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1 Bubble & 1 Win (AC Trip Report Pt 2)

The Hilton tournament is an interesting thing. Blind levels are short at 20 minutes, but the starting stacks are deep with 15k in chips. The blinds start off low enough, but eventually start to double so that once you reach some of the higher blinds, the blinds go into a frenetic pace, which ironically tends to slow the action except for big hand v. big hand confrontations. This is the perfect example of a tournament slowing itself down by trying to speed itself up.

Of course, when the tournament started, I knew none of this aside from the short blind levels. Whatever the case, I figured it would be a fast structure, and I advised Petey Pablo, and to a lesser extent the already knowledgeable Roose, that tight play may be an optimal strategy, since the weak field will likely pay off when big hands did come.

With that said, I immediately ditched that gameplan about 2 minutes into the tournament. As I looked around my table, I noticed an obvious trend. The players sucked. The biggest tip off was after I looked at my first hand. It was a crap hand, but before I folded, I turned to look at my opponents on my left. The next 6 players were already holding their cards in position to fold. It was as if they were each ready to throw a frisbee but were waiting for the catcher to finish his "go long" run and turn around. I folded, seeing that the 7th player looked ready to bet and knowing that my basic read was not enough to go on this early in the game. I needed to confirm it, and confirm it I did, as the first 6 players folded in rapid succession and the seventh player raised.

I was seated in the 2 seat at table 2, with Roose and Petey Pablo at other tables. The tournament had a full 6 tables, and was later announced to have 61 players in total. I chatted with the table, making friends with my neighbor to my left, a Red Shirted feller who was friendly, if not a little miffed at a Hispanic table captain in the 9 seat. Red Shirt, a guy in his early 20s, bet out preflop and got two callers, the Hispanic Table Captain and his elderly neighbor and seeming co-conspirator in the 10s. The flop was 66T and all players checked. The turn was a 7 and Red Shirt bet out. Everyone else folded and Red Shirt tabled 66 for quads. "What you raise for?", El Capitan asked. He was skinny, in his late 50s with a trace mustache. He reminded me of Snoopy's cousin, a likeness I tend to see a lot at poker games.

The two gentlemen had a long, obnoxious conversation, during which I assured my neighbor that he did nothing wrong. We all joked about how the other guy was "so right" about the raise, and Red Shirt thanked him for the lesson.

An orbit or so later, I was in the BB with 89o. It folded around to Eavesdropper, who was in the 6s or 7s. He raised from the 50 blind to 150. There was one other caller in LP, I believe El Capitan, as he was in a lot of hands, and I decided to call and defend my blind. I also felt like I had a good read on Eavesdropper thanks to a tell that I actually noticed on another player first.

In the 5s was an overly-gregarious guy in his young 20s. He had tight cropped hair and a very boxy looking face, with glasses. He wouldn't stop talking in a way that demonstrated that he wanted attention. He also was drinking heavily.

After I realized that most of the players did not think twice about tells (remember the frisbee exhibition?) I decided to keep an eye out for tells. In an early hand, the 5s, who had the exact voice of Robert Downey Jr. (I pointed this out later in the game and everyone agreed, after which we all called him Iron Man) raised an oddly high amount from MP. After betting, he went for his drink and took a sip. This, and the look in his eyes, suggested weakness. The drink is a great tell, as long as you are careful when you use it. Like any tell, you first have to verify what it means before over-using it. Everyone folded and he proudly showed 66, explaining that he did not want action. He was patting himself on the back, but he was also giving me the confirmation that when he goes for a drink, it is to sooth his discomfort. Think of someone with stage fright about to make a big presentation. The speaker will likely be nervous and engage in certain actions to sooth themselves, whether it is ringing their hands, pacing or going stone cold quiet. In poker, one of the most common soothing techniques is to take a drink. It gives the player something to do with themselves while they try to look natural.

With this in mind, I decided to defend my BB with 89o against the Eavesdropper who went directly for his drink after betting and the loose El Capitan. The flop came down 778. I checked and El Capitan bet 600. He then went right back to his drink. He looked nervous; it wasn't just the drinking. It was the whole shebang. El Capitan folded and I thought about what to do. Folding would be easy, but I did hit the flop and I had a good feeling that El Capitan was not happy with what he saw. I opted for a check-raise of 1500, an amount that looks like I want a call (only 900 more after a 600 bet) but may also tempt a re-raise from a monster hand. He folded and I took down the pot. Iron Man asked what I had and I explained that I didn't want to show my Quads because I obviously misplayed them.

Funny side story. As Iron Man continued to drink, he got louder and more talkative. When a player joined our table halfway through the tourney, Iron Man mentioned how there were two quads in the first two orbits. He must've been smashed or gullible, because obviously I didn't actually have quads.

I hadn't been getting great cards, but it was clear who at the table could be exploited and I set about laying waste to my foes. With blinds of 100/200 and a 25 ante, it folded to me when I held Q6o in the CO. I glanced to my left and the SB and BB were both preparing their frisbees. I couldn't see Red Shirt, the button, as clearly, but I was playing tight and had the respect of the table, so I bet out 800, expecting an easy pot. To my surprise, Red Shirt called; to no one's surprise, the SB and BB folded.

The flop came down J65 giving me middle pair. As long as he didn't have a Jack (possible) or a high pocket pair (doubtful), I was ahead. I bet out 1600 and he folded. He told me he missed with his AQ and I said I got lucky, "I hit my AJ." Whatever.

The very next hand, I am dealt AQs. In EP, El Capitan raised to 700. He had raised with crap cards before, but since I was in MP and I could see that Red Shirt was looking to play the pot, I just called. Red Shirt called and we saw a QJ7 flop. It checked to me and I bet 2000. Everyone folded.

That last hand might seem like a small thing, but that was a whopping 1950 more chips or so, which was more than 10% of the original starting stack. This was definitely a tournament where picking up uncontested pots would be key to surviving the escalating blinds.

I'm not perfect; far from it actually, and I lost 7k when I should've known better. With AKo, I raised 2k on top of the 300/600 blinds (75 ante). My opponent was new to the table, but was fairly loose and appeared to be a calling station. He called and we saw a Queen-high flop. I made a continuation bet of 4k and he called. The turn was a blank and I checked. He bet out and I folded. Fortunately, I had accumulated enough chips such that even after this loss, I was still sitting on 20,000.

I was moved to a new table where I scrapped to survive. The blinds escalated to 400/800, 100 ante and then 600/1200, 200 ante. The jumps were getting large, but my push/fold strategy was working.

During one of the breaks, I went to the bathroom where I experienced an odd personal dilemna. I was minding my own business at my urinal when I heard Iron Man two urinals over talking with his buddy who was also in the tournament and now at Iron Man's table. The conversation went like this:

Buddy (drunk and very loud): You dude, if we are heads-up in a hand, we should just check it down.
Iron Man (jokingly): Nah, man. If I'm heads-up with you, I'm raising all-in.
Buddy: No, really man. We'll check it down.
Iron Man: Ok.

I left the bathroom and found Roose, replaying for him what had happened. I told him I had three options: (1) tell the TD, (2) tell Iron Man, who was mostly harmless, that he should watch what he says because it could get him tossed from the tournament, or (3) do nothing. I opted for (3)...sorta. First, I went over to my old table and tapped my poker buddy Red Shirt on the shoulder, motioning for him to walk with me from the table. He obliged. I spoke to him in a whisper, "I just heard Iron Man make a deal to soft play with his buddy in the 7s. I'm not going to do anything about it, but I wanted you to know in case you see it happening and want to use it to your advantage or call him out." He thanked me and I went back to my table.

So, my question to all of you is, if you are in that situation in a rinky dink $50 buy-in tournament, what would you do?

I returned to my table and resumed my efforts to scrape to the final table. Petey had already busted after we were down to three tables. Roose was doing exceptionally well, having doubled up with AA v. KK only to bust another player a few hands later with AA again. He was also clearly in charge of his table and playing well.

My stack dwindled to 33k, with blinds soaring to 3000/6000. We were down to 14 players with 9 seats paying. I was the second shortstack in the BB at a table of 6 players. The smallest stack pushed in EP and received a call from the button. At this point, I was so short, I decided to call with my J9o. I was pretty much in a forced call situation, since I had less than 5x the BB if I folded, and the antes were sizeable. I missed all five cards but the button, who checked it down, hit top pair, Kings (with a crappy kicker).

Even shorter, I had no choice but to push in the SB. It didn't hurt that I had 44, probably the best hand I saw in a long while. Even so, when there was a raise from MP, I was priced in enough, with my SB and dwindling stack, to call with any two. To my dismay, the BB then pushed all-in on top and we went heads-up, 44 v. his...JJ. The flop was a Q94 and I was relieved for a moment. The turn was a Ten. The river was an 8. He four-straighted and I was busted in 13th place out of 61, four spots from the bubble.

I said Good Game and walked away, trying to get a handle on the feelings inside of me. I was surely upset but also accepting. Bubbling has become a bitch too common for my tastes lately, but at least it means that I am getting near the money. If a few cards fall my way, I was sure I'd win another tournament soon.

During another break, Roose, Petey and I headed for the nearest exit for a smoke break. We chatted with a bald black guy who had been playing in the tournament. He was lamenting his losses. He'll be popping up again later in another segment of this running trip report, and since I never got his name, we'll just call him Mr. Outside. He was friendly enough when we met him, but clearly perturbed by his opponent's less than stellar play that resulted in his suckout bust.

I cheered on Roose for a bit, before feeling the nag of poker again. I found my way to a 1/2 NL cash game already in progress. The table was shorthanded at 7 players, which I had hoped to use to my advantage.

Naturally, I was still a little on tilt, which is another reminder of why I need a longer refractory period before I can switch to cash after a tournament bust. I lost a good $35 from a combination of fatigue, tilt, and chasing my losses.

I finally decided to move my seat from the 4s to the 8s when I realized that the two most aggressive players were in the 5s and 6s. In my new seat, I was immediately dealt AQs.

A loose fat early-20-year-old wannabe hotshot raised to $11 from EP, and rather than raise, I chose to merely call. I was feeling skittish about my earlier losses at the table and I wanted to get more information, namely a flop and the preflop raiser's post-flop action before I made any moves. An obese woman on my immediate left called.

We saw a flop of QJX, rainbow. The preflop raiser checked and I bet out $15, hoping to keep someone in the pot with me. To my surprise, the obese woman raised to $30. It folded to me and I considered a re-raise, but recognized that this was not the smartest move. I may've had a loser's image (making a reraise with crap more likely) and the sloppy obese woman likely played sloppy poker, but I was trying to be conservative. I didn't think a fold was I called.

The turn was an Ace, giving me top two pair. I checked, as did my obese opponent. The river was a blank and I bet $50 as though I were trying to buy the pot. I did my best to look nervous. She called and tabled KK. She slowplayed her hand to oblivion. She should've raised preflop. It would have gotten me into the hand and then she could've extrapolated more money on the flop. I may have called anyway and sucked out, but it still would have been the "proper" play in her spot. As it were, from that hand alone, I went from a deficit to $106 profit.

And then fate stepped in. The floor person walked over and told us that he had to split the table since the other tables weren't full either. I was the only objector, and after everyone was given their new table assignments, I told the floor to save mine. I'd be taking this as my cue to stop playing.

I cashed out, now up $56 ($106 in cash, -$50 in tournaments). Meanwhile, Roose was still holding court, with most of the chips out of the 7 or so remaining players.

I walked over to the payout sheet and began running the math for even 6-, 5-, and 4-person chops. I wanted the numbers handy to help Dave cut a deal if/when the time came.

Down to 4 people, I saw my chance. Roose had the most chips, but if he doubled up a single foe, he'd have an average stack and the doubler would be the chip leader by a decent stretch. The blinds were super high and no one had much play left. It was really a crapshoot. I leaned over to Roose, "You know a four-way chop is $450." Roose announced that fact to the table, and then added, "...but you know, I've got a lot more chips than you all." I chimed in, "How about $600 for the chipleader and $400 for everyone else. He has way more chips, and it's only $50 difference to the other players." Everyone agreed happily and the deal was struck. Roose was the Winner of the tournament with $600 in profit. If it weren't for our fast negotiation skills, he would've been playing a crapshoot. As it were, he had a nice tidy profit.

After the tournament, Roose told me that he would've given me my buy-in back if it weren't for the fact that I had already won it back. In the past, Roose and I sometimes gave back the buy-in to the loser if the other person had a serious cash, but since we didn't agree at the beginning of the tournament, and since I was actually up anyway and not expecting anything, I took it at face value.

Roose won the tournament and I pretty much bubbled. For those out there guessing that Petey was the winner, sadly that was not the case. For those thinking that it was me, well, no dice there either. But for those who thought it was Jarvis, the scheming butler, you were half right...because Jarvis was actually Roose in disguise! And he would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you pesky kids!

Stay tuned, though, folks, because there is plenty of poker to be played, including the arrival of Robbie and Randy Hole, a visit to the new Showboat poker room, and another tournament. Did one of the boys win that tournament? Only time will tell.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:22 PM,


At 9:26 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

Very cool to be prepared to help with computation in a friends tourney. If I'm ever at a final table blitzed drunk and you are around, I'll be depending on you to set me straight with a good deal!

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Booby Stealz said...

another entertaining trip report, and its not over yet...sweet.

At 12:52 PM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

The smallest stack pushed in EP and received a call from the button. At this point, I was so short, I decided to call with my J9o.

Why call there, Jordan? I know you have a low M, but at that point you're just looking to cash, right? So, why not fold there since there's already a call for the all-in? There's a chance that the other shortie will bust out and you can pick a better spot where you're not calling with a marginal hand.

I know it's easy to armchair quarterback here, but I'm curious to see if this was some kind of "awfukkit" call or not.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Good question, Wolf. The answer is that your premise is off. I was not playing for the money. I was playing for the win. I had more than 1/5 in my stack, and with the caller and other blinds, the pot odds were decent. Plus, I was not all-in, but if I hit, I knew I could get all-in rather easily. The early position pusher was going to be in the BB soon, so he could have anything, including a pair under 9s (coin toss) or two unpaired cards that are not J or 9 (essentially a coin toss). The caller had chips, so he too could be calling with anything.

So, long story short, I liked my odds and I didn't want to play scared. I wasn't playing for the money; I was playing for first place.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger StB said...

$50 tourney isn't worth sweating over soft play between two buddies. I think your call of letting someone else know was the proper play.


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