Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wake Up! It's Time to Play a Tournament

If you follow me on Twitter you know I'm back in Vegas now.   I drove up Friday and had a brief session that night.  Not sure if there's much to blog about from that game even though I was able to book a small win.

I didn't get much time to relax before I found myself playing in the first major of the trip—the $200 NLHE tourney at Golden Nugget the very weekend I got to town.  It had no less than nine starting flights spread out over three days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), with Day 2 Sunday and a $200K guaranteed prize pool.  With 3,329 entrants they ending up smashing the guarantee with a total prize pool of over $500K.

I figured I had to take a shot at this tourney as soon as I entered into PokerAtlas and then once I realized I’d be in town for the entire last day of the starting flights.  The trouble was the timing.  The flights started at 11am, 3pm and 7pm.  The morning flight just the day after I spent a good chunk of time on the road seemed way too early.  I might not get out of bed before 11!  Besides, 11am is too early to be playing poker anyway.  But the trouble with the 3pm and 7pm flights were the timing of Day 2.  Each of those starting flights figured to last 8-10 hours—maybe more.  Originally, Day 2 was scheduled for Noon the next day (Sunday).  After I questioned whether it was "fair" to the players who survived the 7pm Saturday flight have to come back to play at Noon the next day, they changed it to 2pm.  Important note:  I'm not saying it was my inquiry that caused them to change the time. I don’t know that.  I'm just honestly reporting the sequence of events.

But even with the 2pm time, I thought it might not be enough time for an old guy like me to do that turnaround from either the 3pm or the 7pm flights. And there was no point in playing if I didn't feel I had a chance to make it to Day 2. Ideally I think, I would have played the 3pm or 7pm flight on Friday or even Thursday.  But I wouldn't be in town then.  It was Saturday or nothing.

And that meant hitting the 11am flight on Saturday.  It also meant packing a sandwich so I could gobble down my lunch in the 15-minute break after the first four levels.  I'd only do that for a really special tournament and this qualified.

So I went downtown and gave it a shot.  I was tired, but I don't think it affected my play at all.  The truth is, there were two other things that frustrated me this tournament.  One was being exceptionally card dead.  The second thing was that somehow, I managed to lose a bunch of my notes about hands that I had taken while playing.  Not sure what happened.  One time, I went to add on a note about a hand that had just taken place in level 5 or 6, and saw that everything after a level 2 note had completely disappeared!  Actually though, it wasn't that much of a disaster.  I was so card dead that I had several entries that just updated chip counts and demonstrated that I'd played an entire level without playing a hand.  In other words, not that many hands were lost.

As such, I won't attempt to do a complete report of hand histories, I'll just talk about a few.  Unfortunately one of the best ones was deleted from notes and I tried my best to recreate from memory the next day.

The starting stack was $15K and the levels were 30-minutes (40-minutes on Day 2).  It was like the 3rd or 4th level and I wasn't quite in shove-or-fold mode (the tourney had a nice structure) but my chip stack was getting worrisome.  I limped in with pocket 6's, and someone with a big stack made a reasonable raise.  There were a few callers before it got back to me so I thought a call was the right move.  The flop was Ace-7-6 and I believe it was rainbow.   The preflop raiser was the big blind and so he led out with a pretty big bet.  It folded to me and since his bet was so big, there was no real option to raise without shoving.  So I shoved. I knew unless he was just c-betting with total air, he'd have to call, which I obviously wanted.  And so he did.  He showed Ace-8, the board blanked out and I had a much needed double up.

The last hand of level 7, with the blinds 75/300/600, I had pocket 3's in the big blind.  An early position player made it $1,700 and he got two callers.  Once again, I thought I had pretty good odds to call there even though my stack was very much short (had I not been the big blind there, I think I would have folded rather than limp in).  The flop was Ace-10-3, rainbow.  I checked, expecting the preflop raiser, who had the biggest stack at the table and had been having the rush of his life catching cards, to bet.  But he checked, dammit.  However another player bet—it was at least $4K, didn't really matter cuz I knew what I was gonna do.  Next guy folded and I shoved.  The preflop raiser asked for a count. It was something like $10,700.  He called.  The guy who led out on the flop folded and the preflop raiser showed the dreaded pocketKings. In this case, he dreaded them more than I did.  The board bricked and I dragged a big pot, bringing me to over $30K. 

For the next level, all I could do was steal some blinds and antes raising with Jack-10 suited and and Jack-7 suited (that was an open from the cut-off).

I got to level 9 (200/600/1200) with $33K.  And then I spewed some chips.  In the small blind I had pocket 7's.  There was one limper, I completed and the big blind checked.  The flop was Ace-6-6.  I checked, the big blind checked and the limper bet $2K. Hmmm….it seemed to me like it might just be a steal attempt since it had been checked to him. I figured I'd take a flier for $2K so I called. The big blind came along as well.  The river was a blank and it checked around, and I still thought my 7's might be good.  After another blank, I checked and the big blind bet, but only $3K.  The next guy checked and I thought about it.

The big blind was an older gentleman, had only recently been moved to the table and hadn't been too active.  Part of me was saying, "Nit, nit! He's got a boat."  But another part of me was saying, "He's a wily veteran of the game, he saw everyone check the turn and he's trying to steal it."  And the $3K was a really small bet compared to the pot.  So I decided to call.  He showed 8-6.  Ugh.

I figured I had one more raise left before I went to shove-or-fold move.  So with King-Queen off I opened to $3K and had two callers.  The flop was Queen-high, two low cards, uncoordinated.  The big stack led out for $5K, I think. He was one of the blinds. The other guy folded and I didn't think I had any choice but to shove.  I'm not folding top pair, second best kicker at this spot in the tournament.  There was no point in just calling, I'd be committed and it would all be in by the river anyway.  So I shoved.  He turned over Ace-Queen.  And I was out.

Sigh.  I thought it was a tournament worth trying, even though the circumstances weren't ideal.  I had two big hands when I flopped sets, but otherwise, was just too card dead to make a deep run.

On the plus side, I was able to head back to my room to take a much needed nap.


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  2. I played in that same tournament before I left Vegas ... didn't do as well as you did!

    1. Well, if you didn't do as well as I did, you didn't do very well at all. Sorry to hear that DWP.