Friday, August 05, 2005

Chicago Trip Report Part 2

Good morning. Did I mention that the macadamia nut crusted sea bass at TJ's restaurant (located inside Resorts East Chicago) was delicious, I highly recommend it.

After satellite number 2 I had a couple of hours to kill so I got on the list for the 20-40 w/ a 1/2 kill, the 5-10 NL, and the 10-20 w/ 1/2 kill list. They were quite long, and when I finally got called to the 20-40 game I only had a few minutes untill my satellite started. The table was very beatable though, and I had been watching them, so I sat down, bought in for $800, and played 1 rotation. I posted 20 for the big blind, 10 for the small, and never once saw a flop in the 10 hands I was there for a loss of $30. I had to give up my seat for the satellite and it was time to start sat. #3.

Sat. # 3 was nearly identical to sat #2. I steadily built my chip stack, was very happy with my play overall and found myself on the heels of the chip leader when it got down to 3 handed. Now these things escalate fast, and you are forced to mix it up. This time my AKs went down in flames to A8o. We got it all in and he hit a flush, actually the board flushed in one of his suits! You no what they say, on offsuit hand is better than a suited one, it can make one of 2 flushes! lol. Oh well, I still love poker.

Fast Forward to Tournament Time, Wednesday 11:45 am. 15 minutes to showtime. Time to have that last cigarette. I have 2 choices here, outside on the ships deck where it is hot, humid, smelly, and packed with smelly poker players or adjacent to the poker room in the High Limit Black Jack + other negative expectation gambling games room. My favorite cocktail waitress, Heidi, is there and the room is much more luxurious than the rest of the casino, plus they have Patron tequilla at that bar. I choose the latter. Heidi and co, wish me luck as I go through my pregame ritual.

Here's how this game is set up; each player starts with T3000, rounds are 30 minutes long, blinds start at 25/50 and escalate to 50/100, 100/200, 100/200 w/ a $25 ante, 20 min break, 200/400 $50 ante/ double from here on out!. The structure starts off ok but soon, about round 6, the blinds come on pretty hard. There were 62 players, the top 8 got paid and first was 12.k.

I lost the first pot I was involved in, but it was relatively small, then I steadily built my stack up and maintained an above average chip stack throught the first 5 rounds. One interesting hand late in round 4. It's folded the the Button who makes a standard raise. The SB goes all in for a total of about 3k. I peek down at KK, hmmm, this could be interesting. I know the Button is a solid player, that also has me slightly outchipped, but he could very easily have been trying to steal the blinds. His most likely holding, imho, is either a pair or any ace, kq, kj, qj, kt. I can play this one of 2 ways, push all in or smooth the 3k hoping to trap the button for additional chips after the flop. I think and very subtley make it look like the call was a stretch, the button also calls! I got what I wanted, but be careful what you ask for right! The flop comes Q,8,3 all hearts! (I've got Kd/Kc). Since the SB is all in it's up to me and I've got about 6k left. There's a little over 9k in the middle, now alot of people say you should never bluff into a dry side pot, but in reality you need to evaluate every situation and do what needs to be done to give you the most equity in the hand. The hearts were scary but I wasn't going to let the button draw to 1 heart or an A so I pushed all in. The button folded, whew, and showed AJ. We flipped our cards over and the SB had 2 garbage clubs. The turn blanked and the river was an A! I pull down a nice pot!

It's about 20 minutes to break time and my friend Greg, who bought $100 worth of my action, came up with a hamburger and sweated my play for a bit. I find 22 in the small blind and limp in, 4 of us see a flop of 2,6, 9, rainbow (no flush draw possible). The flop was about as safe as could be and I decide to slowplay and check, it's checked around. Turn Q, I check, hoping the Q hit someone and really expecting to check raise, but it's checked around again. River a K, I bet out a measly T200 and it's folded to me. I then show Greg my hand, a flopped set of dueces, and a player across the table says "I want to see those cards". If you show your cards to anyone the rule is show one show all, and I gladly oblige, and say "flopped a set of dueces!" This is one of those times when it is a good idea to show your cards, let people know that your checks don't mean weakness.

On the very last hand before break I am dealt AKo, and raise the big blind calls. Flop is a bunch of rags and BB checks, I also check. Turn a third heart, no help. BB checks, I had already decided I was not going to lose a big pot w/ ak, plus something felt fishy. I check. River a rag, BB checks, and I check 1/2 thinking I might when the showdown. BB turns over J5 hearts for a turned flush. I asked him "did you know you had a flush? He truly was afraid to bet it because he as he said, had just seen me waiting in the bushes with my set!!! How cool is that. Man I'm in the zone, and didn't make the amateur mistake of losing alot w/ ak.

Alas all does not end well. We get down to about 24 players and I still have an above average chipsstack, but that is a little misleading because the blinds are now 400/800 and soon to be 800/1600. So in reality almost everyone is in or close to the "Red Zone"! (see Harrington on Hold'em vol 2 for an excellent explanation of chip stacks in relationship to the blinds, and how to play accordingly). I find myself on the button w/ T9o and under the gun limps, it's then folded to me. The small and big blinds are both older guys, and play like typical older guys, squeaky tight. Also the UTG player is a horrible player. He has me outchipped but is by far the biggest donkey in the tournament. I know his limp is unlikely to be a premium hand slowplayed, could be any 2 cards, and that he is very unlikely to reraise me. Now I nead to make a move at a pot soon, and since my table image was very solid I raise. I would normally raise about 4 times the BB here, but since the SB and BB are so tight why risk that much, they'll fold for less or if they wake up w/ a monster I'll lose less, so I make it 2K to go. They both fold and out of position donkey UTG just calls. Flop K,7,4 2 spades, 1 club. UTG checks, I know he doesn't have a king. Turn a T of clubs. I now know I have the best hand. He bets 1.5k I put him and his probably flush draw all in, he calls without thinking! Dealer says to flip our cards over which I do, showing 2nd pair. Donkey doesn't, and waits until the river, the 3rd club hits, then goes crazy. His hand was Q8s. The slowrolling, stupid calling donkey hit his runner runner flush to knock me out. I was a 70%+ favorite when the money went in and his call (and the way he played his hand) was the worst play I witnessed any player make in the entire tournament. I would have been chip leader, but oh well that's poker, and I still love it!

I've noticed that I almost always have the best of it when the money is in. I'm not talking about coinflips that occur, but I will be destined to experience the brunt of bad beats, while servicing my fellow competitors with relatively few in return. This is a good thing, if you have a good feel for where you are in a hand and find yourself with the best of it thats just the way it is.

I've also noticed that I need a degree of poker maturity. When Phil Ivey was knocked out of the 2003 WSOP main event I believe he was in the top 27 and took a horrible beat. He apparently shirked it off without as much as a frown, or look of dismay. Now that is one cool customer who truly see's that a bad beat is mearly a mathmatical possibility, regardless of any consequences it has on you personally. Why clutter your mind with garbage?

It was during the WSOP 1K tourney that my game really gelled, my poker quickening occured, and I feel very confident about my play, realizing that I have a long, long road ahead of me, with alot to learn and experience, but at the same time the knowledge that I can hang with anyone. I am also at a point where my learning curve as it relates to reading hands is improving startlingly fast, I don't feel like I have reached a plateau. One thing I've noticed is that I tend to give unknown players too much respect. They may at first appear to be a good player, but really are just scared, weak, tight players who disguise it well for a bit. I think this is an ok thing though. Stay inline until you get atleast an educated guess about a players style.

I seem to project a very confident table image. A few hours after the $500 tourney was over, I ventured back to the poker room to see who won the tourney and a player approached me and said "did you chop?". I was like, huh?, he goes on "you won the tournament right?", sadly I informed him that I did not. He played at my first table, and I guess he felt that I was a big favorite to win! How about that guy that checked his turned flush down to me!

You need to be respected to have a good chance of winning these things, and here are a couple of pointers on how to achieve this. First, the game moves at your pace! I am not saying that you should unecessarily delay the game, or take forever to fold 7-2 preflop, but take your time with any decision, and put any player "foolish" enough to re-raise you on ice. In one of my favorite movies of all time, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Clint Eastwood plays a renegade southerner, post civil war, with a large bounty on his head. He is confronted several times by people looking to cash in on the large bounty, dead or alive. Often he is suprised, but remains cool, handles all threats on his own time. When 4 union soldiers unexpectedly bump into him he stops, slowly turns his head and spits and then cooly says "are you gonna pull those guns or whistle dixie. The 4 soldiers freeze while Josey surveys them. Josey knew the guy on the left, the one with crazy eyes was likely to make the first move, the guy 2nd to left had scarred eyes, and 3rd from the left had a flapped holster. What about the guy on the far right? well somtimes you need a little help or gotta get lucky. Josey was faster, and picked them off 1 by 1. He was able to do this because he made excellent reads, and took psychological controll of the situation.

Secondly, make a strong slow play and make it known, even if you have to show the hand. Other players need to see that you are capable of checking a strong holding. Even If you check you could hold the stone cold nuts.

Thirdly, nearly always (95%+) raise the pot when you are first to enter preflop. So many good things happen. You may win the pot right there, you apply great pressure to those behind you, people are easier to read when under pressure, you disguise your holding, and lastly may ferret out any premium hand. I love it at a table when 3 or more players often limp, 1st in, preflop. If they respect you they are less likely to slowplay AA against you.*

And lastly I prefer to dress well. This is debatable, but for me it works. If you take poker serious, you should treat it serious, look serious, and dress serious. No tie required, but comfortable slacks, and a button down shirt do the trick. Black is also a good color. I have always felt more comfortable overdressed than underdressed but find what works for you. Whatever works for you do shower, wear clean clothes, and not appear like a shit bum. In 2002 poker nearly became extint in casino's partly because from management's perspective poker attracted, poorly dressed, smelly, players who wanted everything for free.*

Lastly, I will continue to plug, plug away. One of these days the planets will line up and I'll win one of these deals. I felt real good about my chances in this last tourney . . . and even better about my chances in the next one. gotta go now.


I need to give credit where credit is due, I think it was Chris Ferguson who recently wrote about always raising first in, ofcourse I am aware of that and practice it, but reading it recently pobably made it stick out in my mind when I wrote this. Also I added a couple of benifits from raising he didn't mention: people are easier to read under pressure, and ferreting out premium hands. Also It was in The Prof, The Banker, and The Suicide King that I learned about management's view of cheap smelly poker players, but that example fit my point perfectly.


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