Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Victory in the WWdN

"And thus the long road back begins."

       -- Weak Player, after watching me double up just two hands after getting decimated runner-runner style to drop to just 450 chips with 13 players left in the WWdN last night.

I almost didn't play in the WWdN last night. In fact, Hammer Wife needed to use the computer, and the Hammer Baby has been giving us trouble going to sleep at night since we got back from West Coast time this past weekend, so she hasn't really been able to get her fix of online pillow fights, makeup websites and looking at dolls on the computer until later in the evenings as it is. The result was that I was only able to get into the WWdN by playing on my 7-year-old Dell laptop with the wireless card jammed into the slot on the side, out in the living room.

As a result, among other things, I played much tighter than normal over the first hour or so as I was just hoping to stretch out my run in the tournament until I could get back to my much more comfortable bedroom setup and to a computer that actually measures its chip speed in Gigs instead of hundred-eighty-sixes, if you know what I mean. As a result of that, I actually saw the first break in one of the WWdN weekly events in probably five weeks. Or it feels that way anyways. There were several instances early on yesterday where I could have pushed, reraised preflop, moved in on the river to maybe get the guy to lay down his top pair. But I kept pulling back, except where I had the goods, or where I was sure I could get a guy to fold. If I wasn't sure I was ahead or could make him or her fold a better hand, I tried to get out of the way. And surviving like that gave me the chance to be there and get the cards when I needed them most. But there was a long road to get there.

Another (probably happy, for you) consequence of me using the dinosaur computer for the first 90 minutes or so of the WWdN last night was that I didn't take screen shots. That's right, none. So I don't have anything for you from my first hour of the WWdN. And don't get me wrong -- that pc can take a screen shot, and I could have uploaded it to the other pc later last night in about 10 seconds. But sometimes, when you're running as cold as I have been in no-limit holdem tournaments, you just don't feel like screenshotting your way to playing well for 30 minutes, reraising a guy allin with my pocket Tens when he has just two overs and not even an Ace, getting called by that guy and then losing to a pair on the river. Do you have any idea how many megabytes of screenshots I have just like that, just from the past couple of months? I don't know either, but I'm going to guess that it is also better measured in Gigs rather than mb's. In any event, I decided I was going to lay off the "print screen" button for a while, at least while I was on the old, uncomfortable setup, and as a result you don't get very many details from my surviving to the first break with around the 1500 chips I started with. I recall one big bluff I pulled on somebody (can't remember who), and I definitely remember pushing Iak off of a large pot I think on the turn card, when I bet large with a pocket pair that I figured to be ahead, and he folded. Iak, I guess it depends what you had exactly, but I'm fairly sure I was ahead there, and you made a nice laydown. Pretty sure. Otherwise, I just survived, made a number of big laydowns early where I could feel my instincts telling me my opponent was weak (many of those I was probably right about), but I just figured I wanted to try to last until I could get onto the good computer and just buckle down from there.

And so this tighter-than-my-usual strategy had me sitting at 6500 chips and was in 4th place out of 13 players remaining in the WWdN, at around 10:15pm ET. That was when I raised a hand preflop with KTs, and DNasty reraised allin in a large overbet to the pot. Now, DNasty had clearly been trying to go allin on several hands, and had been repeatedly complaining about his connection and about other things he had to go and do instead of be playing poker. While I knew this could have all been just one big setup, I considered the situation and decided that DNasty was probably fairly weak here. So I decided to go for the opposte of what I've had done to me repeatedly in the blogger events of late. I figured he had 7s or 8s or 9s in the pocket, and I would just call his allin with my hopefully two overcards, and sOOted at that. So I did it. DNasty flipped over 4s, so I like my read there very much, and then the Ten on the turn won me the big hand. I could have gone out right there with about 20 players remaining out of the 46 who started, but for the first time in ages in the WWdN, I actually won a race in a key spot, and I only mention this story because winning races has been so incredibly rare for me over the not-so-recent past history of the WWdN and the blogger tournaments generally.

Maybe three or four hands later, I am dealt AKo in middle position, and having just raised it up preflop from MP on the previous hand, I went ahead and made the same 3.8x preflop raise again, hoping to draw someone in thinking I was just stealing the blinds. Cfinnn was happy to oblige, reraising allin preflop with what was at the time the 5th place stack in the tournament. I thought about the move for a second, and reviewed my notes on cfinnn with whom I have played in a few other WWdN events, and determined that she was likely looking for a fold here and not pushing with a premium pair, etc. So I called, and she flips over A5o for yet another episode of "Caught Stealing" by my AK. Flop comes A47 rainbow. Turn is a 3. River is a 6. For a muthafucking runnerrunnerrunnerrunner straight for cfinnn, and I go from being basically tied for the lead with Weak Player at around 12,500 chips, down instead to in 13th of 13, holding just 495 chips.

I took one hand to wallow. I laid it on thick in the pokerstars chat, something I seem to be finding myself doing more and more often these days in these blogger tournaments. I bitched bitterly to jeciimd who had been railing me on the IM. I think my next hand even timed out as I knew I was finished and was too busy steaming to even pay attention to the WWdN anymore. Then on the next hand I found KJs, moved in my pathetic stack, and got called by a large stack, maybe Weak himself even, who had an even worse hand but just figured he'd do the big-stack elimination thing and take a stab at knocking me out while I was down. I doubled up instead to just over 1000 chips, still well in last place of the 13 players remaining, and that was when Weak typed the fateful line into the chat to me:

"And thus the long road back begins."

I didn't take him the least bit seriously at the time, no one did, as I was still even after my double-up, less than 1/12 the stack of the then chip leader and sitting way in last. Nonetheless, all the chips fell into place (pun intended), the stars alligned, and I managed to double up maybe 3 more times over the next 15 or 20 minutes, never being dealt a premium hand but playing only high cards, hitting some flops nicely and making a few choice calls along the way. Long story short, I got myself back up to around 6500 chips again by around 10:40pm, and that was when the Hammer Wife told me she was done on the computer. I logged off on the old pc, took a minute or two off from the tournament, and jumped back on to my new laptop to log on to pokerstars. "Old Screenshotter" as I like to call her. And that's where I will pick the story up with some graphics, with now 12 players remaining in the tournament, and me back in 6th place.

So, the very first hand that I play on the new pc, I get dealt pocket 4s in late position, where it is folded around to me. So I put in my standard 4x preflop raise, and Amy (TransFish) moves allin, doubling my bet. I figure her short stack definitely has her moving in with any Ace, probably any two high cards even, and so I figure I'll go for the race, why not I won that one earlier, right? I call, she shows me ATs vs. my pocket 4s, and the flop comes:

Of course. The flush draw. Wonder what's coming on the river. Actually I didn't have to wait for the river because here was the turn:

and Boom there I go back down to the mid 3000s, losing yet another race when I am the slight favorite. That's more like it for a blogger tournament. I was disgusted once again but determined not to tilt out after having staged the nice comeback from under 500 chips just a short while earlier. But I also knew I needed to be aggressive or get my newly short stack eaten by the blinds. So a few hands later when I picked up a flush draw on the flop, I made this allin raise against a decent-sized bet from ringo6624:

to which ringo thankfully folded. I hadn't thought that ringo had an Ace, but I knew it was entirely possible with his bet on the flop like that. Anyways, ringo sorta became my mark after that, as I got him to fold at least 3 other hands on the flop, including this one which I can't even explain what I was doing in, other than that I just had a weak read coming from ringo and so I went ahead and acted on it:

which also got ringo to lay down:

Eventually we made the final table, my first blogger final table since the Mookie 3 or 4 weeks ago:

This table was tough, including cfinnn, ringo and TransFish, as well as fellow New York poker player Alceste, Weak, Skidoo, SteelerJosh and the ever-present Smokkee, so I knew I had my work cut out for me as I started out in 5th place of the 9 remaining players, all of whom would get some sort of cash payout due to the 46 entrants into the tournament. My first big hand happened just about five hands into the final table, when Smokkee raised it up 4x from first betting position preflop, and I re-kicked it allin with my AK from late position. Everyone else folded, and Smokkee went into the tank for a long time. So long that I figured he either would fold, or would call and show me a low to middle pair. After what seemed like forever and just before his countdown ran out, Smokkee elected to call and showed me this:

I still can't believe Smokkee made this call with the AQ. That basically means he would have to put me on AJ or worse, to have moved allin for my medium sized stack preflop like that. No way he could reasonably put me on AJ or AT or something, and I can't see how calling here is a smart move for Smokkee if he puts me on an underpair, as he would then be calling off most of his large stack when he believes he is a less than 50% favorite. But in any event, I doubled up quick on this hand and was up in the top part of the leaderboard for good. FYI Smokkee later busted when he moved allin preflop with this little gem of a hand, what I like to call a "Waffles special":

but then Smokkee also proceeded to make another deep run into the ftp 20k guaranteed tournament, along with Iakaris and a few other guys I know, so you can't say much bad about the week Smokkee is having (if you didn't know, our man took down the ftp 8k guaranteed tournament for a cool 3 grand-plus in cold, hard cash a couple of nights ago, go check his blog for the deets), but I thought the call of my AK allin with his AQ preflop was not good, and this Waffles hand above kinda speaks for itself.

Here was a big laydown I made, as I continued to try to rein in my normally aggressive nature even as the players started dropping at the final table:

This one hurt, but maybe our boy Smokkee could learn something from it. AQ is just not a hand I like to play hard with preflop when someone else is doing the raising or the reraising. Not only do all the pocket pairs have me beat, but then there are all the AK's to worry about as well. So I'm glad I made this laydown with the AQo, and I suppose I don't know for sure that I was behind, but I feel pretty good that cfinnn wasn't reraising my EP preflop raise there with just AT or something.

A few hands later, I hit a lucky flop after Weak called my standard raise preflop when I was holding AQ:

and when I bet half the pot and more like 2/3 of Weak's remaining stack, he had to fold on the flop and I moved squarely into second place out of the five remaining players:

And then two hands later, I made a huge call of ringo's allin bet on a flop of K62 when I held top pair shitey kicker:

and my instincts again did not lead me astray, leaving me in first place of the 4 players left in the tournament. Weak went out a few hands later, and we were down to three, basically all even and just waiting to see who would emerge as the victor:

Skidoo made the first move eight hands in to three-handed play, as he called cfinnn's ill-adivsed allin bet on the flop with her top pair and 9 kicker when Ski had flopped top two pairs, and then it was heads up with just Ski and me:

Sucks when you are leading out of 3 players in 3-handed action in a poker tournament, but then #2 eliminates #3 and suddenly you are facing a significant chip deficit to start heads-up play, but that's what happened to me with Ski last night as we started heads-up play with Ski holding about a 46,200 to 26,200 chip advantage. Heads-up was interesting, because Ski opted for the highly aggressive approach, raising almost every unraised pot preflop, and admittedly I folded a lot of hands without seeing a flop. This was because I got the worst run of 74o, 82o, 63o, J2o, etc. cards that I have ever seen consecutively like this over a short time span, and there was just no way I was going to keep calling Ski's overaggressive 4x preflop raises every single hand, not with no high card and no kicker to speak of. Personally, my heads up strategy involves not playing any big pots with a terrible kicker, such that when I do get called for a big pot, and we both have the same piece of the flop, I don't automatically lose. So, for example, I am more than willing to play a hand like QT or Q9 heads-up, because if the flop comes Queen-high and we both get it allin, I have a decent chance of being ahead. Whereas, Q3 or even K3 I am much less apt to want to play. The odds of me winning if there is a big pot (presumably because we both have top pair Kings in our pocket cards) are just astronomically low when I have a kicker below, say, a 5 or 6. And anyways I couldn't buy a phucking high card for most of heads-up play with Ski, and as a result, I didn't raise much preflop. To compensate, when I got my big hands I also didn't raise much, so this way Ski still wouldn't automatically know if I had a monster in the hole before each flop was dealt.

My first decent sized pot heads-up with Ski was here:

On this hand, Ski had quick-checked the flop of AK9 rainbow, and I do not have Ski labeled as the type of player who would auto-check with a big hand on the flop here. So I figured he didn't have an Ace, as I did, and when the turn card came, I just checked again to Ski, knowing full well that his aggressive nature would cause him to put out some kind of bet here. He bet his standard 2400, and when I reraised him 4x his flop bet with my top pair, he got the message that I had actually slow-played an Ace, and wisely folded. Moreover, this was the first time that I thought Ski realized he couldn't just keep betting into me all night long and that I was more than ready, willing and able to slowplay him to death if that's the way it was gonna go.

Then came the big moment, and I loved this hand. Ski raised it up preflop as he had been on almost every hand, and this one I called with 98o, just abou the best hand I'd seen all through the heads-up battle to end the WWdN. Flop comes out QT7 rainbow, giving me the oesd. I checked the flop, knowing again that Ski would bet, and knowing what I would have to do when that happened. Ski obliged as I knew he would:

and it was on:

I knew this was where this hand was going as soon as I saw the oesd on the flop, and it got right there pretty quick. The interesting part happened next. Ski basically ran his time counter down to near zero. He typed in "oesd?" into the pokerstars chat, to which I did not respond while he continued to contemplate, even though I could have responded thanks to my well-timed hoy raise on the flop. Eventually, Ski begrudgingly called, and I figured I would be a 31% dog to draw to my straight against what was likely top pair or some other piece of the board for Ski, who already thought I was on the oesd.

I typed into the chat (remember I was holding just one chip at this point, thanks to my flop hoy) that Ski was right, I was on an oesd. The turn card comes a raggy 2 of spades, and I just went ahead and moved in my last chip, having alread told Ski what I was holding. He calls, and he flips over KJo, for only the oesd as well! Long story short, here was the river card:

and I took down a huge pot and a significant chip lead heads-up. I have to admit, I'm still a bit baffled by Ski's call of my allin raise on the flop there. I mean, he did have the two high cards as well as the oesd. But while I fully understand my allin raise with what I thought were the eight oesd outs with two cards to come, and the fold equity associated with my raise that I figured would likely cause Ski to fold, I do not understand his call of my allin bet with just the oesd but no other direct hit with any cards on the board. I mean, ultimately he read the situation right, told me he thought I was on an oesd, and knew he had the highest oesd possible, so in that respect his read was spot-on and I credit Ski for making that move based on his instincts there that turned out to be right. But I still don't get why you would call an allin bet on the flop when you have only an oesd, when you have to call 16,000 chips to win 28,000, for odds of less than 2 to 1. In other words, Ski is not getting anywhere near the right odds to make that call with just an oesd, in comparison to my move with the oesd, which carried tons of fold equity with it. Nonetheless, Ski made the call, and he took it on the chin on the river. Riverstars was definitely in the hizzouse last night, that is for sure.

Ski valiantly fought back to almost dead even with my stack within just a few hands, using his aggressive style and making a small pair on the turn hold up to drag a 15k pot. Then he raised again on the button preflop here, when I happened to be holding one of my favorite hands to play:

I reraised him up to 10k, which Ski very quickly called. Then I made a pair of 2s on the flop with my Hammer, so I did what any self-respecting blogger should do:

And Ski laid it down. I enjoyed flashing those cards as soon as he threw his hand into the muck. There's just something about pulling off the final table Hammer, isn't there? I love it. So there I got back up to about a 44,000 to 25,000 chip advantage, and then I took down another decent-sized pot with second pair Queens and a Ten kicker, which I even bet on the river for value as I was fairly confident Ski was not ahead of me given his weakish posture during most of this hand:

I lost most of this last pot's winnings right back to Ski on the next hand when this flop:

turned into this on the end (is that a nice turn-river combination for Ski or what?):

Yuck. Four hands later, however, my misery was mostly ended when I picked up K3o in the pocket, probably the best or second-best hand I had all through our heads-up confrontation to end the tournament, and I raised it up 3x to 2400, a rare preflop raise for me during the heads-up action with Ski. He smooth called the 2400 preflop, and we saw a flop of A54 with two diamonds. I bet out, knowing positively from the preflop action that Ski did not hold an Ace since he did not reraise me, and again Ski only flat called. Since I knew in my heart that he did not hold an Ace, when he flat called my flop bet, I just knew Ski must be on a flush draw with the diamonds. When the turn came another high card and non-diamond King of spades, I bet out 3200 and Ski quickly reraised me allin. I already thought he was on the flush draw, and I figured, with my weak read of him preflop, there was no way that the King had helped his hand. This was not a guy who was slow-playing AK on me here. So I made the tough call on what I thought was just a one-card flush draw, and I was right:

This was the ultimate hoy consequence, when I now held every chip in play throughout the tournament, except for one chip retained by Ski when he had hoyed me earlier in the previous hand. So while we all knew it was unofficially over, pokerstars decided to be an asshole for a little while longer and just toy with me. First there was this hand:

where I was the favorite on the preflop allin, but lost to runner-runner flush diamonds. Then Ski was dealt pocket Queens and doubled up again, to 8 chips vs. my stack of 70,492 chips. Grrrr. But on the next hand, again allin preflop due to the 50-chip ante at this stage of what proved to be the shortest WWdN I can ever remember, I actually outflopped Ski's again-strong pocket hand:

and put the icing on my first ever WWdN title:

This is big for me for many reasons. Obviously, the $141 always fits well into any poker player's bankroll. But the glory of winning the WWdN after what must be a good 20 or 22 attempts at this thing is hard to quantify. And as my readers know, I have not done well in holdem tournaments lately, so this is a nice ego boost as well at a time when my no-limit game can certainly use one. Plus, now I can add the virtual WWdN trophy to the DADI V pot-limit holdem and the WPBT Gemini event virtual statues and the two WWdN Not titles I have up on my virtual mantle in my virtual house in the virtual suburbs to give myself a really nice virtual poker pat on the back. I've got plenty more posts already written that will be going up over the next few weeks, but given the WWdN triumph from yesterday, for now I will just bask in the glory of this last screenshot, and call it a day.


Blogger slb159 said...

You must have been totally drunk or something. :)
Nice work...payback for time well spent on the recent good posts.
Well done.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

Nice comeback from almost being bad beat out of the entire thing. Well done!

10:10 PM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...


You won your races. ;)

Congrats, Hoy!

10:50 PM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

No Wolf, the truth is that Aqua mentored him to the crown.

Congrats brotha, nice work!

1:17 AM  
Blogger jjok said...

Very well done sir!


1:36 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

ya nice comeback dude. curious how Weak_player went out. he had a pretty big stack when i hit the felt.

glad i could donate to your cause. see ya in the mOOk.

2:26 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...


i actually put you on a range of 66-JJ or K-sumthin in my AQs hand. your all in didn't look like it wanted a call and i had you covered. so i decided to gamble. i figured if i could win that race i'd be number 2 in chips and wouldn't have to worry about getting hoyed anymore. so much for that thinking.

on the 4-6 hand, while i knew i wuz behind, the button raise looked suspicious. i thought i still had some folding equity left. guess not. he calls with K-3o. come on.

5:50 AM  
Blogger Ingoal said...

Wow, nice comeback and even nicer recap of your journey, especially through the final table (with all the screenshots and details, wow)!


8:04 AM  
Blogger C.L. Russo said...

Good job, yo.

Too bad you won't have the same success in the NFL pick 'em league!

7:53 PM  

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