Monday, September 05, 2005


With the holiday tomorrow, I decided to take a shot at the deep stack tournament the new club I've been going to this week offers on Sundays. It's got a relatively large buyin--250+25--and features starting stacks of 10,000 chips with 25-50 blinds WSOP style. Unfortunately, the Labor day weekend that made it better for me to play seemed to have shipped out most of the players, as they only seated 18 when we began at 5, rather than the 45 they had last week (or so I am told).

I had been told not expect too much dead money at the tables, may 1/3 the field, and was hoping I was not in that third. I can't say I noticed even one really awful player at my table--we didn't have a bust-out until the first hour was up, though there may have been at the other table which lost 3 in that span. That's not to say there weren't some mediocre players.

For example, on one early I hand (still 25-50), the table folded around to me in the small blind. On a semi-steal, I had A4 of spades and made it 125 to go. The big blind called. The flop was king high with one spade. On a continuation bet, I made it 200. The big blind called. The turn was a low spade. On a semi-bluff, I made it 500 to go. The big blind called. The river was a spade. I checked and the big blind bet 500. With the nuts, I made it 2000 to go and was called. He turned over AK. I myself have misplayed slick before, but it always amazes me the new and creative ways people find to misplay
badly that hand. I mean really, what the hell was he waiting for?

Anyway, I gave that back a few orbits later when in late position I raised a limper with AJ suited to 400 (the blinds were by then 50-100) and flopped two jacks with two clubs. My one caller, the limper, checked to me and I made it 700 to go. The limper stuck around and the turn was a low club. The limper open 1100 and with a sick feeling I called. The river did not pair the board and I called an 1100 bet, with the limper flipping up Q9 of clubs. Okay, I guess there was some dead money at the table.

The table was pretty tight when I found myself with 12,000 behind and AQ UTG with 200-400 blinds. I made it 1500 to go and was raised to 2600 by a guy who had been raising a lot of pots (though he had been showing down some monster preflop hands). It came around to me and given the tightness of the table, I felt a raise was in order and made it 5000. Deckman went all in. He had me covered and I counted all my chips twice, taking a good long time before acting. Finally, seeing I'd still have 7,000 left if I passed (even with a nice juicy pot), I laid them down. Deckman pat the table and said "great laydown!", kindly flipping over his bullets to prove the point.

I was not quite crippled there but my M (for those that read Harrington) went from to 30 to about 16, from the "green zone" to the "yellow zone". Harrington was my shepherd tonight Per Danny boy, this meant I had to devalue small pairs and suited connectors. Easy enough as I went utterly card dead for almost an hour.

Finally, in the big blind (now 1000), one early limper and a folded table found me with A7 of hearts and 5,500 behind. I remember that the same guy had limped like that with queens, so I considered the chance he was trapping again. Screw it, I needed the chips or was going out with a whimper. I went all in and he quickly called me with AK. Sadly for him, a 7 came on the flop (easily avoidable with a preflop raise) and he doubled me up for almost half his stack. Interestingly, the next hand he busted out limping with AK yet again when he let a blind in cheap and bet without hitting the flop
when the BB had hit two pair (thus providing two more examples back to back on how not to play slick).

By this time, with 10 players left we consolidated down to the final table (cash began a 3rd).

AJ let me down again later when I made a play a the pot (500-1000 blinds) late position with a 5000 opener and was raised all in by the short stacked small blind who had 5700. The limper before me folded and with 700 to call, I had to. I faced 55 and never improved.

Later I was really crippled when my AT lost to KQ all-in pre-flop with kings on the flop and turn. I was down to 7000 chips with blinds up to 1000-2000 and 100 antes. This put me in Harrington's "Dead Zone", where you are supposed only to find yourself after an just covering an all-in raise loss situation as I just had--if you get to that place low from blinds alone, you are not following the book.

My desparate, down-to-the-felt moment came when a big stack raised my big blind enough to put me all in and all I had was Q7 off. I ran the numbers and realized I would be out in two orbits. I had the odds and I had to make a stand. I called, just hoping for two live ones. I was somewhat relieved to see he had A8 and far more relieved to flop a 7 and double up.

I then had a nice little run with AK suited in back-to-back hands, never seeing a flop but having the cards to justify all-in re-raises that took some big pots.

I then made somewhat of a blunder when a tight UTG, with about 45,000 behind, opened the 2,000 blind with 7,000 with me in the BB. It folded around to me and I saw I had JJ with 25,000 behind. I was really afraid this guy had an overpair but did not see laying down the hand so I called. The flop came 10 high and I figured check, hoping for a check or small bet that would let me know I was good. He went all in. I went into the tank and really stewed until laying it down. I should not have, but I flipped my cards up. It was clear I had laid down the best hand. As somebody put it, I had gotten my flop so what the hell else did I need?

Oh well. [Ed. Note: After a night of sleep and further thought, I think I played this hand correctly. Good poker is not about fixing someone on an exact hand or even type of hand; you put someone on a range of hands and optimize your play against that range, narrowing or changing the range as you get more information. Pre-flop, with a tight player UTG six-handed, I think that raise represents a pair of nines or better, AK or AQ. My jacks are about in the upper middle of that range, but clearly vulnerable. I could have raised preflop to further define his hand, but that would have cost me at least half my stack if I were behind. Better to see a flop. True, the flop missed all the overs he had, but QQ, KK, AA were still good and now TT and 99 (there was a 9 too) had me beat as well. My opponent was willing to risk more than half his stack on that flop, the only hands he could be sure I would lay down were AK and AQ or maybe eights. I was wrong on what he had, but I think my thought process was right, and again folding left me with enough chips that my all-in raises still meant something.]

We played down to 5 and the big stack
refused to make a deal (this abrasive yankees fan who took umbrage to my hat and actually had the balls to ask me when the Sox where going to have their annual choke this year and repeatedly criticized me for my play; he was also the guy I double up with A8 versus Q7). Then he took two or 3 beats and then he was the one asking for a deal, but the new big stack wasn't having it. YankeesLover busted out in 6th, just out of the money as it turned out as we carved out a 4th place payout to spare the last person the agony of bubbling. This seemed good for me at the time as I was 3rd fairly close to 4th with two big stacks.

In the money myself, I started to amass some chips as when a small stack about to blind out raised the 4000 blind to 5500. I called in the small blind with 55 and the big blind followed. We checked it down to the river with him until I hit another 5 when I felt I had to bet (after all, if my set was no good, checking down was not going to help anyway). The BB folded and I busted out the 5th player--incidentally, he had been ahead of both us from the flop until the river, proving the efficacy of the late tourny check-down.

One big stack then crippled the other, and we played with crazy 2000-4000 500 antes with one giant stack with about 100,000, my check-down partner and
the same older guy to whom I laid down JJ before, one small stack with 25,000, the temporary big stack with a Giants cap who had denied the humbled YankeeLover a deal, and your humble narrator with about 55,000.

After a few hands, the big stack took out the small one and we were heads up. He refused another deal, noting that he was often seeking more heads up tourney practice and didn't want to lose the opportunity. Strangely enough, though he was cleary a veteran, it really was the one area of my game that I am pretty sure I had more experience than he did what with my very regular heads-up freeze out on-line play--he mentioned that he never plays online.

Online heads up is not exactly the same as live play of course, but if you do it enough you certainly realize heads up live and heads up online are a lot, and I mean a lot, closer to each other than shorthanded live versus heads up live. Though he had more than a 2-1 advantage on me, I still had 55k vs 2-4k blinds with 500 antes, and was able to push him off a few early spots as he failed to loosen adequately his standards.

Pretty soon we were about even with 90,000 each when I raised his BB from the button to 10,000. He called and I lucked into a jack high flop. He bet 15,000 and I went over the top all-in. He called with, if you can believe it, AQ off. My hand held up and after a long count, the dealer determined I had him covered by one measly 500 chip.

It was a small tournament to be sure, but it was my first live play 1st. Moreover, the buy-ins were big enough that I cleared two grand after my entry and tips. As I said in my very last post, it was a long downturn. One night does not a turn around make, but I feel this was a great milestone for me. I only once had a pair higher than jacks (KK, which took down the admittedly high blinds when we were 6 handed), and although I may have made one bad lay down, I made a couple of very good ones. I also stayed aggressive and played with acute awareness of my stack size relative to the blinds at all times (seriously, if you play any kind of tournaments and have not read Harrington; both books, especially the second, you must do so immediately), and when it came down to short-handed play, I knew what to do (thank you Stars Sit and Goes!).

I need to savor this one.


At Mon Sep 05, 08:46:00 PM 2005, Blogger Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa said...

Nice play. What can I say, you did it, man!!! Great job.

As for the JJ when you are there it's so hard push with that one. I think most people will agree it's hard to put them all in with that one.

I wish you continued sucess and now you have the $$ to buy into some of the Borgota events and the US Championships...see you there!

Once again, Congrats!

At Mon Sep 05, 10:34:00 PM 2005, Blogger Ignatious said...

great writeup and congrats.
savor it indeed.

reading the laydown of the jacks made me groan. arrrgg.

At Tue Sep 06, 07:21:00 PM 2005, Blogger Huge Junk said...

Damn fine playing sir!

I knew you'd be a much better player after seeing me live in action at the Windsor casino.

(nudge nudge, wink wink)

Seems like the bloggers are crushing all the tourneys in the New York area lately. First the Rooster, now you. Maybe someday Pauly, Derek, and Ftrain will follow in your footsteps.


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