Friday, December 22, 2006

WPBT Winter Classic Day 3 part 1: Tourney Time

I ended up getting six hours sleep on Friday night, which had to put me in the top decile for tourney entrants.

On the way over, I picked up these babies from the eyewear shop in Caesar’s mall. Normally I need prescription sunglasses, but I’m getting Lasik in the New Year so these were an early birthday present to myself.

When the tourney started I found myself for the second year in a row directly to Joe Speaker’s left. Last year, we had an insanely TAG preflop table and no real confrontations, not seeing any flops until after the first blind increase. The result was that no one from our table got busted for awhile and no one got anything resembling a stack. It didn’t happen quite that way this year.

First hand of note for me was fairly early on in the first blind level. Byron, who’s tightness may qualify him for certain societies, opened the 25-50 blinds in first position for 200. It folded around to me in the small blind. I looked down and saw that hand you’re supposed to play like aces. Of course, I don’t like to play aces the same way every time. Normally, in the small blind facing an UTG hand I’ll probably raise 70-80%. But sometimes, particularly if I think the big blind will fold, I’ll consider smooth calling. So that’s what I did.

The big blind cooperated as did the flop, which came down AT6, all diamonds. This was not so great if Byron held real aces, but was a pretty good flop if he held many other premium hands. I checked my “set” and Byron obligingly led out for 300. I did one last self-sanity check, failed, and raised him up to 1000. Byron entered the tank, smelled out my monster, and finally folded, telling me later he had laid down AJ. I of course dropped the hammer as hard as I could. This was much fun (though Byron got revenge with interest two days later).

I then got a run of actual cards and began chipping up, gathering about 7000 before my next big hand came up.

In middle position Fuel opened the pot for 150 with another 4500 or so behind and a quite tight semi-short stack (the guy giving out PPA schwag) who I don’t think bought the add-on, and had about 2000 behind, raised him to 400. When it folded around to me in the BB, I remember thinking to myself, I am not sure I want to play this hand out of position in this situation. I then remember seeing fishhooks and thinking, ah crap, for 250 more, don’t I have to?

It was somewhat marginal situation as there was a good chance Fuel would push or raise significantly to get heads up if he had anything and I’d have to muck, as I was nearly certain my hand was not the favorite against the other two and fairly sure it was not the best against PPA guy’s.

After brief a think however, I decided the chips each player had behind (particularly Fuel) and a firm commitment to myself to let my hand go absent a hitting a set made a call justifiable. To my relief, Fuel completed the action behind.

I had put on my new specs, which as I might of mentioned are not prescription, which, as you might deduce, left my vision somewhat less than 20/20. When the flop came, I was nevertheless able to make out the beautiful jumping jack of spades as the door card. I did, however, blur the other two cards, seeing an eight of spades and another eight. Having flopped a boat, slow play was clearly in order.

Fuel obliged first, making it 600 to go. I expected PPA to push or fold at that stage, and was surprised when he called. I was prepared to call behind and hope for another spade when it dawned on me that one of the eights was in fact a nine. Yikes! No more slow play for me, I figured I’d raise enough to get Fuel off any light draw he might have and pick up the rest of PPA’s stack, so I made it 2000 to go. I was a little surprised at that point when after brief hesitation Fuel pushed. I was even more surprised when PPA folded, leaving half his chips in the pot (he later claimed to have kings, which made his fold quite correct as he had to put at least one of us on a set and was being offered only 5:1 odds with at most 2 outs twice—still most people won’t make this lay down here if they made the initial call). Facing a 2000 or so raise from Fuel, I suppose I could have given brief thought to whether he held QT, but, to be honest, I pretty much insta-called (With ten outs twice my call still would have been correct so nothing lost in not considering that possibility).

When he flipped over AQs for the nut flush draw, a gutshot, and two close to worthless overs, I can’t say I was ecstatic. But I wasn’t exactly crying to myself either with a 2:1 lead to win a giant pot.

My hand held up, I became table chip leader (maybe even tourney chip leader for a few minutes), and I also got rid of a player I hadn’t been too happy to have been seated with in the first place.

Sometime along the way on the first table, I got an unexpected opportunity to practice my excuse for Hungarian when Mr. Subliminal came up to me and asked me about how I had come to be throwing in his mother tongue into a poker blog. I knew he is a homeless bum living out of a shopping cart and blogging out of libraries, but he's a Magyar to boot? There must be an interesting story there (or a few)--I'm sorry that we lost the chance to "talk later" as promised.

Back to the action: I kept on getting good cards, and had begun to bully a bit, when this pony-tailed punk was seated on my right. I’d never met Superstoner before and that perhaps a bit rash first impression was melded, a bit prematurely, by our first hand. I was under the gun and came in a bit light with a raise when he popped me for a significant re-raise. Did I mention this was his first hand at our table? Against the big stack?

Pony-tailed punk!

It folded around to me. I growled and mucked, thinking I’d just found my next confrontation to come. Later he claimed to have aces (who knows?), but given the fact that was his last aggression toward me in about 40 more hands, I am fairly confident he had something. Also, I suppose he may not be a punk. I stand by my observation that he has a pony-tail.

Two orbits after the first hand however, when, under the gun, I found actual aces. I tried to remember exactly what I done the first time and put in the same bet. I saw him look and think about it for a moment (he told me later he had considered a move, but couldn’t justify it with the rags he was holding). Oh well. It folded all the way around to Speaker, who simply smooth called me. The flop came jack high and he checked to me. I led out and he folded. I showed my hand, and he showed his. As the man said, he knows how to play AK against an under the gun raise.

Sometime after the first break I got moved to another table. Among other, this one initially featured Weak Player, Iggy, Lucko, Change100 and Grubette (AlCan’tHang, Smokee and Derek joined later I think). The other big stack was Daddy, though he and I never got in a confrontation at this table.

I don’t remember whom exactly, but at some point, someone with a short stack in the cutoff push into my aces (I remember the face but not the name). He showed QT and flopped a straight. I still had an above average stack but I lost much of my mojo.

I got some back when Weak opened from early position and 200-400 blinds with 1300 or so, and Iggy in middle position pushed with about 4200 behind. It got to me and I had a sickening feeling when I saw Hilton Sisters. I put both of them on a fairly wide range but was pretty sure I had the best hand. Feeling quite vulnerable, I pushed. I had about 17k to Weak’s 13k, and he went into the tank. He eventually folded, later claiming AK. Interesting choice, clearly correct if he puts me on AA or KK, marginal if he puts me on my hand. Against my range there, I suppose AA-QQ and AKs, it’s probably correct, less so in pure pots odds and more so in tournament survival mode.

Iggy tabled AJo, and to Weak's and my dismay, an ace flopped. We were both quite relieved however when I resucked-out on the turn, earning boos from dwarflovers on the rail.

I played on, making a marginal call against Change100’s short stack UTG push when I had 88s in the small blind. I’ve played with Change100 online a few times and have her read as an aggressive player who is not about to blind out so I felt I was getting favorable odds against her range, particularly with the antes and the blinds. I did take one look at Grubbette and her stack in the BB to make sure I wasn’t opening myself up to something ugly—she only had a few more chips than Change100, so I pulled the trigger. We ended up heads-up with my snowmen holding against Change100’s AJ. I got a cool bounty with a leaf theme that I wore for the rest of the evening. Imagine my surprise when someone asked me if I smoked that shit…what kind of nutter smokes plastic?


Blinds were by this time huge so even with the pots I was winning I was really just treading water.

I then made the one decision of the tourney that I am pretty sure was a mistake. I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but Lucko and Smokee had been jawing since the latter had sat down. I have to admit it was getting to me a little as I was expecting them to make moves—this seems part of each of their games, talk enough smack and show enough crap so that when they really have a hand, you’ll make a dumbass call.

This time, Lucko pushed early position preflop with about 12.5k into my 15k, with blinds at I think 400-800, 100 antes. He was just talking about not having a hand, and when I looked down and saw 88 again, my mind froze and I made a stupid push (it was really more of a call, but I figured I was committed anyway). It folded to Al Can’tHang, who with a short stack 7k or so and a hangover needing rest, decided to come along for the ride (Lucko has different stack numbers in his history, but I am nearly sure I am correct because I distinctly remember how much I had when the hand finished—my numbers make my play look worse if anything). We tabled our hands and I was the dumb monkey with 88 versus Lucko’s 99 and Al’s AQo. I was despondent to hear an 8 had been folded so I was drawing super thin--I sucked out in a major way however when the board four flushed, happy to basically get my chips back from the side pot as Al had a higher flush and Lucko was out of luck.

This was the first of two times that Lucko had me calling a big bet behind that weekend, the other was in a cash game at the IP later that night, though there it turned out I just barely had the correct odds to call, unfortunately for him the dealer didn’t cooperate either time. Having played live with him now for a few sessions, I have a new found respect for his game. It was my debate with him that set off CC’s post on the Weak-Tight Blogger theory. I think he over-generalizes—there is a wide range among blogger playing styles and many poker bloggers simply do not play weak-tight. In my mind, it’s not just a matter of bankroll, it’s also a phenomenon mirrored in the regular poker world among players who study the game. Weak-tight is a natural stage that many players go through as they expand their knowledge of the game and their playing experience. Some get through it quickly, some get past it too quickly and fall back to it, but few skip it entirely.

Anyway, back to the main story if you're still with me. I survived that hand and we played on at the table for a few more hours with the blinds, finally consolidating to two tables. I was fairly short stacked when I got there, with about 9k and an M of maybe 6. The blind structure in the tourney started out good but from the middle, it really went nuts with even big stacks playing effectively short. This is not meant to be a complaint against the organization (thanks April!), I understand for the money, Caesar’s structure was a reasonable balance between some play and having us there all night.

I did get lucky however in being sent to the penultimate table without all the big stacks. The other table had Daddy and -EV and just a lot of chips--we had Waffles, Irish MikeJim, California April, Toby from and Vinnay among others. Not an easy table, but nobody had a monster stack, and a few players seemed to be distinctly in survival mode. Accordingly, I had to kick it up a notch. I started pushing in to any unopened pot with anything resembling a hand. Toby was doing the same thing plus a little more, as I think her opening standards were lower. From the outside however, I must have looked like the bigger psycho as I kept on getting cards good enough for the job--despite what people may think, I didn't once push with total rags while short stacked.

Once we got down to seven handed, this lead at one point to me going all in seven hands in a row. After the sixth hand without a showdown, I was on the button with KQ of diamonds. I thought for a moment figuring it was getting more and more likely I'd be called, but then again, I still needed to double up or grab the blinds, and KQ is definitely the kind of hand I'll push first with 9k and blinds of 1k-2k and 200 antes.

April folded her small blind, leaving it to Mr. 24 Off Unstable Dude in the big blind. He peaked down at his cards and looked disgusted. He started bitching to himself something about "knowing he was going regret it". I knew then I had a customer--and was pretty sure I was facing a coin flip. Sure enough, after more grumbling, he called and tabled tens. That was about two or three pips higher than I expected with the speech, but the odds were almost the same.
The door card was a lovely lady, which held up nicely. I was very happy to more than double up, though I must say I was disappointed not to get the full Waffles treatment right then and there. I suppose I’ll have to take his “CoxLover” post as a rant substitute.

That got me the momentum to make it to the final table—I started making less than all-in raises and continued to chip up. I did once find “aces” under the gun and pushed. It folded around to Irish MikeJim in the big blind, who thought for awhile and mucked. He steamed a bit when I tabled the beauty.

After Toby busted in 11th, I brokered a buy-in rebate save for 10th (sorry Toby, your welcome Byron) and we were all relieved to have at least cashed. Byron soon busted out on the other table, and when we consolidated, I found myself a middle stack with about 30k. Daddy was the big stack with about 85k, Veneno was hanging in there, especially after she laid a lovely KT-AK beat on –EV. We lost VinNay, Mattazuma and April. The blinds were patently insane, 2k-4k with unwieldy 400 antes, and I, as was most of the table, in push or fold mode. I acted accordingly and managed to chip up with some blind take downs.

The practical end for me came after I got up to about 42k. With six players left, in second position I found AK and raised it up to 12k. Veneno, who had laid down 77 face up to me an orbit before, pushed. It folded around to me and I had her covered by a measly 3k. If I fold, I have 30k chips left and an M of less 4. That’s back to the red zone, and after all, I do have a premium hand. I am pretty sure she has a pocket pair, there is a slim chance she has my hand or a weaker ace, and a very slim chance she has AA or KK. I’m just not about laying that hand down with the blinds as they were. I saw the chance to double up and be a close second to the chip leader, with the Golden Hammer at arm’s length, and I took it. She held TT, my hand didn’t approve, and I was crippled. No regrets.

Two hands later, with barely more than a big blind under the gun, I looked at my first card and saw an ace. Good enough and without looking at the second, I pushed my few remaining chips all in. Veneno and Daddy (in the big blind) both called me and checked down to the river. My other card was a deuce, and the river queen created a split main pot as IGHN against two QT offs.

Sixth place it was, disappointing at the end of course, but at the same time I was happy to have a decent cash given how short I had been and how slim I had been drawing against Lucko.

Congrats to –EV for taking the whole thing down.


At Fri Dec 22, 03:40:00 PM 2006, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

psycho. I did actually say "Fucking Sox Lover" at the table.. Lucky bastard.

At Fri Dec 22, 05:32:00 PM 2006, Blogger Mr Subliminal said...

First off, how do you remember all this in such detail? Do you take notes?

Secondly, while I do speak Hungarian, it is not my mother tongue. I speak other languages as well. As you say, interesting story.

Finally, it was nice meeting you and we'll "talk later" next time.

At Fri Dec 22, 05:57:00 PM 2006, Blogger SoxLover said...

No notes.

I'd like to say I have a very good memory.

Of course, I probably got half of it wrong...

At Sat Dec 23, 09:57:00 AM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great writeup, Sox

At Sat Dec 23, 11:59:00 AM 2006, Anonymous Irish Jim said...

You did get one detail wrong sir - my name's Jim, not Mike!

At Sat Dec 23, 01:02:00 PM 2006, Blogger SoxLover said...

Whoops. Sorry John.

At Sat Dec 23, 04:16:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great report and solid play. It was fun to read.

At Sun Dec 24, 10:24:00 PM 2006, Anonymous biggestron said...

Bless you.

Except instead of bless something not so nice ;-)


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