Friday, December 22, 2006

Bellagio & Stars $150

I didn't make it out of Day 1 of the Bellagio $15k. I drew a difficult starting table, sandwiched between KramerTM and ImSoLucky0 (Jordan Morgan) both of whom I know from playing on the internet. Also at the table were internet player Roothlus and pros Ray Faltinsky and John Duthie. We started with 30k in chips - I was down to about 25k when this hand came up: Jordan raised UTG to 300 and I just called with KK in the BB. The flop came 9 high and I checked, he bet 500, I made it 1500 and he quickly called. The turn was a blank and I bet 2000 and he called. The river was another low card, and I really felt like he had JJ or QQ and I bet 5000 and he thought for a minute and called, saying he had QQ.

In level 2, I remember a weird hand against John Duthie. He limped UTG which he did a lot, and I had been playing pretty tight so I made it 900 with 98o in MP. Duthie made it 1500 more and I decided to call. The flop came T92, and he quickly checked and I checked behind. The turn was a 7 and he bet 1600 and I called. The river was a blank and it went check check and I won vs his AKs. I was up to about 40k at this point but that would be the most chips I'd have.

One bizarre hand that I recall was when I limped behind a couple of limpers with JsTs. The flop was J45 one spade and one of the limpers bet into the field and I called. The turn was the As and he quickly checked and I decided to check behind. The river was a 4 and he bet out almost the size of the pot for 5k. I really didn't know what to make of this bet, it felt like he was betting a ten and we were chopping with the board paired and the ace on board. I decided to call and he had 2s3s for the turned wheel. Its interesting if another spade would come on the river... because if he bet out on the spade, I wouldn't have the nuts, but in reality what spade draw could he have? Would he really bet into the whole field of limpers with KsQs on that flop? I don't think so, no one would even make that play as a bluff. My point is, I might have just called if the spade hit on the river, but I would definitely want to raise there because there is no bigger spade draw he could logically have...

I just burned through my stack in the last few levels of the day. I'd raise preflop and get re-raised and fold, or I'd get called and played back at on the flop. And I wasn't picking up any big hands preflop. Finally, a fairly bad player opened for 3000 in the last level of the day (300/600 blinds) from middle position. I had AQo in the BB with about 13000 chips. This player hadn't opened a ton of pots, but I think the fairly large raise here meant a good but not premium hand, like 99 or TT. I decided to stick my chips in there and he called fairly quickly with AdJd and he hit a flush on the turn to eliminate me from the tournament.

I got home on Sunday morning after 2.5 weeks in Vegas. On Monday night, I fired up some tournaments online. When the night was over I took down the $150+12 tournament on Stars for almost $33,000. I (finally) ran really well at the final table, coming back from the shortest stack with 5 or 6 left to be a big chip leader when it got heads up. My opponent played pretty well heads up and we went back and forth quite a few times. I got lucky a few times and eventually took it down. So satisfying to have a big win on Stars, I have run so bad on that site for so long, it finally seems to be evening out.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Stars Sunday Tourney

Well I finally put together a decent run in a Sunday tournament. I got 7th in the Stars $200+15 tournament out of 6680 people for $22,710. The big hand was the 15million chip pot I played at the final table with AK all in preflop vs AQ against the eventual winner. I lost the hand and went out the very next hand.

You have to run really good to make it that far, so I won't even start to complain about my luck. I'm at a high point for the year as far as earnings go, and that is always nice. Hopefully this gives me some momentum heading into Thursday's $15,000 buy in at the Bellagio.

Monday, December 4, 2006

More of the Same

I skipped yesterday's $2500NL at the Bellagio to play the Sunday tournaments and sweat fantasy football and the BCS. Of course, the BCS wasn't a great sweat as Florida got the nod to play OSU in the national championship game over Michigan. I have mixed feelings on this, I really wanted Michigan to get another shot, and I don't really understand how Florida moved up so much with a win over Arkansas. If Florida's schedule was so much tougher before they played Arkansas why weren't they ahead of Michigan already? Urban Meyer really started jockying for the Gators to be #2, and Lloyd Carr said pretty much nothing... and I think the national media fell in love with the Gators partly because of that and it all snowballed. Now Michigan is stuck playing USC, a very talented and probably motivated team, practically playing on their home turf. It might be Carr's most difficult coaching job ever to motivate Michigan to win the Rose Bowl.

As for the Sunday tournaments, I had some chips on Stars, ended up blinding off and finishing inside of 300th or so for $1200. I also cashed on Full Tilt, but got 306th out of 306 paid spots after I got crippled with KK vs AJ right near the money.

Today was the $3000NL at the Bellagio. My starting table had Shannon Shorr to my right, Cliff Joesphy, Jimmy Tran, John Phan to my left. Not what I would call a great starting table. I saw the funniest, worst laydown ever in the first orbit. The two seat is a player I've played against a bunch of times but don't know his name, he's really aggressive... and had been bullied a bit early, I know him to be a bit of a steamer. So its a limped pot, and he bets the KQ8 two club flop and the button raises to 800, and seat 2 quickly calls. The turn is a queen, seat 2 check raises all in, and the button, getting like 2.5:1 folds 88 faceup...Seat 2 shows K5, lol. So, I don't get dealt anything early, as usual... blind off... open a pot to 150 with A7, get re-raised, call, check fold. Shannon opens for 300, I call with Ah6h, flop is K32 one heart, chk/chk. The turn is the 4h, he checks, I bet 300, he makes it 700, I call, I miss the river (surprising), he bets I fold. I open for 300 in MP with KJ, the SB goes all in for 700 total, he has TT, I lose the coinflip obviously. I open for 300 in LP with AK, SB makes it 600, I get a bad feeling that he is huge. He is giving off all of the signals, and he is a beginner type player. I decide to just call instead of jamming my last 3300 in the pot, flop comes T87, he bets, I fold.

I finally catch a break when I limp in a multiway pot with QT, John Phan leads from the SB on the T43 two club flop , I raise to 1000, he jams and says "you got me". Now I'm totally confident that he has the best hand, but I just dont have a fold in me, I call, and he has T9 and I double up to 6000. When we came back for level 3, I was really confident that I would get something going, but it didn't happen. I opened for 600 with AQ and got re-raised. Again, I thought the guy had a huge hand, and he re-raised small, so I called, missed the flop, and folded to his bet. I open for JT one off the button, the Sb makes it 2100, leaving himself about 2000, I have to fold. I open for 88 UTG, the SB asks how many chips I have, and decides to just call. The flop is J45, he checks, I bet 900, he makes it 1900, I think for a minute or two and fold. I really am not sure about this spot, I think he can have 66 or 77 here, or even something like A5. He had been pretty active... but I don't have enough chips to get him to lay down a better hand, and am dead if I'm called. Really a tough spot with what looks like a great flop for my hand. From there I blind off, with no good spots to put in my chips. I'm down to about 1700 when in the SB, I find A4 after a button raise by Roland DeWolfe. This isn't a great spot, but I jam, he has 67, and I lose.

So I decided to play some online tournaments and those have gone just the same. I'm not sure I've ever run this bad for so long playing tournaments. Its getting really hard to stay positive - and I hope I catch a break or two sometime soon.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Not a good start

Friday was the $1500 NL at the Bellagio. I arrived around 11:55, having never had a problem registering at a Bellagio tournament before. Of course I had never played a $1500, so it was very busy and I ended up 38th alternate. I wasn't seated until 9:00 left in the first level. The first pot I played was when a LP player open limped, the button made it 150, and I defended the BB with T9. The limper called and the flop was T94, it was checked around. The turn was a 7, I lead for 325, both players fold.
A few hands later I am on the button with 54 and limp behind a bunch of limpers. The flop is KQ7 rainbow and its checked around. The turn was a 6, and the BB lead out, one other player called, and I called. The turn was an 8 it was checked to me, I bet and they both folded. So I was up to almost 3700 or so at that point from my 3000 starting stack.
During level 2 (50-100 blinds), David Matthews open limped UTG. The player to my right also limped, I made it 550 with AsKs, folds to Matthews who jams for 1050 total. The other limper folds and I of course call and he has AhQx. The flop is all hearts with a queen, and obviously I lose the hand. I've played with Matthews twice and I have yet to be impressed with how he has played one single pot. You know, its only 1050 chips, but instead of 4700 I have 2700, and I spend the rest of the 50/100 level just blinding away, until I have 2025 going into the 100/200 level. Now I'm in push or fold mode, but when you are at exactly 10 big blinds with no antes, its very hard to justify being real push happy. Ideally you'd like to push in overtop of a raise with a monster hand and be isolated against one player that might have a pretty big range of hands. So I basically folded a lot of hands, down to about 1600 or so, I did open jam with QJ and won the blinds... Then I blinded down a bit more, again to 1600. A player limped under the gun for 200 and I had K9 and decided to go with it. He figures to have a lot of small pairs here as well as JT/QJ type hands, and I think he might fold a lot of the time. Of course, he insta calls with KQ and IGHN.

Today's $2000NL was even worse. I never found a rhythym at all. We were playing 5 handed at first, and the 5 seat opens for 250 and I fold QTs behind. Later, on the button, he opens for 325, and I fold A8s in the BB. I'm not sure about this. It seems obvious that these could be dominated hands , and not worth putting like 8% of my stack in preflop with. But when things are going bad maybe I have to re-evaluate ??? So, finally it folds to me and I have KQ and open for 150, and the BB makes it 550 and I fold. The next hand, I get AQ and make it 150, an Asian player behind makes it 775 and I fold. Am I running into aces every hand or playing way too tight? So maybe 5 hands later, the very active 5 seat makes it 225 after a limper. In the SB, I make it 725 with AK. He thinks for a bit and makes it 1500 more. I think the previous hands of folding to the re-raises and how active this player was already really factored in, I ended up jamming which is probably a marginal play, and of course he has two aces and I bust.

I'm really struggling in these preliminary events. I have never cashed in one, and I just feel lost. When the structures are bad (Bellagio smaller events and the World Series events), it feels like I am playing too tight, but whenever I loosen up I get punished. Maybe its just running bad, but I'm sure my play can improve also. Anyway, tomorrow is $2500NL hopefully that goes better.