Thursday, June 05, 2003

Two More Trop Tourneys

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who say that tournaments are 100% luck, 0% skill. If that were true, it would stand to reason that a person who had never played poker in his or her life could sit down at a tournament table, and have just as good a chance as someone like TJ Cloutier, of winning first place.

I don't buy it. I didn't buy it when I was a greenhorn, and I certainly don't buy it now.

On Tuesday night at the Tropicana, we had a newer poker player/never-before tournament player at our $20+10+10 Stud tourney. Yes, he was the first to bust out. Yes, he had some incredible luck and some amazing suck-out hands. No, he couldn't even make it past one other player, not even outlasting those who hadn't done a rebuy.

Something to think about...

We arrived in Atlantic City at 5:30pm on Tuesday, June 3, 2003. We wanted to play in the Monday, noon tourney, but when we awoke at 6am to head out, we both groaned and went back to sleep. Night owls will always be night owls, I suppose.

Upon arriving at the Trop, we got into ring games fairly quickly. Glenn has become so enamored with his 5/10 Stud, that he can look nowhere else until he is called for a seat. His memories of easy wins is stuck in his head, and calling him to Stud, Stud, Stud, although LHE is his A game.

I was slated to play in the Stud tourney at 7:15pm, but I still sat in the 2/4 HE game. Nothing much of interest happened, unless you count the fact that I am feeling much more at home playing HE than I ever did. My self-confidence remains steady, win or lose.

I talked to the tournament director before the Stud tourney. I told him that I keep bursting out on the bubble because I'm not good enough to get to the final table at most tourneys. I had heard rumors that the Trop may restructure their payout schedule due to the record number of entries (that keeps getting broken each week). He confirmed that they are thinking of restructuring the tourneys, but that in the state of NJ, it takes a century to approve any kind of change. He said that I might regret asking for the payout restructure, since by the time they actually approve it, I will consistently be in the top 3, and wish for the bigger payday. I laughed, thinking he was just innocently flattering me a bit, but he kept insisting that I was getting really GOOD. Neato

The Stud tourney started late, par the course. The monitor said that 93 had entered, but I kept thinking there were too many tables for only 93 entrants. Sure enough, later I found out the correct number was 106. Just a month ago they were only able to get about 80 entrants for the $20+10+10 Stud tourney.

There was some kind of mistake being made at registration. Multiple people were being assigned the same seat. My husband had to go back up to the desk to get a new seat, since his was taken. While he was waiting, I happened to spot middle-aged man whom I'd played with before, both in tourneys and the ring. I hadn't seen him in a couple of weeks, because he was on a seasonal job which lasted 12-14 hours per day, 7 days per week. He said he had gotten off of work early and wanted to play in the tourney. He asked how Glenn was doing. I told him that Glenn hadn't cashed in any tourneys so far, but had been doing well at the 5/10 Stud game. He told me that Glenn seemed like he was developing into a very solid ring player, but that he didn't feel Glenn has what it takes for tourney play. I told him that he was perhaps correct. He went on to say, "YOU are the one." I questioned that statement. He said, "Felicia, I've been playing poker for 30 years, and most of those years, since tournaments were available, I've been playing in tournaments, too. I know who has IT and who doesn't. YOU are the one. Give yourself a couple of years and you will be killing the tourneys. You have 'IT,' that thing that makes a great tourney player. You are going far with this." I was dumbfounded. Jeez, I can't even consistently beat the freerolls online! LOL. Seriously, though, that is the first I've heard of any of this talk. I was floored.

My table was sheer heaven. I was a little concerned about having table III, because I knew no matter how tough the competition, I would be stuck there for hours, with no hope for a break-up. How lucky I was, to get the best tournament table I've ever played at in my life. Seat one was a 60-something lady who played well, but was definitely out for recreation vs. money. She also seemed to play a tourney like a ring-game. Bonus!!! Seat two had never played in a tourney before. He knew a "little" bit about Stud, in his own words. I believe he played every hand. Seat three was the same young Italian guy I wrote about in my last post, the LHE tourney, who was sweet and sat in the 2 seat. Lo and behold, I found out that this guy isn't so young after all! He is 45, OMG! Either I completely suck at guessing ages, or this guy looks fabulous. His name is Jeff and he is an actor. He has black hair, which he says is natural. He is very nice looking and says he has had no facial plastic surgery. Amazing. Jeff and I chatted almost the entire tournament. What a great guy he ended up being!

I was in seat four. Seat five was non-descript. Seat six was an elderly lady with one of those motorized walker things with the hand brake. She was the Poker expert at her retired living apartment complex. She played a good game, if a bit loose for my standards. Seat seven was a tourney pro. He knew how to play, period. He knew tourney strategy like the back of his hand. Seat eight was another middle-aged lady. I have no idea how we ended up with so many women at our table, but I was stunned, nevertheless, at not only the sheer number of women in this tournament, but the fact that most of them were at our table alone!

For the first two hours, I got dealt a pair twice. Once I raised with split jacks, only to be called in about five places, lol. I had to give it up on fifth. Another time I was the bring-in with split deuces, trey kicker, haha. Once, I stayed in to see fourth with a drawing hand. I had a jack-high three flush. NO other clubs or jacks on the board. The type of players left to act were very passive and I knew I could just limp in and see fourth. No improvement, checked on fourth, nothing on fifth, had to fold. Tons of clubs came out, but none fell on my board!

The antes started getting higher. I was still okay, but I knew that soon I was going to have to start getting some hands, and going very far with them, if I hoped to stay alive. I did a rebuy, so I had some life. Jeff kept telling me how dead it was in my seat, lol, but I insisted that I'd rather get the monsters LATE in the tourney vs. early on. He agreed wholeheartedly, and I folded some more

Seat two busted out. Mr. never-played before. Seat five busted out (my left). Seat five was filled with another player who immediately busted out. We called seat five the cursed seat. A young girl sat down and now our table was almost completely women, save just two men; Jeff and the tourney pro.

I had no idea how the new seat five played. She was young and pretty, but hadn't played a hand since she sat down. I got split fives with a king kicker. I limped after several other limpers. Seats five and six limped as well. I hit another king on fourth and raised a bet by sixth (the elderly walker lady---EWL). Her board showed xA. I put her on aces. She limped with a lot of things, so trips never even entered my mind at this point. Lo and behold, the new girl, seat five, re-raised. Seat six capped! Now I had to start thinking that six had trip aces. I was so pot-committed by that time, and my fives and kings were completely live, so I just gritted my teeth and pushed all-in. I knew I had to fill, or I would be out. But with the remaining chips I had, I would be out soon anyway if I folded.

Seat five called the cap, then went all-in on fifth herself.

On sixth I filled up. Thank God! Seat five, the cursed seat, had an open-ended straight flush draw, first four cards, and ended up with two pair.

Seat six, the EWL had trip aces, as I suspected when she capped. She never filled. She got the tiny side pot, and I got the huge main pot. I must say, this was a bad, bad move by the EWL. Why she limped with aces in the pocket in the first place is beyond me. Not with so many callers, not with the people still left to act. I would have been gone, gone, gone if she would have raised before it got to me. I'd seen her play long enough to know that if SHE was raising, it had to be aces. I never would have called a raise with split fives, king kicker. This wasn't the last mistake she made of the night, but it was probably the worst.

Seat five was out again. Three players in record time. We didn't tell the new player that we felt the seat was cursed, lol. Luckily, the new player was solid. Another woman! She was a 60-something, who played a good game. I'd watched her play 5/10 ring, and her only real weakness was not knowing when she was beat. Once, in a ring game, the bring-in got quads. It was so unbelievably evident when he caught the fourth deuce. He paired his doorcard and went out of his mind. She was sitting to his right in the seven seat, and he jumped out of his seat and stood up! He was an older man, he never stood up. He was jumping around like a jumping bean. He couldn't wait to get his hands into his rack and bring out more chips. He was fumbling and itching so badly to put as much money into the pot as possible. She never "saw" a thing and kept raising him, lol. She just couldn't wrap her mind around the fact that yes, the bring-in might actually have her beat.

Anyway, back to the tourney. Pretty soon I was dealt split eights with a straight-flush nine kicker. I would sometimes raise with this hand, but the texture of our table demanded that I only limp. The bring-in would defend and everyone who had already limped would not fold to a raise. My strategy for any type of poker tournament (and poker, in general) is to play according to the texture of the table. If every table has a different personality, a completely unique fingerprint, so to speak, then it only stands to reason that in every situation, I must play according to those standards. In one case, I might go all-in with split eights. In another case, I might fold them. In this particular case, I could limp only. Five people stayed in until the river. No one bet, including me. I never improved, there was another nine out on third, most of my suit came out, and not to me, I hit rag after rag. The players left in were so passive that none of them bet low to medium pairs. I knew I'd probably just get outdrawn by betting my eights for value. So I didn't. We checked it down to the river. Someone showed sixes unimproved, someone else sevens, me eights, and two others mucked their hands, so I don't know if they even had a pair. Certain experts might criticize my play here, but I got the bring-ins, I won the hand, and I didn't really risk a thing. So in my own novice opinion, I played it right.

I was dealt split fives with an ace kicker in last position. There was a bring-in and one or two limpers (I believe). I raised for the semi-steal and got the pot.

When we were down to four tables I was dealt aces with a six doorcard. Jeff was the bring-in, I raised and got too many callers. Jeff had gotten involved in a bad hand earlier, took it too far, and crippled himself when he didn't have to. He knew his mistake right away, and kicked himself for the play, but it happened nevertheless. We all make mistakes. He got his money in when he had the best of it, but he wasn't so much of a favorite that he couldn't get outdrawn, which is precisely what happened.

Since Jeff was so crippled, when it came back to him, he just called my raise and went all-in. This is not how I imagined him getting busted. I don't mind busting friends, even relatives, but I knew that he was going all-in as a desperation attempt, as the bring-in, probably with either a very small pair or a weak drawing hand. I also got called by the five seat, the cursed seat which had brought nothing but GOOD luck to the lady sitting in it. Her solid, bold play, along with a little luck along the way (she is the one who crippled Jeff), had given her a huge stack. I also got called by a jack doorcard in the eight seat. I kept betting my aces. Luckily, the eight seat and I were catching the exact same cards. Blanks for both of us. The five seat seemed to be catching blanks, but just enough to give her hope, because she was calling my bets, eeeek! She finally folded in disgust on sixth. I think maybe she was going for a draw, but this would be the worst play imaginable, and she was bleeding chips when she didn't have to, by not being able to read her opponents. Jeff seemed to be catching blanks as well. He certainly wasn't elated by his board. I kept pounding the eight seat, who made jacks up. Thankfully I paired my six doorcard on the river to scoop a huge pot. Jeff was out, which was sad for me, but he took it well and we looked forward to seeing each other on the Internet, as well as in person at the Trop.

I looked around at this point and noticed that there were just three tables left, and out of those three tables, SIX women remained. Amazing. Usually there are maybe six women total at any given Trop tourney. This time, out of 24 players, there were still six left. Of course, most of them were at our table. This was, by far, the friendliest Stud tourney table I've ever encountered. There was no trash talking, no arguing, no throwing cards. No one was bullying or angle shooting. Of course, the biggest stack, the tourney pro, was using his big stack to his advantage, but he wasn't just raising every hand arbitrarily because he could. He was still playing cautiously enough to get into the money, while adding to his chip lead every round. I am so spoiled now by this table that I'll probably gripe about every other tourney table I have!

Finally our table broke and we got down to the final two. Sixteen players left. Most of our "core" group remained; me, the EWL, the tourney pro and if I count her as part of the core group, the cursed five seat who came on the scene pretty early, made herself part of our "group," and played a relatively solid game.

I was sent to table II, seat seven. Great seat for getting reads. Seat one was the cursed seat five from the previous table. She was the shortest stack, due to her not-so-great reads. Seat six was the most aggressive player. He raised when I had JAJ. I felt that he must have me beat if he would raise into possible jacks. I stupidly (you don't have to tell me) folded. He only had nines, ick! I had enough chips at this point that I was sure I would get into the money, so I folded. Dumb. I wasn't counting on the fact that the antes alone were 200 now, and going up to 300. I wasn't counting that any hand was a potential all-in at this point, and that I had to go with something. I tried to sneak my way into the money, and folded those jacks with an ace kicker. My first and only huge mistake during the tourney.

Within the next couple of hands, the six seat raised again. I had nines and folded....AGAIN. No, you don't have to tell me what a dumb move this was. Yes, had I won with the jacks I could have folded the nines. Yes, if I had a really big stack, regardless of how fast the antes were moving up, I could have folded. NO, I could NOT afford to fold the nines in my position. DUMB.

I got nothing else. Not deuces, not a 3-flush, not a 3-straight, not 3 high cards. Nada. I'd used up my good starting hands, and I'd blown it. I rapidly got anted down until I had enough left for the ante and part of the bring-in. I waited too long, but at least I was dealt and ace, king, rag. I threw in all of my chips. So did the EWL, who was short. I got kings, but her two small pair knocked me out at 12th.

So this time I was 12:106. Top 8 pay.

We decided to spend the night at the Taj, since the Trop was sold out. We got a $3,000 suite for only $70. Neat. It was pretty awesome, if aging. It even had a bidet, which can be fun for a certain type of person

On Wednesday, June 4, 2003 we decided to play exclusively at the Taj, until it was time to register for the LHE $50+10 tourney at the Trop.

Everyone says that Taj is softer than the Trop. More tourists, looser players, more money to be made. Well, that might be true on the weekends, over holidays and maybe at night. But it sure wasn't true during the day. It was tighter than a drum. I played 5/10 Stud for a while and misread a hand. Three small pairs that I somehow convinced myself was a full house. Doh! I reraised an obvious flush and kept pounding her until I gave her almost $100. Neat, huh? Fortunately, I am now the type of player who never gets rattled or loses my self-confidence. I just laughed and tried to convince the dealer that in Canada I would still have a full house and he'd have to push the pot to me. I know, old joke, but that's the way it goes. All of the old rocks at the table sympathized and kept assuring me that it happens to everyone, even seasoned pros. They proceeded in trying to make me feel better, while I was laughing all the time. Nice guys. I just played on like the trooper that I am. I never fully recovered before I got my table change, but I did manage a few little wins and recovered part of my loss on the misread hand.

I switched to 3/6 HE and another rocky table. Luckily, I was able to make a few early scores and almost pull up to even for the day. A real fishy sat down in the one seat and proceeded to be a calling station extraordinaire.

We soon decided to dump the Taj and head back to the Trop. We only had a couple of hours before the tourney anyway.

Before the tournament, the seasoned tourney pro from the Stud tourney the day before (seat 7, table III), pulled me aside. He asked how I did after our table broke. I told him I'd gotten out at 12th. He said he'd cashed at 4th. I congratulated him and his play. He asked if I was playing in the LHE tourney and wished me luck. He told me that he knew I was going to go far with these tourneys, that I was a good tourney player and had what it takes. WOW!

As usual, the $50+10 LHE tourney started late. Closer to 7:45 than 7:15. Jason, one of the guys who is now helping run the tournaments came up to me. He asked, "How ya doing, champ?" I laughed at him. I told him, "Yeah, I'm the champ who made 12th last night and got zippo." He said, "I saw you play. You ARE a champ, period." Jeez, what is this? Stroke Felicia's ego week? Oh, my. My head is in the clouds...

I pulled the IX table. There were 114 entrants, some of them sitting 10 to a nine-top table. I knew our table would get broken relatively early. The one seat was a guy who had played quite a bit before. Two seat ditto. Three seat was a young guy. Four seat was a new tourney player with a temper. Five was non-descript. Six was a young, inexperienced guy who said he'd never played a tournament before, but had lots of HE experience. That was a lie, since later he asked what those "two forced bets were called." Seven was Carlos, mentioned in last week's report. I was in the eight seat, and the nine seat was a fairly experienced middle-aged player.

I knew I would have to watch out for Carlos. I'd rather have him on my right than on my left, so I caught a breat there. I started out by announcing that table IX was going to be the "fun" table, but that was before Carlos sat down, lol.

The one seat was the first to go. He played too many hands, but they were always decent hands, and he got outdrawn EVERY time. I don't think he ever won a pot.

I got big slick in late position. No help anywhere, and I had to fold. I folded rags for a long time after this, until the end of the third round. I got 99 in late position and just limped. I flopped a nine, which was high, and bet. The BB raised me. The six seat (young liar) reraised and I capped. I kept thinking to myself, "jeez, guys, I've got the nuts, what in the heck are you doing?" The BB knew he was beat, but was so short, and pot committed, that he shoved the rest of his chips in. On the turn, I put the young guy all-in. I got T5 back, we were almost even. I have no idea what that guy had. He refused to show his hand. The BB had flopped two pair, nines and fours. He knew he was beat when I capped, but was short and couldn't have lasted more than another round if he folded. Two guys out, and suddenly I had some chips.

Fortunately, Carlos and I never had a run-in. I think we both knew we were better off staying out of each other's pots. Our table broke not long after the break. I pulled table I, seat one. I didn't like the seat, I didn't really like the table. Lots of experienced tourney players with big stacks. I folded for a while, got blinded down, as the structure is so fast, and finally made an all-in raise on the button with 99. It had been folded around to me, so this was a great time to play. Unfortunately, both the small and BB called my raise. The SB had AJ and flopped a jack, but his hand was declared dead when he turned his cards over before his turn bet had been called. The BB had K8 and a huge stack, so no problem calling my all-in with a chance to bust me. Of course he flopped a king, so IGHN.

In this tourney, I placed 31:114.

I feel like this is the first and only LHE tourney where I have never made a fundamental error. Sure, I'm still not going for steals enough, and I never stone-cold bluff (even on a steal). But as far as sound play, I'm there! I feel good about it. I don't give away tells. I am as emotionless as a slug. I want my husband to start videotaping me playing poker. Home will do, nothing big. I just want to make sure that I am as detached as I think I am. The only thing that gives people a clue about my play is when I stay in a hand and bet a hand, lol.

I'm getting there...I think I might cash sometime in the future!

Felicia :)