888 2016 Wrap-UP

Bullet number one of the 888, the first big tournament in my package started out rather nondescript.  You get 5k in chips and 30 minute levels.  Essentially, the Harrahs weekly I grind all the time with just a little bit better structure.  Should be in my sweet spot.

We started five handed, max in this tournament is 8 handed, and a guy I recognized on my left seemed to be the best player of the other four.  I hit some big early hands, turned a straight and flopped a flush, both times my opponents showed and had nothing.  Hate getting monsters too early.

An older gentleman at the table I decided to target kept hitting hands so maybe a bad choice.  I tried to bluff him once after he bet pre, he c-bet the 9 high flop and then he checked turn and river.  I had A10 and some back door possibilities.  I thought I had some showdown value but there were also some small pairs and better Aces,  I might be able to fold out so I bet.  He called with JJ.  Based on what he had I was happy with my sizing but in reflection that's results oriented I should have bet more or just checked as my stack was so shallow.  Many of the hands I wanted to fold might have called for the price I set.

Earlier he checked down and got zero value with Aces after 3betting pre, so maybe I should have checked.

Then Praytush Buddigga sat down with his 4 million plus in live tournament poker winnings.  I recognized him but couldn't place him.  Probably means he's good.  Thanks to Ross Leitz for some first name suggestions and a google search, I discovered...

Guy is a bit of beast.  A Duke graduate (didn't know at time), he probably didn't like the Tar Heel on my hat.  He won the Scripps Spelling Bee as a 13 year old in the early 2000s.  His winning word was prospicience (a word that my spell check doesn't recognize).  Credit to him, he must have had to foresight to look ahead and study that word.

Six handed, then seven handed the blinds still came fast and furious.  You can not afford to lose too many hands. I played with my target when I defended my big blind with Ah4h.  I flopped a four on a pretty dry board and called his cbet.  Turn gave me a flush draw and he bet big-ish.  Before his bet I was pretty sure any 4, Ace or heart would give me the winner.  Now, I wasn't so sure my ace was live.  Still I called as I was pretty sure I could get a full double if I hit.  The river tricked me as I just saw a red flash while studying him.

After a moment, he shoved, I looked to the board and saw the bad news that it was a diamond.  His play prevented me from even having the option to bluff. I doubt I would have.  And I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have worked anyway.  Considering the way he played over pairs he was likely very strong.

That hand hurt and the blinds felt like they were circling even faster, with a ton of quick hands and numerous preflop folds.  Didn't help that I couldn't catch a hand.  Also Praytush fairly quickly went to work putting his full stack in the middle in a couple of hands and the others seemed to copy him.

Ultimately, I looked at AQ with ~ten bigs.  I put most of my stack in and then Buddiga stewed.  He looked to see my crumbs behind. Then he just flatted.  Ugh.  My spider sense told me he had a big hand, but he had the prospicience to just call and try and induce somebody else to join the hand.

Flop came 9 high.  I had too few chips to fold and pretty sure he wasn't going to let me check it down to river.  So I shoved and he called.  Showing KK.  Ugh.  No Ace or running cards came to save my first buy-in.

Then he looks at me and says in angry tone, "Can you spell... Bust out?"

*Okay, he totally didn't say that.  But some variation of that should be his catch phrase when he busts people (with a sense of humor), as it sounds like it's common for his opponents to ask him to spell things while at the table.

Here's more on him:


 So, flight be had to go better right?  It did.  Early on I had more chips than I ever did in Flight A.  Problem is I caught a lot of huge hands early where people, again, were less inclined to play big pots.
One big one, I had AK.  An older tighter player opened and I three bet from the button.  He called.  Flop came 2AA.  Ugh...  Not getting paid by a lot here.  Maybe should have bet really small but didn't.  Checked.

Turn was an A.  So yes, I had quad Aces.  I was happier because now all those pocket pairs he called with have a boat.  He checked, I checked with the plan to bomb the river and hoping he can catch something if he didn't have a pocket pair. An eight hit, he checked and I bet large and he snap folded.  Guessing he called me with KQ? How he didn't have a full house there so frustrating.

Next hand I defend my big blind with KJ against another tight player and flop comes KKx.  I bet small and he insta mucks.  Ugh.  I run a couple of semi-bluffs, some 3bets with air against an active player and chip up.  Then they bring this guy to my table:

You never want a friend at the table especially when you've been sharing a ton about each others game.  Steve Bierman also has been crushing this year and is an active player so I expect my rather docile table dynamics to change quick.  I'd been picking on the short stacks, but loquacious Steve did change things.  He fussed at the kids to respect their elders and to stop opening every hand.  I prepared to enjoyed the show, but it was short lived.  Steve 3bet shoved on a guy with pocket Jacks and didn't hit his outs.  He definitely had one shot to raise my big blind and took it.  Seems like he knows I don't like to play out of position against good players.  Yes, I'm keeping count of my big blind raises Steve.

Around us, people bust fast and furious.  I see several top pros at surrounding tables and oddly, I take pleasure when turning around and then seeing their seat vacant.  This may be the fastest WSOP tournament because it's the same structure as the Colossus BUT with a critical difference.  You play less hands because the max you'll have at a table is 8 and often you are six handed.  Blinds eat up everybody's stack and bustouts happen faster then they can balance the tables.  The few times we have a full table there is slightly more play.

We get some new additions to the table with large chip stacks.  I play a significant pot with a euro when I opened KJ suited.  He flatted from a blind.  Flop came Ace high.  He donk bet into me.  I called, thought about raising, thought about folding, but ultimately felt he was weak and would reevaluate on turn.  Turn was another Ace.  He checked, I checked (thinking my read was right) and planned on betting most rivers.

River brought a third heart and I figured I could be good with king high as played, but there were a bevy of hands I could fold out that were better than mine if I bet.  When he checked, I opted for pot size bet which was half my stack to indicate I was committed.

He promptly shoved.  Yuck.

Pot was so big I contemplated calling with King high.  Such an odd (impossible?) spot for him to bluff though.  I know I need to fold.  I try telling a couple of light remarks he shows nothing.  Then I say, "I have an idea... how about we do over this card and instead of me betting I just check.  You want to pretend that bet never happened."  He finally cracked.  A big authentic, eye crinkling smile, and I know there is zero chance for me to hero call and win.  I fold.

Now I have crumbs with the bubble coming.  Double yuck.

Fully four people at the table expressed some surprise I could fold on the river with so much of my stack in and so little behind.  (I kept track in my mind).

A couple of hands later there is an open and a call.  I look at AJ in the big blind and get it in.  Call, call.  Flop is QQ5.  Bet call.  Uh-oh.  Turn is a 9. Check-Check.  Come on Ace or Jack, I'm thinking.  River is a 9.  Wait, that's actually not a bad card for me.

Asian kid bets big into side pot.  Euro folds, and I say, "tell me you have pocket 8s."  He demands the side pot before showing his... 44.

My QQ99 with an Ace beat his hand as he had to play the board.  Nice.  That triple up, enables me to make it to the stone bubble.  All the guys that shook their head at my prior play?  Yeah, all busted.  Told you I was keeping track.

Going hand for hand, with the next person to bust not making the money, I look at AJ, UTG +1 with 8 bigs.  Normally, this might be a shove for me.  I muck, there is a bet, a raise and a call.  I would have lost to both hands as one player had AK the other a pocket pair.  The very next hand I had 1010.  I had already shoved that hand three times to survive (no calls).  This time I fold it.  There is a bet and a shove (!).  Kid that shoved, had been playing rather tight and said afterward he had Aces when the initial bettor folded.  He said he busted the day before with QQ on the stone bubble and laughing said his range in that spot is now exactly AA or KK.

Boom!  Money bubble bursts.  We have a cash in our second event of the series.  Now time to run it up.

I double and win a couple of pots.  Finally, they break our table, with me and the kid to my left having survived all day side by side.  It's always a tournament goal of mine to outlast everybody on my starting table.  Somehow, I don't think we played one significant pot over the course of the day.  I hope there was some mutual admiration as I pretty early on I rated him the other best player at the table and we chewed up the newcomers for long period.

I get moved to a new table and run card dead.  All big stacks.  I'm going to shove and get called somewhere so need to find a hand.  I get one through and they move a shortish stack to my table.  I recognize him (Michael Andrews?) from New Orleans.  Think he just cashed the high roller there.

Finally, a stack I could hurt.  He's also sensible so I know he's not just going to call off with any two.  As soon as it's his big blind I shove with out looking at my hand.  Folds quickly to guy one from the button. He stews and finally calls.  Michael has air and folds.

I turn over the cards to reveal 10 7.  Guy on the button with not that many chips had A3 (I don't love his call... it is a turbo but he seemed a little shallow to call with any ace with three players to act).  I'm not that big an underdog.

But... his Ace high holds and I go to the payout cage.

Well, back at it at 10 am today. 


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