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.

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