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.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Final Table and the Politics of the Chop (Part 1)

It was another successful Sunday of tournament poker.  I made it to a 5-way chop (approximately $1,300) at the noon event at Delaware Park.  Thus far, for the month of October, I've played 7 tournaments for a total buy-in of $685, and cashed 3 for winnings of $2,217.  Definitely feeling more confident in my MTT ("multi-table-tournaments") game, and eying some smaller buy-in WSOP events next summer (just for the experience . . .).
I bit more on the tournament in a moment.  But first, a hand from a cash game at Borgata on Saturday:
Triple-P is new to the table, sitting on $325.  There are two villains in this hand: Old Man Degen ("OMD") who is a Borgata regular and is sitting on about $180, and a young Indian kid ("YIK") in middle position who has me covered.  OMD is UTG+1 and YIK is in middle position.  OMD opens for $10 and YIK flats.  I look down at AK spades and repop to $30.  It folds around both OMD and YIK call. 
($93 in pot preflop - YIKES!!!)
Flop is 7 A 9 (two diamonds)  
OMD leads out for $30 and YIK calls.   I put OMD on a decent A.  Not sure where YIK is at, but don't think he outdrew me based on his mere call on a coordinated board.  I continue my story and re-raise to $125, trying to take the pot down before the turn.   OMD calls and YIK folds.
($373 in the pot).  
At this point, PPP has $170 behind and OMD has about $30 left.  I'm getting my money in on the turn no regardless what comes up.
Turn is the 8 of clubs.
OMD checks and I shove.  He calls the last of his chips, as expected, and flips . . . AJ off.  WTF?  I three-bet pre-flop and repoped his donk bet on the A-high flop.  How can he possibly think his J kicker is good?  What can my range be with this line?  Of course, perhaps OMD knew that the river would be a T, giving him the J-high straight and taking down a massive pot . . .
So, my read was correct, and I got my money in good.  But, I was left wondering whether I played AK too big for a cash game?  Any thoughts?
Shortly after the above hand, I flopped a set of 3's on a 345 (two heart flop) and called down three streets to a guy who flopped the wheel with A2.  Yep, one of those days . . .  Ultimately, however, I grinded back and left after 7 hours with a $35 profit.  A moral victory of sorts . . .
On to Sunday's tournament . . .
$100 buy-in, 105 runners, $12,500 chips, thirteen spots paid.  After level 1, I hit a dead patch for the next 5 levels.  A constant barrage of 82, A3, K4, Q3, 72, T2 . . . over and over and over.  I spent all of level six just looking for a hand I could shove and table without humiliating myself.  No such hand ever came. 
Level 6 began after the second break with blinds at $600 / $1,200 and my starting stack was down to about $5,800.  Then, finally, I got some playable hands:  I shove AT in position and take the blinds and antes . . . Pocket 4's, same result . . . pocket 6's same . . . pocket 8's same . . . I then flatted AQ from the button after the cut-off limped.  The small blind, who was sitting on about $10,000 called.  Flop comes out Q-high.  Cut off checks, I bet it, and small blind, who is clearly sick of me after my 10 minute rush, shoves.  I insta-call, he flips QJ and I felt him. 
Shortly thereafter, I took a table change and sat down with about $22,000.  Still below the $30,000 average at the time, but now able to actually play some poker.  Three hands in, the following hand took place:
PPP is in the big blind ($50 / $1,000 / $2,000).  Woman opens from MP for $4,000 (she has about $20,000 behind).  It folds around and I look down at 55.  I had been murdering with these small pocket pairs since level 7 began.  I consider a raise, but have no read on this woman and figure, given her stack size, she may just shove.  Having just gotten my stack back, I don't want to play for life with 55.  So, I just call.
Flop comes down 588.  Um.  Cool.  Pretty safe looking flop for a big Ace or any decent pocket pair to continue.  I check and set the trap.  Woman steps in and bets $6,500.  I spring it and shove.  With $14,500 in the middle, she contributes her last $9,000 or so and flips AQ.  See ya.  The Poker Barrister now has $40,000+ and is ready for a run....
A few hours later, we got down to two tables.  I had an $80,000 stack - about average, and was determined to take more than a min cash. 
Now, since I'm not Vegas Rob, and since I fully recognize the attention span of the average blog reader (myself included), I'll cut this post off here and pick it up later this week.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cash Streak Broken

Went 0-4 this weekend at Del Park.  Never really got a good rush going in any of the four tournaments.  I was able to hang around until the 8th to 10th level in each simply by playing TAG and taking down the blinds and antes with the occasional timely raise.  But I never built up a threatening stack.
I busted out gloriously in the Saturday noon event on this hand:
My stack: $16,000 ($15,000 starting stacks).  Blinds $100 / $600 / $1,200.  I'm in the cutoff.  Early position raises to $3,000 and gets three callers.  I look down at 99.  There's $14,800 in the pot already.  I really can't raise here without shoving.  A call seems like awful poker.  So, I shove.  I get called only by the hi-jack, who tables AQ.  Flop comes down 258.  So far, so good.  Turn is a 3.  Still good.  River is a 4.  Dealer starts pushing me the pot.  I start to retake my seat.  Finally, someone speaks up.  Obviously, if you don't see it, you're not alone.  But, hi-jack rivered the wheel and I'm done.
I think I played solid poker, despite the results.  I believe I limped no more than a handful of times all weekend.  I was raising or folding and putting pressure on people.

I played one hand poorly, and it cost me my tournament yesterday afternoon.  I started out strong in the Sunday nooner, and built my starting stack of $12,500 up to $17,500 by the first break.  However, the anti-rush hit me from levels 4 to 6 and I played no more than 2 hands during that period (both of which I won, uncontested with an opening raise).  By level 8, I was still sitting on $15,000 or so.  Certainly not in crisis mode, but needing to make a move sooner rather than later . . .

With blinds at $100 / $600 / $1,200 (yes, again), I found myself with 7(s) 6(d) in the big blind.  The price of poker went up to $3,000 thanks to the gentleman in middle position (who's sitting on approximately $45,000).  Three people called, including the small blind.  I need to call $1,800 into $12,000.  Of course, I make the call.   
Flop:  5 8 2 (two hearts). OESD.  Nice.  I check and it checks around.
Turn:  A (hearts).  I decide to make a play at the pot and bet $4,500 (too small?)   Middle position (the original raiser) thinks a while and calls.  The other two fold.
River: 3 hearts.  I'm sitting on just under $8,000.  Every draw in the world came in.  I really think villain has a decent A.  Is the kicker a heart?  I tank, and contemplate the shove.  In the end, I convince myself that Villain is too deep to fold to another $8,000 and I fold.  Villain showed the A (d).

In hindsight (like, a minute later), I regretted the play.  I mean, if I'm going to semi-bluff the turn, I need to be committed to shoving the river.  Just plain bad poker.

I ultimately busted five minutes later when I open-shoved my last $7,000 with AJ and got called by AK.

After playing nothing but tournaments the past few weeks, I think it might be time to focus again on cash for a bit.  I know that cash plays different than MTT's.  However, I'm contemplating adopting more of my tournament approach to my $1/2 strategy.  Less limping and more raising, especially with my mid-size pocket pairs (77-99).  Also want to open my 3-bet range to include more of those mid-sized pairs.   Of course, the way people like to call any damn hand out here in East-Coast Poker Land, this approach may get expensive and backfire atrociously.  But, I think it's at least worth a shot.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Feels like an Arby's Night

Yes, that title has nothing to do with anything.  Except, perhaps, the fact that I still hear Puddy in my head on occasion. 
It's Friday.  It's 2:00 pm EST, in Washington, D.C., America (shout out to "Coach").  I think I've done all the work I'm gonna do this week.  Time for some cardio and lifting.  To paraphrase TBC, "must run immediately."
I'm heading up to Delaware Park later this evening to see if I can keep my tournament streak alive.  I plan on playing the 10:00pm deepstack turbo tonight, the noon tournament tomorrow, and the 7:00 pm tomorrow night.  Yes, I'm ready to grind some cards.  I'm still up in the air on whether I'm going to make the drive to the Meadowlands for Sunday's Jets - Colts shitfest.  I hate wasting tickets, particularly considering how Woody Johnson gouges the fans; but I'm not sure I'm mentally ready to commit to the 5 hour post-game drive up 95 Sunday evening.  Might be a game time decision.  If I skip, I'll prolly end up playing the Sunday nooner as well.   
And, since I'll be at Del Park, I've got a couple of sweet, sweet (yes, sweet) Super Teasers for Sunday:
Teaser 1:  Falcons +.5, Rams +13.5, Giants +14.5, Packers +13.5 ($100 to pay $220)
Teaser 2:  (same above) plus Colts +13.5, Broncos +10.5 ($50 to pay $175)
I mean, seriously folks . . . how can that go wrong?  (tune in Monday morning to find out . . .)
A good weekend to all!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Final Table - Should Big Slick Hit the Muck?

First things first - lets get some thoughts on this hand:

Tournament is down from 44 to 9.  Five spots paid.  Chip average is around $90,000.  Blinds are $1,000/$4,000/$8,000.  Hero is sitting on $70,000.  The hand folds around to Old Man, who has approximately $50,000 chips.  Old man opens for $20,000.  It folds around to hero, who is in position with A(s)K(s).  Hero has only played a few hands with Old Man since the tables merged and has no read (other than the fact that he's an Old Man).   What is your play?  Comments most welcome!
I rolled into AC early Saturday afternoon and played a few uneventful hours of cash at Harrah's.  My real goal for the weekend was to cash the Sunday noon tournament at The Nugget the following day.  The Sunday tournament has a $50 buy-in for $10,000 chips.  An extra $20 gets you the $5,000 add-on.  20 minute levels. $2,020 guaranteed.  I paid the $70 up front and took the 6th seat at table 20.  There were only 44 runners, and 5 spots paid.  I was determined to make it two final tables in a row.
I was tested with a strange hand the very first level:
Blinds are $25/$50.  UTG limps, Middle Position calls, and the action reaches P.P.P.  I look down at A(c) Q(c) and raise to $125.  UTG and MP both call. 
Flop comes down 7 QQ rainbow.  UTG (a 55- to 60-ish gentleman) donk bets $500.  MP folds.  I smooth call. 
Turn is a 4.  UTG bets $1,500.  I flat. 
River is a blank.  UTG SHOVES ALL IN!  What the holy fuck?!?  I'm totally confused by this bet.  I have no idea if this guy knows what he's doing or if he's a complete idiot.  I mean, we've been playing for less than 10 minutes.  What type of hand is strong enough to shove for your tournament life halfway through the first level.  And, if you had such a hand, why would not value bet it?  Also, if Villain flopped the boat, why donk bet?  I've read that leading out is often a sign of weakness.  Is Villain a genius who's trying to level me by donking two streets and overbetting the river with a monster?  
Ultimately, it's the first hand I've played in what I hoped to be a long tournament.  I've also been burned many times with trips (yes, it's "trips," not a goddamn "set" . . . if you want to sprinkle the table with poker lingo, at least get it right . . .).  I put myself in Villain's shoes:  I raised pre-flop and just smooth called two rather large bets.  Isn't AQ or KQ or QJ smack in the middle of my range?  Doesn't he HAVE TO strongly consider giving me credit for a Q in this spot?   What can he be shoving here that is NOT the nuts? 
If this is 5 or 6 levels later, I might make this call.  But, it's not.  I fold.  Face up.  Villain gives me that "Holy shit . . . You folded THAT" look . . . and I instantly feel sick.  He then announces "two pair" and tables pocket kings.  Well played, sir.  Well played.  From the limp-call UTG to the river shove for your tournament life with KK on a paired board.  Simply well played...  [Notably, more than one person at the table offered their unsolicited comment that there was "no way [they'd] have folded that hand."  Really?  Am I the idiot here?]
What's more, Villain proceeded to talk about his hand as if he had taken the line straight from Tom Dwan's playbook.  I wanted to punch him in his face.  I actually got up and went for a walk.  I had to, or else I was gonna be "that guy" who trashes another player's play at the table.  And, I hate "that guy."  I still had $12,000+ chips.  And, I'd fold that hand again if it were played again tomorrow.  And . . . and . . . AND . . . most importantly, I doubled up against said Villain the very next level:
This time, Villain again limps in.  I raise to $250 with AJ (blinds up to $50/$100).  Villain calls.  Flop comes out A, 8, 6 (two spades).  Villain leads for $500.  Sound familiar?  I raise to $1,750.  Villain calls.  Turn is a beautiful red Jack.  Villain, undeterred, donks $2,000.  I shove . . . Villain calls and tables A(s) T(s).  I fade the spade, double up, and cripple him.  He's gone 10 minutes later.  I only wish I got to finish him off myself . . .
As is necessary with every deep tournament run, I had a bit of luck during the middle stages.   One hand, I raised pre-flop with 99, got two calls, and saw a flop of 8(d) 9(h) 6(d).  A less than an ideal board for top set.  A player bet out, and a very capable local, who was a bit short stacked due to poor luck, raised.  I shoved in case local was raising his draw.  Local calls with A(d) 5(d).  Turn is the 4(d).  Fuck.  River is the 8(c) and my boat knocks him from the tournament.
I made one mistake in the mid-rounds which almost (should have) cost me a bunch of chips.  I limped with AT (first limp of the tournament) and three of us saw a T 7 2 flop.   The big blind led out.  MP called.  I raised.  Big Blind, who was short stacked, shoved.  MP folds.  A call costs about 1/3 my stack.  I make it, since I figure BB could be shoving here with nearly any piece of the board given his stack size.  Unfortunately, he had the 7 2 "big blind special."  His victory party was short lived, however, when a T hit the turn.  Clean living!
Fast forward to the final table and the hand described at the open -- my A(s) K (s) against Old Man's $20,000 open.  Here was my thought process:  (1) play had been very tight since all 9 of us were sitting on similar stacks and no one had room for error.  A $20,000 open is basically committing Old Man to the hand ($30,000 behind).  I'm putting Old Man on a big hand in this spot.  A BIG pair.  If he had a hand like AK or AQ, why not shove to try and take the hand down without a flop; (2) I have to assume that, if I call, he's getting his money in on the flop.  So, a call seems horrible.  If I miss the flop, I'm down to $50,000 and in real bad shape; (3) Given my read of a made hand, I'm likely racing, at best.  Do I want to race this close to the money where, If I don't win, I'm crippled and will likely not last through the bubble?
In the end, I fold.  During the break, I spoke with Old Man, who told me he had KK.  Good fold . . . in retrospect.  I am, however, curious if many people look beyond just cracking the bubble and call in this spot in hopes of winning the race and building a dominating stack to take to the end.  Is a fold in this spot sensible play, or just plain weak?           
Ultimately, we got down to 6, and took the $20 "bubble boy collection" to pay $120 to the last man out.  5th place was only $210, so there was not much difference between bubbling and cashing (pride aside . . .).   I ended up letting my stack dwindle to $45,000 (card dead at the wrong time).  I shoved light a few times and, based on my table rep, was able to take down the blinds and antes.  But, at $2,000 / $8,000 / $16,000, I really needed a double-up, which never came.  We hit the seventh break, and I was big blind when play resumed.  I was shoving dark no matter what.  Hand folded around to the small blind, and I thought I might actually get a walk.  But, small blind raised to put me all in.  Dick.  I shove dark.  He flips 4 2 off.  What a DICK! [no harm intended to Poker Grump or his disciples . . .).  I table . . .  A(c) J(c).  Fuck you, sir !!!  Of course, small blind turns the straight and rivers a 4 for good measure . . .  Out at 6th . . . second tournament in a row.  Far less satisfying this time with only 5 spots paid.  While I collect the bubble money, in my mind, I still fell one spot short.   

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda . . . Didn't

As you may or may not know, Delaware allows limited sports betting at its casinos.  You can only bet NFL.  And, you can only bet Teasers, "Super Teasers" (10 points), "Reverse Teasers" and Parlays.  Yes, all sucker bets for sure.  But, when you're stuck on the east coast, and it Sunday morning, even a sucker bet seems better than no bet at all.  Fortunately (or, unfortunately, depending on my picks for the week), Delaware Park is just off I-95 (a mile down the road), and its an easy pit stop on the drive up to Atlantic City.  Generally, if I'm heading up north, I'll stop by and lay some action.
Week one of the NFL, I stopped by and placed a large Super Teaser.  There were four "can't lose" games, and it seemed immoral to not take some money from Del Park's coffers.  I don't remember all four of the games, but two of them were Buffalo + points and New Orleans at a pick.  I do remember that three of the four teams lost.  Yep, they ain't called "Teasers" for nothing.
So, last Friday, as I prepared to leave the office and make the trek to AC, I looked over the lines and came up with one Super and one Parlay, the same teams in both:  San Fran, N.E., S.D and Houston.
I got in the car and began the four hour drive to the Jersey shore.  When I got to Delaware, I remembered that the exit for Del Park was closed for construction, and the detour took an additional 20 minutes or so.  I got lazy, and kept driving.  I figured, if I took the time to stop off, the plays would lose; if I didn't place action, the plays would cash.  I'm not sure if that's a "catch-22," but anyone who wagers sports knows that more often than not, it's a fact.  You can guess what happened. . . .  At 11 to 5 for the Super and 6.5 to 1 for the Parlay, I left $860 on the table.  The drive home after the Jets' shit-fest was even more bitter thinking about my no-bets.

Of course, Monday morning, just as I had about gotten over it, I found this sitting on my desk:

Yes, I'm angry all over again.  Particularly since there is NO WAY I'll pick a winner this weekend.  It's an impossibility.  The gambling gods will see to it.  I hate sports betting . . . .


Monday, October 1, 2012

From Last to Cash

Sunday afternoon was a home Jets game . . . or, at least it was suppose to be (you might be fooled by the sea of 49er red):

 . . . so, I drove up to AC for the weekend. 

After an uneventful Friday evening and an early Saturday morning jog on the boardwalk, I drove over to the Golden Nugget for the Noon tournament.  I know I've mentioned it before, but it warrants repeating -- The Best value tournament in AC, by far.  $120+40 gets you $25,000 in chips, 30-minute levels starting at $25/$50.  $10,000 guaranteed.

This Saturday drew 89 runners.  Now that I'm on the wagon, and in no rush to degen it up at the bars, I had no where to go all day and vowed to play patient.  A mere 10 hours later, I was at the final table...   

My tournament really game down to patience, smart play, and a few key hands.  Early on, the only playable hands I found were AK.  I had big slick three times, whiffed the flop on each, but took down the pot with a well-sized C-Bet.  Easy game.

Several hours in, I found myself in a key spot.  Blinds were $100/$800/$1,600.  I'm sitting on around $34,000, the rock in seat 2, who was UTG, and had been open-shoving his stack for the past 30 minutes, opens with a small raise to $4,800 -- nearly half his stack.   Interesting.  Someone want action?   It folds to MP, who was a relatively solid LAG, and repops to $12,500.   It folds to me, and I look down at JJ - the best hand I'd seen to that point in the event.  It's fold or shove.  Rock has about $6,000 behind and must be committed.  LAG has about $20,000 left, and I figure he's getting his chips in if the action goes shove-call.  I tank a bit, and figure this is not the spot to gamble.  I figure I'm racing, at best.  I fold.  Shockingly, rock folds too and shows TT.  LAG mucks.  I live to play another hand.

A little while later, I face another key hand.  Blinds are $100/$1000/$2000, and I'm sitting on around $45,000.  I'm in the small blind when the action reaches me after two limpers.  I look down at JT off and complete my blind.  Big blind checks his option and we go 4 to the flop.

Flop:    J 5 T rainbow.

I lead for $6,200 and get a call from the hijack, who has been playing solid TAG poker.

Turn:  3.  I bet 9,500 and hijack flats. 

River blanks.  I check and hijack shoves for about $40,000.  Interesting.  I think this villain is raising TT or JJ preflop.  About the only hands that make sense are 55 or Q9.  The more I think about it, bottom set doesn't seem right.  More often than not, with the draw on the board, a set of 5's is going to raise me on the turn and, even if he did string it along, why not value bet the river.  I talk myself into a call and Villain mucks.  Suddenly, I'm sitting on $90,000+

Shortly thereafter, blinds still $100/$1000/$2000, UTG (who's sitting on around $30,000) opens to $5,000.  It folds to me, and I look down at AK for the fourth time.  I repop to $18,000.  UTG shoves and I snap call another $22,000.  Villain tables TT and I flop a K to send him home. 

I saw little action thereafter and hit the 5:00 "dinner break" with $125,000 in chips (with the chip average at $49,000).  Over the course of the next 5 hours, my stack remained little changed.  I tried to play extremely tight aggressive, not limping a single hand, and three-betting hands like pocket 88's with success.  I repeatedly folded the barrage of suited small Aces I was dealt, despite the boredom, and resisted the urge to make the types of moves that normally spell my demise in the late stages of these types of tournaments.  I was able to take down the growing blinds and antes just enough to keep my stack over $100,000, as the chip average was closing in.

With 89 runners, 9 spots were paid.  Given the generous tournament structure, we played at 11 for nearly an hour before someone finally busted.  We hit the final table at approximately 10:00 pm.  I entered with the third lowest stack.  Blinds quickly rose to $2,000/$8,000/$16,000, so milking my $120,000 was not an option.  Mercifully, the bubble burst quickly and we were all in the money.  I then doubled up with A9 suited against KT --  I  open-raised to $32,000 and got called by a big stack.  Flop was K77.  He checked, and I shoved.  He snapped called and I rivered and Ace.  Clean living.... 

Two more runners busted while I looked at bevy of unplayable hands for several orbits.  I was back down under $100,000.  As the blinds approached, I was committed to shoving the next playable hand.  In early position, I look down at KQ diamonds.  This is my last stand.  Player directly to my right min-raises to $40,000.  He had been opening with lots of medium pocket pairs.  I figure I'm racing and shove.  He flips 99 and I don't improve.  After 11 hours, I'm out at 6th place.