The Brick

Mostly red across the board for the past couple days as I find myself falling into the bad habit of thinking people are bluffing more often than they actually are.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Downhill all the way for twenty minutes. Lots of aces in my hands (4 out of 36) but nothing connected. Biggest loss was with A8 and an eight-high open-ended straight draw on the flop. Didn’t make it, though, and I was out in 1,515th of 2,080.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

Started off very well here. Joined a few minutes into the game so my first hand was in the big blind (15/30) with a normally unplayable K7. There were only seven players at the table at the time. There were two limpers and I let it run. I hit middle pair with Q67 and decided to play with it a bit so I bet 45. One of the limpers folded and the other raised to 150, which I called. Another 6 on the river and I decided I needed to try to end it so I bet 120 but I got a call from the other side. The river was 2. I checked to see what he had and he bet 540. A 6x beat but I figured it was worth a look so I plopped down a third of my stack to see 45 with busted flush and open-ended straight draws. So that was a nice first hand.

Just a few hands later I picked up KQ in the cutoff. I limped in, as did the button and small blind, and there were four to the flop. 82Q didn’t have a lot of possibilities (apart from a flush draw); when action got to me I bet 90 on my queens, getting calls from the button and big blind. I made two pair with K on the turn, which was a good thing. My bet this time was 400 and I got an all-in call from the button that folded the big blind. I had it covered by 1K, and it was a bounty tournament, after all, so I called. The button had had me until the king showed up, with 8Q; now the smaller of two pairs. Got a bounty and was up to 4,800 chips at the start of hand 5.

The last hand was a whopper. I had A3 in the big blind and was heads-up pre-flop with the biggest stack at the table, with about 9K vs. my 4,900. I got two pair on a 7A3 flop. Not much more than you could ask for there, eh? The big stack bets 120, and I figure he’s got some sort of ace, but I’ve got AxKx beat. I raise him to 510 and he calls. Now things look a little diceier because the turn is K. I’ve still got most ace combinations beat, but there is a massive flush draw on the board. I check. Big stack bets out 1,140 after I check. This is the point where I should tell myself: “You still have 4,355 chips, you’ve only got 570 in the pot. Just stay in the tournament.” I call instead. Q on the turn.

I check again and the big stack shoves in, essentially doubling the pot, since the pot is just a little larger than my stack. I call. Then he turns over 33, a hand I wasn’t even thinking of and which had me walloped from the turn.

Gone in a little over half an hour. 1,725th place out of 1,770 players.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Off to a good start with a double-up via QJ giving me a higher straight on hand four. Then the Mutant Jack AJ cut me in half when AQ and I both double-paired—him on the turn and me, uselessly, on the river. Two hands later I had QA and ran into AK, and lost another 1,500 chips.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

Overplayed a TT hand. Our table had six seated at the 120/240 level and hijack raised my small blind to 650. I re-raised to 1,060 and got a call. Then a K hit on the flop and I checked, only to be met with a 720 bet. Raised all-in hoping he just had an ace. No such luck: K7 and he even double-paired on the river. My TT on the next hand didn’t do any better and I was out in 11th.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Popped up on the first hand with 99, then again with an almost identical 99 an hour into the match. Pocket JJ were the harbinger of doom for this game, though, with a Q in the hole connecting with the QA of another player. I managed to crawl up from 400 to 1,900 before pocket QQ knocked me back down to less than 150 and the door. 917 of 2,800.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

The first 20 hands were good, with my own QQ filling a king-high straight and doubling me to 4,600. Hung around there for a little bit then stupidcalled someone with a flush and lost over 3,000 chips.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

Over on the fourth hand with TT. There was a T on the flop but K on the river gave KK a better set. Still,

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

My penchant for pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory strikes once again. I double up to 3,300 on hand five with KK, putting me in the top position in the tournament. I stay there for about 20 minutes as eliminations become less frequent, then lose almost 1,000 in four consecutive hands just to see the flop with decent cards that just don’t pan out. I try to get fancy with 97 in the 150/300 big blind when the button raises all-in to 675 and the small blind calls. I go along for the ride and the board gives me a gutshot straight draw: K65. I shouldn’t call the 900 bet of the big blind and we both check our way through the turn (2) and river (5). Button had middle pair on the flop: A6. I’m out on the next hand with QT and an open-ended straight draw on the flop. 10th place gets me another chance at Step 1.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (1,500 chips)

My eighth hand K8 makes top pair on the flop and another player and I go to the mats only to have him outkick me with K9.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Made it up to 6,600 by twenty minutes in and more or less glided into the Step 2 ticket.

Encore Club (5,000 chips)

Only eleven players in the game makes my table five-handed and play is slow and methodical, with only one rebuy, yet there’s a steady bleeding of chips in the direction of just a couple of the players. I manage to take a couple of pots but I’m down a bit when we consolidate to a ten-player table. After that action heats up and I’m eliminated 9th of 11.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Corkscrewed in after just seven minutes.

Full Tilt The Ferguson (1,500 chips)

Ditto.

Full Tilt Step 2 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

Had my last chips taken by a 5x7x.

Full Tilt miniFTOPS Event #20 $125,000 Guarantee Rush (4,000 chips)

Could this have gone any worse? Sixth hand in I get AK. The flop is 4QA and I’m head-up. I bet 150 after the flop and get raised to 320, which I call. 8 shows up on the turn, so I’ve got an ace pair with a high kicker and the nut flush draw. The other player bets 860 and I idiotically go all-in for 3,600. He calls, shows QA for two pair, a 2 shows on the river and I’m down to 30 chips which are gone the next hand.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

Got off to an early start—although I joined the game half an hour in—with 87 in the big blind. Three limpers. The flop’s good for both straight and flush possibilities: T29 and I check to see what the mood is. Hijack—with more than 10K in his stack—bets 200 and I’m the only caller. The turn makes my flush with Q and I bet 200, getting a raise to 900. I go all-in for 1,250 total and get a call. He shows 8J for a straight but he’s beat. I pick up another 1,600 just five hands down the road.

My stack hovers around 5K for twenty minutes or so until my AQ runs into a set of sixes and I’m down to 1,500. I double up then next hand beating 4x4x by pairing the smaller part of my A5 but lose the whole thing with KA on the next hand to 53 and a set of fives and TT splitting portions of my stack.

Cut Off

The last couple of days have been a mixture of frustration and a feeling that maybe I’m breaking through a couple of barriers.

I didn’t play much on Wednesday. A $1K guarantee on Cake that didn’t last long, a bounty tournament where I fell out short of the money after making it to chip leader (but where I mitigated somewhat with a couple of bounties), and a shot at an Irish Open Quarter-Final Satellite that went bust.

Then, Thursday, I was atypically playing two tournaments simultaneously: another Irish Open QFS and a $1K guarantee. Personally, I like to concentrate on how the hands play out—even if I’ve folded—so that I can see what the other players are doing, and having two or more games running is too distracting.

I was managing to hold my own, though. The satellite had been running for 45 minutes and I’d been nearly busted out but worked my way back into the thick of things. We were 19 hands into the guarantee and I was about double my starting stack. Then Cake froze up. I left the client open for more than an hour, tested connectivity from another computer (in case it was my internal network, but I had no problems with Full Tilt or PokerStars). Even the web site was unavailable for a while. Once things got back up and running, my two games were gone, but there were a couple of small tournament awards in my cashier history and it looked like my buy-ins had been refunded. No announcement of what they’d done to resolve the technical glitch in Curaçao.

I switched over to Full Tilt for a bit and entered a Super Satellite to the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event, which had a qualifier playing last night. I didn’t do any better than 13th of 32. Going directly to a satellite was even worse: 15th of 18. Then again, I realized after I’d started playing that I’ve got a pretty big commitment the weekend after the tournament and in the very unlikely event I was to win a seat, I was going to be flaking out on something important just to play poker. And you wouldn’t ever want to do that.

I lasted about an hour in The Ferguson, but was somewhat distracted because I was—for the second time in a day— playing dual tournaments. Half an hour in I entered a $10K guarantee Rush tournament. The last couple of times I’d played the tournaments I’d seemed to have gotten a feel for how to play it, not using PokerTracker or my own tools. For a while, both games were running relatively well, but I ended up all-in in The Ferguson with A2 on a board of 342 only to run into a flopped straight with 56 (which also surprised the original all-in who had 33). No backdoor aces on the board for me, but 1,001st (of 2,159) place let me concentrate on the Rush game with a bit larger buy-in.

The game progressed more or less on a steady build. There was one big chunk taken out about hand 170 when my TA made top pair but pocket kings took the day (the third player in the hand, with AT was surprised , as well, but I wasn’t all-in). A graph of my chip total shows a couple of sharp notches in the line at hands 260 and 280 as well but in both cases I recovered to nearly my previous position within a few hands. KA tripled me up at one point against QK when two players called my all-in and a K was the first card on the flop. Another time I caught A2A on the flop to trip up my TA against KK, which doubled my chip stack.

A min raise at 300/600/75 from a player in the UTG+2 position in hand 325 prompted me to call from the big blind with K2 after everyone else had folded. The flop of 278 gave me at least a pair, and as he’d had several stacks of equal or greater size following him when he raised (with 21K to my 17K) it seemed unlikely that he’d have gone with anything in that range. I bet another 1,200 and he called. A 3 turned and I checked to see what he’d do, still thinking he was probably unconnected to any of it. He bet 2,400, I called, and the river rolled out K. No flushes or straights possible. Nothing that could make a full house. I had the top pair and bottom pair. He didn’t seem aggressive enough to have been holding kings himself or a pocket pair that matched the board. I checked to see what he’d do and he went all-in. I called and won 34K when he showed JQ.

I couldn’t have gone out on a better hand, although it would have been better not to go out. It was 400/800/100 on hand 354. I got AA on the button. UTG+1 made the call and I min-raised to 1,600 (I should really have pushed harder). The blinds dropped out and UTG+1 called, putting us heads-up. The flop was 7Q2, there was 5,300 in the pot, I had 27K against his 43K. He checked; I bet 2,500. He raised to 5,555, I went all-in, he called. He shows QJ for the lower pair. 58,808 in the pot and the turn card’s 5. He needs one of the jacks or another queen. And that’s what shows up on the river: Q. I go out of the tournament in 41st (of 1,062) with an ROI of 170% (he makes it to 16th).

Another $1K guarantee at Cake rounds out this account. No steady climb this. An hour into the tournament I was back at “GO” (i.e. 1,500 chips) but then things took off an in about 20 hands I was over 12K and racing down to the cash. Some laydown I made to avoid getting knocked out before the bubble took me down but a couple of helpful ace hands pushed me back up. A set of threes beat pocket fours to put me back in long enough to take 11th and an ROI of 176%.

Too Eager

Not much poker yesterday, just a couple of (very) brief excursions into tournaments.

First off was The Ferguson with $2.7K in guarantees. I took a couple of early hits with a suited connector and a gapper, then managed to double up with 55. A JA made top pair on the flop but lost to tripped-up pocket 8s, putting me back on the street after 15 minutes.

A Rush tournament with nearly $11K in guarantee money was very good to me early on. I entered (1,500 starting stack) half an hour into the tournament while the blinds were still only 40/80. My third hand, TA, the cutoff bet 240, I called from the small blind, and the big blind went all in for 1,500. The cutoff called and so did I. Cutoff’s hand was 44; big blind had 9A. Things looked grim on the flop—9AA— but T on the turn meant I was at least chopping the pot. It was J.  I was a little short of the full call from the previous hand’s big blind, so the other ace holder got 160 from the pot but I nabbed 4,260 which put me up in the top 40 or so right off the bat.

Sixteen hands later—which in Rush Poker means four minutes—I drew TT. I didn’t push things, just putting out a 300 bet at the 50/100 level. The small blind had a similarly-sized stack and went all-in for 3,590. I had it covered by only 375 but called. He was holding QA so I had a slight edge until the flop showed TJ6, which gave me a much better edge. He got an A on the turn for a bit of  excitement but the river was J, giving me a full house.

My undoing came less than two minutes (eight hands) later with another pocket pair. There was a limp (still at 50/100), then a bet and a call of 400 ahead of me. I was in the small blind with JJ and called; with another 7K behind I had everyone covered. The big blind folded and the limper called.

The flop was 4T2. I bet 600, the limper folded, the original raiser went all-in for 6,200 and got a call of 2K from the other caller. This is where—in the interests of preserving my high ranking on the tournament leader board—I probably should have folded. But I called. The original raiser had KK but the small-stack caller had TT for a set. I had two cards hoping for redemption from the turn or river. A K showed up on the turn and I was screwed. The 6 ruined the small stack’s thin chance of quads and the kings took in a pot of 16K. I had 851, which didn’t last long in Rush.