Sunday, June 18, 2006

World Poker Blogger Tournament results, for me

I played in the World Poker Blogger Championship tournament at PokerStars today, and had a great time. I more or less kept my head above water during the first few rounds by playing tight and making moves when I had the opportunity. I caught some good hands that held up and built up my stack during the middle stages. Once I had some chips, I tried to use them to my best advantage and steal blinds when I could. Thanks to a few big pots, I was among the chip leaders for a good portion of the time. I made it past the bubble at 55th place, and wondered if I should try to dump my chips to take the PokerStars jacket that the finishers in 41st to 54th place got. That thought only crossed my mind for about a nanosecond; at that point I was well up in chips and knew I could last a good while longer. The idea of winning it all and getting a trip to the WSOP Main Event looked pretty sweet, plus the other prizes at the higher levels were nothing to sneeze at.

You can read more about how the tourney went at the PokerStars blog. I have requested my hand history from the tourney and plan to look through it for highlights, and things in my game to work on. Maybe I will post more about it in the near future. But suffice it to say, I eventually got all my chips in when my M was below 10 with AKo. My opponent had AA, and I was unable to overcome that domination. I finished in 26th place and won a 4 GB I-Pod Nano. My 14 year old son is already jealous.

I am very pleased not just with my final placement (26th out of 2,247), but with my play tonight. I didn't make a lot of donkey moves, and made what I thought were mostly good decisions. I'm looking forward to the next tourney that I enter, to see if I can keep the success streak going.

Update: PokerStars e-mailed me the cool trophy graphic for being a "bronze" winner. I kinda like it.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Back from Sin City

Earlier this week I took the trip to Las Vegas that I won in the APL tourney back in January. While I was there, I played in a NLHE tournament and in a $2-4 Limit HE game. I didn't cash in the tourney or come out ahead in the cash game, but I did enjoy the experiences and learned a few things about my game.

The tournament was at the Aladdin. Buy-in was $60 which got me 2000 in chips, with starting blinds at 25-50. I started out relatively tight, and didn't play a lot of hands. I did take an early pot with TT when everyone else showed weakness and I bet at the uncoordinated board, even with an overcard to my pair on it.

One hand that disappointed me in the early round came when I got Ac-Ad in early position. I raised 200, but the player two seats behind me popped it to 500. I immediately put him on KK or QQ with that large of a reraise, but of course I called him. Maybe I should have reraised again, but chose to call instead so he wouldn't get too suspicious.

The flop was K-x-x with three clubs. Still thinking that he might have KK and had made a set, I checked. He bet 500. I figured I had lots of outs with the other two aces and any club for the nut flush, so I called. The turn was another rag. I checked again; he bet another 500. I called again. The river was yet another brick, with no club. I checked it, he bet 500 again. If he had made a bigger bet, I might have put him on AK and trying to get me to fold. The smaller bet made me think he wanted the call for his set. I folded. I think my biggest error was not betting on the flop. If I had bet strongly, and he didn't have KK, it might have been harder for him to call. If he had raised me, I could have put him on the set and folded right there, saving me the bet on the turn.
I didn't want to put too many of my chips at risk that early in the tournament, so I didn't (and don't) regret the fold at the end. But I wish I had not been as weak as I was earlier in the hand.

My weak play would continue when I got short stacked in later rounds. At one point, my M was about 4 or 5, and I got KJo in EP. I should have pushed with that, but I folded it, thinking I stood too much of a chance of getting called by a stronger hand. I ignored the principle of going with a relatively strong starting hand with fewer chips and taking my chances. As it turned out, two or three people got into that pot, and the flop came with two Jacks. Of course, if I had pushed there might not have been as many players in the pot, but if there had been any, I could have doubled or tripled up. Eventually, I busted when my AK lost a race to a pair.

In the cash game at the Luxor, I was very card dead. I also took a nasty beat on this hand: I limped from the BB with 94o. Flop: QQ4. With bottom pair, I checked. The hot chick two seats behind me bet the minimum, and I called. The turn was another Q. Since no one bet hard before or on the flop, I didn't suspect a pocket pair, so I figured my boat was good, and I bet. The hot chick just called. The river was a blank, so I bet, Hot Chick called. Thinking I had the pot won, I showed my 4. She turned up the case Q. She almost never raised the whole time she was at the table, not that I would have put her on quads if she had. But I might have put her on a higher full house, and that would have given me a reason to think harder about calling. The dealer even told her that she was allowed to raise if she had a good hand. Maybe she was unclear on that concept, although I don't think it is the dealer's place to give someone at the table lessons during a game.

I thought I made decent decisions most of the time, other than what I mentioned above in the tourney. But I did chase a hand that I shouldn't have in the cash game, when I couldn't lay down AQ that paired the A on the flop. I kept getting raised by the guy on the other side of Hot Chick, and I kept calling him. He showed AK at the end. Hee-haw.

I also played some blackjack, and only lost $15 over the course of about an hour at a $10 minimum table. The only time I came out ahead was when I played a 2-cent slot machine at MGM Grand while waiting for my wife and son who were checking out the lion exhibit. I actually won $7.34 in just a few minutes. But I don't plan on switching from poker to slots. I know where my EV is positive and where it is negative.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip quite a bit, and I got to see some of the WPT Mandalay Bay Championship tourney in person. That was a nice surprise since I didn't know it was going on until we got there and saw a bunch of signs for it. I saw a number of name pros playing there, including Phil Ivey, Phil Laak, Barry Greenstein, Chau Giang, Jennifer Tilly, and some others that I am surely forgetting. Pretty neat to see these folks in person for the first time.

Now I am back home and will need to find some time to play some poker, maybe this weekend on line. I need to build up my bankroll, so it will probably be some micro-limit HE to grind out a dollar here or there. Plus I should study some more to remind myself of good strategy so I will be better prepared for the next tourney I enter, maybe a WWdN in the next week or two.