When I won my seat to the BBT3 Tournament of Champions on Tuesday night, I did it in a surprising and yet unsurprising place: the Skills Series
. The Skill Series! Can you believe that? If you had told me that was going to happen at any time over the past three months I would have snarfed my Killians Red right out my nose all over you. If you had told me that just one week ago today, I would have thought you were a dam fool. Dumb enough to have two
But then a strange thing happened: I found my blonkament game out of nowhere for no apparent reason last week, which not coincidentally coincided with going on a nice hot streak of cards. Not so much starting cards, but hitting some draws and winning some big pots in key spots. It's been happening to me now for a week straight, as I cruised into my third consecutive BBT3 final table on Tuesday with once again a nice stack to make some noise with. In this week's Stud Hi-Lo Skills event, I played great poker for about 98% of the time, making only a small handful of mistakes on the entire night, and on a couple of those occasions managing to come from behind anyways to win some big hands and eliminate some donks. I lost some big pots and did absolutely nothing early, but as the bringins and the antes started to climb and the pots started to really matter, I consistently got in the bets when I was ahead and managed to drop out of most of the big ones when I was a long shot to win. As I've mentioned here several times before, hilo is probably the single poker game I've been playing the longest, going back to playing it at the Trump Taj Mahal in the early 90s as a teenager with my father. So I know the game, and I know enough to know what a minefield this was going to be, no different from the other Skills Series events that have been so well attended so far.
So as I mentioned, I had literally zero
big hands in the Skills Game through the first 90 minutes I think. Literally nothing. It sucked, and it was a fairly typical beginning for me in Skills in general, although I did remain very focused on playing tight and not chasing donkey pots especially early. But as a result, I was below 2000 chips from the 3000 starting stacks by the end of Hour 1, sitting in 54th place of 66 players remaining (70 started) with 1900 and change:
So, not a good beginning at all, and I wasn't even good about not spewing too much early. Twenty minutes in to Hour 2, I scooped my first pot of the night with two low pair off bonedaddy
who knew I was low but thought his buried Jacks might be good for the high. That got me back "up" to 2400 chips, still well below starting stacks now 80 minutes in. Blech. And even more blech when I dropped back below 2000 chips again by the 90-minute mark, when I took a snapshot of my stats in the tournament to date:
Now I am farrrr from an expert in proper stud hilo tournament stats, but those be lookin dam fugly to me. Not sure what I was doing in this first 90 minutes or so, to be totally honest. Just trying to survive I guess. Which is all I was doing.
My first big pot of hour 2 happened here shortly after the halfway point, where I got into a 3rd street raising war with Riggs
I am starting with under 1700 chips here, so you can see things are still not going well. But I have three straight flush babies to start with, so especially given my stack size I am definitely planning to play it long and strong here against the Ace up.
Eventually we got it allin:
From there I quickly jumped up to over 5600 chips and 14th place of the 47 remaining players when I took down a large pot against lakefront that he seriously misplayed I think. This was where he went wrong:
I mean, just look at my upcards. With the 8 showing. Ugh.
So, sitting in the mid teens as the second hour drew closer to winding up, I played a flush draw and chased a little bit against Don
and got rewarded. I called with an Ace-high flush draw and trip 2s against Don's four cards showing to a high straight and a bet from Don on 6th street, and then I filled my nut flush on the river. When I suddenly checkraised at the end, I'm sure Don knew he was beat, but in the end I knew I was drawing to a boatload (pun intended) of outs with both my flush and full house draws, and I made my flush on the river to take the big pot and bring me up to 8161 chips and 6th place of 42 remaining with ten minutes left in Hour 2.
At the second break, I was 17th out of 32 leftr with just over 6000 chips after I chased a couple of streets and folded when I missed and/or my opponent caught good on 4th or 5th. Still alive, but still not exactly dominating like I had through most of the mid-game in the most recent Mookie
tournaments. In fact, just 8 minutes in to Hour 3 of the Skills Stud8 event, here I am in 22nd of 28 players remaining as my relative chop position continued to worsen:
Down to under 4000 chips a short while later, I looked down to find my only rolled-up hand (2s) of the entire tournament, and dammit if heffmike didn't nail his low on 7th street once I was already allin and ahead both ways after 6th.
My next double came at the hands of Archimedean on this hand, where he made a bad call on 5th with what turned out to be nothing more than I made 87-low against my 243 showing:
That is not good hilo poker right there, and it cost Arch and got me a much-needed double up to buy me some breathing room as the blinds were already up to 600-1200 with a 100 ante per hand, leaving me with an M of basically 3 at that time. A lucky break when I absolutely needed it most:
Generally, I floundered around for the next 25, 30 minutes of Hour 3 after the Archimedean double-up, getting me back down below 4000 a couple more times. Most of the chips I won -- which as it is only managed to help me to tread water and certainly not to build my stack to any particular degree -- were from steals and really more positional-type of raising than anything else. What I mean by this is, the action on 3rd street folds around to me in middle position and I have the only Ace upcard left. I raise even though my downcards are rubbish, and I take it down. Or, the on 4th street I catch good for a second low card while my two opponents, both of whom also showed low upcards on 3rd street, both catch bad. Now, even though my two downcards are rubbish, I may raise and take it down right there. This is the kind of stuff that you simply have to do in limit poker, in particular in the non-holdem variations where there are upcards in everyones' hands to supply information to all the players, and I definitely took advantage last night. Again, it's not that I am building my stack with that stuff, which simply does not amount to enough until maybe the final table to be worth a ton of focus, but those extra chips won were the very thing that enabled me to still have 4000 chips instead of only 1600 chips when I finally doubled up again, etc.
I won a big pot against myelephants on this hand, where I looked ahead on 4th street so I pushed and got called allin in this spot:
Eventually here was the end result:
Now here I believe I was accused of sucking out, but I have to take umbrage with that. I don't know the exact odds especially given that this is a split game, but I have the higher high card hand, I have the higher three-flush draw, and I have the better 3-card low while my opponent got me allin with his only 87-low onj 4th street. If he is ahead at all, it's surely not by much and not nearly enough to be fairly called a suckout. I call this a bad play by him with the 87-low and one that ended up like many such plays with 8s and especially 87s showing on 4th street in the split games. This hand got me to 9th of 17 players remaining.
After scooping a big pot to eliminate the ever-present swimmom in our limit games when she checkraised me for all her chips on 6th street with just a flush draw and an 8-low draw that never filled and get me up to over 18k in chips for 5th place of 13 players remaining, I completed myelephants's night by taking his short stack on allin here with my three low cards against his split 9s:
and then surviving thanks to a sweet river King:
Here I was at the third break in the Skills game:
Now with 9 players remaining, we are playing at super-shorthanded tables, and no doubt that shorthanded limit split games (especially the Stud variants) require lots of stealing and again really more positional stuff than actual steals like the moves I described above. That's what I did for another few minutes into Hour 4 until the final table was reached:
It was a good final table, but not one that I was intimidated by or anything like that. Not sure how many lifetime blogger tournament wins there were contained at that final table, but I was happy to see that it certainly was not a slate full of (1) aggro types who are hard to deal with, (2) luckboxes who are also hard to deal with especially in the limit, chasedonkish games or (3) guys who win blonkaments for breakfast and routinely run over the other bloggers, who are perhaps the most annoying of all to deal with because I don't really know of a strategy to beat that kind of a player per se. I started at the final table in 4th place out of 7 remaining as two players were knocked out on the last hand right before the final table was set. The biggest issue to note about the final table was that a big bet was 4000 chips already at that point, so even first place at the FT has only like 10 big bets. That is gheyer than ghey, and really in the end makes this tournament very close to a luckfest as far as who actually ends up the last person standing.
I won a big pot very early at the final table off of iwantitall when he/she had to fold to this bet on 6th street as my board kept getting better and better and his/hers was moving in the opposite direction:
Here I moved up to 35k in chips and into 3rd place of 7 players remaining. And I wasn't done mixing it up with iwantitall, who a short while later got involved in this hand, where s/he called not once:
but an inside draw to a wheel, which did not fill as my pair of Aces held up to scoop in the end:
and suddenly I was in 2nd place, well above 3rd place and within just a few grand of PokerEnthusiast
in the mid 40k range in chips.
Fast forward about 10 minutes and I eliminated CK
on an interesting hand where she started off obviously very strong, but I felt I had a hand worth calling with here:
Then, when CK caught bad for her low draw but still bet out on 5th street and I felt it reasonably likely that my two pairs were ahead, I raised her here:
and, just as I had been hoping at this point in the hand, CK felt committed to go with it and hope to make a hand to win against what looked on my board like a completely weak set of upcards. And here was the final board, with CK's 8-low never filling and my pair of Jacks just edging her pair of 10s for the big scoop:
giving me 68k in chips, well in 2nd place of 5 left but still behind PE who was winning most of the big pots at the final table and really since about two tables remaining. Congrats out to CK
though for what I believe was her first ever blonkament cash. Way to go, that was a long time coming and certainly was well-deserved from CK's play this week in Stud8.
Two hands later I put short-stacked bone daddy all in with my (K5)5 vs his King upcard, reasoning that he is unlikely to have a King underneath since I know I have one under and he already has one showing as well. I was right:
and it held on to win and to nab me probably my 6th or 7th bounty of the night:
More importantly, this was my first chiplead of the entire tournament as well, which is a great thing to experience when you're down to 4 players remaining at the end of a long minefield donkeyfest.
And then came by Biggest Hand of the Tournament. The one that basically set me up with the chiplead that I rode the rest of the way to victory without ever giving it up again. My largest pot and just generally when it all comes down to it, the most proximate cause of my winning the Skills Stud8 event.
It started off as I called to see a rare three-way 4th street with four of us still remaining at the final table with three spades on 3rd street, including an Ace and a 2. Don't see myself laying this hand down much on 3rd street in this spot:
When I picked up a 4th spade -- unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose) not another low card as well -- I checked and then smooth called once again a bet from each of my two other opponents in the hand to this point. I debated raising here, in an attempt to get a free card or two later in the hand, but I figured it was unlikely that a raise would get me a free card given the amount of other action I was getting on this hand. So I thought it best not to telegraph my 4-flush with a raise -- which I think would be pretty obvious if I suddenly raised in Stud8 when a sooted 9 falls on the turn -- and went for the smooth call instead for the second straight street:
Now here is where the hand got really interesting. On 5th street, I picked up a Ten to give me split tens and still my Ace-high four-flush, while both of my opponents in the hand broke out into nice 3-card lows. I did not like missing my flush of course, so I checked up front, and by the time the action got back to me it was suddenly a bet and a raise to play:
So it was 16 grand to me into a 50k pot, and both of my opponents were looking certainly to be going low, with no obvious flush or straight draws out there to threaten my Ace-high flush draw. Surely if there had just been one bet this is I think a no-brainer call, but with the raise -- and the possibility of short-stacked Alan moving in right here and now on this street behind me as well -- I agonized quite a bit over this decision. In the end, I decided to make the call, reasoning that if I could get in against the other table big stack and try to make my flush on 6th or 7th, then maybe just maybe PE would fail to make a low and I could go for a huge scoop. I figured I would take one more street of betting at most, and I might even have folded if Alan reraised and PE made it four bets to go here. Instead, to my delight, Alan paused, asked for time and eventually folded himself here, leaving me up against the player I had been less concerned about anyways in this particular hand.
Here comes 6th street:
BOOOOOooooooooom!! There's my flush. When PE bet out, I raised him, again figuring I will probably split but figuring with the Ace-high flush and no reason to fear a boat or a flush in PE's hand that I was freerolling to the high half of the pot, so let's just see how much money I can get in in case my opponent does not actually have or make a qualifying low hand. After 7th street, PE check-called my 8k bet once again, bringing the total pot to nearly 115,000 chips, I had him on a low hand, but instead he had this:
for the hidden trips, and I scooped the entire thing with my Ace-high flush. Exactly the kind of thing I am hoping for when I make these freerolling type of hands like this. I mean, if I make a wheel on 5th street and my opponent has some high cards already showing, I know I have the low part covered. Even if my opponent is showing TJQK as his upcards for the likely higher straight to win the high, why not bet it when you are sure you have half the pot locked up all to yourself? I was very lucky that this freeroll play here paid off as well as it did and that PE did not hit any of his full house outs, and suddenly I was sitting in this chip position:
Bloooooooom! 143k for me to 27k for second place, at the time a guy named Tom Jefferson.
And now, I had to win the tournament and nab my BBT3 Tournament of Champions seat while the getting was good for me with this kind of chip lead. No more final table donking like was the story for me last week at the Mook and the RC. So I got very tight here for a bit, as I did not want to double up any of the other stacks playing loosely. While I sat tight, Alan
busted out in 4th place shortly after my monster hand, leaving us with three players remaining, and my 140k in chips to 35k for Tom Jefferson
to 25k or so for PE. We played a long
time 3-handed like this, probably for a good 30 minutes or so, with everyone playing real tight without near-nut hands and really trying not to get caught for a big pot without a big hand or large two-way draw to back it up.
Eventually, I did make a bad spewy-type of play, almost giving up my chip lead as I made a few bad decisions in a hand against PE. I think the source of my problem can be traced to my call on 5th street here, where even though I have some nice up cards, I am behind his own up cards for low and am holding absolutely nothing worthwhile whatsoever for the high side, and yet I made this call anyways:
Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid. Then I even called here just because PE was so short-stacked, I figured he basically has
to bet out with literally any six cards here on 6th street, another foolish move for me:
And suddenly I'm only up 92k to 76k to 41k in chips. Shiat!! That right there was pure, unadulterated spewage, and it was probably the worst play I made all night at just about the worst possible time. Luckily, I still had my chip lead, albeit slight, and I was able to hold it together emotionally enough to immediately commence those stealing and position-raising sorts of moves I have described above that are typical of any high-blind, high-ante stud tournament, which I was able to use to quickly get my stack back up over 100k.
Here is the final table and chipstacks at the fourth break:
So I'm still doing well and sitting pretty, with 119k in chips to 66k for Tom Jefferson
to 24k for PE.
Within the first hand or two of Hour 5, PE busted when the money got allin here on 4th street when PE held a low pair and a 3-card low draw:
but PE could never improve his low or a high hand and was soon eliminated in 3rd place after a strong run that saw him in the overall chip lead for much of the final quarter or so of the tournament:
And so heads-up Stud 8 play began between myself and blonkament unknown Tom Jefferson, with me up roughly 113k to 93k, so I was holding about 55% of the total chips in play:
Almost immediately, Tom
asked in the chatbox if I wanted a chop. With a slight chip lead playing a game as frustrating as heads-up split pot games can be, where even heads-up I only have around 7 big bets, and that is as the chip leader? And with a BBT3 ToC seat on the line for the winner? Fawk yeah I'll chop it! So I told Tom the truth -- I don't care about the money per se, but what I really want is the seat. I wanted any chop to be in public and to avoid if possible whatever discussions stemmed from the earlier chop that got Scottymc
his ToC seat and that was the subject of so much controversy in the blogosphere.
So, first place in this week's Skills event was slated to pay $245, and second place paid $161. As I said, frankly that amount of money is meaningless to me, and yet I cared quite a bit about winning the BBT3 ToC seat. So I told Tom sure, I'll chop him more money than I if he gives me the win and the coveted ToC seat. He thought for about two seconds and readily agreed. Smokkee
got in his requisite "there is an asterisk on this win" comment in the chatbox, and then Tom commenced raise-folding a few times to officially put the chop in place. While we were doing this, Tom suggested that I pay him $225, nearly the $245 awarding to first place, and I agreed. I literally asked him to name his price, and that's what he came up with, and I took it. At one point after I had accepted his offer of a chop out at $225, he came back and said he would only chop for full first-place money, which frankly I rejected. I want the seat, but I didn't want it that bad that I wasn't willing to play a game where I had at that point a decent chip lead and I believed a skill advantage in any event. So I wasn't going to pay out first place money for a tournament that I had every reason to believe I would have won outright anyways, but Tom quickly re-agreed to $225 and we completed the chop as Tom raise-folded his way out, leaving me the Skills game official winner and the latest recipient of a BBT3 ToC seat:
I would be remiss if I did not mention a special thanks to out to Donkette
for her consistent votes of confidence, dating way back when to when she bet this guy
near the beginning of a Riverchasers tournament that I would win the entire thing, and then I went on to come from behind to win. This time, Donkette's involvement was a bit more direct in my success in this week's Skills tournament, as before the Skills tourney she and I were chatting on the girly when it came out that she had bet someone a cool hundy in cold, hard cash that I will win at least one BBT3 tournament. Slowly it dawned on me that this means someone has bet against
me winning at least one event. Ouch! With all the blonkament success I have had, this year and in past years? With my WPBT success a couple of years back, with my 4th place finish in the first BBT? People are still out there making bets that I cannot win a single BBT3 tournament? Wow, that really slammed me good, I have to be honest. I mean, to tell the truth I have a similar prop bet about my own performance in the BBT3 tournaments with someone in our ghey group, but it's one thing for someone to openly bet me
that I can't win a tournament. Seems to me it's entirely another thing for someone else
to bet with someone else
that Hoy will never win one. So that more than anything else really lit a fire under me and kept me focused as I sat down for the start of the Skills game this week. Then there I was some five hours later being congratulated by Donkette for nabbing my ToC seat as well as winning one of my biggest backers, and still the actual best poker player of all the bloggers, her $100 prop bet all in one fell swoop.
So, with my Tournament of Champions seat now all sealed up, the better question may be: Who is willing to bet me again that I won't win another
BBT3 event before all is said and done?
Maybe tonight in the Mookie
, huh? Why not? I can always dream of being a shithead, can't I?
Labels: BBT3, Skill Series, Skills Victory, Stud Hilo, Tournament of Champions