Saturday, October 30, 2004

Off to Foxwoods

Okay, so we're taking off today for Foxwoods.

We're driving up to Vegas first (cheapest flights go out of Vegas, not Kingman, lol). We'll probably go by Bellagio for a few hours, so I can play a little 20/40, or maybe take a shot at 40/80 if it looks good.

I wanted to be able to play in the $500 event yesterday, but the plane was booked for that $89 fare. It might have been a good thing, anyway. I see that my buddy Jean Gaspard got 3rd in the Stud event for a little over 16k.

Jean is the black, French guy I wrote about. What a Stud player! Jeez, that guy is on fire lately (you can look his name up on poker pages).

Foxwoods got almost 300 players for the first Stud event. I am hoping this will bode well for the others. No women cashed, from what I can tell, so I'm vying to be the first, lol.

I wonder if only very few women play big Stud tourneys at FW. I also noticed that after a huge first day (1999 participants), the Omaha 8 event only got a little over 200.

I'm sure tomorrow will be packed again, but since I'm only interested in Stud satellites, maybe I'll catch a break and not have a huge wait.

See everyone in a couple of weeks! Good luck here, and wish me luck there!!!
As an FYI, I will be at Foxwoods from October 31 through November 8, 2004.

I'm planning on playing in three Stud events:

Stud 8, November 1st
Stud, November 4th
Stud, November 7th

Unless I luck out and win a seat to the main event (probably I'll have to send in Glenn as my pinch hitter for the sat, since I'll be having too much real fun playing Stud), we're returning home on November 8th.

If you are on the east coast, please look for me in the ballroom or playing Stud satellites on the HE days. I would love to meet more east coast Stud brethren, lol.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

And Now...For an Entirely Different Omaha Eight Tournament!

So day nine was the $1500 Omaha 8 event. Had to do a separate post on that one, since I played in it :)

First of all, O8 isn't my game. I have very little real experience with it. I have played LL cash games in order to get advanced seating in tournaments, stuff like 3/6 with a kill. I played about 100 O8 tourneys in 2003 and early 2004, but they were crazy. $25 buy-in, unlimited rebuys the first hour, then the whole shebang went to no-limit for the duration.

Naturally I got good at winning these tourneys because I adjusted and the people playing had no idea what Omaha was all about ("Now, I can use 2-4 of my cards?" "If I have three hearts in my hand and two on the board, is that still a flush?"). I was mostly playing with tourists, so you know what I mean.

Anyway, getting back to the Orleans. I had won a Stud satellite, so since I already had lammers for my Stud buy-in, I decided to use the lammers for the O8 buy-in, knowing that the structure would help out a rock like me.

The structure was fantastic. It was the one used in the old days of the WSOP, so slow it was almost like a cash game. We started with 3000 chips and the blinds were only 25/25 for an hour, then 25/50, 50/75, 50/100, 75/150, etc. During the whole tourney, I never had to go all-in once, even though I was close on the river a couple of times when we were up to 300/600.

The way I decided to play this tourney was so vastly different than any other tourney I've ever played.

Early on, I looked at the competition, which included some very strong players like Max Pescatori, Thor Hansen, Shadow, Charlie Shoten and Dr. Max Stern, who was on my right.

Stern raised my blind so often that it was almost a mandatory raise if he was the button and I was the SB, or he was the SB, I was the BB. Stern was very aggressive, rarely limping in, mostly raising. Later, at the final table, he was seated to my direct left, which was worse, because I could never limp in. To his left was Shoten, then Max Pescatori. Yipes, I never saw a flop for less than 3 bets!

Since I hadn't played O8 in about seven months, my skills were rusty. I did play in a sat the day before, to brush up on looking at, and memorizing my hole cards again.

Having Max on my right (at our first table) made me almost immediately decide to change my strategy. Since I knew that eventually I was going to misread my hand anyway, I figured I'd play it up, put on an act, to make it seem like I'd never played O8.

Lots of times, if I had a lot of low cards, and there four or five low cards on board, I had difficulty figuring out if my low was counterfeited under pressure. So instead of trying to look like I knew what I was doing, I went the total opposite direction and tried to look like a bimbo.

I would lay my cards face up and say things like, "I'm not sure if my low is any good. Do I even have a low? I do know that I have a small straight for high!"

I also got into a very, very passive calling mode. When I absolutely knew I had the pot one-way, unshared, I would raise, but the rest of the time I simply called, called, called when I was in a hand. I only raised or folded if I was absolutely certain about the fate of my hand, and I was only mistaken once when I split the A2 with Stern, early in the tourney (I thought I was scooping the low).

Playing this way, I was never the chip lead, but I did make it to the final table in decent shape (6000 chips with 150/300 blinds).

I played so tight and passive that I would get blinded down a while, then either scoop or split a big, multi-way pot and get back to even or chip up. Don't get me wrong though, I was much more aggressive on the turn or river when I knew that I had a top hand. Likewise, one time I flopped a low flush when it was very shorthanded, and I knew my flush was good, so I bet and raised the whole way, getting called by an opponent who declared that he wasn't even sure I knew I had the flush, much less that he knew it (my act worked well, lol).

The other players felt so sorry for me that we made a save when it was down to four, that fourth place would get his/her money back. We all expected it would be me, as I was the shortest stack by far at that point. Instead, Charlie Shoten went from chip lead to out in just a couple of hands, and suddenly we were in the money.

We played on for a while, but then I doubled up again, and suddenly we were all closer in chips, and the blinds were about to go up again. So we made a chip count deal, and I still got over 2k more than 3rd place, and not much less than the other two guys. So I ended up with a little over 7k, for a tourney that cost me only $165 to play in.

I have never tried the clueless act before, as I am usually the exact opposite at the table. I guess I'm a pretty good actor, because I pulled it off, and several people thought it was legitimate. It wasn't completely a sham, because I did have a few hands I was unclear about.

I think that by not giving my opponents much information about my play, they were confused and made more mistakes against me. Of course, I made mistakes against me, too, lol. I gave them nothing, because I didn't even give it to myself.

I remember at the final table, Max Stern and Max Pescatori got into a discussion about whether my act was real or fake. Pescatori thought it was real, Stern thought it was fake. I was sitting in between the two, and just let them argue on about it until the cows came home, like they were discussing baseball or something. Inside I was screaming with laughter, the whole thing was so absurd.

When we were discussing the deal, Wayne didn't want to give me the chip count deal at first. He thought I would settle for 6k, since I was inexperienced at O8. I stood my ground, over and over again insisting on the chip count deal. Shadow was on my side in it, not just letting me dangle in the wind. I suppose Wayne figured he had more to lose than gain by refusing to give me the $7050, so he relented in the end. Heck, I would have played on, I'm not totally clueless!

Wayne has always been nice to me, fair. I've heard negative things about him before, but in my play against him he's fine. Naturally he tried to pull a little switcharoo on me, to net himself another grand, but that is fine, that is all part of negotiation. It's not unfair or cheating.

Lots of people think I'm unreasonable about the cheating issues in poker, but if they take a step back and see how I view things like discussion of deals, etc, they will see that I might be rock hard on outright cheating, things that are explicitly against the rules, but areas like chops and deal negotiations I say that a person should try to get the best deal they can, even if they propose something absurd.

I remember in one tourney, the most experienced player tried to propose some kind of nutty deal where he would get most of the money, even though he was like 3rd in chips, and nowhere near the chip leader. The other players weren't going for it, but he did try, and I don't find a thing wrong with that. When he realized they weren't going for it, he said something about being the best player at the table, with the most experience, and felt he was worth that figure. While I don't necessarily think he was worth that much, I say more power to you, buddy. In the end, he got a lot more than his fair share. Some of that may have been because he proposed the absurd deal in the first place, then was willing to come down some, so the other players saw that as fair. It wasn't really fair at all, and he knew it, but he got his way. The next day he and I discussed it, and he smiled that cat who ate the canary smile and said, "Wow, I really got the best of that deal, didn't I? I can't believe that the chip leader went for it!"

Nothing is wrong with these things. They aren't unethical, nor was there any type of cheating going on. It does bother me, however, if someone proposes a deal, the chip lead declines, and the whole table goes on to badger him about it for hours. In between hands, during hands, etc. They just pounce on him, not allowing him to refuse the deal, not allowing him any peace. I think there should be a rule about these situations. They can truly get out of control, espcially in some of the medium to higher buy-in events. No one should have to endure that kind of abuse during a tournament endgame.

I feel really good about my play during the O8 tourney. It was partially a big act, but I'm good at acting, so that was okay. I also made myself look stupid many times, which I don't really care for, but which I realized worked for me in those situations, and I used to increase my overall EV.

Since I made 7k, I was able to pay my hotel bill at a win, not a loss. That always helps. I hate to think about my hotel bill as a total loss, since covering the WPPA was such a total loss.

Shadow left after the Omaha event. He wanted to fly back to Montana to be with his family. I really missed him. I didn't realize just how much until he was gone. He was another one of the fantastic guys I met, and profiled in other parts of this tale. One of the things that he kept saying to me was that I was underestimating my abilities, and/or running myself down sometimes. I had also heard this from a few other players at the Orleans. I always just smiled and whispered, "Don't you realize? It's an act. If I can fool you guys, just think of all of the people who don't know me at all, and are buying right into this."

Americans have this strange belief that if you say something positive about yourself, you are bragging. If you say something negative, you have no self esteem and no confidence. That has always cracked me up about our culture. We aren't suppsed to say we are good at something, yet we are not supposed to say we aren't, either. Only Americans could come up with something so absurd.

I know what my limitations are. I think it takes extreme self confidence to know them, and to admit them. Knowing where I lack only shows my ability to admit my weaknesses, and the self esteem to be able to say it with surety. On the other hand, I also don't care that some people think I'm always bragging. I'm not on some fishing expedition, going up to people, trying to get a compliment by saying, "Oh, you know, this dish tastes bad. No flavor, I cooked it too long, too." I don't engage in subterfuge like that. If I could cook (I can't), and I did well on a dish, I'd be like, "Dang! This stuff turned out pretty well!" Is that bragging? No, I'm just telling it like it is, pulling no punches, yet not fishing for compliments, either, by running myself down. I can't help it, I see the world in black and white.

So in the end, I think the tourney turned out well, I think I played well, making the most of my ignorance of O8, and I once again got to talk to some great people. Max Stern was awesome, Charlie was always right there for me, Pescatori was great to play against, I stood up to Wayne. Pretty decent day!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Answering Comments

I'm still trying to finish the final week of the WPPA stories, please bear with me.

To answer some comments:

Ugarte said...
If you can make it into NYC, I'll be in the 9PM show at StandUp NY on the Upper West Side on 11/5. And since you are in town, the local bloggers should try to get a local tourney together - if you think you won't be too tired from the Foxwoods action.

I'm sorry, Ugarte, but I don't think there is any way I could possibly make this trip. My days are going to be jam packed. Playing tourneys and satellites every day is truly grueling. I wish I could see your act! I hope everyone in the NYC area who reads this will pop over to StandUp NY for you!.
Are you going to just be there the 3 days you mentioned, or are you going to be hanging around? I am not a good stud player (yet? go see my night!) but it would be nice to cheer you on. I might just have to break my B&M cherry and play some Hold Em or something at Foxwoods!

We'll be there all day, every day, from Oct 31-Nov 8 (we probably won't get there until late on Oct 31st, having flown all night the night before, and it being my birthday, we might go out to dinner first. Likewise, we will have to leave by about 2pm on the 8th of Nov, to catch our flight home in Providence unless I somehow miraculously win a satellite to the main event, in which case I will consider extending our trip, lol :)
Wondering when your first annual on-line stud tournament is going to happen? I figure with a 20.00 dollar buy in you will get a nice turnout for the bloggers.

Sorry, I'm not really into online poker. Wanna shot at me, find me and we'll play some Stud, hehe!
Just curious as to some of Charlie's thoughts on the pro circuit life. Anything interesting?

This is a tough life, no doubt about it. The flights, the hotels, the casino food. Sitting in a chair for 18 hours straight, ugh. Charlie didn't have to tell me any of this. I think one thing that shocked me the most was at one point in a tourney when there were five players left. They were discussing a deal, and when the final deal was proposed, all five of them said things along the line of, "Hold up, I have to call my backer and make sure it's okay." All of them whipped out cell phones, left the table, and conferred with their backers. I had no idea backing was so overwhelming in 1k events! Yes, it bothered me. Call me "Paula Phillips," lol.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Wrap Up of Days Five Through Eight

Friday brought us a NLHE Shootout. We were all hoping for more players, but again we were disappointed.

I did get to really meet Dennis Horton on Friday. I liked him very much and we stayed close during the rest of the festival. Dennis has a good heart and is trusting of others. He accepts new people very readily, giving them the benefit of the doubt, always.

Although he was at the table with Kathy Liebert, and had a small piece of her, he did not hesitate to knock her out when he got a chance. Kathy had a pair of fours and flopped a set. Dennis had A5 of diamonds, flopped a five and the nut flush draw. His flush got there and he knocked out Kathy. No hesitation whatsoever. Great ethical standards, IMO.

Adrian Toms was also playing. He is a Brit I met at the Four Queens. We sat together during the Razz tourney, as well. I have come to like him quite a bit.

By day five, it seems as though we had some "core" players. For good or evil, they stuck it out until the end. Charlie Shoten, Dennis Horton, Kathy Liebert, Tom Franklin and Jean Gaspard seemed among these diehards. I have to give all of them some respect for cutting their EV in place of trying to support a start-up organization.
Saturday was another day of revelations. It was the first $1500 event, a NLHE tourney. While we only attracted 44 players, they were some of the best. By this time, I was noticing that the competition had become very tough. I suppose word had spread that the structure was extremely slow, comparable to a cash game or the early days of the WSOP. This brought out some unbelievably good players.

When Amir Vahedi walked in he looked a little disturbed. Relating a horrifying story, Amir told me that when he walked in from the parking garage on Monday to play in the inaugural event, someone met him in the hall leading to the tournament area. He was told him that the WPPA had cancelled the tournament, and was led back out to the garage, not even allowed near the hidden WPPA tourney area.

I think that sums up what the Orleans thinks of the WPPA, and players' rights.

Some of the other greats who showed up on Saturday included Carl McKelvey, Warren Karp, Charlie Shoten, "Shadow," Tom Franklin, Franco Brunetti and Harley Hall. Shadow would stay for the remainder of the festival, save the main event. He wanted to get home to his family in Montana. He was another of the so-called "volunteers" who expressed shock that he was listed on the WPPA page. He said he wasn't even a member of the WPPA, much less a volunteer. He also said that Louis has approached him about the WPPA, but he'd been so busy that he'd never gotten back to Louis. I think this kind of subterfuge was the basis of the whole list of "volunteers."

I think that this event probably was the most exciting event of any, even including the main event. I was simply flabbergasted at the quality of play. Franco Brunetti was incredible. Terry Fleischer kept everyone on their toes with his absolute recklessness in almost any hand.

The tourney lasted until 4:30 in the morning, and even then, a four-way deal was made.

Shadow was among the dealmakers, and started reminding everyone as they were getting paid that I was NOT getting paid, and to please remember me. I said that I had volunteered, fully knowing what I was getting myself into, and also that I felt the players should not be punished for the cheapness of the Orleans and/or the WPPA. My protests were heard but overridden. Franco and his two French friends seemed almost offended that no one was paying me for my time, and kept reminding Franco to give me some money, since I'd stayed from noon until 4:30 am covering this event. All of the players were extremely kind to me. I had not met this type of considerate poker player until the WPPA, so for that, I am forever grateful.
On Sunday I was exhausted. We had a NLHE event at noon, followed by the Stud event at 2pm.

"Minneapolis" Jim Meehan showed up for the NLHE event, and stayed for the rest of the tourneys. He was extremely kind during these days, often foregoing his bad boy reputation that I've witnessed in other events. He treated me very well, asking for my e-mail address during his last day of the final event, so that we could keep in touch.

He says that I misquoted him once, but I didn't mean to do so. I think I misunderstood what he was trying to say. The players had decided to change the structure somewhat in the NLHE event, and as the tourney ended, Jim commented on the structure. I was playing in the Stud event at the time, so I had no idea that he meant the revised structure, not the original. He seemed a little dismayed at being misquoted, but I assured him that I would set the record straight in my journal.

I didn't cash in the Stud event. I was so tired, completely beat. We only got eight players, but the field was much softer than the previous week. I took a few too many beats, and paid them off, not knowing that I was beat as often as I usually do. Sleep deprivation had cost me some of my ability, and as soon as I busted out, in fifth place, I went to our room and crashed.

I was sorely disappointed that once again the Orleans decided to change the structure, without our permission. Our levels were only 45 minutes long, instead of the promised hour. So my $1500 buy-in obviously meant nothing to them. They changed OUR game at will.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Day Four: $1000 O8, An Attitude Adjustment

On Thursday, the Omaha 8 event, Brian showed up late. He had supposedly stormed out of a meeting on Wednesday evening regarding his behavior. Although the source who told me this, Louis, was in the meeting, I have somehow come to doubt that this really was the case. If I were a poker room manager, and one of my employees stormed out of a meeting before I was finished with him, would he really be allowed to return to work the next day?

At any rate, according to Brian his blood pressure went through the roof overnight, and his nose started to bleed. He was unable to stop the bleeding and had to go to the ER. His blood pressure extremely dangerous, and he was told to go home, but he came to work anyway. This is all Brian's account of events.

Whatever happened, Brian had a slightly better attitude on Thursday. Maybe it is because we were all catering to him, running errands so that he wouldn't have to walk all over the casino, making sure he took his blood pressure medicine and drank tons of bottled water.

In an act completely unlike Brian, he allowed the players to choose what kind of payout they would like. Yes, I was stunned. Yes, so were the 38 players who showed up. I think even Max cut Brian a little slack after that generous move.

Players signed their names to whatever payout they wished, and then play moved on.

Some of the awesome players I got to meet during this event included Stan Schrier. I have met Stan before and played against him in other festivals, but I was touched at his attempt to play another WPPA event, after not seeming so thrilled at the way things went during the first one. Stan is a nice guy, well respected in the poker community, and not a shabby player, lol, taking home 3rd place in the main event of the WSOP in 2001.

If I remember correctly, this was Stan's last WPPA event. I think he maybe gave up the ghost after Thursday. I can't blame him there, he probably knew a lot more than I did at the time.

Some of the other players who impressed me were Gioi Luong, Steve Kaufman and Larry Eubanks. I have already kissed Pescatori and Shoten's butt's enough times for you to know how much I like those two :)

Gioi was mentored by Men, if you want to call it that. But Gioi seems to have a kind heart and a good soul. I tried not to judge him on his past "business deals," but as an individual, capable of being a good person. He was always very pleasant to me, and just seemed thrilled to be making the money so often. I was also impressed that in his first "real" O8 tourney, he didn't back down once he made the money, but played for first.

Steve is a guy I've seen around, but he is pretty quiet. He didn't seem to ever tilt or behave rudely, although there was a guy at his table who was so out of line that security was called on him due to his bad behavior. The floormen were afraid they were going to have a scene with him when he busted, but believe it or not, once the players were in the money, he not only did a complete 180, but he also took wads of money out of his pocket and started tipping people, apologizing for his behavior and trying to make up for it with some dough. But back to Steve...he was probably the only player at the table who absolutely refused to let this guy tilt him. Class act! Steve couldn't get anything going on once they hit the money, but lost with grace and dignity, always complimenting his fellow players, rapping the table, and wishing the participants good luck when leaving to collect his winnings.

Larry Eubanks is a guy I've played against before. He has always been extremely kind to me, treats me like a decent human being and even compliments my play even when I knock him out of events.

So the tourney went off well. People seemed pleased the Brian was in a better mood and actually treated them as human beings.

Charlie, Gioi and Larry chopped when they got three-handed and had virtually the same amount in chips each. Charlie, of course, was always happy and willing to deal. Gioi giggled a bit and showed his delight at every turn. It was a good ending to a decent day.