Saturday, October 29, 2005

Live-blogging an UB MTT

All the cool kids do the live-blogging thing. I thought I'd give it a try.

I'm a micro-limit kinda guy, and the $5 MTT ($3500 guaranteed) is my speed. Rather than hit a dive bar, my roommate and I have decided to play poker this evening. He's in a 6-handed SnG as I type this.

7:54pm: Ravioli's almost done. The chianti is breathing. I've borrowed my roommate's The Strokes cd for musical accompaniment.

8:02: And we're off to a flying start, 764 players in total. J2-offsuit. I had seen so much of J2o a month ago that my homegame buddies started calling it 'my' hand. Would've rivered a losing two pair. Losing caller had Q2-suited, pair of twos, queen kicker. I like this table already.

8:06: I like it when the bad preflop player busts the sound one. Min-raise, pot raise, pot reraise. Min-raiser folds, pot raiser pushes, reraiser calls with kings. Pot raiser was playing AJo, and flopped an ace. Please don't move me.

8:09: I defended my blind with KTo, the check-folded when EP bet out on a T-9-8 rainbow flop, and both other players calls. I lack the balls to raise everybody off the hand, due to the straight draws out there. EP wins the hand when they all check the turn, and his A6 hits an ace on the river.

8:11: I get cute and raise in the CO with T9o. Button and a blind call, and the blind bets into us with an all-diamond A-K-x flop. His bet gets it.

8:15: Plenty of multi-handed, limped flops, so I join in with a QT-diamonds. Q-J-7 rainbow flop, I bet 100, get five callers. FIVE. Turn is a 9, putting two clubs on board. Bad-playing big stack bets the pot into me. Apparently I haven't activated my brain yet. I call 600, leaving 670 in my stack. Stoooopid. Ace of clubs on the river, and he pushes. I fold. I suck.

8:19: It's official, I'm bad at this game. I raise in EP with pocket 8's, get three callers and a reraiser. I push what remains of my 670 into the middle, and get called by the reraiser with 9's. I flop a boat and more than double up. I'm back above my starting amount. And vowing to play better poker.

8:21: Folded my BB to a raise and a reraise, pitching A9o. There, that's not hard. 8's versus 10's, and the eights river a straight. Set of tens no good. And the underdog PP wins again.

8:27: The players at my table are addicted to seeing the flop. So this changes my strategy a little, at least until they bust out, or the blinds go up so they aren't as comfortable. I'm going to limp in with hands where I don't want to see 4 preflop callers. Any pocket pair lower than queens.

8:30: That didn't take long. I limped in MP with 9's, and the aforementioned bad-playing big stack potted it from the SB. One caller before me, I call, and there's one call after me. 6-6-3 flop, two clubs. SB leads out with 250 into a 750, and gets a fold. I smell horrid weakness. I push for my remaining 1200, and it gets back to the SB. He thinks. And calls. With two big clubs, right? Wrong. AK-offsuit, red. No help for him, and I've doubled up to 3.3K with the BB at 30.

Against good players, I've probably just gifted my stack to somebody. But we're in a $5 MTT, and we're not good players. (Yeah, even me. I should be out already.)

8:35: Big-stack (un-retarded, probably) min-raises from UTG, and I muck a MP AJo. Big stack wins the hand with A4o, a pair of fours by the river. And the table breaks. Nooooooooooooo!!!!

8:38: New table, I'm the BB with A9o. Two limpers, a small raise, another caller, and I muck. UTG limper pushes all-in for roughly 1.6K, everybody folds. Interesting.

8:40: 3x BB raise from me on the button with The Hammer. SB goes all-in for 2K, shows me AQ-spades after I showed my Hammer. Even more interesting.

8:44: The Strokes out, Kanye West in. Two black kings in EP. Reraiser on the button has me covered. I smoothcall preflop, and see Q-Q-8, two hearts. Check, check on the flop. Ace of hearts on the turn. Fuuuuuuuck. My last ditch bet, 600 into a 900 pot. He raised, making me commit my last 2.1K. I declined, and folded.

8:48: Rockets in the big blind, an EP raiser, and a LP caller. I pretend I'm on tilt, and push. EP calls with jacks. Normally great, except the board reads 6-5-4-3-2 by the end of it. Doh.

8:56: Pocket 6's UTG. Limp. The SB completes, BB raises. It's less than 10% of my stack to call, and he's got me covered. SB folds. J-6-5, two spades. Flopping a hidden set gets my pants snug. He bet the pot into me. Roommate Jeff was lurking over my shoulder and asked "Flush draw? Gonna raise it up?" Nope, time to get greedy. Turn was a brick, and he bet enough for me to call all-in, showing me pocket 4's. The river was the case 6. As better bloggers have written, "Them's quads, beetches." 4.4K in my stack, BB at 60. I'm 77th out of 351. Top 80 paid, and first clocks a sweet $878. That would more than double my online bankroll.

9:03: first break. Kanye is flowing, the wine tastes good, and I feel infinitely better than I did after my QT and 88 retardation. Time to buckle down and money in this bitch. This is the blind level I LOVE, 50/100. This is where it gets expensive for the bad, lucky players who have built up a nice stack. This is where the flame-outs start to happen. Let's try for that not to be me this time around.

9:14: coughed up some chips making a play from the BB. Unraised pot, a MP player and the SB. A-8-7 flop, I bet 200 into a 300 pot. MP thought and called, SB folded. Turn was another ace. Representing ace-small, I bet half the pot. He called. Surely, he must have an ace. Brick on the river, and we checked it down. K9 for me, A2-spades for him. Blah. 3.8K in my stack. On the upside, I almost got trip aces to fold.

9:17: pocket 3's in MP. Unraised pot, 7 saw the flop. Seven! Q-6-2, two diamonds. I didn't flop it, so I dropped it. A4-off takes it from 62-off when the turn and river go A-Q. Three pair no good!

9:21: I refuse to fold when I have plenty of chips and somebody min-raises my BB. I called with 84o. We checked a 9-9-2 flop, then I bet 200 into a 400 pot when the 8 hit the turn. He called, and I check-called for 100 when the river was a K. He showed me... oh yeah, Big Slick. I love you, calling with overcards with one card to come.

9:23: I won a small hand with KK on the button. A bigstacked blind called me with QT, flopped top pair, and min-bet into me. I had planned to make my move on the river, but it was an ace, so I forced myself to call there too.

9:24: New table, I raised it up in LP with A8-spades. Bigstacked blind called me with AKo, and min-bet into me with a Q-Q-J, two diamond flop. I raised him on the flop, he called. He min-bet again on the turn, a brick, and I called. River was a brick, and I couldn't force myself to put a big bet in. 2.2k after that.

9:28: 87o free look at the flop. Q-7-6, two clubs. SB min-bets. (Fuck min-bets!!) I raise 4x that, and the LP limper calls. Turn is the K of diamonds, with two diamonds now on board. I push for about the pot, praying for a fold. Wrong. AQ-diamonds had the best hand and the best draw. Out in 266th.

Ok, so that wasn't a great show of poker prowess. I pick poor spots. And really, I should've not put in another penny after AQ called my flop raise. Call it tilt. Or poor play. I should know better.

And that's another $5 of my poker education. Ignore the last table. Ignore the last hand. This is a new day, a new hand. Think, and play. Even if your instincts are whispering an answer you don't want to hear.

Friday, October 28, 2005

HUC2: Round of 8: Rock-like & Predictable

My opponent in the Round of 8 for the Heads-Up Challenge was the inimitable SirFWALGMan. Trite as it sounds, I was expecting the unexpected from SirF in our heads-up matches. I figured him to be a little wild - his betting patterns would tell me next to nothing. I didn't figure on following the same gameplan as I had against Aussie Dave. For Dave, I wanted to grind out an early chip lead, and use that pressure to choke him, chip by chip. SirF would be nothing like that. We'll see few jabs here; we're playing for uppercuts.

We played the first two matches on Thursday. I took the first. The major hand was a big one. Sir raised from the button, I reraised with pocket kings. The flop was J-J-2, rainbow. Sir called all-in after I raised him, holding pocket 7's.

He had the chiplead at that point, so he was crippled, but not out. The finishing blow came when I made a decision to take free cards. Q6-diamonds on the button, and the flop came T-T-7, two diamonds. Sir checked the flop to me, I checked behind. The turn was no help, and I checked behind Sir again. The river showed me my diamond flush, and Sir checkraised me. I put him all-in, and he had flopped trips with KTo, but didn't have the boat.

The second match was longer, with plenty of back and forth.

This time, my first big pocket pair was queens, and Sir flopped two pair with A5o and took about half my chips.

Momentum was all mine after that, and I regained the chiplead. I had a chance to bust Sir, but my A9-spades went unimproved against his pocket 2's.

Sir had a chance to bust me when he flopped top pair, and I flopped middle pair. All the money went in, then I hit trips on the turn.

I had another chance to bust Sir, my J9-hearts was dominated by his A9-off. Momentum and chips swung his way right after, and I foolishly called an all-in with QJo preflop, to see his AK-hearts. My river draw to the straight was no good. It's all tied, and Sir is playing the better poker.

In the deciding match...

In the pregame chat tonight, SirF mentioned that, "The only way you're going to win is if you suckout." I thought, "The only way I'm gonna win is if I trap you with a big hand." It turns out we were both right.

SirF flopped a straight within the first ten hands. I flopped top pair, and he ended up with about 900 of my starting 1500 in chips. There's the first uppercut, right on my chin.

The next two dozen hands were absolutely no fun at all. He had a 4:1 lead on me, and bet/raised EVERYTHING. I treaded water for a little while, and then I settled on my weapon of choice - the checkraise. One of the times Sir attempted to put the game away, the river saved me. His pregame trashtalk was prophetic.

Things were a little different after I got over the 1K hump. Sir eased off his chokehold on me. I had a little wiggle room.

I called a moderate bet on the river with J-high. And won. Sir called a moderate river bet of mine with king-high. And lost to my trips. (He's a tough man to bluff on the river.)

A nice rush of cards propelled me to a 1600/1400 advantage.

And then it happened. I landed my uppercut.

Holding 86-diamonds, I flopped the nut straight: 7-5-4, with two hearts. I bet the pot, SirF called. The turn was the 3h. If Sir was chasing the flush, he's just caught it. I've got my big hand, and if I'm beaten by a better one, so be it. I checked to him. He bet out 2/3 the pot, which I figured would probably pot-commit him. I set him all-in, and he called with 62-off, one heart. He had a worse straight, but a river heart would double him up. No love for Sir on the river, and it was over.

I am looking forward to the Round of 4. At the same time I must congratulate SirF. He is insanely difficult to play against, and I'm not going to argue with anybody that says he outplayed me for our 3 matches.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Heads Up Challenge 2: Electric Boogaloo

First off, thanks to Jordan over at High On Poker for setting this up, again.

I drew Aussie Dave in the first round. I hadn't read his blog before finding out I was his opponent, and had no knowledge of how he liked to play. Somewhere along the way, he mentioned that he hadn't much experience in heads-up.

Many, many moons ago, heads-up play was a gaping hole in my game. My tourney results at the now-defunct Buena Park game were indicative, with roughly three times as many 2nd places and wins. I read what I could find about heads-up, and realized that I needed to open up my game a little as it got to 4- and 3-handed. At the BP game, I wasn't involved enough, so invariably the chipleader would bust the guy in 3rd, and have more than a 3:1 chiplead on me for heads-up. Without a clue, I stood little chance of climbing out of that hole.

Am I a mano-a-mano badass now? Ha. I've been dominated on a couple different occasions, but I tend to give more thrashings than I receive. Then again, I'm usually playing players who aren't very good. And even then, sometimes I can feel very good about how I handled heads-up in a losing effort.

Match #1 with Aussie Dave was nothing special. The pots contested were very small, until he and I got into a raising war preflop. I made the third raise, committing about half of my chips with pocket eights, and Dave folded. I showed, and added the chips to my virtual stack. With a 1800/1200 advantage, I bullied a little, and tried to keep the pressure on.

I made what I consider a tough call, holding two pair with 76-suited in my hand. The board had an ace, three to a flush, and four to a straight on it when Dave bet into me on the river. I sacked up, and my call was rewarded when Dave showed only a pair of eights.

After I whittled him down a little more, I reraised Dave all-in preflop. He called with KJo, and my A5-suited flopped a five and turned an ace for the victory.

Match #2 wasn't my brightest moment. It could easily be said that the cards tried to give me the victory, and I tried my best to double Dave up whenever possible. On four consecutive buttons, I raised each time, holding AQ, AK, A9-suited, and A6. For a while, the cards loved me.

I jumped out to an early lead, Dave pulled close, then I took the lead again. Just when I thought I was a lock, I had a "wtf was I thinking" moment.

I limped on the button with 92-off, and Dave made a small raise. "Uhhh... but I'm soooo close to busting him and ending this. I wanna call." Oh brilliant. The flop completely missed me, Q-J-3 rainbow or something like that. And that's when he pushed all-in. For 175, into a 1K pot. Duuuuuh. How did I not see this coming? No pair, no draw, great odds? Umm, call. Dave had pocket kings, and boy did I look like a genius in front of Veneno and some of the guys from my homegame that also play on UB. A few hands after that, Dave and I were back to the original chipcounts.

Play lasted more than 110 hands. I think I had him outchipped more than 3:1 when we had another preflop all-in confrontation, my A6-off against his pocket tens. The ace on the flop held up, and I was on to the 2nd round to face the rock-like, predictable SirFWALGMan. Clearly this first round victory should show the other Heads-Up competitors that I'm a force to be reckoned with.

/sarcasm off

Uh... my play scares nobody, and I'm expecting a quick and bloody matchup with SirF. My helmet has a chinstrap.

Aussie Dave played well, and just needs some more experience in heads-up. The fundamentals are there for him.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Today's Trivia

When it's 8pm in Sydney Australia, it's 2am in California.

When all the money goes in on the turn, and you river a 6-outer in PL Omaha, cracking Albert's straight with a full house, it sends him on a good half-hour of tilt, even though you're playing for $10.

And it feels goooooood.

Oh yeah, and I finished 2nd out of 11 in tonight's Tustin tourney. I started heads-up play against a bad, tired player who had 80% of the chips. I chipped up, then doubled up to 21K of the 65K in chips, then screwed up two consecutive hands to lose the battle. I folded the best hand, when the flush scare card hit the river and he bet it all-in (just like he did earlier in the tourney, when he had the flush), and the called an all-in on a non-threatening flop with pocket 3's to see his pocket 10's. Bad fold, bad call, game over.

Mixed game afterwards... we taught Bulletproof Kevin how to play Omaha, O/8, and 2-7 triple draw. Good times.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

At the local library, I am now known as "the guy who is always requesting poker books". Today, I had the librarians place a hold on Cappelleti's Omaha/8 book. We discussed holdem, and they mentioned that they want to expand the "gaming" section. They hinted that they'd like my input on what poker books should be stocked. I thought that was pretty cool, and I'll make up a list for them soon.

I've finished the two volumes of Harrington on Holdem, and I've enoyed the Dana Point HORSE tourney three times now. I've read the O/8 section in SS2, and some of the musings of AlCantHang and Felicia, but I thought it time to get my O/8 learn on. I'm not sure if Cappelleti's book is any good, but the OC library system only has two O/8 books, and I hadn't heard of the other guy.

I've been running very well at the poker tables recently. Live play has been going rather well for more than a month now - I won the Tustin tourney I host twice, and I won the NL Dana Point tourney once, besting Tony, the host whose tricky play made me nervous when we got down to heads up.

Online has just started to heat up. I've won several single-table SnG's, though unfortunately that's just me screwing around at the $1 turbo and $5 regular tables. Still, it feels nice to do well.

Every so often, I'll make a bet/raise, and I'll think "Man, that was dumb. There's no way I could have what I'm representing right now." Sometimes my play will work, sometimes not. My plan is to write down a few of these situations, study them with the goal to make less-suspicious plays when I make plays.

The consensus at my homegame is that a lot of my plays get caught. That isn't quite the case - a great number of my stabs at small and medium pots work. The bluff into the big pot, the last-ditch steal on the river... those are remembered when they fail. And that guy is me.

My mother is coming for a visit in less than a month. I've told her about how I host poker nights twice a week, and she wants in. This should be gooooood, as I'm fairly certain she hasn't played much holdem. I vowed to teach her as much as I could before the first night. I think I'm going to ask her to promise to try both a cashgame and a tournament.

I also hope that my regulars don't embarass me (much) in front of her. Yeah, right.

She'll also get to hear the story of me putting Shawn on "poker timeout" for 6 weeks. (I've mentioned it in a previous post - when I decided to kick him out of the game in mid-September, I decided he couldn't return until November.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Miscellaneous Update

I'm really digging the new bartender gig. I get the slow shifts (Sat, Sun, sometimes Mon lunches), with the upside that while it's slow, there's football on the tube. Being paid minimum wage to watch TV and pour the occasional sprite works for me.

I'm finally in soccer shape. Playing on Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights means that each post-soccer days hurt a lot less than just playing once a week, and sporadically at that. It hasn't escaped my teammates' notice that I've been uncharacteristically strong offensively lately. A scorching left-footed shot equalized with a minute left in a tough match on Tuesday night, and I followed that up with the go-ahead assist with five minutes remaining on the following Sunday morning. For somebody that grew up playing defense forever, it felt really goooooood.

I dropped a buy-in on Thursday night at the cashgame when I flopped Broadway, and got all-in against TightGuy Adam, who rivered a royal flush on me. Hell, if I gotta lose a big hand, it might as well be to a royal. :)

And I won again on Sunday night, my second consecutive Tustin tourney, busting 5 of my 6 opponents along the way. I was alternately dumb, lucky, crafty, and smart. But mostly dumb and lucky.

This evening, I'm heading to Dana Point again, with regular Tustin-gamer Albert in tow, to partake in the $20 holdem freezeout and $20 limit HORSE tourney.