Thursday, February 16, 2006

Lots of Tournament Pokery Goodness

Last night was like a festival of tournament pokery goodness for me. Not so much in my results (I ended down $1 on the night), but in the number of quality tournaments I was able to play.

After enjoying a nice dinner of sushi with the lovely HammerPlayerette, she was sleepy and passed out while watching the latest episode from Season 4 of the Sopranos on the DVR. Leaving me with basically no CHOICE but to log on a bit earlier than usual to my online poker site(s) of choice. What I found was that, as a general statement, there is just much more opportunity for low buyin ($5-$10) large tournaments online before 10pm ET than there are starting around 10pm ET. I guess they figure all the east coasters are logging off by then, except for the drunks, and the hardcore players, neither of which needs the optimal low-buyin tournaments to draw them into playing on a given site. The result:

1. The night started with me entering the $10 buyin, 10-minute levels tournament on pokerstars. 1080 players entered, with the schedule set to pay the top 99 players. I played very well, was never able to build up a huge stack but stayed above the average stack size most of the way through. Eventually I pushed as a short stack well into the second hour when I looked down to find AKo, but when three people called my allin bet, I knew I was done. In the end I lost to a guy with 77 who turned another 7 to make trips and win a big pot, and my day in this tournament was done, out in 255th place out of 1080.

2. The next tournament I started was the $5 buyin on party, which I had never seen before given that I'm not usually playing poker before 10pm ET or so. This one had 991 entrants and paid the top 100 finishers. I ended up semi-bubbling, as I made it through most of Round 2 with an around-average chipstack, but ended up going out in 129th place on the Very First Hand of Round 3. There is something obscene about waiting around through the 5 minute break late at night, eyelids heavy, nervous, etc., only to get busted on the very first hand of the new round. But that was me last night. I held KJ of clubs, limped in, and saw a flop of K94 with the 9 and 4 of clubs. I had reason to believe that my top pair and Jack kicker was good, given that my opponent (the only one who stayed in after the flop) had been demonstrably playing ANYthing for almost the entire time I had been at this table (at least an hour or more). I figured I had TPJK AND a near-nut flush draw, so I had to make a play for it, especially with my chip stack having recently shrunk just before the second break to about half of the average stack size. So, I bet about half of my remaining stack, knowing I would have to push in the rest if I were raised, and that's just what my opponent did, which frankly I was happy to call, albeit a bit cautious given his aggressive move when he had to know I was pot committed at that point. I figured at worst I was a dog with my TPJK but with the solid flush draw I had a LOT of outs. I called for the rest of my chips, and he flips over big slick, for TPTK, and my jack kicker was cripe. Of course I see no Jack on the turn or river, and more importantly, no club, and I was gone in 129th place out of 991 players. I was very pleased with my performance, and had fought back several times during Round 1 from near extinction, so despite the no payout, I was moderately pleased with that result.

3. Next came the $8 buyin satellite tourney on full tilt for a seat in the WSOP 100 seat tournament scheduled for mid July. I just couldn't resist the chance to get into that big satellite tournament for only $8 today, and with just 146 entrants, 2 seats were up for grabs and really seemed within my reach. Unfortunately, I was never able to get going in this event, getting bad beat on in the first round to be short stacked the entire way through the tournament, and I ended up going out in 97th place when my K9 on a flop of K62 rainbow lost to K-10, who had checked this hand to me to begin the flop. Well played, sir. God I can't stand getting effectively slow played by someone else. I feel like George Kostanza when the chick uses the "It's not you, it's me" line on him. "I INVENTED the slow play!" I want to say. "You would dare use the slow play on ME?! If anyone is slow playing, it's ME!"

4. The most fun event I played in last night was a new first for me -- the heads-up tournament on pokerstars. This is another event which I don't tend to see since I'm not usually on ps until after these tourneys are done for the night. The big problem with pokerstars' structure is that these things take forever. You have to wait every round for ALL of the matches in that round to be completed. I would estimate that I played for a total of probably around an hour, yet I was in that tournament officially for more than four hours. That just doesn't make sense.

Nonetheless, this was the first time I had played in this structure, on ps or anywhere for that matter. And it was especially interesting for me, given the MANY very negative experiences I have had playing heads up matches online. When I play HU, I am VERY aggressive, and I tend to win a good 2/3 to 3/4 of the pots in any given tournament. As long as I am careful and don't get suckered in to playing my good hand against one of my opponent's hidden great hands, I tend to win because I am so often out there and so often putting the other guy to the decision for all his chips, so I'm almost always in the lead and that, combined with my uncanny knack for slow playing at the right time, creates opportunities for me to knock people out good. And last night was no exception. I won my first match early as my slow played AQs beat out my opponent's A8o. I won my second match similarly quickly, as both of those first two opponents were flat out fish when it comes right down to it. My third match, the one I needed to win in order to make the money, was a bit harder, as this guy started off right away at least playing back at me from time to time, even with not such a strong hand, and doing his best to take away some pots from me when neither of us hit much of anything (always the key to heads up when it comes right down to it). Unfortunately for him, his resolve to play in this aggressive style quickly faded (within one blind round or so) as it crumbled in the face of my relentless aggression and stack pushing, and I managed to put him out of commission when he moved in with A3o against my slow-played JJ. Down to just 16 players remaining, this was where the actually good players were remaining, so after waiting another 30 minutes or so for Round 4 to start, I began my matchup with the first consistently good heads up player I had seen yet in the tournament. Fortunately, over just a small number of hands I was able to ascertain that I was still a better heads up player than my opponent; unfortunately, I got TOTALLY housed with the cards I was playing, and after my straight lost to his flush on hand #1, my top 2 pairs lost to his trips on hand #12, my 2nd and 3rd pairs on the turn lost to his top and bottom pairs that came on the river on hand #15, and finally, on a severe short stack on hand #16, my A6o lost to his 94o, I was mercifully done. Nonetheless, I won $57 for my efforts, and for my first-ever heads up tourney, I was very pleased with the performance, especially in light of this coming Friday's big DADI III heads-up challenge tournament, which I intend to win of course.

So in all, a lot of good poker was played last night by me. Despite having little to show for it in the way of actual cash, I feel like I got back on track after several days of suckiness, and if that momentum can just propel me to further success in these next few days, then hopefully I can head into Saturday's million dollar guarantee tournament on party with a new resolve and new optimism that I will not donkify myself like always seems to happen in the WWdN tournaments.


Blogger surflexus said...

Mental note to self (reminder).....going all in with AK is OK....calling all in with AK not
I hope to hear good news on your finish....sorry I didn't hang around longer.

12:53 PM  

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