Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Tuesday, March 16, 2004--Part II

As soon as I finish this entry, I'm going to start working on our weekly tourney. The PJK tourney. Planet has been overly gracious to us, letting us decide the time, the buy-in, the structure, the limits, the payout. Even the juice! Go Planet!

Unfortunately, it is already Friday, March 19, and we had originally hoped to start the weekly tourneys on Sunday. Today is the first day I've had my PC again, since the great virus crash, I think I need more than two days to sort out the best tourney for us. Forgive me, I need another week. I want the best setup in the world for us. If you are disappointed, kill Hank!


One of the great things that clicked at this final table for me, was knowing how the players played. I had been seated at both tables, before the final, so I got a chance to look at every finalist. That doesn't happen very often, when it does I count myself lucky.

There were some extremely aggressive players. One guy is a frequent visitor to Laughlin named Mike Mohammed. He is an LAP. He bumped me out on Monday's tourney (which I haven't written up yet, btw), with QQ. Since he was playing just about every hand, I couldn't put him on a premium hand. Not that it mattered anyway. I had 3 chips and the BB was 2, I was going all-in with any two cards, I didn't even look.

Getting back to this final table, though, I knew Mike M. would be able to double me up, if I got desperate, by a simple limp re-raise, or some other tactic that I often employ against a very LAP. Mike was in the seven seat.

The only really decent players were JJ, in the four seat, and a visitor in the eight seat. The visitor was a lot like me. Downplayed his knowledge of poker, didn't act like he knew what he was doing (without putting on an act of innocence, just by not "advertising" that he knew proper tourney strategy). He was the one I had to watch.

Peggy, the female half of the lesbian couple Pat & Peggy, was in the nine seat. Peggy is super tight, and way too timid. Another woman, from Alaska, visiting Laughlin, was in the three seat. She had been shortstacked almost the entire tourney. I played at her table for most of it (table three), and she was clearly nervous, not used to casino play. She says they play home tourneys in Alaska every week. She took a long, long time to make decisions, but she had some sense. Yes, sometimes she zigged when she should have zagged. I would have gone all-in numerous times when she chose to fold and leave herself almost broke (one time she folded pocket eights to an all-in raise, six-handed, in the BB). But all-in-all, I had to admire her tenacity to hang on, with a short stack, for hours, when it was her first live poker tourney.

The two seat was a guy who had no clue. Those are sometimes the most dangerous players at the table. I will speak more about him as things progress.

I went for a whole rotation without playing a hand. Since I was in the ten seat, I got to check everyone out carefully without having to post a blind. Things were super tight, and we never saw one flop. No one wanted 10th place money, which was only $88, not even enough to recover the buy-in and fee. Naturally, this made stealing the blinds a priority, and usually the first one in, was the first one to steal.

I got my chance with ATs when it was passed to me. No one called and I stole enough to pay my blinds.

The first one out was the Alaskan girl, who hadn't played a hand. She let both of her blinds be stolen during the first round, then had no choice when the blinds got back to her. She was all-in with a crap hand, and had to stand up against AQ, I believe. She took her $88 with a huge grin. First live tourney, made the dough. She was happy.

Peggy was too timid to make many moves. She threw away a lot of hands I would have gone all-in with. She busted out as soon as she was blinded away. She was the BB, I was UTG with AJs. I tried to give her some protection by going all-in. No one called. She had some junk hand like 83o and I caught a jack. After she left the table, she was telling Pat and Glenn how she mismanaged her final table play. I agree, but I have a lot more experience than her.

I was becoming a force by this time. Although playing in the ten seat sucks in live tourneys, I had such good control over these players, and kept up so much pressure, that I was continually building my stack. I sensed fear in most of the other players. Fear of being the next one bumped, fear of not making the "big" money (1st-4th). Fear of me.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to be the first into the pot in many instances. I either raised enough to put the blind all-in, or just went all-in myself. I stole lots of pots with utter crap. My reputation was enough to scare players like JJ to get out of the hand, and my dominance, combined with my self confidence, was enough to get the strangers to lay down much better hands.

The new guy in the two seat was very unpredictable in his play. It seemed like his first tourney ever, but who knows. He would go from the felt, to the chip lead. He played most hands, but would lay down his hands to an over-the-top raise. He also laid down his blinds to pressure. I started stealing his blinds frequently. Basically any pair, any ace, any suited king. For whatever reason, he didn't want to call me. I thrived off of him, more than any other player at the table. He and I were soon co-chip leads, although at any given time, he would be down to the felt once again, lol.

After Peggy was eliminated, I was able to scoot a bit closer to being in the nine seat, versus the ten. I can't stand not being able to see everyone. This was much more advantageous for me.

Players started busting out as the blinds increased. I mostly just sat back and stole off of the medium-short stacks, the guy in the two seat, and other timid players, while letting others pick off the desperate all-in's.

In one key moment, Mike M. was put on tilt by a couple of bad beats. After that, he was just throwing away any chance of winning the tourney. Good for me! Finally he went out, I believe in 5th or 6th place, by going all-in as a shortstack with AA. The unpredictable guy in the two seat had TT and called the all-in. I had Tx in my hand. Like many unbelievable poker moments, the case ten hit the flop, and Mike was gone.

Then, the worst thing happened to me. It was late, and I was used to busting out early and getting home in plenty of time to monitor my diabetes. Well, the tourneys are lasting longer than ever now, due to the increased 20 minute levels. It was late, this tourney had ran slower than normal, due to the 1000 chips we start with vs. the 100 in the rebuy tourneys. Anyway, my blood sugar fell out from under me. Thank God I caught it quickly, so that I didn't lose much of my judgment during play. Glenn helped me bring it back up (I use protein, not sugar, if I can help it). It took a while to feel completely "normal" again, but I didn't make any mistakes during this time that I can remember.

I was pretty much in "the zone" during all of the final table play. I kept thinking to myself, "You are going to win this thing, you know!" I wasn't saying it to pump myself up, to give myself courage, but more as a matter-of-fact way of thinking. It just seemed right. I was the best player, they all acted scared of me, I had a lot of chips. So okay, I'm going to win.

Player after player got eliminated. I was shocked that the player in the one seat became so timid after playing pretty aggressively during most of the evening. He let himself get blinded down, after taking a bad beat. That happens to quite a few players. So once I saw how timid he had become, I kept raising enough to put him all-in whenever he had a blind (big or small, didn't matter). It wouldn't make a dent in my chips if he doubled up through me, but he was folding to almost any raise, and seemed to fold to me more often than anyone else! Finally he had to go all-in, and was eliminated.

The eight seat was a good player, like I've said before. He and I had always stayed out of each other's way. He had a real chance to win, even though he didn't have nearly the chips that the two seat had. Then he got trapped. I was the trapper, although the two seat is the one who gave me the opportunity to trap altogether.

Like I said above, the two seat had probably never played a poker tourney in his life. He played way too many hands, played them too far, made string bets and raises, seemed extremely nervous, never looked at anyone, only the board, and let me steal his blinds like mad.

He came in UTG trying to raise. He put out a stack to call, then "went back" for another stack. No-no. Both the eight seat and I objected. I was in the BB. I hadn't seen my cards yet, as I always look at players looking at their cards before I look at my own. Had I known that I had AKo, shorthanded, I wouldn't have said JACK about the string raise, lol, but I didn't know that I was going to wake up with a premium hand.

Anyway, the way things worked out, I got the best end of the bargain. The eight seat wanted to call, too, which is probably why he was so vocal about the string raise not standing. I don't know though, he might have objected in any case, he knew what he was doing, although I've never seen him before and have only this tourney to judge.

Had the raise stood, and had the eight seat not limped in, I would have gone over the top. As it was though, I saw AKo and got an opportunity to do some trapping. Was this shooting an angle? Naw, but I was taking advantage of an opportunity which doesn't arise very often.

My king hit the flop. Even knowing that the two seat had meant to raise before the flop, I still bet. He quickly folded (???), but, to my surprise, the eight seat called! He had KJs and didn't get help. Now I was the chip lead again.

This was the turning point of the entire final table.

JJ made a few moves, and stayed alive a lot longer than most people in his position would have survived. JJ is not a WCP, but he isn't stupid, either. He knows proper tourney strategy, as I have said many times before.

Finally JJ made a move UTG with A5s. A great hand with only four players left. The guy to my right, in the eight seat, cheered when the two seat called, because he only had about six chips left, and could sneak into third if JJ got eliminated. The two seat was wired, and they stood up.

Some of the railbirds thought JJ was mad at me. He was kidding me about stealing so many of his blinds, and the 75o all-in fiasco. It was just good natured ribbing, but since JJ is Korean, a lot of people misunderstand his intention. I apologized to JJ for seeming to "pick on him," but the matter of fact was that I was just getting the right all-in hands at the times he was in the blind, trying to survive. It was purely a coincidence. It would be in my best interest to keep JJ alive, not the guy in the two seat. I know JJ, I know his style of play, I know he is going to make a fair deal if it gets down to us two. He is predictable, not someone I want to break, necessarily, when there are better fish to fry.

Anyway, after JJ got eliminated, he came over to me and patted me on the back, telling me to win, not to make a deal, to keep playing well, etc. He railbirded the rest of the tourney and constantly cheered me on from the rail, as well as several other locals, railbirds and busted out opponents. Friends are great to have!

The eight seat went out in his BB, the next hand. He more than doubled his prize money since JJ went out with 10x his chips the previous hand. He was grinning like the cat who ate the canary. I shook his hand and told him what a great game he played.

Now I was head's up with the two seat, who was clueless, but who had eliminated so many players that he had about 20,000 in chips to my 15,000.

We volleyed back and forth a bit. It was so hard to get a handle on him. On the one hand, I had a huge advantage, because he always looked at his cards first, and never looked at me. I was always last to act, in that sense, even when I had to act first. He had a hard time hiding his tells, and was jumpy and scared. On the other hand, though, I had a huge disadvantage. He had a lot more chips than me. He was truly unpredictable. He made some crazy moves, out of what seemed just intuition or feeling. My blood sugar was off.

I moved to the nine seat, he was in the two. I watched him like a hawk. I had to throw away too many hands BTF with junk like 83o, 74o, T2o. The rest of the hands I went all-in with. I tried to just limp once, to see how he would take this. It was Q6o, and he raised the minimum. I didn't try to limp anymore, lol.

He had a hand when I was the SB. I didn't know what it was, but he had it. He went deathly still and stopped breathing. I looked down to see A2s. I didn't know what he had, but I needed chips desperately, so I was going all-in no matter what. I was down to 8000 by a string of horrid starting hands (even for HU play), and uncalled all-in's (he never called my all-in's, not once the entire tourney).

So I went for it, knowing this might be the last hand, but knowing I wouldn't play it any other way. I had to get lucky.

He yelled out, "Ha! I was just waiting for you. I was hoping you would say "all-in" when I had a hand to stand up to you!" He called quickly and turned over KK. He smiled a huge crap eating grin. I wasn't going to tell him that I'd have gone all-in even if he'd flashed KK before I put any chips into the pot.

I told him, "Wow, I've got to get lucky," or some such drival. I did get lucky, I flopped both an ace and a deuce. He got no help. Now I was up to 16,000 and he had 19,000. We volleyed back and forth a few more hands. April and some of the railbirds were trying to hint around to him about a deal or a save. I didn't want to say anything because I was shorter stacked than him, and don't really feel that is good etiquette, and also I felt like I was the much superior player of the two of us. But my blood sugar kept rearing it's ugly head, so I was a little scared that I would pass out at the table or something, and be completely embarrassed. So I wasn't necessarily opposed to talking about a deal or save.

He seemed to have no clue what we were talking about, and I gently explained to him what deals and saves were. He wasn't sure about it, and I didn't want to push him. So we kept playing a few more hands.

He kept pausing in between each hand, looking at me, looking at my chips (he still never looked at me during the actual play of the hands). He got more and more nervous as he realized how much better a player I was.

We were sitting at around 14,000 chips vs. 21,000 chips when he asked me, "Do you want half? I'll give you half right now."

I accepted because I was worried about my blood sugar and his having so many more chips than I did. The difference between first and second was almost $600, but the difference between splitting first and second was only a little over $200. I figured I'd take the money and run, better player or no.

Sometimes I make these deals and people write me saying what a mistake I made. While this may be true in typical circumstances, nothing about me is typical, lol. I am always worried about Diabetes. I think about the blinds compared to the total number of chips on the table, etc. We were already up to 1500/3000 blinds, and the total number of chips on the table was 35,000.

So I chopped, after two months of not making a NLHE final table. Yippee! I feel on top of my game again. I like being in control, lol!

I got first in WPT points, but I am still about 400 behind Doc Campbell, so unless a miracle happens in the next couple of weeks, Glenn will be playing in the WPT at Bellagio next month, not me.

One of the things I enjoyed about this tournament more than many others I play, was the comeraderie at the final table, as players busted out. Although players don't clap here, like they do in Atlantic City, we were all shaking each other's hands and doing back pats. Everyone was behaving very well, and I think I started the trend on Tuesday night.

I wish every final table at the Belle was this well behaved. It takes a lot of courage and luck to make it that far, and although the players at the Belle aren't the best players in the world, I like to make them all feel special when they get in the money. Kudos to the players who were at the Belle with me on Tuesday night. I am proud of you all.