Sunday, January 27, 2019

Long Day at Commerce (Part 2)

Part 1 is here.

I started level 8 (1200/600/1200) with $8,900. And even tho my dinner was definitely going to be at Commerce, I still didn't mind the thought of busting before the break, as I thought I was dead anyway and also, if I did bust, I could possibly find a few better food options at Commerce than the snack bars upstairs by the tourney.  Which maybe explains why open shoved 9-8 off.  But no one called and I was still alive.

And that took me to the break for my hot dog dinner.  Had no choice but the snack bar wienies, scarfed down during the break.  Don't ask me how they tasted, I ate them too fast to notice.

Back from break for level 9 (1,500/1,000/1,500) with only $8K, I was beyond desperate.  I had an M of exactly 2. I had one foot and a few toes from the other foot out the door.  But at least I'd be driving home on a somewhat full stomach.

When I looked down at 9-8 again, I opened shoved.  And again no one called.

The very next hand I had Ace-Queen off.  This time there were limpers in front of me. I shoved.  One of the limpers called.  He had a big stack, and he had been at the table with me from the beginning.  I believe that after one of my earlier shoves he had said (after the hand was over) something about me not having played a hand for two hours).  Now he thought about it awhile before finally calling, it wasn't a quick decision.  Then he flipped over King-Jack. He groaned when he saw my A-Q.  He was unhappy.  "I thought he was making a move," he said.  I didn't say this, but I thought, "No, that was last hand."  After a blank flop, and Ace hit the turn and ended the suspense.

I had my double up, to 26K.  That was nice, but I was hardly out of the woods.  Thus, after another orbit or so, same level, when I looked at King-Jack under-the-gun, I thought a shove was the right move. Maybe it was a bad risk, but it felt right at the time.  Well, I got called by a big stack, than the guy on my right, also a big stack, shoved.  The guy who just called tanked but eventually called.  It was now a three-way all-in.

The first guy showed a pair of Queens.  Ugh.  The second guy showed a pair of Aces.  Double Ugh.

I swear I muttered under my breath, "I need a straight."

Ahem.  The flop came Queen-10-9!  The board didn't pair so the guy with the set of Queens was runner up.  He took the chips from the guy with Aces that I didn't get.  And the guy with Aces was done.  He walked away shaking his head, saying, "I had the best hand."

Nothing like a triple up to get you back in the game.  Suddenly I stopped thinking about how soon I was going to be heading home.

That was the last hand of the level, so I started level 10 (2K/1K/2K) with $75,500.

The guy with the Queens indicated he was surprised I had shoved with such a weak hand, especially since I had "just gotten some chips."  I'm sure the guy with the Aces felt something similar.  I didn't say anything, but in my mind, I was still short and desperate.

And the guy who had previously doubled me with K-J to my A-Q said, "Look at your stack now.  You were dead.  You had nothing.  Now look."  And then he muttered, "And I gave him that double up."  Honestly, with my stack, his stack and the fact that he was already in for the big blind amount, I don't see how he could have folded there with King-Jack. 

Now I want to discuss two other players at the table.  For the past few levels, there was this older gentleman there, mid-80's, who kind of put me to shame.  He seemed to be handling the tournament discomforts a lot better than I was.  He wasn't tired, he didn't seem concerned about meals or drinks or bathroom breaks.  I must feel older than I am.  He was a real chatterbox too, very friendly, and actually, very entertaining.  He was talking about his life and since he was on the other side of the table I didn't hear complete stories, but he seemed like he'd led a interesting life.  At one point one of the younger guys at the table said, "You must be from Queens.  Queens or Brooklyn.  You're obviously a New Yorker."  But no, he said, he was born in Los Angeles and lived here all his life.

Then he said, "I went to Dorsey High (a local high school anyone from L.A. has heard of).  I was on the baseball team.  You know who was on that team with me?  Sparky Anderson."  Well that was cool.  I did remember that Sparky was from L.A. and I even remembered that Sparky went to Dorsey—at least when he said it, it came to me.

When he busted out (after he crippled himself with a really bad bluff) he stood up and said, "Whenever I bust out of a tournament, I always say the same thing as I leave the table.  Gentlemen, it has been a great pleasure playing with all of you. But go f*** yourselves."  This had everyone at the table in stitches.  Even the dealer, the only female at the table, cracked a smile.

The other player of interest was the guy who replaced the guy on my immediate right whose Aces.  He was a young guy, brought a good amount of chips to the table from the one they had just broken, and he was a tough, tough player.  It didn't take me long to see that he was really good.  I soon realized I was lucky that he was on my right and not on my left.

Now, after I got that triple up with the straight, I went back to being card dead, and since I had a decent stack to play with, I wasn't looking for shoving opportunities, I could actually play poker again.  And the most amazing coincidence happened.  It seemed like the only times I got playable hands, the kid on my right had open raised the pot. So most of these times, I called.  I didn't have nearly a good enough hand to three-bet him but I had a hand I was willing to call a raise with, especially since I'd have position on the guy. Usually it was with a low pocket pair, which I could afford to play for awhile.  Or maybe just big cards.  But during this period, I don't think I once played a hand where he hadn't raised first (except one time when he was the big blind and I was UTG).  And I never played a hand that he had folded.  If he folded, I always had garbage that I threw away.  I was just playing the cards I assure you, it wasn't intentional. 

But the guy definitely noticed.  He started commenting on it every time I called him.  Or even when I folded after he folded.  At one point I said, "It isn't intentional, I swear."  He acted like he didn't believe me.  "It's every time.  Sure."  Another time, I said, "I really wanted to fold when I saw you raise but I just couldn't."  And he said, "No worries.  I want the action."

Those hands I played against the good player on my right hadn't panned out so far, so I got to level 11 (3K/1.5K/3K) with 57K.  I finally got a big pocket pair, UTG, but it was only Jacks.  I opened to 8K and got two calls, including the guy on my right was the big blind this hand.  The flop was Ace-high and I checked, it checked around.  The turn card was nice; a Jack.  I bet 15K and took it down.

In the small blind, I had Ace-Jack of spades.  It folded to the tough player on my right on the button and he made a big raise—8 or 9K.  I thought about three-betting as I was thinking he was just making a move.  But then I thought, this guy is a better player than me, he might come over the top and put me in a tough spot.  So I just called.  The flop was Ace-high with one spade.  I checked because I planned to check-raise over his inevitable c-bet.  But he checked behind. 

The turn was another spade, giving me top pair, good kicker and the nut flush draw.  This time I led out for 15k.  He surprised me by going all in.  Gulp.  Did he really have something?  Even if he had a set, I had outs to the nuts.  I had to call, so I did.  Turned out he had something like 8-5 off but he did have a gut shot.  The river blanked and I had a nice double up—against the toughest player at the table.

That took me to 148K, which was what I had for level 12 (4K/2K/4K).

Unfortunately, I didn't take good notes about where the money bubble was or when they finally broke our table.  But my best guess is that when we took the break that came after level 11, we were really close to the money.  They were paying 103 and I think we had 106 at the break.  Players at my table were joking about being close to the money—and a whopping $40 profit.  See, it isn't just me who thinks the min cash is too min.  I believe we played one or two hands after the break, and they were about to stop us and go hand-for-hand when a couple of people busted out at virtually the same time (including one from our table) and they announced we were all in the money.  So I had at least won enough to pay for my gas down there and the hot dogs I'd gobbled down.  It was a pretty amazing turnaround from like three levels before when I was virtually on my death bed. 

When we made the money I had enough chips to think I could really build my stack and make it to day 2 with a stack worth coming back for. But playable cards were hard to come by and the blinds were really putting a huge dent in the stack.  I didn't write down a hand from level 12 and was down to 93K when level 13 (6K/3K/6K) began.

I got pocket 5's and my friend to the right of course raised (didn't note the amount, it was a reasonable raise).  The flop was Ace-5-4, two hearts. He bet 20k.  I shoved and he folded.  That got me to 133K.

Under-the-gun, I bet $15K with King-Jack of diamonds.  Only the big blind, my buddy, called.   The flop was Queen-10-4, rainbow.  I bet $30K.  He tanked for a bit.  "I guess you must really have something good.  You did open UTG."  I thought he was gonna talk himself into a call but he let it go.  He asked me what I had and I didn't tell him.  I think he'd have been surprised I bet so much with just a draw.

Then they broke our table.  At the new table, I was the short stack, everyone seemed to have tons of chips, and there was always, always a raise.  I had nothing to three-bet with and nothing to open with on those rare times I could have opened a pot.  I seemed to get 5-2 offsuit three or four times in a row when I could have opened raised.

I was following the pay jumps.   It seemed like earlier, it hadn't taken long to get past the $160 spot and into the $200 payout.  But it did take a long time to finally get to the $250 payout, which was the highest payout for day 1. But I did survive into the $250 payout range. If I wanted more, I'd have to survive the day and come back Sunday.

Before that, as the blinds were eating away at my stack fairly rapidly, I had become somewhat cautious.  It seemed like if I didn't take any big chances, I could likely fold my way to the $250.  Obviously you can tell I did take some risks but they were limited.  Once I got back down to a fold-or-shove stack, I was tight until I hit the larger payout.  Of course, the cards I was getting made it easy to do.

So after not playing a hand in level 14, I was down to 63K for level 15 (12K/6K/12K).  Believe me, I tried to find a hand to shove with before that but just couldn't get one.  Before the big blind came to me (for the second time this level), I knew I'd be committed with any big blind hand, so I really hoped to get something decent or even semi-decent to shove with.  But I kept running into 5-2.  I think I saw 9-3 in my UTG hand.

I was very happy with my big blind hand. Queen-10 of clubs.  I knew, since almost half my stack was already in the pot with the big blind and the ante, the rest was going in there no matter what happened before it got to me.  There was a raise, two calls and I shoved.  Two players called. One had pocket 9's and the other had Ace-10.  Ugh.  I needed exactly a Queen—or another miracle straight.  Instead a useless 10 hit the flop.  Then a 9 hit the turn.  And another 9 hit the river.  At least I can say I busted to quads.

I busted #40, just 15 away from the top 25 who advanced to day 2.  Not bad.  You know, usually in this format, 8% or maybe 5% advance to day 2.  This tourney, only 3% did.  I finished in the top 5%.  Not bad at all, but not good enough for this particular format.  Considering how card dead I was most of the time, it was a rather impressive finish.  Of course a few nice flops saved me and then there was that fantastic result when I took out both Queens and Aces.  But to get this far in a tournament, you have to get some lucky run outs like that.

It was nearly 10pm, about eight hours of poker.  I was exhausted when I got home.  I probably would have had to have played another hour or two to get to day 2, and I think I would have been so tired I likely wouldn't have been able to play very well on Sunday.  So I was pretty happy with the maximum day 1 cash.  By the way, the min-cash on day 2 was $450.  So only $200 more than what I got for my one-day tournament.  Oddly, that made me feel better about my prize money for day 1.


  1. Maybe someday I'll get back to liking tournaments, but stories like yours tell me that I am not quite ready yet.

    1. I understand. I have a love/hate relationship with them myself.

  2. Good result Rob! Q-10 is a powerful hand in the big blind!

  3. Nice run Rob. Tournaments always take a certain amount of luck. Glad you ran deep for day 1. Great story as usual.

    1. Yeah, you gotta get at least a little bit lucky.

      Thanks, Dale.