Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bloggers in Las Vegas (Part Two)

See Glenn's journal for a hilarious pictorial post about the Blogger get-together. Yes, Glenn really does have this sense of humor in real life. He cracks me up daily.

Some weird coincidences with the bloggers lately! I wrote my draft the paragraph about "not hating Hold'em" less than 24 hours before Hank posted the same thing! Then I joked around about Bad Blood being a little light, and not long afterwards, he posted "I'm not gay." Weird, I'd already written these things, but they weren't yet posted. Maybe we're all locked to the same wavelength now (joking, I wouldn't wish that on anyone).

One thing I did forget to mention was that I'd joked around with Ron Rose during the Four Queens Classic about putting John Bonetti in his book. Back then, he didn't really say much about it, but this time he ripped the Bonetti page out in front of everyone and gave the book back to me. I love it! He can dish it out, he can take it. He can poke fun at himself, which is always a good thing, since some people totally don't get my sense of humor.

When I left off, the conference room was filling up. I was so happy to see some pros I'd played against give their time to us, for free, nothing expected in return. This is what I was talking about when I detailed the players at the WPPA. Just pure generosity, nothing to gain.

Joe told me a hilarious story about David Ulliott and the bloggers, but it just wouldn't be the same in print. If you see him, ask him to repeat the story, or I'll try my best in person. It just can't be duplicated without the Yorkshire accent.

Charlie got up on stage and told us about his book. Poor Charlie knows what he wants to say, but has a hard time getting it out. I had heard his story many times, since we have become friends, so I know his passion for the subject, but I don't think he is meant for public speaking. What a sweet gesture to get up and do it anyway. I'd hate to be put in that position, and I had years of acting/voice lessons!

For some of the top players, it is weird that not all of the circuit pros are playing every event. I know that when I go to any festival these days, someone will ask me what table I'm at. If I say I'm not playing, that I'm playing some sats to try to enter the next event, they look at me like I've got two heads. Some pros literally play every, single event of a festival, giving themselves the best odds to cash. There is nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with skipping some events.

Obviously that is what Charlie and Max did, skipped Saturdays' event to play against us. Max and Charlie are not quite in that circle of players who believes you HAVE to play every event. Those guys are hardcore, they are trying to stay ahead of the buy-in's.

As far as I go, I just can't do it. My health would break down in the midst of a long festival, and that would be that. I have to pace myself very carefully, being choosy about what events I'm going to enter, how many sats I'm going to try, how many hours I'm going to play. I have to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. I can't play like those guys, it's impossible. If I have one 18 or 20 hour day, the next day I have to take a break.

So anyway, back to the conference room...Charlie and Max stayed with us, while Evy, Marcel, Kiril, Ron and Tom went to Bellagio. It would be hard to miss that event. More dead money on the weekends, so that makes their sacrifices even bigger.

I followed the crowd to the poker room, because I've only been to ST twice, and wasn't sure I could find it on my own, anyway. I figured someone knew where we were going, lol.

I was seated in the nine seat, lucky me. I hate middle seats, I hate the one and ten, too, so I was happy. Max was in the seven, and CJ was in the eight. Charlie was in the two. Mas, Grubby and Pauly were also at our table, all in horrible seats.

Whenever you are against someone you know has more experience than you, you would always wish to be on his left, even if he is a tight player like me. That way you get more information on his hand before you have to act. Sure, he will be stealing your blinds with nothing, you will be forced to fold to his experience, but you will have position on him, which is always a good thing.

When you are to the right of a more experienced player, sandwiched between experienced players, or at a table where everyone is experienced save you (go back and read my old tourney reports, this is where I was so many times when I first started out), then you have to play a different kind of game. Basically, you cannot screw around with these guys at all. You can't "limp in." You can't "call a small raise and see what happens after the flop." You can't hope to contend with these guys or mess around with them. You have to make huge moves, period. Don't play with them, just make your move. You are either in or out. Sure, you are leaving a lot up to the luck of the draw, but if you are tight and patient, you will usually be in the lead before the flop. Don't let them see a cheap flop just to outdraw and/or outplay you after it comes down. Force them to make big decisions for a lot of chips, and you won't get eliminated quite so often, and so quickly. The last thing they want to do is call a raise about 10x the BB with some junk hand like 75o. But believe me, they will surely raise with it BTF, maybe 3x BB, or call a small raise with it, and then get all of your chips after they made their straight or trips versus your pocket aces. Then you'll find yourself out the door, and you'll tell everyone how you got a bad beat, you got outdrawn by some big name pro, and how could he play that hand. But in reality, you just got outplayed. You can't keep up with this guy, so force him to put in a ton of chips with his junk hand, and then just hold on for the ride if he calls (they won't unless they have a billion chips and/or you are severely short stacked).

So that is my lesson for the day. And before you jump to conclusions, no, I wasn't referring to anything or anyone in the Blogger tourney. That was not a big tourney, there weren't enough chips to be totally screwing around like that. Charlie did it some, but mostly in the earliest levels, and usually just for raises 2-3x the BB, not for huge all-in hands, unless he truly thought he was a favorite to win the hand.

Back to the tourney, I got very lucky. That is hugely important in each individual tournament. New players always look at me like I'm nuts when I tell them that experienced pros don't really have much of an edge, if any at all, over a newbie when it comes to each, small, individual tournament. Even the big ones have such bad structures these days that the edge is miniscule. So the fact is, I got lucky.

I was cruising along okay, stealing blinds after Max and Charlie had passed here and there, when suddenly I was crippled. I had AKs, put him on a weak hand (in fact, he had ATo), put him all-in on a raggedy flop, and had only about 500 in chips left when he caught his ten on the river.

So the next hand I found AQo and went all-in in EP. I'm not going to get blinded off. I was going to be in the blinds in just two hands, and that would have eaten through 300 of the 500 I had left.

Pauly found QQ on the button, I believe, or thereabouts. I was gathering my stuff up to leave after the flop came down. Then an ace hit, and I knew it by the groaning and yelling of the table. I sat back down and apologized.

After that, there was no going back, I never lost a big pot again.

I caught TT and got called by both Grubby and Charlie. Grubby had AKs, I believe and Charlie 99. I tripled through them.

I went for a steal with 55 on the button. Got called by both blinds, or maybe just Charlie, I don't remember. They held up. Pretty much all of the coin flips went my way, or my slightly dominant hand held up.

Soon, Charlie had lost his chip lead, whereas Max and I had benefited at that table. Then Pauly went on an incredible run of Group One hands. They all held up. AA, AA, KK, QQ, QQ, all in a very short time span. And he went from a short stack to the chip lead at our table.

A funny thing about that, was a hand that was so painful to watch which occurred right before Pauly's run. This is the hand that really got me talking more at the table, since Max was offering his advice, too, in between kidding and joking around.

I was in the BB. Max was on the button. Mas limped in MP. Pauly limped in the cut-off. Max went all-in. Watching Max during the tourney, and his behavior up until that time, I knew he didn't want a caller. He usually wants to screw around and get a caller or two when the stakes aren't high and he has a premium hand. So the hand smacked of AK to me, or maybe AQ, but probably not. I also thought about the possibility of jacks or tens. Who really wants multiple callers with those hands? No one. So he put his chips in, not wanting to screw around with the hand, just wanting the blinds and two limpers. That would put 700 into is already big lead.

I looked down to find 55 in my BB. Had I been last to act, I would have called Max's all-in. Not because I necessarily thought I was in the lead, but because I figured it was a coin flip, and these small tourneys are no time to be messing around. Yes, I am a rock, and I don't usually even play small pairs in big tourneys, but no one had any chips, and I could have doubled through Max, giving me a huge chip lead at the table, since I was already co-lead with him at that time. Like I said in my last post, I sometimes have to "die" in order to live.

So I folded, knowing it could be a multi-way all-in pot, one in which I was surely behind. Mas quickly folded, no thought. Pauly agonized and looked like he was giving birth. Finally, though, he folded, face up. Pocket tens. Everyone gasped. He was HU against Max, with a premium hand. No, no, no. He had only about 1200 left after limping in. The blinds were 100/200. No, no, no. I told him why he couldn't fold that hand, in that position, under those circumstances. At first, Max kidded him by saying it was a good fold, but later told him the truth of the situation. Don't make big laydowns in little tournaments, and if you ever make a big lay down, period, never show it, or the table will run you over. Max showed AK.

Okay, so the funny story was that after this hand, Pauly went on his premium run. During this run, Max looked at me like he was really suffering and said, "Couldn't you have waited to tell him he was supposed to call with those tens? Waited until after the tournament?" Naturally we both saw the hands Pauly was getting, because he always got action, due to the structure of the tourney. At the time, it was a really funny comment, though, and I wish it translated better to paper.

Soon we got shorthanded, and we were down to eleven. Poor Mas was out in 11th place, and we all started our migration to the final table. At the time, Pauly had the chip lead, Max and I were running slightly behind, but both had healthy stacks.

Next to come, the final table...