Friday, October 27, 2006

Heartland Poker Tour Part 1

As I believe I mentioned before, the Heartland Poker Tour has come to the Majestic Star 2. I wrestled with the idea of buying in directly to a qualifier for $560 or trying my hand at a satellite or two to try and win a seat in a qualifier. If you are not familiar with the Heartland Poker Tour it is a tour that has mainly been in casinos in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and states in the area. I had been keeping an eye on them hoping they would come to the area. They are expecting this to be their biggest tournament ever. Let’s think why…..South Dakota casino? Chicago area casino? They told me over a year ago they were trying to get to the area and it’s obvious why. Anyway, they have been running satellites 24/7 since Saturday. You can play a $65 single table satellite (which awards one seat in the $560 qualifier) or a $125 single table satellite (which awards two seats in the $560 qualifier). They are running 7 total qualifiers and sent like 35 players into Saturday’s main event from Monday and Tuesday’s qualifiers.

I decided I was going to go Wednesday night and would decide when I got there whether I would play a satellite to try and get in or simply buy-in directly. I got two phone calls while I was on my way Wednesday afternoon from people with confidence in my game with offers to buy a piece of my action. So I sold 35% of my action and bought in directly to the qualifier upon arriving to MS2. The qualifier started at 6 pm and I arrived plenty early as I planned on playing a couple hours of the $1/$2 NL cash games before grabbing a bite to eat prior to the tournament starting.

The cash games list was longer than I expected that early on a Wednesday afternoon and I got on the list hoping it would move fast. There were only a handful of tables not being used and the 1 pm tournament was taking up 3 to 6 of them. The satellites were running on a bunch of tables as well and the lists for each of those was LONG. I was glad I simply bought in and didn’t count on playing a satellite to get in. I finally got called as they opened a new $1/$2 NL table which I liked as everyone was starting fresh and I only had about an hour or an hour and a half to play before getting a bite to eat and getting sat for the tourney. I won a few pots before heading over to register for the tournament. That took longer than I anticipated and while I waited in line I chatted with a guy in line who was buying in directly as well. It seemed like a mixed bag of people buying in directly and people entering through their satellite wins. I registered, signed the release form, and drew table 21, seat 9. I headed back to my cash game and the guy two to my left had a little over three hundred in his stack. As I sat down I said, “Look who’s gathering chips.” He just laughed and normally I’d not be happy I missed what happened but I was focused on the tournament and simply passing time in the cash game for another 15 minutes or so. I began talking to the older gentleman on my right who commented that he qualified for the main event Saturday Tuesday night after winning a satellite. He told me that a lot of people in his qualifier played like it was a single table tournament with low chips and fast moving blinds. This is a 10,000 starting chip tourney with blinds starting at 100/100 and going up every half hour. I had thought this might be the case but hearing it confirmed from him was nice. I figured people would be willing to put a lot of chips in early with as little as top pair and told myself not to make that mistake and hoped I could take advantage of this early.

It was time for me to get something to eat and get ready for the tourney so I got up from the table up around $40. I wished all good luck and headed out. While waiting for food I ran into the same gentleman I was talking with while waiting to register and he asked me what table I drew. I told him and it turns out he was two to my left in seat 1. I told him I wouldn’t attack his blinds without a hand and he moved on into the tournament area. When I got to my tournament table I noticed there was one guy from the cash game at the table as well as I guy I had played with several times before at the Rockford Charitable tournaments. I remembered that he liked to be the table captain and hoped my memory was serving me well. It was.

I had gotten a note card several days before and wrote a couple of “reminders” on it of things that have gotten me in trouble at times. The first line said, “Position, Position, Position.” The second line said, “Patience.” The third line said, “Don’t go broke early without a monster and don’t bluff early with no money in the pot.” The last line said, “A Q – Yuck!”

Do you think I would listen? The third hand of the tournament I am in the big blind and the blinds are 100/100. I have 6h 5h and the guy UTG +1 raised it up to $400. For those of you paying attention, this is the guy I had talked with in the registration line and then again told I wouldn’t attack his blinds without a hand (a lie by the way). There was one caller in MP and I called as well. The flop was ugly…..Q J 9 rainbow. What did I do? I led out betting roughly half the pot $600. The guy in the 1 seat looked at me and said, “You and me tangling already?” He seemed to struggle with a decision, which I took as either top pair or a straight draw with pocket tens. He called and the MP player folded. The turn was a deuce of the fourth suit and I bet out $1000. He thought for a little bit and called. The river paired the jack and I was behind no matter what he held. It was just a matter of how big his hand was and if he was willing to call. I fired a third bullet of $1500 and when he called almost instantly I knew I was beat. I flipped over my 6h 5h and was shocked to see he flipped over A 10. That’s right. He called me down with Ace high after his busted open-ended straight draw didn’t come through. He took down the pot with the pair of jacks on the board and his ace.

I was mad that I lost around 3000 of my chips so early on such a stupid play. I was mad I didn’t listen to my own advice that was in my own pocket on my own note card. I knew I would get chips back from that guy in time and I definitely made more on several hands not long after that than I would have if I hadn’t shown down that hand. I wrote down on my note A Q – Yuck. I was dealt A Q during this tournament approximately 10 times. Yuck! I am happy to report that I did listen to my own advice on this hand, which I have misplayed in the past, and didn’t go broke with it. Our table captain accumulated a lot of chips early and busted two players. He was over betting pots on the flop and raising crazy amounts pre-flop. It began to be fairly obvious pre-flop when he had a mid-range pocket pair based on his betting patterns. I laid down pocket sixes to one of these big raises and he showed pocket fives but it could have just as easily been pocket sevens. One time I held A Q and raised pre-flop on the table captain’s big blind from middle position after one limper and he was my only caller. The flop came Ace high with two hearts. He checked to me and I bet about the size of the pot. He check raised me a huge amount and I laid my hand down. I could have been ahead but he could have had two pair or a flush draw so I thought it better to find another spot.

Another key hand was during the fourth level when I was an average stack. An early position player with a shorter stack (around T 5000 with the blinds at 300/600) raised the minimum to T1200. The player immediately to his left went all in for T3000. It folded to me in the big blind and I looked down to find pocket queens. I love the ladies. I had around T15000 and pushed all-in. The EP raiser thought about it and said something about wanting to be the one heads up with the guy on his left and then mucked his AK face up. I turned up my hand and he turned up pocket 10’s. He didn’t catch a 10 and I took his stack. A king flopped so I was glad I was successful in my isolation.

At this point I simply told myself I am not playing to win today. I am playing to get into the top 17 and get my seat for Saturday. I wanted to keep an average stack and pick spots to pick up the blinds and antes with little risk. I wanted to pay attention to when people are tightening up as well and use this to keep my stack above water. The tightening up point came with 25 players left. A little earlier than I expected it to be and I couldn’t take much advantage of it at first because I was totally card dead for around 40 minutes. As the antes and blinds whittled away my stack I was paying attention to who was being overly tight. I got down below average for a while and needed to find a hand to pick up some chips. It folded to me on the button and I looked down to find Qd 10d and I pushed all-in. The small blind had me covered by a couple thousand and called. He had K Jo and the flop brought a 10. The turn brought a second diamond eliminating a couple of his outs and the river missed doubling me up. In the next couple of rounds around the table I stole the blinds and antes with hands like A Q, K 9s, K Js, and pocket 10’s. I also folded A J and pocket 7’s to all-in players with shorter stacks than me but if I would have lost I would have been dangerously low.

Now we were down to 19 players left with two to go until we got our seats. Three stacks at our table were very low. The blinds were 2000/4000 with a 500 ante. I had around T44000 with an average stack being T35000. The one short stack had around T12000, the other had around T8000, and the third had T7000. The other table lost a player and we needed to lose one more. The short stack with only T7000 was moving into the big blind. He folded BOTH blinds to a late position raise leaving himself with only T1000. He anted T500 from the button and FOLDED when it was folded to him. He then anted his last T500 and his A K lost to the big blind’s 6 8 with an 8 high board.

We were down to 17 and I had my seat into the main event Saturday. The only way to describe the feeling is: AWESOME! Here’s hoping I can play a good smart game Saturday and give myself a chance to win. I know I don’t give the best details as I go strictly from memory. I tried. Hope it all made sense. I will give another report following this weekend’s play. Hopefully I will be the next HPT champion. Even though I know it’s not all about luck I’d still like to have some so if you get the chance, wish me some will ya?

Til Next Time.

Baz Out