Sunday, November 19, 2006

Heartland Poker Tour Finale

So, in my last post I was in the third hand of the Heartland Poker Tour main event. I had called the river bet after playing the hand as passively as you can play a hand and left myself with T5900 from my T15000 starting stack.

Everyone at the table was very interested in the hand at this point. Curious as to what the hands were that caused us to get so many chips in the pot this early on in the tourney. He turned over 10 10 for the flopped set of tens. I was stunned at how he played his set and mucked my hand. I probably should have showed my hand but after thinking about it some people at the table probably thought I called him down with top pair. That’s probably what I wanted them to think and maybe it would pay off for me down the line. I was glad I didn’t go broke on the hand but am still not happy with the way I played it. If I would have check raised him on the flop I may have found out where I was at if he re-raised me and even if he did re-raise me what was I expecting to flop when I called the pre-flop raise? I got a great flop and based on how it played out I probably should have been more than willing to get all my chips to the middle. I’m trying not to focus on the results and more on how I played the hand.

What if he would have flat called my check raise? I would have had to lead into him on the turn when I picked up my flush draw and all of the chips would have gotten in at that point I’m guessing. I’ve thought about this hand a lot since then. I don’t think there is anyway I can put him on a set with the way he played it (can you ever put someone on a set?). He was taking a big risk with the way he played it, as there’s NO WAY I’m getting a lot of chips into the pot without a BIG hand. His pot sized flop bet isn’t getting called on that flop without AT LEAST TPTK. There had been a lot of players willing to put a lot of chips in with just top pair. I wasn’t one of them but he couldn’t know that at the time.

So I buckled down from there and dug in for hopefully a long chip rebuilding process. Unfortunately I was card dead for the next couple of levels. I raised 3 times the big blind with AK once and was raised by my one caller when I missed the flop and I had to muck. We went to the break and I had enough chips to cover the blinds and antes for a little over two times around the table. I needed to pick a hand quickly and go with it.

I talked with the guy I had met before the tourney briefly on break and he asked me about that hand. He asked if I had AK on the hand and I said, “there’s no way I’m getting that many chips in with only AK there.” He responded, “I didn’t think so but what did you have?” I told him and he said he would have gone broke with the hand. I’m not sure if that meant he thought I played it well or badly but all I knew at that point was I was still alive…..barely. I talked with my wife and told her to think good cards for me as I needed to catch a hand. She said she would and I went back to the tourney.

When I returned, the first hand I saw was KQs and it folded around to me so I pushed and picked up the blinds and antes when it folded around. This was the first round with antes and now was the time to win some pots. The second hand back I had A9s and it folded to me and I pushed and picked up the blinds and antes. The third hand I looked down to find KK when it folded to me and I pushed again figuring someone would get sick of me pushing and call me with maybe less of a hand than they would normally. The big blind called me with 99 and he had me covered. The flop came 9QQ. Ouch. The turn was a K. Yeah! The river……a blank and I doubled up. I was then at just about an average stack and thrilled. I was determined to get back into this by playing solid aggressive poker. It seemed everyone was playing tighter than they should with the antes now in play. An orbit later I raised from MP with KQs and missed the flop. I had mucked when my continuation bet was raised. I should have just check-mucked because it put me short chips again. A couple of hands later I was big blind and it folded to one off of the button and he raised three times the big blind. He had me easily covered but my stack would have taken 50% of his chips. He raised a lot in position when it folded to him as I had played with him in the qualifier and had seen him do it here when the opportunity was there. No one had played back at him yet. It folded to me in the big blind and I looked at A7s. I came over the top all in as any other raise I was basically committed and he could still muck to an all-in. He thought for a few minutes and then called with QJs. I knew I had the best hand and just needed it to hold up. A jack flopped and I didn’t find my ace. I was out around 120th.

I had a blast and can’t wait until they come back again. I found it fairly easy to get in through a qualifier as you just have to get top 20%. Next time I’d play a couple if I had the time as they are transferable and people were selling theirs to the surprising number of people that were buying in directly to the main event.

On the home game front I’ve played in a couple of local home tournaments over the last couple of weeks. I took second in one with around 24 people. I played well throughout the tournament and the cards didn’t break my way in the heads up battle. We were both aggressive in the heads up match and we played awhile. I made one crucial reading error on a hand which caused me to not fire a third bullet on 5th street and mucked my hand when he went all in. I had Ace high and he showed his missed flush draw and he took advantage of my check to him on the river to push me off. I put him on a pair with how he played his hand. A middle pair as he had been betting his draws aggressively. He changed it up that hand and it paid off for him. That left me short and my K 2 went down to his pocket deuces shortly thereafter. I final tabled another home tourney bubbling out in 5th and the third one I went out halfway through the field when my late position short stack (8 times the big blind) push with Ad Qd didn’t hold up against pocket 5’s. I stayed for the $1/$2 NL cash games and made back my tourney buy-in plus some so it was a good night overall. I even gave some of the winnings to my wife for the purchase of Christmas presents. Boy, the holidays sure are expensive.

On a personal note: Just a touch over one month to go until baby Baz #4 hits the ground. That will make casa de Baz a very very busy household and will pause a lot of my poker play for awhile. When you have four kids and your oldest is five there is a lot going on in the house on a daily, hourly, and minute by minute basis. Mama Baz could use a little more help from Papa Baz. I also just booked the family summer vacation to Disneyland so we are looking forward to that. Hopefully poker funds can help with the costs but the money has been saved for this trip for awhile now so it’s not a necessity. I have to look closer at the location of Commerce Casino or some of the other area poker establishments and see if I can make it over for a night or two of live California poker action. Any fellow poker bloggers out there that still stop by my little corner of the blogosphere from time to time, live in the LA/Anaheim area and are willing (or should I say want) to accompany me to a local poker establishment this summer holler.

Hope this finds you all well.

Baz Out


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Heartland Poker Tour Part 2

Sorry for the delay with the results from my Heartland Poker Tour experience. I have been embarrassed, as I didn’t see Donkey Puncher’s comment on how I should dress at the final table until after it was already filmed. DP isn’t going to be happy with my attire.

I wish. Not even close. Here’s how it went down. I was feeling good that Saturday morning. Grabbed a Gatorade from the deli and sat down with a guy I had played with at the qualifier. He had been moved to my table near the bubble and had a stack slightly bigger than mine. We mostly stayed out of each other’s way. We chatted about the play in the qualifier and how we both thought it wasn’t as tough as we expected it to be in order to get the seat. Then again he mentioned that other guys from his regular game had said they were coming up to play a qualifier as well and he didn’t see any of them there so maybe we had an easier qualifier than some other ones. Either way it didn’t matter to me as I was in and ready to play. He called over a guy he knew who had bought directly into the main event. The three of us talked until it was time to go take our seats.

When I got to my seat I recognized one guy from my qualifier. He had been moved to my table about halfway through and was on my immediate left. I had doubled through him during the qualifier once and noticed he raised the pot a lot in late position when folded to him. Then the new guy who I had been chatting with sat down at my table as well. Interesting how I talked with 3 guys prior to the event and the new guy I had just met was seated at the same table as me. Well, maybe it’s only interesting to me.

I was in seat 10 and there were 183 players to start the event in the biggest main event in the Heartland Poker Tour’s history. What this number meant was that we had to use some of the lower numbered tables to get started. Those of you that have been to Majestic Star 2 know that these lower numbered tables don’t have automatic shufflers. This meant that ALL tables had to hand shuffle until those tables were broken down. I thought that sucked but what could you do at that point.

I also thought it sucked that the blinds started at 100/200 instead of 100/100 like the qualifier. Sure we got 15K in chips instead of 10K but I thought it would have been nicer to keep the EXACT blind structure of the qualifiers AND get the 5K extra in chips for the main event. Anyway, the first two hands of the tournament the same guy raised to T600 and it folded all the way around. On the third hand I was the big blind and the same guy raised to T600 again from UTG +2. It folded to me and I looked down to find Kd 10d. I called the raise and looked to flop two pair or better.

Being the third hand of the tournament it was hard to put him on a hand but I figured the range was fairly large due to the fact that he raised three hands in a row. I put him on a possible range that included AA, QQ, JJ down through 77 (and maybe any pocket pair), along with AK, AQ, and potentially any two paint cards.

Here’s how the action went from there:

The flop came K 8 10 rainbow with the 8 being a diamond.

(This was a GREAT flop for me. Top two with a backdoor flush draw.)

I checked with the intention of check-raising him.

The pot had T1300.

He bet T1500.

(I thought this was a very curious bet. He obviously wanted to win the pot right here with a slightly larger than pot size bet. I immediately threw out 88 as a possible holding as he would want to extract the most chips from me if I had a king and would want me to catch something if I called with an Ace. I didn’t put him on KK or TT initially as I had one of each and those were even less likely now that there were also one of each on the board and then with his flop bet it made them even more unlikely. I figured him for QQ, AA, JJ, or AK at this point. QJ also was possible with his flop bet as it would give him an open ended straight draw which I could see taking a shot at taking the pot down right there.

At this point I changed my strategy and simply called. I know this gets me absolutely no information but I was fairly certain I was way ahead here and wanted to let him have the lead.

The turn was the 6d (might have been the 4d).

(This gave me the second nut flush draw to go along with top two pair.)

I checked.

(I could have led out here as I don’t want to give a free card to QJ but I thought that was not a likely holding and wanted to give him a chance to bet again as that turn probably didn’t help me.)

The pot had T4300.

He bet T4000.

(Again a pot sized bet. Now I’m putting him squarely on AA or AK. I had seen A LOT of players willing to put a lot of chips in the pot with as little as top pair. Something about the way he bet bothered me. I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t know if he was acting weak or what but I sensed strength like he thought his hand was good. Whether it was good or not I wasn’t sure anymore but I still put him on AK or AA as his most likely holdings.)

Again I just called. I know, I know. I played this VERY, VERY passive. At this point I was either WAY ahead or WAY behind and I wanted to see what the river brought. Not like I usually play hands at all. I would usually check raise that flop and/or lead out and/or check-raise that turn when I picked up my flush draw. This time I didn’t. I simply called.

The pot now had T12300.

The river brought the 9c. I didn’t get my flush and the straight got there. I didn’t think QJ was a possible holding anymore.

I checked like a passive girl.

He bet T3000.

I called leaving T5900 behind.

What have you put him on? Did I lose the least I could have or win the less than I could have won?

I will post the ending of the hand soon.

Comments are appreciated and welcome.

Baz Out