Thursday, October 30, 2008

WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., Day 1, Part 2

A long day's journey into night. I overuse that phrase, but that's what it felt like when I moved into the later stages of play in Event #8 at WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., on Tuesday. When we got down to perhaps six tables -- 48 players or less remaining -- more and more people began noticing an anomaly on the oversized screens relaying the tourney's information to the players.

According to the payout schedule that scrolled by repeatedly, the event would pay 18 spots, not the 16 or 24 one would expect in an 169-entrant tourney with eight-player tables. The players at my initial table had noticed this early on, and what a couple of them relayed as an explanation turned out to be correct in this case. It was what in an NBA or NFL game would be termed an uncorrectable -- if very minor -- error: when the numbers and scheduled payouts were sent to the Indiana Gaming Commission, they'd accidentally typed in the schedule using a nine-player set-up instead of eight, which would have meant 16 spots would normally have been paid. Once something like this goes to the state, it is apparently set in stone, and so we would have 18 players cashing for at least $841. That extra $1,682 for spots 17 and 18 would be trimmed out of the other 16 pay slots, with first still scheduled to get more than $13,000.

I didn't care; I was maybe even happy, because I was still stuck in the 20-25,000 range and couldn't get out of that bubble zone. That bubble zone seemed like a likely destination (even if I continued to run reasonably well), since I kept catching just enough good cards to stay in the mix.

I mentioned in Part 1 that we'd had a very weak player in the one seat when I moved to my primary evening table, who had hit a card rush and surged in chips after being down to nothing early, then proceeded to spew them all back. The player who took his spot I'm not going to mention in any specific way, but I have my hunches about something. Still, that's getting ahead of myself.

We were in a game with the betting at 1,500/3,000 and this new player in the one seat was in the hand. It wasn't long after a hold'em hand in which he knocked out the short-stacked player in the two seat -- and that was a "wow" hand itself, since the one seat flopped quad aces and still had to sweat a one-outer as the two seat's 7-6 of diamonds caught a shot at a straight flush on the turn. In this later hand, though, while in either hold'em or Omaha, the one seat either made the bet to 3,000 or called it. The dealer, a youngish kid (but an excellent dealer nonetheless), spread the chips as he pulled them into the center and suddenly yelled, with excitement in his voice, "FLOOR!"

One of the TDs came over. It turned out one of the yellow 1,000-denomination chips now in the pot had a different logo on it than the ones we were using, meaning that there was a good chance that this chip had been rung in surreptitiously from an earlier event. These were all brand new chips, by the way, with several different styles in use throughout the room. Unless my memory was playing tricks, I personally have a hunch that it was this new player in the one seat who rang in the chip, because I thought I remembered him cutting off three yellows from the bottom of his stack before pushing them out in a tight manner. Where the chip was on the board, it almost certainly came from the one seat's stack. To me -- with the caveat that my memory may indeed have played tricks on me -- it seemed quite possible that the guy had buried that chip at the bottom of the stack, looking for just the right moment to bring it into play. He also didn't look quite right to me, just not acting the way I would have been if it had been one of my chips that turned out to be funny and I was innocent about it.

But let me state this right now: I could be wrong, and not having been quite observant enough to catch all of the action, I had to let it go, as did the dealer and the TD... probably for the same reasons. As the night wore on, it turned out that two or three of these dubious yellow chips had been rung into the game, but I think it was all likely from the same player. That shit sucks. It's the first time I've been at a table where this happened in a tourney where it was clear that something had gone on, this given my own relative inexperience in live-event play. And without absolute proof, it's awful hard to make an accusation. I'm sure that those chips were clean and sorted before being put into play, because this Circuit stop has featured a top-notch, veteran crew. Most of the TDs here were folks I either knew or recognized, from Steve Frezer and Charlie Ciresi to Amy and Jo and Troy and Chris and much of the rest of the "gang" I knew from the floor of the Rio. I recognized probably half the dealers as well, even if I only knew a couple of them by name.

But back to the rung-in chip(s). All I'll say is I'll remember the guy and I'll know him if I ever play him again, and will watch him like the proverbial hawk. I wouldn't confirm his identity even if someone showed me his name and photo, because 85% sure just ain't nowhere near 100%. But maybe karma did the payback already -- he busted just a table or so short of the money.

And I was getting tired. I even committed the cardinal sin of accidentally folding a half-good hand later on when we moved from stud hi-only to stud hi/lo and I missed the dealer announcing the change as a couple of other distractions swirled around us. It wasn't a made hand, but I probably should have been playing it. These things happen, I guess, but I was mad as hell at myself about it.

We broke down to seven tables, then six, and I was still stuck. I was chipping up in the stud rotations consistently but whiffing on every single playable hand in hold'em, and treading water in Omaha while staying conservative there. In the flop games, I had one of the chip leaders on my left who was defending his blinds and button with just about anything. Worse, every time I caught A-K or A-Q or something else playable in late position, the flop magically brought J-9-8 or 10-8-7 with at least two of a suit I didn't have. Those coordinated middle-deck flops crush overcards, and I had no chips to argue the matter.

Finally we got back to a razz rotation, and the deck hit me. For the first time all night, I took a huge hand off of John Guarisco, the guy who'd been outdrawing me all night. This time he made a seven in a razz hand where I made a six, and I moved over 40,000, brightening my mood immeasurably. Then I put my favorite sort of hurt on a player in stud hi/lo, and I left the poor guy with next to nothing in chips. A cardinal sin in hi/lo is to overplay high but non-ace pairs too strongly against what seems to be a made low hand, particularly one with an ace.

I had an ace up, and 6-2 underneath. Two diamonds as well. It's a hand I'm going to play strongly at least to fifth street. The guy across the way had a king up and came in for a raise, and I re-raised to clear away some of the other low cards that might want to hang around. I think one did, but he went away on fourth street when I caught a five. I caught another sweet card on fifth street, a four, giving me 6-5-4-2-A and a monster low. I kept firing; though he had something like K-2-5 showing, I wasn't too worried. Despite the fact that he could have had four cards to a wheel, I didn't buy it. I was sure he was on a high-only hand and had another king or a buried pair underneath. My half of the pot seemed safe, and I was freerolling for the rest of it.

I caught a jack on sixth street and he caught another deuce, I believe, putting him on a likely two pair, kings up. I was just praying for my three for a wheel, and after the dealer sent the last cards out, face down, I just flipped it up -- and it was the most heavenly three of diamonds. The poor guy indeed had two pair going into seventh street, kings up (just like I thought), and bricked the river. I had scooped my biggest pot of the event and the other player was down to almost nothing, and went out just a hand or two later. I did a rough count and I had something like 66,000 and all of a sudden had some serious thoughts about making a deep, deep run, since we were closing in on four tables (32 players).

It wouldn't be that easy. And it was Guarisco again, who I'd put a hurt on in a razz hand just 15 minutes earlier, who I tangled with and again couldn't beat.

We were still playing stud hi/lo when a huge hand unfolded. Guarisco started with about 25,000, and I was riding high. This was at the 3,000/6,000 level, with 4,000/8,000 hold'em just a hand or two away. The bring-in was the deep stack to my left, who had slipped a bit but was probably still at 75,000 or so. A three of clubs three seats to my left limped in, and John completed with an ace of hearts up. I had the eight of diamonds up and the 3-5 of diamonds underneath. I took one off to see what would happen.

The bring-in limped in but was almost sure to go away after catching paint on fourth street, but the guy across the way caught something like the seven of clubs, was on a short stack himself, and led out. Guarisco had caught a black six or seven himself, and I had picked up the deuce of diamonds, giving me four small diamonds to the eight. John reraised, and I looked at what his stack and the size of the stack in the eight seat were, and knew it was time for war. I decided to three-bet it to put some pressure on the other short stack, to try to isolate against (and knock out) John, since in theory both hands were big dangers. The third player hated my three-bet but he'd been at a couple of tables with me already and knew I'd been playing reasonably tight, so he folded to save his last 20,000 in chips for another battle.

Meanwhile, I had John all in by fifth street, but I bricked out completely, going J-8-J with no diamonds, for two pair and no low. John caught another ace and a three on seventh street to salvage a better two pair, and scooped what must have been a 50,000 pot. If I catch my flush there I'm a heavy favorite to scoop and get to what I think would have been more than 90,000, or even if John doesn't pair up again I'm fine. Just dammit. In retrospect, that was the pot I needed more than any other, even if I just had caught one of the other low cards to chop the pot.

Meanwhile, though, the players were dropping like flies. Kelley Kiser was knocked out from the table behind me and I didn't even notice that she'd gone, and all of a sudden the TDs halted us as we were down to 24... no, 23... as two players went out on the same hand. With blinds which were 3,000/6,000 having just jumped to 4,000/8,000 and an average stack of perhaps 42,000, this was just carnage. As for me, I'm just a hair below that average, at something like 36,000 after another hell flop killed my K-Q suited from the button in hold'em.

Steve Frezer walked by and said, "Haley, you need more chips!"

Thanks, Steve. Ell-oh-ell.

We did a table redraw at 23, and then "the plan" necessitated by the little oops with the payout information for the state was put into play. Not only did we do a redraw for seats, but we redrew for the game as well. It was stud hi/lo again, with antes of 700, a bring-in of 1,000, a complete of 4,000, and streets of 4,000 and 8,000. If I caught a hand here I'd be all in by sixth street myself, but despite getting clipped for a couple of bring-ins, it didn't come to that. I instead caught five straight absolutely unplayable hands. In those five hands -- and it might only have been four hands at the other tables -- we lost five more players, and all of a sudden the plastic baggies were being passed out at just shy of 1:00 am.

We were in the money! Congratulations all around. For me it was the second time in a hair under 48 hours, but this bagging up of chips was totally new to me. I counted up my paltry 29,100 in chips, sealed it up, and quickly called it a night. I had a 70-minute drive back to my apartment, some site work to do both yet that night and in the morning, including transcribing a funny interview with "November Nine" player Darus Suharto from the day before, and I was running on nothing but adrenalin. I was due back at 2:00 pm the following afternoon to play a short stack and hope for the best.

WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., Day 1, Part 1

Here's the short version: Two-for-two with another small cash in this event, following my one on Sunday. The (much) longer story, in several parts, has what I think will be a couple of very interesting digressions and some unusual tales from the floor. It's been a fun week so far, if a very long one.

In looking at the schedule of events for the Hammond Horseshoe stop, something I've personally had on my schedule for a couple of months, I targeted the $345 H.O.R.S.E. event (#8) that began play on Tuesday. I grew up playing stud-poker games and have always seemed to hold my own in mixed-games events. (Back in the WCOOP, I made the top 100 in the eight-game tourney -- with a couple of lucky breaks, admittedly -- and would likely have cashed in the H.O.R.S.E. as well except for the $@!@(%!% donkey who chased down my three kings on fourth street by connecting with his gutshot wheel draw on seventh, all this just outside the money. If we'd been playing hi/lo, fine, I get what I deserve for playing the kings, but this was in a high-only rotation. Ah, well, I wanted that idiot to chase; I just didn't want him to hit.)

169 players were in this one for its 3:00 pm start time, meaning it was for sure going to be a two-day event. We started promptly at 3:00, and my table was pretty tight early on, though we started with 6,000 in chips each and blinds were 50/75 to start the first rotation, hold'em. In this type of format one could sleep for the first hour or two and not lose more than a few hundred in chips, and at first it seemed that that might have been the better choice. I didn't see much for cards early on, the table was tight and seemed competent in at least seven of the eight seats, and I dropped down to about 4,800 early as we worked our way through the first complete rotation.

After eight hands of one game we'd move on to the next, ad infinitum. Our table was drifting behind nearby tables in terms of hands we played, however; we had a good, competent, but deliberate dealer, and because of the nature of the H.O.R.S.E. format and the oversized fields, the dealers weren't able to be pushed. This guy was friendly and talkative -- perhaps a hair too much so. We were in the middle of our second rotation of stud hi/lo, and after a string of hands with very little action, he drawls out, "Y'know, the 'book' on stud-8 says you're supposed to complete with an ace up, because it's such a big advantage...."

We drowned him out at that point with the "Shut up" chorus. While we had a couple of minor dealer mistakes throughout the day, including one where the dealer made me ante twice until I proved to him that there was one too many antes in the pot with my double donation, the skill level was pretty solid. Just be quits with the strategy pointers at the table, okay? (And if anyone is reading this and trying to figure out what dealer it was, let's just say that the dealer took the hint -- I don't think he'll do that again and it was minor and sort of funny in its own way.)

Oh, one other little oddity. Each table had its own set of stylin' 4" x 7" placards indicating which game was being dealt at any given moment. Except, oddly enough, the "O" card said "Omaha", not "Omaha-8" or "Omaha hi/lo". Therefore, the dealers had to check and clarify for themselves and to the players that it was indeed Omaha hi/lo being played, as it should be in H.O.R.S.E. Good idea, though, and these cards definitely helped during the play.

But in terms of me making chip headway early on, it wasn't happening. I made a real thin but correct value bet in an Omaha hi/lo that I'd raised from the button with A-A-2-x three-suited over a couple of early limits. The flop was K-J-3 or something, and I bet it once and got two calls, but after a nine on the turn I checked behind. There was something like a four on the river for a true garbage board, and it was checked to me again... and I realized my stupid pair of aces was probably somehow good. I bet it, got one call from a guy with a king and nothing else, and scooped the pot.

Only in Omaha.

The first break came, though, and I still only had 5,925 in chips -- a net loss of 75 from my starting point. I said hi to Kelley Kiser, a solid player who I had sat next to for a chunk of play in the women's event. She'd finished second in that one and was playing here as well, and was up to about 8,400 at the first break a few tables over.

During the second two hours, I chipped up a little bit, to perhaps 7,200, as the first of the players began to be eliminated. We lost one player to a different table, and I'd had that player perhaps pegged as the only real weak link; he'd been in the eight seat. The guy in the seven seat was a poker buddy of ex-NBA'er Ken Norman, who stopped by to chat after being bounced in that day's NL event, the four and five and two seats were all solid, and the three seat was a guy who knew how to play but wore his emotions on his sleeve as soon as his cards went dead. I was in the one seat.

The player in the six seat I thought was solid until he spewed a pile of chips to me in a razz hand at 200/400. And, boy, did he spew them. He had the bring-in with a king, and I completed with a deuce up and 6-3 underneath. One player with a baby up card came along, and amazingly, so did the king. Odds on him having something like A-2 or A-3 underneath are about 98%.

I caught an ace on fourth street so I'm a happy camper, with four cards to the six already. I bet it, the third player bricked out and gave it up, and the six-seat caught an eight. He called again. I liked it. I caught a seven on fifth street to complete my made 7-6, and he pulled a nine for a guaranteed dead hand. I paused just long enough to consider whether I should let him have a free card here in hopes that he improves to something better and pays me off on sixth and seventh, but then I figured that if he thinks that I'm just trying to show the table that I can indeed bluff, that he's going to call me down with crap so he can show me a lesson. So I bet... and he called. I paired up with another seven on sixth street, and it's the best card I could have hit. I bet again with what I hoped was just a touch of annoyance while he's hit a five or something and he almost beats me into the pot with his chips. Seventh street I squeezed hard, paused, and then made a bluffy, splashy bet of my 400. He tanked, then said, "You know, maybe I don't know how to play this game..." and trailed off. And called.

I'd hit a four on seventh street, so now I had a 6-4 instead of a 7-6, not that he could touch the seven anyway. Thank you for the chips, kind sir. He's crippled, too, down to about 2,800. I'm up to around 9,600 and was suddenly table boss. Then, in the one seat, we got a new player, and he was very loose and very bad. I don't get any of his chips directly, but he loosened up the action sufficiently that I snared a couple of more decent pots and moved up to around 12,000. The six seat then busted out, as did the three seat, who stormed off after his last hand didn't hold up. We got one replacement, but then our table was broken.

I was moved to the very next table, which was in turn broken three hands later, and then I'm moved to a table that's only two more down in the breaking order. Finally, my fourth table in twenty minutes is the three seat at Table 5, which is one of the inner-core tables nearest the final-table stage, so I knew I'd be there for a while. It's where I was, with about the same chips, when the dinner break arrived. The WSOP gang was issuing generous comps to all the players during the early days. Higher buy-ins received buffet coupons, which were like $20-25 each, and even the lowly events got free $7 tickets for the concession stand, which were just fine for a turkey wrap or a cheeseburger and a bag of chips. Good stuff, and that buffet, just across from The Venue in the upper floor, is high-class fare. As a writer, I've been trained for decades in the fine art of "free"... and therefore know the difference.

Back to poker after dinner.

Table 5 was interesting. There was a decent enough player in seat two, two older and tighter players in seats three and four, a decent player in seat five who also had chips sitting over in that evening's 7:00 NLHE tourney that he'd bought into when he dipped under a thousand here, but he kept going all in and surviving while his chips were bled away across the hall. He was down to about 2,400 from his starting 4,000 over there two hours later and was back up over 8,000 here when he walked across the hall and jammed his K-Q, as he shared with us, and never caught up to another player's pocket sevens. He returned and said, "I am now officially focused on the H.O.R.S.E. tournament." He was out in 30 minutes. I helped.

Seat six was a guy named John Guarisco who turned out to be my personal nemesis as the night wore on. The seven seat was the deep stack when I arrived, at about 18,000, which he said was down slightly from over 20,000 a bit earlier. The eight seat was a somewhat older nice guy whose name I didn't get, though we ended up at tables together for much of the event and he cashed as well. He was either Jeffrey or Kurt and I can't for the life of me remember which.

I gained chips here, and I would have done really well except for two cooler hold'em hands. In one hand I raised from LP with A-Q soooted and was called by an UTG limper, the guy in the seven seat with the then-deepest stack. He checked the K-J-2 rainbow flop and I bet it, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Another jack came on the turn; he checked and I checked behind, because that's what I thought was his most likely holding (giving him three jacks). Then a ten came on the river to give me Broadway. He bet it but with an odd hesitation, so I figured him for A-J or Q-J and raised. He thought it about and just called me, then turned up 2-2 for deuces full. I think I'd have paid him off there, but I was pretty happy to have saved the bet. I was shocked, though, that he didn't three-bet it. Was I that tight?

Deuces full really sucked. Later on, after I'd built back up to 15,000 or so, Guarisco laid a beat on me, cracking my monster pair (aces or kings, I disremember which), again with a flopped set of deuces. Grumblegrumblegrumble. The hand immediately after that, though, I got those chips back and then some from the player who'd pushed that K-Q into nothingness across the hall. I flopped a set of eights, turned a boat, and he caught up a bit with a flush on the river. So I survived a rough stretch.

The one seat I hadn't mentioned yet. Our first player was there was simply a player with more aggression than card sense. He'd been down to 150 (!) in chips early on and had somehow built all the way back up over 20,000. In one hand, he raised from the button against my big blind. The small blind proved to me here he was only a good player, not a great one, because he just called. (He had 5-5, it turned out.) I held 9-7, and thanks to the small blind not three-betting, I had to call with that crap to see the flop, which came K-J-9. I hated that flop. It was checked around to the button, who raised, and it's just called again by the small blind. I'm confused. I made what I thought was a very loose call.

The turn brought a deuce. The small blind checked, I checked, and the button bet again. The small blind just called again. I figured that the button was quite possibly on a dumb bluff, but with the small blind smoothing it twice I had to give him credit for something that would beat my third pair, so I folded. The river brought another brick, the small blind checked and the button bet again, which was duly called.

Button: A-6. Small blind: 5-5. I'm right but wrong and have folded the winner. Grrr.

It's part of learning one's opponents at the table. Despite having won that pot, the two seat lost a couple of other large pots and bounced out around 10:00. The one seat kept spewing back the rest of his chips. We were all the way up to the 1,200/2,400 blinds level, starting hold'em play, by this time, and I had perhaps 18,000 in chips and was squarely in the middle of the pack for the remaining seven or eight tables. I'd made it up to about 24,000 at one point but had drifted down some. Anyhow, it was my small blind, and it was folded around to the one seat, who barely looked before announcing a raise, chewing up half his chips. I saw an ace and announced a three-bet, and pleasantly saw a jack to go along with the ace. The big blind folded but the button called, so I set him all in as the flop was being spread. He called and had K-6 and the board brought both a jack and a six but no king. So his chip parabola was complete.

On to part two of my Day 1 post in a short while. Trust me when I say this is just where it gets interesting.

WSOP-C Hammond, $235 NLHE Ladies Event

After a quick flight down to Atlanta over the past weekend for what amounted to a very brief vacation, I flew back into O'Hare Sunday morning, grabbed a 90-minute power nap, then headed over to the revamped Hammond Horseshoe casino for that day's relatively affordable WSOP Circuit event. This was the ladies event and its $235 buy-in was the most affordable on the schedule, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Besides, it was my first chance to view the new (and very impressive) poker digs at Horseshoe Hammond.

There were 237 players, two or three of whom I knew, and our 3:00 starting time was the day's second event, with what I think was an open $555 event having started at noon. I didn't know what to expect in terms of structure, and was pleasantly surprised to find we started with 5,000 in chips, had 40-minute levels starting at a paltry 25/50, and with a structure that basically just crept along. It was a polar opposite to the $1,000 and $1,500 events I played at the Rio last summer, and it was almost too great a structure -- one person who I told about the day's fun called it a budding nitfest... and that's accurate.

Especially since the first orbit quickly showed that all the players at my table wanted to limp in and see cheap flops and hope to hit a monster, so I made the conscious decision to fire away and try to pick up some early chips. I was a card rack for the first two hours, too, and by the first two-hour break I was up to 18,300. Getting there that soon, of course, was all the fun.

It started with one of those hands that went from awesome to scary to just plain strange. I'd chipped up to about 5,600 early. I'd found my first big hand of the day in pocket kings, and put in a raise to 200 over an early-position limper. She called, and the flop came J-10-8. Hmmmm. Coordinated board and all. She checked, so I made it 300 or 350, and she called. The turn brought an ace. She checked again, and since I was in "damn the torpedoes" mode, I fired another 500. She called again.

Double hmmm. Barring a good river, I'm done with this hand at this point. The river, though, brought my gin card, a queen for Broadway with no flush draws available. And... she bets 1,000 into me. Well, I've got the nuts and I have to bet, so I Hollywood just a hair and shove. She tanks, then calls all in for last 2,800. I figure it's the chop, obviously, but she turns up... A-9? She couldn't get away from the non-nut straight and I don't know how she couldn't put me on at least A-K. I guess she thought I was overplaying a set or top two. But whatever.

So I'm over 9,000 early and unexpectedly. That's the way the first two hours went, when I found kings an incredible three more times, aces once, and got some action with them more often than not. The aces immediately followed one of the kings pairs, and a short stack immediately to me right (and one of the two players at the table I was most concerned about), got it all preflop against me with kings of her own. My aces held for about a 6,000 pot and the knockout. But the biggest hand of the first two hours came when I raised a tight early limper while holding pocket eights, and after her call the board came a heavenly 6-8-8. DQB!!! I checked behind on the flop, and she jammed on me when a queen hit the board on the turn. I snap-called and she showed the A-Q I expected and that was that.

It was a real fun two hours with cards like that, even if I did drop a pot or two along the way. The very worst player at the table (who unfortunately happened to be a very nice, older-middle-aged woman) got about 2,000 in chips off me after I went prospecting with Qd-10s. By this time she had already demonstrated that she played fixed-limit only, limping in with any two decent-looking cards, never re-raising unless she had a monster. The flop came 10-high so I looked to be in good shape, but she didn't go away after I bet it, so I knew I was in trouble. By the river the board offered a four-flush in diamonds and I held the queen, so I bet 1,200. She min-raised me to 2,400. We'd been chatting quite a bit, and I smiled and said, "I haven't seen you bluff yet and I don't think that bet was your first," and open-folded the queen. She smiled back and showed the diamond ace, as I expected. But for what it's worth, my wanting to target her chips aside, she not only survived, but cashed.

The second two hours weren't likely to be as nice as the first, though our table was still weak by my estimation and I wanted more chips. I took a hit down to 14,000 or so, but had built back up to about 24,000 by the dinner break. However, soon after that our own table was broken and I ended up in an unexpectedly tough draw at my new table. To my right I had two very aggressive young players who were veterans of the cash games downstairs, and to my left I had two calling stations who had already accumulated large stacks and were bound and determined to keep on calling. No use putting myself in the middle of a squeeze play if I could help it. My run of hot cards deserted me at the new table as well, and even though the money bubble drew closer, I couldn't add any chips. No middle ground. I went from card rack to card dead for the next two hours. I believe I still made it up once to 27,000 or 28,000 a couple of hours later, but the cards weren't happening and the surviving players, as one would expect, were slowly getting better. I blamed it on Doug, the Circuit dealer from the area who occasionally plays in our NW suburbs home games. I knew he was going to deal me death and he did. :-)

The one hand that put a hurt on me came when we down to four tables, with the final three tables cashing. I found Q-Q in early position and put in the standard raise, and was called by a deep-stacked player who seemed decent enough -- I couldn't get a great read on her style -- two seats to my left. The flop came a miserable K-J-J but I figured I'd take one stab at, for 4,000 or so, and she smooth-called me again. Fine, she had a deep stack... so maybe she had A-Q and was taking a shot at me, but when the turn brought a ten I couldn't put her on a hand I could beat (with possible exceptions of eights or nines), but she clearly wasn't going away. So I had to.

After that it was a struggle trying to find a way into the money and beyond. The playable hands were going elsewhere, the deep stacks were actually bullying properly, and the only pocket pair I found -- sevens -- had to be mucked after there was a raise and a reraise in front of me. Blinds moved up to 1,000/2,000 plus antes and after a couple of short stacks doubled through in unlikely fashion, I had to make my own stand. We were literally at 28 players and the bubble, but I had to play my A-10 and the big blind had to call me, being priced in, with a powerful suited 7-2.

Uh-oh. Possible hammer death at the bubble. How ironic would that be for a poker blogger? And the flop was dreadful. Ten. Deuce. Seven. Ugh. A five on the turn, no help. And then another five on the river to give me an unlikely better two pair, and let me slide into the money.

I was still short, though, especially after getting hit with an extra round of donated blinds on garbage cards after a table redraw. So I shoved with K-10, got called by a player on a rush with A-Q, and flopped a king to double up, but still only to 20,000 or so. A few hands later it was folded around me to in the cutoff and I found deuces, and as I was back down to 16,000 I'm jamming with them in that spot. (I think we were at 1,500/3,000 at the time.) The same player had A-K in the big blind, and I lost that race when the board brought all high cards, including a king. End result: 26th, for a $420 payday, my first in any official WSOP-sanctioned event, since satellites don't count.

Not great, but it sure beat the likeliest alternative. Disappointing after the early good start, too, but those are the breaks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Full Moon for Halloween

My dear friend Jo e-mailed me this, and... well... I'm a believer in share and share alike. (Besides, if I don't publish the photo, Iggy will.) Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Laptop Hell

Brand new laptop, brand new broken key. Back to the shop this morning. Sigh.

Poker news? Well, Sunday is reported to be the broadcast date for the long-anticipated "60 Minutes" piece on Absolute and UltimateBet. I'll either be watching it or recording it, I'm sure.

Poker play? Not much to report that's good. A bit down on Stars, a bit up on PDC Poker, a bit nonexistent on Bodog. I see that the Bodonkeys are returning next week, in an attempt to better fill the blogger-tourney void that's developed over recent months. I did make my once-a-month venture into Pauly's PLO tourney Saturday on Stars, and got the bad beat when it turned out that Pauly oooops-ed it and set it up as a heads-up event, and I was one of the four that had to play an opening match, since there were 34 starters and we needed to get rid of two to get down to an even 32-player bracket. Despite the fact that PLO ain't my favorite nor my best game, and I play heads-up PLO almost never, I somehow managed to win three matches before running out of cards in the round of eight. I just show up once in a while at Pauly's to donk off ten bucks. I'm also not sure what part of it was the bad beat, but it's in there somewhere. :-)

Pauly was apologetic as hell but I didn't care about that; I just thought it was funny shee-yit. However, I didn't understand why we had so many railbirds in the first round until I looked at the brackets. I had my revenge on Pauly when I accidentally wrecked his prop bet by not being in the round-of-16 match that lasted the longest. This rock says nay!! (I took it down with two or three other matches still in progress... I forget which.)

Next up... trying to get myself de-tilted in the life sense. A quick bop down to 'Lanta sounds like a good place to start. I've driven through the city once but have never really seen any of it, and I may just hire myself a cab and lose myself on Friday for the day. Saturday I have plans, and it's back to Chicago suburbia on Sunday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Proof that Online Poker is Rigged

Second time I've personally been at a table when this has happened, with the first being about four years ago on Paradise. Funniest bit here was the guy who foled to an all-in river push. (I think he had a hole-card heart for the worse flush....)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

All Quiet on the (North)-western (Suburban) Front

Not much ado for me in the poker world in the last ten days, though I commented to a post over at Bill Rini's Virtual Poker Shack regarding the PokerStars rules modification within triple draw and badugi. Still, that stuff is a tempest in a teapot.

The real truth is that the laptop hard-drive crash of a couple of weeks back and the worst of the September poker crush has kept me real busy of late... not even talking about that lovely 22-hour finale to the WSOPE. Eyelids... toothpicks... eyelids... toooooothpicks.... But between that and two other events and some rather major domestic stories regarding poker legislation and legal matters, it's been a busy stretch.

I've played live a couple of times recently but exited two tourneys in the way I find most frustrating -- when players who I thought were fairly decent proved to be rather weaker than initial estimations, knocking me out by accident by making really, really bad plays. Today, for instance, I moved all in over the top of a man I've played against several times -- nice enough guy, for all that -- who had been getting squirrelly with his aggressive steals. I pushed from the button with Q-Q with a marginally (but not terribly) short stack, over his raise from MP over a UTG limp, and he called with... K-J?? For half his stack?? Nice hand, sir, bwahhahahahahahaha. He rivered a four-flush to knock me out, but what I thought of while looking at the WPT Boot Camp hat he was wearing is that he ought to write those folks and ask for a refund. A player with that lack of comprehension of metagame considerations couldn't even tread water in $10 SNGs online. What he's not doing with that K-J is realizing that against my range he's got at least two chances in three of crippling himself. What he's trying to do instead is pray me onto a hand like pocket nines so he can somehow be in a race.

Or crap it out the hard way.

Yeah, frustrating.

Far more interesting, of course, was listening to four guys at my table, average age of 50, all assuring themselves and each other how rigged online poker was and is. "Oh, my aces got cracked eight times out of nine." Surrrrrrrre. Of, course, since he was the king of the pre-flop min-raise, thereby guaranteeing everyone else the best possible odds to come in after him, I suppose it was possible.

Of course, one of them then spouted that he'd heard about this UltimateBet thing, making him the fount of all knowledge on the subject, and oh, yeah, it was the absolute (heh to that) proof that all online poker everywhere was the dirtiest game imaginable. I've heard this stuff enough while playing live to know to just ignore it. It's times like these, when I'm playing more or less incognito, that I just like to be quiet and listen to the yokels yammer. It's always entertaining.

It's funny, though, just how badly some of these folks play in tournaments that have these $100 and $150 and $200 buy-ins. My god, I wish I had a bankroll of $10,000 or so so I could just roll around and take donkament shots without worrying about variance. On average, they are significantly worse than your typical $20 or $30 tourney player online, and are exactly the same folks that think nothing of going to a nice local golf course, plunking down $80 for greens fees and a cart -- and another $40 for drinks and a sandwich -- and hack it around to the tune of a 115. Thus we learn about the utility value of money: the more one has, the less each additional individual dollar is worth.