52 Step-Up

I really can’t let a backlog like this keep building up!

Full Tilt Step 1 (1,500 chips)

Trying to get back on the Steps train. Lost 420 chips with J8 double-paired in my hand when the board went JT786 and my opponent went all-in on the river. Uncharacteristically, I didn’t take a chance on him having a 9. Lost half of my remaining chips when the board turned up four hearts and I backed down. I made it back up over 1,000 a couple of times over 35 minutes but it didn’t go anywhere.

Full Tilt Step Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Thirteen minutes in, went all-in with TA on second pair and got caught by a AK with top pair.

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

Only six hands. KK lost me 400 off the bat and AT double-paired on the flop lost out to pocket kings that tripped, likewise.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

27 minutes. Finished fourth to get another Step 1 ticket.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Finished third after 33 minutes. Still at Step 1.

Full Tilt Step 1 (1,500 chips)

Three quarters of an hour and still only placed fifth. No better, no worse.

Full Tilt Step 1 (1,500 chips)

Guess I should have stuck with the turbo games. That and I shouldn’t play A5o or a pair of eights.

Full Tilt Step 1 18-Players (1,500 chips)

I like these two-table variations. For one thing, the top four slots make it into the next step. For another, there’s just more room to maneuver. I managed to bulk up early and stay near the top without making any dumb moves. Back to Step 2.

Full Tilt Step 2 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Half an hour puts me in third. I’ve been letting the two smaller stacks contest with each other, but call the big blind’s all-in with QJ and lose half my stack. No movement.

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

Disaster strikes. I pick up Q9 and the flop is 2Q3. I bet 200 from UTG (with 200 in the pot pre-flop) and get a call from the cutoff. As the 4 and then the A show he represents a strong hand but I don’t believe him. I should have, though because his 32 had me beat from the beginning. Off the steps again in seventeenth place.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

I just maintain in this it seems like, but it’s enough to keep me in the running. Fifth place and a Step 1 ticket.

The Internet Hand

In the last couple of live games I’ve participated in, the “computer” or “internet” hand of Q7o has been mentioned. The pokerterms.com definition discounts the idea that the conventional explanation that a simulation showed it was the hand with the smallest positive win rate in heads-up play of the 169 hand combinations. In their section “Real Statistics,” they claim that Poker Stove shows Q2s and Q5o between Q7o and the 50% mark and that J5s is just under the mark.

I hate to differ with the venerable Poker Stove but I have my own sets of statistics, run for between two to twelve players. Each set is based on 500,000 hands of No-Limit Hold’Em. And the conventional explanation is right. Q7o will be the best hand 50.56% of the time in a two-player game. I don’t know what pokerterms.com was feeding their copy of Poker Stove but Q2s only wins 47.74% heads-up and Q5o is 48.51%. J5s is 47.35%, also on the down side.

Of course, that’s not the entire story. Poker isn’t just a binary win/lose proposition. There’s always the possibility of a tie, and some hands have relatively high possibilities of doing so. While a hand like AA will only tie 0.42% of its appearances, J5s will tie 5.13% of the times it shows up.

One way to evaluate a hand’s strength isn’t how often it wins but how often it doesn’t lose. If I don’t lose any chips, if I can split whatever other money might be in the pot, that’s acceptable. On that basis, Q7o looks marginally better. I wouldn’t normally play it, but in a brute-force statistical race, it only loses 46.02% of the time. It’s in the top 40% of possible hands, ranked on how often they lose. If you look at the range between a hand that loses 50% of the time heads-up (J6o loses 50.05%) and the best possible hand pre-flop (AA loses 14.02%), Q7o rates 11% better than statistical average. Q2s is at 5%, Q5o is 6%, and J5s is 7%.

Lots of ways to slice and dice statistics. Just a matter of making them useful.

Put a Spade In It

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Trying to get back on the track. Aces in the first three hands and I win only the very first (AK) and that’s just 30 chips. Another ace with a lower kicker pairs. I have to back off 66 when triple paint shows on the flop, and AQ loses out to a pair of sevens.

Full Tilt Step 1 Super Turbo (300 chips)

I will never enter another Super Turbo so long as I live. You might as well just roll dice.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Lost 600 on the first hand when an ace showed up late, doubled up from 395 only because a guy with 3K stayed in for absolutely nothing against my AJ all-in, then lost the whole thing with KK when 8A paired up.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Entered into the tournament twice and neither went anywhere. Got knocked out the final time by a Mutant Jack that paired over my eights.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Played pretty conservatively for twenty minutes until I got A5 at 60/120 when we were down to six players. I raised to 240 from the cutoff and got a call from the big blind. The flop was 348 and I bet another 240 after a check. He raised all-in and I called for everything I had. His 78 gave him a pair and the K K after the flop didn’t improve me any.

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

Another conservative game until the last hand. I got QQ and raised from the big blind of 30 to 210 in the hijack seat. The button re-raised all-in for 1,410 and UTG+2 went all-in to 2,385. Either one put me in and with QQ I took the plunge for 1,493. I saw KK and KK. Neither would improve but they didn’t need to. A pair of nines and a pair of aces on the board with an errant 6 and it was over.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Reasonably good going for fifteen minutes until I was dealt JQ in the small blind at 25/50. UTG+1 raised to 100, UTG+3 called, and both the blinds went along for the ride. I got top pair with TQ5 and bet 150. UTG+1 called but UTG+3 raised to 1,000. I wasn’t about to let him get away with that. But I should have. I called and the 9 on the turn gave me an up-or-down straight draw. I put in my last 280 and he went all-in to call, 40 short of my stack. The 3 didn’t connect with anything and when the cards turned over he had a a pair of queens, too, but with K instead of an ace for the kicker. I managed to quad up on my next hand but somehow that’s not so satisfying when you’re doing it with only 40 chips.

Aces Players Club (5,000 chips)

I’d managed to almost recover from some early losses with a 67 that turned into an 8-high straight on the flop. On another hand I double-pair A3 and push all-in to drive off an A5 that only connects on the top. Then I got JJ and raised to 250 with the blinds at 50/100. Several players came along and the flop was somewhat disturbing, with a Q. Everyone checked through that and the K on the turn. J on the river gave me trips but at the far end of the table a player bet 1,000. I came over the top for 2,500 and everyone but him dropped out and he called. It wasn’t until he turned over his 57 that I realized there was another spade on the flop. A little while later I had A9 and bet hard but the big stack two places to my left got three spades (including 9) on the flop to flush out his K5, which I saw after I tried to bluff him off. I had a small chance with runner-runner 9s or aces or any combination thereof to make a full house, but it didn’t happen and I was out in less than an hour.

That’s nine losses in a row. I think the streak is off.

We All Fall Down

Full Tilt Step 3 18-Player (1,500 chips)

Never got a really good hand and nothing else connected. My only pair in forty minutes of play was 33 and the best suited hand I had was T8 which won me a big 120 chips. I only took two pots larger than 200 chips, when I opened with double the big blind holding KT and the small blind followed holding QJ then the flop dropped A7K and we both checked it down to the river, where my kings took it. I managed to push another player off a flop of 62Q holding 6A for 350 chips.

The end came trying to make a position play. The final table was just a couple hands in, and I was dealt AT on the button, holding 930 chips with blinds at 60/120. UTG limped in, action folded to me and I limped, the small blind came along, and the big blind raised to 240. UTG called and I shoved. Small blind dropped out, big blind called with 3.5K behind, and UTG folded. I was up against AK. Neither of us connected but I was out on the bubble and off the Steps ladder.

I Never Flush

Full Tilt Midnight Madness (1,500 chips)

Three hands in and there are four after the flop with 390 chips in the pot. I have 8A, there’s 2QJ on the board and I’m first to act in the small blind. I bet 200, there’s a fold and two calls. The turn’s 4 and I push out another 200. UTG+1 calls and UTG+3 goes all-in for 1,180. Everyone calls. The last card’s 8 and UTG+3 with QT loses to UTG’s straight made with T9 (as do I).

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

I win exactly one hand during my four minutes in this match and it does not come with a knockout bounty.

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

Ten minutes in and I get JK as UTG+1. I raise to 120 (4xBB) and get a re-raise to 405 from a stack with twice my chips in the hijack. I call. The flop is 52A and I check, then he bets 625. I call and the turn’s 7. I’ve got nine possible draws to an ace-high flush, just like I did in Midnight madness. I bet 120 with 865 behind and he raises all-in. I call. The river is T. He’s got KA and I’m out.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 6-Max (1,500 chips)

I did a little better here than in my last attempt. I managed to get up to 4K, then was busted back to 1.5K, with a last-minute double-up before I busted out in third place. No step up but I didn’t lose any ground.

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

A slightly longer run into the $10K than the one above but nothing to be proud of. I got beat down on a couple of hands where TA and KT failed to connect, then managed to pull off a triple up. I was in the big blind at 20/40 when I picked up AA. UTG raised to 155, action folded to the button, who called, the small blind folded and I raised to 640. Both of the others came along and the pot had over 1,900. After the flop of Q67 I went all-in for 1,270. UTG called. The button went all-in for 2,525 and UTG gave up. There was 5,750 in the pot, the button flipped over Q8 and with T on the turn and 4 on the river it was mine. I managed to blow it with another ten combo—TK—just seven hands later when trip sixes beat my pair of kings and straight draw, taking 4,630 off of me. I lasted about 20 minutes after that but never made it back over 1,200 chips.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 18 Players (1,500 chips)

I had a couple near-fatal setbacks in this tournament, but in the 18-player Sit & Gos Steps the top four spots all step up. I’d been up over 3K, then back down to just over 2K when I played 9A from the small blind. There were four to the flop, which was an intriguing 7T2. I made a pot-sized bet of 800 after the flop and the button raised all-in to 1,240. After my call, the turn made my nut flush with 3. Then the whole thing fell apart with a 2 on the river and a TT in my opponent’s hand. I managed to build up to 5K by the end of the tournament, about 75 minutes after the first hand.

Full Tilt Rush Flash

It had been a while since I sat down at a ring game and even longer since I hit the Rush tables. I played for about half an hour, losing my entire first stake on the second hand with pocket 9s against pocket kings. I bought back in and rebuilt, eventually coming out ahead with a BB/100 hands of 11.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Stupid moves on my part knocked me out here in 106th place out of 161 players. Another ATo I shouldn’t have played, and an obvious pair of kings on the board that beat my pocket 9s, even without another king in my opponent’s hand.

Full Tilt Rush Mach 10

A quarter hour at a slightly higher stake, I managed to pull out of a trough and make it into profitability before the end with a ten combination but only because my cards were higher than the other player who followed the trip sevens on the board. BB/100 of 3.5.

Full Tilt Rush Mach 10

This 77-minute excursion managed to eradicate the gains of the earlier sessions. After the seventh minute, I was never in the black. A QK made it to four spades by the turn but no flush. TJ paired the ten on the flop for both myself and the guy holding QT. KA paired but couldn’t beat trip fives. BB/100 of -15.5.

Full Tilt Step 2 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Turbo it was. Thirty minutes from start to finish—even with only nine people—is pretty fast. I got knocked down to 1K fairly quickly but managed to double up after a dozen minutes with an all-in move and KA that matched the king on the turn. Another lucky AK only ten hands later breathed some more life into my stack. I ended up going out in third place with a K9 that failed to connect with anything. Didn’t lose ground but no step up.

Puffmammy Tournament 18 (1,500 chips)

Lost a couple of early pots that hindered my play in the first rounds. Managed to build things back up but had a huge chip stack on my right for most of my night. I was in decent shape going into the break but just didn’t get the right cards at the right time as I was trying to outlast D. Didn’t work. Lost the POY point lead for the first time since mid-October, going out 6th of 8. Only down by a point, though, since D went out on the bubble (4th).

Cake $1,000 Guarantee – Bounty (3,000 chips)

Took two bounties in a three-way ace-off three-quarters of an hour into the match. I had AQ on the button at 75/150. UTG+3 goes all in for 1,959. Cutoff is all-in for 1,123. I’ve got 4,560 and call, the blinds fold. The cards go over 9A for UTG+3 and A7 for the cutoff. The board delivers K5Q A T and I’m up to almost 8K. I lose most of that running pocket queens into pocket aces a few minutes later, build back up to more than 5K, then end up with less than 2 big blinds when my AQ is beat by A4. Someone takes my bounty on the next hand when I go out 37th of 96.

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

Nine players in another Steps outing, hoping to get far enough during FTOPS to play a game. JJ in the big blind puts me over 2,500 chips and into first position a dozen minutes in when the chip leader and I play chicken with our pocket pairs. It’s a scary board for me with 49AQ5 but I would have assumed it was even more so for his 77. I mostly rest and slide (with a couple of wins) down to 1,950 when I get AT in the big blind. There are seven players left, the hijack raises to 300, and the button foes all-in for 1,385. I call and so does the hijack. A tantalizing 247 shows on the flop, I check, and hijack raises to put me all-in. There’s nearly 5K in the pot; I’ve got nine outs to the nut flush; I call and each of my opponents turn over a pair of queens. Their hands aren’t going to improve. Mine doesn’t with a J on the turn, but the river is 6. At 40 minutes in I’m back in first place (top two win Step 3 tickets).

I take a flier on KT a few hands later and lose 1,000 so I decide I’d better cool it. Ten minutes later we’re down to five players and I get A5 on the button. I’m down to 3,830 chips, the blinds are 80/160. I call after two folds and the small blind is in. Three to the flop of 343. Once again, very tantalizing. Everyone checks for another card, the 2 which makes my straight and gives me a flush draw. Not to mention a straight flush draw. The big blind bets 160 when it’s his time and I raise the 640 chip pot to 1,600. Big blind goes all-in and there’s 4,860 in the pot when the Q shows on the river. He’s got J3 for trip threes but no 2, 3, 4, or jack shows to save him from fifth place.

I clamp down hard on myself. With 6,100 chips, I have twice what any of the other three players do. I do push an AT hard on a 2879 turn to push two players off and pick up 1,200 but mostly I let the rest of the players fight amongst themselves. The final hand I get 55 in the small blind and follow the short stack all-in for about 2K. I have enough behind that I’m still the chip leader if I lose. He has AK but the flop is 45Q. Even A on the turn doesn’t help him.

I guess I do flush once in a while.

Short Tournaments

Nothing elaborate, just a couple of short tournaments since the last post.

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

Came into the Rush game I’ve played before ten minutes late but near the beginning of the second level (15/30). No problem there. Didn’t lose any huge hands until the end but never managed to crack 2K.

Picked up KK after 15 minutes of play (at 30/60) and raised to 180 from the cutoff after everyone ahead of me folded. Big blind called. The flop was 69J and he put me all-in. I called and was ahead of his A6 until the A turned over. No king on the river for me and I was out 344th of 1,210.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

This was downhill from the first hand. I literally did not win a single pot, losing the last hand holding T6 on a glop of 3KA to a pair of jacks that wasn’t made until the river.

Cake Poker Irish Open Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Another bad start here. There were three tables when I began and we were five-handed on my first hand as I was in the big blind with 23. The cutoff raised to 70 after a fold from UTG. The small blind came along and a I didn’t throw my hand away as I should have. The flop was 655. Action checked to the cutoff and he bet 125. The small blind folded but I decided to chase the straight and called.

The 4 was the turn. I had my straight. I had four to a flush—I even had two outs for a straight flush—I bet the pot for 460 and got a call. Then the 5 landed on the river. I checked, my opponent bet 380, and I paid him off to see his TT make a full house after pulling a 9% chance out of his pocket.

I maintained at around 900 chips for about ten minutes until I pulled JJ. There were six players at the table and I was back in the big blind (still at the 10/20 level). The cutoff, button, and small blind limped in and when I raised to 100 everyone called.

The flop was T63, pretty safe for my jacks. I bet 790 all-in after the small blind checked and the button was the only caller, flipping over T9. And, of course, the 9 was the next card to flip, with a useless Q on the river, and I was the second player eliminated from a pretty small field.

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%.

Use the Force

Played a $1K guarantee on Cake. The overlay on their guarantee tournaments is usually decent; in the case of this particular tournament the buy-ins only paid 79% of the guarantee.

I made it up to 7K and first place in the tournament (from a starting stack of 3K) in about 20 hands, taking out two players with a QA and more than doubling up.

After getting knocked down a couple thousand I got too cautious. A K8 came my way. Play was nine-handed, I was UTG+3 and the blinds were 125/250/25.  UTG called. UTG+1 went all-in for 1,360. UTG+2 folded. I had 6,670 chips, enough to cover all but two of the players by a couple thousand chips. K8s wins or ties 16.49% of hands at nine players, it’s in the top 15% of hands, and I typically play it in this type of situation. I folded.

Both blinds folded and the UTG caller matched the raise. It was A7 for the UTG and TT for the all-in. The board ran 3K5 9 4 and the pocket pair won more than 3K that could have gone to my kings.

It was another couple of spades—4A—that gave me pause in the wrong spot after I’d managed to make it up over 8K (at 150/300/30). Maybe it was because it was another A4. Nine-handed, A4s is actually a marginally better hand pre-flop than ATo.

The big blind put that player all-in. UTG+3 called (with 4,200 behind) as did I, from the button (8,100 left). The small blind raised to 1,676. He was one of the two larger stacks at the table and had another 8,700. UTG+3 re-raised all-in to 4,464. I folded and the big stack called. It was AJ for the big stack against a 66. An A showed on the flop, but a 4 came on the turn. Another 10K not to me.

I managed to get up to 16K with a set of queens against a pair of kings, but was knocked out the next hand in 30th place in a battle of pocket pairs. Minimum cash.