after wins because it feels self-indulgent and bragging but oh well.   First of all, it doesn't happen if Gene D doesn't have his epic run to the top of the Casino Champion.  Two thirds and a second... wow!  Some were talking if it's the single greatest Circuit event for any player.  The WSOP media guy didn't know but thought it had to be up there.  Odd thing is  in the very last tournament Gene still could have been eclipsed by Ricky Romero from Louisiana.  If Romero won outright Gene could lose his seat in the free roll.  Right after I busted so did Ricky so GCP was guaranteed at least one seat in the Million Dollar free roll.   

Let's back track a little bit.  Of late I'm been running bad.  I'm sure I played bad too, I don't know of any player running bad that is playing optimally, and I can list recent mistakes I've made in spots I didn't need to make 'em.  In fact, I called Brian Lusk of Poker Immersion about a hand I played in the Donkley and I was asking him about my decision on a later street, and he basically reminded I had no business being in the hand in the first place.  Basically I lost with QQ a hand or two before and then I mangled some suited one gapper from the blinds because I tilted into playing it.

Yup, a hand I used to never play especially out of position because unless I hit it square on the button I'll never know where I'm at.  Let's say it was 810.  In that spot I hit a 10 and A10 crushes me.   So, I reflected on things and realized sometimes being able to outplay people doesn't mean you should try to every hand.  Preflop it was 3bet or a fold, rather than make two pair and run into a straight.

Anyway, that was a good piece of ammunition to get me thinking right again and quickly got me to playing a stricter range of starting hands.  Gene's success was even more helpful.  I had been questioning the grind.  Bubbling final tables and bubbling the money and being that guy that can't get lucky in those critical points in tournaments takes its toll.  Then I have to watch some short stack soar late and wonder why couldn't that be me.  Spoiler alert:  It could be.

However, as down as I was feeling and mulling over moving back to cash games and working on plugging all my leaks there instead of suffering the variance of tournament poker, Gene gave me hope again.  He's dealt with all the same mental trauma of being so close but so far away.  Then the switch clicked for him.

I said well if Gene can run good in a tournament series so can I.


The weekend for me is a tale as old as poker.  I arrived with low expectations and not much money in the pocket.  I late regged for the $235 mega for the 1k event with maybe a third of the field already on the rail.  I went card dead for most of the tournament but built up enough of an image that I managed to short stack my way to a seat.  One player gave me walks in my big blind after me and him had some words about the tournament structure.

Basically, they were supposed to play 10 handed, but with three tables left the TD said why not just play down to 18 and merge.  Obviously, that's a huge disadvantage to the short stack.  I was a short stack and not looking to pay blinds every two out of six hands.  I spoke up and said if that sheet says play 10 handed we play ten handed.  The other player asked something along the lines if I was a rules nit, and I somewhat angrily explained how I was at disadvantage.  In retrospect i believe he hadn't thought of that and just thought I was being anal by the way he responded to my retort with a shrug and a nod.

Then he went easy on my blinds.  Much appreciated and unexpected.  Afterward I apologized for my tone and he said he would have done the same thing in my shoes.  He's one of the leaders on the circuit points board.  I also had that dude in the pic, Chris Bigler, at my table, with a lot of chips, he could have just got up and gotten some ice cream.  In fact, several times other big stacks reminded him he was in a mega and didn't need to win the tournament as he tried to build big pots.  I spoke with him during the tournament and several times after.  He was a very nice guy that some of you might remember from a number of TV tables just at the beginning of the poker boom.  Apparently, since then he's been touring the United States in a camper and having a blast.  Still has it in terms of applying pressure to other players.  I guess he didn't win that million or so in tournament earnings by accident.

Anyway, I did just enough to earn my seat despite being card dead, the highlight being that I bested Bigler for a big pot too.  He complimented me by remarking how I qualified despite being short stacked all tournament when all the other players were dusting off their chips in coin-flips early.

So, I was definitely staying one more day.  Call up the wife and tell her the news.  She says "So you won money?"  I stammered, "Well kind of...  I won a 1k seat."  Her reply was something along the lines of can you spend a 1k seat?


The next day we are about to start and I approach a guy who has backed a friend or two of mine and asked if he wanted a piece of my action.  I wanted to get more than the cost of the satellite to at least go home a winner and freeroll the 1k tournament.  Think my conversation with my wife had something to do with that?  We agreed on a price and I gave up 15% of myself.

That tournament started out wonderfully.  I loved my table, unfortunately it was one of the first to break.  Mohammed Moeini was thankfully on my right and I felt like were kind of just picking on most of the rest of table.  He always seems to go deep in tournaments around the coast so I was enjoying the luxury of picking my spots around him.  Nice guy.  I chipped up pretty quickly.  Then they dropped New Orleans Circuit winner Fred Berger in the one seat and though he wasn't wearing it I swear I could hear his World Series bracelet jangle with every decision he made (plus the 1 milly in earnings).  Not as many weak spots in a 1k tournament.   With Berger there, maybe I was grateful they were breaking my table...  Side note, about Fred, I played with him in New Orleans and I watched him weild the power of position incredibly.  In about every limped pot or raised and mulitple called pot that he was in late position he joined the fray.  Everytime it was checked to him, he'd bet and most times add to his stack.  Seems like it's poker at its most obvious and easiest but I'm quite sure he was the only guy applying it.

Back to the 1k, they move me and ahhh, it was awesome.... (that's sarcasm) because they sent me to Bert Ladner, Carwash (Mike Schneider out of Georgia who just seems to dominate events like this), and November Niner John Dolan's table (remember him?  the guy in the hoodie up there).  Even worse there was this maniac to my left that they were all slobbering looking at with a ton of chips.  I didn't want to be in their predatory gaze by accident.  The guy would give all those chips away and promptly get them back in the (thankfully) short time I was there.  He was fond of 3betting and c-betting and triple barreling.  Don't know if he really understood anything about the game except for aggressiveness but sometimes that's all it takes--just ask Pius Heinz.  We'll come back to this guy later.

I win a couple of pots including some against the big three all next to each other in one corner and I'm feeling comfortable again.  I executed a move at the first table that I duplicated at the second and now it's in my permanent arsenal for every table move I make.  It's a fun one but I'm not sharing it.

My big hand came at Bert's expense.  There was a limped pot in my big blind and I had 67 I believe.  The flop came A95 (or something like that).  Checked around.  Turn was bingo 8 ball.  I checked next guy checked.  Bert bet, I called, first guy... raised... Bert called... shove time baby.  First guy folded maybe AK.  Bert stewed forever and showed a set when he called.  Board didn't pair on the river and I was chipped up.

Then, the TD tapped me on the shoulder and told me they needed me to move to balance the table.  Oh yeah?  Me, leave the murderer's row in the corner, with the maniac on my left, yeah...  good luck everybody, oh and I more than doubled up as a parting gift, yeah... thanks.

Then the put me down on maybe... a worse table...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Short and to the point...

Short and to the point... Me?  Doubt it.

I just wanted to give a shout out to Gene D.  I know the 13k score was nice for him, but he really wanted first.  Sucks about tournament poker usually exactly one guy is thrilled with the outcome.  Second and third always have a touch of bittersweet to them.  I know Gene well and he usually takes his eliminations hard.  I hope in this one he realizes how well he must have played to have survived an almost 500 person field and finish third.  Looking forward to reading his blog and seeing some hands and what he was going through mentality during the days.

Personally, the close but no cigar side of variance has been rearing it's ugly head.  I haven't been able to get anything going... though I did win a $50 voucher to the mega satellite in one of my near misses recently lol.  Should be back at the IP soon.  Might rendezvous with Ross L.

Fortunately, for you short and sweet-ers I'm a little too tired to write too much more.  I had a bundle of things I wanted to discuss and unfortunately none of it is springing to mind right now.  Most importantly, congrats again to Gene D, it's been long overdue for him and nobody deserves it more.