Thursday, September 23, 2004

Looking For STUDS in Arizona

I had a really fun two days this week.

In my never-ending quest to find more Stud tournaments, Glenn and I traveled to Prescott, Arizona to play at Yavapai Casino.

They advertised a Thursday night Stud tourney on their website, and we had some business in Prescott, so we figured we'd make a two day trip out of it.

We arrived at the casino about 5:30pm on Wednesday. The whole casino was maybe the size of a medium house, lol. It was cute though, adobe style with six poker tables in the very back, separated from the rest of the casino.

The poker tables were very old and worn. I doubt they had even changed the felt since the cardroom opened.

There was one 3/6 HE game being played. The floorman told us that he could put us on the list for other games, but he doubted any of them would get started. Every game they offered (save 1-4 Stud) came with a full kill (bonus). They advertised:

1-4 Stud
1-3-3-6-6 Stud 8
6/12 HE
3/6 Omaha 8

I was interested in the Stud 8, but he said he didn't look for a game to go that day. We put our name on the interest list anyway, which already had two other names. Before long, we got it going.

The Stud 8 had the most interesting structure I've seen. I wanted to laugh many times, but the whole thing was simply so hilarious that I felt like I was in a fantasy world the whole two days.

There was no ante. They assured me that they didn't need one, and they turned out to be right ;)

The bring-in was the low card. The minimum bring-in amount was $1.00. He could bet up to $3.00. Anyone else could call the $1.00, or raise to $3.00 on the first round. On fourth and fifth street, the bets were 1-3. On sixth and seventh they were 1-6. If a player scooped a pot, bets were doubled. So that made the game: 2-6-6-12-12. Confused yet? It took me an hour or so to figure it out. I still made the smaller bet sometimes when it was a kill pot, by mistake, but by the second day, I had it down pat.

To say that the game was soft is a vast understatement. Almost every player came in for the $1.00. I was the only player continually betting the largest amount on every street.

I was given infinite odds to draw out on my opponents, yet I charged them the maximum price to draw out on me. This created a win-win situation, and I soon found myself up about $250, lol.

I was amazed at how badly the players played their low draws. They just kept drawing to the second or third best low. I would jam them in between myself and the best high hand, and they would never give up. They would call with a rough eight, even when it was clear I had a six. They had no knowledge of the value of their hands. They also drew to the second best high hand, continuing to the river with second or third highest pair. Sure, there were a few suck-outs, but there was no way I could lose in this game. Since they were checking or betting just $1.00 throughout the hand, on every round, I started opening up my hand selection and playing very speculative hands. I was able to dump them easily and early, or jam them later, knowing I'd get paid off by the guy who didn't bother to protect his made hand in the first place.

I think I only won one pot uncontested, and that was over a five hour time period within the two days that we played, lol. They just hated to fold a hand. It was awesome.

One of the things I liked quite a lot about Yavapai, is that they seemed to have no bias against female players. I felt absolutely comfortable playing there against almost all men, there were no rude comments made about my sex, nor my playing ability.

To give the players a further boost, I have to say that bad beat whining simply did not exist. They were polite no matter what was shown on seventh. I guess, since they played so passively, they were used to getting outdrawn a lot. I never saw one instance of raised voices or grumpiness in that cardroom.

Naturally, Yavapai is an Indian casino. So there were some weird rules. Glenn took a dollar out of his pocket to give to the cocktail waitress and got yelled at because it was in the middle of a hand and could "void the bad beat jackpot." I'm not sure why tipping a waitress with real cash would void anything, but I've heard this same thing before at Indian casinos. Glenn was also forced to take off his headphones during play. I'm not sure why this rule exists, but there ya go.

The rake was atrocious, naturally. For those of you who have played in an Indian casino, you know what I'm talking about. As soon as the bring-in would put his dollar into the pot and get a caller, boom, down it would go for the BBJ drop. As soon as there were seven additional dollars in the pot, two of them would go into the rake. Yipes! 30% rake, baby!

That is why I built the biggest pots that I could. There was no way I could beat that rake with the tiny little $10 pots they tried to build.

Even given the horrible rake structure, this game was easily beatable.

One pot I remember is when I made trip eights. One opponent was showing three diamonds and a pair of sevens. He also had A37 on board for a low draw, so I figured he could scoop it if I didn't fill. Another showed jacks and treys on board. The last was the bring-in and he ended up making 222. I had to stop jamming when their boards developed so threateningly. In the end though, my three eights held up and I scooped a pretty big pot. It helped that it was on a kill and I was able to bet: 6-6-6-12-12.

The poker room doesn't really offer a good rate at its hotel, but the town of Prescott is pretty large (I was told over 100,000 people live in the Prescott Valley) and we had no trouble finding a cut-rate hotel room. I am cheap, and happen to think that the Golden Gate in downtown Vegas is a pretty decent place, but maybe most of you wouldn't have gone for the $29.95 room at the Apache Inn, lol. We made the best of it, it was close to Yavapai, and all we really wanted was a place to crash anyway.

I knew that the tournament structure for the Stud game was atrocious in advance, so I did the best thing I could to get extra chips. The cardroom boasted that if we signed up 24 hours in advance, we got 100 extra chips. If we started any Stud game the day of the tourney, we got 100 extra chips. For every hour we played in said Stud game, we got an extra 250 chips. This added up to quite a bit, and I intended to get as many as possible. So we showed up at the cardroom at about 11:30am on Thursday.

Unfortunately, no game got going until about 2:30pm, but I still made quite a bit of money, and accumulated more tourney chips in the process (700). The "optional" add-on was really mandatory, given the structure, so I called for it as soon as we started the first hand ($25 for 1500 in chips).

I immediately took control of my table, as the players were mega-passive, just like the cash game, and seemed to have no idea what impact the structure was going to have on them in a very short time.

I was lucky that a smaller full house jammed my larger one in the early levels. I got his chips and he had to rebuy (the add-on could be used as one rebuy, if desired).

Later, my aces won unimproved on sixth.

I was up to about 5000 in chips, and the chip lead of the tourney, when an aggressive guy on my right decided to steal with a jack showing. I had queens and reraised. We kept raising and reraising until he was all-in...with nothing! He literally had jack high. He said, "I was just trying to steal the antes." Well, he made jack's up, I never improved my queens, and suddenly I was down to 3000 again.

Our tourney went from 22 down to the final table in no time at all. You can imagine with that kind of structure how quickly things went.

I managed to hang on, but I never regained the chip lead. Finally, we were down to the bubble, six of us left. I had the shortest in chips, but the second shortest decided to make a run for it with an ace up. He had nothing, and a pair of fives held up by the chip lead, so I was in the money.

On the very next hand, I went all-in with A35. The same chip lead called me, with an ace, and ended up making aces up. I only made a pair of sevens, so IGHN. Sixth place paid $66, hehe.

Although this tourney was a complete crapshoot, it was still lots of fun, and simply hilarious. The cardroom adds $125 for each table that they get, and the juice is only $5, so it is worth it to play, if you live in the area.

I am not so crazy about all of the weird rules they have at Indian casinos, and the rake is atrocious, but the staff was friendly, for the most part, and we had a good time.

The month of Stud is almost over, but I am counting the WPPA events, since they start in September and end in early October. Glenn and I will be at the Orleans on Monday morning, and I will most likely be there throughout the duration of the WPPA. I just got the final okay on the tourney reporting, so look for me at the final table (this might be the only final table you'll ever see me at, in a big event, lol). I hope to meet some of you there. Please don't hesitate to introduce yourself to me, no matter how "unapproachable" I look, as I have often heard. My bark is worse than my bite, haha!

Felicia :)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Wrap-up of the Four Queens Tournament

"Any game where there's more decisions to make is a more skillful game. If someone can master seven-card stud, then they can master any poker game."

--Chip Reese

I've been running bad in single table sats. Yeah, I know they are streaky. That is why I don't even think about it.

A majority of the problem is that I try to get head's up in a sat. Well, when it works, it really works, but when it doesn't, and we are three-handed, with the other two players having tons of chips, and I can't sit around waiting anymore, well...that is when I usually get creamed. I am 3rd place more than any other place in a STT.

We went back up to Vegas a day in advance, so I could play some sats. Big mistake, I guess, because I never cashed in even one of them, lol, and had to buy my way in anyway.

Lucky me, Glenn played another NLHE sat, and chopped it, so he reimbursed all of what I lost in my own sats.

I played in the 10/20 Razz game and/or mixed games (Razz and Stud 8) quite a bit on this trip. I won all but one session, although the wins weren't earth shattering or anything.

The Razz players were pretty much the same crew, day in and day out. Luckily, not enough of them were good, so I always had a bit of an edge.

I have written about the Razz tournament that took place on Tuesday. I don't have too much to add to it, except that in Razz, it is the hands that are very close in value that really kill you. I think, perhaps, I'm going to get out of more of those hands in tournament play, instead of taking them all the way, knowing it's going to be a horse race. Usually it comes down to the second, third or even fourth card. Is it really worth it for me to see fifth street when I know I'm neck and neck and don't catch something on fourth that will give me a much better draw to my low? I don't think so.

Since readers say I don't discuss theory very much, I'll give you a good example.

I have A6/4, the four is my doorcard. This is a great Razz starting hand.

My opponent has xx/5, which means he "could" have a great Razz starting hand, one even premium to mine. He could have three cards to a five.

Now say that I decide to see fourth street, which is almost a given (because if I had to act before him, I assuredly came in with a completion. If he raised, the pot was certainly big enough to see fourth). I notice the cards which are out are: six, four and five (besides my board and his). This is pretty good for my hand, but might also be pretty good for his, especially if he's got a six and/or four underneath.

Say on fourth we both brick up. Now, rats, I've got to see fifth.

On fifth, I catch a seven, he catches a deuce. Now I have a draw to a seven low, but he might have a draw to a wheel. Then again, the deuce might have paired him. It's so hard to give it up at this point, in the light of heavy betting that most likely went on at third.

I catch a trey on sixth, he catches a seven. Now I have my seven low (A64x73), but he could have me beat badly, if he has what he is representing: A35x27. That six makes all the difference in the world. I have to catch perfect on seventh in order to jam him, and even then, what if he catches his wheel?

This is what I mean by playing hands so close in value all the way to the river. Yeah, a lot of times when you call them down, they say, "You got me, I double paired" (or "bricked up," "didn't make it," etc). But a lot of times you also hear that they had exactly what they were representing, and nothing in their body language gave it away. So you are crippled, or worse yet, eliminated from the tourney.

That is Razz.

So what is the solution? Well, not getting too deeply involved in hands that are this close in value, but where it is conceivable that he could have a better low draw than you in the first place? I think so. Not in a cash game, but in a tourney, yeah.

When we both bricked on fourth, and he still bet out, just get out. There are better fish to fry than this horserace!

Now getting back to the tourney itself...I had an early lead, then experienced a couple of these type hands, which pretty much put me out of the running for the money. Sure, I could have gotten a few miracles, doubled up a few times, and gotten back into the running, but I surely wasn't expecting that to happen, I live in the real world :)

That is why I said in my last post, about the cheating players, that I had no personal stake in exposing these guys. I wouldn't have made the money, and neither of them took advantage of me, as I was sent to their table very late in the tourney, and had so few chips when I got there. I had only one "all-in" hand at that table, very soon after my arrival, and was busted by an elderly man in the three seat whom I'd played Razz against quite a bit. I believe I had three cards to a six, and he had three to a bike. He was ahead from the beginning, stayed ahead, caught virtually perfect, and I believe I ended up with either a bad seven or eight, completely dominated. He was a player who limped in to a lot of pots, yet never completed on third. He played the cash game in the same fashion. So it was hard for me to tell where I was in this hand, especially given that he never looked at his hole cards on third before limping in with a small doorcard, lol. For all I knew, he could have either a premium hand (which he did), or be rolled up! I would play it the same way again, especially being so low in chips at that stage.

I believe that I placed 11th in the Razz tourney.

The next day we had our Stud 8 tournament. This was the final Four Queens event that I would play.

I decided to try two sats. I have said before that I was completely off my game. I was tired from lack of sleep, and very disturbed by the events that transpired at the Razz tournament.

I came in third place in both sats. I had a massive chip lead at one point during both sats. This should tell you something ;)

I might have gone all-in with the best hand during the end game of both of these sats, but my play up until that point was not my best.

The Stud 8 event drew 28 players. Many more than we expected, given the other events of that day, both at the Four Queens and around town.

Once again, I took an early lead. Pete Kaufman, the 2nd place finisher at this year's WSOP Stud 8 event, and someone who came back time and again as an overwhelming chip dog, to give Cindy Violette a run for her money, was at my table. He played well, but just didn't get anything going on, and all of his bluffs and/or semi-bluffs were called down. Some days...

There was a player from Canterbury at my table who played way too many pots and vastly overestimated his hands. He ran a few of us down, and ended up taking away my chip lead in a hand he should never have been involved in. I didn't know his name, so I have no idea how he finished in this tournament.

I was crippled by a later beat by this same player, on the river, and never could really get much going on after that. I stole a few pots, but my head was not where it belonged, and I wasn't playing my best. I believe I finished 14th. For a tight player like me, I HAVE to play my very best, knowing that I never build up enough of a chip lead to withstand cruel rivers time and again. I have to stay on top, 100% on my game, or there is no way I'll win a tourney.

I just don't play that "Awww, shucks," loose type of poker. If I am playing Stud 8 and have a pair of nines, another player is showing a king, no one has an ace doorcard, I do not keep calling every street on a hope and a prayer that the tight player with the king doesn't really have kings. I simply don't. I don't even call third, much less to the river, praying for a miracle two pair, trips, or to back into a low.

If I played that way, sure, I might win a tourney here and there, I might win more often than I do now, but I would bust out fairly often, fairly rapidly, and definitely not make the money as often.

Going back to my Stud 8 tourney, though, I have to say I wasn't concentrating hard enough. I wasn't playing my "A" game. I was distracted and disturbed by the previous day's events. People kept talking about it. I kept talking about it. Dealers who had been there kept talking about it. I couldn't get it out of my mind, and I let it cost me the tourney.

Glenn and I drove home, discussing it the whole way. I was exhausted. My head was overloaded and I felt drained.

Being hyper-aware during poker is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it is great that I can remember door cards that were folded on third, even when we're on sixth. It is wonderful that I know where the button was before the break, and that the dealer forgot to advance it. It is beneficial for me to be able to read hands. I notice telegraphing, I don't miss many tells...but it is also my curse. I can't just say, "Yeah, these guys cheated, so what?" and go on with my day. I don't work that way. I get enraged, offended. It is blight on the legitimacy of poker. I get so hurt that I'm crippled in my subsequent play. I can't just "let it go," like so many players suggest. My make-up is not like that. It is inside of me to simply go ballistic until there is a resolution, and even then, to warn others about this behavior until it is erased from humanity (haha, like it ever will be). That is the way "I" work. I can't just turn it off like a faucet, at will.

So it costs me some wins.

Tournament poker carries with it a weight of variance. Variance unlike cash games. Only very strong constitutions can mentally survive months and years without a big score. My advantage is that I can handle that. I just can't seem to handle the injustices of poker, and that is where I veer off the path of "A" play.

Something to work on, something to know. Introspection is always a good thing, even if it is the result of something so atrocious and repugnant as my experiences on Tuesday.

I will carry on, and I will become a better person for this. I will continue to fight for the legitimacy of tournament poker.

Felicia :)