Monday, June 29, 2009

Poker Vacation

No, I'm not taking a vacation from poker. Rather I'm taking a vacation this week from work so that I can play a lot of poker.

Started out nice and easy today with the noon offering at Santa Fe Station. I live nearby, and wanted to be home relatively early since I'm going out with my wife tonight. There were something like 23 or 24 entrants - two full tables with a handful of alternates who all got seats. Things went ok early on, although right before the first break lost a good chunk of chips that left me just above the starting stack. I got pretty aggressive after the break, but couldn't really get a sizable stack built up. Ended up the last person out before the final table. The hand I busted on, I could have played better and survived, but I think I was kind of in "go big or go home" mode so, that's fine. There's a lot more poker to come this week.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tournament Report

Last night I played the Friday night tournament at Aliante Station. There were 21 entrants which led to a prize pool of around $950, the plan was to pay 3 places. I had a couple of steal attempts that went awry early on, missed a couple of flops, and I was down to less than half the starting stack. Spent the rest of the time during the first break building it back to just over starting stack size by the time we took a break. After the break, one of the calling stations busted out and steals got a lot easier. I built up to over 10,000 in chips (starting was t4500), and I don't think I ever had to see a turn card. When they consolidated the two tables into one I was slightly over average when I had my one big hand of the night.

I was UTG +1 and had two black aces. UTG limped, I raised to 3x the big blind, folded to the big blind who shoved, UTG thought a long time before folding, I called and the other guy had AK of diamonds. He flopped a gutshot straight draw, but couldn't catch and I was the big stack.

We played down to four people and agreed to pay fourth place their entry back. I wasn't the big stack anymore. The new big stack had one two big pots in a row from the same player to bust him in fifth. The first was pretty standard, soon to be bigstack had pocket 10s that she reraised all in against the soon to be fifth place's AK suited. He called and the tens held up. The second hand (very next hand) soon to be fifth open shoves and bigstack is the only one who calls. Fifth had pocket Ks, but big had pocket 9s and flopped a 9. Fifth was out and Big now had a commanding lead four handed. It was ironic because when we were ten handed, Big limp reraised all in one hand which led me to think she had either aces or kings (I was sitting next to Big's husband and he told me he thought the same). She got called by the person who actually had aces and she again had, pocket 9s. Big flopped a 9 that time too.

Once we were four handed, I lost some chips calling shoves from the short stack. The first hand was literally one of those any two cards type of calls because I was in the big blind and short only had two big blinds in her stack when she shoved. Short had two face cards and I had 78 or 89 off. I actually flopped an open ended straight draw, but couldn't catch and short doubled. A while later, short shoves from the button again and this time I have a pair (5s) so I call. There were a few other times she shoved and I folded, but when she shoved for about half of what I had I called with A10. Short had 89 and I caught the A on the flop leaving her needing runner runner which didn't come. We were down to 3. I was in second, only about 3,000 behind Bigstack and had third place covered about 3/1.

The next hand, I had KJ of spades, open raised and the Short stack reraised all in. I called and he flipped over A hearts 4 diamonds. I flopped a jack, but the flop was all hearts and the fourth one came on the turn leaving the two shorter stacks about even. We all compared chip stacks at this point and the other short player proposed a three way chop. I agreed (of course) but told the big stack it was up to her. She got both of our counts and said she was ok with the three way chop, so that's what we did. She had both of the other players covered by a fair amount, but the blinds are so big at that point and one hand can change everything quick, so I think that made sense.

I think deals in these type of tournaments once it's down to three or four players make a lot of sense because the high blinds make everyone's chip stacks pretty volatile. Unless one person really has the rest of the players dominated, things are really coin flippy at that point. That beign said, I do hope sometime that I can get down to just two. I think I'll propose that we chop something like ninety percent of the money and play heads up for the rest. I do want to actually get some experience at heads up play.

Thinking back on last night it was a good example of how in these tournaments you do not have to be a slave to luck. I wasn't unusually lucky last night. I lost most of my "flips" at the late stage of the tournament and I only had one really big hand. However, I was able to identify some weak players that I felt likely would fold to aggression and reacted appropriately. Doing that put me in a position where I could very easily have gone to the final two players with the chip lead.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yes, just what the world needs - another poker blog. Well, I'm hear anyway, so let's do the obligatory intro post.

I live in Las Vegas and started playing poker about 2-3 years ago. For a long time I strictly paid limit hold em cash games. Recently however, I made the decision to focus almost exclusively on tournaments. What do you know, it turns out I really enjoy playing tournaments.

I decided to start this blog to write about my journeys through the poker world. As of late, I've started to seriously consider the potential to make a substantial part of my living at the game. At the moment I have a day job which is both intellectually stimulating and financially rewarding, but I just don't have the same passion in my heart for those endeavors that I can muster for playing poker. I don't think I'll get to the point where I completely stop working the day job, but I do think that within me lies the basic skill for poker to be more of a vocation than a hobby. We'll see where that leads.