Archive Feb 2007: Poker Talk

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$1k NL LAPC tournament

I played in the last event at the LAPC prior to the main event. It was another $1k event with about 500 runners. Like last week, I got off to another fast start. On the second orbit I was dealt QQ from UTG, raised, was called by a later position player and bet every street. The guy mucked the river and I won about 1500. From there my stack pretty much stayed the same, at around 4-4.5k (we started with 2.5k) for the next few hours. There was really no eventful hands to report until...

About 2 minutes before the 7pm dinner break I raise on the button with KJs. Both blinds call. They were solid and aggressive players. The flop came Q95rags. They checked and I checked. The turn brought J and two of the same suit. They both checked again. There was approximately 1k in the pot. I was 99% sure that my TP, good kicker was the best hand. There was no way that these guys would check twice with a hand that could be me. I raised to 1k and the SB thought for about 10 seconds and pushed (we had about the same stack size). Given my initial read i decided that he was either making a move or was on a flush draw. I beat him into the pot and he showed A5 and a flush draw. He didn't improve and I was off to the races with a great stack of 8.5k at the dinner break.

We came back from the break and I quickly win $1k more when I made a blind steal attempt from late position, both blinds called, missed the flop, both blinds checked and took it down with a c-bet.

For the next two hours things didn't go quite as well. I just couldn't get things going. I did catch AA/KK/QQ. On the AA and KK hands I raised and nobody called. On the QQ hand, an aggressive opponent raised from LP, I reraised and he called. I led out the flop with a 2/3rds pot sized bet and he called. An A fell on the turn and he led out and I folded. He showed a flopped set of 5's, so the A actually saved me. This guy and i were tangling a lot and I was ready to go to the felt with my QQ.

The same guy was constantly raising my blinds so one time I called his raise from the BB with nothing and led out on the flop (still with nothing). He raised me all-in and I folded. That one cost me 1k.

One interesting hand that came up along the way: I have J8 from LP and call with two limpers in front of me. The button calls so for of us (the BB too) see a flop of J95. The first two players check, I decide to check to see what the button does (I intend to check-raise if I feel he's trying to bluff at it). The button bets 1k which is about the pot. The first EP player pushes and the next EP folds (he later showed AJ for TPTK and was also intending to CR). I fold and the button calls with J9 for two pair. The other player (who was my aggressive nemisis) shows QT and hits his K for a straight and doubles up. He was all-in and would have been out -- this is important since...

I now have about 7.5k which isn't great, but it's not horribe. Blinds are 100-200 with a 25 ante so I still have plenty of play. Here's my knockout hand, it pretty much played itself I believe:

I'm in the SB. Two limpers and my aggressive nemisis makes it 2300 more so there is about 3k+ in the pot. I look down at AK. With so much in the pot already and given the wide range I put on the raiser, I decide to push. He calls instantly and shows QQ. I don't improve and am out at 11pm with about 100 players left.

I was pretty happy with my play. You need to win hands like my AK/QQ hand. If I do, I'm at 15k and am one of the top 10% in chips. I also had AA/KK 3 times after the dinner break and didn't get action once. I had QQ and lost about 1.5k and then lost my stack with AK. You must win some money with these hands, but I didn't. What are you going to do?

Calling Stations plus Cold Deck equals disaster

So my wife and I planned to head up to Santa Barbara wine country for a romantic Valentine's dinner at the Sunstone Vineyard with a few other couples. She booked a room at the new Chumash resort. I recalled reading the poker listing of the Chumash poker room up on Tworags, so I was hoping to get in a session or two if I’m able to find some time.

We arrived Friday afternoon and she was a bit under the weather and wanted to get a good night sleep in so she would be rested for the big dinner the following night. Okay, I guess I'll just have to go down to the poker room. Not too bad...

I get there a bit past 9pm, and it is packed. They are spreading 4 NL tables at the $100-200 buyin level with 2/5 blinds and one NL table at the $300-500 level with 5/10 blinds. The lists are 15+ names deep, so I also put my name on some limit list and go to the cafe to grab some food. I get back 30 minutes later and the NL list hasn't moved much but my name comes up for the 4/8 limit game after another 15-20 minutes.

I haven't played much limit in about 2 years, and I'm not a big fan. I try to play a pretty straightforward/TAG game and don't enter many pots. I did have AK one time from LP, raised, get two callers and bet the rag flop, bet a blank turn and folded to a bet by an EP player on the river when I missed again.

I also played a few community pots with 8-9 players but never really made a hand for the 45 minutes or so I played. I think I lost about $70 in total when my name finally came up for the $100-200 game.

I buy-in for the max $200. The table consisted of a mix between blue-collar types in their 30’s and 40’s and college kids, probably coming up from UCSB. Everyone was very friendly and seemed to know each other.

To say I was card dead would be an understatement. Not only did I not get many/any premium hands, but when I did play a hand I rarely hit a flop. On several occasions I would raise from late position, continuation bet when it was checked to me and sometimes even fire a second and even third bullet when I could sense that my opponents wanted me to check. Well, in almost all cases I would get called down by opponents with very little – second and third pair type hands, but they were usually good enough against me.

Of course I tried to change gears and wait for big hands, but even then I would usually lose. For example, one time I three bet a guy with QQ, got called and then on an A rag flop the guy checks to me. I felt compelled to bet, the guy agonizes and calls, he checks again on the turn, I check too, he bets the river I call (probably a bit tilted) and he shows AT.

I played until 2:30am and maybe won 3-5 hands the entire time! One time I did stack a guy when I hit trips on the flop and my opponents didn’t believe I had it so they called me down, but hands like that were few and far between. I lost a few buy-ins and never could get anything going. I did have a good rep to get action for my premium hands, but it just didn’t work out for me. As they say… that’s poker!

I did have a good experience and was impressed with the room. The dealers and players were friendly, the action was good and management was very professional. They could use a bigger room with more tables and a bigger waiting area, but other than that I had no complaints and look forward to my next trip up to Santa Barbara!

* There was a guy there who won about 10 buy-ins – he cashed in for $2k which is quite a lot in a $200 max buy-in game. Not only did the guy have an incredible run of cards, but it seemed that every time he hit a big hand, someone else hit a big hand too, but it was just under his hand. At one point he was dealt KK three times in two orbits. Each time he stacked a player who also had a premium hand, just not quite as strong as his. Just an incredible run of cards.

LA Poker Classic - $1k NL event

I got off to a REALLY fast start. We start off with 2500 chips for the 25/25 level (big field – about 450 runners, $1k each). At the end of the 2nd level, I’m a bit over 8k in chips! By far the leader at my table and maybe in the top 5% in the tournament. It was mostly due to good cards. A few hands/situation during the good run.

1) only bad hand. I raise to 100 with AKs from MP, button makes it 600, I’m not sure what to do (what would you do?), I decide to see the flop, miss, he bets, I fold. Feel that it was weak, but also didn’t want to a) risk my stack here, b) be a pussy and just fold.

2) Q6d from button, 3 people in before me at 75, decide to make an iffy call with position, flop comes Kxxd, guy raises, another guy pushes, I call. He’s drawing dead with TPTK. Double up to 3k or so.

3) Raise to 150, I’m on button with 88. Flop comes 865 all hearts. Guy raises half his stack, I push (have him covered by a bit), he calls. It’s not bad, but not great. He has 77 with 7 of hearts. We’re probably about even. He misses.

4) I have KJ from BB, just check my option – 4 way action. Flop comes KKx. I check, they check. Turn blank, but brings a flush draw. I bet 200, am raises to 800, I just call. Turn brings flush, I decide to check call. I check, he checks, I win.

5) KK from EP. I raise, one caller. Flop low, I bet, am raised. I decide to check turn hoping to get action. He checks. I bet river he folds.

6) One or two other hands where I bet PF with good drawing type hands, miss, bet and take down pot. Don’t really lose anything.

So I go into break feeling very, very good about my chances. For rest of the tournament I do not win a hand. Not even one stinken hand! There are 3 significant hands, every one is questionable in my play.

1) Have AKs, (50/100 level). I have 3 100 chips in my hand. For some reason I don’t throw them all in at once. I kind of drop them one at a time, clearly can be called a string bet. Button makes comment about it (I won’t argue if called because I know I screwed up). He decides to just fold. BB takes a while to decide. Also knows about string issue, he decides to call. I’m thrown off a bit, because if he’s going to see the flop, why not call me on string bet; so now I’m thinking he might have a good hand and wants more money in pot. Q high flop, I miss. He checks, I check (would probably bet if the string thing didn’t happen but I'm very suspicious now). Turn, check, check. River, he bets 475 (into 600 pot). Now the board reads Q2627. I’m about to fold, but the bet looks really weak. I have a lot of chips. I’m starting to think that maybe he had an AJ, AT, A9 type hand which would make sense. The only hand I’m concerned about is a small pair. I decide to go with my read and call. He has Q9. Now I don’t think the string bet mattered much, because if he called there, he would have just called a normal 300. I then bet 500 on flop and he probably calls. Now I’m not sure I would fire again on turn. If I did, I probably would have won. My point is, I probably lose the same 800 (given his call) no matter what. Oh, well. Still have tons of chips.

2) Bunch of hands where I have medium pairs or AJ/AQ from lp, raise to 300, get reraised or miss on flop. Probably lose a good 1000-1200.

3) I make it 300 with 99 from MP. Two LP callers, BB who only has 1600 pushes. It’s 1300 to me. I’m getting 2-1. The guy was short-stacked. I put him on two overs or any pair over 55. I think it’s a good call against him, my only issue is the other two callers. Well, since I’m the big stack they probably need QQ-AA to call me. If they had that they probably re-raise me already so I decide to call. They fold. I’m up against AK, so I made a good read and good call. He hits an A and I lose. Oh, well, but this one was a good play – do you agree?

4) Here’s the one that killed me and cost me big. I’m utg with QQ. Blinds are 75/150. Ready to make a standard 500 or so bet, but decide to mix it up and just limp. My main reason is that there have been almost no limped pots at this table and I will re-raise any raiser. Oops, it’s a 5 way limped pot! Flop comes KT2, two hearts. Everyone checks. Turn is the J of hearts. I have the Q. I make it 500, 750 in pot. Guy to my left pushes for 1400 more. Everyone folds to me. So I’m getting 2-1 almost. Hmmm. This was a tough decision. He is short-stacked. I guess it depends on what range I can put him on where I’m ahead. Probably 30% of the time he might have the A with a pair that doesn’t beat my QQ. If he has me beat now, which is likely, I do have the outs. Not sure if I made the right decision here, but I call and he has Q9 for the made straight. I don’t hit and lose. This hand really hurts because if I raise preflop I'm 90% sure he doesn’t call. I either win the blinds or maybe I get one caller so win an additional 500. So I lose 2k here, but would have won between 225-725, so this is a 2500ish swing. Not sure if the limp was terrible, but the call on the turn was very iffy. I have to mix it up and you don’t always just raise with good hands and limp with iffy hands. I was getting re-raised quite a bit before that so it made sense at the time.

5) Go to dinner break with 2400. Still have a chance given that there’s about 40 minutes left at 75/150 level.

6) Play in the 5/10 NL cash game during dinner (400 max buyin). First hand get KK. Raise to 40. Guy to my left calls. In the hand before, just when I sat down, a guy bets 240 on turn with a board of 99k3, and 3 spades. The guy on my left calls after much deliberation. The better then pushes another 200 blind before the river. The river brings a spade. Turns out that the guy to my left thought he had A9, but actually had A8. He’s on tilt now when in the hand with me. Flop comes J high. He only has 120 left so I push (95 in pot, want to look a bit suspicious with over bet). He calls and says, please don’t tell me you can beat the J. I say yes and now he’s really bummed, until the river brings an A and he turns over AJ. Oh, well, had a good dinner and only lost about 70 in all.

7) Get back to tournament. Am committed to playing good/patient poker. No need to panic, still have plenty of time. About the 4th hand I get AKs in mid position. Make it 525 to go. Blind calls. Flop comes JJ5. He checks. I have 1800 left. Hmmm. Do I want to be a pussy and just check and then allow him to take it on turn? If I bet, what good is any bet other than a push? I decide to bet the pot, around 1100. The 500 or so I'm leaving behind doesn't mean much, but it seemed like a good compromise at the time. It doesn't really matter when he pushes, I call and he turns over JJ for flopped quads. I think I’ve seen this movie before (I lost in the main event two years ago when my boat lost to flopped quads)! Not sure what the right play here was. His call PF could easily be a AQ, AT, A9, KQ, or a pair that folds to my push. Do I just give up the hand here and continue to grind? Not sure…

So all-in all, the tournament was a huge disappointment given where I was. Once I had the large stack I really wanted to play solid poker and grind up. Did I play terrible? Not really. I didn’t catch any breaks, and perhaps made a few iffy plays.

** One other interesting story. A guy at my table is supposed one of the top, if not the top internet tournament players. The guy next to me told me that he’s BeLowaBove (Kevin Saul). On about the 3rd hand he’s in a pot with a guy to his left. On the turn the guy bets about the pot and Saul calls. On the river (the flush comes), the guy bets a sizeable amount and Saul takes a while to decide and calls. The guy mucks his hand. Saul does not want to show his hand. We all tell him, as does the dealer, that he has to show. He will not show. We try calling a floor person but it’s the 3rd or 4th hand and there is no floor person to be found so this holds up play for a few minutes, which sucks because it’s the 25/25 level. At one point one guy at the table (a local pro) gives him static and Saul asks the guy if he’s Israeli. I don’t think Saul meant much by it, I think he thought he knew him, but the guy took it to mean that he was being anti-samitic. Of course the ruling was that he needed to show. He shows a Q high flush. Not sure why he didn’t want to show. Very weird – perhaps he didn’t have the odds to make the call on the turn, but it turns out he definitely did with the implied odds from the river bet. Anyway… a little while later the Israeli guy doesn’t have any 100 chips and asks Saul to make change – he has tons of 100’s. He won’t. This really set the table off. Later on people were being a bit antagonistic towards him and he doesn’t understand why.

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