Friday, June 04, 2010


Well, Thursday was a much better day than Wednesday on the poker front here in Las Vegas. I opted to play the $340 buyin tournament at the Venetian Deep Stack Etravaganza, and although I don't have the time right now to give the tournament a more detailed review, suffice it to say that I played much, much better than my first WSOP tournament earlier this week, in more or less equally non-conducive situations, and made a nice run before finally getting caught bluffing just short of the money positions. Once again there were a lot more entrants than I ever expected -- 843 if I recall correctly, which made this tournament even larger than the one I won last summer which was chock full of WSOP overflows after that final donkament of the 2009 WSOP sold out more than a day in advance of starting play. With that many players and a $340 buyin, the prize pool was something over $244,000, and first prize was a shade over 50 large. The top 81 spots would be paid.

Long story short, I lasted 9 1/2 hours in this thing on Thursday, and my god what a difference a day makes. Much like on Wednesday, the cards I received in this thing were a fucking abomination, I would not wish it on my worst enemy. My god over 9 1/2 hours of play, I never once received AA, KK, QQ or JJ. I saw TT once, 99 once , 88 once and 44 once (those were my only three pocket pairs on the day), and I even got AK on only one occasion over all that time. I saw AQ twice, and a million JackAces (of course), every single one of which I failed to instacall allin with for some reason I cannot explain. But I mean, I played all effing day in this thing and just got more and more and more frustrated as the day wore on, having to watch again and again the tourney luckboxes at my table showing down pocket Aces and pocket Kings -- many of them three or four times each over the day -- while I was forced to deal with a constant stream of 84o (must've seen that hand 25 times on Thursday) and the like.

But the big difference was, unlike my play in the WSOP on Wednesday, I was much more effective in willing myself to survive anyways, even with absolutely zippo to work with in terms of starting cards. It was just one of those tournaments where you have to make the best of bad situations, try to make some preflop calls with less than stellar starting hands but ones which might be able to hit something good on the flop, and otherwise just bluff and semi-bluff a ton whenever you think your opponents are weak. These kinds of tournament runs can be really enjoyable if you're in the right frame of mind for it (I was), but at the same time, by the time you're getting down to the final 10, 20% of the field, with the blinds creeping higher and higher (we were at 1k-2k with a 300 ante when I busted on Thursday) and the Ms lower and lower, you're eventually going to need to get that one or two big hands every hour or two in order to stay afloat.

Unfortunately for me on Thursday, those big hands simply never came when I needed them as we got deeper and deeper into the field. Ever. I did win a few nice pots early when I flopped two pairs in an unraised pot out of the blinds and took some chips from a top pair monkey with QJ, and once when I rivered a flush with A6s after calling a preflop raise with it into a multiway pot, and I was able to ride those two pots won with shitty starting cards to an above-average stack throughout most of the first five hours or so in the Venetian tournament. My high on the day turned out to be around 5 or 6 hours in, when I flopped top set with my pocket Tens and proceeded to get called twice by another top pair monkey with JT while two overcards fell on the turn and river, filling by the end a 1-card straight to any 9, a broadway straight to any AK, and a flush draw, so I could not bring myself to bet again on the river. That hand brought me up to just over 61k in chips (starting stack was 12k), at a time when the tournament average was just under 40k, so I was doing ok for a while there, all while still never having seen a premium hand all day long.

From there though, I coasted into dinner break barely winning any hands over the ensuing couple of hours. Amazingly, I saw zero -- literally -- pocket pairs during my final three hours in this tournament. I don't know what the odds are of that, but couple it with also being dealt nothing higher than AJ, and zero suited connectors during that time period, and you can imagine how utterly shitty that was to go through, just as the tournament was heating up and people were positioning to make a run to the money spots starting with 81 players remaining. From around 330 left to 145 left when I eventually busted, I did not receive a playable hand, so was forced to make my own action and take things into my own hands, which those of you who know me know is something I have some skill at doing. But the problem with being forced to do this all the time -- again, especially as stacks get short and the big stacks have more and more incentive to call you down -- is that eventually, you are going to get caught if you are forced to just bluff, lie and steal for every chip you get. I fought my best to stay afloat after the dinner break, but in that final hour I slipped to half of average with around 30k in chips as we got down below 200 players remaining. I literally envisioned pocket Aces every single time I looked at my cards for those final couple of hours after dinner, figuring there was no way I could continue not to get dealt a damn thing to work with over the entire day, but it just never happened. I was forced to basically push allin almost every time anybody limped in front of me, hoping they would just fold, and for the most part they did, which is the only reason I was able to stay afloat right around half of average for my last hour in the tournament. Finally, a guy I had pushed on already once when he had limped, limped again from middle position, I looked down in the small blind to find 92s, and I pushed allin with a better hand than probably the last two times I had made this move. This time he insta-called me with pocket 9s, and I was of course finito, out in around 145th place on the day. Damn if I could have just been dealt those pocket 9s one time in those last couple of hours, I would have re-pushed on anybody preflop and just taken my chances. Shit, there is zero doubt I would have done that with any pocket pair, even against the tightest person at the table. But I just had nothing. I've written about it many times before here over the past few years, but playing this stealy, bluffy style is difficult but something I can do well, yet at the same time I am all too aware that you eventually need to get some real cards to back it up or by definition you are eventually going to get caught, plain and simple. That was me on Thursday night at 9:45pm.

So, in all, the Venetian tournament on Thursday did not end up the way I wanted it to, and in many ways it was equally frustrating to my performance in the WSOP on Wednesday. But the big difference was, this time around I was able to build a nice stack nonetheless, and actually enjoyed a good part of the tournament well out in frot of average and with plenty of room to breathe, survivng not at all on the strength of good starting cards but rather just my instincts and the pressure I could apply on my opponents. It was a nice confidence boost after the debacle of WSOP Event #8 earlier this week, and I am looking forward to getting in two more days of solid poker tournament action before heading home on Sunday morning.

For today, once again I am not 100% sure yet what the pokery plans will be. There is another $1500 donkament in the WSOP at noon, and that is a definite possibility. The structure is just so much shittier though than a place like the Venetian DSE -- which has another $340 mtt at noon today as well -- and it rewards donkery and luck so much more as a result, that I am actually considering playing that instead, or there are some other options as well. Not sure what I will end up doing but will take the next few hours to think it over and make a decision. And of course I will post here when I am back at the pc all about the day's exploits, as always.

It's gonna be 108 degrees out here today people. Make sure you wear light colored clothes, stay inside if possible between 12 and 5pm, and get plenty of liquids. Alcoholic, preferably.

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Blogger GnightMoon said...

Venetian DSE structure is better than WSOP $1500 for the first several hours, but worse as the tournament progresses.

11:20 PM  

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