Monday, October 24, 2005

Blogger Poker Tournament "live" blog

I didn't think I could keep a running blog of yesterday's tournament and still concentrate on playing properly, so I am posting this the day after. I did take a few notes while I was playing, which form the basis for this entry, but I have added in some from memory, and from the transcript I requested from PokerStars (what a handy feature).

3:00 PM (all times Central): The tournament starts. I am on table 75, and only four of us are live; the others are sitting out. I have the button for the first hand, and I get A2o. I raise and get one caller. The flop comes Q-5-5. I bet, the caller folds. I've won my first hand; an ominous sign, no doubt.

3:09 PM I haven't had much in the way of starting hands. I just stole the blinds with A9o. Everyone is playing pretty tight, including me. A fifth live player has joined us.

3:33 PM After a few marginal hands that get me nowhere, I finally get a hand worth playing: AKo. I'm UTG, and I bet 100 (twice the BB). I get reraised 200 by one player, and I call. Flop comes 8d 3c Kd. Top pair, top kicker; I bet 250. My opponent folds. The warm and fuzzy feeling this hand gives me unfortunately won't last.

3:49 PM I've been back to getting crappy cards, and the blinds keep going up.

4:00 PM After being blinded down below 1000 in chips, I go all in with KQo. My one caller shows KTo. A ten comes on the flop, and I don't improve. Busted out in 1,081st place.

After the tournament, I observed a couple of tables. I watched Wil Wheaton for a little while, and peeked in on the table where Card Squad blogger Joanne was playing. Eventually I got into a small stakes NLHE ring game and won one whole dollar (which I lost back later in the evening).

I enjoyed playing in the tournament, and I feel like I made the correct decisions most of the time. I probably should have made a play at the pot a couple of times, but a lot of my cards weren't even worth a semi-bluff or blind defense.

I look forward to my next tournament, whenever that turns out to be. Hopefully my luck will be a bit better

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Turning it around

Yesterday was an up and down day for me at the virtual poker tables. After I played in the Katrina Relief tournament a few weeks ago, I have been playing in some small stakes games with the money that was left over in my PokerStars account. I played in a couple of $5+0.50 Sit-N-Go (SNG for short) tournaments - cashed in one, busted early in the other. Mostly I have played in ring games at $0.05-0.10 or $0.02-0.04. Although I have quit while ahead a few times in the ring games, mostly I have lost. I have probably played lots of hands that I shouldn't have, and not paid enough attention to how my opponents have played so I could get reads on them and play accordingly. One thing that has surprised me is how often people have folded in these microstakes games. I expected a lot looser play for such small amounts, but that hasn't seemed to be the case, at least in the games I've been in. Anyhow, back to what happened yesterday. I played in a 0.02-0.04 game for a while in the afternoon. I jumped ahead early by taking advantage of some good hands and some poor play by a couple of loose opponents. Maybe I got over-confident because by the time I quit, I had lost back my winnings and more. The amount that I lost wasn't enough to buy a Snickers bar, but it was the fact that I didn't play better that disappointed me. After my family and I went out to dinner, I decided to try another SNG to see if I could have more success. Keeping my risk low, I got into a five-table tourney for a $1+0.20 buy-in. I got a few marginal hands at the beginning, but didn't get past the flop much. I did manage to win a few pots here and there but my chip stack wasn't building to speak of. My tight play kept me in the game while some of the more aggressive players started duking it out and eventually busting each other out of the game. I was patient, and let the others make their mistakes. It worked for me, because eventaully I made it to the final table. I was one of the shorter stacks when I got there (as is usual for me), but I still exercised patience because sixth place and up cashed, and I didn't want to bust out on the bubble if someone else decided to take a stand first. That tactic paid off again (literally) as more people went all-in and were eliminated while I waited for the right time to make my moves. The chip lead changed hands more than a few times on that final table, and I got some good hands to double up on several occasions. By the time I got heads up, my opponent "msdoodle" and I were pretty much even in chips. The best hand I got near the end: msdoodle had about a 3 to 1 chip lead on me. I was dealt pocket aces and went all in; msdoodle quickly called with QJo. The board came all rags and my bullets took the pot. The funniest hand was the second to last when msdoodle was down to his/her last 266 chips and went all in with Kc 2s against my Kd Qc. Nothing paired on the flop or turn and it looked like I'd won it, but the board ended up all hearts and we split the pot. On the next and final hand, msdoodle was all-in in the blinds but had K6o vs. my 96o. The board came 3-J-2 rainbow, then A-9, and my pair of nines won the game. I now have $14 more in my account than I did before I started the tournament, and that's a very nice feeling. (OK, $12.80 when you subtract the entry fees.) I don't know yet why I tend to do better in tournaments than ring games, and I plan to keep working on my skills for the latter, but I'll also keep playing tournaments and trying to improve in those. Gotta go with your strengths, right? That reminds me, I'm playing in today's PokerStars Inaugural Blogger Tournament. Wish me luck!