For two weeks I’ve been telling my girlfriend “I’m going to win the Poker News Cup ME.” She normally just rolls her eyes at me and tells me to stop being a wise ass. Normally I go into events with a mentality of “well, a lot of play to be had here and things will have to go my way, we’ll see what happens.” Not this time. I’m not sure why, but I just feel like I’m going to win. I guess I’ve just learned so much in the last few months since the last time I’ve played live, I just feel so ready. Ninety minutes before the tournament begins I sign on AIM and tell Timex I’m going to win. He tells me I’d better since he found my family’s address and has the name of some very quality hired goons.
My friend Darren picks me up 45 minutes before start time and we arrive with plenty of time to register. I settle into my table and look over the table. I recognize two players, one, Leo Boxell in seat 5. Leo is a fairly legendary old school player in Australia who has been around the poker scene way before there actually was a poker scene. He’s also known for being really tight. The other familiar face is Ben Savage on my right, a 30ish semi pro who’s better than most but still has some weak-tight tendencies and gets lost post flop sometimes. He was the player that open limped JJ UTG in the previous trip report. The tournament structure is absolutely phenomenal, 20k start bank at 50/100, with hour levels and antes coming in at the 3rd level, 100/200 25.
Things start off pretty smooth for me. I open quite a few pots without doing anything really out of line. Leo Boxell is open limping a fair bit, and I’m five seats behind him. I keep raising his open limps in position, then C betting and taking it down post. Sometimes I hit and sometimes I whiff, but so far he hasn’t beat me out of a pot. Finally I find a spot to slow down:
Effective stacks: ~20k, blinds 50/100
Preflop: Leo limps in EP, folds to me on HJ, I raise 6h9h to 400, folds to BB, BB calls, Leo calls.
Flop: K T 9 rainbow
Wow I can’t think of a flop that crushes his limp call range more than that. It checks to me and I check back.
It checks around.
BB checks, Leo bets 500, I fold. BB decides to pay off and Leo flips up QJ. The BB starts complaining about how he had KK and can’t make it win.
The BB in that hand is a 55-60ish guy named Jimmy. He’s extremely talkative and likes discussing every hand after it happens. He looks over at me and the guy on my left and says we’re wearing Paris Hilton sunglasses, despite us both wearing fairly normal sized aviators. He continues on about Hilton.
Jimmy: Man I’d like to rail her all night.
Bond: I guess if you really want herpes that bad.
Jimmy: I’d take it!
I continue opening a lot of hands for the first 20ish minutes without much problem, often taking the pots off Leo Boxell. I’m basically an unknown to him so I think he perceives me as just some young spew tard. With this established image the following hand comes up:
Effective stacks: ~20k, blinds 50/100. I hold 22 in MP2
Pre flop: Leo limps UTG, folds to me, I limp, folds to button, button limps, SB completes, Jimmy checks the BB.
Flop: J 2 J rainbow
SB/BB check. Leo bets 300. I raise to 1200. 3 folds. Leo very quickly 3 bets to 4300. I sit back and think this over. I think vs any other player at the table I should call and let them keep going on the turn but there’s a few other factors here. First of all, my image and the way I’ve been playing with Leo. Second, I’m almost positive he has AJ to limp in there, I’m pretty certain he’d probably just fold QJ there and maybe even KJ. If I jam this flop I really don’t think there’s anyway he folds AJ with my image, and I don’t really need a T/Q/K peeling the turn and him slowing down because he gets scared. I elect to shove in. Leo looks disgusted and starts grumbling to himself.
“All in? It’s a 3 day tournament and you’re all in now!?”
I sit motionless, leaning back in my chair trying to look as spew tard as possible.
“Must be pocket two’s to go all in here.”
I say nothing. Leo deliberates then slides his stack into the middle and tables KJo. I flip up my 22 with pride and mentally pray to dodge a K or J. The guy on my left goes “I folded J6o!”
Nice fold sir.
I tell Leo it was nice playing with him today (my standard line these days for anyone I bust to keep things friendly) and collect the massive pot.
The table goes berserk with chatter about the hand. Everyone is saying they would have folded his KJ in a heartbeat, that “it’s a 3 day tournament!” as Jimmy puts it. Jimmy is especially adamant and keeps going on and on about the hand for the next 30 minutes. “I just can’t believe he called, why risk your stack there!? It’s a three day tournament!”
With my new massive stack I of course continue to accelerate and force the action. Things go well at first since the table is basically all recreational players, many of whom qualified on one of the Poker News freerolls (about 25-30% of the field was made up of freeroll winners.) Things go well for a while with little problem, until the following hand comes up:
My stack: 42k, SB: ~20k, Jimmy is the BB with ~20k. The SB is almost certainly a freeroll winner and appears very nervous and unsure of himself. He seems very weak. I hold KhJd in MP. Blinds 100/200.
Preflop: Folds to me, I raise to 600, folds to SB, SB calls, BB calls.
Flop: 3c 4c 5h
Both players check. Online I’d always check this flop back, but so far my C bets have met zero resistance and I think a lot of their calling range is over cards. I decide to fire once and shoot out 1200. The SB calls and Jimmy folds the BB.
The SB checks. In a live tournament, I think this is a great bluff card. The villain normally doesn’t have a 7, and even though I often shouldn’t have one most players are too scared of the board to stop me. I bet 2200. SB thinks it over a minute and calls very meekly. I think he’s most likely on a flush draw, has a mid pair, or is slow playing a straight. As the river comes out I point my head (while wearing sunglasses) at the board but watch his face intently with my eyes.
SB’s face flashes with disappointment. He sets his cards in his hand like he’s ready to fold them, then checks. Even though the pot is pretty large I’m pretty sure I’m mostly trying to bluff out missed draws, sometimes A high, so I fire a small 3500. SB takes his hand off his cards, then goes to his chips and check min raises me to 7000. Very [censored] amusing. It turns out with this particular player he feigns weak actions when’s strong, classic Mike Caro’s book of tells style. I fold my hand and he flips up his 7 7 for all to see. I have no idea why he bothered to show, he’s clearly not the type to set up a check min raise bluff later on. I think he just didn’t want to anger the LAG tard chip leader.
“Haha! Got your hand caught in the cookie jar there eh Tony?” quips Jimmy.
“I guess so Jimmy, I couldn’t beat his straight.”
“You know, you are like a male Paris Hilton.”
“Um okay? Should I be complimented or offended?”
”Complimented of course, I reckon she’s gorgeous!”
”FLOOR! I WANT A SEAT CHANGE!”
The table cracks up and play continues.
The next hand I play requires a little history. The villain involved had raised two limpers a small amount in position with AJo. On a Kxx flop he fired into 3 players and got called by one. On a J turn he fired weak again and the guy called. The river went check check and he tabled AJo which lost to KQo. He wasn’t quite as agro as that hand might suggest, but he was still somewhat active and capable of firing when he didn’t have it.
My stack: ~34k, his stack: ~18k, Blinds 100/200
Preflop: Folds to MP1, MP1 limps, MP2 raises to 700, HJ folds, I call with QTo on the CO, button folds, blinds fold.
Flop: Q 9 5 rainbow
MP1 checks, MP2 bets 2000, I call, MP1 folds.
MP1 checks, I check.
MP1 bets 2700 and I call. He flips up AA. Fair enough.
I continue playing pretty aggressive and opening a lot of pots, sometimes C betting and sometimes checking back if the flop is really awful and villain in the hand is a huge station (such as the HUGE station 2 on my left who has trouble seeing the board and what my bets are so has to stand up and lean over the table putting his face close to the felt.) I lose a couple thousand to raising hands pre flop and whiffing the board but still nobody seems to want to step up and 3 bet pre flop. With his half hour speech about how Leo should have never risked his tournament life this early, the following hand comes up vs Jimmy. At this point Jimmy had been kind of spewy and sometimes aggressive post flop, and had sucked out a couple times in medium pots to get chips.
My stack: ~28k, Jimmy: ~25k, Blinds 100/200. I hold 6s9s on the CO.
Preflop: Jimmy limps in EP, folds to me, I raise to 800, a very weak/straight forward SB calls, BB folds, Jimmy calls.
Flop: 3c 4c Kh
Not a bad C bet board. Both players check to me. I bet 1200 and the SB folds. Jimmy check raises to 2500. He had been using a lot of these small check raises, having done it to me once already. I reraise to 6500. No way he doesn’t fold a K here. Jimmy INSTA shoves, smashing his chips in the middle. “Well, I guess you have a set, I fold.” The dealer THINKS I SAY CALL and announces call to the table, then takes my cards and flips them face up. Jimmy goes “YEA LETS DO IT!” and flips up his KQo. What the [censored]? KQo? I immediately correct the dealer and turn my hand back over.
“NO! I said fold. I absolutely said fold.”
“I thought you said call?”
“No, ask the players next to me.”
The players around me all confirm that I clearly said fold and my hand is mucked. Unfortunately most of the table saw my hand and my image is completely ruined. I’ll be forced to play tight now. I still can’t believe Jimmy insta shoved around 120 BB’s with one pair Q kicker after rambling on and on for so long about how he would insta fold the KJ. God live players are so weird.
With my stack beaten back to around 21k I sit pretty tight. Jimmy now appears to be full throttle and has completely reversed his tight weak mentality, playing absolutely spewtastic poker, especially versus me. I open a couple decent hands but whiff the flop and give up, and my stack slips to 18k. At the break I find Darren.
“Jesus man you would not believe this insane table. I had 43k, now I have 18k. If I can just get like top pair vs this Jimmy guy I will stack him, I swear to God.”
When we get back from the break the blinds have increased to 100/200 with a 25 ante. A few hands in I peek down at AdAs on the button. I like where this is going:
My stack: ~18k, Jimmy: ~35k, MP2: ~25k
Preflop: Folds to Jimmy in MP1, Jimmy raises to 800, MP2 goes into the tank, seems to consider raising, and calls. Folds to me on the button and I make it 2800. The blinds fold and Jimmy calls. Again MP2 seems to consider reraising, looks over and eyes me suspiciously, but elects to call.
Flop: Tc 6c 4s
Jimmy checks, MP1 checks, I bet 5500. Jimmy instantly check shoves. MP2 now tanks forever. This is going to be really gross if MP2 reshoves, but the longer he tanks the longer I think I’m ahead. I know I’m ahead of Jimmy. MP2 lets out a sigh, then reluctantly folds his hand. I insta call and Jimmy goes “well, ya got me kid” then flips up his 88 no club. I table AA. MP2 says he folded KK.
MP2 winces while I have I have a big [censored] smile on my face. The pot is passed over to me and I restore my 40k stack.
I turn the heat on again on the table but this time start using my aggressive image post flop to value town people very hardcore and check back a ton when I whiff. I slightly increase my stack without any real event. Jimmy goes on full tilt and starts calling with a lot of hands pre. He then gets sucked out in a huge pot by the table calling station, who called him down with AK high when Jimmy clearly had an over pair and managed to runner runner a flush on him. Jimmy is noticeably pissed by this, having only a few thousand left.
The blinds increase to 150/300 and near the end of the level Jimmy has blinded down to 3700. He open shoves in LP and I peek down at AJs in the BB and quickly call. He tables A5o and a J on the flop finishes his day as my stack climbs to mid the 40’s. I shake his hand and tell him “nice playing with you today.”
The last hand before the break the button raises, and knowing this trick I quickly 3 bet K9o to about 3.4 times his raise in the SB. The BB folds and he passes. Thank god, I really need to piss.
We come back from the break at 200/400 with a 50 ante. A few hands in the following hand comes up:
My stack: ~44k, BB (the table station with bad eyesight) has about 55k. I hold AQo on the button.
Preflop: EP limps, folds to me, I raise to 1600, SB folds, BB calls, EP folds.
Flop: Ad 5d 4h
BB checks, I bet 2600. BB calls.
BB checks, I bet 4900, BB calls.
Not a great card since he really could have a 3, but still not bad. BB checks and I bet 7600. He calls and tables A9o. Ship me the monies please. My stack climbs over 60k and things are running smooth.
I continue my highly aggressive game and play a few small pots with Axo in position. The first I take down with a C bet, but the 2nd the guy limp calls AJs in EP, then calls my flop bet on a T high board. I check back after that and his AJ high is good. *Sigh* Nice hand sir. Our table is broken up and I’m moved into the center of poker room by the rail with about 55k in my stack. There’s nobody I recognize here. A few hands into my new table I witness a truly insane hand.
CO is a young Estonian kid in a red ‘Duplicate Poker’ shirt. The BB is a middle aged well dressed Indian guy.
CO stack: ~40k, Indian guys: ~100k
Preflop: Folds to CO, CO raises to 1800, 2 folds, BB calls.
Flop: As Js 9d
BB checks a third time. CO thinks it over and fires 2600, Indian guy goes for chips and makes it 7600, CO goes for more chips and just throws a mess of 5k’s out there, like 26k of his 40k. Indian guy taps the table and folds, CO flips up 7h6h and rakes the pot with a smirk.
(Authors note: I paused in my writing to go play the rest of the event. I'll finish it within the next day or so.)