Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Huge Win on PartyPoker

So last night was a really interesting time for me, as I tried out a brand new tournament for the first time. I got bad beat really annoyingly in the 45-person turbo $11 sng on ps, and just logged off and found myself on partypoker instead to see what was going on there. I did a Ministep 1 tourney that I had a free token for, and I won the event fairly quickly, getting myself a free $20 buyin into a ministep 2 tourney. To celebrate my win, I decided to enter the next large nlh tournament that Party had available, which turned out to be the $11 satellite to the Million Dollar Guarantee tournament on February 18. For what its worth, I have never even done reasonably well in any multi-table tournament on party. I've maybe played in 4 or 5 party tourneys with more than 1 table, and been knocked out before the first break in every single one. Typically in the first half hour in fact. I attribute it to me just not being very used to the party interface, along with some laughably bad luck of course, including a few unreal beats of the runner runner type and the runnerrunnerrunnerrunner variety as well. But I do very well in the 1 table sngs on party, so I dont think anything sinister about their tournaments. It's just that, despite the 6th out of 800 players in the $10 ps tourney on January 18, and then the 4th out of 180 in the ps $20 sng on january 27th, I still dont exactly go into the party tournaments with much optimism, lets just leave it at that.

Anyways, the tournament started off well, as I saw 27% of flops through the first break, and as with ps, I typically have very little trouble making it through the first half in these tournaments, because if you're just tight and play your good cards well, that there is enough to withstand the first 100 people or so very easily usually. I did my share of bluffing during the first break, but it was mostly waiting for the strong hands and then playing them solidly. The story was more of the same in Round 2 of the tournament, the first Round 2 I've ever seen on any large tournament on party. As with my big final table in the 180 sng from earlier this weekend, I started charging a bit harder around the right time, with about 50 players left as things started to get tighter with most of the players beginning to think about the cash. It's a little known secret, but to *really* make some noise in these large tournaments, you have to start putting some moves on once you're in the top 50 or so, or you're just not going to be able to get where you need to be. I got involved in a lot of pots, having won an incredible 21% of the hands in which I had been involved through the first 95 minutes of the tournament. I don't remember a lot of specific hands, but with 20 people left I found KQ in my hand, and raised it 3x to start. Just the BB called, and the flop came KQ7 with 2 clubs. I bet my top two pairs strong, and got a fairly quick call, giving me a clear vibe of a nut flush draw or possible open end straight draw. The turn brought a third club, which definitely concerned me, and in fact I would have probably folded if the guy had pushed hard at me. Instead, he checked, and I took the free card, mostly to ensure that I didn't further trap myself after I got that vibe of a possible made flush. The beautfiul, beautfiul river for once brought me some help - a second King, giving me a gorgeous boat, and I went immediatley from hoping my opponent hadn't made the flush to hoping to gorsh that he had. I thought for a while and then made a sizeable bet on the river, just big enough to mean business, but deliberately small enough to entice a reraise from some kind of a made hand. The guy took the bait, moved in, and I quick called and saw that I had, in fact, beaten the nut flush that filled on the turn. That hand jumped me up from like 7th to 2nd place overall with 19 players remaining. That's always fun.

Anyways it turns out that party goes hand-for-hand starting at 18 people in this tournament, even though only the top 5 people got payouts in this thing. I found that to be impossibly annoying. The good news is that although things got real tight when down to 2 tables, it was still not nearly to the level of tightness as I have seen in the final 2 tables in the 2 ps tournaments ive made it deep in. Anyways, with 16 people left, im still in 2nd place, and I get dealt aces. Now you know me, for ME to get dealt ACES (or ANY high pocket pair) that late in a tournament, it is just insanely rare man, and it was my first inkling that i could actually make it real deep in this thing, that the gods might be smiling on me again tonight, for the second time in a weekend. I raised it up a bit, got one of the shorter stacks to move in, and I smiled ear to ear at my computer as even someone ELSE called his allin bet ahead of me. I pushed and the third guy folded to avoid elimination by the #2 stack left. He flips AKo, and my AA holds up for a huge victory and vaulting me into 1st place out of 14 people left.

Shortly before the third break, we are down to 11 people, and I have recently slipped to 3rd place overall. That's when the game screws down REAL tight. Everyone wants the final table for their chance at the top 2 spots for the $640 entry into the million dollar guaranteed tournament. So we had to wait around for a good long while, probably a good 25 hands or so where nobody moved in with anything. I forced myself to be aggressive at this crucial time of extreme tightness, and managed to add probably 20% to my stack at this point, getting myself back up to 2nd place with 11 remaining, just ahead of third and with a nice cushion above 4th place. Anyways, finally the shortest stack, which at the time was like $12,000, moves in with A9, is called with AK, and its over, I'm at the final table, my THIRD final table in a large online tournament in the past ten days! From the picture you will see me in 3rd out of 10 at that point (I am Hoyazo).

Unfortunately I dont remember tons of the details from the final table. Ut was 2:30 in the morning by the time the final table began, and I was wide awake, but kind of residually tired at the same time. As it is I had already endured two separate periods of about 15 or 20 minutes long where I had to combat falling asleep right in my chair at the computer. But I persevered, and there I was. We immediately took the 3rd break within 5 minutes of the final table being set, I ran and got a beer, and got myself psyched up to continue my streak of making at least the top 6 of each final table I've ever made it to, whether live or online. One thing i DO remember about that final table is that, just like on ps last thursday night, I went pretty much card dead, with the exception of ONE hand, where I got AA AGAIN! In the final 18 and AGAIN on the final table, it's unheard of for me, I know! Thanks to this one good hand, the aces, at the final table, I was able to knock out one of the short stacks. At the time he was the 8th guy left in the tournament, so my aces knocked it down to 7 people remaining.

Although I was excited as all getout and was playing great, I forgot to mention that only the top 5 finishers got paid ANYthing in this tournament, so though I was feeling good, I had absolutely nothing to show for it yet. The payouts were that the top 2 finishers get the $640 entry into the million guaranteed tourney in a few weeks. There wasn't enough in the prize pool to fund a 3rd entry (missed that by ONE entry in fact), so 3rd place got $315, 4th paid $189 and 5th paid $126. To tell the truth, I only really wanted that 3rd place payment anyways, since I don't really belong in a $640 buyin, million dollar guaranteed tournament, right? OK so I'm in 7th place, and my card deadness continues, other than the one AA hand I received. I didn't see another pocket pair out of the last 130 hands played, expect for my 2 pocket As. Otherwise nothing. A few minutes go by with 7 people left, and I look down to see AJo. But, before I can raise it up, first position raises it up about 4x, and then second position moves allin. I fold quickly, last position ALSO ends up moving allin, and all fold but the two original bettors who are both already allin as well at this point. The guy in last position went on to win the entire pot with KK and a K on the flop, and we're down to 5 left, so ive made the money for my third big tourney final table this month!! As I mentioned, 5th place paid $126 for an $11 buyin, so I was thrilled already, but at the same time, I was overcome with this feeling that I really wanted to take advantage of this rare opportunity at a final table, and I was determined, much moreso than even my prior two final tables this month, to really make this one count. Despite my terrible starting cards for the most part, I was a blind stealing machine throughout the final table. At that level it's like a good $4000 a pop to steal, so I stole every time it was folded to me, almost without regard to my position. I would raise it up with nothing from first position for a 10k raise, and watch em fold in front of me. I reraised huge in middle position with just two run-of-the-mill high cards because the guy in second position had limped and I sensed weakness that he wouldnt want to call a big bet with. Stuff like that. I stole a LOT of pots at the final table, just like with the other 2 final tables ive been in recently. At that point in these large tournaments, it really does become a survival thing and a blind stealing thing. Anyways, with 5 people left, I was in the SB at one point, it was folded to me, and I see A8s. I raise it small, figuring I probably have the best hand here. My opponent moves in on me, figuring me for a steal with my small raise, and I call him and see him flip QJo. Not a pure bluff on his part, but not a smart bet either given that I had already raised it, representing higher cards than his. Although I was ahead on this hand throughout, my ace pairs on the turn, and he is done.

At that point im still in 2nd out of 4 remaining, and am flipping out. 4th place, so im already getting the second high cash payout of $189, and it occurs to me that this is now tied for the furthest ive ever been in an online tournament this big (I also came in 4th the other day in the ps 180 sng). Just a few hands later, the then short stack moves in and is called by the massive chipleader, with the short guy showing JJ and the chipleader flipping KQ. But my disappointment quickly turned to elation as a queen came on the flop, no jacks came for help, and I was down to 2nd place out of 3 remaining, just one spot away from the grand prize. We played several hands, I stole quite a bit of money when I got the chipleader to fold a sizable preflop bet to me on a flop of AK7 (2 spades), where I held absosmurfly NOTHING but could tell that he didn't either, and since I had position, I made him pay. Here is what the final table looked like after about 15 hands of three-handed play. We all got within a couple thousand of each other at one point I remember, because we were chatting about how close it was just then.

Now at this point im faced with an actual decision. I'm sitting there thinking I REALLY probably do prefer to go out in 3rd place and get the big cash infusion, rather than the automatic entry into the bigazz tourney next month. I don't even know what their policy is, if they would even let me trade in my $640 tournament entry into $640 cash instead, and I just dont feel quite ready to be playing in a tournament full of people with either $640 to burn, or people who won a large tournament like mine to get in. I figure the competition in that tourney would be like 75% solid players, something which I'm not even close to used to. I've played in Vegas and AC several times, but still nothing that I would think is all big tourney winners like this one would be. So anyways, I figure now is my time to get aggressive, because I might be too pussy to be ready to play in that tournament anyways, so I'll just take a chance and go for broke and see what happens. So a few hands later in 3-handed, I'm the BB, the third guy folds, SB limps, and I just check with 36o. And the flop comes 3K6 rainbow. He checks, i bet 5x BB ($10,000 at that point). He thinks for a few minutes and moves in on me. I ponder for maybe 4 seconds and call, figuring I'm up against King-Ten or a similar hand, or possibly pocket aces. He flips KJo. My 2 pairs hold up. And suddenly I'm in second place with 2 remaining. I won one of the two $640 tourney buyins!! As you can see from this picture, at that point I was down in chips more than 2 to 1 to the chip leader, and I asked him in the chat if there was any reason for us to care who wins at that point, since we both get the $640 buyin. A second after that picture was taken, he responded with "not really". So, being that it WAS 3:10 in the morning and since there was nothing left to play for, I immediately moved in with the K5 suited you see there, and he called with A6, and his aces held up so I officially came in second, but shared the top prize with the other top 2 finisher. That picture is the final leaderboard, with the popup in the bottom left from party saying I had come in 2nd and won the entry into the big tournament.

I look at the clock...fuckin 3:10am. I know I am SUPPOSED to be sleepy as ballz, and I know I need to get up for work within just a few short hours, so I tried to go to sleep right after that, but it took a while to wind down. Big tournament-wise, I am playing my best poker ever. I mean, you still cannot avoid the bad beats, but now this is 3 final tables in events at least 180 people in the last 12 days, and 2 final tables in the 180-200 person range in the last 4 days. Obviously this pace won't continue, but I definitely feel like my strategy and style of play cannot be questioned at this point as far as whether or not it works. And I'm playing differently than I used to in some subtle yet significant ways. Like i said, I'll still get bad beat, and just get flat out beat or make a stoopid move sometimes of course, all the time out of tournaments, but as a general statement my play is progressing very well. I am focusing hard on staying tight and playing my good hands aggressive in the early rounds, and i am doing a GREAT job of getting progressively more aggressive in raising blinds and bluffers out of larger pots as the structure increases. And lately I have been stellar in final 1 or 2 table play, not getting many cards but still managing to take the money down WAY more often than I should. Last night, i ended up winning 18% of the total hands i saw the Entire Night. Think about that. I was 9 or 10 handed for about 85% of those hands I saw, and was only below 5 handed for a VERY small proportion of the tourney, and yet I ended up winning almost 1/5 of the total hands I was at the table for over the entire time. That is an awesome stat to me. I saw 20% of flops all told by the time the thing was done with, also FAR above my average, where I've been trending around 10-12% in all of my ps events, including my recent final tables over there.
And I've also been playing MUCH tighter once im near the big money, something which I don't recall ever consciously doing before, even in my live games when I've made final tables before. I mean, it's 5 handed at the final table, I'm in second position with AJo, but the first guy raises it to 4 the BB. I'm out at that point. early on, I might call that bet with AJo if its not too large a bet, but at this point, no way. I've been folding A9, A10, AJ, even some top pair poor kickers on the flop when we're in the late stages and I still have some chips left to do some damage with, all situations where I would be likely to call in most shorthanded situations, like if I was playing a cash nlh game with only 5 people around the table.

So, next time you're on partypoker, look under "tournaments" and then "special", and look in mid february for the next million dollar guaranteed tournament. It's -February 18 at 4:30pm ET. You'll see my name (Hoyazo) registered there, it is up to 180 people already when I checked tonight, and I bet will be well over 1000 by the time the weekend of february 18 rolls around. I figure I have NO realistic chance whatsoever of doing anything serious in that tourney unless I get some sickly solid cards, but hey you never know. I could definitely use the moral support during the tourney if anyone wants to chat with me while the event is going on.


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