Thursday, September 30, 2004

Final Table Blues

I wanted that final table so bad I could taste it.

The wife decided to sweat me for an entire tournament last night. She's watched me play before but never for over 3 hours straight. We were having a good time as I would explain to her why I was doing a certain thing or not doing it as the case may be. 340 some people signed up for the $500 guaranteed tournament. 1,000 award points was the buy in. These points are awarded by Absolute as a way of having a pseudo players club. I had over 6,000 points in my account so I figured what the heck and signed up.

I did pretty well through most of the tourney and made it fairly easily into the money. When we were down to 10 I found myself to be the shortstack and the final table consisted of 9 seats. I knew the only way to make the top 9 was going to be to double up. I'm sure everyone was just going to fold around until I busted. In early middle position I looked down at an AJc and decided to make my move. I pushed all in and all folded to the SB who called me. He showed an A6o and I had him dominated. As is usually the case in these situations he caught a six on the flop and when an A came on the turn it was only to mock me. I busted out pretty upset for not having made the final table.

I'm making the money consistently enough now that I'm going to shift my focus from making the money to making the final table from now on. Time will tell how this goes but I'm thinking of hitting the $8,000 guaranteed tournament tonight so hopefully that time will be soon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Live By The Sword,....Yeah You Know The Rest

Imagine my surprise and delight when everyone's favorite Degenerate mentioned my blog at the very top of his latest post. Gee, someone does read this. :D Along with giving me a shoutout he's posted a follow up to his Sit-N-Go strategy post. I've touted it before and I'll do so again. Go read that post if you want a solid foundation for starting out with single table tournaments.

Speaking of single table tournaments, last night I played in two of them and managed first and third place finishes. I then moved to a multi table tourney and started out very well. I handled the second session better than I usually do and maintained a big stack. I was even as high as second in chip count for a while but most of the time I hung around the top ten. I dropped a very large portion of my chips when I was dealt JJ in late position. I raised it up and the BB was my my only caller. The flop came with two A's and the BB let me have the lead. I bet into him twice and and he called me both times. When the river came I knew he wasn't going to lay down and he showed me his pocket A with a very crappy 6 kicker which was offsuit. I must be telegraphing something in my play because the player to my immediate left said "jj's" in the chat window right after the hand. I didn't respond but he had me cold. I must have shown weakness in my betting on the flop. I don't remember exactly how much I bet but I remember being worried about an A. I'm going to need to be concious of this in the future.

The tournament had 95 entrants and the top nine positions were paying. I managed to just about build myself back to average after the earlier JJ debacle when I was dealt AQo in the cutoff. Two limpers to me and I raise 3x the BB to 1200. The BB and early limper fold, the last limper takes quite a while to decide and then calls. With his hesitation I put him on a weak A or perhaps paint. The flop came 2s,3h,5c. The limper checks and I bet out 1000. I've got the gutshot straight now so if I've put my opponent on the right hand at worst I will split this. I probably should have actually bet more as the pot was 3400 but I was looking for a call. As expected I get my call. The turn brings my A and I've made my top pair. Limper checks and I don't want to prolong this any further. I figure it's time to put the nail in the coffin and I bet 2500. I'm expecting a call if he's hit his weak A, if he has the paint he will fold. To my surprise he raises all in for 1520 more. It is at this point when the sense of dread finally hits me. All that flashes in my mind is he had the weak A and hit his small pair on the flop. I only have 550 left and with no choice other than to toss it in I call. When the cards are flipped over I find that I completely missread his hand. He actually held pocket 4's and the A gave him the straight. I think his preflop call was bad being out of position and staring into a big raise behind him. On the flop though he was perfect as even if I made my hand I was going to lose.

I went out 45th and managed to piss away a big stack in two hands. They weren't consecutive hands thank goodness but it still sucked.

A few thoughts about the final hand:
I think the preflop call with 44 was bad because the call was for about 1/4 of his chip stack. Just about everything other than a 4 on the flop hurts you and if your willing to risk that much just go all in. The blinds were getting big and unless I'm holding a big pair or big slick against him I'm going to fold and he'll have the pot.

My bet on the turn was a bad one. Not because I lost the hand but because I only left myself 550 in chips afterwards. I was pot committed with the bet so I should have just moved all in.

I need to work on sensing small pocket pairs. I have a tendency to put players on overcards when in this type of situation and as the hand properly illustrates that inability is getting me killed.

Enough of the armchair quarterbacking. No poker for me tonight so I'll see you all on Thursday.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Monkeys and Typewriters

Have heard the theory about six monkeys left alone with six typewriters for an infinite amount of time generating the works of Shakespeare? Well Saturday night it would have only taken one monkey and one mouse to play the cards I was getting. I would like to think it was my genetically superior intellect that ran over the table but that would be an immensely egoistical comment that would also be incorrect. I perhaps managed to extract more bets from my opponents than a monkey would have but that's about as far as I can truthfully stretch it.

I sat down, fired up two tables, and went very aggressive right away. I had the cards to do so preflop but nothing held up and within 40 minutes I lost my first buy in. The second table was holding it's own and against my better judgement I started up a table to replace the busted one on my screen. The rest as they say is history. It began when I was dealt the same hand of AQo at both tables at the same time. After winning both pots I was dealt the exact same hands again at both tables. This was spooky. I've been dealt the same hand twice before, but to get it twice at two different tables at the same exact time was a bit much. I won 3 of the 4 and after that I hit about 85% of all hands I went to the flop with. I even hit a hand I accidentally hit the call button on when I was intending to fold it. Like I said, a monkey could have won with my cards.

Sunday was not as kind to me. Sunday and Monday are my designated tournament nights and I try to play several single and multi table tournaments on these nights. I went 1 for 3 in the money at the single table tournaments but it was the multi I played last night that really stung. As seems to be my pattern I had a better than average stack at the first break, went card dead through most of the second session but managed to triple up and again had a better than average stack at the next break. 10 minutes into the 3rd session there were 19 players left. Top 18 get paid and all I have to do is fold a few hands and I'm in. Did I do this....obviously not or I wouldn't be disappointed in last night. I received pocket 10's in middle position and raise the minimum. I don't go all in because I don't want to go out on the bubble. I have enough chips to last a while so I'm not in any danger. It folds around to the small blind who's the chip leader and he goes all in. It's back to me...the smart play is to fold....but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. He hadn't been pushing anyone around so I had no past performance to look back on, in fact he folded the big blind to the short stacks all in just the hand before so he's not looking to bust anyone. When he folded to the short stack several players at the table began chiding him because he didn't step up to the plate and try to bust him. I was very tired and fixated on this chatroom conversation as my reason for making the call. In my sleep deprived state I convinced myself that he was pushing me because that's what the other players wanted. Nevermind the complete illogic of this... I wasn't all in yet so he wasn't necessarily going to bust me. I just hit the call button and watched the computer display his two kings. I didn't get my miracle and busted out 1 from the money...purely a mental mistake and I have to remember to stay focused in these things. I'm sure tonight will be better, after all it has to be, right?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good:
Ultimate Bet is offering a 50% redeposit bonus this week. Take advantage of it.
The limit game finally came around last night and multitabling .50/1 was profitable, very profitable.

The Bad:
Foolishly sat down at two NL cash tables last night. Lost my buy in on one and took a modest profit on the other.

The Ugly:
Even though I lost at the NL my limit profits covered me and I still made a profit for the night. A very ugly way to make a profit since I would have made a BIG profit if I would have just taken my own advice and left the NL tables alone. So again I resolve to no longer play NL cash games.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

$8,000 Guaranteed

I left my notes at home and since I'm writing this at work the specifics may be a little off. I played in my biggest cash tournament last night, a guaranteed $8,000 payout at Absolute. I hadn't intended to play but when I saw it listed and that only around 340 players were signed up I decided to pony up my $22 for a piece of the overlay action. I'm glad I played as I was really able to gage my progress in the no limit tournament arena. The payout structure seemed a bit odd to me. They paid out to 46th place, but from 34-46 the payout was only $12.40. This made no sense to me, perhaps this is the way these things generally work but if your going to make the money, at least make it slightly more than the buy-in, even if fewer players get paid. I was shooting to at least make 34th so I could double my money and then work to the top 2.

I tried to start out the tournament like I do all the lower buy in ones but I quickly found that more players were willing to push back at me than I was used to. This put me a little on guard and my game got very weak/tight. My stack wasn't decimated early but I was certainly losing more than I was winning. I admit to feeling a little bullied and I was giving into that feeling. I really was giving into the other players and didn't believe I had the cards to push back. I was then slapped in the face, and boy did I need that to wake me up. I was dealt within the last 1/2 of the first session, KK, AA twice, and was either all in or had someone all in preflop each time. All three hands held up and I found myself the chip leader of my table at the first break.

Nothing like a good run of cards to boost ones confidence. I need to address the hole in my game where I pull back into a shell early. Fortunately I now had enough chips to bring me around. It is how I played to the second break that really allowed me to be impressed with my progress as a player. I had some good cards but it was how I played my draws and busted draws that allowed me to maintain a good chip stack. I found myself able to play a board postflop in a manner that I haven't ever found myself doing before. I was reading the betting patterns in a way that, not 100% of the time, but most of the time I could tell if a player had made their hand or not. This seems elementary and at a limit table it is a little more obvious but at the no limit level things are quite a bit trickier. I was able to use this knowledge to push opponents even when I had missed my draw by representing the best hands. Now this does not mean going all in or even betting overly large amounts. The patterns that develop during the hand will lead you to the correct amount. I was able to bet just the minimum at times on the river knowing that the player would fold his hand, even though the player had called 5x that bet amount earlier. I don't advocate doing this often. In fact I didn't have to do it very often at all but this second sight allowed me to maintain and even slightly build my stack. You should never, unless virtually 100% sure of the outcome, risk your tournament chances on this type of play. I still believe it is better to maintain a prudent chip stack size at all times, but as a player you constantly here that postflop play is even more important that preflop hand selection. I always thought this must be true since so many people were saying it but I can't say I "understood" it until last night. The key to future success will be if I can maintain the clarity that came to me last night.

After the second break I was still the chip leader at my table but then things began to head a little south. The great run of cards I had during the first session were now all gone and my stack was starting to slowly dwindle. With the blinds getting to near unmanageable amounts for a small stack I went on the aggressive and built back up to just over an average size amount. That is when it happened. We were into the money but I was still shy of my doubling up goal. I held a little over 11,000 chips which wasn't the biggest stack at the table but close enough that if anyone challenged me all in and lost they would be crippled. I was in MP and dealt AKo. The short stack at the table who was under the gun raised the minimum amount. It was folded to me and this is what my thought process was.

I didn't put the small stack on a big pair. If he had that he would just go all in. He was short enough that a big stack would more than likely call so that's his best play. A minimum raise usually only thins the heard slightly and you end up with two or three callers. You don't want anyone drawing out on your big pair so unless your playing incorrectly this is a bad move. I held the AK so I'm putting him on a small pocket pair or maybe two face cards at best. My only thought here is to go all in over the top of the short stack. He is going to call me. He has to with his short stack and even if I lose, which I don't believe I will, I will still be in good shape. I don't want to just call or only bet enough to put the short stack all in as I don't want any callers. If I move all in I don't really expect to be called since we are so close to the money jump. If I do I'm still in decent shape with outs so I proceed with my master plan. All goes well until we hit the small blind. He calls the all in. I have him covered but if I lose I'll be down to only about 2,500 chips and with the blinds getting ready to move to 500/1,000 that won't be a good thing. The original raiser calls.

When the cards are flipped up I was correct with my read on the raiser as he shows 77, the small blind though dominates me with the AA. I get a K on the flop but couldn't find another one and the chips slide across the table. No matter how much I replay this I still believe it was the right move for me to make. Holding AK the odds of an AA out there are pretty small. Obviously it happens but you can't play scared like that if you want to win a big one. I ended out at 41st when forced to go all in in the big blind and found my K9o against AQo. Neither of us paired up but he didn't have to so I left a little disappointed. It sucked to feel I played my best ever and yet still lost. If I can play this way in the days to come I'll hit a big one, it's only a matter of time.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Template Update

I've updated my template to include all the blogs I read on a daily basis. Yes I check them all just about every day. I sync them in the morning and then usually read them at work on my laptop when I get spare time. I'll add or remove them as I start or stop reading them...If you have a blog you want me to check out let me know. If I start reading it regularly I'll add it to the list. Also note the strategically placed referral code for :)

Just When It Starts To Get Good

I'm sorely disappointed in Absolute Poker right now. I had been singing their praises when it came to tournaments there and they go and mess things up. Upon starting up Absolute's software last night an update began to download. This is usually a good thing but their software people, not unlike those of the company I work for, usually mess up something that was working when trying to fix something that isn't. The largest glaring problem arising from the new update though was not software managements problem but operational managements problem. The $5 + .50 Single Table Tournaments are now gone, replaced by the player raping $6 + $1 tables. The juice has gone from an acceptable 10% to 16.66%. Oddly the $2 tables remained at a 10% juice and the $10 tables did as well. Normally I would just move to the $10 tables but my bankroll can't support that right now. The $2 tables although very beatable simply don't pay enough to make it worthwhile. The $5 tables were clearly the most popular on the site and Absolute has deemed it necessary to take it's patrons to the cleaners. If profits were the problem I would much rather give up the very frequent reload bonuses as opposed to paying more juice. Now I have to find a new site to play my SnG's. I'll probably move to one of the prima sites as their tables used to be pretty soft. I haven't played at any of them for a while but I'll check it out tonight.

With all the bitching about the single table tourneys the multi's are still juicy. I played in a freeroll (well player points buy-in) last night and discovered a problem I have. The first hour of the tournament I managed to build my stack nicely and stayed well above the average stack. At the first break a $10 tournament was starting up that I had bought into and I quickly discovered that although I can multi table SnG's I shouldn't multi table multi table tournaments. So much of my betting rely's on my read of the other players in these tournaments that I couldn't keep enough focus going on both. I'm sure I could learn this skill but for now I'm not going to try. I made it to the next break on both tournaments but was starting to be pretty short stacked at both. I decided to just tighten up and play only premium hands on the $10 tourney and put my focus on the other since we were further along. I only lasted 20 minutes after the break and just couldn't get the card to make a comeback. I went out in 30th and the top 15 paid. I was very disappointed getting that close and not making it.

Shifting my focus to the remaining tournament I was just too short stacked there to make a difference as well. Only 89 entered this tournament so making the money should have been a walk in the park for me but I busted out 41st and learned a valuable lesson. I fired up two $2 SnG's to try to recoup my $10 loss. I finished 2nd, and 5th so made back a little but not all of my earlier buy-in. I'm still feeling good and as long as I learn from the losses I'll only get better.

As I'm going on the hunt for a new single table tourney site tonight so I welcome any suggestions.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

See..I told you this would happen

I must be the second coming of Nostradamus. It's simply scary the way I called that. The jinx was in overtime last night. And yet I don't feel bad about it.

I sat down and played 5 SnG's last night only finishing in the money in one of them. I have myself to blame for two of the losses as I was just playing too weak and let myself get shortstacked in the later rounds. The others though I can honestly attribute to bad beats. I think I was fortunate last week when all my hands held up and I was given the stellar finishes. Last night variance reared it's ugly head and it seemed no matter how much I was the favorite going into the "All-Ins" I would be the loser. I'm not mad about it although I did find myself wanting to question a few players. They just weren't catching last week when they did this, where as last night they were. I won't dwell on this and since tonight is my weekly Tuesday night off from poker I'll get back to this on Wednesday and shoot for a big win.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Behold the Power of Cheese Blogging

It's been 4 days since I spouted off about my recent shortcomings...and to be honest with you I haven't wanted to write an update. Not for any obvious reason, in fact I've had some solid play since and have not posted a losing session in those four days. It's just that my bad run was so horrible that I'm (and I'm not in anyway a superstitous person) afraid that I'll jinx myself and head back into the abyss. It's a silly concept the jinx. There's no scientific data that I'm aware of that could prove the existence of the jinx, yet it's intangibleness is eerily tangible.

Now as for my play I spent several days soul searching before I wrote my self sacrificing post. I truly believe that the searching, that hunt for the words to express my play, was a major catalyst in my reaquired winning ways. I've gotten back my enthusiasm for the game and this meager blog is key to my play. If I wasn't writing to the web there is no doubt in my mind that I'd still have to write in private. The introspection that I spend before each post gives me a clarity that I don't believe I could achieve otherwise. Now I know I'm not a popular writer in the sense that I actually have readers, or that what I write here is of any real benefit to anyone else, but the fact that this outlet is available is a thing of wonder.

To recap the last four days my SnG play has been even better as I've managed three wins, one second, and two thirds out of the last seven plays. A portion of my Pacific cashout finally made it's way to my neteller account. In honor of this occassion Absolute Poker decided to offer a 15% reload bonus and I've sent the money in. I've begun working on clearing the required hands and this has gone well as I've posted a 2BB/100 win in the endeavour so far.

That sums it up. Happy days are here again, now if I can just avoid that jinx.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Time Apart

Baby Geniuses

I haven't written in a while.....I could say work has been very demanding of my time lately, which it has but that's not why....I could also say that I've got lots of other things going on in my life and I haven't had time, which is again true but that's not why either. You see I've done something very foolish. I've started down a road that can only end in poker ruin and until recently I didn't know why. I haven't wanted to admit this to myself and thus, I haven't been writing.

I believe that the root of my problem stems from my ignoring what it took for me to be successful (in my own small way) at poker. Those of you that have followed along from the beginning of this blog know that I used to analyze my play on a daily basis. I don't think I've done that in over a month to a month and a half now. I'd write about my play not for you (although it's nice to know someone was reading every now and then) but because it forced me to look at my weaknesses and face them.

The other problem that I've created for myself is severe bankroll shortage. As the bankroll grew it became easier to withdrawl funds and even though I have a positive BB/100 at the 1/2 limit level and the .50/1 level I now have less than $200 in my online accounts. I wasn't worried about this until I suddenly found myself unable to win at the limit tables over the last few weeks. To further compound my shortcomings I decided to take on the NL tables. When someone is under funded and absolutley having to win this is the worst possible move. I lost buy-in after buy-in and was close to implosion.

These problems which are of my own doing are about to end my poker life. I am not in a financial situation that will allow me to put back the hundreds that I've withdrawn so after much consideration I have come to the obvious conclusion. It's back to basics time. I know that my play at the limit tables has become far to loose to have a +EV. I know that I'm no longer properly funded to play at the 1/2 level. To address these issues it's back to the .50/1.00 level and back to analysing my play every day.

On the bright side during this whole limit turmoil my tournament game has continued to improve. If not for my wins at the SnG tables I would be busted completely at this point. It is also these wins that I believe have loosened up my limit play. How can I have a happy medium and learn to control both at the same time? The answer lies in the quote from one of my kids favorite movies. The same quote featured at the top of this post. I must seperate my playing styles and have the discipline as well as patience to reign myself back in.

My last remaining obstacle is Pacific Poker. The majority of my bankroll is in limbo between a Pacific Poker cashout and Neteller. Pacific said there was a screw up when processing my withdrawl and are correcting it but that's not helping me any. Until they can resolve this and get my money to me I will be staying at Absolute Poker and their SnG tables. Every time I sit at one of these tables I feel as though I'm the favorite and as long as my results show that as well I will use them to bolster my bankroll. Once the money issue with Pacific is settled I will then split time between the Absolute SnG's and UltimateBet's ring games. Until I can build a buffer to handle some variance I'm going to stay clear of Party. I've made most of my money there but at the micro limits the play can devour you. Ulitimate is generally calmer and although the profits aren't as great, neither are the losses.

I've never promoted another site before but since I have been able to establish a relationship with them I would like to direct all of you to If you haven't been there before I encourage you to check them out. They offer some of the best signup bonuses out there and a program called "Frequent Flopper" that pays you back a percentage of your own rake at the sites they associate with. They have deals with all of the sites you read about here and if you sign up through them I ask that you use the referal code "lifesagrind". This pays me back as well and we all win.

And I'll finish those Hellmuth DVD reveiw's, I promise :)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Review: Phil Hellmuth's Million Dollar Poker System

By chance I was able to view the DVD set of Phil Hellmuth's Million Dollar Poker System. A friend had borrowed them from a friend and I then borrowed them from him. I was expecting revelations bestowed upon me from a World Class Poker Player but instead was sorely disappointed.

The Phil Hellmuth's Million Dollar Poker System brought to us by Masters of Poker is a set four DVD's. The discs are broken down as the Million Dollar Poker System, Tournament Strategies, Secrets to Bluffing and Tells, and Online Secrets. The set sells for $74.95 at Phil Hellmuth's site. In this review I will only talk about the Poker System DVD. The others will follow with a post devoted to each.

Before we start discussing content lets take a look at production value and overall impressions. Granted Phil is not an actor and other than mugging for the ESPN cameras I am unaware of any real television experience. Phil does an adequate job with his presentations but his discomfort shines through from time to time. He looks just slightly off camera at odd times as if he's checking a monitor. This is slightly distracting for some reason but not enough to make you lose interest. Phil's choice of wardrobe however was very lacking. Sporting a light blue polo type shirt that seemed buttoned up a little to far just gave him a poindexter look. During one segment Phil is actually wearing a black button down shirt with the cuffs unbuttoned. Phil explains that this segment was filmed at a later time and he insisted it be inserted into the video. In his new shirt Phil appears to be trying to look "hip" but the production would have been better served if they just had held continuity with one shirt. This may be picky but seeing Phil as a poindexter then trying to pull off the hipster look was just too much.

The onscreen graphics are generally accompanied by what I'd describe as a whooshing sound to emphasize their arrival. The words are big enough on their own that it is unnecessary to announce their arrival and it seems as though they were added because someone thought it was cool. Similarly whenever a list of items was placed down the side of the screen a blue shimmering background was used. It looked good but was just too distracting. The camera operators also seemed to have some issues with focus at times so the overall production value is what I would relate to a program done in someones basement with very little funding.

Now for actual Poker content. If you've played poker for more than a month or two this DVD is not for you. I was expecting a look into the mind of Phil Hellmuth and instead was given a rudimentary introduction to the game of Texas Hold'em. A hurried explanation of the rules of the game were given in a wholly inadequate way. This video is targeted to the newbie yet I believe someone who has never played the game would still be a little confused after hearing his explanation. When the hand rankings were presented, instead of using a traditional format and listing them from High Card to Royal Flush, Phil listed them in the opposite order. I believe that the general public would be able to understand it better working bottom to top instead of top to bottom. Phil also makes the comment that millions of dollars have been won with just one pair. Thanks for encouraging the fish Phil. Granted this is a true statement, but the way it was presented was misleading without a knowledge of the subtleties of the game.

At a 69 minute run time including credits and advertising the DVD is far to short to adequately explain what it needs to. Everything that Phil talks about can be found on the internet with very little effort. The only original item that Phil imparts on his audience is the Phil Hellmuth Top Ten Hands. Since I'm sure these are copyrighted in some way you should only get this info from the DVD or his book. If you wanted to put it to the man though I'm sure these could also be found somewhere on the internet. Phil touches on several subjects including the starting hand requirements, player types, pot odds, and when to raise and fold. A small comparison between limit and no limt play is also discussed but again all of this information is presented in greater detail and in easier to understand terms on the internet.

There are times when Phil even seems to contradict himself as you can tell he's thinking in advanced terms yet trying to speak in the most basic. A lot of this could and should have been cleaned up in editing but as mentioned the production value is minimal. Overall this product just wouldn't get my money. If I was given a copy for free I might have someone who's never played before watch it, but I'd have to be there to answer their questions if I did. I am hopeful that the remaining three DVD's will offer greater value but I can't say I'm optimistic.

Up next Tournament Strategies...

Friday, September 03, 2004

Two Days, Two Tournaments, Two Cashes Part II

Be Warned this is long.

Day two of tournament splendor came on Monday evening, well early Tuesday Morning. Since I can no longer contain my joy lets just say that come December I will be enjoying a 7-Day Card Player Cruise to Mexico. Oh Yeah Baby! Oh, and my wife will be there too. :)

Going into the freeroll I was anticipating making a good showing but the Cruise would just have been icing on the cake. I made the mistake of telling my wife that the first prize was a cruise so she pretty much made it clear that all the hours I spend playing needed to start paying off. Starting with winning this tournament. Really she has been beyond supportive of the hours I spend playing and has been very patient in dealing with me. I am glad that I can finally make the hours payoff in a way that we both can get enjoyment out of it.

Enough of that, lets talk tournament. This was the first tournament I've ever played at Party Poker. I spend a lot of time on the ring games there but I've never even played a single table tourney at that site. I had no idea what the starting chip stack would be or the blind structure so there was no plan of attack going in. I was a little disappointed when I was only given 1000 chips and the blinds started at 10/20. I would have liked to have seen 5/10 blinds to start with but my cards were good in the first few rounds and I managed to start building a stack early. At the end of the first level I managed to be up over my original starting stack and I never dipped below that amount again.

I eliminated my first player when the blinds stood at 25/50. I had built my stack up to 2,605 at the time and my opponent only had 190 in the small blind. Really it was a matter of having to push in for him and it was an easy call for me holding K10o. The board brought me two pair and the win on the river. The first break came and the 2,745 chips I had gave me the lead at the table. I felt very comfortable in this position and had learned enough from the other players that I could start pushing pots a bit more than I had been.

Shortly after the break I was able to eliminate my second player. Preflop my opponent held a 73% to 33% advantage over me. The mistake he made though was limping in preflop with his AJh when his stack only stood at 690. The blinds were 50/100 at this point and he was on life support already. I limped in as well from the CO with A8c and the big blind checked for 3 of us to see the flop. The board brought Q88 and I was now a 93% favorite to win the pot. We all checked the flop and when a J hit the turn he still did not make a move so I bet enough to just about put him all in. The BB folded and my opponent finally pushed all in. It was to late though as he only had 3 outs and the 2s on the river wasn't one of them.

My first All-In came during the 100/200 round. I held AKd in MP and it was folded to me. I made a standard raise of 600 hoping for a few callers and it was folded to the button. The button pushed all-in in for 4,490 which had my 3,800 covered. With the blinds folded I figured my opponent didn't have K's or A's since I held one of each. I also knew since I was suited that at worst it was a coin flip. With the need to double up for the the long haul necessary I made the call and hoped for the best. What I didn't expect to see was the J10c flipped over by the button. He must have thought he could force me to fold and just picked the wrong time to move all in. Preflop I had him 61% to 39%. I don't know if I'd say he was dominated but he sure didn't want to see my cards. The board didn't improve either of us and I doubled up nicely to take the table chip lead again.

I managed to build my stack to over 11,000 but gave some away when I held KK. I called an all-in raise preflop and my opponent showed me his AQs. Having him over a barrel the A came on the turn and I lost the pot. The second break came right after this hand but I still had the chip lead at the table. Immediately after the break the chip leader was moved over. She held 16,209 chips and my 8,970 seemed very small. I had become accustomed to having the lead at my table and seeing this big stack unnerved me a little. I knew that if I wanted to play with the big dogs in the end I would need to amass a lot more chips.

This knowledge did little to help me though and I quickly became card dead. I finally had a hand I felt I could play when I found A7d in the small blind. The pot had been raised the minimum before it got to me so it was an easy call. The flop came JQJ but with two of my suit. I checked and j3koo who had raised initially bet out 1,000. I called this which looking back was a mistake. My initial thinking was that I had the flush draw and an overcard so I should have pushed the flop a little to see if j3koo would be willing to let it go. He may have been on AK or A10 and a sign of strength from me may have been enough. As it was though we saw a 5s hit the turn which couldn't have possibly helped him. Again I made the mistake of checking and calling a 1,500 bet. The 7s hit the river giving me a baby pair but I was resigned to missing the flush and giving it up. We both checked and j3koo showed me his Q4h. I suppose I could have lost a lot more on this hand but I still feel I played it wrong.

With the blinds now at 400/800 I was crippled with only 3,370 chips left. In less than three rounds I would be blinded out and I hoped a decent hand would find its way to me in time. Fortune was on my side and AJo was dealt to me the very next hand. I managed to steal the blinds and bought myself another round. I had to fold for two rounds and with the blinds now 500/1,000 I sat UTG with only 1,770 chips. I knew it was now or never and if a face card came I was going all in. This was probably going to be my last hand. We were down to 30 players and I was in the money so I had that going for me.

When the cards were dealt I looked to find K4c. This was it and I raised all-in. The pots were all usually more than my raise so I expected callers. As luck would have it I got two. j3koo who I gave money away to earlier and MSUcougar. Usually when dealing with all-ins the computer turns the cards up and deals the board at light speed. The chips are then sent to the winner and the next hand begins. If your lucky you get a glimpse of what you won or lost with but since I was covered by both players my wait was extended. The flop came 728 with two clubs and my hopes rose ever so slightly. A check by MSUcougar, a bet by j3koo, and the subsequent fold brought J3koo and myself heads up. A beautiful K on the turn and club on the river gave me two wins over j3koo's A7o. I tripled up but still was lost deep in the woods.

I stole the BB and a bet when I raised from the SB with K3o two hands later. I knew I had to accumulate chips fast if I wanted to make a run for the final table and now was the time to do it. The payout scale stayed the same for the first 10 positions paid so tight play to survive to the next level was expected. Two rounds later I held 55 in the SB. All folded to the button who made a minimum raise. With the BB already all-in due to his small chip stack I went over the top and raised all-in. I expected to take it down right there figuring the button for a steal raise. He decided to call even though he was also a small stack and we saw all three hands. wchlhockey in the BB held 53o. This all but killed my chances of making a set and with MSUcougar showing A9o for his hand we were in a coinflip situation. No one improved and now having slightly more than doubled up I was about average stacked at 15,950. I added another 7,650 chips to my stack at the expense of j3koo again when I later flopped a full house.

When the final table was assembled johnnypuma had the chip lead with 62,357. I held fourth largest with 44,700. I sucked out on MiniBen and he was the first to exit the final table. On the flop he was a 92% favorite to win the hand but instead of pushing in he tried to slow play it and I took the lead in the betting. He called me down to the turn when I put him all in with a flush draw. He held two pair and was still and 81% favorite but my club came on the river and I moved into second in chip stacks. Two hands later I sent number 9 to the rails. LadySiren went all-in preflop from the BB with 20,958. This represented a little more than 1/3 of my stack but even if I lost the hand I would have more chips than half the table. If I won I would have a solid chip lead and so with my pocket 9's I called. LadySiren held A3s and I was a 66% favorite going into the flop. Her A or spades never came and I took the lead with 88,738 in chips. Second was JohnnyPuma with 63,857 so I had a nice cushion.

When we were down to six I was the first player to go over a 100,000 and somehow just knew I'd be there at the end. When we got down to four things started to get a little weird. From what I can gather of the remaining four players I was the only one who actually wanted the cruise. Why these other players would even bother to play if they didn't want first prize was beyond me but that's the info I was getting. Shaky_Sonia was eliminated next when her AK fell to johnnypuma's J9. It seemed as though she just gave up at this point because if she was playing for the win she should have pushed with that hand as we were only 4 handed. Instead she called to the river and then pushed in resigning her chips. This is an inexcusable act as far as I'm concerned. If you don't want to win don't play. Someone who wanted the win would have been better served in that position. They also would have provided better competition making us all better players in the end.

With three of us left paeron was the short stack and he decided to make a stand with Q4c in the BB. He went down to johnnypuma and then we were two. The chat got really hectic at this point. There was a lot of noise from the railbirds and I turned my attention to the official chat room PSO was holding during the tournament. Mike J, our tournament host, seemed adverse to deal talk earlier and was quite upset that some players would get this far and not want the trip. I don't know johnnypuma but as I understand it both he and paeron are from Sweden. Even the same town which seems rather odd since they were both in the final three. I'll chalk it up to coincidence but I could understand how it would be cost prohibitive for them to fly to the US to take a cruise. Again they really shouldn't have been playing but I've covered that earlier. At any rate Mike was now willing to talk deals and johnnypuma did not want to dump the tournament, but he also didn't want the first place prize. I didn't care about first or second but wanted the prize.

After certain conditions were agreed upon we decided that no matter what happened I would take the cruise and johnnypuma would get the $250 second place money. Since there was no point for me to continue and I wanted to celebrate I called an all-in bet and johnnypuma took my chips with two pair.

Needless to say I have never won anything this big before. PSO has the cash value listed as $.01 but in reality with plane tickets it's over $2,000, probably more. The wife and I have never been on a cruise so we are going to use this opportunity to celebrate the honeymoon we never had. It will be odd being away from the kids for 8 days but I'm sure well manage. I owe a big thanks to for hosting this great tournament and providing a great experience.

hmmm....Two Days, Two Tournaments, Two Cashes, maybe it's time to turn pro. :)

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Two Days, Two Tournaments, Two Cashes Part I

As the title eludes I had some great success earlier this week in tournament play. I wish I could say the same about my limit play but we'll discuss that in a later post/posts. To the topic at hand the Monty Memorial Blogger Tournament was played on Sunday night and the Poker Cruise Freeroll on Monday Night. I managed a 10th in the Monty and a win in the Cruise. Needless say I have been on cloud nine for days now but lets get down to business shall we.

Sunday night 77 players put down $22 of Pacific Pokers hard earned money. (for explanation see this post) I was excited and hoping that my three weeks of tournament play prep was going to pay off. Starting out at table #2 I found myself seated with the man himself and a few other bloggers of note. One thing that has been eluded to in other writeups of this event was that the play was extremely tight. I don't have a count but you probably wouldn't have to take your socks off to count the hands that went to showdown in the first few levels. I was fortunate to be in one of those hands that went to showdown when my pocket 10's made quads. This just about doubled me up and I was feeling very confident in my control of the situation. At one point Iggy made an attempt at trash talk when he made mention of the slow play of the table. I believed I responded with something about kicking his ass (chipcount wise). Boy would this come back to haunt me.

At the first break I held t1768 up from the original 1500. With the first hand back I managed to steal the blinds holding AJ. A few more blind steals came my way over the next few rounds to put me back up to just over an average size stack. I was getting ready to settle in when my virtual likeness was promptly moved to Table #8.

After the move was complete the pocket 7's that shown before me found their long lost brother on the flop. This provided a nice double up opportunity. My cards seemed to dry up after this and playable hands were becoming few and far between. At one point I found the hammer in the big blind. I was able to check the flop and every betting round after that. I took the pot down when a 7 hit the river giving me best pair. I never bet it, but I can say I took down a hand with "the hammer".

I had found myself in 10th place and what should have been the final table. That is if Pacific Poker's software actually used all 10 seats available at the tables. For some bizarre reason known only to the Great And Powerful Oz the entire tournament was played 8 handed. As play progressed my favorite hand of the night was dealt to the screen. 77 in the small blind and as stated earlier I doubled with this hand. I had also won a pot with a pair of sevens while holding the hammer. If memory serves I was the shortest stack remaining and I decided this was a good time to double up. When we went to the flop I was heads up against f2aler. My sevens were a big underdog to f2aler's nines and the board of J9888 sealed my fate and finish position.

I finished in the 10 spot and Pacific deposited the $30.80 into my account. The iggster went on to dominate the final players and took it all down. There was much discussion about Pacific Poker guaranteeing an additional $500 into the pot. This money did not show up when the tournament started but the next day I did receive an email telling me that they had to do the addition manually and that another $10 had been deposited as my share of the added monies.

I want to thank Iggy for the fine tournament and barring a nuclear holocaust I plan to be playing in the next one. Pacific Poker was up and down in their handling of things with this tournament. Overall the experience was mediocre but only because of the 8 handed play. They recovered from their original tournament scheduling snafu and the added money was apparently always supposed to be done manually. This wasn't enough though and I don't see myself playing there anymore. Tomorrow will be a bit more detailed writeup of the PSO tournament. Since we played that one at Party Poker I actually have hand histories. (Another drawback of Pacific) At any rate, until tomorrow.....