Monday, December 31, 2007

Some Resolutions

In no particular order, here are a few short-term goals I have for 2008.

Pass the Bar exam.

Improve my physical fitness by an order of magnitude - I'm not joking around with this one, I've recently upgraded my hockey and ski equipment.

Find more time for my creative writing hobby.

Vastly improve my online poker results through a combination of improved discipline (bankroll management and a stop-loss!), organization (actually maintaining a database and profiling opponents more carefully) and game selection (gotta pick on big fish when I find them, and branch out more beyond 6-max and full ring NLHE).

Do well in the blonkament tourneys.

Attend the next WPBT gathering.

Satellite into a large live buy-in event.

Regenerate the reputation of my fake baseball team.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

TOC report, part one

Busted out about halfway through the tournament. Disappointing given that I was able to double up early on courtesy of a set over set situation.

More to come once I prepare the screen caps of some key hands.

Okay, here we go. As one would expect, we have a pretty tough lineup of players. I'm pretty pleased to have Fuel, Astin and Mitch to my right. My first hand of the night and I raise the almighty jackace in EP but get three callers. I decide against making a continuation bet on the flop and Chad takes it down using his positional advantage as a nice weapon.

I stick to my plan of opening with suited connectors early in the tournament in hopes of hitting big hands to accumulate chips. Sadly, I don't really get a lot of action here but a 300 chip pot here and there is welcome.

I three-bet Fuel with AdKd out of the small blind but get no action.

I check-raise with second pair in a limped pot and am able to take it down for another nice little pot as I steadily grow my chip stack up.

Then, the fireworks really sparkled as a big pot fountained into being:

Jamy checked bottom set on the flop and I naturally led out with a pot-building bet with middle set. He check-raised, I re-raised, he jammed, and I call of the rest of my stack leaving Jamy with 400 or so chips behind. Fortunately for me, he had a hand which I had crushed -- I was a little worried about going to the felt with the fourth nuts (one higher set, two possible straights on board) but I can't fold once the fourth bet is put in. My hand stands up and I've accomplished my goal of an early double up to nearly 6500 chips. Life is good.

Now armed with a big stack, I resolve not to spew chips but to throw my weight around only in situations where I can sell a plausible story, like here where I opened for a raise with pocket tens and get a call from Magician on the button along with one hitchhiker in early position.

So I put in a solid check-raise on the flop and take down another nice pot. That move has worked out well so far as people seem to be able to fold medium-strength hands so far in the ToC.

Then I get involved in a fairly big pot with the tricky Fuel, who is capable of playing any two cards at any time. He opened with a standard 3x BB raise to 150, I popped it up to 385 with 99. He called and we see a hammer flop! He check-raises my continuation bet to 1320 and I reluctantly call, with the sinking realization that I'm probably up against trip sevens or an overpair.

Fuel jams the turn for nearly 3400 more and I have no choice but to fold.

Then we get to the hand of the tournament for me. This is a sticky situation where I have to critique the inability of most bloggers to ever fold an overpair to the board. I mean, they never ever will do it. Even with an 18K trip for two to Australia on the line!

Now, I'm sure huntsvegas is a very nice person. But he was playing so squeaky tight that he was telegraphing his premium hands with a neon sign, so after I opened with 5h7h for a raise (again part of my strategy early on in the tournament, especially since I still had a lot of chips), I called his re-raise to see a flop. I already had in mind that I wasn't giving up on this pot easily. I put him on a narrow range of premium hands: 99+, AQs+.

The flop comes down a scary J65, all spades. I evaluate for a few moments: okay, I've got third pair. There's no way I'm good here, but I can still plausibly represent having outflopped 99+ or AK. After all, I opened, I called a re-raise out of position, and I've only shown down monster hands so far; ergo, I have a good table image to run a bluff. So I let the 15 second warning flash, and I check with the intention of check-raising. Unfortunately, it's checked behind me.

The turn is the Jh, pairing the board. Frankly, that's a great card for me. So I bet out 580, just under half-pot, trying to make it look like an extraction bet. I get a fairly quick call.

The river is a blank, the 7c. Another good card for me. So I fire a second shell of 1180. Our villain goes in the tank for the full 30 seconds of extra time, and eventually finds a call with ...

the classic overpair, which is only about the 313456th nuts on this board. Good grief! Why do 99% of the participants in a blonkament find it impossible to fold an overpair, especially when you are playing for real stakes? At least he gave it some thought, but he sounded like an idiot in chat when he admitted that he put me on ace-jack or king-jack for trips. (Which, y'know, beats aces up nine ways from Sunday!)

So I lose a big pot and am scrambling regain my footing.

More in the next installment to follow.

Comments are especially welcome on that last hand.

It's Time

The Tournament of Champions is on tonight.

To say I'm excited is an understatement. I hope to bring my "A" game and take this tournament by storm. There will be a tough field and I'm going to have to dodge some bullets to make it through.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SnG variance of the good kind

You know things are going well when . . .

You 3-bet with JJ on the button in the early middle stages of a turbo and get two callers who put their entire stacks in the middle preflop. You have them both covered. Both of whom have Ax (AK, AT) hands. Boom! Ace on the flop. Boom! Jack on the river. Proceed to coast to a first place finish.

You get all the money in with A8s headsup with a 2:1 chiplead and outdraw AQ to win another SnG.

You survive losing with A9 vs. A8 on the bubble to hang on and finish second.

You get all the money in with 8d3d (snowman taterlegs!) with a slight chiplead headsup on a 45Q flop with two diamonds. Opponent had called your preflop raise OOP with 45o. You promptly see the 7d on the turn and magically fail to river the 6d for the straight flush, but who cares? Chalk up another victory in the SnG Challenge!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Bump in the SnG Road

This was an unfortunate first for me -- I busted out in the very first hand of a single-table turbo SnG.

Please guess what our villain's holding was. Results below. If you can guess correctly without cheating, I'll ship you a holiday gift of some kind.

Preflop: Hero is CO with , . SB posts a blind of 15.
3 folds, MP2 calls, MP3 calls, Hero raises to 165, 3 folds, MP2 folds, MP3 calls.

Flop: , , (2 players)
MP3 checks, Hero checks. (time to slowplay and hopefully induce villain to bluff)

Turn: (2 players)
MP3 checks, Hero bets 300, MP3 raises to 1305, Hero raises 1335 (All-In), MP3 calls 30 (All-In). (looks like my plan worked!)

River: (2 players, 2 all-in)

MP3 doesn't show.
Hero has Ks Kh (two pair, kings and threes).
Outcome: Hero wins

Villain had 6d5h. He rivered an inside straight.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Set Mining Gone Bad

I had a failure of execution early in the Big Game which sent me to the rail.

I limped in with pocket eights in a multiway pot. Five of us saw a K82 flop, two hearts. There was a small lead out by someone in early position, and I just called, hoping to jam any non-threatening turn. Sure enough three of us saw the turn and the flush completed when the 7h came down. A suspiciously small bet was made by the EP player, which I called and then a LP player who made a decent-sized raise to 2000, and the EP player jammed. I overcalled (!) and the LP folded.

EP showed Jh3h for the turned flush -- which I absolutely knew he had -- and I didn't fill up on the river.

Just an appalling blunder. I need to be able to make that laydown.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Raines in '08

The time is ripe for me to whole-heartedly endorse this fine project: Raines for '08!

It's no coincidence that my fake Montreal Expos are managed by Tim "Rock" Raines. I grew up watching his spectacular exploits on TV as a young baseball fan in Toronto. Whilst I'm still a diehard Blue Jays fan, there is no denying that I turn to the Expos when it comes to most of my favourite all-time players. Andre Dawson and Tim Raines head that list. They exemplified all the most admirable qualities of athletic performance. Both demonstrated true passion for the game of baseball whilst exhibiting true elegance in their pursuit of playing the game in its purest form. They were elite competitors who did spectacular things on the baseball diamond.

I just hope both are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

But in a very important way, that outcome is irrelevant. They are already in my personal Hall of Fame and that's final.

Waiting for Godot

It's only about three weeks behind schedule, but I finally have my student articles officially approved by the Law Society. Yay.

Of course, they still haven't told me when I'll be taking my Bar exams, but I'm hoping to get them out of the way sooner rather than later. I want clear sailing when I plan my first trip to Las Vegas, preferably in June to meet some fellow poker fanatics who also happen to be invisible friends.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mookie recap

Here is a recap of the notable hands I played in the Mookie, Fuel-style (check out his recap of his recent exploits in the BC Poker Championships main event for the template I used).

[Edited at bottom for the Astin quotient.]

Hopefully this addresses some of the mild criticism levelled my way by the estimable Hoy, whose quest to win the Mookie continues, over in his recap of the final table.

Below are some hand histories complete with annotations of why I decided to play those important situations the way I did.

Key Hand #1

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Qs Kc]
actyper calls 50
cmitch calls 50
PirateLawyer checks - I don't want to juice the pot playing out-of-position against two players, so it's time to slowplay and hopefully trap someone
*** FLOP *** [5c Kh 6h] -- okay here we have a limped pot and I have hit the flop nicely. I figure to be good here and want to trap.
PirateLawyer checks
actyper checks
cmitch bets 100
PirateLawyer calls 100 -- no need to raise here
actyper folds -- clearly he whiffed this flop
*** TURN *** [5c Kh 6h] [8c]
PirateLawyer checks
cmitch bets 275
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer calls 275 -- Mitch is showing more interest in this pot than I would like, but I'm going to continue here. If he had bet a different amount - either less or more - I probably check-raise
*** RIVER *** [5c Kh 6h 8c] [5d]
PirateLawyer checks
cmitch: horrible river - interesting comment, to say the least!
cmitch checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
cmitch shows [6s 8d] two pair, Eights and Sixes
PirateLawyer shows [Qs Kc] two pair, Kings and Fives
PirateLawyer wins the pot (925) with two pair, Kings and Fives

So this was a classic suck/re-suck hand where I successfully trapped Mitch on the flop, he outdrew me, but got counterfeited on the river. Winning this hand got me to over 3700 in chips instead of being down closer to 2000 -- a large swing.

Hand #2

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [7s As]
actyper raises to 520, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 470
actyper shows [Ks Qh]
PirateLawyer shows [7s As]
*** FLOP *** [3s 4d 6s]
*** TURN *** [3s 4d 6s] [3d]
*** RIVER *** [3s 4d 6s 3d] [9d]
actyper shows a pair of Threes
PirateLawyer shows a pair of Threes
PirateLawyer wins the pot (1,065) with a pair of Threes

Simple little hand where I called a jam by a shorty and my ace-high stood up. That got me up to 4300.

Hand #3

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [9h Ah]
cmitch raises to 210
jimdniacc calls 210
PirateLawyer calls 210
*** FLOP *** [Qs Kh 2c]
cmitch checks
jimdniacc checks
PirateLawyer checks - no need to bet out here on this scary board
*** TURN *** [Qs Kh 2c] [4h]
cmitch checks
jimdniacc checks
PirateLawyer checks - I'll happily take the free card
*** RIVER *** [Qs Kh 2c 4h] [5h] - gin!
cmitch bets 300 - wrong time to finally lead out
jimdniacc folds
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer raises to 950 - I hope this bet size doesn't scare him off
cmitch folds - drat!
PirateLawyer mucks
PirateLawyer wins the pot (1,320)

I get to close the preflop action here and play a speculative hand multiway for its nut flush potential. Sure enough I get two free cards to get there, but my value raise isn't called. I chip up again, now to 5100.

Hand #4

At this point I've been moved to a table with a lot of chips in play, especially those moved around by iam23skidoo and Waffles. We played several big pots together throughout the middle stages of the tournament, as you will see.

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Ad Ks]
PirateLawyer calls 80 -- I figure to try the limp/re-raise if I'm allowed
NewinNov raises to 1,020, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 940 -- easy call against a shorty's pushing range
NewinNov shows [As Qh]
PirateLawyer shows [Ad Ks]
*** FLOP *** [3d Td Jh]
*** TURN *** [3d Td Jh] [6c]
*** RIVER *** [3d Td Jh 6c] [4h]

My kicker plays and I chip up to 6200.

Hand #5

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Ac Qd]
iam23skidoo raises to 840
SirFWALGMan calls 840
PirateLawyer raises to 6,474, and is all in
PirateLawyer wins the pot (2,700)

I pull off a squeeze play and take it down. Up to 8300.

Hand #6

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Qc Ks]
PirateLawyer raises to 420
iam23skidoo raises to 960
PirateLawyer calls 540 - I'm priced in to call and could well have the best hand. My hand also plays well postflop.
*** FLOP *** [Ah Td Kc]
iam23skidoo bets 1,440
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer raises to 3,400 -- good spot to show strength as I was the original PF raiser
iam23skidoo folds
PirateLawyer wins the pot (4,920)

I break the 10K mark in chips, and am one of the chipleaders. skidoo likes to take stabs at pots with air and is able to fold when he is caught out.

Hand #7

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Qh Ah]
DaBag raises to 360
PirateLawyer calls 360
*** FLOP *** [2s 3h 9c]
DaBag bets 600 -- standard c-bet
PirateLawyer raises to 1,500 -- on this flop I think I can snip it off using position and my stack size as weapons. I am putting DaBag to a decision for all his chips here but am only risking a small portion of my stack, as I can fold to a 3-bet.
DaBag has requested TIME
DaBag folds
PirateLawyer wins the pot (2,100)

I chip up to nearly 12K.

Hand #8

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Ad 7d]
SirFWALGMan raises to 600
PirateLawyer calls 400
*** FLOP *** [Ac As 2d]
SirFWALGMan checks
PirateLawyer checks -- time to slowplay
*** TURN *** [Ac As 2d] [9d]
SirFWALGMan bets 400
PirateLawyer calls 400 -- easy call, don't want to scare him off
*** RIVER *** [Ac As 2d 9d] [Td]
SirFWALGMan bets 1,200
PirateLawyer raises to 2,400 -- time to raise for value
SirFWALGMan calls 1,200
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 6,800 | Rake 0
Seat 6: SirFWALGMan (small blind) mucked [Th Qh] - two pair, Aces and Tens
Seat 7: PirateLawyer (big blind) showed [Ad 7d] and won (6,800) with a flush, Ace high

I extracted maximum value here, obviously. Up to 14,400.

Hand #9

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Qs Ad]
iam23skidoo raises to 720
SirFWALGMan folds
PirateLawyer raises to 2,100 -- easy 3-betting hand vs. skidoo's range0
iam23skidoo calls 1,380
*** FLOP *** [Jh 9d 3d]
iam23skidoo checks
PirateLawyer bets 3,300 -- a strong c-bet is essential to pick up this pot
iam23skidoo folds

I chip up to 17K.

Hand #10

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Kd Ah]
SirFWALGMan raises to 720
PirateLawyer raises to 16,885, and is all in
SirFWALGMan calls 3,409, and is all in
PirateLawyer shows [Kd Ah]
SirFWALGMan shows [Kc Jc]
*** FLOP *** [2d Th Qc]
*** TURN *** [2d Th Qc] [4s]
*** RIVER *** [2d Th Qc 4s] [8h]
PirateLawyer shows Ace King high
SirFWALGMan shows King Queen high
PirateLawyer wins the pot (8,818) with Ace King high

Pretty easy jam now that the antes have started, and I get a loose call from Waffles and bust him. Up to 21K.

Hand #11

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Js Ah]
PirateLawyer raises to 638
jamyhawk raises to 1,036 - bizarre raise
PirateLawyer calls 398 - priced in and I can re-evaluate on the flop
*** FLOP *** [Jd 2d 3d]
jamyhawk checks
PirateLawyer checks - scary flop for TPTK
*** TURN *** [Jd 2d 3d] [8h]
jamyhawk bets 500
PirateLawyer raises to 1,750 - time to find out where I am at
jamyhawk calls 1,250
*** RIVER *** [Jd 2d 3d 8h] [4h]
jamyhawk bets 1,000 - suspicious bet
PirateLawyer calls 1,000 - this is a crying call
*** SHOW DOWN ***
jamyhawk shows [9d Ad] a flush, Ace high
PirateLawyer mucks
jamyhawk wins the pot (7,867) with a flush, Ace high

I get 3-bet preflop by a worse ace who flops the nuts, and I turn into a payoff wizard.
Down to just under 17K.

I make a big laydown to skidoo with an unimproved AK on a threatening board, and find myself down to 11K. I made the occcasional blind steal but am pretty card dead for a while.

Hand #12

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [7h 7c]
Drizztdj raises to 1,500
PirateLawyer calls 1,500 -- at the outer range of what I can call, but this is the first real hand I've seen in a long while
*** FLOP *** [7s As 5s]
Drizztdj bets 7,230, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 7,230 -- well, this is a pretty easy call, but do I have to worry about a flush?
Drizztdj shows [Ad Jd] -- thankfully, no
PirateLawyer shows [7h 7c]
*** TURN *** [7s As 5s] [7d] -- DQB!!!
*** RIVER *** [7s As 5s 7d] [8c]
Drizztdj shows two pair, Aces and Sevens
PirateLawyer shows four of a kind, Sevens
PirateLawyer wins the pot (18,610) with four of a kind, Sevens

Chips me up nicely to 20K. I win a couple more pots preflop uncontested with AKs and KQs.

Hand #13

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Ac Ah]
iam23skidoo raises to 2,200 - I am ecstatic to see a raise in front of me
PirateLawyer raises to 5,500 - time to build a pot
iam23skidoo calls 3,300 - he obliges
*** FLOP *** [3h 5h As] - gin!
iam23skidoo bets 12,200 - I am so thankful he hit this flop
PirateLawyer raises to 15,492, and is all in - this hand plays itself
iam23skidoo calls 3,292
PirateLawyer shows [Ac Ah]
iam23skidoo shows [6s Ad] - I'm stunned by this holding
*** TURN *** [3h 5h As] [7s] - now I have to sweat an inside straight
*** RIVER *** [3h 5h As 7s] [2d]
PirateLawyer shows three of a kind, Aces
iam23skidoo shows a pair of Aces
PirateLawyer wins the pot (43,184) with three of a kind, Aces

I finally get action on a premium hand and skidoo spews off most of his stack to me. I now have a large stack of 43K.

I then lose a medium-sized pot vs. pocket fives where I played too weakly. The board had several overcards but missed my high-carded hand.

I get a walk in the BB with KK. Sniff.

Hand #14

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Kh As]
jjok calls 800
PirateLawyer raises to 2,400
Proehl raises to 5,865, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 3,465 -- easy call here
Proehl shows [Ts Tc]
PirateLawyer shows [Kh As]
*** FLOP *** [3c 5d Qh]
*** TURN *** [3c 5d Qh] [Qs]
*** RIVER *** [3c 5d Qh Qs] [8s]
Proehl shows two pair, Queens and Tens
PirateLawyer shows a pair of Queens
Proehl wins the pot (14,230) with two pair, Queens and Tens

I lose a race. Down to 32K.

I get a walk in the BB with 25s.

Hand #15

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Qh Qd]
PirateLawyer raises to 2,300
whiskigrl raises to 8,223
PirateLawyer raises to 14,146
whiskigrl calls 1, and is all in
PirateLawyer shows [Qh Qd]
whiskigrl shows [Ac Tc]
Uncalled bet of 5,922 returned to PirateLawyer
*** FLOP *** [As 4d 9s]
*** TURN *** [As 4d 9s] [5d]
*** RIVER *** [As 4d 9s 5d] [9c]
PirateLawyer shows two pair, Queens and Nines
whiskigrl shows two pair, Aces and Nines
whiskigrl wins the pot (17,448) with two pair, Aces and Nines

I took a pretty sick beat here, but this was the second time whiskigirl had 3-bet with a marginal hand. This time she got lucky. Down to 25K. Big suckout #1.

A few hands later, I 4-bet AQs preflop vs. skidoo, and this time he sensibly folds to my large raise. Up to 36K.

Hand #16

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Jd Ks]
iam23skidoo raises to 4,500
PirateLawyer calls 4,500
*** FLOP *** [4c Kc Ts]
iam23skidoo checks
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer bets 11,878
iam23skidoo folds
PirateLawyer wins the pot (11,500)

As the antes (now at 125) and blinds rise (now 500/1000), the pots are worth contesting more, so I use position (and a good top pair!) on skidoo to take away this pot on the flop.
Up to 41K.

I win some pots preflop with JTs and A7s and JJ.

Hand #17

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Ks Kd]
Proehl raises to 5,222, and is all in
iam23skidoo calls 4,622
PirateLawyer raises to 12,000 - time to create a side pot
iam23skidoo calls 6,778
*** FLOP *** [Ts 4d 3d]
iam23skidoo bets 7,200
PirateLawyer raises to 34,320, and is all in - no fooling around any longer
iam23skidoo folds
PirateLawyer shows [Ks Kd]
Proehl shows [Td Ah]
*** TURN *** [Ts 4d 3d] [7c]
*** RIVER *** [Ts 4d 3d 7c] [Qd]
whiskigrl: lol
PirateLawyer wins the side pot (27,956)
PirateLawyer shows a pair of Kings
Proehl shows a pair of Tens
PirateLawyer wins the main pot (16,566) with a pair of Kings

I chip up to 71K, and am chipleader by a large margin.

The very next hand I get QQ and take down a good pot with a flop bet vs. skidoo. I am the proverbial card rack right now.
Up to 80K.

I double up a shorty with QT vs. A3.

Hand #18

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Jh Ac]
PirateLawyer raises to 3,000
BrainMc calls 1,800
*** FLOP *** [9d Jd Qh]
BrainMc checks
PirateLawyer bets 3,600
BrainMc raises to 7,200
PirateLawyer raises to 29,100
BrainMc calls 6,530, and is all in
PirateLawyer shows [Jh Ac]
BrainMc shows [Tc Kc]
*** TURN *** [9d Jd Qh] [5s]
*** RIVER *** [9d Jd Qh 5s] [3d]
PirateLawyer shows a pair of Jacks
BrainMc shows a straight, King high

I double up the same shorty when he flops a straight. Poker can be rigged, and my preflop raise was probably too small. Down to 54K.

I lose two small pots to skidoo when he spikes a card he needs on the turn.
I fold to a re-steal from whiskigirl when I open-raise with JTs.
Down to 36K. I am pretty card dead at this point. We are nearly at the final table with only 15 players left.

Hand #19

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Kd Ac]
PirateLawyer raises to 5,800
heffmike raises to 19,276, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 13,476
heffmike shows [As 4s]
PirateLawyer shows [Kd Ac]
*** FLOP *** [3s 4h 9c]
*** TURN *** [3s 4h 9c] [6d]
*** RIVER *** [3s 4h 9c 6d] [Js]
heffmike shows a pair of Fours
PirateLawyer shows Ace King high
heffmike wins the pot (39,552) with a pair of Fours

This obviously was a pretty sick beat to take, as it crippled me right before the final table. Nothing I can do to avoid this, really. Down to 15K and I am the short stack headed to the final table with only 14K in chips, with antes of 250 and blinds of 1000/2000.
I run good! Big suckout #2.

Hand #20

I fold until ir reaches my BB. My old nemesis skidoo raises and I have to go here, as his range is pretty wide and I am critically short-stacked.

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Qs 8s]
iam23skidoo raises to 8,000
PirateLawyer raises to 12,896, and is all in
iam23skidoo calls 4,896
PirateLawyer shows [Qs 8s]
iam23skidoo shows [9d Td]
*** FLOP *** [Tc 6c Qc]
*** TURN *** [Tc 6c Qc] [6d]
*** RIVER *** [Tc 6c Qc 6d] [3c]
PirateLawyer wins the pot (29,042) with two pair, Queens and Sixes

Now I take can a breath, as I am no longer desperate. 30K, now just a bit below average.

I come over the top of skidoo with a pair of sixes in late position and chip up to 45K.

Hand #21

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [9c 6c]
hoyazo raises to 6,000
PirateLawyer calls 5,000
*** FLOP *** [2d 7d Tc]
PirateLawyer bets 7,700
hoyazo folds
PirateLawyer wins the pot (15,500)

Hoy is on a rampage and just busted skidoo. He's the big chipleader with 117K.
I know he has to be played back at, or he'll just run the table over. So I defend my blind and semi-bluff to take it down. I make this play against Hoy in part because I figure he knows how to find the fold button and wants to protect his stack. Now at 51K, in 3rd place with 6 players left.

Hand #22

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Ah 9s]
hoyazo raises to 7,200
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer calls 4,800
*** FLOP *** [4c Tc 7h]
PirateLawyer checks
hoyazo bets 11,000
PirateLawyer raises to 26,500
hoyazo folds
PirateLawyer wins the pot (39,400)

Hoy attacks my blind again, and instead of 3-betting preflop with the likely best hand, I go with my instincts and try a check-raise on the flop. It works, and I thought it was a high percentage play given what I'd seen from my earlier confrontation with him. Up to 76K and I'm comfortably in second place, right behind Hoy's 84K stack.

I come over the top of Hoy with a pair of fours preflop with a large raise and take down another nice pot. Now chipleader with 87K. Hoy's open-raising range is pretty wide, as I know he likes to play aggressively short-handed and I use position and my own large stack size ruthlessly to exploit this.

Hoy gets hurt when his AK loses to NightRanger's pocket sixes. The latter spikes a set on the flop to lockdown the hand.

Hand #23

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Qc 6s]
PirateLawyer raises to 5,500 - a rare light blind steal from me as my stack size is formidable
BrainMc calls 3,100
*** FLOP *** [8d Qd Ah]
BrainMc checks
PirateLawyer checks - I am trying to exercise some pot control here and do a delayed c-bet on the turn
*** TURN *** [8d Qd Ah] [6c]
BrainMc checks
PirateLawyer bets 8,800 -- spiked two pair, so bet for value, hoping it looks like an attempt to buy the pot
BrainMc calls 8,800
*** RIVER *** [8d Qd Ah 6c] [8c]
BrainMc bets 12,446, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 12,446 - I hate this river card but make the crying call
*** SHOW DOWN ***
BrainMc shows [Qs Ks] two pair, Queens and Eights
PirateLawyer shows [Qc 6s] two pair, Queens and Eights
BrainMc ties for the pot (28,246) with two pair, Queens and Eights
PirateLawyer ties for the pot (28,246) with two pair, Queens and Eights

Unfortunate that my two pair got counterfeited, but this outcome could have been much, much worse.

Hand #24

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [9d 9h]
PirateLawyer raises to 8,800
hoyazo raises to 36,904, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 28,104 -- Hoy wants to play for his stack, and I am willing to oblige him as I have a solid hand
hoyazo shows [Qc Ac]
PirateLawyer shows [9d 9h] - classic race
*** FLOP *** [9s Jh 3s] - boom! spiked a set
*** TURN *** [9s Jh 3s] [4d]
*** RIVER *** [9s Jh 3s 4d] [Ks]
hoyazo shows Ace King high
PirateLawyer shows three of a kind, Nines
PirateLawyer wins the pot (76,808) with three of a kind, Nines

Folding to his raise wasn't really an option. This is a winner-take-all tournament and I have to gamble here. By coming out best here I set myself up in an excellent position to win; if I had lost, I still would have had a playable chip stack.

Now up to 130K and a comfortable chip lead.

I win a pot uncontested with AK.

I 3-bet with A9s and win a pot vs. Gilain preflop.

Hand #25

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Ah Kc]
Gilain calls 1,500
PirateLawyer checks
*** FLOP *** [9s 2c 3h]
Gilain bets 7,200
PirateLawyer calls 7,200 - call in position, planning to make a future play at this pot
*** TURN *** [9s 2c 3h] [Td]
Gilain checks
PirateLawyer checks - I sense some weakness here and plan to make a play on the river with a delayed bluff
*** RIVER *** [9s 2c 3h Td] [6h]
Gilain bets 15,000
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer raises to 42,000 - execute the bluff
Gilain has 15 seconds left to act
Gilain folds
Uncalled bet of 27,000 returned to PirateLawyer
PirateLawyer shows [Ah Kc] Ace King high
PirateLawyer wins the pot (51,600)

A rare time where I slowplayed AK preflop. I sensed weakness and put in the river raise to buy this pot. My read proved accurate. Up to 160K.

Hand #26

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [9s Jh]
PirateLawyer raises to 11,000
heffmike calls 7,000
*** FLOP *** [2c Ts Js]
PirateLawyer checks - with top pair I am check-raising all-in here, no question
heffmike bets 23,500
PirateLawyer raises to 47,000
heffmike calls 10,004, and is all in
PirateLawyer shows [9s Jh]
heffmike shows [Kd Qs]
Uncalled bet of 13,496 returned to PirateLawyer
*** TURN *** [2c Ts Js] [Kc] - doh!
*** RIVER *** [2c Ts Js Kc] [2h]

I double up heffmike here when he hits his big draw on the turn. Now all 3 stacks are roughly even in chips.

I get KK and take down a nice pot vs. Gilain after we see a 88J flop after he called my preflop raise. Back up to 150K, which gives me almost half the chips in play.

I win a medium-sized pot with KQ when I represent the turned ace in position on a 779A board.

Hand #27

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [4s Kd]
Gilain calls 2,000
PirateLawyer checks - I could raise here but am happy to see a flop in position
*** FLOP *** [4c Ah 3s]
Gilain bets 8,000
PirateLawyer raises to 16,000 - I figure I'm good here
Gilain calls 8,000
*** TURN *** [4c Ah 3s] [6c]
Gilain checks
PirateLawyer checks - time to exercise some pot control
*** RIVER *** [4c Ah 3s 6c] [3d]
Gilain checks
PirateLawyer checks - want to see a showdown cheaply
*** SHOW DOWN ***
PirateLawyer shows [4s Kd] two pair, Fours and Threes
Gilain mucks
PirateLawyer wins the pot (41,500) with two pair, Fours and Threes

Strange play with an inside straight draw here by Gilain, who spews off a quarter of his stack against the one opponent who can bust him. I now have 210K, two thirds of the chips in play.

Gilain subsequently doubles through heffmike and cripples him.

I double up heffmike when his 76s outdraws my J6 with a rivered flush.

I double up heffmike again, flush over flush. Still with 200K in chips.

heffmike doubles through Gilain with A9 vs. QJ all-in preflop.

Hand #28

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Ts Qs]
PirateLawyer raises to 15,500
Gilain raises to 26,468, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 10,968 --I'd call with any two cards at this point
Gilain shows [Qc Ac]
PirateLawyer shows [Ts Qs]
*** FLOP *** [Kc 9h Th]
*** TURN *** [Kc 9h Th] [5c]
*** RIVER *** [Kc 9h Th 5c] [9s]
Gilain shows a pair of Nines
PirateLawyer shows two pair, Tens and Nines
PirateLawyer wins the pot (56,436) with two pair, Tens and Nines

This was pretty much my only significant suckout of the tournament. I've definitely been on the losing end of the suckout tally overall.

So now we're finally headsup and I get to play against heffmike who caused me so much pain with the A4 vs. AK hand earlier. Can I get some sweet revenge?

Well, we find out very quickly as the headsup session lasts all of two hands before all the chips go in the middle.

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [As Qd]
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer raises to 13,000
heffmike raises to 72,864, and is all in
PirateLawyer calls 59,864 - this is an automatic call here
heffmike shows [4d Ks] - whoa, he raised light but has two live cards
PirateLawyer shows [As Qd]
*** FLOP *** [Ad 3s 5d] - gin!
*** TURN *** [Ad 3s 5d] [9d]
*** RIVER *** [Ad 3s 5d 9d] [Th]
heffmike shows Ace King high
PirateLawyer shows a pair of Aces
PirateLawyer wins the pot (146,928) with a pair of Aces

Thanks to all of you who read this far. I thought it would be a valuable learning experience, both for myself and for others, to see how I outlasted the Mookie field. I definitely got some good cards throughout the middle and later stages of the tournament (I had AK or AQ more than my fair share of the time, no question about it, and there was one sick sequence where I was dealt JJ, KK, QQ in 3 consecutive hands, which is a first for me), which helps immensely so long as you don't suffer too many suckouts.

*Astin quotient: I saw 360 or so hands. I had AA once (won a huge pot), KK three times (one walk in the BB, won two good-sized pots), QQ twice (lost one big pot, won a medium pot), JJ once (won the blinds), 99 once (busted Hoy), 77 once (DQB! busted Drizzdtj), 66 once (3-bet and won preflop), 44 once (ditto). So I had fewer than average pocket pairs but they were overall premium pairs and I won a lot of chips with them.

Where it got pretty sick was my big aces. I saw AK 9 times (although I lost three times with them, including two huge pots with them with all the money in with the best hand), AQ 5 times, AJs twice (got setup once, won the other pot). I even had KQ four times (won all those pots).

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Breakthrough! Tournament of Champions, Here I Come

After several frustrating near-misses at making the final table during this epic BBTwo season of tournaments, I finally broke through with my first cash, and I managed to do so in fine style, winning the Mookie!

It was a very satisfying win, and I hope to get some time tomorrow to recap the tournament in more detail, but I'm particularly proud of the fact that I struggled back from being crippled with eleven players left when my AK got all the money in preflop vs. heffmike's (the eventual second-place finisher) A4s and failed to hold up. Overall, I got my money in with the best hand the vast majority of the time, suffered more than my fair share of suckouts, but still managed to get there in the end without putting my entire stack at risk very often. Patient poker coupled with some ramped up aggression at the final table got me through the Mookie minefield intact.

Only five seats are left up for grabs to the ToC. Good luck to all those still trying to make it into the freeroll!

A special thanks to those of you who railed me at the end. You know who you are. And thanks to the fine pack of degenerates who kept me smiling and laughing during the BuddyDank radio extravaganza.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Some Fine Duets

I've long been a huge fan of the incredible guitarist Mark Knopfler, who is best known as the frontman for his band Dire Straits, but who has gone on to an impressive solo career since that group broke up more than a decade ago.

Recently I've been listening to his solo work again and I picked up a truly remarkable album of duets he recorded over the past several years with another phenomenal musician whose profile is lower than her talent warrants, Emmylou Harris (whom I've seen perform live a few years ago during the Lilith Fair tour put on by another of my favourite singers, Sarah McLaughlan).

Check out a sample of these fantastic duets here, and then go buy the album. It's well worth it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Overbetting for value

An interesting situation came up in Friday's single-table deepstack tournament, and it's something I'd like to canvass my vast readership (sarcasm is the best form of humour, no?) for feedback on. We'd reached the second level blinds of 100/200, and I'd chipped up a fair bit from the starting amount of 20K. I was comfortably in the chip lead and was playing well.

I was UTG with 86s. I opted to limp in (at other times I would deceptively open for a raise). A good solid player in middle position who had about a 25K stack put in a large 4x BB raise to 800. The button and the two blinds called the raise, as I recall, so I was reasonably happy to call as I was closing the action and getting very good odds (both 5:1 pot odds and great implied odds) on my call.

I hit a jackpot flop of 663 (with two hearts). The short-stacked SB comes out swinging with a 3K bet (leaving himself about 6K behind). The BB folds.

What do you do?

Since I knew the players fairly well, I definitely figured to have the best hand. I wanted to get the preflop raiser's entire stack in the middle of the pot, and I was sure, based on my read of him at the table and the preflop bet size which he'd used, that he was holding a premium hand: in other words, an overpair. I opted for the rapid all-in overbet for value, trying to make it appear as if I was making a move to buy the pot. This obviously put the preflop raiser's tournament life on the line. He agonized for a long while, announced that he wasn't a good enough player to lay his hand down, and called with pocket aces. Everyone else folded, we ran the turn and river, and my hand stood up for a massive pot.

Now, the more I've thought this over, the more I'm convinced I probably misplayed this situation. Overbets for value are a great tool to separate fools from their money, but I really gave the player holding AA here every reason to fold. It's more likely that I get more money in the pot, on average, by:

1) flat-calling the initial bet and re-raising if the aces come over the top with a flop raise; or
2) flat-calling the intial bet and jamming on any turn if the aces only call the flop in position; or
3) raising to approximately 8-9K, which gives the aces ample room to come over the top and trap themselves.

The one thing my overbet does do is to give off a false impression to the pocket aces that I'm trying to buy the pot. He has to have real doubt about whether or not I've truly outflopped him and is strongly motivated to call off his stack believing he still may have the best hand. After all, he has aces, doesn't he? I could be making this move with a range of hands that he has significant pot equity against, such as a pair + flush draw, an open-ended straight draw, or some other second-best hand such as kings or queens.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Flopped Full Houses Can Be Beat

Three-handed in a deepstack freezeout tournament tonight, I managed to get all the money in preflop with my QQ up against A9s. Stacks were quite deep but this fine player got caught making a move.

You'd think I was good on a JJJ flop, right?

Sadly that wasn't the case when the case J hit the river for the ugliest of four-outers you are ever going to see.

Fortunately for my shattered morale, I battled back after my queens got cracked again by Simon. I played them too slowly and paid for it when he hit a 3-outer on the river. I knuckled down, made some moves, got some hands paid off and caught a river card of my own against a slowplayed one pair hand to chip up. I then busted Simon when my AKs won a race against his pocket deuces with all the money in preflop.

At that point it was getting really late and my esteemed opponent Bill and I were basically even in chips. We played a few hands, settled nothing, so we chopped it up and escaped the frigid icebox that is the FCPC to get warm.


Earlier in the tourney, we saw a sick sick setup hand with 3 players all-in preflop: AA vs. KK vs. QQ. The aces held up, but two other players who folded would have outdrawn all of them! Simon folded 55 and would have flopped a set, and Mike folded JTs and would have flopped two pair. Poker is rigged.