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.

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