Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The 20k is OK (Take III), and Big Cash Game Win

Don't ask me why I'm fool enough to actually say this in a blog post, but dare I proclaim that my month-long drought at the nightly full tilt 20k guaranteed tournament is over, at least for the time being? I must be crazy to publicly proclaim this here, let alone right at the beginning of my post and to put it in the title and everything. Everyone knows the poker gods have no chance of missing it now. And we all know what they're going to do to my 20k game when they see me saying the drought is over. Nonetheless, I'm not actually doing that well in the 20k. This isn't like Iak or Smokkee or Lifesagrind who have made really deep runs of late into this event, and I did not even cash last night when all was said and done. But, after over a month of not even lasting through the first hour in probably 12-15 tries in this tournament, counting last night I have now lasted into the third hour in this event three straight days, including a 42nd place out of 1545 players in this past Sunday night's 30k guaranteed. So I'm hoping maybe it's ok for me to post a little about that here, since I'm not actually doing well in this thing, but rather I'm just not doing horribly anymore like I have been. We'll see if this was a mistake or not soon enough I suppose.

I missed last night's WWdN because I ended up going to see one of my absolute favorite authors of all time, Stephen King, speaking live about his new book and answering audience questions here in the city. I reteurned home shortly before 10pm, the sitter had already put both girls to bed and all seemed calm and quiet. So I sat down to the pc, and mapped out my evening, beginning by activating the girly chat and seeing what mtt's were on the schedule on pokerstars and full tilt, my two virtual card rooms of choice these days. After surveying the schedule and chatting with some playas, I settled on a simple poker plan for the evening: (1) the 20k at 10pm ET, (2) $26 token buyin HORSE mtt on full tilt at 10:15pm, and (3) the $5 turbo nlh mtt on pokerstars at 10:39pm. I wanted to play some cash to continue grinding out my bonus dollars on full tilt, but jeciimd talked me into the HORSE mtt (that took a lot of arm twisting!) and cash would have to wait for me to bust out of at least one of these things.

I made my first move in the 20k, when about 40 minutes in, I was faced with this allin flop push by a guy on a shortish stack who had just taken a bad bad beat at the river on the hand immediately before this one:

This guy hadn't played a big hand yet in the entire tournament in more than 40 minutes, and on his first try I watched him get rivered hard. So I had him on a bit steaming just then, and when he pushed here, you've seen me post about this kind of call many times here actually from early in the big mtt's. Guys get a little short, and they start acting desperate and pushing on flops with nothing but two high cards that did not connect. I thought it over, reran his preflop actions (calling my 4x preflop raise) and his postflop actions and what I'd watched him do at this table for the past half hour or so, and decided to make the call:

Yes! The donks in the first hour of the 20k are really funny sometimes. You just have to get your mind in tune with their donkey brains, and you can lay some good reads and set some fun traps and just watch the zombies walk right into them.

By the time of my first double up here in the 20k, the HORSE mtt was already in full swing, with 196 players fighting it out for a $4700 prize pool being paid to the top 24 finishers. As is much more common in HORSE tourneys than in the large nlh mtt's of late, I got off to a great start early with a big limit holdem win and a few large razz hands. I hit another two nice hands in stud hilo, the poker game I've been playing longer than almost any other, and I was quickly in the top 20 in the tournament. Then when we got back to LHE for the second time, I got involved in a hand that, without going through all the details, let's just say involved me and another guy basically max-raising it out from the flop on. Rather than show you 20 screenshots of this happening, let me just skip to the end:

Ouch! Not only did I flop a flush, but I flopped a flush after I open-raised from middle-late position with 87s, a hand my opponent could not possibly put me in given my preflop raise. And my opponent happened to also flop a flush, a higher flush using both of his hole cards, at the same time. Now if that isn't bad luck then I don't really know what is. I got slammed for a huge pot on this one, and I was once again lamenting my luck of late in multi-table tournaments of all flavors.

But that wasn't even the worst of it for me in the HORSE mtt. I managed to build my HORSE stack back up by early in the second hour to a respectable level by playing solid poker, again excelling for the most part in the non-holdem games where the competition is simply noticeably worse than it is in the holdem hands. Then in O8, I flopped trips, bet and got called, and then made my boat on the turn here:

Of course we max-raised our way through the turn card here and on to the river, when I confidently flipped my boat, and he showed me this:

Phuck!!! Seriously. That was two utterly crushing beats where I came up with an absolutely huge, unreadably huge, hand right in the middle of a hand, and then in both cases it turns out I had already been behind to an even huger hand that was even more unreadable than mine. So that's how I went out of the HORSE mtt, but that is nothing I can feel even the least bit bad about. I played great and I probably would have won the phucking thing if not for those two silly, silly losses. It happens, it's poker, right?

But does this have to happen too? This hand occurred not two minutes after my second HORSE phucking above, when I was doing great in the $5 turbo mtt on pokerstars, having lasted through the first hour of what is one of the toughest mtt's around to endure in:

When I push-raised this clown on the river here, I was laughing inside. I mean I had a really good chuckle going. I had watched this guy luckbox into two separate hands on the turn and river over the past 30 minutes or so, and by all rights he should have been outta here several blind rounds ago. But instead, I was thinking when he foolishly called my allin here, instead the poker gods had obviously decided that, while they had effed me hard in the 20k, they were going to pay it back here in this turbo mtt. Wrong! Now be honest guys, is that a sick way to get knocked out of two tournaments where I had been doing well over the span of maybe 2 or 3 minutes? At least I did manage to survive until the cash in the turbo mtt, just barely:

Hey, I'll take my $7 payout and go home, thank you very little.

My next elimination, then, was the 20k. As I mentioned above, again I managed to last into the third hour of this tournament, a fact which for now will have to suffice as a thrill for me given my recent performance in the 20k before this week. Early in the third hour, with about half the average chip stack remaining in the event, I was faced with this preflop raise from a guy I had personally observed stealing the blinds twice from late position over the past several rounds:

As you can see, I elected to reraise him allin, as he put in a very stealy-looking 3x raise from a very stealy-looking position, and yet his stack was such that it would make a lot of sense for him to fold to me here unless he happens to be holding a strong hand this time. With the ability to add literally 50% to my existing stack where I had reason to believe this guy was weak enough to not be willing to call my allin raise here, I like my push, and I can definitely say that this is the kind of aggressive middle-to-late stage tournament play that has won me lots of money and done me very well over time in mtt's. Knowing that this guy is a stealer, I was surprised when he flipped over a strong hand, and proceeded to nail the board and eliminate me from the tournament:

But as I said, I like my play here. It is uber-aggro, no doubt, and not at all necessary for this point in the tournament. But as you all know, I play to win, not to cash, and this is a great example of a high-percentage play with two suited two-gapper cards that I make with some regularity around this point of the big mtt's, what I like to call "Go Time". With everyone else hunkering down in preparation for the tight hang-on until the money (at this time just 45 or so spots away out of 1447 entrants), if I am on a well below-average stack I will often make moves just like this, and if done correctly in the right spots, they work far more often than they don't. Last night just wasn't one of those times. But again I am really pleased to report lasting to the third hour in three straight 20k's. A feat I can hopefully extend further tonight.

With all of my mtt's done for the night, I got ready for bed, but as I pulled up the covers, something was nagging at me at the back of my head. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it was definitely something there. I felt compelled to sit back down at the computer for a few, and I watched as my fingers logged me back in to full tilt. Although I did not have control over my body's actions at the time, it suddenly occurred to me what that nagging feeling was....8-16 limit razz. If you recall, over the weekend Joanne convinced me to play a short while of 8-16 razz at a table that she insisted was donkish, and although I had been up around $75 shortly after sitting down with her, I left within half an hour or so, down about that same number overall on the session. Nonetheless, it was clear to me all of a sudden as I stared at the full tilt lobby that had just popped back up last night that I had never really stopped thinking about playing that 8-16 razz game from this weekend, and how I was going to have to try it again. Then I looked at the screen and I had already sat down at the 8-16 table. My brain just took a few extra seconds to figure out that this is what I was meant to be doing at the end of last night. Wind down after three tumultuous mtt's, grind out some bonus, play the highest limit game I've ever played at any time in my entire life, what else is new, yknow? And hey, I threw in one table of 3-6 razz and one table of 2-4 razz to go along with the big one, so I guess maybe I was hoping they would all average out to around the stakes I am used to playing. Or something like that.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the largest single pot I have ever won in any cash poker game:

It all started off when I called the completed bet on the 8-16 table from EP with a 7-high starting razz hand, a move I will make probably 95% of the time with a 7-low to begin with:

With two other door cards lower than mine, I knew I was going to need to catch good here early or I'd have to get out of the way. And catch good I did, hitting a 4 on the next card to retain my 7-low, now through four cards. Unfortunately, both of my opponents had also caught low (lower in fact), so in the end I somewhat unhappily made another $8 call but now knowing I would need to catch low and catch better than both of my opponents on 5th street, or again I would have to bolt before the $16 bets kick in:

It happened! And of course I bet out, now guaranteed to be ahead at this point in the hand:

Knowing I was currently ahead, I was happy to see the first player call my $16, and even more happy when the second player raised me to $32:

Obviously, he knew he was on a better 4-card draw than I was and was going for the value-raise. Well, I do this move all the time, so I know how best to combat these "value raise" type of moves in razz when I know for a fact that the value raiser is currently taking the worst of it, as here. I reraise, which now forces the value raiser with just a good draw to pay heavily to draw when behind. I love the move, and I loved doing it here:

Both players called the $48 bet, and I looked to 6th street with trepidation, hoping against hope for a low card and two high cards for my opponents. Instead I got this:

Eech. A pair card for me, and low cards for each of my opponents. Dammit.

But then I looked a bit closer. I am now showing a 4-card low to a 7, still a strong razz hand in most situations. Each of my opponents has at least one brick that I can see, and who knows what lies underneath their hole cards. With my re-reraise last hand, these guys have to fear that this 2 has just made me even better than the 7-low my upcards suggest, and they are all but assured now that I have a made 7 low. Although from their board cards both opponents could now be working on made 6-lows, and were almost surely drawing to 6-lows, I had a good hand showing and wanted to act like I had just nailed it with that 2 coming on 6th street. So I did what I had to do and I bet it out as you can see above. Both players called. But neither raised, which told me all that I needed to know -- both were still drawing to beat my clear 7-4 low. If either of them had been ahead at that point, they would have been crazy not to raise me there, and nothing would be gained by them waiting until 7th street to let the cat out of the bag -- all they would gain was some lost bets from letting me out of 6th street for just one bet.

So we moved on to 7th street, with me praying for one more low card to hit me so that I could be very confident of winning this hand for a huge pot. I did not get what I wanted:

Fucking trips! Assholes. Nonetheless, I know both of these guys are drawing to beat me, so I had to bet the river as you see above, no thought involved. Just the first player called:

And he mucked, me dragging the $283 pot for my biggest ever single hand cash poker win. What a thrill. Btw, he was holding a 7-6-5 low, and could not make the tough laydown for all those chips even though my board was showing 4 cards to a 7-4 low. His poor read was my gain, and suddenly I had made more money from my $250 buyin at this table than I had made in the past week of grinding out the lower limit cash games up to that point.

I followed this up two hands later by winning this hand, where my opponent (whose name and avatar on full tilt remind me annoyingly much of Iakaris FWIW), and who made a horrifically poor call on 6th street that I still simply cannot understand:

But I'll sure take the $125 from him, if he wants to lose that money so badly. In the end, I took a lot of people's money at this table, buying in for $250 and leaving right after this, as you can see with me more than doubling my stack before getting out of dodge a big winner:

These late-night profits combined with another $125 or so won on the other two razz tables to make last night one of my most profitable of the past several weeks. If I can't win big in a nlh tournament and keep running my monsters into even bigger monsters of my opponents in other single-elimination events, at least I can make a killing at the cash limit tables and end my night on a very positive note, after again playing the highest stakes of my lifetime in the wee hours of the morning.

I definitely plan to be in the Mookie tonight, and so should you. Full tilt, private tab, 10pm ET, password is "vegas1" as always. This will probably prove to be the biggest blogger tournament of the week for the second straight week, so be there or be square. Come find my table so you can call my allin preflop reraise with your QJo and then spike a card at the river to beat my pocket 10s. Or better yet, just play any two cards in the hand where I get dealt pocket Aces. Tournaments have just not been my friend lately, but I love the atmo at an event like the Mookie and I will definitely plan to be there to get down.


Blogger Fuel55 said...

You are almost ready for the cash-game big leagues!!!!! DoubleAs, Wes and I have a private game tonight is you wanna play ...

12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cash is King Hoy!

12:47 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

ya, i saw you on the 8/16 RAZZ table. i almost sat down with you to bust my SKILLLZZZzzz.

instead i played sum 2/4 NL. the tables are effin juicy. it's been a good week for me at the cash games.

re: AA. i got AA cracked twice in last night's 20k. all-in preflop both times. once vs. AKo (two K's hit the board) and once with A-To (hachem 4-flush special).

you're not alone in that dept.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Fuel, what are the stakes of this little private cash game you've got going on? And what games, just holdem? Are we talking no-limit or limit?

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rough beats there in the beginning, but way to bring home the bacon in the cash games!

I may have to pick your brain sometime on reading players while multi-tabling.

Have fun in The Mookie!

2:36 AM  
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5:15 PM  

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