Friday, December 26, 2008

Good Article on Tells

Joe Navarro is an expert on tells. He wrote a great book called "Read'em and Reap" and currently writes for Bluff Magazine. I found this article online and I want to remember to look for these tells of the mouth. I will update you the next time I play live to see if I noticed it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bill and Larry Golf Bet year 3

The matchup to decide the best golfer between the two of us for 2009 started today. 10 rounds of golf. Each round will be stroke play. Each win counts as one point. The first one to 5.5 points win the bet. Bill had made some noise a couple of weeks ago about not betting any money on it due to the economy. I of course, questioned his man hood and goaded him into agreeing to a $500 wager. He finally accepted.

Due to the crowd of players today we started on hole number 10. In a surprise, Bill's 5 year old son, joined us for the first 7 holes. I knew this might be a distraction for Bill and sure enough, he had a couple of bad holes when he got distracted.

Bill had jumped out to an early lead as I bogeyed the first 4 holes. My first stroke of luck happened on 14. I hit a 3 wood left, that hit a tree and managed to stay in bounds by about 6 inches. I had to lay up to 50 yards in front of the green and made a bogey 5. The good news was that Bill had hit his tee shot out of bounds and missed the green on his approach. He finished with a 7 to my 5 and I suddenly had a 2 shot lead.

Then I got lucky and birdied the next two holes including number 16 where I sank a 35 foot putt. In the mean time Bill continued his downward spiral by bogeying 15 and double bogeying 16. Suddenly I had a 7 stroke lead after 7 holes.

In my usual fashion I proceeded to give back a bunch of strokes. I got an unlucky bounce off the cart path on 17 and make double bogey. Then I managed to hit the ball in the water on 18 and my lead was back down to 3.

The backsliding continued as we made the turn. To make things worse we had been playing behind a very slow group of 5 old men who would not do the courtesy of letting our foursome play through. It was cold and threatening rain plus the group behind us was losing patience and had yelled at us a couple of times to hurry up. I went back to talk to one of them and let them know that it wasn't our fault. They ended up skipping a couple of holes to get in front of the both of us.

By the time we arrived at the third hole, my lead was down to one. I finally found my groove and went on a run and played the last 7 holes in 1 over par. Bill had some chances to put the pressure on me, but he 3 putted on 7 to miss an opportunity to pick up a stroke and he missed the birdie putt on 18 that would have put the pressure on me to make my 3 footer for par.

The final score was Larry 81 and Bill 83. I now lead the best of 10 rounds 1-0 and the momentum continues from 2008 into 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Short Stack Tournament Strategy

I have been on a bit of a good run at the casino recently. On Friday after work I played in the 5-150 game at Casino Arizona. I sat and folded for 2 hours and was down $100 when lightning struck. In the span of 5 minutes, I flopped the nut straight and doubled up and then I flopped a set of 7's and turned the full house and won another $250.

At the high point I was up $400. I lost some of it back with Queens when a King flopped and ended the day up over $300.

I had to come back on Saturday morning to play in the Bubble Boy Free Roll. This was the tournament for all the players that had finished on the bubble in all the previous tournaments throughout the year. It was a $25 service fee plus you could get 1500 extra chips for an additional $10, 5 of which went to the dealers and a $5 Keno card.

There were 185 players and they were paying the top 40 a minimum of $50.

Once again I started out fast. In the first hour I had quad 6's and got paid, a straight, and a flush. I won nearly every hand I played in this tournament except for 3.

The first one was early and I'm not sure if I played it wrong or not. I raised one limper with KJs in late position. The button called, the BB called and the limper called. The flop was King high with no straight or flush possible. I did not like the preflop call behind me and I was worried about getting sucked in to a big pot. It was checked to me and I checked as well to see what the button would do. He checked behind.

The turn was a 9, which seemed innocent enough. Except the BB led out for the size of the pot. The early player folded. I still had the button behind me left to act, but I was pretty sure he was going to fold since he didn't act on the flop. I still thought I was ahead, but I wanted to protect my chips. I just called and hoped he would not fire again on the river.

The river was meaningless and he put in the rest of his chips. I could still call and have over 20 BB left, which is a big stack in this tournament. I called and he showed me trip 9's. He had hit the two outer on the turn.

So with results oriented thinking, I should have bet the flop and he probably would have folded. I think with 3 other people in the hand, I need to bet to protect my hand and find out where I am. I could probably bet half the pot and figure that out. If it's heads up, I can check it, because I am either way ahead or way behind. He either has a King with a better kicker or something better. Or he is drawing to 2-5 outs to hit his trips or second pair.

Another hand was a raise with KJ where a short stack pushed all in from the BB. I was getting over 2-1 on my call and felt like I had to make it. I lost the race against AQ.

I easily made it into the top 40 and actually made it down to the final two tables. I was fluctuating between 8-12 BB and the blinds were now going to double every 30 minutes. If I had to guess, the average stack was probably 7-9 BB, but I had the two chip leaders on my left with 20-40 BB. My stealing options were going to be a bit limited.

I made a push all in with A2o in early position and the big stack on my left called with JJ and I did not improve. I finished in 15th for $100. When I added that to the $135 I won in the morning playing 3-6 limit hold'em, it made for a very profitable day.

I was a little disappointed in myself that I made the raise with A2. After thinking about for a while, I thought that maybe I should have waited for a better spot.

I am going to discuss two things relating to late tournament strategy. The first is simple push or fold calculations preflop. The second is a proper strategy for stealing blinds when all the other players have 8-12 BB in their stacks.

I posted the hand for help on two plus two and they told me about the statistical formula to calculate the fold percentage for multiple players.

If people are calling with probability x, the formula for the chances that someone out of y number of players calls is:1 - (1-x)^y.

So, for 5 players left to act and they are calling with the top 10% of their hands, someone will call 40.9% of the time.

The second part of strategy is what to do when everyone is playing tight and they have short stacks. You have a few different options:

1. Play tight and wait for good cards to double up. Wait for premium hands, raise enough to put your opponents all in and hope they double you up.

2. Raise 3x the blind and widen your range a little. If they reraise, you are priced in to call so be sure to play cards you don't mind going all in with. Usually they will call the raise and see if they hit the flop. So you may be forced to go all in on the flop if you want to win the pot.

3. Raise 2-2.5x the blind. In this case, if your opponent reraises all in, you may be able to find a fold and save yourself a little money. The draw back is that more players will be enticed to call the smaller bet and you will be forced to play post flop.

The players seem to play so tight that I am starting to think that option 3 may work in the Casino Arizona tournaments.

a) The players are bad enough that some feel a raise of the BB of 3000 to 6000 seems like a big raise and they may fold, when they are getting 2.5 to one to make the call. They are seldom that big of an underdog to anything.

b)It will let you get away a little cheaper if someone plays back at you for 8-12BB.

c) It will also get you a little more action on your high pocket pairs.

Now I posed this question on 2+2 and they all recommended that I raise enough to put my opponents all in. Maximum pressure. You get called less, and if you do get called and double up you win even more chips. I think I'll try the min raise the next time and see what happens.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Golf Tournament and New Monitor

I played in the Member-Member with Bill last weekend at Phoenix CC. Bill claimed that he should be deemed a Saint since he performed a miracle and convinced Alisha that he could play golf for 3 straight days.

It was a stressful tournament as after the first few holes on Friday, my back tightened up and I was sure I was going to be on my back the rest of the weekend. For once, it actually loosened up on Saturday and felt 100% on Sunday. Usually if I feel the twinge, it means the full blown spasm is coming soon.

We were only 4 shots back of the leaders in our flight going into the last round. However the format was a modified chapman. I don't know why it's called a "chapman" but it's alternate shot with a dash of scramble. We both hit our tee shots, then switch balls (I hit his tee shot and vice versa), then we pick the best of the two and alternate shots from there. This format will test the bounds of friendship in a hurry if you have any competitive spirit.

In spite of Bill's excitement to play 3 straight days of golf, he showed up 10 minutes before our tee time on Sunday and played with no warm up. Any kind of warm up would have been a good idea since it was 50 degrees and the greens were running extra fast. So because he was cold and the jacket he wore was restricting his swing, he managed to put 4 balls in the water on the first 6 holes. I seriously wanted to quit and go home when we made the turn. I have never seen him play that bad. Especially when he's motivated to play. I don't know where we finished in the flight but with a net 77, I'm sure it was near the bottom.

The big news for poker is that I bought a new wide screen monitor. Now I can tile 6 Full Tilt tables without any over lap. I can also do it for Poker Stars but they are a little small for my taste. I gave it a test run tonight and I played 5 tables of .25-50 No Limit on Poker Stars. I managed to play 433 hands in one hour. Unfortunately I lost about $40, but it was good to know that I did not have too much trouble handling the volume.

This will come in handy if I ever decide to bonus whore or try to rack up FPP's on Poker Stars for some of their benefits.

I think for the most part, I will continue with 2 tables at higher stakes and concentrate on becoming a better player.

Plus the new monitor has a built in webcam so I will be able to video conference with people on skype once I sign up for an account.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A New Move

andyH333 is a good tight aggressive player. I have over 200 hands of history on him where he almost never limps in a pot and raises about 22% of his hands preflop.

jimbobjones2006 is a loose passive player. My stats show him playing 38% of his hands preflop (the ideal is 15-22%) and only raising 8% of the time.

I have seen andyH333 raise jimbo after he limps a couple of times. It looks like a standard isolation play. Punishing the limpers is something I like to do.

In the example below, jimbo limps, and andy raises. I am in the small blind. For once I make a play based on the situation and not my cards. jimbo is probably weak and doesn't have a hand that can call two raises. andyH333 is probably not that strong since he is just trying to isolate jimbo. I raise to $15 and win the pot.

I must be getting comfortable at these levels because not once in the hand did I think about "oh my gosh it's $15 I just bet!" The great players are this comfortable at every level. I am working on it.

FullTiltPoker Game #9397726407: Table Requa (6 max) - $0.50/$1 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:48:38 ET - 2008/12/08
Seat 1: mmmpotbrownies ($101.40)
Seat 2: Poker_Bully1 ($119.30)
Seat 3: You Dont See Me ($205.60)
Seat 4: GreatWent ($106.70)
Seat 5: jimbobjones2006 ($145.40)
Seat 6: andyh333 ($106)
mmmpotbrownies posts the small blind of $0.50
Poker_Bully1 posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to Poker_Bully1 [6d 5c]
You Dont See Me folds
GreatWent folds
jimbobjones2006 calls $1
andyh333 raises to $4.50
mmmpotbrownies folds
Poker_Bully1 has 15 seconds left to act
Poker_Bully1 raises to $15
jimbobjones2006 fold
sandyh333 has 15 seconds left to act
andyh333 is sitting out
andyh333 has timed out
andyh333 folds
Uncalled bet of $10.50 returned to Poker_Bully1
Poker_Bully1 mucksPoker_Bully1 wins the pot ($10.50

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bubble Boy and 60 Minutes

Well it finally happened in a live tournament. I played the $85 afternoon tournament at Casino Arizona on Friday afternoon. There were 180 players and they would pay 20 players. I finished in 21st.

It did not take me long to build up a stack in this tournament. I was all in by the second hand of the tournament. I had AcQc on the button. There was one limper and I raised to 200. The blinds folded and the limper called. The flop was Jc-Td-6c. He checked to me and I bet 300. He raised me to 1000. I had about 3000 left.

Before I did anything, I stopped to try and read his hand. He limped before the flop, which could mean something bad like he flopped a set of 10's or 6's. He could also do this with Ace-Jack or a draw. I figure that I need to accumulate chips quickly in these tournaments and even if he has a set, I still have 12 clean outs to the nuts. I move all in.

He says, "Hmmmm I guess I call" He turns over Q9 offsuit. What a dummy! My hand held up and I was off to a quick start. This player still had about 500 in chips left after he lost the hand because he had received a starting chip bonus for his cash game play before the tournament. I tried to finish him off a little while later when I had an over pair to his pair of 5s. Unfortunately he spiked a 5 on the river and eventually had built back up to a decent stack. I did not see him after our table broke, but he did not make it to the last 2 tables.

Once again, most of the players in this tournament were way too tight and passive. I think there was one point in the tournament where my raises went uncalled before the flop 10 straight times. Don't get me wrong, I was picking my spots well and not playing too crazy. I was picking up legitimate raising hands 90% of the time with the others being bluffs in late position or against tight blinds.

I also managed to win my races when I needed to. I don't consider it good or bad luck when I win a race, but if you win a few in a row, then it's definitely a good run of cards. Just before the last break, I won a big race for 3/4 of my stack with AK vs QQ. That left me with 30,000 in chips and the blinds at 1,000-2,000. We had 3 tables left and 21 players. 20th-11th place paid $100. The decent money was in the top 3 spots.

The last big tournament score at CAZ, I was a little miffed at myself because I felt like I could have taken advantage of the tight players more to build up my stack for the final table. Since I didn't really care if I "win" my money back, I decided that I was going to raise every time it was folded to me, until someone pushed back. Why not, since no one had pushed back thus far?

The one problem with this plan was that there were 2 other players that had me covered by 10-20k. One was three to my right and the other was 3 to my left. So basically one of them was going to have position on me in every hand.

I was under the gun plus one for the first hand back on the bubble. I picked up 97 offsuit and raised to 5k. Everyone behind me folded, except the big stack on the button who raised me to 10k. The blinds both folded. Now I really wanted to throw my hand away, but it was only 5k more to call into a 18k pot. The math says call, so that's what I did.

The flop was A-T-6 rainbow. I checked my inside straight draw praying he'd give me a free look at it. He checked behind. The turn was another ten. Since he checked and didn't seem to like the flop, I thought I would bet and maybe convince him I had a ten. I bet 8k and he min raises me again to 16k. I contemplate calling and hoping for the miracle, but I decide if I fold, I can still push all in on another hand and win the blinds a couple of times or find a better spot. He told me he had Ace-Ten for a full house. Nice timing there Lar!

I fold the next few hands including the blinds and I'm left with 9k. It's folded to me in the cutoff and I raise with Jack-Eight offsuit all in. I raised because one of the short stacks was in the big blind and it seemed he was trying to squeek into the money. Especially since there was another player on my right who only had 4,000 left. Unfortunately he called me with King Ten. I did not get lucky, except for the fact that he had less money than me, so I was still alive with 3,500 in chips.

I folded the remaining hands until it got to my blind. Unfortunately there was a raise and a call before it got to me and I looked at Ace-8. I could not come up with a decent reason to fold, so I put the rest of my chips in and hoped to get lucky. The two other players checked down all the streets as they came out - Q-J-9-2-10. Hey I have a straight, that has to be good right? Nope, they both had Ace-King.

I still think my strategy was a good one and that I just got a bit unlucky to run into some decent hands behind me. I do think I could have found a fold on the 9-7 just on the fact that I would still have 25k left and enough to scare people from calling me on future raises. The good news is that they are having a "free roll" for a $25 service fee in December for all the bubble boys and girls from the tournaments throughout the year. So I have a chance to redeem my pride.

The other big poker news is that 60 Minutes finally aired their expose on the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet cheating scandals. Overall I thought the piece was pretty fair. They definitely stuck it to UB and AP as well as Russ Hamilton. The main focus was on how the players playing the game caught the cheaters, not the companies themselves, and how the cheating players had yet to charged or prosecuted for any crimes.

The big problem with the story was that they failed to differentiate that playing online poker is not illegal. Owning an online poker company in the US is illegal. Funding the poker account is now illegal for the banks. But it's always been legal to play.

They also did not bring up anything about the passage of the UIGEA or the legislation that is out there to regulate online poker. The Washington Post will be publishing a companion piece tomorrow discussing whether online poker should be "legal" and regulated, so maybe some important players in Washington will see this article and look further into the subject. It's really going to suck if the banks actually start enforcing these regulations.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another Win at Casino AZ

I passed a milestone this week. Back in January, I had set my annual life goals for 2008. I made goals relating to life, work, golf, tennis, and poker. One of my goals for poker was to increase my bankroll to at least $5,000 using the "Chris Ferguson" method of bankroll management.

While playing online last weekend, I managed to cross the $5,000 total bankroll mark for about 10 seconds. The plan was to pass it and quit so I could at least say I was there for one day. However as I passed it, I was dealt pocket jacks before I could close out of the table. In short I lost about $70 on that hand, so I was beneath the goal again.

Yesterday, I went to the Casino Arizona after work to play in the 5-150 game. I don't know if it's a good or bad thing, but I am starting to recognize some of the players at my table. A person of Asian descent, named Dan was on my left and he said he played with me two weeks ago. The younger, blond haired guy, who kept me from reraising my pocket Aces last week was at the table. And for the third time, the older man who is a member of Whisper Rock Golf Club, was on my right.

For a brief moment in time, one of biggest fish I have ever seen, was sitting at the table as well. I believe he is of Indian (the country) descent. I think he was playing last week and someone at my table pointed him out at another table. He said that he just kept moving all in for $150 and driving everyone nuts at the table. This time he was at my table and after watching the first rotation of blinds, I was starting to get excited. He was awful! Unfortunately, before I had a chance to play a hand with him, he went broke and asked for a table change. The rest of us at the table joked that we were all going to go up to the front desk and request a table change to his new table but no one actually had the balls to go up and do it. When I left for the day, I saw him at the ATM pulling out $1,000. I hope I see him again.

I ended up winning $200 for the session with most of it from just two hands. I flopped two pair and got an old man drawing to a flush to call $210 to do it. Then the very next hand I picked up pocket Jacks and raised in position. A shortish stack called for about 25% of his remaining chips. When the flop came out 8 high, he moved all in and I called. He had Ace-King and did not improve.

Before these hands, I was down about $100 from one hand. It was the most interesting one of the session so here it is:

I have $250 in front of me and Ac8c in middle position. There is a raise in front of me to $15. I call, Dan calls behind me, and the big blind calls. 4 players to the flop for $60.

The flop is Qc-Qh-9c. It's checked to me and I bet $30 with my club flush draw. Dan calls behind me and the other two players fold.

The turn is a 4d. Now I look at Dan and he has about $150 left. He could be on a weaker draw than me or he has a Queen. I decide to bet $60. He thinks for about a second and moves all in. So it's $90 more to win $60+$60+$60+$150=$330. So it's not quite the right odds to call assuming my flush wins the pot. He could have Q-9 and I would be drawing dead. He could hit the King or Jack of clubs and crush me there, so I think it's a pretty fundamental fold.

I initially bet on the flop, hoping to take down the pot. I figured with the board being so draw heavy that someone with a Queen would raise immediately to price out the draws. When Dan called, I thought there was some chance he was drawing, although a Queen was definitely in his range.

I think the bet on the turn was probably a bad play on my part. I think that bet folds out the worse draws and only gets called or raised by better hands. Plus I almost made it enough to force me to throw good money after bad and chase the flush. If I check, I give Dan the chance to make a silly small bet and give me the odds to chase the flush or bet enough to make me give up the hand. Plus if he checks behind with say a King high flush draw or a straight draw, then I can bluff the river, or better yet, hit a club and win the rest of his stack.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can you win a big 4 way pot with Aces?

After another brutal day in the financial markets I decided to relieve some stress by playing the 5-150 game at Casino Arizona. My luck was not any better for the first 2 hours as I was card dead and decided to run bluffs against the two biggest calling stations at the casino. To be fair, on one of the bluffs, I happened to run into top two pair and made a bad read. He stared right at me when he bet which I thought was the classic tell of strong means weak. I guess strong means strong in this case. Plus this was early in the session before I realized how bad these players were.

So I had dug myself a $200 hole by 5:15 PM and it was time to go. I had one hand left before the blinds hit me and I picked up pocket Aces. I raised to $20. The high school basketball coach on my left called, one more call, loose hispanic player raises to $65. The other big calling station calls and then the old man goes all in for $140.

I of course try to raise the full $150 again and make it $290 total. Then the player in the 7 seat, who was not in the hand, tells the dealer that I am not allowed to raise. I ask for the floor supervisor to come over and straighten this out, since the basketball coach and the player on his left had folded, and the other caller, had put in more chips to call my raise.

The supervisor came over and explained that there is a 3 raise limit (due to the game technically being a "limit" game). So the dealer gave me back $150 and the other player $150 and we see the flop 4 handed with one all in. $600 in the pot and I am convinced there is no way that my Aces are going to hold up.

The flop is Qs-8s-3s. Oy vey! I'm pretty sure someone probably has pocket Queens. I notice that everyone starts looking at their hole cards again. I say, "why don't we all take a moment to check our hole cards for a spade?" I peek at my cards and lo and behold I have the Ace of spades.

The loose player on my left tries to argue that I checked. Everyone else at the table talks him down after they all confirm that I said, "let's check our hole cards". I bet $150 and loose player calls and other loose player calls. Sheesh I may just have the best hand! If someone hit a set on a monotone board, you have to raise right? $1050 in the pot.

The turn is an Ace. All right! Now this pot is all mine. I am going to value town here. Rats! I only have $27 left in my stack. I bet it and get two callers. $1131 in the pot.

The river is a deuce and the two other players make their small bets for a side pot. The side pot is won by the first loose player on my left with pocket Queens. The main pot is won by me when the old man rolls over pocket Kings.


This $1,131 pot was by far the largest I had ever won, breaking my previous $700 record from my trip to Vegas last December. It took me 4 hands to stack and rack all my chips. I apologized for leaving so soon after cleaning everyone out and left with a $606 profit. This definitely cheered me up after a bleh day at work.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cheating? Misclick? Stupid?

I was not involved in this hand, but I couldn't believe it when it was over and the cards were turned up.

FullTiltPoker Game #9033243967: Table Highland (6 max) - $0.50/$1 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:39:20 ET - 2008/11/17
Seat 1: KORsung ($101.05)
Seat 2: Poker_Bully1 ($96.70)
Seat 3: CaseAce84 ($99.05)
Seat 4: MTY-BEAT ($118.55)
Seat 5: Ship it Strange ($105.60)
Seat 6: Fighting Tilt ($124.40)
Fighting Tilt posts the small blind of $0.50
KORsung posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #5

*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to Poker_Bully1 [Tc 5c]
Poker_Bully1 folds
CaseAce84 folds
MTY-BEAT raises to $2
Ship it Strange folds
Fighting Tilt folds
KORsung calls $1

*** FLOP *** [3h 4d Jd]
KORsung checks
MTY-BEAT bets $1
KORsung raises to $10
MTY-BEAT calls $9

*** TURN *** [3h 4d Jd] [Kc]

KORsung bets $24.50
MTY-BEAT calls $24.50

*** RIVER *** [3h 4d Jd Kc] [6s]

KORsung bets $64.55, and is all in
MTY-BEAT calls $64.55

*** SHOW DOWN ***
KORsung shows [3d 4c] two pair, Fours and Threes
MTY-BEAT mucks
KORsung wins the pot ($199.60) with two pair, Fours and Threes

*** SUMMARY ***Total pot $202.60 Rake $3
Board: [3h 4d Jd Kc 6s]
Seat 1: KORsung (big blind) showed [3d 4c] and won ($199.60) with two pair, Fours and Seat 4: MTY-BEAT mucked [2d 9d]

MTY-BEAT bet, called the raise on the flop with the flush draw, check called the turn, and then called the river with 9 high!

Now I thought that maybe they were colluding so I looked up where they say they are from. KORsung is from South Korea and MTY-BEAT is from Mexico. I don't think they are close friends since they are half way around the world from each other.

I did manage to take the rest of MTY-BEAT's money when he went all in with middle pair and I called with top pair, top kicker.

Should I send this hand history to Full Tilt security? Any thoughts from my readers?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Internet Blackout and Sunday Tournaments

As I write this, they are playing the final table of the WSOP Main Event. I am going to do my best to avoid finding out who won and watch it "live" on Tuesday night. Of course this will require me to avoid surfing poker blogs and watching ESPN in case they show the winner on the crawl below the main screen. I don't know, but I'm thinking it might be kind of tough.

Today was the monthly rakeback freeroll with a $20,000 prize pool. In two previous attempts at this tournament, I may have played a combined 20 hands. They were quick and inglorious exits. Especially embarrasing after clearing the afternoon with my wife, and coming out of the "man cave" fifteen minutes later saying, "I'm done".

So in my tradition of over analysis I thought I would review all the hands I played:

1500 in starting chips. 563 players and they were paying 89 players.

Starting blinds were 15-30.

1. Ad6d utg. I raised since it was the second hand of the tournament and I figured half the table probably was not at their computer yet. Instead I get called in 3 other spots. The flop is 8-7-4 with one diamond.

The blind checks and I check. The player behind bets 250 and the button calls 250. The blind folds and I decide that it's too much to draw to my inside straight. Of course there is a 5 on the river and I would have got there. Not a good start.

2. KsJc in the cutoff. 1335 in chips. I open raise to 100 and win the blinds.

3. Blinds are 20-40. 1335 in chips. I have KsKc in the cutoff. I open raise to 100 and win the blinds.

4. Blinds are 25-50. I have 1,255 in chips. AhQd in middle position. I open raise to 150 and win the blinds. By now I figured out three different players that registered and did not show up to play the tournament. They are getting blinded off. Thanks to poker tracker I can figure this out quicker than the guys without it. We'll see how long until they catch on.

5. Blinds are 30-60. I have 1,240 in chips. JhQd on the button. Folded to me, I raise to 180 and win the blinds.

6. 30-60 blinds and 1,330 in chips. The blinds are on two players who are absent. I am ready to raise with any two cards except I wake up with AhQd. I open raise to 180 and win the blinds. I am going to need some action eventually.

7. Very next hand I raise QJo and win the blinds again.

8. 30-60 blinds and 1,510 in chips. Tc9c in late position. I open raise to 180 and win the blinds.

9. I steal the absent guys blinds again with QhTh.

10. 1570 in chips. Blinds are 40-80. One of the absent guys is in the big blind. I open raise with JdTd to 240. The small blind who is playing and has a decent sized stack catches on to my game and reraises all in. I fold.

11. 1,250 in chips. Blinds are 40-80. I have K7o on the BB. The SB is one of the other absent players. By now it should be apparent to anyone who has been paying attention which players are not there. It's folded to the button with 1,930 in chips. He raises to 240. I reraise all in, figuring it's a straight steal. He folds and I finally win a pot with more than the blinds in it.

12. 1,570 in chips. Blinds are still 40-80. The blinds are on the two absent players again. Once again I wake up with a real hand, two jacks. I open raise to 240 and win the blinds. Sigh.

13. 1,570 in chips. I complete with T8o in the small blind. There is one late limper. I check fold the flop.

14. Blinds 50-100. I have 1,530 in chips and Ac9h in the cutoff. It's folded to me and I raise to 300. MaliceUW in the BB with 1,960 in chips makes the call. The flop is 5d-As-5c. MaliceUW checks and I check behind. I check because I am either way ahead or way behind. This way I can keep the pot smaller and possibly induce a bluff from a small pocket pair. The turn is the Td. MaliceUW checks again. I bet 300 and he calls. The river is the 8d completing a backdoor flush draw. He checks and I check behind. I win after MaliceUW rolls over QcTs. I guess I could have value bet the river there again, but I would have been totally committed to the hand and I was happy to get to showdown cheap.

15. Blinds 50-100. I have 2,180 in chips. One of the absent players finally showed up and busted the first hand he played. The other guy is still there and in the big blind. There is no small blind. It's folded to me and I raise with A8o and win the one blind.

16. Blinds 50-100. I have 2,280 in chips. On the button with JTo and it's folded to me. Instead of the obvious raise, I decide to limp in for 100. The small blind folds and the BB checks. The flop is 9-Q-9. It's checked to me and I bet 200 and win the pot.

17. I raise the absent guy's blind again and win without contest.

18. 2530 in chips. I have AQo utg. I raise to 350 and it's folded to the button who calls. The blinds fold and there is 850 in the pot. The flop is 9s-7c-8s. I swallow hard and make my continuation bet bluff of 450 and the button folds.

19. 2,880 in chips. Blinds are 50-100. I am in the small blind with AQo. The BB is short with only 220 in chips after posting the 100 blind. It's folded to the cutoff who open limps. He has 3,900 in chips. The button who is also short, folds and it's to me. I feel like I should isolate the short BB so I move all in. The BB folds and the limper folds and I win the pot.

20. 3,330 in chips. Blinds are still 50-100. I am on the button with Ac3c. It's folded to me. The small blind has only 170 left after the blinds. I am hoping if I limp, the big blind will come along and we can try to eliminate him. Instead the small blind folds and we see the flop heads up with the BB who has 4,125 in chips. The flop is As-4s-3s. I have top and bottom pair, but now I have to worry about the flush. Cha59 leads out for 150 into the 250 pot. I play small ball and just call. The turn is a 2h. Cha checks and I check behind. I know I am giving away a lot of draws here, but my hand is really nothing but a bluff catcher and why face calling a big raise? The river is a Jd. Cha checks again and put out a little bet of 200 that maybe a naked ace or smaller two pair might call. He folds and I win a small pot.

21. I have 3,630 in chips. Blinds are 60-120. I am in middle position with AdKs. It's folded to me and I open raise for 360. The big blind is absent and everyone else folds. I win the blinds again.

22. 3,810 in chips. Very next hand I pick up JcTc. It's folded to me again and this time I try limping. Everyone else folds to the BB who has 5,434 in chips. He checks. I flop top two pair and put out a small 120 bet and scare him off. I wonder how many chips I might have had if I had managed to get any action at all on these hands?

23. 3,810 in chips. I open raise AQo and win the blinds.

24. 3,990 in chips. I am finally moved to a new table. I assume the stacks with less than 500 are others that have not shown up for the tournament and are being blinded off. I see 3 such stacks. I have AhQs utg and the BB is one of the short stacks. I decide to min raise to 240. It's folded to the cutoff who reraises all in for 2,686. I decide to be patient and not take the possible coin flip and fold. I believe I was distracted on this hand by my son. If I look at the odds, I would have to call 2,246 to win 3,100. I am only crushed by AA, KK, QQ, and AK. I am not exactly crushed by QQ but it's not good. There may be an argument for calling, except I know nothing about this player and I don't know if only raises with good hands or sees my small raise as a steal?????

25. Blinds are 80-160. I pick up pocket 9's and raise to 400 and win the blinds.

26. 3,950 in chips. Very next hand I pick up AdQs. I open raise to 400 and sun4ever in the small blind calls with 2,866 behind. He is the one who reraised me in hand 24. The flop is 6c-Th-Qc. Sun4ever checks and I bet 500. He folds.

27. Blinds are up to 100-200. I pick up 8d9d in middle position. I raise to 600 and everyone folds.

28. 4,270 in chips. Blinds 100-200. I have JdJs utg. I min raise to 400 and everyone folds except PKRPORO in the BB who calls the 200. The flop is Th-Qh-Ad. Yuck! He checks and I check behind. The turn is the 4c. He checks again. I think about betting. Nope I want a cheap showdown and the free chance at my straight draw, so I check again. The river is the 3s and PKRPORO leads out for 600. I figure I have to call and he shows me AQ for two pair. I was behind the whole way and got away pretty cheap. One of the very few hands I have played that made it to the river and I lost.

29. 3,070 in chips. I have 8s7d in the small blind. Everyone folds to me and I complete. The BB checks. I whiff the flop and it goes check-check. The turn is another blank and I bluff 200. It works and he folds.

30. The very next hand I have A4s on the button. It's folded to me, I raise and win the blinds.

31. The very next hand I pick up AQs in the cutoff. I open raise and win the blinds again. 3,870 in chips now.

32. Blinds are 120-240 with 25 ante. I have 3,820 in chips and AdQc in early position. I raise to 720 and win the blinds and antes.

33. I open raise KQo in the cutoff and get reraised all in by the big blind and fold.

34. 3125 in chips and I pick up Jacks in middle position. I open raise to 720. It's folded to sun4ever on the button and he reraises to 2,665 total. It's folded back to me. I thought that was the rest of my chips so I just called. It turns out I still had 485 left. The flop was kind of ugly as it was Qs-5d-Ks. I figure I meant to go all in anyway so I put in my last 485 in chips and get called. He shows 99. Sweet! The turn is 5 and the river is another Queen and I double up!

35. 5,675 in chips. Blinds are 150-300 with 25 ante. I have AdKc on the button. Tony63 open raises all in for 2,972. I reraise all in to isolate. He turns over Qd7d. The flop is Js-Ks-9s. Neither one of us has spades, but now I have to fade a Ten instead of his pair cards. The turn is a King and the river is a 2 and I win another race.

36. 9,197 in chips. I pick up Kings utg+1. I raise to 750 and get reraised all to 1,899. I call and he shows pocket 7's. I win again!

37. Blinds are 250-500 with 50 ante. I have 9,046 in chips and AJo on the button. I open raise and win the blinds.

38. 10,046 in chips. Blinds 250-500 with 50 ante. I have QdTd in middle position. I open raise to 1,250. I am called by the cutoff and the small blind. I finally get action when I have a crappy hand. The flop is 3-8-7 rainbow. In spite of the innocuous flop, I am not interested in c-betting with two other players in the pot. It's checked around. The turn is a Jack and the small blind bets 2,900 into a 4,650 pot. I fold and the cutoff folds.

39. 7,496 in chips. I have AhQh in the cutoff. Blinds are 300-600 with 75 ante. Mary Van King with 21,000 in chips opens for 1,689 in early position. It's folded to me and I just call. The flop is 2c-4c-2h. Mary leads into me for 1925 into a 4,953 pot. I fold.

I guess the play was to reraise all in or fold. There is no reason to call off over 20% of my stack. I think I was confused because Mary had enough chips to call my raise and not be too concerned. Plus I think we were getting close to the money bubble.

40. 5,582 in chips. Blinds are 300-600 with 75 ante. I pick up pocket tens in middle position and raise all in. Everyone folds and I add 1400 to my stack.

41. Blinds up to 400-800. I have been blinded down to 3,457 in chips. I have pocket 7's in the small blind. LE2Jog with 13k in chips raises to 2,300 in middle position. We are already in the money and I am ready to take a race. I reraise all in. LE2Jog is priced in to call with any two, but he rolls over 99. I don't hit the miracle and I am out in 59th place. I win $70 and I am happy to finally cash in the big free roll.

The overall summary is that there were 243 hands and I played 17% raising 14% and my total aggression factor was 4.3. I really could have used a little action on my hands. In 20 of the 41 hands I played, my raise went uncalled and I just won the blinds. I played a couple of hands badly, but overall I am happy.

While the Free Roll was going on, I decided to open another tournament just to keep me from getting bored. I found a $26 satellite into the FTOPS 9 for $322. They were guaranteeing 20 seats and 15 minutes before the start time there was going to be an overlay. Suddenly a rush of registrations hit and they had enough players to guarantee 27 spots and 28th would get $60. There were 365 players.

I did some quick math and figured out that the average chip stack when the tournament would end was $19,500.

I wish I had the hand histories of the other tables. When it got down to the last 34 players, I opened up the other tables to see where I stood. I never had more than 11,000 in chips and I was getting short towards the end. I kept looking for a spot to move in, but either my cards were horrible or some other short stack had already moved all in in front of me. Plus the player directly to my left had over 30,000 in chips and had shown a propensity for calling light.

Here were my hands towards the end:
This is starting with 7,580 in chips and the blinds were 800-1600 with 200 antes.
A4s on button, raise in front of me
62s By this time I was so low, that I was guaranteed to be called.
Q7s I only need one more player to bust.
J4s I am all in due to the big blind. Two players call and the small blind calls all in, but he has more chips than I do, so if we both lose, he still finishes ahead of me.

The flop is 4c-Js-Ts. I'm pretty sure I'm ahead. The King comes on the turn. That makes me squirm. The river is a 5. The players turn over A9o, QTs, and Q3s. I quadruple up! The bad news was the other all in had the ten, so he was not eliminated either.

In the mean time I see a couple of other all ins suck out to stay alive on the other tables. Finally 4 hands later, the bubble finally bursts and I win the satellite! Ship the $322

So my final take for the weekend was $366. That was definitely a nice comeback from the beating I have been taking at the cash tables.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Grrrrrrr I'm frustrated

The golf course has reopened at Phoenix Country Club after overseeding. Bill and I got to play our first round together in a long time along with Bill's dad, Ron. We were playing for a rather pedestrian $25 and currently we are both playing to a 8 handicap.

Bill started fast with a birdie on 1 and I had a par. Bill then faltered on the short par 3 second hole when he hit his shot in the water. I missed my 15 footer for birdie and took a one stroke lead. The missed putt was one of many on the day. I did not 3 putt all day, but I don't think I one putted either. I don't know what is wrong with my putting, but I can't recall a time when I've putted worse. I'm still making the short 4-5 footers, but I'm not even close to making anything inside of 20 feet.

Bill's game was rusty and he was going to be hard pressed to catch me. My game was pretty solid except for the putting. I wasn't hurting myself, but I wasn't helping either. By the 14th hole I had built a 3 shot lead.

I led off with a driver down the middle of the fairway. Bill, who was struggling with his driver, hit 2 iron off the tee. He pulled it way left and it went into the landscaping equipment storage area which is out of bounds. He hit his third shot off the tee and it was also left and looking like it was heading out as well. Bill pulled out a third tee ball as a provisional and finally pushed one out to the right. We went to check on his ball on the left and it was in bounds by maybe an inch. He hit his approach shot into the bunker 20 yards short of the green. From there he skulled his shot over the green and into the back yard of a homeowner. This was also out of bounds.

Needless to say, the match was well in hand. Of course it wouldn't be a golf match with Bill unless we pressed the bet on 18. This time it was my turn to choke. 18 is a par five with wather on the right side of the green. We were both in trouble off the tee, but our lay up shots were both within 5 yards of each other. I had 135 yards to the green. I took my swing and it felt good coming off the club face. I looked up to follow the ball and it was heading frighteningly to the right and into the water.

Bill hit the middle of the green to put a stranglehold on the hole. I could still hope for a miracle chip in to tie. I carefully placed my ball on the steep bank of the lake (dropping the ball would only add to the collection of balls in the water so we skip the dropping and go right to placing). I tried to hit my delicate pitch and managed to double hit the ball ala TC Chen. So much for the miracle. I carded an 85 and called it a day. Even on all the bets.

Today I stopped by the Gila River Casino after work to play some 3-6 limit hold'em with Carlo and Rob. It's been a while since I played limit so my game was a little rusty. What followed was a series of beats so gut wrenching, I have acquired a new found distaste for the game.

It took a while for a seat to open up and by that time, Rob had taken a couple of beats and given up. I took Rob's seat (9) while Carlo remained in seat 5. Next to Carlo was a loud guy named Ron wearing a new Jet's jersey. On my second or third hand, I picked up pocket Kings. I had a few limpers to me and I raised. It was called in a couple of places, including by Ron in the big blind. Then Carlo does something strange and reraises from under the gun. It's called by everyone between us and I cap it. So it's 5 ways for 4 bets a piece before the flop.

The flop is J-6-2. Carlo leads out after Ron checks. It's called in a couple spots and I of course raise. Ron calls 2, Carlo calls, and the other two call as well. The turn is a blank and they all check to me. I bet and Ron and Carlo call. The river is a 5 which looks harmless. Ron blurts out that, "I think I caught you" and bets 6. Carlo finally gives up and I make the crying call into the humongous pot. Ron turns over 5-2 and wins with two pair. Ouch my balls hurt!

Now Ron admits that he is playing crappy cards and mentions that I want him to play that way. I respond by saying that I may buy him a lunch to make sure he doesn't leave with all my money.

A few hands later, Ron does it to me again with the 2-5 and beats me on the river for a medium sized pot.

Now in between, I manage to win a couple of pots, so I am still up $20 in spite of everything.

Then I go and lose when I flop a set of 5's and my opponent had flopped a set of 7's. Followed by rivering a King high flush, to lose to the old man's full house on my right.

I make a quick comeback when I win a big pot with Ace-King. The very next hand, I pick up Ace-King again. This time Carlo is coming along for the ride. I flop an Ace again and Carlo check calls my bet. The turn is an innocuous 8. This time Carlo leads out. My radar is up and I think Carlo may have turned two pair. But I also saw him screwing around by limp-reraising King-Jack offsuit. I can't help myself and I raise. Carlo calls and we see the river. It completes a low 4 card straight. One of the players who folded on the flop makes a gesture of frustration which obviously means he folded the card that would have made the straight. Carlo checks and once again I bet. Carlo is nice to me and just calls and rolls over 8-3 for two pair. This game is so rigged!

So I was ahead for one hand and just lost it all back in the very next hand.

Carlo is up $50 and ready to leave the casino. He starts trying to talk me into playing $50 worth of slots with him. I say no at first, but eventually give in. Carlo leads me to the "Deal or No Deal" slots. We pump in $100 and play as a team. Carlo says the key is to get the briefcase bonus. When you hit that, you get to play Deal or No Deal on the video screen for a grand prize amount determined by your spin.

It took us about 10 spins before we hit the briefcase and got to play. Our first offer was $65. We said no deal and we opened a couple of medium sized cases, but our offer went up to $135. Nowwe had the $500 case and 4 other cases all under $50. Since there was a 1 out of 5 chance that we would select a low case, we declined the deal.

Now I realize that the Expected Value in this game is to add up the remaining cases and divide by the number of cases. However, I was there to gamble and not to explain to Carlo how the math would work. We said, "No Deal" and because I am running so good, the computer picked the $500 case and knocked our deal down to $35. We dejectedly took the deal and moved to a different Deal or No Deal machine.

We put our $90 into the new machine and started again. This time we hit the spin wheels right and won $200! So amazingly enough, after splitting the winnings, I finished the day up $3!

That's right after all those bad breaks and getting beat by 8-3 and 5-2 twice, I still managed leave with $3 of profit. Maybe I run better than I thought?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Why I have not posted lately

Thank god October is over!

The worst month in the stock market in 21 years has kept me from playing my best poker. Obviously my mind has been occupied.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Love I don't

I am down over $100 for the session after being up close to $200 so my mood is not especially good when this hand comes down.

Icky Ole Witch I have marked as a fish.

Full Tilt Poker $0.50/$1 Pot Limit Omaha Hi - 6 players

PISIHASI (CO): $76.85
Tastefull (BTN): $44.80
Icky Ole Witch (SB): $88.50
nikander27 (BB): $150.65
Hero (UTG): $117.55
CHAI525 (MP): $141.45

PISIHASI posts a big blind ($1)

Pre Flop:($2.50) Hero is UTG with 9h Ac Kc Jh

This seems like a decent hand to raise even if it is under the gun. Naturally my raise gets no respect at all as everyone calls.

Hero raises to $4.50, 1 fold, PISIHASI calls $3.50, Tastefull calls $4.50, Icky Ole Witch calls $4, nikander27 calls $3.50

Flop:($22.50) 2:club: 8:club: 7:heart:

Ok nut flush draw and inside straight draw to the nuts. Icky bets the pot which could mean an over pair, big wrap draw, or a set. nikander27 calls which now gives me odds to chase my hand. If there was a fold in between, I might have to let this one go with players to act behind me.

Icky Ole Witch bets $22.50, nikander27 calls $22.50, Hero calls $22.50, PISIHASI folds, Tastefull folds

Turn:($90.00) T:diamond:

Gin! I have the nut straight with a nut flush redraw! I can't lose! Ok if the board pairs I'm not going to be happy, but I'm happy to get all my money into this monstrous pot with the nuts and a nut redraw.

Icky Ole Witch bets $61.50 all in, nikander27 calls $61.50, Hero raises to $90.55 all in, nikander27 calls $29.05

River:($332.60) J:diamond: (3 players - 2 are all in)

Yes the board did not pair, ship it! What the hell? Why is my money going to Icky Ole Witch?

Final Pot: $332.60
Icky Ole Witch shows Ts Qc Tc 9s (a straight, Queen high)
nikander27 shows 8h 6c 4d 8d (three of a kind, Eights)
Hero shows 9h Ac Kc Jh (a straight, Jack high)
Hero wins $58.10
Icky Ole Witch wins $271.50
(Rake: $3.00)

I ran this hand on Poker Stove and I was surprised to learn that I was only a 3-1 favorite going to the river. At least I wasn't drawing to one out like nikander27.

Still it really stung to lose that pot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Summer of Larry officially over

Remember when things were running so good? Remember when I got incredibly lucky to survive that WSOP Main Event satellite and played in the World Series of Poker?

It all seems like a distant memory as the last couple of weeks have been brutal.

I can take the bad beats in stride, but the stock market going down every day but one for the month of October is worse than a kick in the nuts.

I may have to turn pro as a poker player if this keeps up. In case you are wondering, the job of a pro poker player does not sound very appealing.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Poker, Pinetop, other assorted thoughts

This past weekend I went up to Pinetop as a guest of Billy and played in the annual Stag golf tournament at White Mountain Country Club. This is a great tournament because the course is fun and the players consist of a bunch of laid back rich guys who want to get away from their wives and children and relive their youth by drinking, gambling, and carousing.

The only bad part of this tournament is that the weather is always a crapshoot. This year did not disappoint as it rained on us for 1/2 of the second round and the third round was rained out because the course was too wet.

I was teamed up with Brian, a realtor that works with Billy. Jon was on Bill's team. We also had two new guys who work with Jon named Keith and Mike.

Brian is a pretty good player and I believe his handicap was 13. The first day was a two person scramble. Luckily we were paired with Bill and Jon so it was a good time the whole day. Because Bill and I were playing golf that meant we were betting as well. We made a team bet for $25 and my team had to give him 1.9 strokes due to handicap differences.

They jumped out to a quick lead when Jon sank a 30 foot putt for birdie on the first hole and we bogeyed it. For the most part they built on the initial lead except for a stretch in the middle where we birdied a couple of holes. I think they beat us by 3-4 shots, the details are fuzzy in my mind.

I won the $25 back by pressing the bet on the last hole. This was a 500 yard par 5 that has a sharp dogleg to the right. If you aim down the middle of the fairway, you will run out of fairway after 220 yards. If you want to get there in two, you need to take a dangerous line over the very tall pine trees along the right side of the fairway. I hit a safe shot down the middle of the fairway with my 5 wood. Brian hit a big drive to the right and just cleared the trees and made it into the right rough 155 yards from the green.

Bill and Jon were 220 yards away from the green. I asked Bill if he'd like to bet the $25 I was going to owe him on whether my team would get a better score on the hole. I offerred 2-1 odds and he said "no". Then Jon hit his shot first and it was awful. Bill was getting ready for his attempt and I offerred 3-1. Bill finally grew some balls and said yes. He hit a pretty good shot that ended up about 20 yards short of the green.

Brian and I both pulled our wedge shots left of the green. We were pin high, but did not have a lot of green to work with and the greens had been running incredibly fast all day. Jon and Bill went first and the best they could do was a shot on the front fringe of the green. They were about 20 feet away for birdie.

The achilles heel of my team was that Brian is not very good around the greens. The benefit of playing as a team is that I am able to coach him within the rules. I gave him a quick 2 minute lesson on playing a flop shot. Then I stepped up and hit the shot of the day. Phil Mickelson could not have hit a better shot than I did. I left the ball two feet from the hole for birdie. Brian tried the flop shot after my coaching and watching me hit. His shot came up a little short of the green, but his form was great. He just needed to swing a little harder. Bill and Jon both missed their birdie attempt and Brian tapped in for us to set me even for the day. After adjusting for handicaps, Jon and Bill were near the top of the flight. Brian and I were near the bottom.

As for day 2, the teams were split up and we played with Phil from Scottsdale and Chuck from Albuquerque. The format for the second day was a modified Chapman. This means that we each hit our drive, then switch balls for the second shot. Then we choose the best ball and alternate shots from there. It's not quite like the foursomes from the Ryder Cup format but it's still pretty damn hard to keep your composure. Hitting from the trees after your partner has put his drive out to the right is annoying after you have piped one down the middle. More frustration ensues if your partner duffs your perfect drive with his second shot, and all you could do was punch out his bad drive. There is a reason why this format is referred to as, "Screw Your Neighbor".

We started out ok, but once the rain came, the wheels came off. We struggled home with an 84. Bill and Jon came in with an 85 but due to the 1.9 strokes we had to give him, they won the bet.

In addition to golf, we played a little poker at the cabin after we were done. The first night we all bought in for $20 and played Pot Limit Hold'em with .25-.50 blinds. The winner of the night was Jon who won about $10-$15. I lost $5 and I think Mike and Keith split the other wins and losses.

During the second day, I logged on to Full Tilt and played a little .50-1 No Limit. I was doing just fine until I ran my set of 4's into a set of Kings and lost a quick $100 pot. I was down about $60 net before we went to play golf.

The second night of poker included Brian and Bill as well. Bill lost his $20 first. At least this time Bill went down with a good hand and did not just give his money away so he could go to bed. Brian went broke next and it was down to 4.

I was up early after running big river bluff on Brian. I don't know what hand Brian laid down, but I could tell from the flop that he was not comfortable with his hand. My third bet finally put enough pressure on him to fold.

After Brian went bust, I lost my profits and then some. I was down to my last $10. I decided to tighten up and play more ABC poker to make my comeback. My plan was working as I had clawed my way back up to my starting stack when the big hand of the night hit.

I had King Ten offsuit on the button. Keith folded and I limped on the button. Jon completed the small blind and Mike checked his blind. The flop was 9-Jack-7 all different suits. Jon bet and Mike called and I called with a double gut shot straight draw. The turn was a Queen giving me the nut straight. Jon bet $5 this time, Mike called again. I thought about raising, but there was no flush draw out and I felt like my hand was pretty safe to play slow and try to get the rest of my stack in on the river.

The river was a Jack pairing the board. Jon bet and this time Mike folded. I raised all in and Jon called quickly. Jon tabled QJ for a full house and put the bad beat on me. The bitter taste of two bad beats in mouth, I quit for the night.

While I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed, the remaining three guys called me to the table to deal a hand. All three of them were all in. Jon had Aces, Mike had Tens, and Keith had Queens. Jon's Aces held up and he won all the remaining money on the table. In a small limit game, Jon had managed to win over $120!

My random thought has to do with the 5-150 spread limit game at Casino Arizona. I think I have figured out how to beat it. Everyone who plays that game plays too loose preflop and very passive. There is nothing they like better than seeing a $5 flop with 5 players in it. They are all waiting to hit a set or two pair to win a big pot and are too willing to give up medium strength hands when the pot gets big.

My strategy has been to play tight until I am in the last 3 positions. Then I play strong before the flop with my good hands and occasionally I will raise one or two limpers with any two cards if I feel my reputation is strong. If the flop texture is good, I fire out the continuation bet. So far this has worked very well and I have avoided getting trapped by someone slow playing a big hand.

Most of these players will call any preflop raise with a pocket pair. They are making the mistake of not taking stack size into account. In order to call a $20 raise, by straight odds your opponent would need at least $170 for the 8-1 odds on hitting the set. That assumes you will win your opponent's stack every time. Obviously that does not happen every time so the most effective stack size is probably $300-$450. This is not a big mistake but it can add up over a few hours of play. Everytime they call and miss, they lose $20 and they are not making enough money on the times they hit.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What Has Changed In Poker Since 2003?

I was surfing on for new Blu-ray discs when I stumbled upon the WSOP 2003 DVD on sale for $10. I figure it's worth $10 to collect a bit of poker history.

As I watched the DVD, many random thoughts went through my head. I thought I would share some of them and reminisce about days gone by.

1. The fields were drastically smaller. There was one episode where Phil Hellmuth, Scotty Nguyen, and Dan Harrington were all at the same table during the Main Event. ESPN would kill to find a table like that now. 3 former champions randomly at the same table in the middle of the tournament. That may never happen again.

2. The play seems so weak tight. In 2003 there was a lot of limping in with small pairs and suited connectors. Nobody seems to ever raise with a draw or heaven forbid check raise. Chris Moneymaker seemed to be the only one who ran any crazy bluffs and got away with them because nobody knew who he was. I had forgotten how bad the bluff was that eliminated Amir Vahedi at the final table. He moved in with no pair, no draw against Sam Farha. If you're hoping to find a fold, you should look somewhere else. Farha was by far the loosest player at the table.

3. How might 2003 been different if Phil Hellmuth's Queens held up against Jason Lester's Jacks with about 30 players left? If Phil wins the Main event, does Ultimate Bet become the number one poker site? Barely anyone had an online poker site on their clothing in 2003. I did not see one hat for Party Poker.

4. Who in their right mind would go to Binion's to watch the final table? Back then they did not have any bleachers or an overhead TV to see the community cards. They had about 10 rows of chairs set up around the table. What was there to watch?

5. Whatever happened to Jason Lester? Did he go back to trading options? Answer: I checked the Hendon Mob DB and actually he's done quite well, including winning a WSOP bracelet in Pot Limit Hold'em. I guess he must shun the limelight because I never see him on a major poker broadcast.

6. I had forgotten that ESPN actually had 7 episodes of coverage. They only repeated the final table ad nauseam over the years so I had forgotten about all the early coverage. I believe this was a big jump for them and possibly the first time they had shown something other than just the final table.

7. Does Robert Varkoni curse God every day that he won in 2002 instead of 2003?

8. Norman Chad is introduced as a writer and tournament player. Did he ever win anything of note? His name is absent from the Hendon Mob database.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tournament Score at Casino Arizona!

Once again we could not round up enough players for the weekly freezout at Greg’s house. Since my night was clear, I got the OK from Michele to go to Casino Arizona and play in their $130 Wednesday Night tournament.

I arrived at 6:40 PM for a 7:00 PM starting time and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the tournament was not in danger of selling out. I think I was the 56th player signed up. They eventually had 109 players. At first glance the tournament looks like a horrible deal because it’s really $100 + $30 in rake. However, the casino then adds $1,000 into the prize pool. So 109 players X $100 = $10,900 plus $1,000 equals $11,900. The casino generates $30 X 109 players in rake for $3,270. $3,270 divided by $11,900+$3,270) = 21.5% rake. Hmmmm…. now that I’ve done the math, it’s still a horrible deal.

As for the structure, it’s not much better either. One nice thing they have added is that for an extra $10 for the dealers you can add an additional $1,000 in chips to your $2,500 starting stack. To the best of my recollection here is the structure:
25-50 20 minutes
50-100 20 minutes
100-200 20 minutes
150-300 20 minutes
200-400 20 minutes
500-1000 30 minutes
700-1500 30 minutes
1000-2000 30 minutes
1500-3000 30 minutes
2000-4000 30 minutes
4000-8000 30 minutes

Usually when they get 130 players they will pay out 2 tables of 10. Since turnout was low they decided to just pay the final table of 10.

The very first hand I was dealt J8o in the cutoff. In my mode of always trying to raise the first hand to set the tone and the small blind had not sat down yet and it was folded to me. I open raised to 125 trying to steal the blinds. The button was probably on to me and called. I whiffed the flop, but bet at it anyway. He calls again after some deliberation. The turn puts a 4 card straight on the board. I decide he can’t call another bet with anything other than top pair and good kicker so I bet again and he folds.

A little while later, an early position player raises and two other players call. I wake up in the small blind with AKs and push all in. Everyone folds and my stack is increasing nicely.

Throughout this tournament I was a bit of a card rack.. In another hand I picked up Kings against a player who had raised and another who had called. I reraised and the initial raiser moved all in with Jacks and my Kings held up. This put me at around twice the average chips with about 75 players left.

Except for the player in the next hand, my tables through out the tournament were very tight. On five or six occasions during the tournament it was folded to me and I pretended to look at my cards and blindly raised. I think I was 6 for 6 on these.

Since the table was so tight and I had a big stack, I got frisky and raised in late position with T6o. A friendly black man in the big blind called the bet. He was playing a lot of pots and not playing them well, so I was happy to have him call.

The flop was 10-6-9 rainbow. Wow I am running good! My opponent checks and I bet half the pot. He raises me 3x my bet. I’m pretty sure he would slow play the straight and he may just do this with A-10 so I figure my hand is good and I push all in. He snap calls and tables 99 for a set. Uh-oh. The turn misses and the river is a 6 giving me a brief flash of hope until I realize that it makes my opponent a better full house than mine. In a funny aside, my opponent thought he lost the hand and needed the dealer to explain to him that he won with a higher full house.

So I lost a little more than half my stack on that hand, but I still had around 12x the blinds. The very next hand I wake up with pocket Kings (Did I mention I had a lot of good cards?). I raise again, hoping that everyone thinks I am steaming after losing the last hand. A player two seats over reraises me and it’s folded to me. I play it straight forward and move all in and he calls and turns over Aces. Man it went from Penthouse to Shit House in a heart beat.

The flop comes A-Q-7. I think I am totally screwed. The turn is a Jack. Ooooh I picked up 4 outs. The river is a Ten! I’m a Superstar! I go runner-runner straight to crack his Aces and win back almost all my money from the previous hand. This was one of the few times in my life where I put such a horrible beat on someone that I actually felt bad about it.

A new player comes to our table and he is trying to look intimidating. He has a decent sized stack which is to say he has about 15x the blinds. The blinds have increased now so I am sitting in the same boat. I think the effective stacks were 15,000 with the blinds at 500-1000.

I pick up AdQd in middle position and raise first in the pot to 3,000. Everyone folds behind me, but the intimidator thinks for a while and then calls from the Big Blind. There is 6,500 in the pot and the flop is 10-7-3 with no diamonds.

This looks like a good flop to make a continuation bet. He checks to me and I bet 4,000 leaving me with 8,000 behind. My opponent thinks for a second and then check raises me all in for an additional 8,000. Now at first glance this looks like a fold. But wait let’s look at the situation. The blinds will be going up in 2 minutes to 1500-3000. If I fold I will have 8,000 in chips left which is less than 3x the blinds. The pot has 6,500 + 4000+12,000 for 22,500 and it’s 8,000 more to me. I am almost getting 3-1. If I have all my outs for Aces and Queens plus them small chance for a runner runner straight then the my chances of winning are 23%. I decided that I could not orphan my chips in the pot and I called. My opponent could not believe I called and he showed 10-8 suited. Of course I spiked an Ace on the turn to really piss him off. That pot got me healthy again.

This guy was going to go and tell all his friends how he got busted by a dummy who called him down with Ace high. What he should look at was the fact that he made a horrible call with 10-8 suited in the big blind. If you think I’m making a move then the correct play is to raise all in and pray for a fold. That is the definition of a raise or fold hand. Why on earth would you call off 20% of your stack with 10 high? The check raise was even worse. I have almost 1/2 my stack in the middle of the pot. Not a lot of guys are going to fold there. A better move would have been a stop and go. If he pushes all in at that pot, instead of checking, it looks like a big over bet and maybe I call with worse.

Shortly after that hand, we consolidated to two tables. The blinds were starting to get high again and my stack was hovering around 11 BB. Once again lady luck shined on me when I picked up Aces after there was a raise, a call, and a short stack all in. There were already too many players in the pot, so I raised all in. The initial raiser called, the caller thought for a long time and folded, and of course the all in was all in. I was up against Jacks and 2-5 suited by the all in. The one player who folded said I should have smooth called because I would have won his entire stack as well because he had layed down pocket Queens. Somehow I flopped another Ace to make sure the 2-5’s two pair did not suck out on me and I was comfortable once again.

It was at this point that I feel like I could have played a little better. My table was extremely tight. I went really card dead for about an hour. I managed to steal an occasional blind to maintain my stack, but I think I could have been more aggressive. Especially as we got close to the bubble, I don’t think we saw a flop more than 10% of the time. If I had gotten away with it, I might have been able to build up a dominating chip lead to the final table.

We finally made it to the bubble at one table of 6 and another table of 5. My table was 5 handed. The other table had a short stack that survived about 4 all ins and never busted. Finally someone suggested we take $200 from the first place money and give it 11th place. We all agreed and the bubble was over. We also consolidated to an 11 handed table.

Surprisingly, even after the bubble burst the table was still pretty tight. An older man with a hearing aid sat down to my right and proceed to raise preflop 3 out of 6 hands and win the blinds every time. The fourth time he tried it was on the button and I was the small blind. He raised it to 15,000. I saw K7o and decided that was good enough to push all in over the top for 40,000. He thought for a little while to save face and then folded. I loved that I heard someone at the table murmur that “he knows how to move his stack around.”

Playing at a table like this was tough because if you raise to 3x the blind, almost everyone was so short, that if they push in for 10x the blind, you are almost priced in to call. So the aggressive answer is to just move all in and beat them to the punch, or play tight and wait for hands that you don’t mind calling down.

One such instance happened late. A player with 8x the blind limped under the gun. He had thought about his hand for a little while and I read him for thinking about raising. He had limped small pocket pairs in early position before so that was the hand I put him on. Everyone folded to me in the small blind. I decided to raise enough to put him all in. The BB folded and he called with pocket 8’s. I had KsQs.

The flop was K-Q-2 and I looked good. The turn was an 8. Boooooo! The river missed my 4 outs and I was back down to 10 BB.

One rotation later, I am in the $4,000 big blind. The button raises to $20,000. I have KQo and figure I am ahead of most of his range. I raise all in $40,000. He hems and haws for a while. I figure he’s priced in to call so I don’t know what’s taking him so long. “Did I catch you with your hand in the cookie jar?” I say. He says yes and folds showing 2c7c. He he he he.

We finally eliminated a couple more players and it was 8 handed. We discussed a chop again which would give everyone $1,388 which was close to 3rd place money. One player wanted a minute to think about it. The blinds had just gone up to 4000-8000. Nobody had more than 10x the blind. Plus it was 12:30 AM and everyone was tired. He thought he might be the chip leader, but I counted down my stack at 69,000 and he was a little shorter than me. Finally we agreed and all that was left was to play for their leader board points. Since I don’t play enough of their tournaments to worry about that, I pushed all in with KJ in a 4 way pot and lost to go home in 6th place.

I am ecstatic that I finally cashed for over $1,000 in a live tournament. I think I played pretty well for the most part. I made some nice re-steals and stole the blinds when necessary to stay healthy. I also got extremely lucky in that twice I was all in for my tournament life as a 3-1 dog and survived.

Now that the bankroll is over $4,000 there is a test coming. I have enough money to play cash games at higher stakes. 1-2 No Limit or even 6-12 Limit hold’em. Will I run good enough to stay at these levels or will I get my ass handed to me and have to move back down? I will keep everyone informed.

Monday, September 01, 2008

One Skill Improves while Other Diminishes

My poker game is over taking my golf game. I made a recent post that I had lowered my golf index to 6.6 Since that happened I have shot 82, 87, and a 90 today. I don't think my game is that far off. I seem to be driving it pretty well, but my short game has been real suspect. To use a poker term, I am not running good. If there is a bad lie to be found, my ball finds it lately.

On the poker front, my bankroll has climbed above $3,000 again. That's not bad since a year ago I was at $500. Of course I could have kept the Main Event entry and been at $12,000 but what fun would that have been.

My bankroll has been increasing in spite of my inability to beat the worst 3-6 and 4-8 limit games at Casino Arizona. It is so frustrating to see such horrible play and not be able to capitalize.

On Saturday night, Rob was supposed to buy me the dinner he owes me from our Main Event bet. He flaked on the dinner, but we did meet up at the casino. I started at a juicy 4-8 Hold'em game at 7:30 PM. By 9:00 I was $200 and my tilt meter was rising.

I tried to make one strategic move by changing my seat to directly to the right of a novice player who was playing every hand. My plan was to raise the top half of my playable hand range every time he limped in trying to isolate him from the other players. Of course isolation is a tough road to hoe when raises are not given much respect and there are still 4-5 players in every pot. I can't say my plan failed because I did not lose any money. But it wasn't successful either. Eventually I won back $100 and moved to Rob's table at the 3-6 level.

This table was also horrible, but I just could not get the cards at the right time. I stayed right around $100 down when finally after 5 1/2 hours I picked up what I figured was going to be the hand to get me back to the plus side.

I pick up QQ on the button. There are a couple of early limpers and I raise. The small blind calls, but the BB (who was a bit wild and crazy) reraises, and then the limper under the gun caps! I call and the small blind calls three more cold so the pot is 4 way and capped. By the way did I mention this was a kill pot? Oh yeah so that means there is $96 in the pot before the flop.

The flop is 3h-4h-7d. I like it and figure my hand is probably good. The small blind leads out for $6, the crazy BB raises to $12, and under the gun player, makes it $18! Now the books might say that it's still worth calling because the pot is sooooo big. But I know I am calling $24 because it will be capped, and it's possible I am drawing dead or to just 2 outs. I fold and cry on the inside.

Eventually the monster pot makes it to the river and the small blind had dropped out. The crazy big blind had reraised me with Ah-7h. The under the gun player had 5h-6h for a flopped straight and an open ended straight flush draw. The crazy BB won the hand when a Kh hit the river to give him the Ace high flush.

I won the next hand with top pair, King kicker to win back the money I lost on the previous hand. By then it was 1:30 AM and I was tired. I racked up my chips while there was another crazy pot happening. I muttered something to my neighbor about "Why am I leaving this game?" and he chastised me for doing it. I am a pussy and I like my sleep. I guess that's all I can say.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

5-150 Hand Analysis

I spent a couple of hours at a juicy 5-150 spread limit table at Casino Arizona today. I managed to win $172 and I had a couple of interesting hands that I felt I should explore.

The first one was pretty early in the session. I picked up AK suited in early position. I raise to $20. The player on my immediate left re-raised to $60 and everyone folded back to me.

My opponent seemed a little loose and passive so I was pretty sure he had a big hand to reraise me. He had approximately $160 left in his stack after the raise. I had him covered. I thought about re-raising all in so I could see all 5 cards, but I also did not feel like flipping a coin for $220. I decided to call and see the flop.

$125 in the pot and the flop was K-Q-Q rainbow. So I hit my King, but I still don't like the flop that much. If he has the normal tight player range for re-raises of AA, KK, QQ, or AK then I am behind every one of those hands. He could also have JJ or AQ, but that may be wishful thinking on the jacks. I check and my opponent starts to count out his chips. He thinks for about a minute and then checks. I am still not feeling good about my hand, but his passiveness has polarized his hand even more. In other words he either loves or hates his hand.

The turn was a brick. I bet $80 hoping that's enough to take it down. He calls pretty quickly and I am done with this hand now.

The river is another low card. I check and he checks behind again and rolls over AA. My read was correct in that he was really worried about his hand. AQ or even KQ was in my range according to his analysis after the hand. However, I do not think I could have made him lay it down. I wonder if a bet of $50-$60 would have been just as good as $80 to find out where I was?

I pull out another $100 and a little while later I pick up two black Kings in late position. A loose calling station type player raises in early position. It's folded to me and I raise to $60. Everyone else is out and the initial raiser calls. $125 in the pot.

The flop is Ts-8s-4d. He checks to me and I bet $100. He calls fairly quickly. It feels like he has a flush draw or maybe a pocket pair like JJ or QQ. The turn is another Ten. He checks again and I bet the full $150. He only had around $120 left and he calls. He does not turn over his cards. The river is not a spade and I win the hand. He does not show, but he mentions that he had a draw. So soon after my loss I am back on the winning side of the ledger.

The last hand I wanted to write about was a lost opportunity. I had Jd-8s in the small blind. Four players limp in for $5, I complete the blind and the big blind checks. 6 players to the flop for a pot of $27 (after the rake).

The flop is Ad-Kd-7d. I check my flush draw and everyone checks to the cutoff who bets $20. The button folds and I call. Everyone else gives up and it's heads up to the turn for $67.

This player was loose passive preflop, but tended to bet his top pair, weak kicker hands. He had won a couple of pots after limping preflop and then showing an Ace after his opponent would fold to his flop or turn bets with an Ace on the board. I never saw his kickers, but I assumed they weren't that great. Although there was one hand where he only completed in the small blind with AK instead of raising a couple of limpers in the pot.

The turn was a 6s so the board read Ad-Kd-7d-6s. I checked again and this time he bet $40 into the $67 pot. I felt like he was betting an Ace and trying to protect his hand. I looked at the rest of his stack which was approximately $100 and calculated my pot odds. I just did not feel like I would get paid off on the river if I called and hit the diamond. So I folded. Ho hum no big deal right?

While driving home and replaying some of the key hands in my mind, a lightning bolt struck. If I check raise that turn, I think he would fold that hand over 50% of the time. That line just screams of a slow played flush. Especially with me in the small blind where I could have any 2 diamonds. Even if he calls with something as strong as a set of 7's, I still have outs. In fact, my odds might be even better than 9 out of 46 since the other limpers threw away their hands on the flop and I doubt they would have thrown away a diamond. So my odds could have been as good as 9 good cards to 31 bad ones.

So the mistake was not stopping to think, "Does my opponent have a hand that I can raise him off of?" I must remember to consider this in the future.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amare Stoudemire and Me

At 3:00 PM yesterday I received a text message from my friend, Jeff who invited me to the new shoe release party for Amare Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns.

Jeff is the friend of mine who has formed the company, Knockout Dealers which run poker tournaments. The business idea is that Jeff hires and trains models to deal the cards and they wear fish net stockings and bustiers to look their best. Jeff was hired by the party planner for Amare to run a poker tournament during the party. Since it was such short notice, Jeff was worried he would not have enough players, so he was nice enough to give me a call. He said, "we have 8 prizes to give away and if you play, I will have at least 10 players." With those odds, how can I pass it up?

The party was held at the Rockridge Estate. This infamous property is owned by the estate of the late Scott Coles of Mortgages Ltd. Scott made the business news a couple of months ago when he committed suicide after his wife filed for divorce and his company was sued by various clients for not fully funding the mortgages they had promised. After Scott's death, Mortgages Ltd declared bankruptcy and thousands of local investors are wondering if they will get any of their money back when it's all said and done.

The property itself is unbelievable. It is currently listed for sale at $16,000,000. The first line of the listing says, "If money was no object, this is the house you would build." Check out the pictures above of where the party was held. If you can believe it, this was just the pool house/guest house. We were not allowed in the main residence.
Jeff did not tell me it was a pool party, so I was a bit over dressed. No big deal as there were dozens of hot women running around in various states of undress all night. There were also lots of big black men running around as well. It was definitely not a crowd I am used to running with. It looked like an episode of Entourage.
As for the poker tournament, there were 15 players and 8 prizes to choose from. If you finished in 1st, then you got first pick of the prizes. The prizes included signed Suns jerseys, shoes, Suns tickets, and a $200 gift certificate to Stoudemire's restaurant.
I was seated at the "L" table. The first four people who sat down were named Larry, Louis, Lisa, and Lon. Louis was on my left and I came to find out that the Phoenix Suns had just signed him to a contract. After checking the internets at home, apparently he played sparingly for the 76'ers last year and the Suns picked him up as a free agent. He was a very nice guy and a very bad poker player. My favorite.
Surprisingly the blinds in this tournament were slow moving and I could play my normal patient game and pick my spots. Somehow I gathered chips occasionally and got lucky a few times and made it to the final 3.
The last men standing were myself, Jeff, and Mark (who happened to be the lucky man who has the real estate listing for the house). Jeff was the big chip leader and twice he had Mark all in and behind. Twice Mark went runner-runner to make a full house and stave off elimination.
Eventually I gained the chip lead and took my turn trying to elimate Mark. I pushed all in with KQ and he called with pocket 3's. The flop was Q-Q-3. Mark had not turned over his cards yet, so I figured I was comfortably ahead. He was nice enough to show me the bad news after the flop.
After a long time at 3 handed, Jeff finally went broke and Mark and I were heads up with only 20 BB between us. I was ready for the tournament to be over so I began to push all in frequently. Mark had barely called me all night, but he finally did with ten high. I was lucky enough to have the monster 3-7 in my hand. When I say lucky, I mean I sucked out on him to stay alive in the tournament. Eventually he pushed all in with J-9 and I picked up AQ and made the easy call. My Ace high held up and I won the tournament.
There was going to be a little skill in picking the prize I wanted. Since the party was put together very hastily, they did not have the actual prizes there. I was going to have to depend on Jeff, Amare, and his handlers to come through and deliver the goods. This means taking free tickets or a signed jersey would be a relatively easy thing for them to follow through on. Instead of taking the sure thing, I decided to gamble.
I chose the Amare Stoudemire All Star Package. The NBA All Star game will be in Phoenix in February. Apparently the schedule is party on Thursday, party on Friday, and party on Saturday, followed by the game on Sunday. Amare and his party planner promised me that they would get me into one of the official "All Star" parties that week where I can hob nob with the players and coaches. I give myself a 50/50 chance of this happening, but it's fun to think about. At a minimum I have a great story to tell my son, Jake when he gets older.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Final Table of $26 Full Tilt Knockout Tourney

$24 + 2 Full Tilt Knock Out final table

I made another nice run in an online tournament at Full Tilt on Sunday. I played in a random Knock Out sit and go with a 90 player cap.

Here are the possible payouts:

1. $576
2. $351
3. $252
4. $198
5. $144
6. $108
7. $72
8. $54
9. $45

Plus you make $4 every time you knock a player out of the tournament.

I finished in 5th place and I had a few knockouts. I don't know how many exactly because Full Tilt doesn't tell you.

There were some donktastic players in this one and with a little luck on my part I made a nice run. I thought I would go through the hands again and see if I could have done some things better.

Level 1 20-40 blinds starting with 3000 chips.

1. TsTc in small blind. UTG limps, hijack limps, button limps, I complete and BB checks. Flop is 8c-4h-Qd and it’s checked around.
Turn is 8h. I lead out for 80 and everyone folds.

2. 9d7s on button. It’s folded to me and I open raise to 100 and win the blinds.
Stack 3150. 2c2d in cutoff. One limper and I limp along. Button raises to 120. Blinds fold, early limper calls and I call. Pot is 420.

Flop is 8s-2s-4s. I flop a set but with a monotone board and I don’t have a spade. Early player checks, I check, and button bets 240. Early player folds and I call. Pot is 900.

The turn is a 3s so now the board is 8-2-4-3 all spades. I check again and button checks behind.

River is Jh. I check. The button bets 640 and I call to see JsTs for a flopped flush and lose the pot.

This was one hand where trying to play a small ball strategy did protect my stack. Usually I would have led out on the flop to see where I was at. By check calling, I gave myself another chance to see the turn and possibly hit the full house. The river call was probably too loose, but then again, I had not shown any aggression in the hand, so I may have to call there if I don’t put any bets in on flop or turn.

Level 2 25-50

3. Stack 2100. AsKs in BB. Early player min raises to 100. Cutoff calls and Small Blind calls. I raise to 550 hoping to take it down now or get it all in before the flop. Instead I get called in two spots behind me.
1,750 in the pot and the flop is Ac-8c-2c. I push all in for 1600. They both fold and I win a big pot.

I think leading out is the right play. I can’t bet less than all in and I don’t want to give a free card. If a club draw calls me, I’m still ahead. Plus the pot is big and I want to win it now.

4. Stack 3325. 5d4d in small blind. H8thrvr in first position calls and DANIELTT2 calls 50. I limp and the BB checks. 200 in the pot going to the flop.

Flop is Jh-5c-Qc and it’s checked around.

Turn is 3h. h8thervr bets 50 and DANIELTT2 calls and I fold

River is 7c. h8therver bets 150 and DANIELTT2 calls. H8therver shows 9s8s and DANIELTT2 shows 7h6h. This is a big clue that h8thrvr is willing to bluff two streets. I don’t know why DANIELTT2 called the turn there.

5. Stack 3300. AhAs on button. Aftermath666 moves all in for 3,265 first in the pot. Hmmmm.... that is a 60 BB shove. Glad I woke up with Aces. My opponent turns over pocket Jacks. The flop was interesting as it had an Ace and a Jack in it. I dodge the one outer on the turn and river and double up to 6605.

Level 3 30-60 blinds

6. Stack is 6605. I have pocket 2’s in late position. I open raise to 180 and small blind calls me. Flop is Ah-8c-Qs and I continuation bet 240 into a 420 pot and take it down.

7. Stack 6790. I have As3s in small blind. Its folded around to me and I complete. We both check it down to the river and I win small pot.

Level 4 40-80 blinds

8. Qc6c 3 off the button. I decide to get a little frisky and open raise to 200. ByeByeToYou raises all in to 1,750 behind me and Coolerman calls on the button. I of course fold and watch as AQo goes up against Pocket Aces. The aces hold up for Coolerman.

Level 5 50-100 blinds

9. Stack size 6,380. I am moved to a new table. I pick up JhJc in the big blind. (I sure seemed to pick up a lot of hands in early position this tournament). Dg0425 is under the gun and raises to 300 and has 2,430 behind. It’s folded to the small blind who calls with 9,925 behind. I also just call.

Pot has 900 and the flop is 8s-Jd-2d. The small blind checks and I lead out for 400. dg0425 raises to 1200. I reraise and put him all in. He calls with KsJs and is drawing nearly dead. I win a 5,760 pot.

10. Stack 9,660. I have AdKh in cutoff. Cardom limps for 100 with 9,825 behind. I raise to 300. citiQQ calls on the button and Pistevo in the small blind calls. They both have about 3800 behind.

The pot has 1,300 in it and the flop is 2s-7c-3s It’s checked to me and I check it to the button who bets 400. The others fold. Since I’m out of position and the small bet looks suspiciously like a big hand, I fold.

Level 6 60-120

11. Stack size 9,360. I have 8c7c utg plus one. I raise to 300 and everyone folds except the big blind who calls. The pot has 660 going to the flop.

The flop is Ah-6h-6s. I make a continuation bet of 330 and he folds.

Level 7 80-160

12. Stack size is 9,540 and I have AhJd. Cardom limps for 160 with 7,435 behind and I call. The button Pistevo calls and the Big Blind checks his option. 720 in the pot going to the flop.

The flop is Ks-5h-Js Cardom bets 720 and everyone folds.

Level 8 100-200

13. Stack size 9,080 and I have Kd5d. brody1kanob limps in utg+1 with 16,785 behind. I limp in the cutoff. citiQQ calls in the small blind and Pistevo checks in the BB. 800 in the pot going to the flop.

Flop is Td-Th-7h. Right color, wrong suit. I fold to a 400 bet.

Level 9 150-300 with 25 ante

14. Stack size 8,230 and I have 7s7d on the button. Middle position moves all in for 1,790 and I call. He turns over pocket 9’s.

Flop is 8s-6s-Th giving me a little hope, but he has two of my outs. Turn and river brick and I lose.

Level 10 200-400 with 50 ante

15. Stack size 5,565 in the small blind with Ac9h. schwags 33 with 9900 in chips open raises on button for 1105. It looks like a textbook steal, so I shove all in and he folds.

16. Stack size 7,420 with 8d6s in cutoff. I open raise to 1,000 hoping to steal. It works and I pick up 900 dollars.

Level 11 250-500 with 50 ante.

17. Stack size 7,420. I have AhKd in small blind. tigerP limps utg+3 with 8,204 behind. The mokummaster raises to 1,500 with 2,710 behind. I shove all in and tigerP folds. The mokummaster calls and shows pocket tens.

There is 9,870 in the pot and the flop is Qc-Td-4c and I am in trouble. The tens hold up and I am down to 3,460.

18. Stack size 3,410. The very next hand I pick up 9c9s on the button. Schwags33 raises to 1275 in the cutoff and I push all in. schwags is getting 3-1 on his money and is forced to call with 9h8c. There is 8,020 in the pot going to the flop.

The flop is Qc-Kc-Th. I avoid the Jack for a chop on the turn and river and get right back into the tournament.

19. Stack size 7,870. I have 8c3s utg+1. The big blind is extremely tight according to my stats so I try for the blind steal by raising to 1,250. Pistevo in the cutoff shoves all in for 6,865 and I fold.

Level 12 300-600 with 75 ante

20. Stack size 5,320. I have AcKh in cutoff. Iliko59 moves all in for 3040. I reraise all in. citiQQ calls from the small blind and I am not feeling too good. The pot has 14,805.

Iliko59 shows Ad7c and citiQQ shows JhJc. The board is 9s-3c-Ks-9c-7h and I win a coin flip for my tournament life.

Level 13 400-800 with 100 ante

21. Stack size 14,630. I have AcQs utg+1. I open raise to 2000 and win the blinds and antes. It’s 7 handed at our table so that is 1,900 every time I do this.

22. Stack size 14,930. I have 7h-5h on the button. I open raise to 3600. blackpanter333 has 5,075 after paying the blind and citiQQ has 1,730 after paying the big blind.

I was thinking that they would not want to play for their tournament life, so I raised bigger than normal. In retrospect, this was dumb as citiQQ would be looking for any excuse to push all in after 1/3 of his stack went in for the blind. Blackpanther333 wakes up with AsQd and moves all in. I am forced to call getting nearly 5-1 on my money.

The pot is 12,450 and the board comes out 9c-6c-Ts-4c-8c and I suck out with the Ten high straight. This is the first hand I get really lucky on in the tournament.

23. Stack size 21,805 and I am chip leader at table. I pick up AdJs on the button. I open raise to 2000 and pick up 1,900 in blinds and antes

Level 14 500-1000 with 125 ante

24. Stack size is 23,230. I have 4c3c utg. I raise to 2,500 hoping to steal the blinds. Steinsbo11 in the small blind wakes up with QdQh and moves all in for 5,055. Getting 3-1 on my money I am forced to call again.
The pot has 11,735 and the board runs out 4s-2c-Ah-Kd-As and I lose.

Level 15 800-1600 with 200 ante.

25. Stack size 15,750 and I have Ad5h on the button. The table is 6 handed. It’s folded to me and I push all in against BIGGDEE123 with 46,137 in chips and citiQQ with 10,690 in chips.

I did not want to give the big stack a chance to reraise me if I only raise 3x the blinds. They both fold and I pick up 3,600 in blinds and antes.

26. Stack size 18,750 and I have AhQc in the hijack. I push all in again and nobody calls.

Level 16 1000-2000 with 250 ante

27. Stack size 18,750. I have Ac7d under the gun. I push all in and bbridges4058 on button calls for 7,260. The blinds fold and the pot has 18,520. He turns over KsQh so I am ahead but barely.
The board runs 9c-4c-Ah-9d-4d and I flop good!

28. Stack size 30,510. I have Kh9s on the button. The table is 5 handed. I believe we are at money bubble time. It’s folded to me and I raise to 5,000 and win 4,250 in blinds and antes.

29. Stack size 34,760. I have As2d in cut off. The table is still 5 handed and still on the bubble. I raise to 5,000. Steinsbo in the BB wakes up with 77 and raises all in to 5877 and I call 877 more. The 7’s hold up and I lose the pot.

Level 17 1200-2400 with 300 ante

30. Stack size 24,333. I have QhTs in cut off. The table is still 5 handed and still on bubble. I open raise to 7000 and everyone folds. I win 5,100 in antes and blinds.

31. Stack size 25,133. I am in the SB with Kh4s. Still 5 handed on the bubble. It’s folded to me and I decide to limp in.

I had been raising a lot and I was going to try and take away the hand on the flop by making a min bet. Just to be a little different.

The pot is 6,300 and the flop is Q-9-8 rainbow. I lead out for 2,400 and get min raised to 4800. I have to fold.

Level 18 1500-3000 with 400 ante

32. The bubble has burst and we are 9 handed at the final table. I have 19,733 and I am utg+2 with AcTd. I open raise all in and get called by the BB with 33. It cost more than half his stack so I don’t know if that’s a call that should be made, but so be it.

The pot has 44,566 and the board came out Jd-5d-7d-2d-Qh and I manage to hit the diamond flush and win the pot.

33. Stack size 44,166 and I am in second place. I am utg+2 with AcKd and I raise to 7,500. Everyone folds and I win 7,700 in blinds.

Level 19 2000-4000 with 500 ante

34. We have lost 3 players since I last played a hand. We are down to 6 handed. Stack size 39,066 after posting the Big Blind. I have TdTc. It’s folded to the button who is the chip leader with 91,000 in chips. He raises to 8,000. The small blind folds and I push all in. He folds and I win $12,500.

Level 20 2500-5000 with 600 ante.

35. Six players left. Stack size 52,366 and I have the button with Jc4h. It’s folded to me and I raise to 12,500 and win the blinds and antes which are now up to 10,500.

36. Down to 5 and I have 52,966 in chips. I also have the small blind and JcTc. It’s folded to me and I raise to 12,500. The BB shoves over the top of me for 35,116. I’m getting almost exactly 2-1 to make the call but I fold because I’ll still have 9 BB left and I can push and win the blinds in another hand and make the 12,500 back.

37. The next hand I have 42,366 in chips on the button and I wake up with QhQs. IrieAce in cutoff pushes his last 8,684 into the pot and I reraise all in to isolate. IrieAce turns over Jd4d and I feel good. There are 26,668 chips in the pot.

The board comes out 8h-7c-5s-4c-Js. He catches runner-runner to stay alive. At the time I was pissed because I felt that this crippled me. Looking at it now, it was the best time to take a bad beat because it was against the shortest stack at the table. Still it would have been nice to eliminate him and move up the pay scale.

Level 21 3000-6000 with 750 ante

38. I have 23,632 in chips and I pick up Ah8s on the button. The chip leader at the table raises to 18,000. I decide to push in the rest of my chips and he turns over AsJh. I do not improve and I am out in 5th place.

It’s common for most players to lament their elimination hand as the cause of their bad performance. Usually it was the hands they didn’t play right earlier that put them in the position to be eliminated. This time, however I really should not have pushed in there. I need to have first in the pot raise equity or a really solid hand to play anything with that short stack.

Here were the final stats of the tournament according to PokerTracker:
Total hands: 154
VPIP: 25%
PFR: 19%
Blind defense: 1 time, successful
Att to steal Blinds: 9 times out of 21 66% of the time they folded, 11% they folded on flop.

Overall it was the typical combination of good aggressive play, timely cards, and a little luck