Monday, December 22, 2008

Back on game...hopefully

Well, I'm at a crossroads. I really enjoy playing O8 but I've been beat up pretty well over the last several months. I made the attempt to move from PL to Limit thinking that would help, and only made the slide worse.

Everyone goes through rough patches. I quit posting here as well, just taking my lumps and hoping to come out the other side. I'm hoping that 2009 will start better than 2008 has been, and I took my first step into the "new year" today. Yeah, I know it isn't here yet, but I'm on vacation until Jan 5th, so I'm in a fuzzy zone hear. Let me have my delusions, okay?

Being off work, I decided to head down to the boat (Argosy, IN) to play in their Noon bounty tourney. I've played it a few times in the last couple of years. Early this year, on MLK I played it and was first out. I was hoping to improve on that finish, especially with the 11 month hiatus.

I started out slow. There were a few active players at our table and we had one bounty in the first hour. Lots of raise-and-take-it preflops. Some flops that were not contested. Only 4-5 hands made it to showdown. Then, when we moved into hour 2, the table started to move. I took the second bounty soon after crippling a guy with Q9 vs KT when I made a Q-hi straight. Then the someone finished him off with....Q9 vs his A8. I don't think he took it well, but bad luck happens. Soon after, the same gentlemen that took out A8 with his Q9 took out one more and our table broke. After starting with 46, there were 29 left. I had about 4.5k in chips and the average was about 5k. We started with 3k in chips.

The second table didn't have a lot of action. The highlight for me was the chip race at the end of hour 2. I lost that too. I did manage to stay afloat and even move up a little. I had just under 6k when we moved to the final 2 tables. With 19 left, I was the third largest stack (yeah, with just under 6k). There were a bunch of us between 4 and 6k, so it was going to be a grind.

I watched a few hands and the guy next to me made a comment about the big stack being unable to fold. The guy had about 22k in chips and was doubling up the 2 shorties at the table on a regular basis. He was 4 to my right, and I was just hoping to have something when he started raising again. Finally, he popped it to 1600 PF when we were at 400/800 blinds. I looked down to find 3h3d. I have about 9k. I called, as did the SB and an EP limper. Flop was 3 6 8 rainbow. I checked. EP limper checked. Big stack continuation bets 2k. SB folds and I smooth call, hoping limper comes along for the ride. Unfortunately, he folds. The turn is a 9. I check. Big stack bets 1500. I check-raise to 5k. He says "all in". I stop and think. He's made this play with 2 pair once and top pair once. I start to see monsters under the bed and think I might have stepped in it and he's holding something crazy. Like T7. After 15 or 20 seconds of studying him, I think he's getting nervous about me taking my time. I finally decide it is do-or-die time and call off my last 3600. He flips up K9 for TP, not so good kicker and he's drawing dead. Suddenly, I have the big stack with about 23-24k. I vow not to become the bully and continue to play the poker that got me the big stack. I have fallen into the "calling" trap that the big stack just got into myself once or twice.

I get hit with the deck a bit and chip up to about 40k with 12 left. There's 138k in play, so I have almost 1/4 of the chips, and realize that I can definitely make it to the money as long as I don't get unlucky and don't get stupid. I have 2 whole bounties when we get to the final table. The chip leader that I got with my 3s is still around and has made a comeback to about 12k.

We draw for seats and I get to see a few hands with the new folks before I get hit with any blinds. The table has become a little tight as they are only paying the top 5 out of 46 runners. I decide to bide my time. The guy to my immediate left has about as many chips as I do, so I have to be careful not to get into a spot where he can 3-bet me if he thinks I'm getting to out of line. Then, he gets into a confrontation with another big stack and he takes the guy out. He's now sitting on about 50k with 8 left. There are a few shorties, hanging on to 7-8k stacks. I have about 35k, and 3rd looks like he's got just under 20k. We spar a bit, and I manage to take a nice pot in a blind-vs-blind battle when my A8 misses the 6 5 6 flop with 2 hearts. I decide to see what the big stack is made of and bet into him on every street. The third bullet finally gets him to fold. Good thing no more hearts came, as that is what he says he was drawing to.

A few hands later and I'm the big stack with about 37k. I'm on the button. UTG smooth calls the 1600 big blind and she has about 6.5k total. Folds to me and I look down at Tc9c. Not the best hand, but it is suited, connected, and most likely 2 live cards. I raise to 5k straight. Folded back to her and she insta-shoves. She has 1.7k more. I think, and figure she's on a pair or a big A. I call, she shows AK offsuit. Flop is QJ4 with 2 clubs. Perfect flop, now I'm the favorite. Turn is a 6. River pairs her K and I take us down to 7, collecting my 3rd bounty. At $20 each, I only need 3 more to be freerolling. Maybe I'll make it.

Big stack from the earlier table is now the shortie and manages to double up twice. Finally get down to 6, and it is time for the next break. I knocked out 7th and can't for the life of me remember the hand, but I now have 4 bounties. I step out to call the wife, and then Predator to get a pep talk for the final table. Guy to my left has made a bit of a comeback and I'm down a bit after folding to a shove on a flop of K 2 4 from a mid-stack that called my PF raise of 3.5k with 500/1000 blinds. I had AJ. He later claimed to have the nut flush draw, but there were 2 clubs out there and my A was a club. I'd guess he had a middle pair and was hoping I didn't have AK, and took a chance. It was a good play, and his body language said he wasn't bluffing, so I made the laydown. We come back and I've won the chip race and see that I have the player to my left covered by about 4k.

The action out of this break gets fast and furious. I knock out 6th and the money bubble is over when I have KK in the CO and he shoves with KT off. 5th goes to the former CL from the early table when my AT flops an A vs his QQ. I now have 80k in chips just like that. The other 3 are all getting somewhat short, with only 58k left and 1500/3000 blinds. I start to steal a bit now with position and the stack to strike fear. I manage to crest at 88k and there comes a 3-way all in confrontation between the other 3. A7 hearts versus JJ versus KT hearts. The hearts actually come out and we are down to 3. The next hand I fold my 82 off in the BB when the button shoves. SB wakes up with AQ and it hits vs the button's 55 and we are HU.

I have a pretty good lead and am not very impressed with the HU play of my opponent. He's folding about 70% of his buttons without any movement from me. I make it up to just over 90k to his 48k when I find Kc7c in the BB. He min-raises. I decide that he's been weak and want to see what happens if I come over the top. He thinks and calls. He shows QcJc and I'm very very happy. Until the Q flops. But wait! There's 2 clubs! The turn pairs my 7, and now any 7, K or club and I win. The river pairs a 2 on the board and he wins with his 2 pair. Looks like my luck finally broke.

I manage to fight back to about 80k in chips again, as he's still playing very passive. I can take down just about any pot with a bet. If he raises or calls, I know he has something and I can slow down. I manage to get back up when he limps and I check my 72o. Can the hammer win? Flop is 2 2 4. He checks, and I decide to set a trap and check. Turn is a Q. He now bets out about 10k. I decide to smooth and get it in on the river. River is a T and he checks. I shove, he calls and I show him the bad news.

I finally make my first big mistake. I play Qc7c from the Button, raising to 18k with 3/6k blinds. He smooth calls. The flop is all rags. He checks, I check. Turn is the Qs, but is the 3rd spade out there. He checks. I debate pulling the trigger, but he has always bet his big hands so I check. River is a 4th spade and here's where I blow it. He stops dead and looks at his hand, doing a "spade check". I remember hearing a pro one time say "if they look back, they don't have it and they are trying to represent it". But this guy isn't into 2nd or 3rd level thinking, he's just playing his cards. I forget that when he bets 20k. I get to thinking about how he's just trying to represent it contrary to all the evidence I've seen thus far, and I call. He shows the As5h and scoops a big one. Crap.

I am unable to recover from that one. I have about 49k and we break. We return to 4/8k blinds and I'm pretty well into all in or fold poker. He's finally found a spine somewhere at the break and comes out swinging. My first hand is 74o in the BB, he raises to 20k. I fold. 2nd hand I have 82o. I fold. I am down to 37k and find 78o in the BB. He raises to 28k. I shove the other 9k and he calls with QT. Flop is Q Q 5. Turn is a 7 and I'm done. I manage to get 2nd, but I'm a bit disappointed in my mistakes at the end. I'm not complaining, and I get $785 and $120 for the bounties, so after the tip I take home a $760 profit. Not bad for a day's work.

So maybe I'm just getting unlucky at O8. Maybe it is time to return to NLHE for a bit and see if I can get some of the cash back and then move back to O8 when I have a decent BR again. So we shall see in the next few weeks. Look for me to be playing a bit of NLHE and see if I can get back on the horse.

I'll cya at the tables.


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