February Wrapped Up

Full Tilt $12,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

The buy-in for this tournament was low, and I’m trying to get a strategy worked out for the Rush tournaments, so I entered this even though I tend to avoid the rebuy games. Three of the players at the table double-stacked themselves before the first hand began, but the size of the guarantee was good. My play wasn’t, though. Hand nine and I had KT. UTG raises to 60 and I call and we’re heads-up. The flop gives me two pair: 2K2. UTG bets 165, I pop him to 660 and he three-bets to 8K. I only have 720 left. He could have the other two kings, he could have a one of the other twos or he could have the two aces he shows when I call.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

This game doesn’t have either the lows or the highs of the previous Midnight Madness. Sure, I dip down below 1,000 chips a couple of times in the early levels, but nothing catches fire and by the time I pick up KA in the big blind at 150/300/25, I’ve dropped from 8,300 to 2,650 in twenty hands. The small blind shoves and puts me all-in to call, which I do. He’s got JQ and pairs the queen on the turn. 120 minutes and I go out in 645th place of 3,707.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

This month’s Irish Open Finals snuck up on me. I had intended to try to qualify in one of the weekly Semi-Finals earlier in the month so that I wouldn’t be playing the Semi the same day as the Final, since it looks like the ticket winners have to join after the match has begun. Anyway, this wasn’t a game that would qualify me for anything. I played for 50 minutes and briefly broke 3,000 chips, finishing 14th of 18.

Full Tilt $19,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

This could have gone well but I got overconfident with pocket TT after nearly quadrupling my stack over 20 minutes. I was in the small blind at 60/120 and UTG raised to 480. I called and was heads-up, relatively confident with a flop of 878.  I shouldn’t have been, though. I bet 1,000 and got a call. J came on the turn, giving me a flush draw and a potential straight flush. I checked and UTG bet it all, putting me all in if I called. Of course I did. Unfortunately, he had T8 for a set of eights from the flop. He had one of the tens I needed (which would give him a full house but me a better full house). The river was 7, giving him an unnecessary improvement to a full house. I was out 377th of 557.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Another game that goes nowhere but down. Out in 12th of 15 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Is my heart in these? 11th place of 12 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Something screws up on my computer at the last minute and I can’t get out of this match before it begins. Only six players sign up and there’s no semi-final ticket awarded, just cash distribution. Another pair of tens is my final hand.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Semi-Final (3,000 chips)

I tote up and enter the Semi directly. Things get off to a decent beginning and by the first break I’m up to 5,200, actually in the prize ticket zone. Not great but not under the starting stack. Another hour and I have slipped below that number, to 2,500 chips. Not where you want to be after two hours of play.

There are seven players at my table. There’s a stack of 14K to my right, three stacks between 9K and 11K, and a couple of about 5K. I’ve actually made it to the last two tables out of 45 players (Cake runs 10-player tables). There are eight tickets being awarded to the Final, which just started. Blinds are 150/300/30 and I raise to 600 with 33. One of the 5K stacks goes all-in. I call and he’s got KK. A 3 is the first card on the flop, the rest of the cards go 8J35. He’s got a king-high flush but I’ve got quad threes. My Expected Value graph goes crashing through the floor but I more than double my anemic stack. I’m still at barely above half the chip average.

My last hand in the match is a better starter but it isn’t nearly as lucky. I’m heads-up with another player after calling his 750 raise from the small blind in the same level as the above hand. I’ve got JQ on a board of K3T for a straight draw. I bet 900 after the flop and get a raise that puts me all-in. Or I can stay with the 4K I’ve got behind. I call. He’s got AK. An 8 and 7 appear but no ace or nine. Just over two hours, 15th place out of 45 players.

Cake Daily $700 Guarantee Turbo (4,000 chips)

This is almost a classic good trend for a tournament. I probed for a chance to build my stack through the first half hour, losing blinds and one small showdown. I doubled up to 5,800 with a AJ Mutant Jack, then won another 2,900 with JQ three hands later.

An hour into the match I had over 15K, after a pocket 88 made a set on the flop then a back door full house that won me almost 7K. A dozen hands more and I was over 23K. At the ninety-minute mark I was over 32K. I almost went out going all-in with 28K in chips (with blinds at 3,000/6,000/300) and QA against JJ pre-flop; luckily the river card was Q.

I wasn’t so lucky a few minutes later when I put AK up against A6. I was in the big blind at 2,000/4,000/400, there was a raise from the cutoff to 10,600, and I re-raised to 17,200, which was called. The 276 flop hit the six and he went all-in, having me covered by 20K or so. I called and lost. 123 minutes, 16th place of 174 players, ROI 90%.

It all went south on Hand 133.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee Turbo 6-Max (3,000 chips)

I managed to build well in the first hour of this match but hit a rough patch and lost three big hands that whittled my stack from 14K to 5K. Then I had the bad luck to think that my AT was the strongest hand of the two players who went to a T8K flop only to find that it was actually the guy with the other two tens in his hand. 64th of 211 players.

Paired Off

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Another tale of amazing recovery thwarted!

You can see from the graph that every major loss in the match came from me holding pocket pairs (although my hand was not just pocket pairs in each instance).

I’d had the usual mixed luck in the early levels of the game. My stack had gone down to just over 1,000 chips then back up and I was at 2,245 and in the big blind at 40/80 when I got K7. There were eight players at the table and if the only action hadn’t been a min-raise from the small blind I might not have played that combo, but I called to see the flop, figuring the small blind had an ace. I got a great flop of AT6 and the small blind bet out 160. I raised to 320 and he went all-in for a total of 890. I had it covered, with 1,275 over, so I called. He flipped over A6 for a possible full house but no ace or six showed.

Three hands later, T9 came into my hand in the cutoff, at 50/100. Hijack raised to 275 and I called. The button called and the blinds folded. Full house on the flop: 99T. Hijack checked and I led out with a tentative-looking 150. Button went all-in for 1,900, so he could have the other two tens. Hijack raised enough to put me all-in if I called, which I most certainly did. There was just about 9,000 in the pot. The button was on a complete bluff with 32. The hijack had a legitimate—but superfluous—diamond flush draw with A5. He got his K on the river but I got the chips.

I hit a plateau at that point, not gaining or losing more than 1,000 chips at a time for nearly fifty minutes. I had decent hands but wasn’t able to capitalize on them at all. Then I picked up KK at the 120/240/25 level in UTG+1. I raised to 600 after UTG folded, got an all-in re-raise to 1,830 from UTG+2, and called after everyone folded. He had AQ, I was in relatively good shape. At least until the ATJ on the flop. Then I was hoping for another queen to show up but instead he got the A. No problem. Just a little setback.

My next hand was another pocket pair: JJ. I was on the big blind because a player had been removed for table balancing. UTG+2 with a short stack went all-in for 1,990 and got a call from the cutoff. I four-bet to 4,200 with 2,185 behind and then the cutoff went all-in for a total of 6,130. I made a rash decision and called, with 255 left. The short stack only had 99 but cutoff had AA. The board didn’t match anyone, and the aces took it.

That was Hand 126, by the way.

After the ante and the small blind on the next hand, I had 110 chips. The best thing that could be said about my T3 hand was that it was suited. The cutoff raised to 440. I went all-in, expecting elimination. Big blind called.

The flop was 8T2. Not only did I have top pair, I had a flush draw! 6 came around the turn, then a T dropped into the river slot. I had top set, at least. Cutoff revealed AJ, big blind came up with 3Q. I was suddenly back up to 865 chips.

I let 42 and my 25 chip ante go on the next hand. I knew that with barely more than 3BB I had to take a stab soon, though and on the next hand I got a sort of anemic ace that I might ignore under most circumstances: A8. UTG+2 was shorter than me and went all-in to 370. I went all-in for 815. Everyone else folded and left it to the small stacks. He flipped over 55, but the board gave me A on the flop, then added 8 and A on the turn and river for a full house. That put me up to 1,770.

K6 turned up a little later, after I’d let the antes eat at me for a bit and I was in the big blind again. The button raised all-in after all action had folded to him. He had both of us in the blinds covered and I got the impression that he was trying to steal. I didn’t have the best of hands but I figured he didn’t, either, and I needed to move up. The small blind folded but I called. He had K8. OK, so maybe my instincts weren’t perfect.

The flop was a scary 549. But 2Q came on the turn and river, giving me my flush and 3,535 chips. That’s why The Grid rates K6s as Playable and K8o as No Go in a 9-player game.

Another half-hour wrestling around the 4,000-5,000 range ensued, with blinds and antes wearing my stack back down to about 3,500 when I got TQ as UTG+1. Blinds were 250/500/50, so I only had a limited amount of time left and if I lost another 750 to the blinds in a couple more hands I’d be in pretty bad shape. I raised to 1,000 after UTG folded. The only caller was the button, with a stack about three time the size of mine. I got a 34T flop and pushed my top pair all-in for 2,485. The button called and showed middle pair: 54. We both made a full house, with 33 on the turn and river, but I had the better of the two and was over 8,100 chips, where I’d been 90 minutes earlier.

A couple of small wins put me up to 10,000, then another unlikely off-suit combo got me a big bump. Blinds were 300/600/75. UTG+1 raised to 1,200 and action folded to my AT. I called and everyone else folded, so it was heads-up. The flop was 725. It seemed unlikely that he’d raised with even 46s, so when he bet out 2,600 I made another gamble and went all-in for 8,620. He called and showed 9A. If I could avoid a suck-out, I’d be in great shape. Nothing came, another player was gone, and I took a pot of 20,935 (I’d have had 140 left if I’d lost).

My peak was 27,900 after picking up nearly 6K with  85 in the big blind (400/800/100) and making middle pair on the flop. Then came the plunge.

I was on the button with 88. Usually, I try to play these cautiously, per The Grid. But for some reason, when UTG+2 went all-in with 9,323 chips I called, and we were heads-up. The flop made me look like a genius: 8JJ. I saw the hearts first and though it was over before I realized I had a full house. Then a 7 on the turn. Still good for me. Then 7, giving him a full house with a back door. Hey, I still had 18K, right?

Of course, at 500/1,000/125, 18K isn’t so much and ten minutes later I was down to less than14K when I got 66. Not in my usual wheelhouse, as they say, but about the best I’d seen for a while (although the K7 I’d had five hands earlier was better according to The Grid). There was a limper in UPG+2, the flop was 57T,  and I made a pot-sized bet of 3,625 which got a call. The turn was 3. I checked and there was bet of 5,000 from the other player, who had another 24K. It seemed like an attempt to buy the pot to me. I raised all-in and he called, showing two over cards—QJ—but nothing made. Nothing until the Q on the river, anyway.

That put me out in 185th place of 3,115 players. ROI of 98% after 173 minutes.

The Hand 130 Curse Again

Man, do I feel stupid.

Yesterday’s Irish Open Semi-Final got off to a decent start. With direct buy-ins, forty players were in the competition, and the prize pool had seven tickets to the final (which was set to begin two hours after the start of the semi-final).

A4 was the hand of the day. I made my first two wins with 4A and 4A before a TQ popped me up to more than twice the 3K starting stack. Then I took my first hit from an A4 that turned into a 5-high straight flush.

I had a dry card spell for a while and slipped back down to near the starting stack until things kicked into gear just before the break at the end of the first hour, with blinds at 50/100. I had a sketchy J8 but called a raise of 200 from UTG+1. The big blind called and there were three of us to a JT3 flop. Action checked to me in the cutoff seat and I bet 300 with both other players calling. 7 showed up on the turn, giving me top pair and a gut-shot straight draw. I put out another 300. The big blind called but UTG+1 gave up.

The 8 hit on the river. I had two pair but there was a potential flush on the board. I had 2,800 chips, covering the stack in the big blind by about 900. He went all-in and I called, and I was glad a 9 hadn’t showed because he had KQ for an open-end straight draw. That was all he had, though so my two pair cleaned him out.

Ten minutes later, after the break, I got the Mutant Jack: AJ. Blinds were at 75/150 and I raised to 300 from UTG+1, leaving 7,500 behind. The button, with about 6.150, re-raised to 1,050 and both the blinds folded, leaving me heads-up. I called. The flop was a somewhat worrying J99 and I checked. The button put out nearly half his stack as a bet and I raised him all-in, seeing it as an attempt to push me off. He called and showed TT, giving me a one-better two pair. The 7 on the turn was very unwelcome, whaat with 12.5K in the pot, but the river Q meant I was up to more than 14K, or 11.6% of the chips in play in the tournament. More on that later.

Another bluff attempt gave me my next bump in another ten minutes. I was dealt A7 in the small blind, at the 100/200 level. The only caller was UTG and when action got to me I raised to 400. The big blind folded, but UTG called and I was rewarded with a flop of 64J. I wanted to try to get as many chips out of this as I could and checked. So did UTG. The 3 showed on the turn, which gave straight possibilities to anyone playing some low hands. I tapped the gas with a bet of 400, which was called. The flop was a somewhat unwelcome 5, which made it possible that my ace-high flush could be beaten by someone holding 23 for a 6-high straight flush, but that’s pretty unlikely (although I saw a straight flush the other day). Since I had the 7 he couldn’t be straight flushing the other direction. I put out 1,000, figuring that he’d fold. Much to my surprise, he raised to 4,800. He either had the straight flush or a good fifth heart or a lot of bluff. I knew I had the best regular flush and took the chance he hadn’t bet out 400 on 23. I raised all-in (I probably should have just called, he had  me covered by several thousand) and he folded.

Eventually I was up to nearly 20K in chips with just under 1/6 of the chips in the tournament. I was the chip leader (and I’d been the chip leader for a period earlier, as well). I should have been satisfied. With seven tickets to the final, the average stack at the end of play would have about 17K. All I had to do was make safe bets to stay in the mid-teens—or in all likelihood, just fold—for the rest of the tournament. But what time was it?

It was hand 130, or close enough. On hand 120, I picked up KA. Great hand, much of the time but did I really need the chips? There were only seven at the table at 125/250/20. I was in the hijack seat and UTG+1 raised to 625. Me with my big, manly AK raised to 1,000. Everyone but the original raiser folded. A Q6A flops and he, impressed by my magnificence checks, as do I. An 8 turns up, he checks and I bet 1,000, which is called. A 2 shows on the river and he pretends to have a flush, betting 2,775. I call. Not only does he have a flush but at best I would have been splitting the pot because he’s got AK.

Bad, sure but recoverable. I still have nearly 15K in chips. I’m still in the top three in the tournament. Five minutes later we’re still in the same level. I’m holding KQ in UTG+1 and raise to 500. The hijack (with 6K in chips) and big blind (8K) both call. The flop falls 72K and I bet 500 when it’s my turn. Hijack raises to 2,000 and the big blind folds. The hijack only has 3,333 behind and I raise him all-in. Lucky him, because he’s holding KA. No queen shows up to save me and I’m down to 8.5K and in seventh place on the leaderboard, which means unless I can climb back up I’m probably out of the running for a finals ticket. That was hand 129.

Of course, my attempts to climb back up only submerge me further. The Mutant Jack fails me at one point to the tune of several thousands chips, dropping me below the starting stack. I manage to claw my way back into relevance with a QA and 96 (which I wouldn’t usually play except I was in the big blind.

My last big hand came down to me in the small blind with A7 and the big blind with AJ. The board was 54K K 8 and it was the jack that decided the outcome. After that it was just a couple more hands before I was out in tenth place with the smallest of the cash prizes.

As it was, we didn’t finish before the beginning of the Final. My elimination came tw0-and-a-half hours into the tournament and anyone who got a ticket to the final would have had to enter after that point. Nobody from our semi-final seems to have won either of the two packages awarded in the final.

The chart below shows my chip count throughout the 179 hands I played. The green line is the projection of my chips if I’d done nothing but fold after reaching the my peak, which would have been about 13,750 at hand 180. At the time I was eliminated—with just two more eliminations to go before the tournament was over—only three of the ten players had more than 14,000 chips.

Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011

Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011. Red line shows actual chips; green line shows projected chip stack based on folding only.

After W put me out with the A4 last week at the Catsino, I ran across this report from the Aussie Millions $250,000 buy-in event‘s final table:

[Sam] Trickett was responsible for much of the mayhem during this stretch, eliminating four of the six players who fell during the bustout bonanza. He took 3.2 million into heads-up play against the 1 million of David Benyamine and the 700,000 of Erik Seidel. It wasn’t long before he scored a fifth elimination at the final table. Trickett moved all in with the board showing AT8A and Benyamine made the call. Their cards:

Trickett: A4
Benyamine: A6

River: 4!