First Fulltilt Final Table and the WPBT POY Race
It was another busy, busy poker weekend in Hammer Land, capped off by another wpbt POY event on Sunday night in my old standby game of 7-card stud. But first, I begin with Friday night, where after taking a rough beat in the 40k guaranteed tournament on partypoker, I decided to join, for the first time ever, the Deep Stacks MTT on full tilt. This event began at 11:30pm ET on Friday night, but the littlest Hammer girl was still rolling around a lot in her pack-n-play, so I figured a had a long night ahead of me anyways, and since I'm always looking for any excuse to play a little more poker in the evenings, I figured why not. As I know I have mentioned on this blog previously, deep stacks is definitely a factor which favors a player like me, in that I have more chips with which to make some moves, and I have historically performed better in MTTs that feature large starting stacks as opposed to the pushfests you can run into with starting stacks of 500 or 1000 chips.
129 players entered the $50 buyin event, making this the largest buyin event I have ever paid for directly online. I did play this past February in the $640 buyin million-dollar-guaranteed tournament on party, but I won that seat in a $10 buyin satellite, and I've played in several $30 and $40 tournaments, but $50 was my largest ever online event in terms of buyin, so I was psyched up to make this one count.
The cards worked with me at first, with KK nearly doubling me up to over 5000 chips about 10 hands into the tournament when someone called my allin raise with 99 and my Kings actually held up. Yes it's true, my Kings ran into another pocket pair that was not Aces!! Speaking of which, a few hands later I was dealt Aces of my own, and immediately went into "take all this guy's chips mode". Middle position raised it from the 80 blinds to 240. One caller, and then I decided I had to bump it further to protect my Aces, but again I did not want to discourage action at this point, but rather just get some more money into the pot. So I raised the bet from 240 to 640. I figured at least one if not both of those guys already in the pot would have to call another 400 at that point, right? Well here's what happened instead:
The original raiser read my 640 raise perfectly wrong, and followed my orders and reraised me allin. I love toying with people. And what did he have to justify that huge allin reraise of a guy who already raised it up with 2 callers in the pot?
Tens. So you figure he had to figure I was likely on two overcards to his 10s, if not a higher pair, so what a fishmove that was in my book. And I quickly leapt up to the top 5 of the 120 or so players still remaining. Fish are the best. Shortly later, btw, the following hand happened. I wasn't involved, but a guy flopped a straight flush and I thought you might like to see it:
The best part about this hand was that apparently the losing player had quad jacks!! He lost with quad jacks to a flopped straight flush. We were commenting that if we were sitting in the poker room at the MGM, we'd all be millionaires by now on that bad beat. Criminy. And needless to say, Mr. Earwack was on massive tilt from that point on, a fact which I used to relieve him of the rest of his chips just a few hands later, when I made a nut straight on the turn with QA to a board of 9TJK. Earwack called my quick all-in bet with his Queen, and my Ace-high straight pushed me over 10,000 chips as we headed into the first break, with me in 6th place out of 70 remaining players
Shortly into Round 2, I was dealt KK in the SB, raised it up to 700 with 100/200 blinds when it got back around to me, and found one caller in early-middle position. On a 3-rag flop, I paused for effect, and then bet just 700 into a 1500 pot, lesser than my typical flop continuation bet because of course I wanted to reel in another fish. He clamped down hard on the bait:
reraising me to 2200. I paused again for more effect (no way this guy has AA to my KK again, is there? I refused to even consider it, especially given his preflop limp attempt before I raised it up and given that he had just flat called that raise), and then pushed. He quickly folded his bluffy bet after realizing he had just been duped.
I won another 2500 chips an orbit or so later when A3s called my JJ preflop for all his chips (fish alert!), which lifted me up to 3rd out of 36 remaining almost 2 hours into the event, and eventually here I was as the second break began:
By 15 minutes into Round 3, I had bluffed off some chips in two pots I had no business playing in to begin with, but I had also used AKo and QQ (yes I won with the Hiltons!!) to chip back up to 8th out of 24 players remaining. Down to three tables remaining, with only the top 18 getting payouts.
Another pocket Kings a few hands later lifted me over 20,000 chips for the first time in the event. An orbit or two later, AQ brought me another 4000 chips, and into 5th place out of 24, and then the next orbit saw me hit TPTK for another 6000+ chips:
It was around this time that I had a really great moment that the bloggers out there should particularly enjoy. I was dealt the Hammer on the button, and it was folded around to me. I did my civic blogger duty:
To which, the guy on my immediate left, who had been bearing the brunt of my extreme aggression in my betting during the past hour or so, types in "wow lots of nice cards hoy", before folding quickly to my Hammer raise. I showed the Hammer just a second later when I took down the pot on the big bluff, and did not miss the opportunity to razz the doofus about his commentary in the chat right away:
A short while later I chipped up further when I hit an 8 on the flop when holding two 8s in my hand, my first flopped trips of the night. Then, take a look at this hand from late in Round 3, which is a prefect example of how a lot of public aggression and slow-playing big hands in a tournament can win you pots you would otherwise have no business even being in, let alone taking down. You just know somebody had me beat if they called me here:
which bumped me back up to 3rd out of 20 remaining, and I was looking good to make an assault on my first ever final table in a full tilt MTT. When we crossed the money threshold at 18 players, I was still in 2nd place out of 17 left, trying to tighten up a bit heading into the final table and hopefully another MTT victory for me. I vacillated between 2nd and 4th place as players 17 through 13 dropped out, and then with 12 players remaining, I look down to find my two best friends:
and after enticing a fishcall from A9o (actually, he reraised me allin with that A9o), I chipped up nicely again:
Despite my earlier admonitions to myself to tighten up a bit with 20 players remaining, with just 10 left, and specter of The Bubble looming, I knew I was going to push my good hands aggressively to take advtange with my nice-sized stack of the stragglers just looking to hold on for final-table money. I won a huge pot with AQ on this reraise which got my opponent to fold, a move I would not necessarily have made in a different, non-Bubble situation:
Finally, just minutes before the third break, I did it. I made my first fulltilt final table, with me in 4th place out of 9:
Here is another moment I am tremendously proud of:
I raised it to 10 grand from first position with the Hammer at the final table. And I made sure to let everyone know in the chat what had just been done to them right after my raise took it down:
As I sat in 3rd place out of 8 players remaining at the final table, dropping the Hammer on these guys from right up front, etc., I realized that I really was playing better poker than anyone else in the field, making excellent reads, and that I really could win this thing and its lofty $1700+ first prize. I had so much faith in my reads that when my 4x preflop raise with AJo was reraised all-in by a crafty player across the table, I just got a vibe that he was on a steal and really didn't want a call. I can't say why I did it other than just having a solid read, and really working hard to trust in my poker instincts, but I called him to put myself allin, and was overjoyed to see this:
An 80% chance for me to not only take down a big pot but to jump into the lead at the final table! This was the board:
and IGH on a mf'ing dominating hand when I completely read this guy like a book. You can do a lot worse than 8th place in a $50 buyin MTT, and I'll take the $200 payout for my efforts, but to lose on a beat like that in a situation like that is Just. Plain. Brutal. And of course, my performance in this event just further solidifies what I had already known and posted about for a day or two before Friday evening, which is that after a week as a donkey, I'm back to my normal self, and recorded my second significant MTT final table for the month of April.
The rest of the weekend saw me play more good poker. I won a couple of $26 tokens on ftp for the Bracelet Races and nightly guaranteed tournaments. I did a pokerstars-for-partypoker cash swap with Matt, so you can expect me to be playing the nightly 40k guaranteed tournament on party a lot more over the next few weeks. I also took second in another 2-table turbo sng on pokerstars for an $11 buyin, for a cool $40 or so profit. Here is me hitting a nice Hammer flop with the Hammer in my hand in a 180 sng that I ended up going out in 37th place in on Saturday night:
If you're interested, here is how I went out of that 180 sng, after getting it allin on the flop against a fish who just couldn't lay down a decent pair despite an overcard on the board:
That one was fun after 2 hours of solid play and excellent decision making and reads.
Also on Saturday night, fellow bloggers Matt, Sires, Columbo, Alan and Wil all ponied up the dough for some $.02 - $.04 limit omaha hi-low. I'm happy to say that I doubled up my $1 buyin after only maybe just 45 minutes of play, and a good time was had by all.
On Sunday I didn't have much time to play poker, other than the wpbt stud event scheduled for 9:30pm ET, which I made the time for, much to the chagrin of my wife who had been expecting to use the computer to look at dolls, makeup, purses or whatever else it is that she likes to do on the computer these days. But as always, the Hammer Wife is nothing if not understanding of my poker obsession, and she certainly understands the importance of these wpbt POY events to me, so the pc was mine at the 9:30 start time, and this was my starting table:
Among other things, it was my first time ever playing live at a table with the Blogfather Iggy, so we got to make our virtual acquaintance at the tables which was always good. Unfortunately, despite my extreme desire to show off my poker greatness, I didn't get a single good hand out of the first 30 or 40 hands played. More unfortunately, I refused to just check-fold my bad hands, instead chasing at draws for the limit bets, playing Ace-King combinations through 3 or 4 cards, etc., and the result had me short stacked in this event from the very beginning. I remember being thrilled that someone went out before me, and I was down to under 400 chips at the time of that first elimination, and I knew I had no shot. I had embarrassed myself in front of a lot of big time bloggers, and I was going to miss the top 50% for more points in the POY race. I was not happy. Then this hand happened, and gave me a bit of breathing room:
Again, at no time during this tournament after the second or third hand was I anywhere near the 1500 chips I started with, and even after winning the hand above, I was really just hoping to outlast another 20 players and make the POY points, though I knew that wasn't going to happen. But that became my goal as soon as I got back to near 1000 chips -- hope against hope to make it down to 21st place, the top half of the field so that I could collect some more POY points and salvage something from my hideous cards and horrendous performance thus far in this thing.
Kudos btw to GVegas's The Mark btw for playing the Hammer even in a stud event. You gotta love that, and that the poker gods rewarded him for his play with a Hammerific fourth street card as well:
Anyways I was basically on my way out of the tournament once again a few orbits later, when I sucked out a runner-runner-runner flush to win a decent pot from Derek, much to Pauly's disappointment as he railed the table. Sorry guys, to your entire family, really:
After donking off chips down to a very short stack yet again, I once again managed to survive when down to almost no chips with another lucky set of pulls on the later streets of a three-way hand:
All the while with me hanging on by a thread, players were dropping out, edging down to 35 left, then 30, then 25, 23, and suddenly my revised goal of just making it to 21st place seemed maybe, somehow, possibly within reach. And then two players went out at once, and just like that I had made it to the POY points, despite stinkin up the joint all through the tournament. An orbit or two later, I decided I was pushing all the way when I was dealt a split pair of Jacks. Unfortunately I ran into a guy who eventually had 2 pairs showing on the flop, and IGH in 18th place out of 42 players:
In all, obviously I did not play well in my first stud tournament in many months, but I felt like I had won the gold medal after somehow lasting to 18th place when I had literally been in dead last with 41 players remaining. Congratulations to SoxLover for taking down the prize in this one, and for his CJ-like luckboxedness along the way (hey, it happens to everyone and our job is just not to F it up when the cards smack us in the face, so that takes nothing away from Sox's performance in the tournament). And, congratulations to me for inching my way ever upward in the WPBT POY race -- I'm now up to 36th place overall, despite in my view largely playing pretty poorly in most of the recent wpbt events. I look forward to the next one, a HORSE event on fulltilt according to Byron's website, as I love the HORSE format and I love playing on full tilt, and I will look to make a big move up the wpbt standings with a solid performance in that one. I'll just need to avoid being dealt pocket pairs in 80% of my hands in Razz, while being dealt nothing but trash in those same pocket hands in Stud, as usually seems to be the case in those HORSE events on ftp.