Archive Mar 2009: pokerpurity

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Another FT + Full Analysis

I spent a few hours these last few days, railing some of the bigger online tournaments. Because I’m in Sydney, a lot of the Sunday tournaments’ final tables form during the morning hours, so I was pleasantly watching the action with a cup of coffee in my hand after a relaxing night’s sleep (I feel for the Europeans in these tournaments).

I was watching out of general interest, but obviously also paying attention so that I might pick up on the intricacies of late tournament play – something I openly confessed to needing assistance with, in my last blog.

In fact, I’ve really gone back to becoming a student of the game and this blog has played a vital role. Because I’m reporting HOW I do (and more importantly WHAT I do) I seem to be more alert and more deliberate in my actions. Because I also wanna do well, I’m a lot more intent on improving my established skill-set by way of learning from others – as well as myself. Just yesterday, I decided to do a full review of all hands from my most recent MTT and I went about it as analytically as I could. I figured the objective would be to gain a more thorough understanding of an MTT in general, but also try to unlock any of my inherent traits, which might be hurting my overall success. Here’s what I got:

The last time I played I – incredibly – managed to make another final table. My tournament selection this time was as follows:

Tournament 1: $5.50 rebuy MTT – 14th place Profit USD -15.50
Tournament 2: $22 Freezeout MTT – 5th place Profit USD 122.00

I thought I’d played well throughout the tournament (another in-the-money finish, 5th overall – I mean, come on – that’s not bad right?), but after having reviewed my hands I’m not so sure. A few stats first:

For the sake of this analysis, the following definitions apply:

- Hands played = Hand that did not fold preflop
- Early Position = UTG, UTG+1 and UTG+2
- Middle Position = MP1, MP2 and HJ
- Late Position = CO, Dealer


Comments: I don’t have much to compare this to, but off-hand seems ok. I’m playing roughly 23% of hands and don’t think it should be a lot more (or less, for that sake) than that.


This really bothers me. The limped hands aren’t that bad – except for one. Actually, they’re all from the SB except for 1, so it’s not all bad. Still - just because somebody limps ahead of you, does NOT mean you need to follow suit (no pun intended) and limp along with Qd9h. No, the bothersome part is the number of hands I reraised. I did it twice – both times out of the blinds and both times with a pair (9s9h & JsJh). Incidentally, I won both hands but not the point. With my new focus on late-stage tournament play, I’ve come to realize that this is a leak of mine. I’m simply not protecting my chips well enough. Need to start looking for spots, at that stage of the tourney, where I can come over the top of a raiser, when I think he doesn’t have it.


These figures seem fair enough. Except for 1 hand (raised 7d8d from UTG, just ‘cause it’s soooo pretty) I had the goods each time I raised from EP (inter alia, AA twice), I was very solid from MP as well (KK twice) and apart from a poorly played 6s5s that I raised on the button, as well as a loosey-goosey call with Ac2h from the SB, I can’t find too many errors in my LP/blinds play too much.

The last statistic I’ll share is my ‘frequency of involvement’ – a phrase I coined just now. Please send me a couple of bucks, if you decide to use it. This table is pretty crude, but it proves my point.

Hands 1-30: 9 involvements
Hands 31-60: 8 involvements
Hands 61-90: 9 involvements
Hands 91-120: 8 involvements
Hands 121-150: 1 involvement
Hands 151-180: 7 involvements

From my last blog, “ Once I get close to the bubble, I definitely try to loosen up my game and thereby take advantage of the weak/timid players ”. Well, that’s just a load of bullshit isn’t it? A convenient little sound-bite that I probably picked up from a poker-player with ACTUAL BALLS between his legs. Geez, I’m a pathetic fucking wimp aren’t I. Rhetorical. Don’t answer that.

Starting bankroll: USD 5,173.13
Session result: USD +106.50
New bankroll: USD 5,279.63
Days left until Aussie Millions 2010: 289

More to come. Thanks for reading.

2 sessions - 1 blog, back-to-back final tables

As the title of this blog hints at, I’m running really well at the moment. I’m not sucking out with 3-outers, in fact I’m not really getting myself into bad spots – it’s more ‘running well’ in the all-of-my-70/30-spots are-holding-up kinda way and as I’m sure you’ll agree with, that just creates a yummy feeling deep down inside, hard to compare with anything else.

I’ve bundled two sessions into one blog this time, cause I couldn’t be bothered to write one for each. My latest sessions involved the following activity/results:

a) $6.60 rebuy MTT – 10th place (FINAL TABLE); Profit USD 25.46
b) $11 Freezeout MTT – 10th place (FINAL TABLE); Profit USD 43.00
c) $11 STT, 6 players – 1st place; Profit USD 31.00
d) $11 STT Deepstack, 10 players – 3rd place; Profit USD 9.00
e) $15 Freezeout – 23rd place; Profit USD 21.36
f) $7.70 rebuy – 27th place; Profit USD 19.09

So 4 MTTs and 2 STTs and I made the money in all of them. Total profit was no more than 148 dollars, but it’s evidence enough that I’m doing something right and that the larger payday is somewhere around the – hopefully not too distant – corner.

MTTs (a) and (b) were pretty standard. In the Freezeout I only JUST made the final table, without actually ever sitting at it, when two of us went out at the same time – he having had fewer chips to start the hand with. My shove was pretty standard. Blinds were 1250/2500/a250, we were 5-handed and with a 25K stack I picked up A10 in the CO. Big blind happened to have jacks – so be it.

My exit in the $6 rebuy was a little more questionable though and after reviewing the hand, I think it’s a VERY marginal situation. Next time I might fold. The final table had just formed and on the 2nd hand I pick up KQ in the CO. Blinds are 2500/5000/a500 and I have the second-shortest stack at 36K. Bear in mind though, that everyone was playing insanely tight leading up to the FT, so the average was no more than approx. 60K. We’re nine-handed and it folds to MP+2 who shoves for 62K, folds to me. What’s correct here? In my experience, as soon as you get to the final table, people loosen up considerably, so I think it’s fair to assume that his range is not just JJ+ here.

I remember clicking call and not liking it very much. Based on the stack-blind ratio it seemed like an insta-call opportunity, yet I wasn’t feelin’ it. My mood didn’t improve, when the dealer snap-called right after. MP+2 flips over two red nines and the dealer showed AK. Hmmm… still unsure.

Not much to tell about the other tourneys or the STTs for that sake. One thing did however become very clear. I have failed to adjust properly to bubble-play and late-stages-play in MTTs. Especially one guy in the $15 freezeout was a real pain in the neck, but I was basically letting him walk all over me. It dawned on me when I was reading Annette_15’s blog earlier. She was referencing a few articles on the Betfair site written by Marcus Bateman and in particular one of them was a real eye-opener. Once I get close to the bubble, I definitely try to loosen up my game and thereby take advantage of the weak/timid players – a sound strategy. I simply failed to be aware that someone might be watching me, like I was watching them. Two to my left was this douchebag, who kept coming over the top of me. God, did I feel owned.

Anyway, something I’ll try to be more aware of.

The one last thing I’ll mention is volume. I’m clearly not putting in enough volume right now to make any serious headway towards my goal, so that will need to be rectified. Right now I’m just happy with my results and hope to keep it going.

Starting bankroll: USD 5,024.22
Session result: USD +148.91
New bankroll: USD 5,173.13
Days left until Aussie Millions 2010: 294

More to come. Thanks for reading.

Two deep runs

Tournament 1: NLHE, 5 dollar buy-in & 584 entrants. $2,000 Guaranteed Prize-pool.
Tournament 2: NLHE, 25 dollar buy-in & 135 entrants. Double-stack event.

That was the line-up for the day. As I hinted in my last post, I made deep runs in both of them and played well for the most part. A few hand histories coming up – you be the judge.

A general note first though. I’ve been doing some thinking about what my general edge in tournaments is. Obviously, I think I’m better than the average player – otherwise I might as well flush the buy-in down the toilet, but that aside, I doubt I’d be able to put a number on my ‘skill level’ if I tried. Does it really matter? Well, probably not, but sometimes I like to boost myself a little bit, before going into battle and reminding myself that at a 10-handed table, at least say… 6 other players are worse than I am, oftentimes does the trick!

Having just written the above paragraph and knowing that mates of mine might be reading this, I just realized how pleased I am that I didn’t start talking about my skill level OUT-LOUD! Make no mistake, had I done so in their vicinity – at least 99% of them would be either rolling on the floor laughing or barking ‘BULLSHIT’ behind muffled coughs. That’s just good-natured needling and part of how we roll. So many tiers of irony and sarcasm, you wouldn’t believe it. Wouldn’t have it any other way though.

Last thought on skill-level needed when playing MTTs. This might seem radical to some, might just seem stupid to others, but consider this: If you are consistently the second-worst player at any table, but the best at identifying and exploiting the worst player, you should have a theoretically sound chance of finishing 9th in every tournament you play. Right? Talk about random thoughts…

So, I played the aforementioned two tournaments. Just went through my hand histories and I saw a total of 185 hands in the $5 tourney and 213 hands in the $25 tourney. Won’t bore you with all the hands, but here are a few interesting ones:

NLHE, 5dollar. Standard online tourney which starts me off with 1500 chips and 10/20 blinds. I raise good hands during the first two levels, but don’t get much action and it’s not until the third level (20/40) that I find a good spot. With 1415 in my stack I open AQ to 110 in MP+2 and am called by the dealer and both blinds.

Pot 440, FLOP: 6A9

Check to me and I bet 280, roughly 2/3 of the pot. The dealer, who started the hand with 1870 in chips, now moves all-in and the blinds fold. Without a very specific read, there’s no way I’m ever folding here and the fact that there’s a flushdraw out there helps. I call, he shows A3 which doesn’t hit. A very easy double early in the tournament.

For a long time, nothing interesting happens. I’m not getting out-of-line and because of my early double I have absolutely no reason to. During the 40/80 level I raise two queens to 220 from UTG, get two callers and take it down on the J-high flop. No tough decisions required.

I do get a little lucky during that same level, as not too long after the queens, I find myself in the HJ with two jacks. UTG minraises and it folds to me. I hate this spot. The UTG raise completely polarizes his range (at least in my experience) and I have no idea what to do with my hand. As a result, I just call the 160. It then folds to the BB who moves all-in for 3900 (covers both of us) and UTG SNAP-calls with his stack of 1600. It’s on me and I have an easy fold, guessing the BB is in big trouble. Turns out it’s the BB who’s got the kings, whereas UTG must’ve thought he was picking off a steal, as he shows a measly A7. (Note: Wouldn’t have put A7 in the UTG’s range and have decided to chalk it up to poor play – just because I don’t know what else to do with it, but I’ll be aware of it in the future).

By the time we get to the 60/120 level, my stack is still hovering around 3K with no interesting confrontations to write home about. I then face another UTG minraise:

I’m UTG+1 with QJ and again I just call the 240. MP+1 calls as well, as does the BB. 4 players:

Pot 1020, FLOP: AQ8

The original raiser checks to me and I remember checking my stack at this point. Only in the last few months have I become more aware of my bet-sizing and what opportunities you can create for yourself by calculating what one bet will leave you with, stack-wise, for subsequent streets. After the flop I had 2820 in my stack and was getting ready to bet. Since I might not have the best hand on the flop, I figured I might also need a substantial bet (close to the pot) for the turn, if I’m called on the flop and don’t make my hand. Incidentally, my ‘usual’ flop c-bet would be 2/3 of the pot and that worked out nicely here too. By betting 660, I was leaving myself with 2160 for the turn, which – if called by 1 player – would represent approx 90% of the pot. MP+1 decided to tag along as the only one.

POT 2340, TURN: 6

It’s always nice to get there, but in this spot I was so ready to jam my stack on a semi-bluff, that I really didn’t know what to do with a made hand. My days of playing Omaha eventually took over, meaning I stuck it all in there anyway. It has the added value of actually looking like an all-in-desperation-bluff, which is sometimes rewarded in low-stakes-MTTs. In this case it was – MP+1 thought for a little bit and called me with A10. Stack afterwards: 6660.

Jumping ahead to 125/250/a25 after a few uneventful levels, I find “that one big hand” which all of a sudden catapults me up towards the chiplead. My stack has at this point grown into approx 10K:

UTG limps with 3700 behind and it folds to me on the HJ with 89. Up until this point, the table has been quite acquiescent towards EP limpers, creating limp-festivals. With that reasoning, I decide to limp behind with my suited connector. The CO, who just covers me, comes along and it folds to the BB who checks. 4 players:

POT 1375, FLOP: 489

I’m obviously loving this flop, but hadn’t quite counted on getting as much action as I did. BB leads for 1350, UTG calls and now it’s on me. The pot is an awkward 4075 and I’ve got roughly 9500 – again a spot where I’m not quite sure of myself. Stick it all-in now because I’m getting it in no matter what happens, or raise a little bit because there’s value in letting them come over the top of me? Still don’t know. I end up making it 4000 to go and then something unexpected happens. The CO, next to act, moves all-in. BB folds, UTG calls and I… well, also call hoping for the best.

UTG shows: JJ - CO shows: A10. Just checked the odds calculator and those two hands combined are approximately 50% versus my hand. Guess I only needed positive equity against the CO, but still – should/could I have played this differently? Think I’d have to do the same thing if faced with a similar situation. As you might have guessed, board bricks out and a little more than 25K in chips slide my way.

At blind level 300/600/a100 it folds to me on the button with 97, I raise to 1800 and the BB calls. I c-bet 3200 on the 5JQ flop, he moves all-in and I have to fold. Not happy with this play. I had been opening quite a few pots and should have known that somebody was bound to play back at me soon – 9,7 offsuit just isn’t good enough for me to go into battle with.

More patient but boring tournament play for the next few levels and by the time we reach 500/1000/a100 I’m sitting on circa 20K in chips. On the button I pick up AK. The CO, who covers me, makes it 3000 – I reraise all-in and the BB calls all-in for a little less than 10K. CO folds, I’m up against 77 and win, when I flop an ace. Stack is now 35K.

We’re now down to two tables in the tournament and I pick a weird line in this next hand.
Blinds 800/1600/a160. I’m the SB with 44. We’re 8-handed and 1 before the HJ raises preflop to 4800. I’ve got 32K and he covers me. I’m the only caller.

POT 12480, FLOP: 45K

Basically, GIN! What SHOULD my thought process be in this hand??

A: “Down to 16 in the tourney, you’ve flopped a huge hand, just check it to the other guy and hope he bets. You’re not afraid of giving away free cards, cause he’ll probably bet draws anyway.”

B: “If you lead into him now, he’ll probably remember that you did the exact same thing 133 hands ago against that other guy, who called you down all the way and picked off your ridiculous bluff, wherefore it would make the most reverse-opposite sense for you to bet out now and completely throw him off. In fact, it is almost guaranteed that he is an absolute maniac, even though he hasn’t shown that yet, but against you he probably will be – cause they’re ALL out to get you – so hurry up and bet into the guy, so that he can push all-in with his hand that most likely hasn’t hit anything”.

I bet 7500, he folded and I felt like an idiot.

I didn’t make the final table in this tournament, but not much I could’ve done: Still 8-handed but with blinds at 1000/2000/a200, I pick up AK UTG+1 and make my standard raise to 6000. The CO who was nursing a 6BB stack moves all-in and a little surprisingly the SB (who covers me) just calls. When it gets back to me, I re-shove my stack for 33,200 total. SB now folds and I’m racing against two red jacks. He makes a set on the flop and wins the hand.

After this hand, I was still left with a little more than 21K, which wasn’t too bad at that point. However, the tables had just been balanced, we were now 7-handed AND the blinds had just gone up to 1250/2500/a250. When I saw a pair of 5’s UTG I insta-shoved. Guess that should be standard when your M is slightly less than 8, but it still hurts when the SB calls with AQ and you go out in 14th place.

The NLHE 25dollar tournament I played simultaneously and ended up coming 13th there. I busted almost at the exact same time as the 5dollar tourney and also here my final hand was a small pair not holding up against two overcards. I’ll get there eventually, but the Aussie Millions is still quite far away.

Starting bankroll: USD 4,991.90
Session result: USD +32.32
New bankroll: USD 5,024.22
Days left until Aussie Millions 2010: 305

Until next time. Thanks for reading.

Challenge details

Well, ladies and gentlemen – I suppose we’re now officially ’off’, what with my first poker-related entry posted online for all to see and this third entry overall being composed right now. I’m currently at home, sitting in the office/guest room of my Sydney apartment. My girlfriend and I just returned from something as mundane as grocery shopping which also included stopping by the bottle shop for a bottle of white wine and a six-pack of “Hahn Super Dry – Premium Low Carb Beer” – one of which is now right next to me. I guess the ‘low carb’ bit is slightly gay, but to me the stuff tastes just as good as the beer-gut-inducing alternative, so what the hell.

The unaccompanied beer-drinking is new to me and not something I aim to pursue in any way, but when I went to get the white wine, it was a spur-of-the-moment kind of decision. I guess I’m looking to move away from only picking some up, when I know that mates of mine are coming by to get wasted! I’ll be 29 this winter (that’s actually ‘summer’ to all of you in the northern hemisphere) and I feel it’s only natural the way my beer consumption has evened itself out over the past few years. Not nearly as often do I find myself downing 10 bottles on a single night, whereas having one from time to time at home - “just ‘cause” - happens more regularly.

Back to the figurative felt. Initially, I promised you all a bit more information about myself, as well as some more detail on the rules that I’ve laid down for this challenge. As others before me have done quite well in establishing frameworks for similar things, I’ll be courteously steeling from them. Here are the ground rules:

I will start with a bankroll of USD 5,000.00 and my overall goal will be to grow that bankroll into enough money for me to buy into the main event + all preliminary events at the Aussie Millions 2010. I will be playing ONLY sit’n’gos and MTTs – NO cash games. Cash games have been and will always be my poison, but I have never done well in them on a consistent basis. Whether they’ve made me a better poker player, I don’t know. I’ve read stuff from some people who might make that case, but I’ve never known exactly what the facts behind that specific argument are.

Limitations: I am sticking to the 100 buy-in rule as a BARE minimum but in the strictest fashion, meaning a USD 50+5 tournament is currently not within my reach, as that would require a balance of 5500 dollars. Same thing applies to rebuy tournaments, as I’ll probably be getting into a few of those. If I choose to play 20+2 rebuy, I am currently allowed either 1 rebuy or 1 addon, but definitely not both (meaning, I won't be playing any for the time being). Bankroll management has never been my forte, so in order for this to succeed, I’ll be getting tough on myself about this – absolutely no exceptions. Moreover, never more than 3 tables at a time. Each time I’ve tried multi-tasking to the tune of 4, 5 or even 6 tables, my results have suffered severely. Don’t have it in me – at least not yet, so none of that. Finally, NO TURBO tournaments! They’re just crapshoots anyway and if that’s what I wanted; the Sydney Star City Casino is only a 10-minute walk away.

Another guideline I’ve decided on, includes posting progress reports/random blog rants (dependant on my mood at the time) at least twice a week. I have no intention of posting play-by-plays all the time (so fret not!), but will try to do so once in a while if people find them interesting. Also, they are a good way for me to analyze how I’m playing (edit: what I’m doing wrong!) – so perhaps you’ll be seeing more than ‘just a few’ in the months to come.

Guess that wraps that up. My next entry has pretty much written itself already. I just played two tournaments side-by-side (starting approx 10 minutes apart) and proceeded to go deep in both of them – more to come.

Thanks for reading.


Let’s get down to business right away – I might fill you in on some of the questions I posed in my intro-post a little later, but this is supposed to be about poker, so off we go.
The challenge was just waiting for me, so I got stuck right in, playing a couple of tables at a time, with my action spread out over SNGs and MTTs. Here’s a breakdown of what I played and how I did:

a) $3 - Turbo Rebuy, MTT (Finished 34 of 96)
b) $5 - Freezeout, MTT (Finished 26 of 109)
c) 3 x $10 SNG, 10-player (Finished 5th, 6th and 7th respectively)
d) 1 x $10 SNG ‘Double Stack’, 10-player (Finished 1st)
e) 1 x $10 SNG, ‘Double Stack’, 6- player (Finished 1st)

I played one more tournament, a NLHE $3 Rebuy with only 32 entries. Since this is my first playing-related post and since I actually went ‘deep’ in that tournament, I thought I’d try to relay a play-by-play for you here.

Wow, what a poor showing of me in the first 3 levels. I instant rebuy like I always do and then proceed to donate chips, as if I’m UNICEF and I’ve found myself at a table with Somalia, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. I raise KQ from late position during the third level and both blinds come along. First decent hand I’ve played so far – up until then it’s been all about reraising 5 8 from the blinds (cause I ”knew” the cut-off was a poser) only for him to move all-in and embarass the crap out of my reading abilities. Anyway, flop is J 8 4 and the SB leads with a pot-bet. Wow. Are u kidding me? This was my c-bet-take-it-down opportunity. That is about as annoying as a kick to the groin. I curse the SB for being a twit and expertly muck my backdoor flush & straight draw.

Am still giving away chips here and there, but in general I’m just card-dead and a little steamed when I pick up 6 6 in the BB. Holy crap. A pocketpair. What to do, what to do. So many possibilities. Here we go boys. I’m sitting upright, ignoring my other tables and getting ready to do some serious set-mining ( slightly obsessive at this point, talking to my screen, urging my fellow combatants to raise with 4's so that I might 'take them to school' hmmm... ). We’re 8-handed and UTG+1 raises 11BB (E-LE-VEN, yeah that’s right) to 660, with 3400 behind. No reads at this point. It folds to me. I’ve got 60 invested, a stack of 2300 and hot air coming out of my ears. I call like a pro, while I hold my hand up in front of the screen and cover the flop. Piously, I start chanting for a six to have hit, while I click the check-button and wait for ‘Dr.11BB’ to make his move. He’s all-in for 3400 into a 1350 pot. My hand darts from the screen and I’m faced with 7 J 4 . ACE-KING!! It’s gotta be?!? My trigger-finger hits CALL like it’s on a mission and like the moron I am, I stare dumbfoundedly at two black nines. Of course it wasn’t AK. Time for my first double-rebuy.

40-80 level (4th) comes and goes pretty easily. Pick up K Q in the BB and call a 4xBB raise from the SB with approximately 3000 in my stack. Thinking about it now, that should’ve been a reraise, but confidence was in short supply at the moment. Flop comes ace-high with a couple of spades and he pumps a pot-bet into me. I fold and pray to whomever is listening that a rush of cards might miraculously find its way to me.

We move to the 50-100 level before my prayers are answered. JACKS in the BB. I salute the screen and check my stack. 21BB. Perfect for shoving over an opening raise. Pleeeeeaaaaaaasssseeeee… somebody raise! UTG goes all in for 1200. Chi-ching! Folds to the SB-bigstack who comes over the top for 15K. Hmmm… Still think I need to call here. I basically only need to worry about the SB and only 3 hands beat me here. I call hoping for the best. UTG shows queens and SB shows 8’s. Starting strengths hold up and I start the next hand with 20BB. Even-Steven.

At this point I am absolutely cool as a cucumber. As levelheaded as a leek or something...ummm... less weird. Except I'm not. What is going on here? The robotic non-emotional poker playing persona that I aim to emulate is completely out the window. These guys aren't very good, it's a 3-dollar buyin for crying out loud and for some reason I am NOT in the midst of calculating how many percent of the total chips in play are in front of ME?! This cannot be. Ok. Easy now. Breathe. Just concentrate on the next hand. Play it optimally. Play it like a pro. No emotion. Nothing. Nada. Here we go...

In the SB. K Q. DING-DING-DING!! Might as well have been aces at this point. We’re 6-handed, the cutoff raises to 300 and covers me. Easy. All-in-steal. He thinks for about 5 seconds and calls with A J . OH COME ON! What a sick donk-call! What is this guy thinking?!? I was clearly repping AK+ in that spot – how can he call?!? I do my very best Matusow impersonation, asking that the cards help me “ONE TIME”! No such luck. Board runs out 10-high.

Rebuy at this point or simply let it go? Normally a question I’d actually ask myself, but in this case it was never an issue. Another $6.60 into the tournament with my INSTANTANEOUS double-rebuy. Buys me 30BBs and at this level, that’s gotta be +EV, right? “Shrek, have you seen donkey? Yeah, he’s right here.” Meehh…

I don’t have to wait long before I find a new spot to get involved. Still sixhanded and still 50/100. UTG min-raises, next guy flats and in the next seat is me with A 10 . I also elect to just call and for some inexplicable reason, both blinds fold. Flop is: 3 A 9 and UTG bets 100 into the 600 pot. The guy on my right calls and now it’s up to me. I make it 500 total, which in hindsight probably should’ve been a bit more. UTG is the only one to call. Turn: 8 and now he leads with 1100. I vomit – just a little – and then reraise allin, only 1200 more. He snaps and shows 8 9 . (*sigh*) Before I get to scream obscenities at the screen, the 10 of hearts floats vaporously in on the river.

Vindication is upon me. The tides are turning and in a weak moment of vanity, I lift up my right arm and kiss my own bicep. Oh yeah, the bicep pulled through on that one baby! I feel like I’ve just had an 8-hour nap followed by an icy-cold shower. I am BACK! 6450 in my stack and the cards are favouring me. I am Rick James! Bring it bitches!

A few hands later, last blindlevel before the addon and I call a cut-off raise with ace-jack offsuit from the SB. Flop comes king-high and as naturally as ever, I bet 300 into the 540 pot and the CO insta-mucks. I just knew. Simple as that. Some times you just know.
Same type of scenario next hand I play. 6-handed with 60/120 blinds. I’m the CO. HJ minraises and I call with A 7 . Dealer and BB come along as well. Flop comes down: 10 Q 2 (1020 pot). As soon as I see it, I know what has to happen. BB checks, original raiser pumps a pot-bet in there with 6700 behind and I jam my stack with my conceivable 12-outer. Two folds and the original raiser tanks. When he finishes reading my soul, he decides to call with Q 9 . I’m not even close to breaking a sweat. I’m just waiting for the fat lady – HIS fat lady, that is. The turn bricks, but the river is (obviously!) the 3 and suddenly I’m sitting pretty with a 16,4K stack. BOO-YAH!

From here on, I start picking up a lot of uncontested pots. Usually preflop, but if not – a continuation bet seems to do the trick. Am not bullying too hard, but am finding it natural to raise with K,8 suited and similar hands. The first interesting spot comes up after the addon and break.

5-handed, 80/160. My stack approx 18K. I’m in the BB with Q 6 . Villain is UTG with a 12K stack. Villain limps, folds to SB who completes. I check.

Flop: Q 9 7 . I check-call a 240 bet, while the SB folds. No need to get out of line just yet. Turn: 6 . Hmmm, if I was behind on the flop, I have now… ahem… ’outsmarted’ him. I check and hope he bets. Another small bet, this time 480. His range is pretty wide here I think, but I’m liking my two pair and make it 1280 total. He calls fairly quickly. River: 2 . Good card – I think. At least all the draws missed, unless he’s in there smiling with 10 8 and is just waiting to ankle-whip me. Pot is 3520 and I elect to bet 2100. If he comes over the top, I’m folding, but some hands might still pay me off here. He calls and shows Q 4 ! Had him all along and never knew it… My stack just keeps on growing.

Having been 5-handed for quite a while, our table finally breaks and I find myself as one of the big-stacks at a new 9-handed table. My very first hand I pick up A Q one off the HJ and inexplicably decide to misplay my hand like a complete moron. UTG limps (80/160) and I raise it to 450 total (again, not enough). BB calls as does UTG. (Pot 1430) Flop: 2 9 J. Checks to me and I c-bet 1100. Standard until here I think, except that 1000 would’ve sufficed on the flop. UTG calls. (Pot 3630) Turn: 3. He checks again and I fire once more, 2500 this time. He calls quickly. Now, something is wrong. I have absolute no idea what his range is, cause I’m not even considering it. I’m ashamed to say that I’m playing level1-thinking-poker at this point, focusing only on trying to “buy” the pot, without a clear thought process to back me up. This epiphany dawns on me, just after my bet on the turn. By the time the river hits, I have no clue what to do.

River: K. He checks to me again and mysteriously I see the mouse go for the bet-sizing button. I bet 5500 and he instantly comes over the top for the rest of his chips. There I sit, facing an additional 4000 chips to call, which I can’t. I fold and experience one of those moments in poker, where one is absolutely humbled by just how little it takes to COMPLETELY make an ass out of yourself at the table.

For obvious reasons, the effects of this hand are not pretty. All of a sudden I’m off again – raising when I shouldn’t, calling when I definitely shouldn’t and generally just bleeding chips. It takes me a few levels to recover and when I get involved again, it’s with a dismal 4800 stack and blinds at 125/250/a25. We’re 8-handed and I’m UTG+2 with J Q . UTG limps, 1 fold, I limp, folds to the SB who completes and the BB checks. (Pot 1200) Flop: 5 6 J. SB leads for 250, it folds to me and I’m just contemplating how I can get the rest of my chips in the pot. I make it 1250 to go and after a moment’s consideration, he calls. Pot is now 3700 and the turn is: 7. The SB immediately pushes his 14K stack towards the middle… NOT AGAIN… *sigh*. I don’t know what to think. The rollercoaster ride this tournament has been so far has got me besides myself. Call? Why not… guess I can still suck out if I need to.

SB shows 6 4. Oh great… He has a straight. Hang on! No he doesn’t! He’s got a pair and a draw… I’m ahead! The river solidifies my VIC-TO-RY with a queen and I see a little more than 10K being shipped my way. We might just make something of this yet… Tighten up your open-raising range. Don’t just call – raise. Put the pressure on the other guys. Play well for fucks sake! My gameplan is on.

A couple of hands later I pick up two red jacks again, this time in the SB. I feel calm – like I’m in the zone. Almost ready to fold them, if I encounter too much resistance. 8-handed, blinds still 125/250/a25. Villain covers me. 3 folds before the HJ and CO both limp. When it reaches me I decided there’s no need to fool around here and make it 2000 to go, hoping to take it down now instead of having to play out of position. The HJ is having none of it and calls. (Pot 4700) Flop: 7 K 6 . 10-high flop? What is that? – a freaking urban legend? I swear to the G-man, I’ve never seen one while holding Jacks! FUCK! I bet 2800 and prepare myself for the all-in move. He folds. Hmmm… Now that was a nice surprise.

For several orbits things become pretty standard. Raise with 22 and fold after not flopping anything. Raise with A8 and c-bet the 9-high flop to take it down. Even raise KQ from early position, get called by both blinds and then proceed to win the hand after checking down a board of A 2 A 3 3 . Whaddayaknow – stranger things have happened I guess. Which leads me to this next hand:

I’m in the BB with Q J , 6-handed with blinds at 250/500/a50. The CO min-raises and I’m the only one who calls. We both check the K 5 7 flop. Turn is A and I check again. Now he bets 1275. That does seem remarkably small considering the potsize. I think he recognizes the Ace as a great bluffing-card and is just trying to take it down. I call, before thinking things through. The river is 3. Great. Now what do I do. I was so reliant on my read that I just called instead of considering the best course of action. He probably doesn’t have an ace, but my hand doesn’t have huge showdown potential either. I think villain has a baby-pair here a lot of the time, meaning I’ve painted myself into a corner. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Only thing to do is bet, I guess. Stick with my read. I bet out a paltry 2500 and he insta-mucks! “Cehhh-le-brate good times, COME ON!”

Again, things return to ‘standard play’. I raise enough to stay afloat, don’t encounter too much resistance and when I do, I fold without losing too much. All of a sudden, we’re down to the final table. I’m a top-3 stack at the table and with antes in play, the big stacks are stealing left, right and center. I take my fair share. Sometimes with 6 7 and sometimes with queens – point is, the short stacks are just biding their time. I don’t get too many spots to pick off any of the smaller stacks, the others do that for me, until I pick up A K in the BB. As if on cue, a 12BB stack moves in from under the gun. I call, he shows A J , flops a jack, but I turn a straight and now we’re down to 4.

From this point, everything slows to a simmering pace. Top-3 are money spots, number 4 receives diddly-squat and it’s beginning to show. Everyone seems intent on pocketing a 24-dollar payday! I try to pull the trigger on the passiveness, but pick up very few playable hands and when I do see K,9 offsuit, someone feels the need to play back at me. Bad timing I guess. This goes on for several blind levels and my once big-stack is reduced to a meager average, boasting an impressive 16BBs.

Karma gets the better of me in the end, when I pick up A J and raise to 4000 from UTG (Blinds 1600/3200/a160). As has been the case so often before at this final table, an opening raise usually elicits 3 folds. The first 2 muck as planned, but the BB has a new gameplan and pushes all-in for 8BBs. He’s been playing tight, but so has everyone else. I just don’t think I’m that good. I can’t fold AJ in this spot. Not after having played 4-handed for so long. He’s pushing a lot of pairs here, right? A lot of coinflips which I should be prepared to take, right? Crap – don’t know what the ‘right’ move here would have been. Anyway, I call and stare AK in the face. No 3-outer and I’m reduced to 5-6BBs. When I do push those in (very next hand), holding K8 , I get called by 39 (?) who ends up making a flush.

So, there you have it. My first post in this series. More to come soon, hopefully depicting better play than was the case in what you just read. Will need to if Aussie Millions 2010 is to become a reality!

Starting bankroll: USD 5,000.00
1st session result: USD -8.10
New bankroll: USD 4,991.90
Days left until Aussie Millions 2010: 307
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