Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Wedding in Vegas

I threw all my chips in the middle with Michele and now we are in the big poker game of life together.

The Bellagio did a fantastic job with the wedding and everyone who made the trip was really impressed.

However this blog is about poker and not my personal life so on with the poker escapades.

My first night was Thursday for the bachelor party. We all met up at the Mandalay Bay to play 2-4-8 Hold'em. While it was fun to get 2-3 of my friends on the same table so we could play together, I am not a big fan of this betting structure. The blinds are only $1 and $2. If you raise preflop, the bet increases to $6. So usually there are a bunch of limpers for $2 and then everyone gets grumpy if you raise and charge them $6. Plus the math gets harder as I have to remember to cut the bets in half for the flop and then in half again for the turn and river when calculating my pot odds.

I lost around $50 playing about 4 hours. Somehow Carlo managed to lose $300. He still claims he knows what he is doing. Adam busted out as well, but at least he managed to make it last a few hours. Carlo was gone in 90 minutes.

The rest of night was dinner at Joes, a club, and then back to the Bay for some late night blackjack. Somehow I went on a run although I never got my bet higher than $75. I believe I won $125 but it's a little blurry.

There was no poker Friday as I was busy all day, but Saturday I needed something to take my mind off of the pending nuptials.

The Bellagio poker room has become the busiest room on the strip. This is a slow weekend in Vegas and during prime hours every table was full and the waiting lists were huge. It may have had something to do with the big WPT tournament that was in town. Here is a list of all the Poker Stars I saw during my stay:
Marcle Luske
Chris Ferguson
Doyle Brunson
Johnny Chan
Ming Ly
Chip Reese
Gus Hansen
Sam Farha
Phil Ivey
and TJ Cloutier playing $10 craps at 8:30 AM

I knew I was only going to play for a couple of hours so I jumped on an 8-16 table instead of the 4-8 that I signed up for. The very first hand I played I raised with Ace King of diamonds and flopped the nut flush. I slow played it until the river against an aggressive player on the other end of the table and started out with a nice profit. Of course what always happens in these situations is that the table is really juicy and you get stuck. You want to stay because you know you will make it back but some other commitment is more important. Eventually I lost my profits and was put in just that spot. I lost around $100 but I felt that I was playing pretty well.

There was one hand where I had JJ on the button. There was a Queen on the flop and the big blind check raised me and I folded. He eventually showed down top pair with a weak kicker so it was a good laydown for me. Later I raised preflop with JJ and this guy plus another called after me preflop. I had just lost that other hand so when the flop came with an Ace and two medium cards, I decided to check this time since I was in bad position. The next player bet and the one who beat last time called. I decided that one of them must have an Ace since they called my tight ass raise and another bet on the flop.

Oops. They both had middle pair and I folded the best hand. I still probably made the correct play against most players. These guys were just incredibly loose. Still a better strategy is to lead out that flop and see where I am at.

I racked up and it was off to get changed for the wedding.

On Sunday, my new wife was nice enough to let me play most of the day. I had done most of the planning and she had been working extremely hard at work so she just wanted to lay on the couch and get some alone time.

I found another 8-16 table at Bellagio with at least 3 players who had been there all night and were still going at 9:00 AM. These guys were loose and just looking to have fun. The African guy from my session yesterday was also at the table drinking scotch straight up. He claims to have played online but he was extremely slow at making decisions and had a really hard time remembering who was in the hand and how much to bet.

I made a little run early and had nearly doubled up my $300 buy in. After 2 hours a couple of the players on my end were starting to tilt because the African guy was taking so long. I didn't care since he sucked and I wanted to keep him happy. Plus there was NFL football on the tv so there were some nice things to keep you distracted. Sure enough these guys decide to try and bust the African and pick the wrong hands as he starts to catch cards and they get frustrated and leave.

There was another guy who looks like a friend I have named Joe, so that is how I will refer to him. He was there to gambool. Occasionally he would play a hand blind and he would raise with crappy cards just to mix things up. On one hand where he folded, he bet the guy next to him $5 on who would win the pot that neither one of them were in. These are the kinds of tables I enjoy. Easy money and nobody really minds losing it.

I finished this session up over $100 but it could have been so much better. It is really annoying that everytime I try to move up into a bigger game, I find worse players but I still manage to lose crucial pots. I could have made over 500 if it wasn't for a couple of hands.

I had Jack-9 of diamonds in the small blind. A few limpers and I complete. The flop is Jack-7-7 and I lead out on the flop. I get one caller who seemed to be slow playing me and the African who could very well have a 3 card draw with 2 to come. The turn is a 6 and I lead out again. Both call. Now I am really starting to convince myself that someone has the 3rd 7. The river is another 6. I just check to see what happens. Surprisingly the guy who I think is slow playing checks as well and then the African bets. I had not seen him bluff on the river and there was still a chance that the other guy was waiting to check raise (although he'd be crazy to check on the river with the calling station on his left). I was getting 7 to 1 and if I close the action, I call but I had no idea what the guy on my left had. Depressingly after I fold, the other guy folds and I don't even get to see the hand. I try to chide him into showing me but he wants to keep it a secret.

I have QT suited in late position and I call after a few limpers. The flop is 10 high rainbow. It's checked to me and I bet. The African calls and and early limper calls. The turn is a low second club. I open and African folds. The early guy calls again. The river was the 3rd club and he leads out. I have to call because the pot's too big and I had seen he is capable of bluffing. Sure enough he caught middle pair on the flop with the backdoor flush draw. He made a bad call but not horribly bad on the flop and turn, but hit his card on the river.

A little while later I get AA cracked by a runner runner flush, and now I'm a little pissed.

The very next hand I am dealt Ace King of clubs. I raise and they probably think I'm steaming a little. Africa calls and the button calls. The button tried to act like he was a good player but was obviously calling down too many draws. Although it felt like he was getting the "I can never win a hand" discouraged look and was starting to tighten up.

This time the flop misses me, but it's only 10 high. I check, African checks, and the button bets. I briefly consider raising, but I just call. The African has already made a comment that he knows I only play solid hands. An amazing observation for someone who had probably consumed an entire bottle of scotch. African calls the flop bet as well. Because I was steaming a little I figure if the next card is higher than a 10 I am going to bluff at it. I know the best the button could possibly have is the 10 and the African is afraid of me.

The turn is the Queen. This time I lead out. The African folds instantly and the button thinks for a few seconds. Then he folds as well. I flip over my Ace King and proclaim, "I guess I have to bluff to win pots in this game, because my good hands don't hold up." I don't know what the button had, but someone mentioned that I had the best hand anyway.

I thought this was kind of a breakthrough moment though because I was thinking on a different level. By checking on the flop, the button must have assumed I had Ace King or Ace Queen. When the Queen comes out, he had to think he was beat. I am trying to wait on my bets until I think about what my opponents have and what they think I have. Always trying to get better.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Signs that you are at a good table

About a week ago I was playing at Casino Arizona on a Sunday while watching football. My table was full of fish and as usual, I was trying to be friendly and having random conversations. It occurred to me that there have been some common and not so common comments made at the table over the years that are sure signs that these players are losers.

I plan on coming back to this post from time to time to update it, but here is what I have so far:

1. I never raise with (AA, KK, AK) because I always lose with that hand

2. My ATM card has a withdrawal maximum, so I can't pull any more money out until midnight. Is there a branch nearby?

3. One fish calling another fish a bad player.

4. "I'll have another shot of whiskey"

5. "Straddle!"

6. "But it was sooooted!"

4. After playing any 2 suited for the 10th time and exclaiming, "Man I never seem to hit a flush!"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Detour on the Road to a Championship

This afternoon I was as close as I have ever been to scoring a big payday in a NL tournament. I entered the Full Tilt $10+1 with 267 entrants.

I started the tournament at 2:00 PM, fully expecting to bust out in time to clean the bathroom and make it to my parents by 5:00 PM. If it goes well, I might be able to skip the cleaning.

I slowly built my stack, but I never really got the lead at my table. For the longest time, I was just about average. Then with about 35 players left, I hit a couple of big hands and built up my chipstack to where I would easily cruise into the money. The problem was time was running out.

Eventually I made it to the final table, but it was 4:30 and I needed to shower and drive to my parents by 5:00 PM. I called and told them, I had a chance to win $700 so I was going to be late. I told them I would meet them at the restaurant instead of their house. The problem is, that the dinner is to celebrate my Mom and Michele's birthdays. I cannot leave them hanging.

It was now past 5:30 and I am meeting them at 6:00 PM. I had earlier taken a 4 minute shower during one of the tournament breaks and only lost a couple of blinds and antes. I was in 5th place and still had about 10x the bigblind. I called a 2x big blind raise from my blind with crap. The flop was very ragged so I lead out for 1/2 the pot. The big stack with 5x as many chips as me, doubles my bet and I fold. So now I am in desperation mode.

Next hand, is folded to me and I raise all in to get the blinds. I win. Now I'm on the button and it's folded to me again. This time I push with 10-8 offsuit. I get called by the big blind with Ace Jack. For the first time in the entire tournament, I win a race where I was an underdog and spike a 10 on the river. Then I get pocket Kings and win a nice pot. So now I am in 3rd place with 5 left and I have to leave for dinner.

Dammit this sucks! I relent to my familiy's wishes and set the computer for autofold. I come back from a great dinner at the Cheesecake Factory to find out I had managed to fold my way into 3rd place. That is a win of $333.75 so it still is a great finish and probably where I would have finished if I had actually been playing.

It was interesting that I never really sucked out on anyone until the very end. I only made one really good play where I recognized a player's stop n go move and I called with 2nd pair and bad kicker. I had tried to steal the blind with absolute crap and he had called and then pushed in after the flop. I had plenty of chips so I figured I would gamble a little.

The rest of the time, I just took advantage of my stealing opportunities and no one ever really played back at me. It definitely seems like the Full Tilt players are tighter and definitely not as aggressive.