Archive Jun 2007: Possibly too level-headed

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Thursday 5K 6 max report

Unfortunately, my PC ate the first version of this, so, a quick recap: after not playing yesterday, I decided to play the 5K 6max today. I got from 10K to 4K by winning 2 pots in the first 2 hours, went from 4K to 45K by seeing 2 showdowns and otherwise playing really well for the next 8, then lost a flip for a 70K (ie, top 10 with 180-ish left) stack at 300/600 when the other guy played bad and busted. Sigh.

Vital details: A pretty big nit/calling station mix old guy raises UTG, I reraise AK from the CO (my third reraise in around 3 hours), and the SB, a LAG that I previously thought wasn't that bad, instashoves JJ for 4/5 of my stack and a huge pot. Kxx flop, J turn (though giving me a flush draw), brick river. Exactly one orbit later, a different player raises UTG, MP (a tilting LAG that was clearly looking for a place to shove) shoves 15K, and the same guy, now in the cutoff with a 65K stack, tanks and folds...JJ. Everyone folds and the 15K shovee, of course, shows 98o. Obviously, I must have a looser range than he does, or maybe the smell of losing coinflips is all over me lately. Meh.

I don't want to make this solely into a bad beat post because I had a bunch of other stuff written up, so here's a fun live hand: We're playing 4 handed at 200/400. With a 35K stack, I have a *very* tight image for 6 max and open to 1200 in the SB with K4o. The BB is a middle aged executive who knows a bunch of poker pros and plays ABC, but on the weak tight side. He calls and we see a K Q 8 flop. I bet; he puts in a small raise, something like 2K into a 6K pot. I feel this is a king around 60-80% of the time, but it's hard to fold top pair 4 handed - he can probably have a big draw, and I'm pretty much always seeing a turn regardless. Anyway, I call, check to him on the 5 turn, and he fires out 4.5K into around a 10K pot.

I ask him how much he has left while making sure I'm folding, because now I'm 100% sure I have 3 outs...until he says "8K". When he does, I instantly understand 3 things - he doesn't like his hand vs. me at all because he thinks I'm a nit and is terrified by my flop call, he's leaving himself room to fold, and if I shove right now he is folding things that he has absolutely no business folding. I think about it for a while and go with my read; he takes no more than 10 seconds to fold KJ [yes, TPGK, 4 handed, getting something like 2.5:1.] He asks me what I had for the next half hour, with me always replying I had him beat. If you're reading this, sorry, but there's no way I would ever tell the table I'm capable of turning top pair into a bluff*.

*this move is guaranteed to miserably fail anywhere except live poker. I love live poker. If I could only win coinflips live, I'd be rich.


Today's also known as "the day I played the best hand of my live poker career and have nothing to show for it". Sigh.

There won't be any good tournaments at the Rio until Thursday, but I made it out there anyway to play some satellites. I jumped into a 1K, wound up making it to third place playing 3 hands (and doubling up on one of them), pushbotted 1 hand as the short stack and ran into AK. It's a shame, because the play was even worse than the average 525 has been lately - we made it to 3 handed at 300/600. Wow.

After busting, I was going to just go home but got a phone call from Vivek (Psyduck on 2+2) inviting me to play at the nightly Bellagio 1K at 8 PM. It's not their typical Bellagio Cup-type awesome structure (actually, this one's pretty terrible, with 40 minute levels and some big jumps), but the field turned out to be pretty soft, and except for Iweargoggles from 2+2 (whom I brought along*) one to my left, I felt that this was pretty much the ideal table/tournament for its size [getting ~112 runners for a 40K first place prize.]

*Warning: It turns out the Bellagio seats people sequentially in the order they sign up. This is a very bad thing if your friends are good at poker :(

So, on to the best hand of live poker I've ever played:


With about 6K at 100/200, I raised 9 8 to 550 in EMP. It folded around to the BB, a 35-ish American guy wearing a beret and looking like an extra from the set of a war movie, who had a penchant for slowplaying big hands - he'd already coldcalled AA twice and bet 300 into a pot of 2000 with a set once. He called, and with 1200 chips in the pot, we saw a Q T 7 flop. As soon as the cards were dealt, he instantly bet 800 into me.

I considered my options. Folding wasn't. Shoving briefly seemed good, but this was the first strong bet from him I'd seen all night, and I felt like he had a big, but vulnerable hand that probably wasn't folding. After about fifteen seconds, I decided I was going to call and mentally chant "jack".

Turn: J . Bingo! He checked, I thought about the pot size/bet size and wound up settling on betting 1500 of my now 4500 chip stack.

He clearly knew he was in trouble and tanked...and tanked...and tanked. For about two minutes, the guy basically thought throuh his options and spoke out loud. "This will be a monster laydown if I make it"..."I can't really call, I have to push or fold"..."This is such a bad board, you can have AK, AQ..."

At this point, he was clearly leaning towards folding and desperate measures were called for. Normally, I try to be as stone faced as possible during a hand, but it was time to Hollywood. "I can tell you don't have AK", I said - "I'll show my hand to the security cams if you want, they'll back me up". If he was thinking on the right level, he would have seen right through this (c'mon, how bad do I want him to call here?), but that just wasn't where he was at, and he...tanked some more.

"Will you show if I fold? I'll show mine." "I'll be honest - no, sorry."

At this point, he called the tournament clock on himself and spent the next minute playing with his chips while I was mentally willing them over the all in line. With exactly 4 seconds to go he...just called. What?

River A. Before I had time to twitch, he instashoved.


As the table cracked up since, of course, it was obvious I didn't have a king and it was now my turn to tank, I thought this through. How could he have gotten there with a king? It could've been the greatest Hollywood job of all time if he had AK, but then the flop bet would be hugely out of character. KQ seemed like the most likely candidate...but would he have spent 5 minutes and called the clock on himself deciding on an action with top pair and a draw? Would he have done this with some kind of K + heart draw combo? Nothing K-related made sense. But why the hell did he love this river so much?

After a minute of this, I made a decision to go with my gut, turned to Iweargoggles, said 'this will either be the greatest or the worst call of all time' and called. Immediately, BB triumphantly spiked his cards on the table as I waited ready to wince and say 'good game'...but wait, no picture on either? What? Aces??? The confused, crushed expression on his face as he saw I actually did have a straight was priceless.

Iweargoggles immediately said "this hand confuses me more than anything I've ever seen." Nobody else at the table could believe it, either. But the fact that nobody even remotely put me on 98, coupled with the fact that I made the right call on an incredibly brutal river, pretty much makes it the best hand I've ever played live.


So, of course, after being handed a 12K stack at 100/200, I was out half an hour later.

Hand 1: A3o raises UTG+1 for 600 of his 2500 chips, I reraise TT, he instashoves and the first card on the flop is an ace (hmm, I've seen this before). Fine, easy "nice hand" comment/move on, I still have 10K.

Hand 2: I lose 1800 more chips in a blind battle, putting me at 8K.

Hand 3: 10 minutes later, I raise AK to 600 in EP. The BB, the same guy from the A3o hand, makes it 1600 and I, of course, instashove. He could not call any faster with...TT (keep in mind that he is something like 30% against my range in that spot), I brick, and as it turns out, he has me covered by 25 chips.

Yeah, I run really hot these days (in opposite land.)


On the bright side...when I finally put together a run good streak and play like this, it'll be a really, really easy tournament win.


I was going to do a full update of these two days, as well, but as it turns out, I actually played a full day today so that will have to go on the backburner. Besides, it's all over the Internet. The short list of my roommates that have done stuff in those two days:

Pechorin won the 100r on Stars for 31K;
Mlagoo/gobboboy split the 1M Guaranteed first place prize of 315K;
AJunglen finished 3rd in the FTP 1K Monday for 33K.

All of them played well and definitely deserved it. Congrats, guys.

As I wrote earlier, I had a small part in Matt's 1M win when I took over for him in the tournament early on. While he was out, I played a few hands in odd ways and got him to an early chiplead. The hands:

-EMP (no reads) raises to 200 at 25/50 and I make it 700 with AA in the cutoff. He calls and we're heads up to a Q86r flop. He leads for 500 into the ~1500 pot and I choose to just call. The turn is a jack (yuck) and he leads 1300 (ergh?), so I just call one more time. The river is a T, basically making this the worst board possible, so when he checks, I briefly think about value betting but check behind. Somehow, he only had AQ and we won the least, or something.

-I stacked him anyway an orbit later, though. He raised 4x again in MP; I just called QQ in the BB, checkraised him on a Txx flop and bet big on the turn/shoved the river. The 'he goes too far with/overvalues top pair' read I had on him from the last hand paid off, as he stacked off with ATo.

-Now with 20K, I got someone else's stack on a standard 'call a 4x EP raise with JJ on the button, flop top set, raise the flop bet, bet the turn knowing I'll get CR'd by his overpair' hand. The line he took is known as the 'stack a donk' line, and it works well solely because it's the standard way to get a horrible player to stack off with QJ. Hint: when playing against somebody decent, this line sucks.

-With 30K, I raised QTs in LP and got called by the BB, who led into me on a T 6 2 flop (I had diamonds.) I thought about raising, but a 3 bet here sucks, so instead, I called and looked for a blank turn to come off. It came the 8, the BB led again and now I raised, representing a big hand but essentially trying to get a free showdown if he called. He did call, I checked behind on the blank river and won another nice pot from 7 7.

Matt got back at this point as the chipleader and said that I'd get 3K if he won. Ship the 3K. Seriously, I'm incredibly happy for him - he had this one coming for a long time and he's a much better player than anyone really gave him credit for. Now he's got the bankroll for bigger and better things. I'm sure we'll be hearing more from him.

Tournament summary - 1500 NL

There's too much stuff for me to put into one post, so I'll just start off with the trip report from Saturday's 1500.

Most of us coming from the SA house/Nath's place actually got there late and wound up as alternates. We had a wait of about an hour to get in the game and basically all missed the first level, meaning we'd start off at 50/100 with 30 BB each - almost push fold poker right from the get go. At first glance, my table looked tough, with Humberto Brenes (already familiar with me from playing 9 hours of razz) and Phil Laak both seated opposite me. That turned out to be very wrong, though - it was the easiest table I've ever played at live, by a mile. Unfortunately, I just couldn't capitalize on it due to a total lack of cards at the right time, but some of the play was completely unbelievable.

I got involved with Laak early when I raised K J in MP and he called from the small blind. Phil was basically playing his PSP for 15 straight minutes thus far and was completely ignoring the table, so when he called I knew he had a real hand. The flop came 6 6x 6x and he checked, so, like a true Internet donkey, I took a stab at it anyway. He called, of course (the reason this is a bad cbet is that he probably calls 100% of his range here) and the turn was the Q . We checked it through (now that I at least had a draw which 'might' be good this is a super easy check, especially since the Q hit a bunch of hands he was floating with), the river was another Q, and he overbet shoved. A lot of the time, that queen counterfeits his small pair and we chop, but it's just not a spot I can profitably call him in [I have to split something like 80% of the time to do it], we both knew it, and so it was really an easy fold. Sometimes there's just nothing you can mathematically do (or even represent) in poker to win the pot.

I chipped back up with an uncalled PFR or two, then had another weird hand. An Asian player who'd been pretty call stationy so far but dressed like a professional (basically, something like a doctor or lawyer who was there to gamble) open limped in EP and I raised A K in LMP to 400 to isolate. He called and the flop came 9 5 2. It was clear he had 'something' but didn't like it very much and checked. After thinking a couple of seconds, I decided that he'd fold enough for me to bet my completely worthless hand anyway and bet 600 into the pot of 800. He visibly agonized over it but finally called. The turn was the K, he instachecked, I was obviously done with the hand and checked behind, we both checked the 2 river as well, and somehow my hand was good at showdown. Whoops. Thanks to that hand, I finished the second level with 3600 or so.

Immediately after the break, the blinds went to 100/200 and everyone at our alternate (ie, shortstacked) table had 10-30 BB and were starting to shove. This led to the following 3 hands in a row:

1)Phil Laak, who'd just got caught bluffing, had ~800 chips and visibly didn't care about the tournament at all, shoved from the cutoff. BB, who looked pretty young and aggressive, decided to pot odds call 1/3 of his stack with the mighty 85o. (Whoops again - make that 'young, aggressive and bad'.) Phil's Q9s held up and he chipped up to around 1800.

2)Next hand, I got TT UTG and raised to 600 of my 3.6K. Someone called in MP, and then the SB, the bad kid from the last hand, shoved 1500. I, of course, reshoved and got it heads up with the kid's A3s (he obviously crushes my UTG range there, right?) Board: 632AA. I run so hot.

3)Next hand, some terrible player limped and Phil Laak shoved his now 1800 chip stack in MP. I looked down on A8s in the BB with ~2600 and actually had a decision to make - it's a subpar hand, but it sure seemed like I was ahead of Phil's 'shove to get the limper's free chips' range here. Eventually, I figured I may as well shove (the 'double up or busto fast' idea played a role in that) and got HU with Phil's KQ as a nice 60/40 favorite. Door card: K. I run so...wait, there's an ace in there too. Sweet, I finally busted somebody recognizable.

That got me to 4600. I then proceeded to float between 4K and 7K for two hours, getting exactly one premium hand and basically stealing to stay alive, while the people around me - all massively bad at poker - moved mountains of chips around with awesome hands like:

100/200: Humberto Brenes raises to 500 of his 2650 chips in the cutoff. The button calls and the two of them see a TT6r flop. HB bets 600 of his 2150, the button makes it 2K straight, HB shoves, and the button...folds rather than call HB's last 150 chips getting about, oh, 20:1. HB shows something that isn't quads.

Regardless, HB busts shortly thereafter anyway after restealing from someone likely to call him light with the awesome K2o.


100/200/25: Someone limps in EP. The cutoff, a gigantic calling station most of the time, makes it 1K. The button, who's definitely good at picking up the phone himself, calls the 1K. The SB, who actually seems to know what he's doing, shoves exactly 2K, the EP limper folds, the cutoff calls (raising to isolate is not an option at this table) and the button overcalls.

Flop Axx. Check check.
Turn T. Check check.
River J. CO checks again. The button shows KQ, checks behind and says "I couldn't bet, since you let me get there. Anyway, at least we got the SB out." I can't make this stuff up. Has anyone ever told these people they're trying to win a poker tournament?


100/200/25 again: The unfortunate loser from the last hand is now UTG+1 and makes it 800. MP calling station calls, as does an old nitty looking guy in the CO. (I'm the BB in this hand with 4500 and determine that I'm shoving any two cards with reasonable equity against the old nit's range before looking at my hand. Immediately after that thought, I look down, find 85o for the fourth time in the last two hours, and quietly fold.)

The flop comes T95. UTG+1, who has about 4K behind in this nice 3K or so pot, checks. MP also checks, at which point the old nit, with visibly shaking hands, quickly puts out 3K, a sizable chunk of his stack and a slight overbet. (In other words, he has jacks, or maybe queens if he's feeling extra cautious.)

UTG+1 now instashove CR's for a grand total of 4100. MP folds, meaning the nit is now getting roughly 10:1 to call an all in with an overpair. He agonizes for a full minute or so, then finally makes the call with (of course) jacks. UTG+1 turns over A9o and completely seriously says "nice call". Turn 5 (that's just to make sure I know how good I run.) River x. Nit has a mountain of chips. I /kill self.


I bust at 150/300/25 with 4500 chips after raising on the button with A 3 and getting called by both blinds. I'm planning to shove something like 80% of flops if checked to, and the K Q 2 flop that I actually hit for the second time in four hours certainly doesn't hurt that plan. SB folds, but the BB instacalls with - of course - KQ. I actually make my flush on the river, except that it also gives the BB quads. Sigh.

So much for that particular tournament. Sunday went a little better, though...

I'm still running bad

...but my roommate, Matt, just won the 1K Sunday Million for 315K while playing and running very well. Ship 3K for getting him the chiplead while he was out for the first 15 minutes :)

Big update coming up, I'm just unavoidably/obviously delayed tonight.
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