Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another Shot at a Casino AZ tournament

My friend Jeff has been bugging me for weeks to play with him at Casino Arizona in their Tuesday or Wednesday night Poker Tournaments. Jeff is the one who runs a semi annual tournament at a friends house and wanted to check out the operations of a professional tournament.

Since my weekly Wednesday night game was canceled this week and my wife was busy driving back from Parker, AZ I finally took him up on the offer.

Since you need to get there early to make sure the tournament is not sold out, I arrived around 5:00 PM. I immediately got a seat in a standard 3-6 Hold'em table where everyone was awful. This time my strategy was to try really hard to win the first pot I voluntarily enter. It's so much better for my state of mind and my table image if I start out winning.

Luckily, my 2nd hand was pocket queens. They held up against the loose aggressive player on my left who had pocket Jacks. A while later, I took down a multiple raised pot with a King high straight and I was up $80. Hey, I might get to free roll this $130 tournament if things keep up.

Finally Jeff arrived around 5:45 and I took a break. Jeff did not want to play 3-6 while he waited so we found a 4-8 table with two seats open. I racked up my $180 and sat down with Jeff.

I immediately began to lose my profits. I got a bit unlucky when a guy on my right limped into a multi way pot with pocket Aces. I of course raised on the button with Ace-King. Everyone's in and I hit my King on the flop. Opponent bets, I raise, he reraises, I call. The turn and river I call down. Another guy flops a set of 5's against me when I hit top pair again and now I am back to even.

During my observation of the table from the 10 seat, I notice the young guy in the 1 seat is a really bad player. I happened to notice that he played 2-4 offsuit in early position and drew to an inside straight. He also tended to bet his weak hands.

A few hands later, I am on the button again with pocket 7's. 5-6 people limp in and I limp as well. The one seat bad player raises and everyone calls. The flop is 9-6-2 rainbow. The bad player checks and everyone including me checks around. My guess is he has Ace-King. The next card is a 10 and he leads out. Everyone folds to me. With a little bit of tilt creeping in and the fact that I still have him on Ace-King, I call. The river is a Jack and he bets into me again and I call. He shows 2-7 offsuit and my hand is good.

One round later, I raise with A-J and the one seat calls. I flop the Jack and lead out, he calls. Turn is a low card, I bet he calls. The river puts out a possible straight, so I check. He bets and I call. My hand is good again. Now I am back up to my $80 mark. I tell Jeff that this guy might be my personal ATM.

Eventually I racked up a $65 profit and headed over to my tournament seat. Once again, I get the crappy seat to the right of the dealer. I start with 2000 in chips and 25-50 blinds. The levels are only 20 minutes and there are no ante levels. I believe the only way to win these is to win your first couple of hands, and then double up each round. Once you get to the third level, the average chip stack is about 10 blinds, so basically you have to get called on a push and win a race.

I of course do the opposite. I have Ace-little on the big blind and there are 5 people in the pot. I flop the Ace, but my position sucks, so I check to see what everyone else does. Everyone checks. The turn is another low card which puts a possible wheel out there. This time I bet 300 trying to take it down. Another guy shoves all in for about 1600, and everyone folds to me. I muck it pretty quick and the nice guy shows me his straight.

From there I managed to slowly chip up. I turned a pair of 7's into a flush in a big multiway pot and did not get called when I moved all in. I reraised all in with AK against a raiser and caller. The first raiser folded, but the second guy called. He also had AK so we split up the dead money. I raised a coupld of times preflop with good hands and everyone folded. I even noticed a tell on the guy in the one seat. He would always look at his cards right away and grab chips if he was going to play. I also realized that the guy on his left was pretty tight, so there would definitely be some opportunities to steal. I pulled it off one time with 10-3 suited.

So for a very short time, I was the chip leader at my table with about 15x the blind. After we got to the third and fourth levels, players started to bust at my table and new players arrived with more chips than me. This is when things started to get crazy for the other players at the table.

There were three hands where the two players were all in. One player would be ahead preflop. The other guy would pull ahead on the flop. Then the first player would resuck out on the turn or river. It definitely seemed like you were the underdog if you were the favorite preflop.

I was watching all of this and folding my bad hands, looking for the right opportunity to gather chips. Finally in the small blind, it's folded to me and I look down at A-4 offsuit. I now have 2800 in chips and the blinds are 150-300. I had been watching the player in the big blind in the one seat for his tell. He had not grabbed any chips and he had actually turned around to talk to a friend who was standing behind him.

This looks like an easy steal, so I move all in. "Oh!, I call" he says instantly. I jump up in my seat in shock and say, "Uh, oh" I think the table expected me to turn up complete crap. I turned over my Ace-4, but the big blind has Pocket Kings. Since the underdog had been sucking out, I thought I might have a chance, but my Ace must have been buried deep in the deck. I was left with less than one blind after the blinds went up to 200-400. A few hands later my Ace-Jack fell to King-7 and I was done in 98th place out of 180.

Jeff was very short stacked when I got up. He told me that he wanted to place in the top 80. I told him he would need to win a couple of pots. I guess he listened because he texted me when I got home that he had finished in 44th.

I really wish I could have watched Noah play in a couple of these where he did well. I still find it hard to believe that there is much skill involved in getting to the final table.

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