Saturday, December 08, 2007

WPBT 2007 Holiday Classic

I played in the "World Poker Bloggers Tour" Holiday Classic today and had a great time. I can't remember the last time I laughed that much playing poker. Maybe I've forgotten that poker is a game and not always business.

The event took place at the Venetian but had the warm feel of a large home game. If anything the folks involved were too nice.

I arrived late due to some Saturday afternoon Strip traffic, and when I finally found my starting table, there was a dude sitting in my seat.

Apparently he hadn't played any hands. Before I could ask him to check his ticket, he gets up, mumbles something about his table number being wrong, and walks off.

I have no idea if he was legitimately confused or just trying to sneak his way into the tournament. I've watched people sit down at the wrong table plenty of times. It's common. Usually the person involved takes out a tournament receipt, and uses language to communicate ideas with others to fix the situation.

You know, something to the effect of: "Oh is this table 13? My tournament entry receipt says table 31. Guess I got it backwards."

I think the guy should have faked it harder and pretended like he had an excuse. Mediocrity is everywhere these days. Everyone is half assing it. Even the dudes taking your seats.

This felt so similar to going to a sporting event and finding guys who don't belong in your section sitting in your seats. And when you enter the row and get near the seat they just stand up and without saying anything move like 2 rows over and sit down again.

If this guy really wanted to impress me, if he really wanted to show me his courage and his heart, he would have taken another seat at our table. Just gotten up from my chips and sat down at another stacks.

If he was bluffing by sitting down at the table then I guess we can say he got caught. Yet the move wasn't negative EV. It's not like he got reported.

Whoever he was this gentleman would have loved remaining in seat #5 because I ran real well.

Today we're gonna define running well as hitting a runner runner flush to pass an opponent slowplaying a set. That's always a good time. You can yell at him if you want for not betting the flop but he was just trying to get paid. I don't blame him. Our table was tight.

These players were real careful. They wanted to last. I figured this could work to my advantage since I didn't care too much if I busted out early. I hadn't flown in for the big weekend.

So I opened up my game plan and got more aggressive. Usually I script my first 20 hands at the table but I threw out the playback and lowered my starting hand requirements.

In my first few years of playing poker tournaments I used to hate playing the early levels. But now that I'm more comfortable at the cash games, I appreciate the small blinds and big stacks. It's like a great ring game. The rather large M enables me to raise preflop with many different cards and try to out play everyone post flop.

Later on in tournaments when the blinds are huge, it becomes real difficult to see flops. The small pairs and suited connectors are hard to play. But at 25/50 these hands are quite effective and bring me joy to look down at and see.

At 25/50, I raised it preflop to 175 from middle position with 10,7 suited. Guy on the button checks his cards and looks like he wants to raise me but he ends up just calling. There is no doubt he has a stronger hand than me. It's either an ace king or the kind of medium pair (jacks) that doesn't want to see an ace or king flop.

Flop brings the 6 and 8 of clubs. I got my flush draw but I also backed into a gut shot straight draw. This gives me 3 more outs than I had hoped for. I continue bet 375. Opponent calls.

Another small club on the turn gives me a 10 high flush. I don't slow down. I bet again. This time 750. My opponent raises me to 1500. I'm not folding so pushing is an option. His miniraise screams big club. He also may not believe I have the flush and thinks he can still win the hand if an ace or king comes on the river.

I just call the 750 more. We're early and I can lay it down here if another club comes on the river. Just like a cash game.

The river brings the 9 of clubs. It makes both our hands.

As far as he's concerned, he's just made the nut flush.

And of course I'm thinking the same thing. Only difference is I'm right.

I put on a small show just in case. I'm "the guy at table 13 who hit his baby flush on the turn, but just got passed on the river by someone holding the ace."

This means I act disgruntled, subtly shake my head and tap the table. The whole thing is mild.

And it's real easy for me to believe myself. I could easily feel this way. Why not? Getting outdrawn was what I expected to happen. Wasn't it?

Meanwhile some of the best times in poker are when you hold the nuts and get to sit back and watch your opponent decide how much he's going to value bet into you on the river.

Here my opponent bet 1500 with his ace flush. I had 4725 in front of me and made it 4500.

This began a strange sequence where he asked me how much I had left, but then didn't reraise with what he thought was the nuts. He just threw out his chips and called. He never said "raise."

Looking back on it now, this call here is probably him being nice! Not wanting to knock me out and end my day. I don't think he really ever saw it coming.

Neither did the dealer who pushed the pot towards my opponent's ace. I had to tap the table and point to my cards to get the dealer to redirect the chips in my direction.

This hand made me a big stack early on and allowed me to play way more hands than I should have. It didn't make a huge difference in the outcome of my day but it was sure fun to get involved.

One stressful moment for me was seeing a 2,2,7 flop when I held pocket 10's. All these bloggers are maniacs with the 2,7. Makes 2's and 7's on flops sort of scary.
I bet continue bet the flop but knew that it was roughly 50/50 I was about to get reraised. And the best part is knowing that my opponent probably wouldn't be bluffing.

The hand that first got me in trouble occurred at 75/150. I raised it to 475 in middle position with queen 9 suited. Johnny Hughes called in late position. One of the blinds joined the dance party.

Our flop was a King, Jack, 8 rainbow. The blind checked. I probably continue bet 2 out of 3 times here. This was 1 of the 3 times when I check. You see, I've got Johnny Hughes behind me. And what I've noticed is that Johnny Hughes will not bet his hand just because it gets checked to him in position. He's not some 18 year kid at Turning Stone. He an old white guy from Texas. He doesn't bet when he misses.

I know that if Johnny has a king he will bet it. And if he's missed he will check.

I will find out everything I need to know. If he checks I can probably take the pot down with a bet on the turn.

So I check. And Johnny (with what I believe is an ace) checks behind me.

The turn brings the miracle gutshot ten. I've hit my straight. It's almost not fair.

There was a good chance I was going to bet anyway. But now I'm legitimate.

I bet 500. Johnny Hughes calls. The blind folds.

Johnny calls? Hmmmm.

River is a rag. Johnny Hughes has 3000 chips left. I have almost 10,000.

The only hand that beats me is ace queen.

I bet 1000. Another value bet.

Hughes does his "Oh what the heck" shrug and throws in 2000 more. He's all in.

Damn. He's got the ace queen.

I consider folding here and saving the 2000 chips. It's the pro move. I don't think Hughes would reraise me with any other hand. I think he just calls me down with queen, 9. I am beat.

But how the hell is everyone else supposed to know how smart I am if we can't all see his cards? So I bitterly tossed two thousand dollar chips into the middle of the table and instructed Hughes to "Show me your ace queen."

And that's exactly what he did.

I think that's what's known as "an ego call."

So my earlier chip buildup was for naught. I was back down near the starting level, except now the blinds were larger. I hung around through 100/200 and 200/400 levels and watchied my M get smaller and smaller.

I was moved to another table where I was seated across from CK who I know from New York City. No one in the tournament was having more fun than her. She bluff reraised with 2,7 and showed when everyone folded.

Her t-shirt said "Asian Jew" and no one appreciates the ace jack like she does. Win or lose, it's always a big hand. In fact my only regret from this weekend was not showing my ace jack to CK when I won a hand with it at her table. After seeing how much the ace jack means to her, I can now say that it bordered on selfish of me to keep that information to myself.

Despite not winning too many hands I was still sitting at the table through the second break. I had gone cold for an orbit and whittled down to 1300 chips. Blinds were now 400/800 with 75 ante. I had one hand left in me and it's going to have to win at showdown.

Times are desperate. I've got to go with any two cards. So what is the first hand I see after the break? Pocket Kings.

I'm about to be big blind in 2 hands so it looks like I'm pushing with any two cards. Any ace. Maybe I got a small pair. Yet somehow I happened to wake up with a real hand.

Yet they all folded. No one had a hand they wanted to show down. It went all the way round to the big blind. Sitting there was a nice guy named Otis who I'd chatted with on the previous break.

Otis only has to call 500 more to win 3250. He tells me he has to call in that apologetic way people do when they don't want to knock you out of a tournament, but math has given them no choice.

I agree with Otis that he must call with any 2 cards. Yet I don't fear elimination,. I need chips. If I win this pot I'd have 3750 to shove in on the next playable hand which is alot of fun at 400/800 blinds.

If I can win this pot I love pushing at this point. Putting pressure on the medium stacks when I only have like 4 or 5 big blinds. That's actually the part that sucks the most about getting knocked out with 6 tables to go. Sure I want to win money. But I also don't want to leave because this is when the game tournament first starts to get real interesting. It ain't a cash game anymore.

Otis turned over ace 10. I turned over my kings. I think we were both surprised by how strong the other was.

He probably expected me to have something like ace rag. I certainly didn't need Kings to push all in.

And I figured he'd have something like queen, 7. He certainly didn't need ace 10 to call.

The first ace came on the flop. Another came on the turn. And I left after the river.


ckbluffer said...


I'm so glad you made it to the tourney. And just for the record, you couldn't have lost to a nicer guy. But I'm sure you knew that already.

Back out in Vegas for MLK weekend with Jesse and his crew.

Lucky says hello.

Otis said...

I hated to be the one to send you on your way. Regardless, it was great to get to meet you.

Thanks for continuing to write here. It's both therapy and entertainment.