Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tournament of Champions - Part 2

Sorry about the delay between posts for the Tournament of Champions. There’s been a lot going on lately. I believe we left off where I had just won a significant pot because I got extremely lucky when I was trying to steal the blinds…

Because I had the chip lead I felt no real need to push too hard against my opponents as I wanted them to start chipping away at each other. This strategy was working well as I watched a couple of the other players take each other out. I picked up the occasional strong hand and was able to play back at some people as well. On one such occasion Dan, aka “Highway A”, had raised a pot where I picked up a pair of Queens and my reraise was able to force Dan to lay his hand down.

While this was going on Mark, who also is the league’s director, was starting to pick up some chips and had about half as many as I did. I looked around to see where all my opponents were at, and the approximate chip positions were:

Myself, 11000

Mark, ~5500

everyone else, <3000

With the chip positions as they were the only player that could hurt me significantly was Mark. He also happened to be seated on my immediate left, which is a bad spot for me to have him at the table. It was this fact that started my decline. We were at six players, and I found myself holding Ace-Ten. I was in early position so I raised. At a six-handed table Ace-Ten has a slightly better than 50% chance to be the best hand dealt. After I raised Mark reraised. Everyone else folded, and the action was back to me. Mark’s reraise had put in about 40% of his stack so I really didn’t think he’d be able to fold his hand. Also, I’m sure Mark was aware of the chip stacks and the fact that I was the only one who could knock him out at the moment so I decided that his hand had to be pretty strong if he was going to risk getting knocked out at this stage of the tournament. I decided to fold. That obviously put Mark and I a little closer to each other in chips.

This incident wouldn’t have made the blog except for the fact that this scenario happened two more times within about a 40 minute span. I raise, Mark reraises, and then I fold. The two times it happened after that I had Ace-Nine, which I folded for very much the same reasons as I explained earlier, and then it happened again when I was stealing with Ace-Three. That time I was banking on the fact that Mark just couldn’t keep catching hands when I was. Well, I guess I was wrong. It was that, or he just realized that he was able to steal from me in that position. Either way, it was working for him and it was killing my chip stack. After those hands took place we had basically flip flopped chip positions.

Mark was also scooping some pots by eliminating opponents. He managed to eliminate Rock when Mark got it all in preflop with 7-7 against Rock’s Q-Q. The action had gone: Mark raised, Rock reraised all in, and Mark called. Given the action I was very surprised to see what Mark was holding, but he must have known something I didn’t since the river (last card) was a 7, giving Mark a set of 7s and sending Rock to the rail. I was eliminated shortly after that when I got it all in with AQ against Don’s pair of 3s and I didn’t win the coin flip. That crippled me and I went out in 4th place a couple of hands after that.

The final three were set, and it was at this point that Don decided to get a little creative with his raising of the pot. To fully understand what happened here you have to know that in poker, if you announce your action your statement is binding. If you don’t say anything and perform an action then that action is binding, but it must be done all at once. Well, Don announced that he as going to raise to 2400, but when he put his chips out he only put out 1400. No problem, we pointed out the “accidental” mistake and it was corrected because he announced his bet. On the very next hand, Don decided to raise again, but this time he put out 400 less than what he announced. Once again, we had him correct it, but now it was time to definitely give him a hard time about his ability to count chips. A couple hands go by, and then Don wanted to raise again. This time he grabbed his chips ahead of time, was made sure to look at me as he announced in a mocking tone, “I’m raising to 2400. Does that look right this time?” To which Adam replied, “Well, you only put 1400 out there again, so you owe another 1000!” Now, I know Don wasn’t doing this intentionally, but it was too hard to pass up ripping him for the mistakes. By the way, did I mention he’s a teacher of children? I’m guessing that those children are not our future. I sure hope those poor kids can pass their math tests!! Just kidding ya, Don.

Shortly after that Mark, now known as the “River King”, got involved in a pot with Pete. In an unraised pot, the flop had shown up with the following three cards: Ad-8d-something non diamond. Pete moved all in, and Mark decided to call. Pete turned over Kd-9d giving him the nut flush draw, and Mark turned over 7d-3d. Mark was down to only six outs, and he also had to dodge any diamond in the process! Well, the turn card missed both players, and the river was a 3, giving Mark the win and eliminating Pete.

The heads-up battle between Mark and Don didn’t last too long. The hand that crowned the champion played out like this:

In an unraised pot, the flop came Kx-8x-X. Both players check the flop. The turn was a 4. After a bet by Don and a raise by Mark, Don shoved all in. Mark thought about it and called. Don table a King for top pair, and Mark showed J4 for bottom pair. Mark needed to catch either a Jack or 4 on the river to win, and as Adam dealt the last card it was a…4!! Mark won again on the river! Mark was very gracious in his win as I think even he realized how lucky he got on those three hands…three rivers!! Wow! This, friends, is the “class of the CCPL”. Make a note of Mark's pose here as I think I can sum it up as "F.U.! Look at these hands and your new CCPL Champ!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tournament of Champions - Part 1

Last weekend the final tournament of the second season of the Cream City Poker League (CCPL) took place. Adam was kind enough to host the championship, and the five returning champions of the seven events along with the next two highest players from the point’s standings and the two winners from the play-in event came together to form the Championship Table. As a wrinkle to the tournament structure, every player received an amount of bonus chips that was determined based on the number of points earned throughout the season, so the stacks were not even to begin the tournament.

I started with the lead in chips based on my season results, but I found myself not really able to use that advantage since I was almost getting no decent hands to start the tournament. Even when I would find myself with a borderline starting hand the players acting in front of me were raising and reraising often, eliminating any advantage I might have by getting in to the pot. So I waited…and waited…and waited.

Meanwhile one of the players, Pete S., was either getting a lot of good hands or changed his style of play significantly for this event, as it was he who seemed to be doing the most raising preflop. Other players were even pointing this out when he had raised from the first position, known as Under the Gun, several times in a row.

Also, Dan seemed to be having a good time at the tournament, seeing as he was in conversations with other players often times when it was his turn to act. It was just after he had raked a pot and was informing the rest of us that a “new groove was being formed on the table where all the chips would funnel to” him, just like “Highway A leaving Lake Delton” in the Dells when he gave himself the nickname “Highway A”. It had also been Dan’s turn to act for almost a minute while this proclamation took place. It had to be pointed out to Dan regularly that it was his turn to act. Eventually he picked up the pace on his turn.

I was still waiting to get some good hands. I managed to pick up the blinds once when a got a medium pair to raise with preflop, and had picked up a small pot when I bet a flush draw in another pot where everyone had missed the board. Because I had been playing so few hands, and it had been noticed by a couple players that I had been playing so few hands, I thought I would try to pull a steal from the cutoff position, which is one before the dealer, regardless of what I was holding the next time I was in the cutoff. When that position came up I found myself holding: Js – 2s. Not a great holding, but I was hoping that my tight image would hold up for the steal. I raised, the button folded, and Adam and Adam, who were in the blinds, both decided to call. As soon as that happened I had planned to give up the hand, but the flop produced something that I wasn’t expecting when it hit:

Jc – 7c – 2x

giving me two pair! Adam led out with about a 2/3 pot bet, and the other Adam thought about it and moved all in behind him! That brought the action to me. I really didn’t think that all three of us could have hit the board so well, and I believed one of the Adams was on a flush draw. I moved all in, hoping that if the first Adam was on the flush draw it would not give him the proper pot odds to call and he’d lay it down. Adam thought about it for a while, and after thinking he had the pot odds to call decided to also call, so now two of us were at risk to be knocked out of the tournament because of this hand (the Adam hosting, and myself). Adam turned over QJoff and knew he was behind because of my moving in, and then the other Adam turned over AJ, which really hurt the other Adam. I showed my two pair, to which everyone was surprised to see that hand. Adam called for the board to pair, which would have been fine for me as long as it wasn’t a 7 or running pair of cards. My hand held up, and I nearly tripled up in the hand. I was very surprised to see the AJ in that situation, especially since he had led out with a bet, was raised, and then reraised again by the initial raiser. I would have thought that third raise would indicated the overpair, the set, or two pair (two pair being the most unlikely with that flop). At the very least I would have thought that top pair could be thrown away there. Oh well.

After I had amassed that stack of chips, I started getting some hands, too. It was with that stack that got me to the later stages of the tournament, but I’ll save some of that action for the next post…