So, I got back from Las Vegas a few days ago. Just it time for my semi-annual blog post.
First off, let me say that Sports Betting sucks. It makes games that I would normally enjoy stressful because not only does my team need to win, they have to do it by +X points. I put a few wagers down on college games. I not big into college football, but I was leaving Sunday before the NFL games finish so it would have to do.
I $100 on my Illini -7 vs Northern Ill. Northern Ill is decent for a directional school, the Illini are usually in the bottom of the Big 10, but this was a game they should have easily won by more than 7. They won by 6 after giving up a field goal in the last minute of the game. So rather than being happy because Illinois gets a rare win, I'm pissed because I'm out $100.
I then put $40 on Michigan State -3.5 over Notre Dame because fuck Notre Dame. Of coarse MSU only wins by 3, so again I'm happy they lost, but pissed because I'm out more cash. Finally sticking with my Big 10, I took Iowa over Arizona in a pickem. I thought Iowa was supposed to be in the national championship conversation so they should at least be able to beat Arizona, even on the road. Yeah, Not so much. I also tried a three team parlay with Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa. Nebraska is the only team that held up its end of the bargain. I knew I should have bet on them too.
Ok enough bitching. On to the good stuff. Poker.
I actually played some poker for the first time in months. Friday afternoon I tried out Caesar's $70 NL Holdem tournament. About 50-60 people played, I don't remember exactly. I ended up busting out around 25-30, but I had blast. I didn't realize how much I miss playing cards.
The people in the tournament were not good. It was frustrating that I didn't do very well. I started off the tournament being loose and aggressive and stealing a lot of pots that no seemed all that interested in. There weren't any players at my table that I was scared of, just a lot of loose passive calling stations.
I got into trouble with a K7 or K something and a weak kicker. I paired the king on the flop, but there were two hearts on the board. A little worried about the flush draw I tried to chase people out, but got one caller. A third heart came on the turn and again he called my bet. We checked down the river and he had a king with a better kicker.
Shortly after that, I had pocket 7s and one caller. The turn paired the board with a king. The river paired the board with a 9 and counterfeited my hand, forcing me to fold to his weak bet.
Shortly thereafter I was in all-in or nothing mode. I hung on for a while, picking up a blind here and there, but ultimately got caught and that was that. Like I said I had blast playing, but I was still pretty frustrated with the result. I felt like if I had played a little tighter and smarter I could have easily won that thing. So I decided to try again Saturday.
The Saturday noon tourney cost a little more at $85, but you got $T7500 chips to start instead of $3500 as the day before.
I was intentionally going to play this tourney a lot tighter than the day before, figuring that with the extra chips I could afford to wait for a big hand to take advantage of. No need to put my self at risk unnecessarily. The cards and the people at my table helped out with this strategy quite a bit.
For almost the entire tournament, no matter which table I was moved to there was a loose aggressive player or sometimes two with a big chip stack immediately to my left. For most of the tournament I was somewhat afraid to raise pre-flop because I expected a call and didn't want to have to play for a big pot without a premium hand. Also most of the players in this tournament seemed to be better than those who played the previous day.
Did I also mention that my cards were terrible? The ante's kicked after the first break at level 4. Normally I would have loved that because I think I'm usually better than the average player at stealing pots pre-flop. Most players don't take the ante's into account so stealing a pot becomes much more profitable.
I couldn't get a hand. I would decide that I need to steal a pot pre-flop and then not be able to pull the trigger because I would have a terrible hand, or someone else would put in a big bet.
I spent most of the tourney more or less within a big blind of whatever the average chip count was at the time. There was a big tourney board that listed the blinds, and players remaining, and average chip stack and I was always right there in the middle. I would fold for a few orbits, then steal some blinds, then fold for an orbit, then win a pot with a continuation bet on the flop. I won just enough to keep me in the game, but nothing more.
When we got down to three tables, I think my luck started to change. I got a pair of aces and had a short stack go all-in ahead of me. That gave me enough chips to move into more of a bully role, and I was finally able to start playing more aggressively and push people off hands.
The problem with a noon tournament is that I didn't really eat before hand. I had a chocolate chip muffin and a coffee for breakfast, but that was it. I don't think the Red Bulls and Vodkas I was drinking were very nutritious. There was a nearby restaurant that catered to the poker room, but I didn't really want to be eating while playing. During the third break I went to looking for one of the convenience store like shops to grab a candy bar or something, but I got a little lost in the casino and by the time I found the place the break was almost up. So I had to wait until the next break. By the end of the tournament, in addition to my small breakfast I had only eaten a nutra grain bar and a snickers bar and about 10 Red Bull and Vodkas. The diet of true athlete.
When we combined down to two tables, I again got moved immediately in front of the two biggest stacks at the table. The guy to my left seemed like a pretty solid player from the few hands I had played against him at an earlier table. The girl to his left was the chip leader.
I got a second pair of aces, and again had someone go all-in ahead of me, moving me into second place at the table, with most people being pretty short stacked. I got a little reckless and called an all in with KT or something weak like that. I had tried to steal a medium/small stack's blind and when he pushed back I assumed it was only out of desperation. He had AT, and knocked me back to the pack. I was again at the point where one wrong move would knock me out of the tournament, and after almost four hours of play, having nothing to show would have sucked. That thought was certainly in the back of my mind.
I was almost upset when I got AQ on the button. I was missing the crappy hands I got in the beginning of the tourney that were easy folds. I needed some other people to go out to get my confidence back up a bit. I was not to thrilled when the guy to my right called, and especially worried when I completely missed the flop. Alls well that ends well though as I made a large continuation bet and after thinking for way too long he folds.
I'm back into a comfortable chip count.
A few hands later I get wired eights and make a standard raise. The guy to my right calls, saying it was the last time I would he was going to do that, or something to that effect. The flop is glorious. K84. I make a small bet and he pushes all in. I insta-call and suddenly I'm the chip leader at the table.
Things were pretty undramatic from my point of view from that point on. We condensed down to the final table and two people went out rather quickly to the tournament chip leader. When I got to the table he probably had double my chips. after knocking out two people I think he had more chips than the rest of us combined. He was also looking and acting very stressed and brain fried.
The tourney paid seven, so when we got down to 8 someone suggested that we all chip in $5 for the bubble so they don't leave completely empty handed. It ended up being the girl who was two to my left from the previous table. Her formerly mosterous chips stack had slowly dwindled down to nothing. I don't know how she got that many chips to start with, but she played too tight and folded to easily to stick around at those blind/ante levels.
So I made the money, and was in pretty good shape to finish near the top.
And then over the coarse of like seven hands, the chip leader eliminated four more players. And just like that we were down to three. I didn't need to worry about the short stacks sticking around and doubling each other up. They kept pushing in and he kept getting cards.
He says the third place guy and I should chop and just let him win. Its not fair how good cards have been. I think was being honest, not trying to be a d-bag. I told him I'd just let him eliminate the other guy and then take my chances heads up.
One or two hands into three way action I get QQ and the short stack pushes all in with a AJ or AT, a high ace. Fortunately the big stack folds, and the other guy doesn't hit his ace, so were heads up.
I jokingly ask if he wants a 50/50 chop. He has more physical chips than I do, and his are the orange $T10,000 chips while mine are mostly the blue $T5000 or white $T1000. For some reason, he agrees, as long as he gets an extra $50. 2nd paid a little less than $800 and first a little more that $1300. a 50/50 split came down to $1080 each, so we just rounded down so I got $1000 and he got the rest. It was about $50 less than we had agreed to, but it made the math easy and I still felt like I was getting a steal. I'd like to think that I could have taken him heads up, but for an extra $250 or so, why take the risk. Plus its nice to say I won a grand playing poker.
I think I actually left Vegas with more cash than I started with, even taking into account all of the fancy restaurants that we went to, and the Cirque-du-Solei show we say. All in all. Good trip.
Originally posted at blog.pokerwords.com