Friday, February 29, 2008

Actual Poker Content! The west coast poker trip.

Okay dear readers, it has been a long time since I had some poker content up. Not due to inactivity, not due to going busto. I've just been damn busy. I hate it when real life takes over my poker time.

Since last we talked I managed to make it out to the left coast for a week of work. I spent Super Bowl Sunday at Bay 101 in San Jose playing 4/8 O8 with a kill. This game was actually decent. The players understood O8 and I was able to make a few plays that would never work at a 3/6 game, like bluffing into people when a scare card hit if I read them for weak and they would FOLD!! Praise baby Jesus! Folding in a limit game? I feel like I'm getting a pretty good handle on reading people live, and this trip proved it. I went back on Monday night after work and played for 4 more hours. Racked up about 11 hours of poker and ended up +60ish big blinds. Not a bad rate.

On a side note, my hotel in SJ was within walking distance of the Garden City Casino. I spent a total of 7 minutes there after work on Monday. I walked it, and compared to Bay 101 the place was just dark and dirty. I had to take a leak and the bathroom was a hole. Took my leak, walked back through and left. Returned to Bay 101 and continued to play vs a decent crowd.

After flying to LA on Tuesday AM, I met one of my FTF friends (I was a degenerate and made her leave work early). She picked me up at my hotel after I checked in and we ran down (well, it was LA, more of moseyed down in the carpool lane) to the Commerce. It was LAPC time and we were hoping there'd be some good NLHE/O8 action. We were a bit disappointed. D's brother Rafe was going to meet us to "ensure I wasn't a stalker" (thanks for the label Rafe, I'm not an internet predator :-P ) and wanted to play in a tourney. After taking a bit of cash out of Bay 101, I was severely tempted to buy into the PLO8 tourney that started on Tuesday. One thing held me up, and that was a $1065 buy in. I had the cash, but wanted to ensure that I had a bit more action for my money, so I abstained. The O8 action wasn't great, so we decided to try to hit the Bike.

Issue was, we didn't know how to get there. We knew the Bike was near the freeway, but saying that in LA is like saying that the Bike was near an El Pollo Loco (which, actually, it is as well). The issue was we didn't know WHICH freeway, so we hopped on the 5 and headed south toward Bell Gardens. No dice. We drove back north and called Topanga and she gave us directions from Commerce to the Bike, but we were already on the 5. It was an adventure, but we eventually made it over to the 710 and found it. At least D isn't one of those drivers that makes you car sick. Sorry to be a pain, D. :)

So we finally made it to the Bike. Since the LAPC was running at the Commerce, there weren't any daily tourneys there. The Bike was running their 7pm $60 buy in, so we decided that we'd stick around long enough to play in that. We got on the 3/6 O8 list and sat at 3/6 LHE while we waited for O8 to open up. D decided to wait as she felt like she was getting a cold and grabbed some OJ to try to stay hydrated. About 4 hands into LHE action, they called that they were starting up a new 3/6 O8 game and to come and lock up seats. I wasn't thinking, and got up with my chips. Of course, the O8 game didn't fill and we ended up on the list, again. I got back in LHE and played about 30 mins before getting to the O8 game. Meanwhile, Rafe shows up and wants to play NLHE. He and D get on a new small buy in table (don't remember if it was a 40 or 100 buy in game). I realized that 3/6 wasn't where I wanted to be and moved up to 6/12. I ended up down a bit there and finally it was time for the 7pm.

The structure at the Bike on these is actually decent. You can play for easily the first hour to hour and a half before the blinds get to a level you need to start worrying. The end does get you into crapshoot mode as the blinds escalate, but that's pretty much par for the course on these tourneys anymore. I'd like to have some play early to get some chips, keep accumulating, wait for a big hand or two to double up or KO some folks, and get deep. 102 runners for the game when all the late buy ins got there. 2 forumers. Of course we both made the money, what more would you expect?

I managed to make the Final Table, even. D did well but looked like she was short stacked most of the time. I was able to double up about midway through when I had about 5k when my pocket 3s flopped a set. I checked into drunk young "i'm better than all you"! man (you know the type) and let him bet it for me. I check raised all in and he insta-called with KQo on a T 5 3 board. Yeah, you're a great player. I hit a 3 on the turn and he was dead. I love quads! :)

Final table and drunk man is to my immediate left. He's still in aggro mode and I'm just waiting to take him down. Guy 2 to my left hits a HUGE pot with AK vs A7 vs JJ and takes a commanding chip lead. We all had 16-20K going into the final table, and one guy had about 27K. Two to my left tripled up and took the CL down a few notches. Next hand previous CL makes a standard raise and I look down to find KK. I don't want to mess around, so I reraise enough to isolate (at least I thought). I have about 16K at this point, the blinds are 500/1000. CL raised to 3.5k, I repop to 10K showing I mean business. Guy in the SB calls (he only has 6K). Whoops. CL reraises all in and I call ~1.2K more into a pot that is now $30Kish. I'm afraid to see AA, but there isn't one. CL has A-rag. SB has TT. No A and I scoop one hell of a pot to become 2nd in chips.

A few hands later, drunk man gets into it vs CL with QQ vs AK. CL hits his A and we are down to 6. I'm still comfortably in 2nd. Its now after midnight and D has to work the next day. I'm still a bit tired from the travel and I make a monster mistake. I raise from the CO with A-3 suited. SB reraises all in and his stacks are dirty (chips are all mixed up). I look and it looks like he has about 10K. I have about 30K behind after my raise (we were up to 750/1500 blinds and I popped 5K). So i think I have to call another 5K and possibly bust this guy. I realize that I'm probably behind but for some reason put him on a mid-PP that doesn't want a call. I haven't been playing with this guy prior to the FT and we have only played about 8 hands. I SHOULD have asked for a chip count, but I didn't. I said "Call" and flipped up my A-3. He shows AK. Crap. Can't get any worse, until he starts stacking his chips correctly and I realize that I underestimated. By about 10-12K. Double crap. Now i'm down to about 8K and UTG. I look down to find QT offsuit. I push and the SB calls. He doubles me when his J5 doesn't improve (thanks for the action tho!). Blinds go up again to 1K/2K and I have about 16K. Still not a great place to be. I'm steaming a little still from what I am pretty sure was an angle shoot from Mr Dirty stack (he does the same thing again after he rakes the pot to ensure no one can get an accurate chip count on him, which probably helps propagate a bit of steam). I know that having a dirty stack is legal, I just think it's a bit rude to not have your chips arranged so that everyone knows or can quickly estimate what you have. Having to ask for a chip count slows the game, and I'm sure that he does this just so people make mistakes like I did. Live and learn.

Last hand of the night is my BB. I have 14K after posing. One limper to the Button, who pushes. I look down to find 87 suited, my AA killer. Unfortunately, he doesn't have AA when I call and his JT suited flops a T. Not my suit, but I have a runner runner str8 draw! When that doesn't materialize, I go out in 6th and cash in $180. I tip $20 and take out $100 in profit. Not too shabby and again I leave the casino up.

The next chance I had to play was on Thursday night. I hear that the Hollywood Park as a small ($40ish dollar) buy in game so I head down there. I get there about 6:55 and find out that it is a rebuy. Ugh. I'm not a fan. I know the Hustler has a 7pm "Deepstack" tourney with a larger buy in so I decide to get down there and get into a late seat. I get there by about 7:30 and buy in for the $265. You get $5000 in chips, there are 45 minute levels, and the starting blinds are 25/25. Hell. Yeah.

I get to the "spare" table that they just put down chips on as they filled in all the empty seats in the other tables. There are 4 others there and I haven't lost a blind yet. Sweet. Not a lot of action, and after a few orbits they break us. My next table has one other from the previous, and we don't end up tangling too much. There's one very short stack when I sit (<1K) that doubles and doubles again to get healthy. Most people are playing tight, aggressive poker, so there's not a lot of action. I get myself some dinner (if you've never been there, the Hustler has EXCELLENT, CHEAP food. Nice job, Larry) which is a half a Rotisserie Chicken, baked potato, fresh steamed broccoli and a Diet Coke. It is the "nightly special" and costs me $4. INCLUDING THE TIP. Again, nice job Larry.

About hour 2.5 the action starts to heat up a bit as antes kick in. We are still really really deep as the blinds are 200/400 with a 25 ante, but the ante does induce a few more raise/defends from the blinds. I do this from my BB when a kid that has been stealing a bit raises my BB. I find 9hTh and smooth call. The 7h 8h Ks flop gives me some nice draws and I check/call his continuation bet. The Jd on the river gives me the nuts, but again I check hoping he puts me on the flush draw. He bets again and I call. The river is the 2h. I realize that he might be on the flush draw and hesitate. Bad move. He smells the uncertainty and pushes when I check. I think I'm screwed, but I'm pot committed as it is up to about 7K and I have 1.5K left. I call and he shows AKo. Dodged a bullet there, but it turned in my favor.

Soon that table breaks. I get moved, and then 2 hands later moved again. This table is absolutely nuts. Two young "pro" types with the sunglasses/hats/hoodies that are playing all in or fold. I stay out of the way but do manage to bust a short stack with 88 vs his A-rag that he pushed with UTG. The first pro folded so I reraised all in to isolate. Pro #2 gives me a dirty look and mucks. No A on the flop and I'm up to about 10K.

Table breaks again. We are going down quick in players. The tourney is a GTD $20k payout, and we were one player short of the GTD, so Larry kicked in the extra $200. First place is 7K, so it has a nice top-heavy structure. We are down to 3 tables and the blinds are up to 400/800 with a 50 ante. I look down to find AJ off in the CO. We are shorthanded down to 7 players at our table. I decide to make it 2600 to go. BB looks and insta-pushes. I put him on QQ-AA and muck faceup. He shows QQ. Nice read me :). Next hand I have AcTc. I decide that I want the blinds to get back to where I was and push. SB (previous BB) insta-calls again and now tables AQo. Crap. I'm out in about 25th. Would have been nice to make the FT.

It is only about 11pm and I decide to play some O8 again to see how the game plays here. They only have one O8 table and it is right by the front door. It was a bit chilly in LA that week (50s) and the draft blew right through the table. The players were rocks. I dropped $100 in about 45 minutes, mostly to the one calling station at the table. He was hitting everything. I decide to rebuy for 100 more, but that was a mistake. An hour later the table starts to break and I've used up all my profit from Bay 101. Gah. I'm only up about $70 for the trip now.

Don't make it to anywhere again until Sat afternoon. The conference I was in town for ran Weds - Sat afternoon. Damn work, getting in the way of my gambling time! We break about 2pm and I head to the Commerce again to meet Rafe. He's planning to play some Single Table satellites that pay out LAPC chips for buy ins. I get there and he's down to the final 3 in his first with an average size stack. I sweat him for a bit but he ends up going out in 3rd when his A is outkicked. He decides he is going to stick around upstairs and try to play another. I go downstairs to get into the 4/8 O8 game again to make a little back.

The title of this blog is "Confessions of an amateur poker player". There's a reason that I consider myself an amateur and have no desire to be a pro. That reason is that I love poker in short bursts (2-3 hours at a time) but tend to get bored and lose focus if I try for longer sessions. I know that I can do well if I concentrate, but I usually end up tired and then chase and make dumb mistakes (ie the A-3 fiasco at the Bike). I should have just played for an hour or two at O8, but I ended up stuck 200 and then buying in for another 200. I ran that up to $360 and got up to take a break. I should have picked up and left.

Instead, I decided to go star-watching. With the LAPC in town, the high-limit room was rocking and full of pros. I saw Jamie Gold, Todd Brunson, Eli Elezra, Layne Flack. I even stopped and watched Bobby Bellande (the Survivor guy) play 4-handed Chinese Poker for $100 a point. It looked like a rough game, as he and an Asian woman were dropping the F-bomb at each other every other word. I've heard he's an asshole, and about 5 minutes into my watching he turned around and looked at me. I asked "Is it okay if I watch from here?" as I was behind him, but I was about 4 feet away. He said "Sure, come over here and watch" and kept his cards up higher so I could see how he was setting up his hand. He and the Asian woman kept at it, but he was actually pretty nice to me and explained the first hand I watched him build after he invited me over. So he's not all that bad, and knows how to treat "fans" (although I'm not a big one, he was just in the best spot to watch). Might be one now tho, as he was pretty cool to do that when he could have just ignored me.

I watched for about 30 mins and then headed back to my O8 game. I asked for a dinner break when I left and had 45 mins. I walked through the Pan and Pai-Gow games (those people are nuts, but the high-stakes Pan game had AT LEAST $3 Million on the table. it was a bit sick, I'd never seen tiles at a US casino and realized they were $50K a piece)

I went back and sat at O8, and knew I wasn't on my game. Instead of getting up, I gave back the $160 I had won back and then $100 more. I finally decided that the 4/8 game wasn't holding my attention and moved to a new $100 NLHE buy in game. It had 1/3 blinds, so it played like my game here at Argosy, just had a $100 buy in cap vs $300. I played around for 45 mins and realized my head wasn't in it and got up up $20. I went back and railed Jamie Gold for a bit, but he's really an ass. I watched a HU NLHE game that a kid had set up that the Commerce was spreading for him. It MIGHT have been Scott Clements, but I can't be sure. They were playing 250/500 NLHE with a minimum $10K buy in. I watched him clean out 2 Asian guys in a row for $10k a pop in less than 20 minutes. Just some sick sick reads. He busted the 2nd guy calling down with J-hi on a K-hi board AND WAS RIGHT. Didn't see what the Asian had as he insta-mucked when Scott showed his J-10. Asian #2 was rebuying when I finally left.

Net, ended up down for the trip about $300. Not the final tally I was hoping for after the nice start, but could have been worse. And limit is a game with higher variance, so I'm not that unhappy to have a downswing. If I hadn't done the Hustler Deep Stacks game, I would have ended up down $50 for the week. I got to play a lot of poker and see some neat folks. This ended up being a bit of a long post, but I decided it has been a while so I'd get it all up in one shot.

I have been playing online again a bit after a slight hiatus over the last month. I do plan to make a run at a $1500 or $2000 "Bracelet Race" over on FTP. I plan to try to get into BBT3 TOC to get a prize package there. I have enough of a BR this year that I COULD buy into one directly, but I'd prefer to satellite my way into a WSOP event, and if not this year, then definitely next. I do plan to get to Vegas this year sometime during the WSOP, I just haven't been able to nail down the timing yet due to work stuff. I'm starting to play a few more blogger events and might try to get there if they have a Summer Classic this year. Some forumers are going in June and I'd like to hang out with them if I can make it there then. Damn work, again getting in the way of poker. Such is life.

In the meantime, I'll cya at the tables.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

New arch-enemy

Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic. But after the 3 outer Evy35 hung on my last week, she's coming close.

Now I have a personal vendetta to go with the BBT3. Yikes. That could make life rough for the next 13 weeks.

So watch out Evy. I'm gunning for you :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Be afraid. Be very afraid. And check Al Can't Hang for details.