Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Cash of 2012

2012 was marked by great[er] tournament success.  I had numerous cashes, most of which were in deepstack tournaments at Del Park and The Nugget -- tournaments with relatively good structures.  One tournament I was not, however, able to crack was the daily tournament at the Showboat.  I've mentioned it before, but I'll write it again -- the Showboat is generally a giant donkfest -- $65 buy-in, $20,000 chips, 20-minute levels, no antes.  It does not attract the best of the best.  Yet, it's a hell of a lot of fun.  I bubbled it once in November, busting 8th with 7 spots paid.  I just could not break through . . . until Saturday.
The Saturday 2:00 pm drew 76 runners.  I finished 4th.  The tournament came down to a handful of big hands played, a few well-timed lay-downs, and my ability to overcome mega-tilt after squandering $90,000 chips in a ten minute stretch.  Here are some highlights.  
The first few levels passed relatively quietly.  I was getting nowhere fast.  In level 5, with my stack down to $15,000, I caught a two-hand rush:
HAND 1: 
I was in the small blind with 3 5 off.  After 4 limpers, I completed.  The flop came out a delightful 4(d) 6(c) 7(d).  Bingo.  I checked.  Middle position bets $5,000; the cutoff raises to $10,000.  I shove.  Middle position goes all in for about $4,000 more, and cutoff calls.  MP tables a diamond draw.  Cut off tables 6 4 for two pair.  And I need to dodge a shitload of cards.  I do, and triple up. 
The very next hand, I'm sitting on $45,000 and look down at KK.  I raise to 3.5X and get a call.  Flop comes down A 4 K rainbow.  I check.  Dude shoves his last $12,000 or so, and I snap call.  He tables A4 and starts to celebrate when a 4 hits the turn.  Sadly for him, my Kings full beats his 4's full.  And, just like that, I'm sitting on approximately $61,000.
After a table change, I take down a few more pots (mostly uncontested preflop raises, or C-bets), and work my stack up to about $90,000, when HAND 3 hits:
I open-raise to 3.5x with AK sooted.  The player immediately to my left (a very capable player) shoves for $60,000.  I snap call.  He flips 77 and I catch a K on the turn.  $150,000 chips.
After another decent pot, I worked my stack up to $185,000:

Barring disaster, I'm looking very good to money.  But, I tell myself to keep the pressure on.  No min-cash.  Not today.  Of course, 10 minutes later, my stack was under $100,000.

HAND 4 was played against a TAG gentlemen, who was at my initial table, and who shoved the river on an AKT board with absolute air (76 off).   He played very few hands those first 4 levels we were together; but when he entered a pot, he entered strong.  He was on the button on this particular hand.  I was small blind.  Blinds were $2,000 / $4,000 if memory serves correct.  He limped and I completed with J2.  The board ran out 233, and the gentlemen leads for $6,500.  Sensing my hand was good, I decided to take it down with a raise to $22,000.  The gentlemen says, "Ugh.  Why did I bet that?!?!?!?"  And then proceeds to SHOVE his last $85,000.  Wow.  I still think my 2 is good.  But he could easily be shoving here with any small / medium pocket pair.  I fold.  He shows me a 5 . . . and a 2.  Fuck. Me.  Minus $26,000 chips (not to mention the nearly $100,000 chips I would have won with a call).  Tilt initiated.
A few hands later, I raise to $14,000 from middle position with KJ hearts.  It folds to the big blind who shoves her last $26,000.  I call.  She tables A9 off and neither of us hit the board.  Minus $52,000 chips.   
A few hands later, the small blind reaches me.  It folds around and I complete with K6 off.  Big blind checks his option.  The board comes down all rags.  We check.  Turn is a rag.  I bet $5,800 into $8,000.  Big blind tanks and calls.  River misses everything.  I feel like I can take this pot ($19,600).  I fire $12,000.  Big blind again tanks, and calls.  He tables K7 and his 7 kicker plays.  Unreal.  Great call, I guess (he claimed to put me on a missed draw . . . fair enough).  Minus $73,000.
The very next hand middle position shoves for $11,000 or so and gets two callers.  I'm in the big blind with 8 9 clubs.  There's $33,000 in the middle, and it costs me another $7,000 to see a flop.  I have to call here.  I miss everything, and fold to a flop bet.   Minus $85,000 . . . in basically a single orbit . . .  Mercifully, the 4th break hits and I'm able to walk the boardwalk to cool off.
I returned from the break, still sitting on approximately $100,000.  Plenty of chips to regather my composure and make a run....  I play tight, taking down blinds with positional raises.  Near the bubble, with blinds at $8,000 / $16,000, I steal the big blind twice with raises.  Both times, I had air, and told the big blind: "sorry; decent pocket pair . . . had to raise . . ."  Doubt he believed me; but who cares.
Twice I actually folded pocket pairs to opening raises.  Once 44, and once 77.  On the 44 hand, the original raiser had AQ and got called by 88.  Good fold . . . until a 4 hit the turn.  Oh well.  Better spots would come along.
Ultimately, I hit the final table with $150,000 or so.  An average stack.  6 spots were paid, and players started falling fast.  We got down to 4 players, and I was up against 3 fairly large stacks.  I had about $160,000 left, with blinds at $12,000 / $24,000.  I played my small blind with 8 T and caught top pair on a 4 6 T board.  Big blind bet, I called.  Turn was a 7.  Big blind bet, I shoved, he snapped and tabled the straight.  So be it.

It was a nice end to 2012, and felt good to finally get the "Showboat Monkey" off my back.  I finished 2012 with a slight profit over the course of 205 hours of cash.  A disappointment; but better than finishing the year in the red.  Unfortunately, I did not keep track of tournaments.  I suspect that, despite my numerous cashes, I was probably a bit in the hole at MTT's.  My resolution in 2013 will be to record all my tournament play as well.       
 Happy New Year,

Triple P

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays From Pete

A Merry Christmas to fellow bloggers and readers!  Hope everyone is having a fun holiday.
Yes, it's Christmas.  I'm at my parents house in an undisclosed location in Jean, Nevada (I mean, Long Island . . .).  It's 3:00 pm.  I'm trying to finish a memo that's due this week (client wants it billed during 2012 . . .) so I can head to Harrah's tomorrow for 4 days of poker with nothing hanging over my head.
I stopped by AC for three days on the drive up from D.C. to spend the weekend at Borgata.  I really only got in one good session of $1/2 NL -- an 8 hour run Sunday afternoon/evening, in which I dropped $57.  It was one of those sessions where nothing really went right.  I was in the 7 seat.  Across the table from me, in the 2 seat, was perhaps the biggest luckbox I've encountered.  Over the course of the afternoon, he flopped sets/boats/trips at least 15 times.   He drew to flushes/straights repeatedly as well.  If ever the board was paired, he'd turn up with trips.  It was just sick.  He built his stack to over $1,200 during his heater.  He showed just about every hand, as his flopping the nutz over and over and over had apparently become a running joke (funny to no one except said luckbox, of course).
For my part, I hit very few hands.  And, when I flopped a rare hand, and bet it, I was re-raised.  Every Time.  Nothing was easy.  The first instance was a hand against Luckbox.  He limped in from middle position along with the cutoff.  I checked my option in the big blind with Q 9 off.  The flop came down QK9 rainbow.  I checked.  Luckbox bet $15.  He bet everything.  $15 into a $7 pot was not uncharacteristic of him.  It also had no rhyme or meaning either.  Cutoff folded, and I just called.  The turn was a meaningless 7.  Luckbox bet $25.  I raised to $85.  He re-raises to $175.  Huh?  Really?  What?  Again?  Can he have it AGAIN!?!?  Luckbox has shown down nearly every hand he's won, and has always had a monster.  I say to him, "JT?  Really?  OK.  I'll give you credit for the str8t . . ."  I muck and he replies, "how about KT?".  Um.  Top pair, shitty kicker and a gutshot draw.  Nice one.  I folded the 73% favorite.  I told him, "Nice Bluff . . ."  He stared back blankly, not grasping the implication.  If I thought for a moment he was representing the straight and trying to push me off a hand, I'd give him credit for his play.  I'm confident he wasn't.  Just sickening. 
A little while later, I again limped in, this time from the small blind, with A7 off.  The flop came down 5 A 7.  It checks to me and I bet.  Young kid calls.  Turn is a 2.  It checks to me and I bet again.  Kid raises me 4x.  Great.  Did he limp in with 34?  Or is he protecting his hand?  This time I call.  We both checked the river, and he shows down 57.  Nice.
An hour later, I again get into it with the kid, just as I'm about ready to call it a day.  This time he again limped in and I raised to $12 with KQ from the hijack.  He calls the $10 on top.  Flop comes out K 7 4 rainbow.  He checks.  I bet $17.  He raises to $65.  Huh?  What?  Again?  What's he doing?  Does he think I fired a C-Bet and he's trying to steal?  Or is he trying to protect his hand from some phantom monster?  I had seen this kid attempt to protect a flopped set earlier on in the session on a fairly dry board.  In my mind, he had made his raise a street too early, and I recall thinking he lost some value.  Was he again overplaying a big hand?  In the end, with only top pair, and with my chips nearly in the rack already, I folded . . . face up.  Kid said, "do you want to see?"  I told him I didn't care (and I really didn't at that point).  He showed anyway . . . pocket 44's.  Thanks, I guess. He certainly lost some value as I was good for at least one more bet . . .
In the end, based on the way the cards fell for most of the day, a $57 loss was a huge win in my mind  . . .          

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Someone Has Got to Go!

The old J -E -T -S . . . JETS, JETS, JETS chant make me want to punch someone in the face.  Just shut the fuck up.  This season has been an abomination.  Utterly and completely.  No one has any reason to be chanting anything.  And, someone has got to be fired.  And that someone's last name begins with a "T" and ends with an "M".  And, also a big "Fuck You" to Woody Johnson.  Perhaps Woody deserves the most blame, but you can't fire the man with the checkbook.
It seems like just yesterday I was a recent D.C. transplant.  I moved to D.C. to attend school with little more than a student loan, an old beat up Chrysler and a spot on the Jets' Season Ticket Wait List.  Of course, this was more than a decade ago.  The Jets still couldn't win back then.  But there was a 10-year wait to purchase season tickets.  In fact, the demand was so high the Jets actually CHARGED YOU A FEE simply to maintain your spot on the list.  And I, like so many others, actually paid the fee . . . annually.
Then, four seasons ago, everything changed.  It was the last season of the old "Giants Stadium."  Perhaps it was part the economy.  Perhaps it was partially due to the expanded size of the proposed New Meadowlands Stadium.  But, whatever the cause, suddenly, overnight, there was no more wait list.  We immediately became "season ticket holders."  The Jets, for their part, continued to be mediocre.
The new stadium ("Metlife Stadium") opened in 2010.  We bought four seats, second level, corner of the end zone, four rows back, on the aisle.  For the privilege of committing to spend several thousand dollars a year on tickets (year, after year, after year), the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS made us pay thousands more (like, a number with four-zeros) for "seat licenses."  We could finance the licenses if we wanted . . . with interest, of course.  Pass.  We paid up and tried to forget.  In return, we received a contract which affords us the honor to sit in our seats for every Jets home game.  The contract requires . . . obligates . . . mandates . . . that for as long as we hold those licenses, we MUST spend thousands each season on Jets tickets.  The licenses also require us to spend hundreds of dollars on useless preseason tickets, but provide us only a right-of-first refusal should the Jets ever . . . ever . . . play a home playoff game, tickets for which would cost even more money.  The contract also purports to make us responsible for the condition of said seats.  In other words, if I break my seatback in a fit of rage, I'm liable to pay for a replacement (yeah, just try and get that money from me).  Also, as one final perk, the contract grants me a right-of-first refusal to purchase tickets for other events held at Metlife Stadium -- concerts and sporting events.  Numerous times a year I get an email providing me with a "pre-sale passcode" for an event.  Twice, I've tried to purchase pre-sale tickets -- once for U2 and once for Bon Jovi.  Both times, I got a message that my pre-sale code was invalid.  J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS.

Shortly after we paid our license fees, ownership, realizing no one was buying season tickets, reduced the price on most PSL's.  But we, having already paid, got no partial refund.  J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!!!
Ten years ago, you could not buy Jets tickets.  Since 2010, I'm not sure they've sold out more than a single game.  The upper deck is often half-full, and the lower level premium seats (the "license fees" for which were $50,000 a seat) are typically empty.  You could pick up your phone right now and order season tickets for 2013.  I've tried to sell tickets for games I can't attend, and the take has been marginally worth the EBAY fees.  My "seat licenses," which can be sold on the open market for whatever price said market will bear, are essentially worthless.  I attended only three games this season and, at those three games, was privy to some of the worst football ever played.  At the most recent home game, myself and those around me occupied our time on our cellphones trying to determine the record for most INT's from a QB in a single game, because Sanchez was well on his way to breaking whatever that record was.  J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!!!!

There will be no home playoff game for us Jets fans next month.  However, in March, we'll receive a bill for several thousand dollars to secure our attendance at the 2013 version of the "Shitfest in the Swamp."  I'll grimace and write the check.  I have no other choice.  So, there's that to look forward to.  J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!!!!!!!!!!

Don't get me wrong -- I can stand losing.  Hell, I've been a Jets and Mets fan all my life.  I've got a world series in '86, and then  . . . . zip. zilch.  nada.  I know what I signed up for.  But this season has been particularly trying.  Hell, this season actually the impossible possible -- it made me feel bad for Tim Tebow. 

Is Mark Sanchez a legitimate NFL quarterback?  Perhaps.  Or, at least he may have been.  Three years back, when the Jets defense gave up 17 or so a game, and the offensive line could do its job, and LT was LT, and Shawn Greene was a decent back up, Sanchez could run the offense and control a game well enough to win.  2009 March Sanchez was 2011 Alex Smith (with better hair).  OK; maybe that's a bit overstated.  But you get the point.  Two consecutive AFC championships are testament to this fact (although, neither year did I really consider the Jets to be a real Suberbowl contender).  But Sanchez clearly regressed in 2011.  And in the off-season, the Jets explored their options with Payton Manning.  And then someone felt bad for Sanchez and, to make amends and to protect his fragile, pro-athlete, millionaire ego, signed him to a nice fat extension.  And then someone signed Tim Tebow -- a move that, in retrospect, was a pure, unadulterated marketing move designed to sell those outstanding seat licenses.  And then came along 2012.  And, maybe Sanchez's ego was still hurt despite his big fat extension.  Or, maybe he felt no pressure or motivation to excell in the absence of any legitimate threat to his job.  Who knows.  But it was clear that whatever talent Sanchez intially brought to the field had vanished along with any semblance of confidence he may have had.  And, it also became clear that Rex Ryan's perspective of Tim Tebow was the same as mine (and, pretty much the same as anyone else who was neither born-again nor a Denver resident) -- Tebow cannot play QB.  And, it became clear that Tony Sparano was not the "master of the wildcat" as we were all lead to believe.  Rather, Sparano was the genius behind running Tebow straight ahead into the line . . . for 2.5 yards... again . . . and again . . . and again.  Our preseason scoreless draught was not an aberration; rather, it was foreshadow. J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!!!!!

Sanchez dated actresses and got paid millions.  Tebow dated actresses and got paid millions.  Rex got his stomach stapled, lost 100 pounds, but remained utterly delusional: "We're still a playoff team . . ."  And, every Sunday we got to see more turnovers than touchdowns -- some of the worst offensive football anyone has ever witnessed.

Was it all Mark's fault?  Shit no.  When you can't run the ball, and your o-line can't pass-protect, and Plaxico Burress is gone, and Santonio Holmes is out for the year, and Dustin Keller is injured, and your main target is rookie Stephen Hill and even he's battling a sore hamstring most of the year, and . . . well, there wasn't much left for Sanchez to work with.  But, as Greg McElroy seemed to be instinctively aware during his brilliant-touchdown-leading-first-drive as Jets QB (yes, there's a hint of sarcasm hidden in there), that's not an excuse to lose your fucken mind and toss the ball around the field haphazardly like a drunken fratboy. 

So now, it's December 2012.  No more playoff talk.  Rex's delusion has finally been thwarted.  Both Sanchez and Tebow will be sitting on the bench next week in favor of Greg McElroy, who himself has little business starting an NFL game behind center.  Tebow wants to be traded.  Apparently, he still believes he's an NFL QB . . . blinded to the fact that the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS completely crushed whatever hype / value previously surrounded him.  And Sanchez, for his part, has less confidence than a three-hundred pound kid with raging Tourretes at a junior-high dance.  And, thanks to that fat extension, the Jets can hardly afford NOT to start him again next season (they take a $17.5 million cap hit if he's released). 

So, where does all this leave me?  Depressed.  Very depressed.  And, I guess, looking forward to seeing this guy:


Call me delusional . . . but I really, truly think the Mets can maybe, possibly, play .500 ball next year.  And, yes, thanks to the Marlins, I really, really, really think the Mets have a real shot at 4th place in the NL East this year. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to sit back and wait and see if that sushi I just ate for lunch gives me food poisening.  Happy holidays, and FUCK YOU Mike Tannenbaum!!!  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Charm City Tuesday

I'm closing in fast on forty.  I'm old.  And usually tired.  I don't go out during the week.  Ever.  Last night was the exception.  DMB Baltimore.  My third show of the month.  As good as ever!


Now, Wednesday morning, sitting in the office, I'm (shockingly) exhausted.  Fortunately, not much needs to get done today.  But, on the other hand, there's always the almighty billable hour.  Much like the tree falling silently in the forest . . . if a lawyer sits in the office and isn't billing time, was he ever in the office at all? 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Tis the Season . . .

. . . the season for some DMB! 
It's Sunday.  I'm procrastinating before hitting the gym to lift some (relatively) heavy things.  I'm in recovery mode after two nights of awesome live music.  Friday night, O.A.R. played a benefit show at Strathmore Center for the Performing Arts.   O.A.R happens to be one of my favorite bands, and Strathmore happens to be less than a mile down the road.  So, after work, I pocketed a few road colas and headed towards the show on foot. 
The seats were OK.  Front row is good, but it would have been nice to be a little more dead center.  Live and learn.
The band played the second half of the show with the Beethoven Founds Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra which was an interesting change of pace.  The show benefited the Wounded Warriors.

Saturday morning, it was off to DMB Mecca, otherwise known as Charlottesville, Virgina.  The band was founded in C-Ville in the early 1990's, when Dave was a bartender at the local dive bar, Millers.  The band's stops in Charlottesville turn the entire UVA area into a giant party.  This weekend was no exception.

Who doesn't love a little Watchtower to end an evening?
DMB has been/is touring most of December.  Last night's show was my second of the month.  The third will be Tuesday night when the band hits Baltimore.  And, of course, I can't pass up the show at Wells Fargo Center in Philly on Saturday.  It will suck to have to leave the poker room at Borgata for a few hours over the weekend.  But, in the end, life is all about sacrifice, isn't it?      

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Look that Said it All

Maybe it was just Pete being a nit.  But I'd like to think I picked up on a nice tell . . .
It was Friday night at Harrah's AC.  The Circus(it) is currently in town, and the poker room has been packed the past two weeks.  It was a one of the worst tables I'd ever played at Harrah's.  And, by "worst," I mean filled with at least eight decent players.  There was very little money changing stacks.  I had been seated for just over two hours, and my stack was still hanging around $300.  Every one else at the table also had approximately a full buy-in behind.  
Then, finally . . . AA.  In middle position.  Under the Gun +1 limps in and gets a caller.  I raise to $12.  UTG+1 calls and we go heads up to the flop.
FLOP:  [Pot $29] -  6 2 7 rainbow.  Villain leads for $20.  Interesting.  I just call.
Turn: [Pot: $69] - 8.  Villain bets $55.
I fold.  AA face-up into the muck.  
Villain is incredulous.  His tables is 66.  Aces cracked, and it only cost me $32.
Now, back to the question posed in the opening line -- super nit or good read?  Here was my thought process:
1.  Villain struck me as competent - no more, no less.  He wasn't a donk, but he wasn't brilliant, either.
2.  Villain limp-called $12 from early position.  He could have done that with A7 or A6 suited.  Of course, my pocket pair made that hand less likely.  76, 66 or 77 are squarely in his limp-call range.    
3.   Villain's $20 donk on the flop gives me some information.  It leads me to believe he is on the weaker end of the range.  There are two cards to the straight on the board.  But there are not many hands in my range that give me the straight draw.  What hands am I raising to $12 from middle position that include a 4, 5, 8, 9, etc.?  If he flopped a monster, why lead out?  It's doubtful he is protecting his hand from a draw.  His $20 bet tells me he as a 6 or a 7 or a hand of similar value.  Of course, it's also possible he's put me an a big over pair, knows I'll call, and is trying to build the pot . . .  At this point, I'm not all that concerned; but I'm curious.
4.  After my $20 call, I see Villain staring at my stack.  I'm not quite sure what it is about the look;   but something strikes me as funny (and, not in the "ha-ha-funny-like-a-clown" kind of way).  It wasn't the look of a guy on a draw sizing up his "implied odds" . . .  My initial, gut reaction:  "this dude is looking at my chips, just thinking about how many of them he is gonna pull across the table on this hand . . ." 
5.   The eight falls on the turn, Villain thinks deliberately, and bets out $55.  OK.  Now I'm no longer curious.  I'm concerned.  The pot is getting bloated.  A call here and I'm into the hand for $82.  There would be $179 in the middle when the river peels.  It would be hard to fold to a river bet.  I mean, on this kind of board, the river is not going to change anything.  So, if I'm confident enough to call the turn, how can I fold to a river bet?  I could save a bit of money by raising the turn, I guess (and seeing villain's response).  But I'm not in love with that idea.  Perhaps I should have raised the flop to $60; but that decision has come and gone.         
My thought process turns to my old fall-back -- what am I beating?  I'm less convinced I'm looking at a pair of 6's or 7's or some medium pocket pair -- villain is creating a big pot here, and the table (including villain) had been playing somewhat tight all night.  Really, the only hands I'm ahead of are TT-KK.  Maybe Villain limp-called from early position with TT or JJ -- statistically unlikely.  But, at the same time, there are only three hands I'm realistically behind -- 66, 77, 67.  In the back of my head, I hear Poker Grump -- "don't be scared of the monster under the bed . . ."
But, my mind keeps going back to "the stare" . . .  Something about this hand just doesn't feel right.  I think I'm beat. In fact, I'm actually sort of confident I'm beat.  So much so that I decide to muck my AA face up and risk Villain showing 99 or the like and the humiliation of being utterly outplayed, in position, on the hand.
In the end, I got this one right.  A $32 loss with AA is a win (villain, by the way, claimed he put me on QQ or KK).  And I'm not sure I make that lay down if I'm not paying close attention to villain's demeanor during the hand.
Saturday, I played the 11:00, the 2:00 and the 7:00 tournaments at The Showboat.  Quite clearly, I didn't run very deep in the first two.  In fact, during the first two levels of the middle event, I was dealt AA, KK, QQ, TT and AQ . . . and lost each hand, sending my stack from $20,000 to $7,000.  I three-bet each, and made it to showdown only on the AQ hand.  The table must have thought I was fucken nutz (three-betting every other hand, only to lay down . . .).   Yes, I realize that may make me appear "exploitable," but I am nearly certain I was beat with each pair.  On the AA hand, the flop was Q-high.  Villain led the flop, I raised, she called.  Turn was another Q.  She lead with a sizable bet, I folded (if she didn't have a Q, then well-played on her part ... ).  Overcards hit the flop on the KK, QQ, TT.  Each hand was multi-way (despite my preflop three-bets) with action on the flop (only one of the hands made it to showdown, and both had an A).  And, on the AQ hand, I lost to A 4 on a K 4 8 J 2 board.  I continued my preflop aggression with a bet on the flop and got called.  I checked the turn and bet the river and got called.  Woman claimed she "knew" I had overcards . . .  It was the worst "heater" in memory.
And, finally, here's some photographic evidence that non-casino companies should not operate casinos.  It's The Revel at 11:00pm Saturday night:

There were also plenty of $15 black jack tables with multiple empty seats.  One would have thought Revel would have paid attention to The Cosmo....  It's Atlantic City in December and you stick with your philosophy that you are a "Destination Resort" and refuse to comp (or discount) rooms?  Really?  I can stay at Borgata for $115 (and Harrah's for free) on a Saturday night and you want to charge me $375?  Really?  Really?  I guess I'll just wait until after the court-supervised reorganization.  Yes, Revel is a really cool casino; but I can wait a year to bring my business over . . .

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who's the Idiot? A Tale of Self-Destruction at The Nugget

Pete Peters went up to New York for Thanksgiving.  I made stops in AC on Wednesday on the drive up, and Saturday on the way back, and put together two strong cash sessions both days:

Borgata (Wednesday night):

Harrah's (Saturday night):

I left New York early Saturday morning to reach AC in time for the nooner at the Nugget -- my favorite tournament in Jersey.  $25,000 stacks, 30 minute levels.  I built my stack up to $48,000 by the first break, but then caught a run of bad luck, including flopping top-top twice against a villain's set.  Five hours in, blinds were $50 / $400 / $800, and I was sitting on $38,000 when this hand occurred:
Villain was new to table.  He's an older gentlemen, sitting on $23,000 give or take a few hundred.  The action checks around to Villain on the hijack.  Villain checks the hole, and starts playing with his $100 and $25 chips.  He looks like he's thinking about calling.  But, after 30 seconds or so, Villain reaches for two $1000 chips and raises.  Action folds to me on the button.  I look down at 55.  My read is that Villain is not all that strong.  Rather than flatting and set mining, I opt to raise.  I'm basically planning on making a move, assuming I don't flop a set.  I raise to $6,000.  Villain just calls.  More affirmation in my mind that he's not holding a monster.
[Pot: $13,700]    Flop comes down 2h, 6c, 4h.  Villain checks.  I lead out for $9,300.  I have a pair and a gutshot, but really I'm just continuing with my move.
Villain shoves.  Oooops.  

It's $8,000 more to me, so I begrudgingly call.

Villain flips . . . 99. 


I don't improve, and I bust out an orbit later when I shove 99 (ironically) and get called by AK which connects on the flop.
I've given the hand some thought.  I really don't understand Villain's play.  His line preflop is fine, I guess.  But his flop call/shove didn't seem to make sense.  He has $18,000 chips left on the flop -- plenty left to fold and live to play another hand.  What does Villain think he's ahead of?  What's my range?  Villain has no history on me.  I've three-bet preflop and continued on a fairly coordinated board.  I feel like my story checks out: JJ - AA.  I also could have taken the same line with AK (maybe AQ, etc.).  Basically, there's one or two hands in my range that Villain is ahead of.  And, of course, he's ahead of a pure bluff.  How does he think his 99 is good? 
After the hand, I jokingly said to Villain, "I guess I didn't sell my story well enough, huh?"  His response:  "Well, it was the best hand I had seen in a while."  Um.  What?  How is that a reason to stack off for your tournament life? 
Plenty of times in the past, I've self-destructed 4 or 5 hours into a tournament when the combination of boredom and bad cards had lulled me into making a bad play.  However, here, while my move didn't work, I still feel like it was a strong play.  Villain's hand (99) is right around where I put him.  I thought I could move him off his hand.  A day later, I still think my line should have worked.  So, I guess my question is this: 
Was Villain the idiot or was I?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sunday Hand of the Day -- What Would You Do?

Triple P returned to the Chuck Sunday for a quick three-hour session, which was relatively uneventful.  The following hand went down in the first 15 minutes.  Villain was a Reg; a woman in her mid-thirties who I've played with before.  While I don't know her well, my impression is that she's capable and aggressive.  In the mere 15 minutes I had been at the table, her stack had taken several hundred dollar swings.  In short, she's not afraid to get her money in the middle.  She began the hand with about $600.  Pete has $310 and is in middle position for the action: 
Villain limps for $2 in early position.  One caller.  Action gets to Pete, who looks down at 99.  Pete raises to $12.  It folds around to Villain who calls $10 more.  Second limper comes along.
Flop [$39 in pot]:  T 6 4 rainbow.
Villain and limper both check.  Pete bets $28.  Villain calls.  Limper folds.
Turn 4.  Check; Check.
River 2.  Villain bets $50.
What's your play?   
[result will be posted in comments]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Hand Analysis

Follows is a hand that was played at Charles Town earlier today.  Pete Peters went heads up with a very capable villain.  Pete began the hand with approximately $300.  Villain had Pete covered.  Pete is in position with Ac Qh.  Villain limps from early position.  Middle Position calls $2.  Pete raises to $12.  Villain Calls.  MP calls.

FLOP:  [Pot $39]:  6s Ad Qs

Villain checks.  MP checks.  Pete bets $28.  Villain raises to $80.  MP folds.  Pete calls $52 on top.

Turn [Pot: $199]:  Ks

Villain checks.  Pete checks.

River 5s

Villain checks.  Pete checks.

Villain shows Ah 6h. 

After the hand, Villain commented repeatedly to his end of the table, "I lost the minimum there . . . "

Question is:  Did Pete lose value anywhere on the hand?  After going check, check, could Pete bet the river for value in this spot? 

Of note, Villain also claimed he thought about firing the river.  If he does, I'm pretty sure its an insta-fold.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Hand Histories & Pete Peters' Run-in With a Monster

This past weekend, I opted for a change of pace, and decided to play some poker . . .
I drove out to Dover Downs Saturday morning, and snagged a seat at one of the two $1/2 tables running at 1:00 pm.  I typically find Dover to be a friendly, relaxing place to grind. I was hoping for a relatively easy afternoon of poker, with few real decisions....  Instead, I played one of the most stressful, high-variance afternoons in memory.  It seemed like every hand a played turned into a big pot.  Hell, I don't even remember a single hand that went, raise, call, C-bet, rake . . .  An hour in, I found myself down $200.  I topped off (in for $500), and started hitting some hands.  I built my stack up to $840, before losing a few hands near the end, and walking with $240 profit.  Here are some highlights (or low lights, as the case may be):
The first hand I played, sitting on $296, I found JJ under the gun and opened to $12.  Myself and a mere 6 callers saw a 4 K A rainbow flop.  No sense even thinking about C-betting in this spot.  One hand played, one hand lost.
An orbit later, I find AK in middle position.  After one limper, I raise to $12.  An old Asian lady on the button calls, as does the limper.  The flop comes down 8 A 9 (two spades).   Limper donks for $10.  I raise to $35.  Both villains call.  Interesting.  Donker has about $200 behind, and Asian lady has approximately $50 left as we head to the turn.  Turn is a 2 hearts, which changes nothing.  Donker checks, I bet $55 to put the button all in.  She calls, and donker folds.  Old Asian lady flips A,8 for "aces up," and takes it down.  Less than 30 minutes in, and I'm down over $100.
Next hand I play -- AQ.  I decide to mix it up and follow two limpers into the pot.  In all, six see the flop: Qc, Ac, 7c.  Brilliant.   It checks to me, and I bet the pot.  One caller.  Turn is the 4c.  Does it get any better?  I check, Villain bets, I fold.  Three hands played, three hands lost.
A little while later, and after my rebuy, momentum shifts, and this scary hand is played:
I raise two limpers to $15 with QQ in middle position and get two callers (I was raising a bit more than normal to account for limpers, particularly given that the table was playing loose and calling just about any amount).  The flop is T 8 2.  I lead for $30 and get called by the hijack - a competent player who was on the $2/$5 wait list.  Not a great spot -- playing an overpair out of position to a decent regular who has called two bets.  I discounted KK or AA, as I think this villain would have three bet, particularly given my preflop raise, a call before the action got to him, and one limper yet to act.  Nevertheless, frankly, I'm not sure where am at at this point in the hand.  He could have flopped a set (two pair unlikely), he could be on a straight draw, or he could just be floating.  The turn bricks and I decide to give up the lead.  I'm hoping for him to check back.  But, I'm also giving him an opportunity to try and bluff in the event he was floating (and putting me on a hand like a big Ace).  Villain bets $50.  I quickly call, hoping it comes off strong.  River blanks.  I don't want to get check-raised by 88 or TT here.  I check.  Villain tanks.  He has $165 behind -- a stack of $100 and a stack of $65.  He plays with both stacks like he's about to shove, but rethinks, and slides out the stack of $65.  His bet size basically makes my decision for me.  I'm calling $65 into a pot of $270 and getting better than 4-1.  This alone makes it a fairly easy call.  But, beyond this, I'm fairly confident only a set beats me and, if he had a set why bet such a relatively small amount (just barely more than his turn bet).   I call; villain mucks.  Had he shoved for $165, I would have had a real decision to make.  Frankly, I think I fold in that spot.        
I had layed low for 30 minutes or so, when I was dealt K 4 diamonds and decided to make a move.  I raised three limpers to $15 in late position.  To my chagrin, I picked up 5 callers, including the button and big blind.  There's just under $80 in the pot.  Flop comes down J 3 7 and it checks to me.  Fairly safe flop.  I decide to play it like AA and bet $55.  It folds around and I scoop a decent pot.      
I ultimately worked my stack to $840 before giving a bit back on two unfortunate hands:
Hand One:  I limp with A3 and flop a gutshot (2 5 9 two clubs).  Gentlemen to my right bets $7.  I call.  The turn is the 4 c, making my wheel, but putting the flush out on the board.  Gentlemen announces, "same bet."  I call.  River is a 2, pairing the board.  Guy bets $14.  I call.  He shows 2,5 for the rivered boat.
A few minutes later I raise to $10 from the button with AT.  Two callers, including a short stack and the boat captain from the previous hand.  Flop is T 8 4, two spades.  Short stack shoves $25.  Captain thinks about it, and calls.  I decide to try and isolate against the shortstack, and raise to $80 (giving captain 2-1 on a call).  Captain folds, shortstack flips KQ spades for the draw, which he hits on the turn. 
Sunday I made the drive up to Charles Town for a quick afternoon session (yes, my unofficial boycott of Penn National lasted 6 days).  I once again quickly dropped $100, and then spent the next few hours struggling to make up ground.  I got very few playable hands.  Those that were playable, I raised and missed.  I C-bet a few on fairly dry-looking boards, only to get three-bet (never a good feeling).  I was dealt QQ three times, raised each, got at least one caller, and had an Ace hit the flop every time.  I got AK twice, opened both times to $10, and got not a single caller.  In short, nothing was working.  Eventually, I worked my way back into the black, and then it happened . . .
 . . . some dude takes the seat to my immediate right.  With him is his girlfriend.  At least, I think it was a woman.  She was a monster.  For the first 10 minutes, she just stood directly behind me watching the action, breathing heavily . . . labored.  The beast was tired (and, possibly hungry . . .).  Noticing the situation, the dealer offered to get her a chair and told her, "feel free to have a seat and watch."  Um.  Great.  So . . . monster takes a seat.  Almost directly behind my chair and her boyfriend's chair.  She's so close I can feel her breathing on me.  She has one of her club arms (presumably used for hunting or to incapacitate prey) resting on the back of my chair, and the other on her boyfriend's chair.  She's fidgeting non stop, and as a result, my chair is in constant motion.  I also can't push back to check my phone, etc., because she's/it's literally up against the back of my chair.  To make matters worth, the monster and her boyfriend are speaking some foreign tongue.  And, I can sort of see her through the corner of my eye looking at my hole cards, despite my efforts to protect my hand not only from my opponent, but from her as well.  Now, I have no idea if they were communicating improperly or not.  They probably weren't (the one hand I played against the guy, I double barreled and moved him off his hand with a fairly weak holding).  Nevertheless, the entire time I was fighting two urges - first, the urge to be "that guy" and request the dealer enforce "English, Only" if she was going to sit behind me at the table; and, second, the impulse to throw an elbow and catch her in the chin.  At that point, I knew it was simply best to leave, so I racked up and cashed out a small $37 profit and called it a weekend.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Return to the Grind

The past few months, my poker focus has clearly been on tournament play.  Prior to this year, my live tournament experience was negligible (and my results even more so).  I played mainly cash, and enjoyed cash more than MTT's.  This year, however, my focus seems to have shifted.  I've spent many weekends at Del Park just playing tournament after tournament.  Even my recent trips to AC have tended to revolve around tournament play (particularly the Golden Nugget Saturday guaranty and the numerous donkaments at the Showboat).  My tournament game seems to be evolving as well.  Aside from my glorious first-out, flame-out  at Charles Town about a month ago, I've run deep in almost every event I've played, and made 4 final tables in October alone.  Unfortunately, I haven't kept records of my tournament play, and have no idea how much I've won or lost on the year (despite recent success, I think I still may be in a small hole). 
As a result of my shifting focus, I've current logged only 160 hours of cash play year to date.  And, my results have been less than stellar -- down about $175 after getting stacked last Saturday night at the $1/$1 game at Bally's. 
Well, this weekend, I'm heading back to the grind.  I plan on driving out to Dover on Saturday to play 5 hours or so during the afternoon, and then another long session after dinner.  It's been about 6 months since I've made the drive out to Dover.  It's a small, but nice, room.  Lots of regulars, but fairly friendly players (a lot less hoodies and sunglasses than most rooms).  The play is usually a bit South of solid, even though the action is a lot tighter than The Chuck.  I usually find its a good place to get my cash game back on track.  Hopefully that will be the case this weekend.
Happy grinding!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Expansion of Maryland Gaming - Tomorrow's the Day

Tomorrow is Election Day.  For Maryland/D.C./Virginia poker players, not only will tomorrow's election decide our next President, it will also determine whether we must continue driving to West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Atlantic City to play cards. 
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Penn National, owner of nearby Charles Town Casino in West Virginia, has waged an unprecedented ad campaign against Proposition 7 (which would permit table games in existing Maryland Casinos and would allow for another casino to be built by National Harbor, just outside D.C.).  Penn National has spent approximately $40 million on negative ads.  Yes, $40 million . . .. 



And, as a result, according to recent polls, Prop 7 is a toss-up, at best.
Putting aside those who are simply morally opposed to gambling, there seems to be no valid reason to vote down this prop.  Even assuming some truth to Penn National's ads, it's still hard to see the downside to this initiative.  Yet, plenty of people are against gaming expansion.  As one person commented this afternoon on a Washington Post Online article on the prop:

"The vision is for the casino owners to pull up in Brinks armored cars with sacks of cash while the sucker local blacks continue to get ripped off.....I already voted NO."

Um.  OK.  Well done, sir.  First, Maryland already has (or has approved) five casinos.  Currently, they offer only slots.  For those concerned that table games and one additional casino are going to disproportionately impact the lower class, give me a break . . . The most -EV games are already widely available.  If poor people want to donk away their paychecks, they already have the ability.  
Another women posted this:
i just read the question 7 bill on the state website. no where does it say anything about money earmarked for the schools will go exclusively to the schools. the gov/legislature can use it as needed. i'm voting no on that alone.
Really?  Really?!?  I mean, come on.  REALLY!?!?!?  Even assuming the increased tax revenue does not go to fund education, it's still increased tax revenue.  How is increased tax revenue ever a bad thing when it's coming from gaming proceeds?  Would people rather the State increase income, sales or property taxes?  Essentially, MGM is going to build a world class gaming resort, and Jim Murren is going to hand over 50% of the take to the State.  Who gives a shit if that money goes to education, or whether it goes to funding public works, or whether it's used simply to bridge the budget deficit.  WHO CARES!  It's revenue the state otherwise would not have.  Yet, clearly, based on the comments I've seen, Penn National has succeeded in transforming the debate into whether or not Maryland's legislators can be trusted when they say the money will be used for education.   Penn National has flashed a metaphoric shiny object in front of Maryland citizens, and far too many have clearly been distracted . . .
Finally, opponents of gaming expansion challenge MGM's claims that a new casino at National Harbor will create thousands of construction jobs and 4,000 permanent resort-related jobs.  Seems to me, this is axiomatic.  Critics contend, however, that many of the construction jobs will be performed by out-of-state union workers. I have no idea whether this is true or not.  But, again, lets assume it is true.  So what?  So some of the temporary construction jobs will go to non-Maryland residents.  Is this a reason to vote down the prop?  A new casino will still create construction jobs, regardless who will be filling them.  And, perhaps more importantly, both the new MGM resort, as well as the five existing casinos, will be hiring thousands of new workers to man the table games, restaurants, hotel, and other amenities.  These jobs will no doubt be going to local residents.
The bottom line (at least in the eyes of The Poker Barrister) is this:  where is the downside?  Aside from the few ideologues who believe gambling is immoral, why would anyone vote against this?   
If Proposition 7 fails, I have little doubt the result will be owed to Penn National's persistent negative adds coupled with the average citizen's inability to perform independent thought.  And, the kicker, of course, will come a year from now, when MGM has gone away, and it's Penn National that's lobbying the State for a new referendum permitting table games so that it can expand its Maryland facilities at Perryville and Rosecroft Raceway. Should such day come, I only hope the hypocracy is not lost on the sheep . . .


Stimulating the Jersey Economy (One Bet at a Time)

I had no plans to head back to Atlantic City this weekend.  I swear.  In fact, AC was shut down as recent as 10:00 am Friday morning.  But, early Friday afternoon, Governor Christie lifted the evacuation, and I happened to log onto my account at Harrah's to check weekend rates:  Ceasars AC, Friday/Saturday, fully comped.  I mean, how can I pass up on that?  So, 6:00 pm Friday night, I hit the road, unsure what exactly awaited at the Jersey shore.
Traffic on 95 was light.  By 9:00, I hit the AC expressway.  This is what it looked like:
Not a car in sight.  Sort of creepy.
Ceasars was likewise as empty as I've ever seen it.  A few random people here and there, donking slots.  One pit open with a few tables of blackjack, et cetera, with degenerates playing heads-up against the dealer.  Poker room closed until noon Saturday (indeed, only Borgata opened its poker room Friday night).   I donked some Mr. Cashman for a couple of hours, and called it a night.
Saturday morning, I headed out to the boardwalk, expecting to see devastation.  I saw nothing of the sort.  The boardwalk was fully intact, as was the Steel Pier and even the various "beach bars."
Later on, at dinner at the bar at Mortons, some locals were in fact complaining about the National news media's portrayal of the city.  While the news showed pictures of the AC boardwalk that had purportedly been blown down and washed away, that particular section -- at the far North end of the boardwalk -- had apparently been condemned for over 20 years.  While it was in shambles, its current state had little to do with Sandy.
I headed over to the Golden Nugget to see if the noon tournament (the $10,000 guaranty) was running.  According to the poker room manager, the tournament was indeed a go . . . with one minor exception: "there will not be a guaranty this week."  Um.  What exactly is The GN's definition of a "guaranty?"  I can't say I was surprised.  I also wasn't going to plunk down a $170 buy-in to play with the 12 runners the tournament eventually pulled.  Off to other pursuits...
Eventually, I decided to play the 2:00 pm tournament at The Showboat.  The $65 donkament drew 38 runners.  I busted twelfth.  I was actually building a fairly nice stack, and was up to $48,000 chips, when the following hand occurred and put me on tilt for a good hour:
Blinds were $400 / $800.  I was in the big blind with $48,000.  Two players limp into the hand, including an Old Lady on the hijack.  As an aside, Old Lady was annoying.  Like, a lot annoying.  She talked non-stop, asking in depth, probing, questions of everyone at the table:  "where do you live . . . what do you do for a living . . . are you married . . . what's your wife think of you playing poker the week after the hurricane . . . how did your house hold up to the damage . . . Oh, you're divorced . . . do you split custody of your kids . . . . how old are they . . .  why do you only see them twice a week if they live in the same town . . .   And, she was sitting next to her old bag friend, who, if possible, was even MORE ANNOYING.  Old Bag Deuce was playing Blanche to Old Bag One's Rose:
Old Bag Deuce thought she was clever, witty, and that she still had game.  She was hitting on half the table: "Oh, I like THAT one . . . he seems nice . . . I wonder what HIS deal is . . ." 
Anyway, back to the hand.  The action limps around to me in the big blind, and I look down at AK.  I pause, and raise the action: "$4,000 on top."  The initial limper folds.  Old Lady One dumps in another $4,000 chips without hesitation.  She started the hand with about $12,800.  She limped in for $800, and then called off a third of her stack to a raise from the big blind.  Whatever.  I was tired of her yapping.  I was putting her "all in" on the flop no matter what.
Flop comes down J 2 7.  She checks, and I bet $10,000.  She sighs, and says, "I have to call."  She does, and flips the almighty K 8 off.  Yes, clearly Rose just "had to call."  She had to call a $4,000 raise from the blind, and she just had to call off the rest of her stack on the flop.  Of course, you know how this story ends . . . with Rose hitting her three-outer on the turn and taking down a monster pot with a pair of 8's. 
It wasn't losing nearly half my stack that had me on tilt. It was having to listen to Rose continue to interrogate for another hour, while Blanche eye-fucked the rest of the table with her glaucoma-cursed view-finders.  I ended up getting my money in on the flop with an open-ended straight draw fifty minutes later, and was almost happy when I missed.  I'm never watching a rerun of the Golden Girls again.
Saturday night, after dinner, I went over to Bally's to play the $1 / $1 NL game.  It was interesting.  First off, the entire premise had me confused.  It's $1 / $1, yet you need to call $2 to see a flop?  So, what?  You're saving a dollar if you fold your big blind?  That seems reasonable.  With a $50 to $150 buy-in, the game was dominated by short-stacks.  I lost a decent sized hand early on with Pocket 77, when a short stack shoved his last $16 and another short-stack, who had about $35 behind, called.  I think I forgot I was playing a shitty cash game, and not the late stages a tournament (where I think a call with 77 is a reasonable play, when you're big stack and facing two short stacks).  Anyway, the flop was 6 high.  Short-stack two shoves his last $15 or so, and I of course call.  Initial shover has nothing, and short-stack two has TT and takes the pot.
An hour or so in, I was sitting on $120 of my buy-in, and most of the short-stacks were long gone.  We were playing 5 handed, one of whom was a dealer from Borgata and a fairly competent player.  This hand took place between the two of us:
I'm cut-off, and look down at QQ.  It folds to me and I raise to $10.  Borgata just calls from the button.  Flop is 9(s) 5(c) J(s). 
I lead the flop for $15.  Borgata RAISES to $40.  I tank.  I tend to rule out an over pair (Borgata likely would have re-raised).  JJ is within his range, and his raise would be consistent given the coordinated board (same with a set of 5's or 9's).  I had been C-betting every raise, and he could have AJ and be putting me on air . . . or a draw, and raising for information.  Or, Borgata could be on the draw (a raise with a draw would be a bit unusual for a $1/2 game, let alone $1/$1, but this guy was a dealer and a fairly decent player from what I could tell).  Ultimately, I had $95 behind, and just had a gut feeling my overpair was good.  
I shove, and Borgata snap calls and flips Q(s) T(s) for the open-ended straight flush draw.  The turn bricks, but the river is the K of diamonds and I'm done for the night.
Still not sure how I feel about the hand.  Had I been deeper, I probably flat call and reevaluate on the turn.  And, perhaps a turn-bet gets Villain off his draw with only one card to come.  Who knows . . .  Given my stack size, I don't really hate my shove.  Not sure if a fold in that spot is too soft.  Any thoughts?
As for Borgata's play . . . I give him credit for playing the hand well.  I like his flop raise.  When he called my shove, he explained, "I have to call with that draw . . ."  No explanation was needed.  I haven't done the math, but I suspect he was actually favored to get there by the river.  I would have called in that spot myself.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Saturday Bubble Boy

I drove up to AC this weekend (shocker!!!) with a pit stop in Delaware to play the 10:00 pm Friday tournament at Del Park.  I busted out of the Friday night deepstack turbo in such an unremarkable fashion that I don't even recall how it happened.  In fact, I barely even remember playing.  And, I was stone-cold-sober . . .  
Saturday morning, I made the quick drive up Route 40 to AC.  After a few hours of video poker (a/k/a "Satan's Game") at Borgata, I drove over to Showboat for the 2:00 donkfest.  An awful tournament.  With awful players.  But, it's usually a lot of fun.   $20,000 chips, 20 minute levels, no antes (as a sidebar, I use to HATE antes.  Now, I've come around and heavily prefer tournaments with antes.  It increases the skill level and makes the late stages of tournament play lot more interesting).  I busted out of the afternoon tournament in the fourth level with J9.  I was in position after a raise and a call.  I thought about mucking.  I knew I should muck.  But, I thought, let me see if I hit a monster.  So, I called.  The flop came down 98T rainbow.  I flopped middle pair and an up-and-down str8t draw.  It checks around and I bet $5,500.  The initial raiser calls, and we go heads up to the turn.  Turn is another 9.  Trip 9's and up-and-down.  It checks to me and I bet out $7,500.  Half my stack is in the middle.  Villain shoves.  I call.  He flips QJ and I don't fill up. Booo.  Still not sure if I played the hand poorly or just ran into a cooler.
I shook off the loss, played an hour of cash at Revel, and made back $100 or so.  I decided to grab dinner and "free-roll" the 7:00 pm tournament at The Boat.  The 7:00 had the same structure as the afternoon event.  63 runner, with 6 paid.  I never got much of anything going, and never built up much of a stack.  However, I was lucky enough to pull some monster hands when my chip stack reached critical levels, and doubled up a few times to stay alive.  Before I knew it, we were down to two tables, and then one table . . .
I reached the final table with about $80,000.  With blinds at $8,000 / $16,000, I was in deep shit from the get-go.  And, I was card dead.  At least there were no antes (have I mentioned how much I HATE antes?).  Two people busted out, and we were two from the money.  I was down to $60,000 with blinds at $10,000 / $20,000, and the big blind was two seats away.  I had to shove before the blinds hit.  I looked down at KJ -- an easy shove given the circumstances.  But, UTG shoved first.  Clearly, this is not a good spot to get my chips in.  I know I'm likely behind, perhaps CRUSHED.  Nevertheless, I figure this is as good as it's going to get.  And, maybe I'm racing against 88 to TT . . . Nope.  AQ.  I hit my K on the flop, but Villain hits his A, and I'm donzo.  Barely out of my seat, in 8th place, as the table collects the bubble money for victim number 7. 
I'm still happy with my play.  That makes 4 final tables in 10 tournaments this month.  Definitely improving my MTT game.  And, I'm finding the late-stage experience invaluable.  No longer do I face the hesitancy to try and "wait it out" until the money.  My instinct is to attack whenever position presents an opportunity to take the blinds/antes.  At this point, I'd have to say I'm enjoying tournament play more than cash games - a definite flip-flop from a year ago.  Already looking forward to next weekend . . .

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Final Table and the Politics of the Chop (Part 2)

[Sunday Tournament - Continued]

We hit the final two tables with the blinds at $1000 / $6,000 / $12,000.  I was sitting on approximately $85,000.  With 13 paid, we still had 7 players until the bubble burst.  Moreover, with spots 13 through 10 paying $180, the prospect of a min-cash was none to appealing.

With just 7 big blinds, there was little room for error.  My focus was on position -- I was looking for a spot to open the action with a raise or, more likely, a push, depending on the quality of the hand.  About halfway through the 20 minute level, I picked up pocket Tens on the hijack.  I contemplated shoving.  But, after further thought, I decided a raise to $35,000 was best.  First, it might look stronger than a shove.  Second, a call would let me reevaluate on the flop.  If overcards hit the board, I could get away from the hand with $50,000 or so behind and still have a bit of fold equity to shove a later hand.   I open, and it folds around to the small blind, who shoves his remaining $200,000 chips.  Not exactly what I had in mind.  Nevertheless, it's a clear call in my mind given the scenario.  I call, he tables AQ, I dodge his face cards, and double up to $170,000. 

A few hands later, I look down at AK spades, and open to $35,000.  A short stack on the button shoves for $90,000.  I snap call.  She tables QQ.  I lose the race, and just like that, I'm back down under $100,000 and in trouble once again.  Easy come, easy go.  Meanwhile, three folks from the other table have busted, and we're down to 17.

The blinds go up to $2,000 / $8,000 / $16,000.  I'm sitting on about 5 big blinds.  Each hand is costing me $2,000.  Each orbit costs $42,000.  It folds around to my big blind and Christmas comes early - I get a walk.  $26,000 chips added to my stack. 

I give back $8,000 the very next hand when I toss my small blind.  Still, I can survive another orbit.  Barely.

The button circles around again.  I'm in the big blind with $42,000 in chips.  Under the Gun, who is also sitting on a below average stack, limps in.  Yes, the man to my left is a pure poker guru . . .  It folds around to me.  I check my option with Q 3.  The flop comes down 5 8 Q (two diamonds).  I donkey shove my last $26,000.  UTG tanks and folds.  I'm back to $74,000.

The very next hand, it folds around to me in the small blind.  I look down at A 7 off.  I start cutting out some chips, just thinking about making a play, and notice the former-limper / poker savant to my left (now in the big blind) with his cards in his hand just itching to fold.  Ok.  That makes it easier.  I shove, he mucks, and I show the bare Ace.  $106,000 in chips. 

Blinds go up to $2,000 / $10,000 / $20,000.  Tables are rebalanced 7 and 7 as we're down to the bubble.  The button is now flying around the table and there's no time to get complacent.  I open shove KJ clubs from the cut-off and steal blinds and antes.  $140,000 chips.

A few hands later, I'm in the big blind and it folds around to the small blind.  He seems reluctant to throw out the additional $10,000 in chips.  He eventually does.  I look down at 75 diamonds.  Time to be a dick.  I min-raise to $50,000.  He folds.  I give him The Speech: "Nice fold, sir... I had a hand ..." 

I give back the ill-gotten $10,000 chips the very next hand when I muck my small blind after a middle position raise.

The bubble bursts.  Down to 13 and in the money.  Then the flood gates open and we lose three more players in a matter of minutes.  Down to 10.  Final table.

The remaining ten of us are re-assigned.  I take the two seat and stack my $130,000 in chips (give or take a few . . . thousand . . .).  10th place still pays only $219.  After 7 hours of poker, it's hard to get excited over $119 in profit.

Within 10 minutes, three short stacks are busto.  We're down to 7.  Blinds go up to $4,000 / $15,000 / $30,000.  It's inhumane!  Chip leader (with about $300,000) proposes a chop.  He wants second place money, and the rest of us would take $880.  Frankly, $880 sounds good to me.  But there are several objectors.  The table is willing to chop even, but they won't give the chip leader extra money.  The rationale, as explained by the gentlemen in the 7 seat: "there are $1,300,000 chips in play.  A $50,000, or even a $100,000, chip lead is nothing when blinds are $15,000 / $30,000.  Your chip lead might be gone in two hands ..."

So, we played on.  And, in fact, the chip leader was back to the middle of the pack in less than an orbit.

In the meantime, action folds to the cut-off in the 10 seat who shoves $180,000.  The action comes around to me in the small blind.  BIG. F-ING. SLICK.  Again!  Here we go!  I shove, cut-off tables A 5 hearts.  I fade the 5 and the hearts and double up to $290,000.  I'm second in chips.  Breathing room.  For a few hands, at least.

I decide to keep the pressure on, and make several positional raises with playable hands (KQ, A9).  They both work.  I'm maintaining my stack. 

A short while later, the 10 seat is gone.  Down to 6.  Another chop is proposed.  An even chop, this time.  We have one hold out - the guy in the 3 seat, who is sitting on  about $65,000 in chips.  He explains - "this is the last tournament of the day, and I just want to play some poker..."  Clearly, his wife is a raging bitch and he's simply avoiding going home.  Because, with all due respect to my friend on my left, we were no longer playing poker.  Hell, I was second in chips and had 10 big blinds.  We were playing bingo.

At this point, my strategy changed.  6th place paid $539.  The chop value at 5 players would be well over $1,000.  And, it was clear that if we could ditch the 3 seat, who was short-stacked and would have to shove within an orbit, the rest of us would chop without problem.  And, with just under $300,000, I could stand to wait it out a bit.  In short, I was not busting out 6th.  So, I fold.  And I fold.  And I fold.  I get KQ suited in the cut-off, and I fold.  It folds around to my small blind, and I fold.  Finally, karma comes around and felts the three seat.  He was barely out of his chair when the remaining five of us agreed to an even chop of $1,377.  The extra ten minutes or so of poker cost the 3 seat $800.  I hope it was worth it to him.

                         [Floor Supervisor Doing Paperwork on the Chop]


After the two min-cashes earlier in the month, I had been questioning my late-stage play.  And, while it felt great to chop, frankly I'm not sure I played this final table any differently.  My focus in all three tournaments was primarily position.  I looked to open the action, preferrably from late position, with a raise carrying fold equity.  This, of course, required making a move before my stack dwindled too low.  On every hand I played, I was really hoping just to take the blinds and antes.   In none of the 3 tournaments did I have a monster at the final table --  a made hand (e.g., KK or AA) where I was hoping for a call and a double up.  At best, I had a couple of big face cards or a "premium pocket pair" which was vulnerable to a caller with a random ace.  I think the difference between Sunday and the two earlier final tables at the Golden Nugget was that I just happened to pick up some hands at the right times.   Sunday, I was able to double-up late with the TT hand.  I got AK in a spot where I had my opponent covered and could get my money in without putting my tournament on the line.  I got AK a second time against a late position shove who could have a fairly wide range -- a no brainer call -- and ended up having him dominated.  I got lucky in the blinds multiple times - hitting top pair with the Q3 hand, stealing twice with raises from the big blind and then from the small blind, and getting a timely walk.  Had any of these hands gone differently, I may not have even made the min-cash.   

This experience was also interesting as it was my first chop (I've really only started playing tournaments this year).  I've heard that negotiating a good deal is just as important as playing solid poker.  I've also heard people say that a proportional chop is the only fair deal.  Perhaps that's true at times, depending on the format of the event.  If the stacks are deep enough relative to the blinds, I can certainly see the merits of demanding to be paid according to your stack size.  But, this certainly was not the case Sunday.  By the final table, chips were just flying around.  Big stacks became small stacks, and vice-a-versa, in a matter of minutes.  Under such scenario, I think its hard to justify requesting extra money based on your stack size at any given point in time.  When a mere handful of big blinds separates the weak from the strong, it seems to me to make sense to play it down until the chop value reaches a number you can live with and then just be done with it.