Thursday, September 21, 2006

Score one for the Mystery Backer

My homegame's a pretty cool affair. The cashgame on Thursday, and the rebuy tourney on Sunday are generally well-attended. We talk a lot of poker. Neagreanu flopping the nuts during High Stakes Poker and getting beat, or Molina being a little bitch during the WSOP..

Recently, I had a regular at the game marvel at the fact that I've never played for real money at Party Poker. I'm not one to ask too many questions, but I'd imagine he's flush with cash. Why? He offered to stake me on Party. His proposal: I receive $99 on Party, and play three $30+3 single table sng's. At the end of those three sng's, I'd return the $99 to the Mystery Backer, and keep 50% of any profit (if it existed). If I went busto, it was on the MB. If I turned that $99 into something less, I'd return what I could. I actually argued for five $20+2's, but he was adamant about the $30 level.

My Mystery Backer wants to remain anonymous. There are plenty of players in my game with more skills and ego than bankroll, and MB doesn't want to have to field questions. I'm fine with that, and more than a little flattered that he'd pick me.

Why me? Well, MB thinks my tight, fundamentally sound style is a good fit for the insanity that is Party sng's. I cut my teeth on $5 sng's, and I have a decent understanding of short-stack play. I'm patient, and bad players and tough beats don't tilt me. I have a pretty good grasp of short-handed and bubble play. I'm perfectly happy limping a short-stack into the money, rather than busting on the bubble in a big confrontation.

It's fairly obvious why I would accept this deal. I have no money on Party, nor a Neteller/Firepay account. I don't have any spare cash to put into another online site. I have plenty of options - UB, Full Tilt, Titan, and I can't forget my nine bucks on bodog. For every site out there, I play all the money I have there like it's the last I'll ever have. Nine on bodog, one hundred on Stars, or eight hundred on Full Tilt? If it's gone, I'm done with the site. (As an aside, this is the main reason I don't play more blogger events on Stars. For the longest time, I lacked any sort of bankroll there.)

Tonight was the transfer. My Backer wanted to watch me play a tourney, so I obliged. I sat in a $30+3 standard sng, and played. I was absolutely shocked that the fiirst hand I played, I won, especially because I was semi-bluffing on the flop and turn. UTG with AQ-clubs, I make a modest 2.5x the BB raise. Four callers, yay, and I flop a multi-draw. Broadway and the nut flush draw. I fire a bet, and three drop. The turn is a red baby, and I fire again. The last guy folds, and the pot is mine. Thank you for not making me show down a hand.

I picked up several more chips when I checked top pair to the button on the flop, turn and river. With 32s, the button couldn't help but bluff at it multiple times. When checking induces bluffs, it's a beautiful thing.

Play is insanely fast in these sng's. Before I knew it, we were down to 4, and I was third in chips. I had plenty, so I was looking to buckle down, and money. With my backer watching, I was not about to donk out of this thing on the bubble. The other players obliged, with the big stack knocking out the smallest one. In the money, oh yeah...

The big stack then busted the 3rd place finisher, QJs vs AQo. Your jack is good, luckbox.

14K to 6K heads-up with the BB at 400? No problem. Feel free to double me up on a gutshot semibluff when I have top pair. You let me have the chiplead for one hand, and refused to let your K7o go in the face of my all-in reraise. I had A8o, and it ended up winning the whole tourney. Done and done.

First pays $150 in these things. In one shot, my Mystery Backer recouped all of his investment. Even if I donk out of sng's #2 and #3, I've still made my sugar daddy some cash.

At the end of this, I'm guaranteed to have at least a pittance of my own money on Party. And that's pretty cool. The journey is nice too.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The big blind fights back

Twelve players to start the Dana Point tourney, in freezeout format. Tony says "Drifter, I don't like our table." The lineup goes: Tony, Fish, Albert, Barker, me, Unluckiest Guy. UG is a solid player, but always seems to get sucked out on. Barker is my roommate, and insanely good at cash game play and reads. Tony and Albert have won plenty on Stars and FT, respectively. Basically, I'm looking at UG and Fish as my ATM's.

I start by flopping middle set against top pair against Fish. We're sixhanded, and it's 5 to the flop on this hand when the button makes a small raise and I call from the SB with pocket nines. (I don't like reraising to isolate, this early in the tourney with a pair as vulnerable as 9's.) I check the flop in the dark, and the flop comes Q-9-6. Nobody bets behind my blind check, but I bet the blank turn. Fish and his KQ called, then called my river valuebet. I didn't bust him, but I did put a serious hurting on his stack.

I stuck around, and chipped up, then down. The final table was 8, and my stack was slightly above par. I had Tony two seats on my right, and Albert directly on my left. I wondered how difficult my play in my blinds was going to be. I noticed the obvious chipleader was directly across from me, which I figured would keep me from messing with him. If either of us raised the other's blinds, we probably had a legit hand.

And then it began. I became a reraise monster. Everybody knows me as a tight player, one whose big blind can be had. The cards conspired with me, to revolt against the thieves.

"Reraise. All-in."

Big slick twice, queens once, and AJsuited. The only time I was called, Tony had talked himself into calling with his two live undercards and dwindling stack. He was right, his 53o was live to my AKo. The five was the first card off the deck, and the ace followed. It's quite a feeling to hear a collective "aw", followed immediately by a louder "aw". Maybe it's not an "aw"... it's a combination of "aw" "wow" and "hah". I'll have to listen closer next time.

Even though I was playing my cards out of the big blind, it felt to me like I was playing strong, aggressive poker. So I kept it up. I had a slowly, steadily increasing chip stack and a great feeling about the table. I kept far away from the chipleader's stack, and beat up on everybody else.

Four-handed was bubble time. I had Al on my left, chipleader Mike in front of me, and a vicodan-addled Kyle on my right. When we started 4-handed play, I had precisely 25% of the chips in play. I had a par chipstack.

Fast-forward about 45 minutes. Imagine rarely seeing a river card, let alone a showdown. At about that point, I had almost half the chips in play. And we were still four-handed!

So how'd that happen? When 4-handed began, it became fairly obvious that Michael wasn't going to play the table bully, and was very interested in coasting into the money. Albert and Kyle were unable to pick up legit hands. Kyle wasn't aggressively raising the blinds, and Albert was too shortstacked to make a move.

So that left me to react. Kyle would give me a walk in my big blind half the time, and I raised Michael's blind from the button at least 80% of the time. Albert said later on the ride home that he auto-raised every time I folded my button. So Michael kept giving up his big blind without a fight.

Kyle's stack slowly deteriorated, while Albert treaded water because nobody could find a hand to bust him. Michael bled chips waiting for the bubble to pop.

At the time I counted out my chips and realized I had almost half of what was in play, I realized that I had done just about all the stealing I possibly could. The blinds were up, and their stacks were all short - certainly they'd be forced to play back at me with anything useful. And I'm not sure I wanted to double them up while holding 92o.

On cue, Kyle jams, I fold, Albert relucantly calls. Michael folds. Kyle has Al covered by 300 chips. 97o for Kyle, 66 for Al. I had folded a 6, but his pair holds up. Kyle bubbled on the next hand.

In the money, I thought Michael might open up his game... nope. I actually folded a few buttons, electing not to continue to steal Michael's big blind. By this time, Albert had a decent stack, and I figured he was itching to reraise me to take some of the heat off.

I busted Michael when I relented, and raised his BB with K9o. He jammed, but I was getting odds to call if I wasn't dominated. In fact, I was in front of his QJo. I flopped a pair, turned two pair, and he didn't river the gutshot.

Heads-up with Albert was fun, starting with a 60/40 chiplead. We've been playing against each other since I started my homegame two years ago, so we're very familiar with each other.

I remember calling a flop bet on the button, thinking I could take the pot away from Al if I didn't hit my gutshot straight... when the turn brought the straight for me. I smoothcalled his turn bet, then jammed when he checked the river, thinking he had something like two pair and could call. He said later he folded top pair, medium kicker.

I ended it making what Albert thought was a tough call. 9-7-4 two spade flop, and Albert bet into me. I held Q9o with the queen of spades, and called. The 4 was the non-spade. I thought I had a good chance of having the best hand, but I wanted to see a safe turn. What I didn't realize at the time was that the only safe turn cards are nonspade 2's and 3's, and Q's and 9's. I'm not really going to like the rest of the deck. Stacks are getting relatively short, and I probably should've jammed.

The turn was an offsuit 5, and I feel decent about this card. Albert checked, so I bet small, figuring he was just taking a stab at the pot on the flop, and/or missed his draw. Nope. He checkraised me all-in! At this point, the pot is large, but so is his bet. I have him covered, but if I lose, he's got a 5-1 chiplead on me. If I fold, he's still got the lead, but it's 3-2 or so.

Into the tank I go. I could be drawing dead here. He does bet his draws often, and there's a chance he just hit his OESD. Something like a pair-plus-flush/straight draw is also viable. I decide I'm in the lead, but Albert has plenty of outs. I'm a favorite, so I should call.

He only had 5 outs. He had T7, and felt he could bet me out of the pot. He thought his 7 was best because I didn't raise him on the flop - he had put me on a draw. The river bricked, and it was over. I had won a homegame tourney for the first time in months.

My cards were above average, my reads were decent, and I took advantage of the tightness on the bubble to accumulate chips. Not impressive, but it felt pretty good.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A little of this, a lot of nothing

And we're off to Dana Point to play a garage-kept, quick-structure NL freezeout. The last two bustouts I've had there, gone all-in and the big blind had woken up with aces and kings. Perhaps tonight it'll be queen. Either way, I enjoy it... good group down there. And the host plays in my game plenty. Tony has donated the most after his Sunday tourney wins at my place. He had two wins in a row, and I turned his tips into new copags.

Have played my normal amount live. Drank too much this Sunday during/after the razz tourney I hosted. Understatement of the month. Will speak no more of this.

I haven't played very much online. I've logged two consecutive losing sessions at limit, which is rare for me. I've dabbled in the Stars HORSE ring games, and at the razz tables. When I have playing, I've been focused on building my Stars bankroll. From fifty to almost triple that in a short amount of time. $150 is that danger zone where a bad run (or bad play) can erase everything. I'd hate that. I wanna build up, and move up. Or at least be sufficiently 'rolled for regular play in the Mook.

In the back of my mind, I know I should be focusing at the $20-30 sng's on FT, or the $2/4-$3/6 at Titan, but I haven't. It's like I've always been grinding up from pennies on different sites. My ultimate comfort zone. When and where I focus the most.

Meh. Live play now.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I'm not sure if I've ever played a WWdN

I have nothing but love for the bloggers that can beat other bloggers in an MTT. I'm not that guy. Blogger MTT's are decidedly -EV for me.

So I'm having a weak moment when Poison shows up and urges me to play in the Wil Wheaton dot Net tourney on Stars. I think the entry was 5% of my bankroll. I log in, and have Wil and several other bloggers at my table. I'm scared. I play tight, and wait for hands.

I busted Hoyazo. This will be the highlight of my week.

I end up 21st out of 52. I was high, drinking beer from the time I got home at 4pm pacific.. Poison was slack, going from chiplead to moderate bitch. Not because I consider Poison a bitch, but because the guy I've got to take over for her is an insane MTT player when he's got a big chiplead. In this case, he was 23rd with 26 remaining. He stuck around, then busted in 21st.

Neither one of us busted in the money. Top 9 paid.