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CA State Poker Championships (Commerce) - $545 NL

Commerce Casino
First Satellite

I made it the Commerce around 3pm. The tournament wasn’t starting until 7pm so I had plenty of time to play a one table satellite. They were running plenty of $120’s so I immediately sat down at one and it started within a few minutes. I only recognized a few regular local pros at the table. A few of the guys seemed pretty green and nervous. One guy asked if anyone was interested in a $50 last longer and I was the only taker. This in itself told me that the table was inexperienced because at the WSOP about 5-6 guys would always want to do it.

We start with $1k in tournament chips and 25/25 blinds/15 min levels. I was fairly card dead and didn’t play many hands. Given the fact that we only start with $1k in chips, it’s dangerous to splash around too much at the start, so I tried to find a good hands. Unfortunately it never happened. When the blinds got to 50/100 I was in the SB with AT and about 550 chips. The button had me covered and pushed. I thought for just a bit and decided to call. He was on a steal with Q8 and my hand held up. On the very next hand I raise to 250 with KJs from the button when folded to me. The BB pushes for 300 more so I’m getting over 2-1, which made it an easy call. He had A8 so I was 46% to win and a J on the turn made my 46% good. My last-longer partner busted out soon there-after so now I’m only in for $70.

Unfortunately, nothing much good happened after my KJ hand. I still never saw a premium hand and didn’t have many steal opportunities. With blinds at 200/400 and 4 people left I’m in the BB and the button pushes and has me covered. I have 850 left after posting the BB and look down at 89s. Not great, but it’s 850 to win 1450 so I’m getting 1.7 to 1. His range is super wide here, likely two overs which I would be 41% to, but he could have one over too with a hand like A5 so I would be a bit closer to 50/50, he could have an under pair which would put me at 50/50 or an overpair which is the only hand I don’t want to see; but this is by far his least likely holding. More important, was the fact that after this hand I have to post the SB and will be left with 650. Any hand I play for the next few hands I’ll definitely need to go to showdown and I won’t be able to win this many chips. Anyway, what seemed at first to be a so-so decision became an easy call for me. He had K7, so I was in okay shape, but his hand held. If you’re interested, here’s a link to an EValuator scenario which looks at this:

Link to scenario 1

This scenario assumes all 4 holdings for my opponent are equal, and of course the are not. Here’s what I believe is a bit more realistic based on the situation:

Link to scenario 2

Second Satellite

It was still only 5pm when I finished the first satellite so I signed up for a second $120. This time I recognized about 5-6 of the players from previous tournaments. Warren Karp was seated to my right. Warren told me about a horrible beat he suffered in the Main Event this year of the WSOP. It was day 5 and they were down to 70 players. Warren had about $1 million in chips and was on the button with blinds of 15/30k. An UTG player makes it $100k and it folds to Warren. He looks down at AA. He feels that the UTG player was likely to have a hand in the JJ-KK/AK range and felt there was a decent likelihood that he would call an all-in. This player had about $1.2 million.. The average stack was about $1.5 million. Warren pushes and the UTG player calls quickly. Guess what he had? 55! Can you believe this guy plays for 5 days, made it this far, is in reach of going really far and calls off almost his entire stack with 55! It boggles the mind. Of course the guy turns a 5 and Warren is out. Oh, well! Warren still had a very nice payday, but it was very painful.

On to the satellite. On the very first hand the UTG player limps for 25. I'm just to his left and look down at 67 and decide to call too. The button and both blinds call. The flop comes 389. A straight flush draw… not bad. The SB makes it 75, the BB calls, I call and the other two players call. The turn was the beautiful 5 so now I have the nuts. The SB pushes, the BB calls (what is going on here?) and I call. SB had 99 so he flopped trips and the BB had A 3 so he has a flush draw. I manage to dodge about 15 outs and triple up. Not bad. I tightened up a bit for a while, but did win a nice pot when I see a flop with KQ and hit trip Q's on the flop.

We got down to 3 players and I was the chip leader, but when one of the remaining players took out the other guy he had a 30-50% chip lead on me. He asked if I wanted to chop and offered me 500 in tournament chips and I took it. He was only getting about $100 more than me, so it seemed like a pretty good deal given that the blinds were now at 400/800 and he was a solid tournament player so it would be a crap shoot going forward.


I didn’t recognize anyone at my table, but for the most part the majority of players were solid and experienced. This was a big contrast to my experience at the WSOP where 7 out of 10 players were extremely green and nervous at each starting table. We start with $2k in chips and 25/25 blinds. Levels are 40 mins. This is a very fast structure and you need to get hands and quickly build your stack or you’ll be dead. The next level is 25/50, followed by 50/100 and then 75/150.

I was completely card dead for the first 3 levels. I never saw a pocket pair and the only big A I was dealt was AQ on the 3rd hand. My one mistake – perhaps – is that I splashed around quite a bit. I often limped from MP through LP with suited connectors and I called a few raises from the blinds with hands like AT. I never hit a flop, but I did have a few draws so lost a bit more when I called a bet to see another street. I won one hand in total during these levels – I had KQs and I called a guy down on the flop and turn with a K high board. If he pushed on the river I might have folded, but he checked on the river (I was out of position and checked to him on every street).

It might sound like I was playing very weak-tight, but the cards really dictated my play. Sure I could have made some big bluffs with nothing, but there really was no need for anything crazy yet. I had time -- or so I thought I did!

Towards the end of the 50/100 level I was down to 1300 in chips. I felt it was still just a bit early to push to steal the blinds and I didn’t like raising with only 13bb, so my goal was to go for a steal raise all-in. I couldn’t find a good situation, but then was dealt 88 UTG. As I said, I could have pushed, but felt it would be better to limp, hoping for someone to try and raise and then I would push. That’s what happened. UTG+1 also limps (very loose player) and a somewhat loose player in MP makes it 325 and I push. He pegs me as a tight player and went into the tank. He’s getting about a 50% overlay on his call. He asks if I have QQ/JJ and mumbles something like 'these are the only hands I want to see.'

This tells me that he has AK and he’s worried I have AA or KK. I really think if I said something like 'not QQ/JJ, a little better but you might have one over, who knows!' he might fold. But to be honest, I was more than happy to go against AK and get back into the tournament so I didn’t say much of anything. He counts out the pot and comes to the conclusion that he needs to call. He did have AK and I’m really not sure why it took him so long. He wasn’t concerned about the player to the left of me because this guy was very loose and it was clear he didn’t have much.

Of course an A came on the flop and I was out. The good news was that it was quick and painless and I got to go home at a reasonable hour and watch some of the US Open Women’s semi-finals on TIVO.*


EdmondDantes says

Nice report. How many players are they pulling for these events?


lakong says

I think they had about 300 for my event.


Mr_Taterhead says

Nice report. I cant wait until I pop my LA poker cherry.

Good Luck


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