Sunday, August 10, 2008

Deep Stack Tourney at Fort McDowell

For my 37th birthday, my wife bought me a $115 entry into a Deep Stack Tournament at the Fort. When I spoke to the poker room manager on the phone a few days before the event, he warned me to get there by 8:00 AM for an 11:00 AM start. The genesis of the tournament is that it is a free roll for everyone who has made a final table of one of ther daily tournaments. Those qualifiers only pay $15 for a service fee and the casino is adding their $100. Since there were approximately 100 qualifiers, there were only going to be 70 spots available for the general public.

So I did my part and arrived at 8:00. The place was a ghost town as only one game of 3-6 holdem was running and it wasn't even full. The staff finally figured out the computer sign ups and I was signed up by 8:15. In the mean time I had 3 hours to kill by playing some 3-6 limit.

After misplaying a couple of hands and getting unlucky a couple of times, I felt good that I was only down $15 before the tournament started. I took a quick break and went outside to warm up and clear my head.

An hour before the tournament started the poker room was packed to the gills. The reason was that the Fort decided to sign up alternates for the tournament and then let them in with reduced stacks depending on which level they were allowed in. In one of the worst cases of money grubbing I have ever seen, the management signed up 130 alternates! They were still letting players in by level 5 when they were buying in with less then 10 big blinds. Unbelievable!

Here was the structure:
30 minute blind levels
Starting stack of $10,000

So in their defense, it was a deep stack at the start and the first 3 levels were good. My main gripe were the jumps at 300-600 to 500-1000 and then again doubling to 1000-2000. There was no player at my table in those levels that had more than 30 big blinds. I know they have to end the tournament sometime, but the way to do and treat the players right is not sign up so many alternates and limit the amount of chips in play. That way you would not have to accelerate the blinds so fast in the middle levels.

I was excited to try out some of the strategies for small ball that I had been reading about in my wife's other birthday present, Daniel Negreanu's Power Poker. There must have been a problem in my implementation, because just about every time I strayed from my normal game, I was punished.

Luckily, I had room to make mistakes because on the 4th hand of my tournament, I picked up pocket Aces in the small blind. The Under The Gun player raised to 200 and everyone folded to me. I reraised to 800 and he called. The flop was 10-9-7 rainbow. I bet 1500 into a 1700 pot, and he raised me all in! I guess he could have a set or a flush, but I thought he would slow play it, so I figured I was ahead. I called and he turned over JJ. I dodged the straight and two jacks and had a quick double up to almost 20,000.

A few hands later I raised J-T suited in early position. I was called by the blinds. The flop was all spades and Jack high. I did not have any spades. The blind led out with a healthy bet and I called. The turn paired the board with 5's. He led again for a little under 1/2 the pot. I decided to get tricky and raise about 2.5 times his bet. I was trying to make it look like I was slow playing a flush or even a full house. He was not buying it and he called. The river paired the Jack. Now I figure at worst I am chopping the pot. The blind checks and I bet 2000 on the end. He mutters that the Jack was the only card that could screw up his hand and he folded. Now I am up to 23k.

The tournament is not even a 1/2 hour old and I am probably the chip leader.

It was at this point that things went the wrong way. I picked up AK under the gun plus one. Under the gun raises to 300. I reraise to 1200. It's folded to the big blind who goes all in for around 9,000. The initial raiser thinks for a short time and folds. I sit there and try to do a little math, but my brain is really not working. I am assuming that he does not have Aces or Kings since I have one of each. I am trying to figure out if this is an auto call or a tough one. I figure I probably have the right odds and I call. My opponent turns over pocket Queens and it's a race. A race I lose.

Now I'm back down to around 15k. If I win, I am over 30k and really looking good. I don't know if that was a good call. Mathematically I am sure it probably makes sense in a small way. The thing is, I can fold Ace King there and still have 20k with 50-100 blinds and still be the chip leader at the table. It may have not been the right time from a strategy point of view.

From here I went on a steady spiral down to about 8k playing stupid hands and trying stupid bluffs. No excuse really, just hoping I could bully people around a little and obviously picked the wrong spots.

The blinds were up to 200-400 and I felt I was getting a little short. I still had close to 20 BB left but I knew the blinds were going up fast and there were still a ton of people left in this tournament and I was going to need chips.

It was at this level that my table seemed to get incredibly tight. The player in the 8 seat had started off early raising pots preflop 5 and 10x the blinds in the first couple of levels. Now he started raising about 60% of his hands , but only 2.5x the blinds. The crazy thing was that no one was playing back at him. 1/2 the time he won the blinds and the half he won with a continuation bet on the flop. I think it was driving me nuts because no one was playing at back at him, and he was playing the way I wanted to play at the beginning of the day. I felt like I could reraise and make him fold, but it was going to risk at least 1/2 my chips. Maybe that's what everyone else was thinking as well?

My patience was wearing thin when I finally picked up a pair of Kings in the big blind. There was a raise in middle position, then a reraise all in for less than my stack. I thought about slow playing and just calling, but I figured I would rather play against 1 player instead of 2 or 3. I pushed all in and the initial raiser also called. I was up against AQ and pocket 8's. The flop was K-T-7. Now I need to dodge 4 Jacks and 2 Eights. The turn bricked, and the river was another King giving me 4 of a kind. This put me back up to 20k. Wait a second. The guy who was annoying the table with his aggressive play, says to the dealer, "I swear I folded K-Q."

The dealer starts to look through the muck. I say, "Why would you even bring that up, you weren't even in the hand and now you might kill it." The dealer finds a Queen and a Jack. The player says, "I guess I misread my hand." That douche bag has been annoying me for a 1/2 hour and now he almost gives me a heart attack.

Shortly after this hand our table breaks and I get moved. My new tables has around the same mix of stacks. No one is really big and a few are hovering around 10 BB.

Once again my table is playing incredibly tight in that every raise preflop goes uncalled and the all anyone is doing is swapping blinds. It was here, that I really should have started raising every other hand. I have started looking at my cards right after I get them, to give me more time to make up my mind on my strategy before it gets to me. However I think this strategy hurts me in this case because I see my crappy cards and immediately my mind wants me to fold. In the old way, I could watch everyone else and recognize the steal situation before I looked, and then just pretend to look if I did not want to lose my nerve to raise. Hell one guy was a little irritated for me pushing in on his big blind two rounds in a row and said if he had pocket Queens or better, he was calling me. For some stupid reason I blurted out, "if you're going to wait for a hand that good, I might as well push in on you all day." Really dumb on my part.

The end was anticlimactic as I pushed in with 30k and 1500-3000 blinds with KJo. The girl next to me, who was pretty new to the table, took a while to make the call. Everyone else folded and she tabled pocket Queens. She amazingly really thought about folding it. I paired a Jack on the flop, but none of my other 5 outs hit the turn or river and I go home now. 52nd out of 300 runners is not bad, but it doesn't pay.

I think I am going to experiment in some 180 person Sit and Go's on Stars with the small ball aggressive strategy and see if I can hone my skills. I really need to do a better job of playing the other players cards and not my own.

No comments: