Something About Aces

Won my first tournament of the year today (well, chopped it, anyway).

It was a low-stakes freeroll, I bought the optional add-on at registration, so I’d started off with T4,000 about forty minutes into the game and blinds at 100/200. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many suited connectors and one-gappers in my life, and I played a few without getting anywhere, then managed to back into two flushes that netted me large numbers of chips. By the break, I had more than T18,000 and didn’t bother to do he add-on.

The pivotal hand for me came while we were still at two tables, with about a dozen players. A young player with a big stack was moved over and he shoved over my mid-position raise. I had 7x7x, and thought he was shoving with AxKx (a common mistake, for me), but he turned over the pair: AxAx. He had my T26,000 covered, so I more than doubled when a straight landed on the river.

In situations like this, there’s always muttering about “two-outers”, but the reality is different. Against mid-range pair,s aces have about a 20% chance of being cracked, heads-up. With five cards to come, the simpler calculations of odds for post-flop odds are useless, and it’s much smarter to take the line that while an 80% hand is very strong, it’s still got a decent chance of losing.

Hit the Road, Jacks

Portland Players Club $250 Freeroll

I’d barely sat down at table 2 when I was moved (before the first hand) to table 3 in the small blind. I was sitting between a dead stack in seat 2 and a woman on my left I hadn’t played against before.

On the button I raised with 2x3x to 150 and made bottom pair on the flop. I stayed with it until the river when I got a 3x, then took a few hundred more off my neighbor who’d hit top pair.

Just a couple hands later, I had a Kx9x and raised to 200. The flop was Kx4x4x and I pushed for another 700, ending up heads-up with the same player. Kx on the turn and I was golden unless she had pocket fours. I bet 1,200 and she called. When the 6x came on the river, I figured she must have the other king, and it was a chop, so I didn’t bet it (a decision I would come to regret). I flipped over my full house and said I thought it would be a chop; she flipped over 8x8x and said she figured I had nothing.

I won a number of other pots simply by betting out, but made a big mistake with 6x6x. I pushed after an unassuming flop, thinking the player at the other end (one of the Encore dealers) was on an ace. He flipped JxJx and made a set on the flop, reducing my stack by over 3,000 chips.

A dry spell hit me as the break approached and I was down to just 600 chips when I called a raise to 700 with 85. Another player called the raise and three of us saw the flop with a split pot. The cards were Jx5x4x. The last caller made a bet that pushed the original raiser out of the hand and it was heads-up for the main pot. He had QJ, but I got lucky with another five on the river for a set and tripled up.

After the break, I pulled in a few more small pots, then picked up TxTx in the SB. Only one player came into the hand with a raise, then I re-raised to 2,200, only to have BB raise me all-in. The original raiser dropped out and I had to call, only to be up against JxJx again. The flop put out another one, and by the turn I was drawing dead.

One hour and thirty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 22nd of 32 players.

What Has It Got In Its Pocketses?

Portland Players Club $250 Freeroll

I’ve been through a recent drought of pocket pairs, but the skies broke yesterday and rained them down on me to both good and bad effect. I started the day off at PPC and was sat at table 2, seat 4, a couple places to the right of DL. I struggled for a bit, then busted and re-bought, while DL began to amass a goodly stack of chips, over 20,000 by the first break. Seat 2 had a player I’d been up against once before who seemed to have been having some recent success at PPC; seat 9 was a tight player who kept exclaiming over the hands he’d laid down when he saw what people were raising (and winning) with.

The re-buy and add-on gave me a little breathing room, and then the cards started coming. I took a couple big chunks out of DL‘s stack, almost knocked out seat 2, and was stealing a lot of chips off the table. DL then lost the last of his pink 1,000 chips to me in a pot that had over 30,000 chips in it.

A PPC regular who can’t seem to hold his legs still—except for when he’s heads-up waiting for the cards to drop—was moved in-between DL and myself and started pushing all-in on my raises. We eventually got to a hand where I had 97 and hit my flush on the turn. The board paired on the river making a couple of likely full houses, though, and I raised big. He folded his J8 face up and said he couldn’t call. I flipped over my lower flush and he seemed to tilt a bit. I picked off his chips shortly thereafter.

One hundred minutes in, I was sitting pretty on over 50,000 chips, more than a fifth of the chips in play, with about 14 players left. Seat 8 went all-in after a raise from my AxAx, naturally I called, he flipped over KxKx and then hit a king on the flop. A much bigger axe hit my stack because of a stupid call on my part with KJ. The tight player in seat 9 shoved with 15,000 chips and I called. He showed aces. A club on the river would have made me a flush and probably unleashed a torrent of invective, but it was a bad risk on my part and I could have held onto the chip lead if I’d given it some more thought.

It was downhill after that, with my stack back in the average territory. Don’t even remember the hand I went out on.

Three hours. -100% ROI. 10th of 29 players.

2011/12 Puffmammy Poker Tour Event #16

This game got off to a very wacky start, not just for me. WA was dealing the first hand to me UTG and it was AxAx. Naturally, I raised. A couple folks came along, including DV. I eventually walked DV alone down to the river for close to half his stack. An ace hit the board, he had two pair, but my set crushed him.

On WA‘s next deal, he gave me aces again. Again, I got some significant chippage out of it. Not, however, anything close to the kind of windfall KB made. He felted both DV and WA in record time, and proceeded to begin the building of a chip wall.

Meanwhile, I picked up queens, I picked up nines, then queens again. KB busted three of the four players who re-bought; I busted the other. Then he took out four permanently while I took out two. I made one incredibly lucky boneheaded move with T8 and shoved all-in when I thought there were two clubs on the board. When I was called and we flipped for the showdown, people were scratching their heads since I didn’t have a pair and one of the “clubs” was a spade. Fortunately, I got running clubs on the turn and river to make the flush.

For most of the match, it looked like KB had an insurmountable chip lead. But even though he’d performed most of the knockouts, I’d been doing a lot of damage to players that set them up for those knockouts. When we got to heads-up play three hours into the game, it wasn’t as lop-sided as it might have looked half an hour earlier. With 25,000 chips in play and blinds still at 150/300/25, it looked like we might be in for a long night of it.

As always, luck and stupid mistakes are everything in poker. Early on, I picked up another pair of queens and was prepared to raise the heck out of the pot post-flop if it didn’t have anything scary. It was far from scary, it was: QxQx7x. Then KB decided to push me around and went all-in. I called and flipped my quads over. It wasn’t enough to knock him out, but he was hurting. I played it very cautious, dropping a lot of chips back into his hands against his all-ins. One call I did make with KxTx, he showed QxJx. I made two pair but a nine on the river made his straight. Eventually, though, another queen took him down.

Three hours and fifteen minutes. +343% ROI. First of 8 players.

Aces Players Club Shootout

I went by Aces intending to play the 10pm game but half-an-hour past starting time I was the first person to show up for it. That isn’t the Aces I remember. There was a final table finishing up for what must have been the six o’clock game. No tables for the eight (unless that was the eight’s final), and a single shootout table. Against my better judgment, I got into the shootout. Had a J2 early on and raised with it, got a couple calls, had a gut-shot straight draw and folded to a big raise from he other end of the table. Then the straight came through and the guy who’d raised took it in with another jack. My last hand, I had 7x7x and the flop was Qx6x5x I raised big, got re-raised, and went all-in. He showed JxJx and I was out.

Twenty minutes. -50bb.

Feat of Clay

Portland Players Club $250 Guarantee (2,000 chips)

By the first break in this game, I had one-sixth of the chips in play, with three tables still running. That slipped a bit, but by the time the final table was made, my portion was back up: to half of all the chips. You’d think that with an advantage like that at nine players I could pull out something better than a third-place finish, but an over-reliance on small pairs seems to be killing my end strategy. Something to correct.

Three-and-a-half hours. +225% ROI. 3rd of 24 players.

Aces Players Club $1,500 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

This could have gone so much better. I was seat 4, up about 1,000 chips in BB holding [td th] in the first level of the game. A couple of players limped, seat 9–who’d just rebought the previous hand–raised, then seat 1, who’d been hit hard, went all-in for about 1,800. Action folded to me and I shoved, getting a call (for less) from 9. Seat 9 flipped 99 and groaned when he saw my higher pair. The rebuy stack showed AK. I was in he lead with the best hand, but not favored to win, and two aces on the flop with a king on the river for the best-possible full house solidified my position. I busted out, rebought, and busted again to be the first man out.

Thirty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 34th of 34 players.