Monday, March 17, 2008

Wynn Classic Main Event Satellite

I spent Saturday trying to satellite my way into the Wynn Classic's 10k Main Event. I wasn't alone. 188 degenerates paid $1060 a piece, creating 17 seats plus some leftover cash. All to be part of the Classic.

Can I be the wise-ass who points out the Wynn casino opened up in 2005?

Without using Google, I'd guess this poker tournament started up as recently as 2007.

Only in Vegas can that make it a classic.

I show enough patience as a human being to think a satellite into the main event presents good value for me. There are plenty of bad players in the field. I also do well playing against the better players who don't completely adjust their game for the format.

For some reason these guys are still trying to get ALL the chips at their table. They're not at peace with the concept of survival. They don't take advantage of the fact that they only need to stay alive to win.

I watched aggressive players race each other for all their chips in the first two levels. Makes no sense to me in a tournament where 1st place gets the same prize as 17th place. If that's really how you feel about having to hang around for the next ten hours then go play a one table sit and go. These guys did not want to maximize the experience. They wanted to either dominate or move on to cash games.

There weren't too many bad players at my first table. Unfortunately I noticed a few familiar faces. At first this annoyed me. Yet in hindsight it was probably a good thing. It made me tighten up my play early on.

3 of these advanced players were looking to gamble and played too many hands. However they did notice that I wasn't playing much and they'd fold whenever I'd bet. This image allowed me to run in place until I could find a real hand to play a bigger pot against them with.

My table broke in the second level. I was up around 10% in chips and excited to move to a new seat to open things up. However I couldn't finish any hand with the best cards and by the end of level 3 my stack was below average when we went on break.

The good news was that antes would finally arrive in level 4. This is when tournaments begin for me. I play better when there's something in the middle of the table worth fighting for. It's when I stop playing scared.

The more realistic my getting eliminated from a tournament becomes, the more at ease I feel with that reality. I'd absolutely hate to go broke in level 1. Yet when blinds and antes become a decent percentage of my stack, there's no shame in going out. Suddenly that same medium looking hand that's real tricky to play early on becomes a plain old monster.

Meanwhile I had two tough hands from level 4 that I'm still thinking about.

The first one was a multiway pot on a 10,9,3,2,king board. I only held a 10 and I really thought that 10 was good until the king appeared on the river. My opponent made a pot sized bet. I didn't put her on a king. I put her on queen jack.

She was a tight player. Still, I wanted to call badly. To confirm my read. And of course to write about it for you guys. But my job is to build up my chips, not show how good my reads are.

My read says I'm beat and how good can my read be if I know I am beat but still call anyway?

I don't think she had the courage to make that bet without the straight. I don't think she would bluff into two players. Maybe one. But not two. (If she did have the courage to bet the river with the worst hand then she deserved the pot. Great bet and very well played.)

I still had chips. I kept on fighting. The table had tightened up and using short stack aggression I was able to get my chips back up to the 5000 starting range.

The other tough hand for me was an orbit or two later. My stack was around 4000 chips. With blinds still at 100/200 and 25 ante, I raised to 700 in early position with queen jack suited. Got called by the button and big blind as well.

Flop comes out 2,2,7 with two of my suit. I've got a flush draw and over cards.

I continue bet 1400. I'm happy to take it down. It also wouldn't be terrible to hear the word "raise" behind me. The button folds but then something not so great happens. The blind just calls. Damn.

Here's where it gets tough. Against other players I might think they're making a move. A player might call my continuation bet in hopes of trying to take the pot away from me on the turn or river. Especially on a 2,2,7 flop. And against those players I'm probably pushing on the turn no matter what comes.

But not this guy.

No, this guy is an older conservative fellow who plays one hand an hour and always has something if he puts chips in the middle.

I would venture to guess that I am presently trailing his hand. There's not too many hands that he would call a flop bet with that I'm ahead of.

The turn comes and misses me. At least it's small and keeps my over card potential alive. The gentleman checks to me again.

After he calls my flop bet I only have around 1900 left. In hindsight I can see I should have bet more (or even less) on the flop. My remaining 1900 chips isn't enough to get him off his hand when the pot already has over 5000 in it.

Now in a cash game I can shove, get called, lose, and take more cash out of my pocket. But obviously in this satellite I cannot rebuy. I only have one life.

Winning this pot will not get me a seat in the main event.

But losing my remaining 1900 chips will guarantee that I don't get a seat.

I can still push the rest of them in the middle if a spade, jack or queen comes on the river. And I'll probably still get called. The pot would be too big and there's little reason for him to suspect I actually have the flush draw. My checking the turn just looks weak. Not like I'm trying to grab a free card.

If I miss on the river I can lose this pot and still have enough chips to see a couple of orbits to find a good hand to get the rest of my chips in with.

So protecting my remaining chips is one reason I check the turn.

The other reason is I think he'll call and I can't find a likely hand he's holding that I'm ahead of.

Like even if he's bluffing, what can I beat?

I can't beat ace high.

Heck I can't even beat king high.

The only hand I can put him on that I'm presently beating is a smaller flush draw.

Yes, he could have the 8,9 of spades. If that's the case I'm golden.

But that's the only hand I think I can beat.

So I check the turn behind him.

The river brings a king. And not a spade.

Old man acts first and bets out 3000. I want to call. For you guys. To write about it. But of course I have to fold.

I'm also tempted to show my cards. Show I wasn't just continue betting the flop. Show that I actually had hope. Show that I had outs but couldn't get lucky. But I resist temptation and muck quietly.

With my smaller stack I went back to work. Pushing all in preflop to steal blinds and antes. Excited to eventually race someone and double up. Fully prepared to embrace the gamble.

My moment came an orbit later when I picked up ace queen. I'm calling any reraise so I cut out the middleman and pushed all in from under the gun.

For my small stack, an ace queen here legitimately felt like a monster.

And it was for a few moments.

Until a player behind me called with ace king.

The flop came 4,5,5 so I had some unexpected outs to pair the board and chop the pot on either the turn or the river but it was not to be.

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