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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

WSOP Circuit $300+40 NLHE – Gotta Win Those Races

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As I take my seat for today's event, a floor person comes on the loud speaker and announces “turbo satellites, blinds are now going up every hand.” Seriously, why even play something like that? Just go to the black jack table and put down $100 on one hand or go to the roulette table and put down $100 on a color. Better odds than $100 in a poker satellite where the blinds go up every hand.

Anyway, I digress... back to poker. 10,000 starting chips, blinds start at 25/50, 40 minute rounds. Really good beginning structure, and to be honest the middle isn't too bad either. I pick up a quick 500 in chips when I complete with 8-7 out of the small blind and flop trips and bet the flop and turn and get called both times. My opponent folded to my over bet on the river though. I add another 1,500 to my stack when I limp again with Q-J suited on the button and call flop, turn, and river bets from the big blind on a J-8-5-4-5 board. I don't raise here for two reasons. One, if he re-raises my raise I'd have to toss my hand. Two, if he is bluffing, a raise will chase him off and I lose value. He had a flush draw that missed and made a stab on the river in an attempt to pick up the pot.

I pick up another pot when I call a minimum raise with 8-7 of spades and see a flop of 5-3-2 with two spades. I lead out for 250 into the 500 pot and am minimum raised by an old guy who I will find out later to be somewhat of a maniacal idiot, but I didn't know this at the time. Everyone folds and I call. The turn is the jack of spades giving me the flush. I'm pretty sure my opponent has a strong hand, so I check with the plans of check calling and then check raising the river. He bets smallish this time, 300 into the 1,500 pot. In hindsight, I should have raised here, but I just call. The river is a terrible card for me, the queen of spades. Now my goal is to just check call a bet and try and keep the pot as small as possible. He checks behind me and I win over his set of 2's. Like I said, I should have bet the turn, there's a good chance we would have gotten all the chips in the middle.

The table I am at is having a lot of fun and I'm having a good conversation with a young 30 something guy from my neck of the woods named George. We talk about movies, poker, divorce, and kids (he has two young boys back home). He tells me about some home games in Nashville and I get his e-mail address so I can get invited to them.

A man is paged by the floor and when there is no response, she gets back on the microphone and says, “we know you're here, your wife is here.” The entire room cracks up at that comment.

Our dealer, a cute thing named Jennifer that I've seen around the circuit, tells a story about how a man is getting a massage from a massage therapist and his wife walks into the room and taps the massage therapist on the shoulder and has her move to the side. The wife proceeds to start massing her husband and after a few moments starts to massage him in very erotic areas. The husband does nothing, just sits there and stares straight ahead, and according to Jennifer the wife taps him on the shoulder and slaps the living hell out of him. The table laughs.

A player at our table says, “I have a shirt that says I'm All In on the front and on the back it says And She's Still Bitching.” As I said, the table is having a good time, but yes... there is poker being played.

I lose a bit of my stack right before the first break when I raise to 500 with the blinds at 100/200 with A-8 from late middle position and am called by the small blind who I will now refer to as my nemesis since we will tangle in numerous pots before the day is over. The flop comes 8-5-2 and he checks. I bet 500 and he calls. The turn is a 6 and my nemesis leads out for 1,000. It's a pretty draw heavy board, so I should recognize here that he's protecting a hand better than a top of 8's. I don't though and make the call. The river is a king and he checks. I check behind and he shows pocket 9's. I get to the break with 10,225 in chips.

Play after the break does not start well for me.
I open with A-J and am called by my nemesis who minimum raises my continuation bet on the rag flop. I fold. I lose another grand when I flop a flush draw with K-10 of spades and don't improve (I bet the flop and check called a small bet on the turn). This puts me down to 7,500 in chips. I am able to pick up a small pot when I raise a tight player's big blind from the cutoff with J-8 off. He calls but check folds to my continuation bet on an A-10-3 flop. I don't play a hand for a good 20-30 minutes and open raise to 750 with the blinds at 150/300 in early position with K-Q of spades.

My raise gets no respect as I get four callers. The flop comes K-10-3 rainbow and it is checked to me. I bet 1,250 into the 4K pot. My nemesis on the button acts very quickly and makes it 4K to go. I think about it for some time as 4K would basically commit my entire stack, but everything in my head tells me I'm behind so I show the king and fold. My nemesis (who was actually a really nice guy that I chatted with) says, “I raised too much didn't I, I had a set of tens.”

Whether he actually did or not is irrelevant, I feel the fold was the right play at this time. This hand puts me at around 6K in chips. I still have 20 big blinds though so I'm not panicking. Yet.

With the blinds at 150/300, there are two limpers and I look down at A-Q of diamonds on the button. One of the limpers is a big stack and I don't think I can make a regular raise here as he would be likely to push me off the pot if I missed the flop. I'm more than happy to pick up the 1.5K in dead money right there and move all in. The blinds and the initial limper fold but after a few moments of thought the big stack calls with K-10 of clubs. Ugh. The flop comes 6-4-2, but with two clubs. Ugh again, but it points out that my reasoning for moving in was correct. If I had made a regular raise, I would have probably had to fold on the flop. I actually manage to face the king, ten, and clubs and double through to 12,750.

A few years ago I mentored a large number of poker newcomers at an online web site. I'd gotten to know a number of the people well and one of the old timers from that site whom I see often came over to give me a hug. One of the players at my table asks her who I am and she tells him. He laughs and introduces himself as a member of the school. “I've heard good things about you,” he said.

He asked my advice on one of the breaks about a bet he had made and I told him that if he was going to make a bet in that situation, that it needed to be larger and that the bet needed to make sense.

I mention this because it plays a role in this next hand.
I'm in the big blind and have K-8 off suit. Six of us see the flop of K-J-9. I've flopped top pair but on that coordinated board and with that many people in the pot, I don't like my hand that much. Fortunately for me, everyone checks. The turn is a good card for me, an 8, giving me two pair.

The small blind, the big stack who doubled me up with K-10, bets 500 into the 2K pot. I call as does the school member on the button. The river is a 5. The small blind checks. I remember back to the hand that the school member bluffed on the river and lost and our conversation. I'm fairly sure I have the best hand but know that if I bet that I'm only going to get raised by a better hand or induce folds from worse hands. I decide to give the school member an opportunity to bluff and to minimize the potential damage if one of the two actually do have me beat. I check. Sure enough the school member makes a larger bet than the time he did before... 3,000 into the 3.5K pot. The small blind folds and I make the call. The school member shows A-10 for the missed straight and I scoop in a nice sized pot.

Two hands later, a short stack moves all in for 5,000 with the blinds at 200/400. I'm in the small blind and have pocket 9's. His range of hands here in my opinion includes pairs smaller than mine and two big cards. I have enough chips that I can recover if he has an over pair or lose a race. I make the call. He has K-J and I win the race and build my stack to 24K which is where I hit the 2nd break.

I manage to lose a rather large chunk of that to my nemesis immediately after the break. I limp in the cutoff after two limpers with 6-5 suited and five of us see a J-J-5 flop. It is checked to me and I decide to see where I am at and make a 1,750 bet. My nemesis calls from the blinds and everyone else folds. The turn is a 2 and he checks to me again. I remember his hand with the 9's where he led out after check calling a bet on the flop. He has checked this time so I don't think he has a jack. I make a bet of 2,250 but much to my chagrin (and surprise), he calls. Now I know he has a jack. Oh well. The river is an ace. He checks and I quickly check behind knowing there is no value in betting here. He turns over J-10 and I muck. My stack is down to 17.5K now.

I don't waste much time getting those chips back from him though as the next orbit I open to 1,500 with the blinds at 300/600 with 10-9 of diamonds. My nemesis re-raised it to 3,000 from the button – his raise amount is a mistake in my opinion, there is 6K+ in the pot so I'm getting 4:1 on my money to call. I make the easy call.

The flop comes 10-5-3 rainbow and I check to him. He bets 3K and I just call, mainly because I want to see what the turn is and what he does on the turn before I put the rest of my stack in. The turn is a 6 of diamonds giving me a flush draw along with my top pair. I check with the intention of check raising all in. He foils that plan by checking behind me. The river is a black jack and I'm pretty sure now that I am ahead. I make a small bet of 3K and he folds, showing A-K. I'm up to 25K after the hand.

A similar situation to the hand I doubled up on with A-Q arrives when the school member and big stack who had K-10 both limp in. I look down at A-K of hearts on the button and make it 5K to go. The school member hems and haws for a while. He's probably thinking about something I've taught my students about “punishing the limpers” and is wondering if I am doing that here. He must think that I am because he decides to move all in for his last 9K, another 4K or so for me to call. Much to my surprise the big stack calls. I really don't want him in there with another K-10 type of hand, so I move all in for an additional 15K. The big stack looks at me and says, “I guess we're going to gamble” and makes the call. I'm thinking he has a medium pair, not really what I want to go up against. The school member turns over A-10 and much to my delight the big stack turns over A-K. I'm more than happy to split the pot with him at this point, and this is exactly what we do when a king hits. This puts me up to 30K and sends the school member to the rail. I shake his hand – he was a nice guy and it was fun to play and talk with him.

I lose 3K when I open raise with K-J of diamonds and receive a call from a fairly solid player in the big blind. The flop comes 7 high with two diamonds and I make a continuation bet of 1,500 and am called. The turn is a 4 and I check behind his check. The river is a 9 and he leads out for 6K and I quickly fold. A few minutes later I lose one of those key races you need to win in these events in order to have a chance. It's folded to the button, a solid player who has moved in a couple of times first to act with his short stack. He does so again and I look down at pocket 4's. His all in is for 8,550 so it's about 1/3rd my stack. It's close but I'm confident it's a race and if it's not I'm still in ok shape. I'm looking to accumulate chips at this point and this seems like a good spot. I call and he shows A-Q. He hits the ace though to double through me and I'm back down to 18K. Quite the roller coaster... just the way I like my tournament poker!

I lose two small pots to fall down to 12.5K and am quickly approaching the desperation stage. With the blinds at 400/800, I make it 2,000 to go with 10-9 of spades. I hadn't been getting dealt a lot of hands and wasn't content to sit back and blind/ante myself into oblivion. My nemesis calls me yet again out of the big blind. The flop comes perfect for me J-8-4 all spades. He checks and I make a continuation bet of 2,500. He quickly makes it 10,000 to go. I have 10,500 and put the rest of it in. He shows K-J, no spade and doesn't hit the miracle. I double through to 26K. I don't get an opportunity to play a hand for two levels and I hit the dinner break with 20K in chips.

Immediately after the dinner break, my nemesis moves his short stack all in for 6,000 total. I look down at A-9 suited from the cutoff and feel that I'm in good shape against his range and it's a good spot to pick up 10K in chips. I call. I haven't talked much about the old maniacal idiot to my left much, mainly because he had position on me and I seldom had a chance to play pots with him. He had made some of the strangest and stupidest calls I've ever seen at a poker table, including calling a massive all in over bet with K-10 (and spiking a king to knock out a guy with queens) and making a massive all in over bet on a flop with absolutely nothing.

I'd never seen someone his age play this loose and aggressive. I was starting to wonder if it was Phil Laak wearing that old guy mask. Anyway, he calls as well. The flop comes J-2-2 and I check. The old maniac bets 4,000. I guess I should have re-shoved pre-flop to isolate and can't imagine that my A-9 is in good shape here. All he needs is a bigger ace or a pocket pair and since he's betting into a dry pot, he surely has me beat right? Wrong. He had K-9 off suit. My nemesis had Q-10. Ugh. There went an opportunity to pick up a huge pot. The king high holds up and I can feel steam coming out of my ears, but I quickly calm down.

I then suffer my biggest bad beat of the tournament. I typically don't look at my cards before it's my turn to act unless I am in the blinds. I am in the big blind and am dealt pocket aces. Sure enough, I get a walk. My first walk of the tournament. “Are you kidding me,” I laugh as I turn my hand face up. There are different kinds of bad luck in poker, and this is one type.

I pick up the blinds three times with A-10, A-Q, and A-K when I raise and receive no callers. This virtually doubles me up to 24K. I open for 5K with the blinds at 1,000/2,000 with K-Q and am re-raised all in by a solid, tight player. I have him covered by 4K and am getting over 2:1 on my money. I think it over. The math says call in this situation but I just didn't like it so I folded.

A few hands later I get pocket 9's and move all in for 18K. I am called by the old maniac. I'm thinking this is a good thing until he turns over his cards. Pocket kings. I stand up and get ready to leave but finally get lucky and hit a 9 to double up to 40K. Just to show you how bad this old maniac was, he ended up calling an 80K all in from the other big stack at the table with A-9 on an A-10-8 flop. He was of course crushed by A-K and shipped over 80% of his stack and the new big stack at the table had nearly 200K in chips. About an orbit later, the big stack opened on my big blind for 9K with the blinds at 1,500/3,000. I look down at pocket jacks and make the easy move all in. He quickly calls with A-K. A race I can live with. Win this and I have 90K and am in good position to make a run. He hits a king though and that ends my tournament as I finish in about 85th place out of 509. Close again, but that means nothing in tournament poker. The key for me, however, was that I thought I played well, with a few small mistakes here and there and I know that it's just a matter of time before I break through.

Up next is the 6 handed NLHE event. Aggressive poker for the win!

*WSOP Circuit $300+40 NLHE – Not The Best Start*

*WSOP Circuit $200+30 Limit O8 – How to lose 25K in 5 minutes*

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