Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Colorado Belle "River Boat Classic" Monthly Texas Hold'em Tournament

Yesterday I played the last of these monthly championships. They have decided to make this tournament a weekly event, due to the demand of the players.

The buy-in is $100+10. It is a Freezeout, so there are no rebuys or add-ons.

In an earlier post, I described a "cruise" down the Colorado with free food. Um, that was incorrect, lol. It is held in the casino, which looks like an old paddlewheel boat. They just used terms like, "cruise down the river with us...", etc, to describe the tournament. It isn't an actual cruise! The way the Colorado Belle poker room is set up, it is made to look like you are on a boat, hence their colorful description of the tournament "cruise." There were, however, free chilidogs, LOL!

They have restructured this tournament so that players get a lot of "play" for their money. Instead of the turbo style that they use in all other tourneys, in this one, players are given 1000 starting chips. The starting blinds are only 10/15 and increase gradually, instead of doubling every fifteen to twenty minutes. This is only 1.5% of our starting stacks!!! Yippee! For those of you who are Sklansky fans, you know that this means that the cream has more of a chance of rising to the top. A slowly structured, no-limit hold'em tournament favors the good players more than any other.

Like their other tourneys, this one has three, twenty minute levels for the first hour. The betting is structured. The blinds and betting limits are a cinch for you to figure out, given the 10/15 starting blind I illustrated above. I won't bore you with the details, lol. After the first hour, play goes to no-limit. The blinds are still unbelievably small in proportion to the average stack size.

As for my own experience, this was one of those tourneys where everything just clicks into place. I have rarely "hit" more often than in this tourney. Most of the time, especially in the first hour, I limped in with decent starting hands, and hit, then bet. You know, those times that you dream about poker and in your dream, everything goes your way and you hit every hand? That was how the first hour or so went for me. I knew I was doomed for the rest of the tournament, lol. Usually, if I hit during the early levels, I can't get a thing later in the tourney.

The number of entrants was down (so I was told), to only 27. That made the prize pool only $2700, which is lower than it usually is for the rebuy tourneys. They pay the top 4, and they still do the $50 per player at the final table, which can be "voted" up to $100 each.

I believe only one player was busted during the first hour. He wasn't at my table, and I cannot imagine anyone being able to go through 1000 chips with such small blinds and betting limits, but I guess it can be done.

My own table was a bit of a tougher lineup than Monday's tourney, which I reported in my last post. I had a few seasoned vets, whom I would not consider excellent tourney players, but they were definitely not the loose/passive type that I'd encountered at Monday's tourney. There was much more raising and re-raising going on, at every level of the tourney.

Since I was at the "final table," I wasn't going to be moved. I picked the two seat, for the view advantage. One player in our lineup had gotten fifth place in Monday's tournament. I would classify him as a decent, if not quite aggressive enough, tourney player. Bruce was in the nine seat. He plays every tourney, even the morning Pineapple ones, lol. He is a very good Omaha tourney player, and was one of the final four that I reported on in my Omaha 8 tourney. He came to the table as the shortest stack in that Omaha tourney, and managed to chop first place with Russ. I would say he was one of the strongest players, a bit more cautious than I am, except when he is desperately short.

Naturally, Bruce and I started building our stacks, taking advantage of the bad play by most of the other competitors at our table. I was the chip lead very early in the tourney, due to my very aggressive play, combined with hitting more than my fair share of flops. My very first hand was AA, and things just went well from there!

Once, in the big blind, I was dealt A5s. No one raised before the flop, but there were five other contestants vying for the pot. I flopped two pair and bet. I was called in all five places. The turn was a blank, and the river ANOTHER five, filling me up. I bet my hand the whole way, and was actually called in four places! This is just an example of how I was hitting during the early part of this tourney. I think the reason that I got so many callers is because the table members started suspecting that I was bluffing a lot. They wanted a reason to call me down, figuring I couldn't be hitting this often, with the number of hands I was playing (quite a few). But I was hitting! I couldn't stop hitting. I won a big pot with that hand, given the early, structured betting. I had the chip lead at my table, and I think I was second chip lead in the tourney, trailing behind a rammer-jammer dealer from another cardroom. Bruce was second at our table.

After the first hour, we had a break. Glenn, my husband, had just lost a huge pot, but was still a contender. He had about 1300 chips. I had over 2000.

Not long after we went to no-limit betting, we lost quite a few players, mostly at the other tables. The table with the rammer-jammer dealer was losing players more rapidly than any other table. They were constantly coming to take players from our table and Glenn's table to keep balanced. Before long, Glenn's table broke and the players drew for seats. Unfortunately, Glenn drew my table and was in the four seat, two places behind me.

I kept up my aggression and built my stack. Glenn had made a huge pot right before his table broke, and busted another player. He was now on par with me.

In one key hand, a bored player who had been complaining and seemed ready to leave, made a big move. I was last to act and looked down to see AKo. I put him on a mediocre hand which he felt could either double him up and put him in the running for the money, or give him the quick exit he seemed to desire. I had him outchipped, but only by about 300. I put him all-in, only to be shown pocket aces. Ouch! So much for my reading prowess. I got no help, and suddenly I was the shortest stack at the table.

I could not "Sklansky" my way into the money, so I became hyper-aggressive, going all-in about every 2-3 hands. Luckily, I had some good hot-n-cold hands to do this with. They all held up, or the blinds folded, and I won every pot, putting me back over 1000 chips again.

Right about this time, the player in the three seat got moved to the other table and I found Glenn to my immediate left. I made an all-in move against him when I was in the SB and he was in the BB. I had only T7s, but I know that Glenn will fold easily, so I took advantage of him. I would do this against any player who folds his big blind too often. It just happened to be Glenn. Later, Glenn told me that he had the exact same hole cards, but spades, lol.

Now I had enough to survive to the final table, and perhaps even get into the final four, which pay out, very top heavy, with #1 receiving about 50% of the total prize pool. I needed a few more all-in hands, and I definitely had to double up again, in order to be a real contender, but I knew if I got lucky when I needed it, I might just get more than the $50 (or $100 if voted) that the final ten receive.

The bubble boy was an inexperienced, nervous player who was at our table, brought in when his table broke after the break. I can't remember who busted him, but I know that he had played so passively that he was forced to finally shove all-in with his final 800 chips, when he had a mediocre hand.

We combined tables and I once again drew the five seat! Ugh, that makes 3 bad final table draws in a row! Glenn drew my old seat, the two seat. Bruce drew the four seat, directly to my right, which was an excellent bit of luck for me.

The two chip leaders were from the other table. One was a man I'd played with before, who is a decent tourney player, but takes too many chances at the wrong time. He had about 6k in chips. He is the type who will call two or three all-in's, with good, but beatable hands, instead of throwing away those hands and letting others get busted, which all good players like to see!

The other chip lead was the rammer-jammer dealer. He had about 4k in chips.

Someone put in a motion to give each player at the final table $100. I seconded the motion, being that I was the second shortest stack, lol. Everyone agreed, and we each received $100, just $10 short of making back all of our money. It seems that everyone usually votes YES on these motions. Even the biggest stacks. I think it's all about goodwill, which seems to be abundant with the regulars at the Colorado Belle. Since the structure is so low, given the amount of chips on the table, it would only hurt the chip leaders to vote yes on this motion, but they do it anyway, and it seems to be the accustomed norm.

Glenn started getting blinded down early, even though he started with more chips than I did, and wasn't short stacked whatsoever. He just doesn't take the chances that I do. Since I was the second shortest stack, I shoved all-in quite a bit. Most of the time I really did have a good all-in hand, but other times I stole the blinds when I was in late position and the first into the pot. I had nothing to lose with these frequent all-in moves, since only the final four get any real money. I doubled up a couple of times and found myself a real contender for the final four.

The rammer-jammer dealer was raising the blinds almost every hand, when they weren't raised before it got to him. He stole a lot of pots this way, but would lose one big hand and be back to where he started. He hovered around 4k for most of the final table play.

The guy in the seven seat, who was the chip lead with 6k, started bleeding chips a bit, but was never in any danger. Like I said, he calls several all-in's in one hand, when he should back off a bit. When we were down to eight, Glenn was in the big blind. The seven seat raised the pot. When it got back to Glenn, he finally shoved all-in. I felt he had waited way too long, letting himself get blinded down to his last 1000 in chips. He hadn't won even one pot at the final table, although most of the players were playing cautiously, hoping to make the top four (they never seem to realize that just doesn't work). Anyway, the seven seat had ATo and Glenn had K3s. No help for Glenn, and HGHN (he goes home now, lol), taking seventh out of 27.

Later we talked about his lack of aggression, and he agreed that he needs to read Tournament Poker for Advanced Players ALL the way through this time, lol.

I made a few more moves and doubled myself again. Now I was the chip lead. I had about 5k, the rammer-jammer dealer had about 4k and the seven seat had about 4.5k. I was forced to call an all-in, in the big blind, and was outdrawn. The desperate ten seat had JTs, and admirable hand in many circumstances, but not as good of a head's up hand as mine: K8o. I flopped an eight, but he hit runner-runner for a straight and doubled up through me.

This happened about five more times during the final table play. I would go from the chip lead to the chip dog (or close) by being forced to call desperate all-in's. I was never in total danger of busting out, as I had more than enough chips to survive several rounds of blinds, even at my lowest point. I just happened to receive the right hands when someone made an all-in move. K8o was my very worst "calling" hand, the others were more like AKo, AQo, AJo.

Bruce started getting shortstacked, and defended his blind with A9s. The flop came with two spades and an open-ended straight draw. Bruce called an all-in, and went all-in himself, even when the turn didn't help him. He got his straight on the river and more than tripled through, making him the new chip lead with over 7k.

When we were down to six, the rammer-jammer dealer got a little short and tried one too many moves, eliminating himself out of the money, with his greedy play. He disgustingly threw down his cards and left the poker room.

The seven seat had called too many multiple all-in's earlier, and found himself getting a bit short. I moved all-in, in late position, with AQo, and he quickly called my all-in. I had him more than covered. He turned over AKs. I immediately flopped two queens and he was eliminated. Bad beat!

I kept swinging from chip lead to chip dog from hand to hand. One beat I took was when I was in the SB. I called with K9o. In retrospect, I should have raised. The flop came down A45, all hearts. I had the king of hearts. The BB made a small bet, which I called. I made my nut flush, or so I thought. The BB finally went all-in, and I had him covered. He had flopped the straight flush, having the 32 of hearts! Ouch! Now he was the lead, and I was once again the dog.

I fought my way back up, up, and up, until I was once again the chip lead. I was able to outplay the other three contestants, and ended up winning the monthly championship!

I cannot believe the lucky streak I've encountered over the past week! I placed fourth in Friday's Omaha 8 tourney, won Monday's hold'em tourney, and won the monthly championship yesterday (Wednesday). Wow! What a rush!

I also have the honor of receiving the very last River Boat Classic, Texas Hold'em Freezeout trophy. Since they are making this a weekly event, they are going to stop giving out trophies. Needless to say, this is the only poker trophy I have ever won in my life!

I feel very fortunate and honored to win another tournament. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 29, 2003

Winning My First Big One

On Monday, September 29, 2003 I played in my second Limit to No-Limit Hold'em tournament at the Colorado Belle.

The buy-in is $25, no entry fee, $500 added to the prize pool, and $5 bounties on each player's head. The structure is as follows: 5/5 blinds with 5/10 betting limits for the first 20 minutes. 5/10 blinds with 10/20 betting limits for the second 20 minutes, and 10/20 blinds with 20/40 betting limits for the final 20 minutes of the first hour. After that, the blinds usually double and the betting is no-limit.

Rebuys are allowed during the first hour if the player is below their original 100 starting chips. Rebuys cost $10 for 100 chips and greatly increase the prize pool. One optional add-on is allowed after the first hour, only, and costs $20 for 500 chips.

We started with 52 contestants. My table was extremely loose and passive, with few raises before the flop, but 8-9 people seeing every flop. It was not uncommon to see 74o played to the river.

I raised early in the tourney with AKo, but had to give it up by fourth. In the second level, I had AKo again, raised, and this time flopped a king, but was only awarded a small pot, just barely keeping me ahead of the blinds.

In the third level, I was already very low on chips, just trying to survive until the add-on (the rebuy isn't nearly as good a buy as the add-on, obviously), when I was dealt pocket kings. Someone raised ahead of me, I reraised, putting myself all-in. He held AQo and I survived until the break.

I did the add-on, and found myself with only about 700 chips. Our table rapidly broke down after the break, with many players not adjusting to the no-limit structure. At times we were playing five and sixhanded waiting for new arrivals. As we were the last table to be completely broken, we could not move to another table.

I clearly dominated the table with frequent all-in raises that scared the other players, who were unfamiliar with no-limit hold'em. My all-in's never got called, as I picked the right opportunities, in the right position, with the right hands. I was the only player going all-in, except short stacks who had no choice. Most of the other players continued to play limit hold'em, only betting and/or raising the minimum.

I picked up a couple of bounties by busting short stacks who were desperate. My stack continued to increase.

At this table I made a couple of errors. The first was when the big blind was all-in with less than a full blind. I was dealt ATs in early position. I was clearly the chip lead at the time. The players left to act behind me were timid. I threw away such a weak hand in EP, yet I really didn't have anything to lose with this hand, besides one minimum bet, so I feel this was a mistake. I could have busted the big blind, with very little risk, and picked up another bounty.

My second, and worst, error was also before this table broke. A player went all-in before the flop. I was dealt AQo. I called his all-in. Another player, who had just sat down, also called. This player looked very much like a newbie. He was clearly nervous and jumpy. I had no idea what he had, but, in retrospect, I wish I would have raised the all-in, and gotten the kid to fold.

The flop came Ax2. I checked, as did the kid. The turn was a seven. Check, check. The river was another deuce and the kid went out of his mind trying to bet. I groaned. I had played that hand badly from beginning to end. I cannot, for the life of me, explain why I screwed up. Putting the kid on trip deuces, I folded. He only had a pair of sevens, ugh. He still eliminated the all-in, but I watched a pot of about 2k head in his direction, when I should have dragged that pot myself. I have no explanation for my bad play here.

Unfortunately, due to my two earlier errors, and being blinded down with many unplayable hands, by the time we reached the final table, I was the shortest stack. The final ten get paid $50. My buy-in had been $25, plus the $20 add-on. I had won two $5 bounties, plus the $50, so I was at a net gain of $15.

I drew seat five, ugh. No luck of the draw. The button was on seat ten, so my big blind was coming around rapidly. I only had enough to pay my full bb, plus a portion of my sb. I threw away hand after trashy hand, praying for a decent hot-n-cold hand before my bb, so that I could shove all-in. When I was under the gun, I was dealt A5o. I sighed in relief and shoved all-in. I was called by the seven seat, who re-raised all-in. We were head's up. He had pocket tens, ouch. I was tickled pink when the flop came 234 and I had the straight. I lived to fight another day.

During the next couple of rounds, everyone was playing tremendously tight, trying to make the final six, which paid. I was amazed at the number of folds to the bb during this time.

Russ, who is a fantastic Omaha player, whom I spoke about in my Omaha 8 tourney post, was the chip lead and kept adding to his stack with frequent steals. He had about 50% of the chips on the table.

I was fortunate that the player were so tight. I was able to shove all-in with decent hot-n-cold hands during this time and stay afloat. I was no longer the shortest stack.

Finally the survivors had to take some chances. The blinds were so high by this time: 500/1000, and the average chip count was probably only 2-3k, so there could be no more ultra-tightness by most of the final table.

One by one they fell, as I continued to take advantage of the right times to steal pots and/or go all-in and double up with playable hands. I never received a Group I hand during this time, but I had enough hot-n-cold hands to survive several all-in's and/or steal pots.

Russ kept his chip lead by stealing pots at the right time. Then, we got down to the final seven and Russ went on a Group I rush. He was dealt pocket aces, kings, jacks twice, AKs twice all within about 15 hands. He was also dealt AKo twice. No one could believe he had so many premium hands in such a short span, so he started getting called quite a bit. There were too many short stacked, desperate players. They went up against Russ and got eliminated one-by-one. Before I could blink, we were down to the final three, all due to Russ. With only three of us left, Russ had almost all of the chips on the table. I was the shortest stack, but not by much. Both myself and the other stack had enough chips to survive about 10 hands. Russ said that he would take first, if the other man and I wanted to split second and third. Our average payout would be about $600 apiece.

The other opponent had never played against me before, and obviously thought I was "lucky." I could tell he didn't respect my play at all, and thought that I had gotten to the final three by some fluke. He was an older man, who didn't seem to think women should play poker. He balked at splitting with me, and demanded to "play it out." I can handle that, hehehe. I love to get into a situation where a man doesn't respect my play.

During the next few hands, Russ made several plays at the pot. I was fortunate enough to get a few hands which played well head's up, and went over the top of Russ' steals in order to double up. Russ respects my play tremendously, as is obvious in everything he says and does, so sometimes I was able to win the pot without a flop, whereas other times I doubled up through Russ. Suddenly I had the other gentleman outchipped and he didn't seem nearly as confident.

My big break came when Russ was on a steal. I was last to act in the bb. Russ made a move and I looked down to see QQ. I immediately called all-in. Russ had KTo and suddenly I found myself in the chip lead. I had taken small amounts of chips off of Russ over the last 20 hands, then finally crippled him with my queens. Now Russ was the chip dog and I was clearly the leader. The blinds were so high that none of us had a true advantage over the other, and they went up again to 2000/4000, when the total number of chips on the table was only about 25k.

Although I was the lead, I still made a deal, due to the crapshoot quality that the tournament had become. This time, the older man was all too happy to accept a deal. He kept repeating, "You deserved it, you deserved it. You played really well!" I had definitely changed his mind about "women players."

Russ was happy to accept any deal, at this point, since he was such a chip dog and would have to go all-in within the next three hands. Although Russ is a superb Omaha 8 player, he was not as strong in NLHE, where I could push my advantage. He was clearly relieved that the tournament was over.

I netted about $1000, which is my biggest, single win, to date.

I am satisfied with my play, especially my final table play. I am disappointed in my two mistakes, earlier in the tournament, but knowing that I made those mistakes is what makes me a growing player.

Since I have only been playing tournament poker for a year, I would say I am tremendously pleased with my overall results.

Today I am off to play the "big" tournament at the Colorado Belle. The once monthly $100 buy-in limit to no-limit hold'em tourney. Can I cash again????

Hope you enjoyed!