Thursday, July 27, 2006

Maybe I Should Have Taken The 2 Weeks?

I have resumed my poker playing for three days and I am negative each day. Nothing serious, just $25 a day, but it's still frustrating.

Last night I was invited to a friend's house for a weekly $20 Sit-N-Go they run. There were only 5 players this week. Last week they said they had 10. We started with $40 in chips and the blinds started at $0.25-$0.50. Amazingly they said the blind levels are an hour long. I asked if some of their games go until 3 or 4 in the morning. They said no, that they manage to finish by 11 or 12 and sometimes they make a deal.

My friends all seemed to play the game in a style I have a lot of trouble with. It's a loose passive and trapping game. They will limp into the pot with any two. They will call with a draw or piece of the flop. They will also slow play any decent hand. So basically their crappy hands and their good hands look the same.

I'm pretty sure the way to counteract this style of play is this:

1. Raise more with high pocket pairs preflop. Force them to call (make mistakes) with weaker hands.

2. Limp in position with connected and suited cards whenever possible. There were very few preflop raises and if they did, it was just double the blind. Get in cheap and flop a monster.

3. On the flop, it's fit or fold. If you hit your top pair or 2nd pair with good kicker, bet it with 3/4 to Pot sized bets and make them pay to draw. If you miss or you have a draw. Just check, because it's likely you will get a free card or only have to call a very small bet since they consistently underbet the pot.

4. If you bet and they raise, you better have a good hand. If not then fold it. The bluff raise is not in their arsenal.

Unfortunately, I did not remember or figure all this out until it was too late.

The eventual winner, Mike, basically made me his bitch. At the .50-$1 level I had K-J suited on the button. I raised to 1.50 and Mike called in the small blind. The flop was J-T-6 with two clubs. I bet $3 into a $5 pot and just Mike called. The turn was a King of clubs. Good news is that I have two pair. Bad news is that the straight and flush draws just got there. I bet $5 and Mike raised me all in. He looked pretty confident so I folded. That pot put me down to about $28.

A couple of rounds later, I finally deal myself a good hand on the button. Devin limps in for $1 and I stare at two cowboys. I raise to $3. Mike smooth calls again from the small blind. Jason in the big blind folds, and Devin folds. The flop is T-7-3 rainbow. Mike checks and I bet $4. Mike then check raises me all in. I don't think he has Aces because I figure he would have reraised preflop. Two pair seems unlikely with the board. He could have 3 of a kind. Wouldn't he slow play that though? The most likely hands seem like QQ, JJ or Ace-10. I call.

Mike proudly turns over pocket Aces. My Kings do not improve on the turn and river and I am out in 4th place out of 5. This is exactly what is so frustrating about this game. Two weeks ago I am dreaming of playing against some of the best players in the world at the World Series and last night I could not even beat 4 rank amateurs in a home game.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I've Fallen Off The Wagon

I decided that one week without playing was long enough. With all the poker going on in the world right now, I am anxious to get better and improve my game. I am trying to dedicate myself to learning the games of Cash No Limit Hold'em and Omaha 8 or better.

My first night back was a little disappointing. I lost about $20 last night mainly because my Aces got cracked by pocket Queens on a No Limit table. Otherwise I played ok.

Things I want to focus on while playing Omaha:

1. Reading the board and my cards. I want to stop and think what is the nuts? How many outs do I have? Too often I rush my decision based on the easy draw. I need to consider all the draws.

2. After reading my hand becomes second nature, I need to concentrate more on what my opponent could have. It is definitely more difficult to put players on hands in Omaha versus Hold'em. It's not impossible however, and I need to get better at it.

I don't think I will invest in Poker Tracker for Omaha. All I really want to know is if I am making money, so I will keep track of that on an excel spreadsheet. I don't think there has been enough information published on preflop raising or calling to have any idea what the stats mean.

I have been reading the Sklansky / Miller book on No Limit Hold'em. So far I am not very impressed. ThAll of their arguments are based on math. That's all well and good, but this takes a lot of assumptions on their part. Assuming that a player will call 20%, fold 20%, and move all in 60% of the time is almost impossible. If the math is based on assumptions then it really is just a guess.

Now if S/M had posted a hand example on their website and then polled their readers for an answer on what they would do? Then I would have a little more faith in their assumptions. Right now it looks like they have a theory and then make up the numbers to fit the theory.

There are some good nuggets of information in the book. It's best when they try to summarize a point at the end of the chapter. When they use the following phraseology, the book comes alive. If your opponent tends to fold, consider doing ________. If your opponent will call another bet on the river, consider doing ________. Things like not semi bluffing a nut flush draw if you think you can stack an opponent if you hit it, versus betting the non-nut draw if you feel you can win the pot now. These are things that most low limit players are not considering.

In fact, after I am done reading it, I may go back to Phil Gordon's book as my bible in the low limit games. I think S / M may put me on the wrong level of thinking to beat the .50-$1 NL games on Full Tilt and Poker Stars.

In the mean time, I am going to limit myself to only playing on two sites. Poker Stars and Full Tilt. I like both of the sites and I get rake back on Full Tilt. I am going to try and utilize some of their frequent player point features and win some money on free rolls. I can't generate enough points if I spread my play over 4 or more sites. My screen name on Poker Stars is "larryvq" and my screen name on Full Tilt is "Poker_Bully1". Feel free to say hello if you are one of my few readers.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I've Got The Shakes

Telling someone they can't read about or play poker during the World Series is like giving a raging alcoholic a job as a bartender.

I still have not played any poker since Sunday. I could not keep myself from reading about it, however. I have not cracked an instruction book, but I can't stop logging into and the other assorted blogs to get my WSOP updates.

This is the story that's been on my mind the last couple of days.

(This story was originally published Tuesday)

By Arindam Nag

LONDON (Dow Jones)--Internet betting in the U.S. was once dubbed "the crack
cocaine of gambling." It now seems the British online gaming industry is
falling victim to an overdose.
The CEO of BETonSPORTS Plc has been taken into custody in the U.S. amid
authorities' long-running efforts to curb online gambling. The company's
shares have been suspended in London and those of peers have been hammered by
What has puzzled some is why was BETonSPORTS was singled out when several
others have been enticing U.S. citizens to place bets on their websites.
The answer may have to do with the U.K.-listed company's role - revealed
last week - in an identity theft ring where several U.S. bettors may have seen
private information exposed to a bunch of hackers.
The documents are in the public domain - the U.S. Attorney of the Southern
District of New York put out a press statement on July 13 on its website. The
statement says a "common thread" linking a number of victims whose identities
were compromised was that they had engaged in betting using BETonSPORTS.
It may be that the company was nothing more than an innocent vehicle for
scammers, and that the detaining of its CEO has nothing to do with the
identity theft case. But given that BETonSPORTS is prominently mentioned in
the federal statement, the company needs to clarify this incident to U.K.
The company's spokeswoman in London was not immediately available to comment
on the identify theft question.
The identity theft case came to public light during the hearing of Lanre
Elekede, 30, a Nigerian native.
"During Elekede's guilty plea hearing, the investigation revealed that a
common threat linking a number of the victims whose identities were
compromised was that they had engaged in sports-related gambling over the
Internet with a Costa Rica-based web site known as," the U.S.
Attorney's statement said.
It also said a number of victims had submitted forms to the U.K.-listed
company in which they mentioned their names, addresses, telephone numbers,
social security numbers, mother's maiden names and credit card numbers - all
important data for online commerce.
For investors, the key question is how could BETonSPORTS, whose business has
been turning around recently on the back of a jump in U.S. revenues, allow its
systems to be compromised like this? Was it a straightforward online break-in,
or something else?
U.S. authorities take privacy laws very seriously. The FBI and other federal
agencies including the Federal Trade Commission have been aggressively
pursuing any loopholes arising out of identity theft. In a country where
online companies like eBay and have prospered, this is only
BETonSPORTS' U.S. business growth has accelerated with signups and customer
deposits up 70% year-over-year. But the latest turn of events makes it seem
the company's internal controls aren't up to the mark.
Even while the bigger case of its executives' troubles drags on, the company
must explain how its name got dragged into the identity theft ring case, and
must assure investors its internal controls are bulletproof in all non-U.S.
markets as well. All told, BETonSPORTS may be on weak ground when it comes
to the bigger issue of U.S. Internet gambling. In the United States vs. Cohen
case in 2000 the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of New York won a
case against Jay Cohen for violating the 1961 Wire Act - the same law cited in
the current case against BETonSPORTS' executives.
Cohen's Antigua-based company World Sports Exchange specialized in online
sports gambling. The government argued that his firm violated federal laws by
enticing Americans to contact the firm via phone or the Internet to open a
betting account.
Cohen argued that the Wire Act did not apply to Internet gambling because it
was passed prior to the advent of the Internet. But that tack failed: Cohen
was sentenced to 21 months in prison, and fined.
Whether BETonSPORTS can rally enough industry support and initiate a change
in U.S. laws is anyone's guess. But on its own the company has not helped its
case by exposing its internal controls to a ring of identity thieves.
That means that well before it can take on U.S. Senators over the pros and
cons of online gambling, the company must launch a convincing cleanup process.
(Arindam Nag has covered business and finance for 15 years in Asia, Europe
and the United States. He can be reached at +44 207-842-9289 or by e-mail:

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
07-19-06 0145ET
Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

This really sucks. I just bought 1000 shares of Party Poker at 2.05 about 3 days before this happened. It is now at 1.75. Even if these legal problems are specific to BetonSports, every gaming company is going to be painted with this brush.

I have already read that Bodog has canceled a convention in Las Vegas and that some obscure poker sites have stopped taking money from US citizens and have frozen their accounts.

I would hope that the big companies with the most to lose will start to fight back. Party cannot just stop taking deposits from the US since they would lose over 60% of their business. They have a lot to fight for and I think they would be willing to do it.

If the US Senate puts off voting on the Internet Gambling act, then someone is going to have to fight a battle in court to get this thing settled. I don't think we can wait for the US Government to finally come to their senses and propose regulating it instead of banning it. That could take years of watching the UK make billions before it sinks in.

In other legal news, some of my favorite pro players have sued the World Poker Tour over the release agreement. I can't believe the WPT has dug their feet in on these stupid issues. Do they really believe they are going to make a shit load of money on using player likenesses in advertising or video games? Now they are going to have to spend money defending themselves in court, when all they had to do was copy the release from the WSOP and everyone would have been happy.

I predict the World Poker Tour will be bankrupt inside of 5 years.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Wait 'til Next Year!

My last gasp effort to win my seat into the Main Event has come up short. After numerous efforts to satellite into the Full Tilt 100 seat guarantee and the Poker Stars 150, I had to cough up the dough to play in the Poker Stars one.

There was an amazing 7700 players and 236 seats up for grabs. I started with 2500 and through 3 hours of play I was never above 5000. Not much exciting happened and went out with Ace-King vs AA and QQ.

I am going to try and take two weeks off from all poker related activities. I will try not to read any blogs, poker books, or websites related to poker. I won't be playing any hands either. It will probably end if and when I decide to buy the final table on pay per view.

In the mean time I will try and work on my golf game and start transitioning my Dad's clients at work, since he is retiring at year end.

I have approximately 1500 left in the bankroll. When I come back I am going to try and master No Limit cash games and Omaha Hi-Lo. I am going to use a tip I learned from Chris "Jesus" Ferguson about bankroll management. Never put more than 5% of your bankroll on the table. Use the 5% number as a guideline to decide if you are ready to move up. Chris has run $1 up to $10,000 using that method. I have a head start, but I plan on doing the same.

Overall, I feel good about the effort I put into qualifying. My net loss on qualifying tournaments was $1,531. Obviously the close call on Party Poker where I won $1,360 helped a lot. I played in 54 WSOP related satellites over the last 2 months. I had two really close calls and even traveled to Las Vegas to play in a live satellite where I finished 7th (4 out of a seat).

Next year will be interesting because Michele and I are expecting our first baby boy in November. All of my friends think that this year was my last chance to go, but I think Michele is understanding enough, that if I qualified, we would find a way to make it work. I guess I'll find out next year.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cystic Fibrosis Charity Tournament

Good God it's hot outside. I know this because my truck battery died when I tried to leave work to go to the tournament. Luckily there were a few hearty souls left in the office and I keep jumper cables in the back of my truck. So after sweating my balls off, jumping my truck I made it to Barcelona.

I was very impressed. Jeff had filled the bar and there were 108 entries in the tournament. They way he was talking about it a couple of weeks ago, it sounded like it was going to be a big bust. Jeff tried to do it up right by hiring dealers and getting out the fancy blind tracker clock on a tv screen. The only flaw is that he did not hire a tournament director to rebalance tables and keep track of the bustouts. Overall he did a good job. I mean I can't expect it to run perfectly since he's never played in a real tournament before.

We started with 1000 in chips and 10-20 blinds. Rebuys were $100 for 1000 chips and there would be an add on for an additional $100 for 1000 chips at the end of the 6th level. The add on would be silly since the blinds would be 200-400 by that time.

I knew a couple of people at my starting table. Jeff, who's house we have had previous tournaments at, and Brian who says he's given up playing poker (but used to play in the big mixed games at Casino Arizona). The others all looked like novices. My strategy was going to be to play solid and never bluff. Bet big with top pair good kicker and punish any draws. Hope I get off to a good start.

My first hand in the small blind I picked up a 5-Q and completed. I flopped an open ended straight draw. It was checked through 4 players. The turn paired the Ten on the board and I led out for 50. Everyone folded. Ok I may have to bluff a little bit. :-)

A few hands later, I picked up A-10 offsuit in the big blind. There were 4 limpers so I did not feel the need to raise and build a big pot, so I checked my option. The flop was K-10-6. For some inexplicable reason I decided to bet to see where I was at. The semi-clueless girl on my left called and everyone else folded. The turn was another King. Now I am thinking that I am good, because there is a good chance she could have called with a pair of tens or a pair of 6's. Since there's another King on the board, the chances are less that she has the third one. Anyways, I still am not interested in playing a big pot, so I check. She bets 200 and I call. The river was a brick. I check again and she bets 300. This doesn't look too good. I call anyways and she turns over King-5 for trips and rakes the pot. I love it when I donk off 1/2 my stack calling down middle pair.

In the mean time, Brian was amassing a boat load of chips. Once by bluffing a big pot with 2-7 offsuit. He loved showing that one down. Then he took all of my chips and then some from the trip kings girl. Brian was bluffing into her big on the flop and the turn. By the turn, Brian had an inside wheel draw. The river completed his straight and he moved all in. The trip kings girl made a brilliant (sarcasm here) call with Ace high and Jack kicker. So Brian was a donkey in trying to bluff a calling station twice and I don't know what the hell the girl was thinking.

The blinds were starting to get big and I was starting to move all in to stay alive. I did it a couple of times at my original table before I got moved.

My new table had a big stack on my left. One of the guys from my previous table had moved with me and knew I was pushing all in a lot and was starting to tell the rest of the table about it. In the mean time, my pregnant wife is getting tired and I am going to need her to get home. She is the only one with a car that will start.

So it's folded to me and I look at 9-7 offsuit. I move all in. Somebody calls me and I spike a 9 on the turn and double up. A couple of hands later, I have J-10 and I move in again. This time the big stack calls me with........wait for it........8-9 suited. I blurt out, "Man you can call me with that hand all night!" He didn't look too happy when I said that. My Jack high holds up and now I am out of "all in" range.

We finally hit the break and I switch cars with my wife. I jump start the truck again and send her on her way. She was a real trooper tonight. She bought me a great plate of appetizer, hung out at the table with me for a while, and even stood on the rail until the break. Unbeknowst to me, she even went to Pep Boys and got my battery replaced for me. Best wife ever.

When I get back from the break, I am moved again and this time my friend Paul from the country club is across the table from me. He is an older gentleman who I have played with in Jeff's tournaments before. He had asked me about the rebuy strategy before the event, so he knew that I had some poker knowledge. Well the blinds were up to 200-400 and I had about 3600 in chips.

First hand at the new table I get 7-7 in early position. I raise all in. Fold, fold, fold, fold, until it gets to Paul. He goes into the tank for a little while. Since he is thinking about it, I figure I am a coin flip with overcards. He finally calls for all his chips with..........5-6 suited. I'll lose this one for sure. Somehow my 7's hold up against Paul's monster and now I have the second biggest stack at the table.

I tighten up a little and just play solid poker. I win a couple pots and I notice something. Everyone in this tournament seems to play really conservative. Usually these are big calling station fests. For some reason, when the blinds went up, nobody wanted to go broke. Now I could have went crazy and started raising every other hand, but I played a bit conservative and just picked my spots.

Players were busting out left and right as the blinds were going up. Eventually we got down to 5 handed. Nobody was coming to rebalance the tables, so I took charge and told everyone to grab their chips and find a new seat on their own.

Eventually I made it my final table. This table was really serious. Everyone seemed really grumpy. The guy on my left was really drunk and had no idea what he was doing. The guy on my right looked like Mark Wahlburg. I think the blinds were 800-1600 by now and I was still around 7-8 big blinds. I moved in a couple of times and won the blinds. I busted a short stack with a pair of Kings. Before long I was a slight chip leader at my table with two tables left in the tournament.

I am on the small blind. Under the gun raises 3x the blind. A decent player moves all in. He has about 1/3 of my stack. Everyone folds to me and lo and behold I have pocket rockets. I briefly consider just calling the raise to try and trap the remaining player. Then I decide, that idiots have been calling me all night so I might as well get it in now. Maybe he has KK or QQ. I shove and the under the gun player calls for all his chips.

The under the gun player turns over King-Jack offsuit and the first all in player turns over
Kh Qh. The flop is A-9-2 rainbow. For a brief moment I think I am unbeatable. Then another heart comes on the turn. Ok there's a flush draw, but I am going to fill up dammit. The river breaks my heart and the heart flush steals my 30k pot. The good news is, that I won back enough in the side pot, to only lose 3500 in the hand. So I still had around 13,000.

The blinds went up to 1000-2000. I had King 4 in the big blind. There was one limper. The small blind did not have enough chips to complete the bet. The flop came down K-Q-6. I thought about checking it down. That's what you usually do to eliminate a player. However I wanted the money in the side pot and I had top pair. No sense in waiting for an Ace to kill my hand. I bet 2000. The other player with chips moves all in quickly.

I don't even think about it and I call. What an idiot. What the hell else is this guy going to move in with? I think a part of me just wanted to go home. He turns over KQ for two pair. The all in turns over K-7. We all had the Kings. I go busto in 8th place.

First place is a new plasma 36" tv. I got a basket of cd's, DVD's, and a portable DVD player. I also got a 200 poker chip set with a case. A pretty good cash. Is it wrong if I try and sell all this stuff on eBay and reinvest it into my poker bankroll?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Shout Out To The Bloggers

I have to apologize to anyone I met at the Blogger Gathering in Vegas last weekend. My brain was fried from playing in the WSOP satellite the night before and I had a horrible time remembering names.

I played in the tournament, but only played just past the first break. Jules from Austraila on my left was making me her bitch and already taken half my stack. When I came back from break, it was all in or fold time. A few hands in, I had As9s in the small blind. I saw 4-5 limpers and no one showed any strength. I figured I would take a chance and shove it all in and hopefully have everyone fold. If somebody did call, I would probably still have my Ace outs. Well the player I really needed to fold, was the utg player (can't remember her name) She thought about it for a little while and then gambled by moving all in with 99. That was about the worst hand I wanted to see right behind AA. So I was out.

I love Caeser's poker room, but they were having some issues on Saturday. Between our 100+ tournament and their regular tournament, there were no dealers left for the cash games. I wanted to stick around and play with the bloggers, but for some reason I did not feel like waiting an hour to get in a game. I made a really stupid decision and left looking for a open seat. Not only did the Flamingo 1-2 NL game take my buy in, but I missed out on a chance to hang out with some really fun people.

For any of those that I met and who stumble across my blog, I would be more than happy to let you link my blog to yours and vice versa. Just let me know.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Live from the World Series of Poker

My Shot at the World Series of Poker

I arrived in Las Vegas at 4:00 PM and checked into the Hard Rock Hotel. I was pleased with the room even though I had some initial trouble getting the TV to work. After freshening up a bit, I went down and caught a cab to the Rio.

The World Series of Poker 2006 is being held in the big convention center at the Rio. It is a poker player’s wet dream. There are over 200 tables in action in the main convention center. There are tournaments, satellites, cash games, tv final tables, and spectators. Outside the main room, the online poker sites have set up hospitality suites where you can sign up for their site and even meet some of the pros.

I started by walking around the room and trying to get a lay of the land. I saw too many poker celebrities to mention. I finally stopped a floor person and asked how to sign up for the $1,060 mega satellite. I was directed to the cashier cage where I forked over $1,060 in cash and received my table assignment. I still had an hour to kill, so I wandered around the hospitality suites. I picked up some free swag and wandered back to the tournament table.

As it was getting closer to the start time, I was becoming disappointed because it was obvious that there were not going to be a lot of players. The final total was 34. I figured on a Friday night, there would be a big crowd, but I guess it’s not close enough to the Main Event yet.

Play started at 7:10 PM and I must admit I was a little nervous. I was in the 1 seat so I could only really chat with the players on my left. I introduced myself to Justin, who was a younger man. I found out he had almost finished his economics degree at Carnegie Mellon, but he had put off taking his finals to play in a World Poker Tour Tournament in Southern California. Uh oh. He immediately ordered two Coronas. I would later figure out that the satellite did not mean nearly as much to him as it did to me. He bluffed off a lot of chips and was short stacked for quite some time.

The rest of the players seemed rather average. In the early rounds, I saw a few mistakes in people overplaying top pair, and raising preflop with some questionable hands. My strategy was to play very tight early and use that to my advantage later if needed.

I won my first pot by raising from the button and winning the blinds. My heart was racing and I knew I was going to need to calm down to play my A game. I decided ordering a beer was not a bad idea, so I jumped on the Corona band wagon. That really helped and I immediately felt more comfortable.

A couple of rotations later I picked up pocket fives and limped in for 50. The big blind raised to 200 and the other limpers folded to me. I decided to call and hoped to flop a set. As the dealer burned a card and dealt out a stack of three cards to turn over for the flop, I chanted to myself, “five, five, five!” The flop was 5-8-J. The raiser bets 1000, which is a bit of an overbet on the pot. I calculate how much it would be to raise, and how much I would have left. I decide to just push all in for 2500. Some how he thinks he has the odds to call and all he has is Ace-King. I double up and I am feeling really good.

A little later I flop another set with pocket Jacks. The board is 9-T-J I lead out for about ½ the pot and get called by one other player. An Ace comes on the turn and bet all in. I don’t want any draws to keep going. I have him covered by about 2,000 and he finally mucks. Now I am up to 8600 after this pot.

Things were going really well. At level 4 we were cruising along and suddenly it’s the last hand. I have Kh Qh on the button. There are two limpers for 200. I raise to 600 and they both call. The flop is 9-T-J. I flopped the nuts! The first limper now moves all in. Wow! The second limper folds. I double check my cards and say, “I call.” The first player had 9-T for two pair. The turn and river do not fill him up and I am up to 14,000 in chips by the second break.

That feeling was the absolute highlight of my poker career. For the next 10 minutes on the break I was leaving messages for Jon in Arizona and dreaming of playing in the Main Event. It really felt like it was going to happen. I was catching great cards and even better, others were catching good second best hands.

I did the math in my head and figured out that with 3,000 in starting chips and 34 starting players, that there were 102,000 chips in play. I now had 14,000 in chips at the 2nd break. If I could just maintain my stack by winning an occasional pot or stealing the blinds once in a while I could make it to the final table with an above average stack. I liked my chances in a one table sit and go paying 3 spots.

If it was at all possible, I was going to play even more conservatively, because I could afford to. The blinds at level 5 were 100-200 with a 25 ante. When we got back, there were a few people that had not made it back to their seats. I picked up pocket 4’s in the cut off and I decided to steal the blinds. The big blind was a shorter stack with about 2100 in chips and decided to reraise all in. I was getting 2-1 on my money so I called hoping for over cards. He had pocket Jacks and I lost a small pot there.

When the big blind came back around, I think we were at 100-200 blinds with a 25 ante. With 9 players at the table there was 525 in every pot in the beginning of the hand. It was folded to the small blind. Earlier he had tried to steal and I jokingly told him as my cell phone was ringing, that it was a blind stealing alarm. I need to defend. This time he only limped in. I had K-3 offsuit.

The flop came down K-J-3. The small blind led out for 600. Thinking that I am ahead, but I don’t want to let a draw play cheap or take the chance on getting counterfeited. I decide to raise to 2000. The small blind thinks for a little bit and then raises to 5000 total. Decision time.

This player had raised with weak aces before and had made some aggressive moves earlier in the tournament. I had not seen him get out of line for the last hour though. The only hands I thought someone could reraise me with were K-J for a better two pair or trip Jacks. I decided to lay it down and protect my stack since he had almost as many chips as I did.

Looking back, this is the one hand I really felt I misplayed. I even called the Bluff Radio show and asked Kenna James to analyze the hand. He said my first mistake was not raising preflop. There is 625 in the pot, why not take it. K-3 is a better than average hand, plus it would define my opponent’s hand. If he had been limping with JJ, I would have found out pretty quickly. Then after he bet on the flop, I should have just smooth called. He could be betting with a King or a Jack. I don’t think he would lead out that big with trips because I had not shown any strength at all. He would try to keep me in the hand. I can smooth call the turn and make sure a Jack doesn’t come or and Ace or 9. If I dodge those, then I am almost a lock to win the hand. My guess now is that he had Ace-King. He tried to slow play in the beginning and then was trying to take all my chips with the reraise.

After hearing the opinions of Kenna James and others on the 2+2 board, I think I missed a great chance to break him here.

From this point forward, I pretty much went card dead. I did pick up Aces once, but only picked up the blinds. I also reraised all in with AK after a tight player raised in early position preflop. I figured she would lay down anything but Aces or Kings and if she did not, then I would race for a decent chance to double up.

At the end of level 6 I had been chipped away to 8000 with the blinds going up to 400-800 with 100 antes. We had made it to the final table. I wanted to push all in against the stacks that were my size thinking I could get them to fold a very high percentage of the time. The problem was that the medium stacks were also calling stations so I wasn’t as comfortable that they would realize they should fold hands like King Jack.

The other problem is that my cards were so awful that I did not want to go bust with a hand like 10-5 offsuit. I just couldn’t live with myself. I was very patient and finally picked up 66 under the gun. I raised all in and one player called for all his chips. Before I turned it over, he asked if I had Aces. I had been playing so tight, he thought he might be beat. He turned over Kings and I did not improve. I did not have enough to even pay the big blind the next hand. I went out in 7th place after my Jack-Ten did not improve.

So the so called good news was that I made $208 back from my $1,060. When I left, I felt like I had played the best I could. I was very patient and remained focused for the entire tournament. Obviously I could have made a couple of better decisions, but I cannot fault the effort that I put into the tournament. I think that’s all I can ask of myself.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rollin' Up A Stake And Going To Vegas

This weekend is the big Blogger Fest 2006 in Vegas. Originally I was planning on going to Vegas with my friends, Rob, Carlo, Jon,Bill, and Marty. All of them look like they are dropping out. So I may be flying solo.

Right now my plan is to roll in Friday night and try and make a score at the Mega Satellite at the Rio into the Main Event. It's $1060 to enter and they give away a seat for every 10k in the prize pool. The more players the better as this caters to my strengths of playing tight and surviving. I think the one table satellites would be tougher because I am not as strong a player short handed and heads up. I really, really, really want to qualify and tell Rob and Bill that I do not need their backing to get in to the Main Event and that I will keep any profits I make. Hahahahaha.

Saturday morning will be the Blogger tournament at Caesers Palace. I just got word that Howard Lederer and Phil Gordon are supposed to give us a little speech before the tournament so that will be cool. Plus InterPoker is giving all of us free shirts and adding some cash to the prize pool. We are starting with 4000 in chips and have 40 minute levels. I may be there all day.

I read an interesting post on 2+2 regarding the hand history of one of the qualifiers for the main event on Party Poker here
I have played in a few of these $215 and it confirms that the play is soft. I did not learn too much from his hands other than this:
1. Play extremely tight. I don't think he called a raise preflop with anything less than QQ
2. Catch cards at the right time. He went on a mad rush with about 30 players left where he doubled up about 3 x.
3. Win your races.

Number 3 is what is so annoying to me about tournaments. If you play super tight, solid poker eventually you will need to win at least 3 all ins where you are a slight favorite or slight underdog. This is the only way to double and triple up when you really need it. If you play loose aggressive, sometimes you can chip up without a lot of risk and only play for all your chips as a big favorite. Even then, you occasionally get sucked out on, but at least you still have chips.

Satellites are a little different though because you are only rewarded for surviving, not winning. If you have 20x the big blind left when you qualify in a satellite, you may have taken too much risk getting there because you have so many chips.