Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Suited Destructers

play online pokerI decided to wind down my day a couple of evenings ago by playing some low stakes NL hold 'em on Full Tilt. It was a max $25 buy-in, but I'm playing with bankroll management, and decided to bring just $20 to the table. After a couple of early hands went poorly, I found myself down to $12. I resisted the temptation to add on at this point, and managed to work my stack back up to about $30.

Several hands later, the table is playing 7-handed, and I find myself UTG + 1 (two seats left of the big blind) with the 8 and 9 of spades. I'm feeling frisky, and make my standard raise to $0.80 (from $0.25).

Stack sizes:
UTG: $48.30
ChicagoJason: $28.10
MP1: $59.40
CO: $23.75
Button: $23.30
SB: $11.10
BB: $28

Pre-flop: (7 players) ChicagoJason is UTG+1 with :8s :9s
UTG folds, ChicagoJason raises to $0.8, 4 folds, BB raises to $2, ChicagoJason calls $1.2 (pot was $2.65).

Our friend in the big blind raised it up to $2. I didn't have a really strong read on him, as we'd played 20 or so hands together. He did, however, strike me as a tight, solid player. I could pretty contently put him on a big pair (aces down to tens), Ace-King (suited or not), or Ace-Queen (probably only suited). With any other hand, I would expect a smooth call or a fold, particularly considering his relative position.

Because I felt strongly that I could put him on a range of hands, because I had position on him, and because I was now getting better than 2 to 1 on my money, I called.

Flop: :th :8d :7s ($4.1, 2 players)
BB bets $3, ChicagoJason calls $3 (pot was $7.1).

This is a very good flop for me. I have a pair, an open-ended straight draw, and back-door flush possibilities. My opponent is probably still ahead in the hand with an overpair, though I'm close to 50-50 to have the best hand at the river. If he has two big cards, I'm now a big favorite, as I'm already ahead with the best hand and best draw. If he has two tens, I may be in trouble, as neither an 8 nor a 9 would help me, but a Jack or 6 might be a very profitable card for me.

My opponent bet $3, a reasonable continuation bet, likely to protect an overpair and take away my odds for many draws. With a flopped set I think he would make a smaller bet to keep me around. This player may even check, based on my pre-flop strength and go for the check-raise. I feel good about where I am. I think a call is good here. If he has Aces or Kings I don't want to give him a chance to put me to a big decision, and a smooth call might make him nervous. On the other hand, if I was feeling frisky, a big raise, one that committed me to the pot, would be good here too. If he's really tight, I might take it down. If I don't, I belive I'm 50-50 to win at a showdown. I opt to smooth call.

Turn: :ks ($10.1, 2 players)
BB bets $5, ChicagoJason raises to $12, BB raises to $24, ChicagoJason calls $7 (pot was $41.1).

The King of spades is a great card for me. My opponent bets half the pot, which I think is a great bet. On the turn, with one card to come, he's taking away the odds for most draws and getting value on what I'm now sure is an overpair. I think he's got Aces now. However, I don't have an ordinary draw. Any spade now gives me a flush, that's nine outs. Any Jack or 6 gives me a straight, that's 6 more outs (I already counted the Jack of spades and 6 of spades in my flush outs). An 8 gives me trips and a nine gives me two pair. If he has pocket jacks, the nine is no good, but I'm not putting him on Jacks. that's 5 more outs. I have 20 outs on the river, or a 45.5% chance of winning the hand. There's already more than $15 in the pot, so I'm getting odds for any dollar amount up to my entire remaining stack. I don't want to rely on the river card coming, so need to give myself another way of winning, pushing my opponent off of his hand.

He bet $5, as we discussed. I have $19.10 left in my hand, and certainly an all in bet is acceptable. On the other hand, at these limits, many players are quick to push all in, and I think its sometimes perceived more weakly than an all in bet at higher stakes. My opponent chose his pre-flop raise carefully. He made it 2.5 times my raise, trying to pump the pot, but not scare me away. He thought about it. Ahh... a thinker. I'm going to give him back the same message - I have a strong hand and I want to get paid, you're beat right now, but I want your money. I decide to raise his $5 bet to $12. He thinks about it until his meter is down to 8 or 9 seconds and he calls.

Well, all my chips are going in, so I need to hit the river now.

River: :2h ($58.1, 2 players)
BB is all-in $4, ChicagoJason calls $4 (pot was $62.1).

Whiff! The two of hearts came on the river because my opponent was chanting for it. I'm sure of it. We each have about $4 left. After pausing for 5 or 6 seconds, my opponent moves his last $4 into the pot. There's $62 in there, and it costs me $4 to see his cards. If I think my opponent can play the hand this way with A-K or A-Q one time in 15 I have to call. I'm not sure if he can, but I make the call.

Final pot: $66.1
BB showed Ad Ah
ChicagoJason mucks 8s 9s

Indeed, there are those Aces. Red too, that means all of my outs were live. I didn't get lucky and I lost $28. Time for bed.

Thanks to Neil's Converter for translating this hand.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ice In His Veins, or Just Dramamine?

Its been a busy week around here - a new job, family emergencies, takin' care of bidness - and we haven't been thinking about poker. Nonetheless, I managed to squeeze in an airing of the WPT Battle of the Champions IV. The final table featured Scotty Nyugen, Joe Bartholdi, Michael Simon, Michael Mizrachi, Freedy Deeb, and Nick "The Takeover" Schulman, although if you missed the first 15 minutes, you may have missed Nyugen, Bartholdi, and Simon. Literally.

After the free-for-all, the remaining three players battled it out for the coveted, if silly "Battle of the Champions Champion" moniker, a set of WPT poker chips (which they all have previously won), and $25,000 in cash. I recognize that this is a freefroll, and that $25,000 is a significant chunk of change to the average American, but to these poker players, it is a buy-in. It isn't a grand prize, it's the cost of admission. Not surprisingly, the players seem somewhat lackadaisical, and because only first place paid, there were even more races than an average episode of WPT.

When play got down to head's up, the battle got a little more heated. Nick Schulman played excellent agressive, big-stack poker. Freddy Deeb went significantly card dead, but also played passively unless he had big cards, and all around poorly. When he did play aggressively, Schulman read him for strong, and slithered away.

What surprised me was not Schulman's fine play and superb read of Freddy Deeb's game, which was impressive. What really surprised me was Schulman's demeanor. He was calm, cool, and collected through the match. He was so relaxed, in fact, that he seemed indifferent to the outcome. If not for his play, I'd believe that he was unconcerned altogether.

When "The Takeover" finished taking over, he was awarded the trophy and toasted with Budweiser. Mike Sexton commented on his feat, and then turned to Schulman for comment. "Thank you," was the extent of his response until the audience laughed uncomfortably. Schulman expounded, out of obligation, and looked like he was about to drift off to sleep. The camera zoomed out, Mike Sexton wished our cards "live", and the audience clapped. Schulman continued to look put upon by having to be the new champion, and probably rued lugging those heavy poker chips back to his hotel suite.

Sorry Nick. You won again. Please don't risk a smile.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hunting Fish with Jay Greenspan

When out in Las Vegas for the WPBT Event, Bryan and I had the opportunity to meet Jay Greenspan, semi-pro, former managing editor of All In Magazine, and author of one of the latest books to put on your "must read" list - Hunting Fish: A Cross-Country Search for America's Worst Poker Players.

Jay was a fierce competitor in the blogger event, but prior to putting the fear of elimination into our very own Bryan K, he was kind enough to provide me with an advanced copy of his new book.

I just finished reading Jay's account of his three-month trek from New York to L.A, and it was a most enjoyable read.

Bryan and Jay toe-to-toe at the 2006 Summer WPBT EventJay takes his readers to the casinos of Connecticut, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and up and down the state of California. He takes you to private games in Atlanta and backroom clubs in Texas, where the reader sees the game through Jay's eyes, meets the personalities Jay meets, and experiences the emotional highs and lows of the road gambler and aspiring young pro.

If you're a poker player you'll enjoy Jay's hand descriptions, and may learn a thing or two to incorporate into your next no limit cash game. If you're merely an enthusiast, you'll stick your head out the window of his rented Dodge Stratus and vicariously curse his bad beats and revel in his big wins.

Mr. Greenspan is insightful, philosophical, and above all, entertaining. You'll want to read this one.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

CPC Tournament Series Fixed?!

It must be, or they just let me win...

The first in a series of seven tournaments took place this evening on Full Tilt Poker. With a little skill and a lot of good cards Chicago Jason (yours truly) took down the first event, a No Limit Hold 'Em tournament. Just ten competitors battled for the first title over the course of one hour and forty-five minutes. The competitors, and results show here.

John, ea5ym0ney on Full Tilt, and the winner of Ali Babba's fourth tournament, had the dubious distinction of being knocked out first. This author did not observe his table, but word has it he was the victim of a river suck out.

After the first knock out, the tournament was reduced to a "final table" of nine players. [Final 8 depicted here as two players sport pocket Aces. Click the picture to avoid premature blindness.]

Chris, Horeshoe220 on Full Tilt, and co-host of the aforementioned Ali Babba tournaments, and Jason played a momentous hand with the blinds at 25/50. Four players saw an unraised flop of Jc Js Jd. Jason and coachmoon checked, and Chris bet 300 into a pot of 225. Jeff, a.k.a. jaf911, folded and Jason smooth called. Coachmoon folded. The turn was the 2c and both players checked. The river came a King of diamonds, and Jason bet 550 into the 825 pot. Chris called, and Jason showed Jh Td to take down a 1925 chip pot with quad Jacks. Chris mucked his full house.

Chris battled back from the hand, but went out four positions later in 5th place, when his Qh Jd made two pair, but lost to Jasons flush on the river. Jason made the flush with the 2h (pairing his 2d), though all the money was in pre-flop.

Amanda, amandajoy521, made the money, finishing in third place. She went out after her Ah Qs failed to improve against Joe's pocket queens.

Our gracious host, ChicagoJoe put on an impressive display of poker wizardry, nursing a tight image and a short stack through most of the tournament, and putting up a tough fight in head's up play. Joe finally went down in second place when Chicago Jason called an all in bet from Joe after the flop. Joe showed a 5h and an Ac on a board of 6d Th 5d. Jason showed pocket sevens, which held up for the victory.