Thursday, July 28, 2005

An Exercise in Being Card Dead

Last nights Tour stop at Crazy Poker was not an enjoyable experience. Our starting chips were the standard 1500 but the blind structure was horrible. It increased with leaps and bounds as we were at 100/200 blinds at the first break.

This is all well and good if you have hands that will hold up in an all-in fest but when that's not the case, your left to the luck of the draw.

My only hands of any note were all against the same player. Tournament regular aintsotuff was seated on my left and we clashed early and often. When we were alone in the blinds I was able to push him off a hand early in the tournament. He commented that he felt like he had, been played. He had, but in order to diffuse him, so I could do it again, I commented that I had pocket 10's. I don't remember my exact hand but I think it was Ace garbage that never connected.

A few orbits later we were again heads up in the blinds. This time I actually did have 10's and I took it down when the flop came 9 high. He commented that he was laying down J's. I think I could have come up with a better lie than that but I did show the 10's this time.

These seemed to be the only pots I could win until I finally (after being blinded down to a about 9x the big blind) got pocket K's. Unfortunately no one wanted to play and I only won the blinds.

The next time around I was again heads up in the blinds. I had 98 off this time and only completed the big blind. With a flop of 9 high I bet the pot and aintsotuff pushed back at me, putting me all in. He had been catching some big cards and big draws to build a very nice stack and I knew he was sick of me taking his blinds when I had the opportunity. I went ahead and called for the double up. He had caught middle pair on that hand.

This gave me a slightly bigger than average stack but I managed to squander half of it away in one orbit when I rec. a succession of middle pocket pairs and busted draws. I had to release all of my hands by the turn, but with preflop raises and called bets it didn't take much to put me back down again.

Heads up, yet again, with 43s aintsotuff pushed back hard preflop and I had to release the hand. Three hands later I was dealt 99 and decided I was going to play for all of my chips. I raised preflop and aintsotuff reraised. It was folded to me and I pushed. He called and showed his Hilton Sisters. I couldn't suck out and was done in 30th. Only 77 players ponied up for this event and it looks like none of the point leaders managed to cash in this one. That means my 2nd place standing should still be safe.

On a somber note this may be the end of my poker playing for a while. I had some unavoidable financial obligations that are causing me to liquidate my poker accounts. I really don't want to quit playing. I have done well since starting two plus years ago and I am on track to hopefully make some big tournaments this year. I may be asking for some help with the bankroll but I'm not sure how to go about it. I'm going to have to think about this for a few days. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to comment or email me at (lifesagrind at yahoo dot com).

Friday, July 22, 2005

Donkey Is As Donkey Does

Bluff Poker Tour Event #8. If you want to know how to win a tournament look elsewhere. If you want to know how to lose one, read on.

"You may only see my whole cards, but you'll read my every thought as I make losing decisions at the poker table."

Thirty four minutes, five flops. It's not the quickest I've ever been busted out, but its awfully damn close. The key to losing a tournament is in the preparation.
First you must go straight from work to your daughter's T-Ball game. Then rush home for the tournament, but make sure that you read your email and catch up on some internet reading while playing the early rounds. This way you will have no idea how the other players are playing. This in turn leads to best guess scenario's and those are always 100% correct.

Flop #1: I'm dealt a middle pocket pair in late position and I call a raise. The flop misses me and brings an over card. An early position bet and I fold.

Flop #2: It's folded around to the small blind who makes a standard 3x raise. I find pocket 5's in the big blind and decide that since the small blind is short stacked for the table, that he is trying to just steal here. If he had any pair I think he'd just push all-in and force me out that way. With this read I reraise forcing him to call off all of his chips. He takes a while to decide and I know I'm ahead before he makes the call. He shows A 10 off and I win the coin flip. I'm now well over the average stack size and I'm about to go back to reading when...

Flop #3: From my small blind I have Q3 spades. A hand I would never play but I outthink myself. There are about 4 or 5 limpers and it's only going to cost me 1/2 a bet. If I flop big I may get a nice pot out of it so I call. The flop comes king high but with 2 spades. I check to see what the table does. It goes check, pot sized bet, then folds around to me. My inner voice says fold, heads up this is not worth it. My outer voice says, I've got a decent stack lets gamble a little.

I call, turn, no spade. I check, he makes same bet. Again my outer voice overrides the inner and I decide to see the river. Again, no spade. This time it goes check, check and my opponent has been on a complete bluff. He managed to pair the river though so I'm still a schmuck.

Flop #4: After chasing a stupid draw I'm left with an average size stack. Two hands later and now in the cutoff I find AA. Two callers to me, I make my standard raise. Big blind calls, original limper calls, others fold. Flop comes down J 7 6 with two spades.

First well cover what really happened, then we'll cover what should have happened.

Blind bets out with a pot size bet. Limper raises the minimum amount and now I have a decision to make. I have no idea how these guys play so I make a guess and put them on top pair and a straight draw. I know a flush draw is out there but for my decision I go with a straight draw. Now I don't want that draw to stick around. I have to make this an unprofitable situation mathematically so I make a pot size bet. I have both of these players covered although just barely. My raise is such a large amount that in order to call me, the players will be forced to go ahead and push all-in.

Sadly the big blind instantly pushes all-in the limper instantly pushes as well. Now I know I'm screwed. Problem is that I'm committed to this now so I have to call the little bit more. As it turns out the hands I chose were correct. Unfortunately one of these players had both hands. The blind had pocket sevens for the flopped set. The limper had J 10 clubs for the top pair and a gutshot draw. I played this hand badly, but what the hell was this guy thinking. Maybe he was psychic because his 9 came on the river for the straight, and the win.

What did I do wrong? Aside from not paying attention, this is how I should have played it. Everything looks good until my decision on the flop. I put them on top pair and a straight draw. The top pair is a feasible read but the straight draw was not. Turns out it was a correct read but it shouldn't have been. Since the blind bet out a pot size bet I can't put him on the draw. He was willing to call a raise knowing he has to act first so unless he likes to gamble it up he's not likely to call with connectors. Suited connectors maybe, but then I don't see him betting into the pot. He'll want others to do the betting for him.

The limper then raised the pot. Not something a drawing hand will want to do. He has to know that given the way most people play he is going to be called by the blind. He may be going for the free card on the turn but he still has to contend with me. I may have an over pair for all he knows so a raise makes no sense. A call would be his best bet if he wants to pursue the draw.

Since after doing some minor thought I could have eliminated the drawing hands I now have to reconsider what I'm up against. With hindsight I know this would be wrong, but looking at the betting pattern I would put the blind on top pair. Now with the raise from limper I have to assume he can beat that top pair. He didn't raise preflop and then called the raise. This screams middle pair so I should have put him on a set of sixes or sevens.

With the big over pair I can't just lay this down though. Instead of the huge bet I should have put out a feeler and just raised the limpers raise by 3x's. This still would have allowed one of them to push and would have allowed me to gather more solid information without putting myself in dire jeopardy. My analysis would have had the hands backwards but at least I would have been able to get away from it with some chips to fight with.

Flop #5: Again it's two hands later(a recurring theme). I only have 2x the big blind left after my big blunder. There are 2 limpers before me and I decide to push with 98 of hearts. A good multiway hand and I have the opportunity to quadruple up. The dealer keeps the board as far away from connecting with my cards as possible and within 38 minutes I'm gone.

I was left to watch those with enough points to catch me and one of them pulled it off. I've gone from a 60 point lead to what should now be a 40 point deficit. I'll still be in second but Quackpot has proven himself to be a good player. This marks his second win in a row and he has moneyed in all but one of the other events he played in. Looks like I'm going to have an uphill battle from here.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Bobbing for Points

The rescheduled Bluff Poker Tour at was played last night. Coming off a 2nd place finish at a tournament on Wednesday and an 18th on Monday I was feeling very good about my game.

I was able to double up within the first level and take the chip lead when my KK held up against an AK. I managed to stay within the top six or so throughout the tournament. Having said that, I'm a little disappointed in myself.

I'm not sure if I should be though so here's the tale, help me decide.

I've stated before that winning this points race is my top priority until it's over in December. The WPT seats that are up for grabs are important to me and the family is behind me 100%. We are making sure that family scheduling conflicts do not occur on tournament nights and everyone tries to stay quiet during game time.

Since last nights tournament had to be rescheduled we only had 60 players show up. A generous 10 places were paying which means I had a 1 in 6 chance of collecting points. I mentioned earlier that I doubled up fairly early and I never had a problem maintaining a stack throughout.

I begin to question myself as we get down to around 18 players. I'm in a position to easily fold into the money and thus earn more points. Only one player remains who has a good chance of making some ground up against me. He has fewer chips than me and as such I make it my goal to outlast him at all costs. The Tour lasts for a long time and any advantage I can get will be needed.

With this new mindset, my raises become completely ineffective. We are at the stage in the tournament where small stacks are having to push in. I would make my standard 3xBB raise and a small stack would push. I could call and still have plenty of chips. I should call as the small stacks are desperate at this point. Problem is that in the back of my mind I don't feel that I can burn any chips on a coin flip. I have to outlast this other player. I fold, and fold again to small stack pushes.

Two of the players realize that I'm playing like a pussy and use all-in pushes to force me to fold all of my hands. It only takes a few times for me to realize what they are doing so I'm left folding every hand. If I had received a big pocket pair I certainly would have called them but my small pairs and middle cards made the decisions pretty easy.

When my worrisome opponent finally busts out in 8th I decided to switch gears and start actually playing.

As a side note: My username on PokerRewards is nothing like my bluff name so no one knew who I was. It wasn't by design but it was nice knowing no one was worried about out lasting me.

Anyway, I change gears, announce to the table who I am, and start to go aggressive. I pick up a few pots and am one double up away from being a contender. I get a suited big slick and make my standard raise. Here is where my past comes to haunt me. One of the players who was effectively using the all in against me earlier decides to look me up and calls. The flop comes all low cards and my read of the situation is that I have the best hand at this point. I make a pot size bet and he pushes back at me all in. I go with my read and call. He shows to small cards for a flopped open end straight and he's on nothing but a draw. The river brings his straight and I'm out in 5th.

It was a good night for points but had I played my normal game I'm very confident that I take down this tournament. The big picture is the points, but if I continue to play like a pussy I won't win another one. If I go for the win each time I might not get any points. What do I do?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Play Perfect Poker, Play Perfect Poker, Play Perfect Poker

Last night was supposed to be the Bluff Poker Tour event at
. I say supposed to be because PokerRewards screwed it up and listed it as a private tournament, then couldn't correct their mistake. The tournament has been rescheduled for Friday. I had been preparing myself all day for battle and I really needed to get some tournament play in.

I headed to my tournament standby site of
and found a $30+3 starting within the hour. My play was inspired even if I do say so myself. I was able to make some laydowns that I felt trapped into playing in the past, read my opponents well, made good decisions, and played one of my best games ever.

This of course went all out the window once I hit the final table. I can't explain what happened but I went into the final table in second chip position. The chip leader (who had about 1/3 of total chips) was the consummate bully and I'd managed to bleed off some chips early learning this fact. He played the part beautifully and in order to assure my survival I decided to avoid him. I tried to bully the rest of the field and either my timing was way off, I lost my nerve, or all these guys were suddenly catching cards. It was more than likely a combination of all of the above but I soon found myself treading water in the middle of the field.

A few players began to be knocked out and it was time to go for a steal with QJ suited in middle position. The player on my left called and I decided to push him off his hand when the flop came down AJx with one diamond. When he pushed back at me, all in, I knew I was behind. If I fold in this spot I only have about 5 or 6 times the big blind so I decided to call. I hoped to catch two pair but was instead rewarded with running diamonds for the flush and the double up. I knew I had just laid a bad beat on him and I offered my condolences. He remained silent and pushed all in when my big blind came around. I had to make the call and I eliminated him.

When we were down to four players the game became very tough. My adversaries were good players and I really was feeling like the odd man out. I managed to take the chip lead (don't know how I did this) and then laid another horrible suckout on the second chip position. I needed runner runner to make my hand and it came in the form of another rivered flush.

I then eliminated the third player when I misread the board. I almost laid down the nuts to his all in bet on the river. I had made my straight on the turn but for some reason, (probably the fact my eyes were growing very sleepy), I thought I only had four to the straight. As I was getting ready to fold I finally realized this fact and made the call.

Once we were heads up I had a nice 3 to 1 chip lead but I was no longer in any condition to make good decisions. I blew off my chips with bad calls and bad bets. It didn't take long and I finished in second place. A nice paycheck for sure, but I really only played well enough to earn 5th or 6th. The wall I ran into once I hit the final table I just couldn't overcome without lucky cards. I hated to eliminate some of those guys that way, especially since they were playing so well. I know they have me listed as a player who just got lucky, and for once I'd agree.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Suckout and Re-Suckout are Sitting on a Fence

Another Bluff Poker Tour Event has come and gone. Only 121 players this time and you had to make the final table to accumulate any points. I played a very good game right up until I busted out in 32nd.

The flops were bizarre last night as I saw many 4 flushes hit. Whenever multiple players were all-in pre-flop the board was nuts. The flop would give the worst hands a suckout, the turn would give another player a suckout, finally the river would make the third player the winner for a final suckout. It was really rather amazing to see.

In my final hand I held AQ of diamonds with a stack about 11x the big blind. I made a 3x preflop raise and a short stack on my left went all-in. I was expecting this play but when a very tight player to his left pushed all-in I figured I was behind. I've only seen him push with AA and AK so I gave him credit for either AK or KK in this instance. When it got back to me I didn't want to try nursing a short stack. With having to make the final 10 I decided to take the chance to just about triple up.

The first all in held KJ of clubs and the tight player indeed held AK. I liked the fact that they shared the K so when the flop came Q high I took a nice lead. The turn was a blank and I had visions of a final table appearance until one of the remaining two Kings hit the river sending me out. I usually don't get overly upset but the two outer on the river really pissed me off. I spent five minutes pacing around the room and cooling off before hitting the cash tables.

My cash game has shown great improvement since I've rededicate myself to the craft. This past week I've had solid winning sessions and last night would prove to be a very nice session as I more than doubled my buy-in. The suckouts would continue though throughout the night but the last one had me laughing.

I held pocket 6's in the small blind and a new player to my immediate right raised it up. He had only been sitting for three hands at the table and had raised two of them. Without a solid read I went with a loose maniac read and called. The two of us saw a flop come J high and the original raiser bet out. I couldn't put him on a hand so I decided to see what the turn was going to bring. The turn paired an 8 from the flop and I decided to try and take this pot away from him. I check raised representing the 8 and after thinking for a second he raised back at me. Since he hesitated I now put him on a Jack. I knew I was going to lose this hand unless I took it from him so I capped it. I expected him to make the call and then fold the river if a Jack didn't come. The river brought my third 6 and a full house. I knew I had the nuts and now I hoped he wasn't a smart player. I went ahead and followed through with my representation of the 8 and he called.

This guy went completely ballistic, the chat window was a constant stream of profanity and cutdowns as he couldn't believe I capped the turn with that crap. I almost fell out of my chair laughing as it felt so good to hit my own two-outer after the loss earlier. I wanted to ask him how he could call the raises with the board pairing the turn but I kept silent and let him place the donkey label on my note sheet.