I arrived in Las Vegas Friday afternoon, and after getting checked into the hotel I was introduced to three card poker by a couple of guys in the group. They had been playing for a few hours before I got there and claimed that it was an easy mindless game where you could nurse your chips for a while without going broke. For the most part I didn't quite have their luck, as I burned through my allotted stack fairly quickly. But then the big payoff came. I hit trip fives with a payout of 30x1 + a bunch of other side bets. That allowed me to hang around until it was time for dinner, and for the first time in a long time I was able to leave a table with more money than I started with. That would be the only time this happens for the weekend. For anyone in the group. As long as you have a big enough bankroll to last until you hit a big payout three card poker isn't a terrible game. Just be warned that like any game, if you hit a bad run you could lose all your chips real fast. But, you probably didn't come here to read about my failures at three card poker.
After dinner, Smack and I headed over to the Rio to register for the event #43 at this year's WSOP. I haven't really been following pro poker for the last few years and he's got a much better eye for it, but he was picking out poker pros left and right whereas I would have let them walk by just assuming they were random guys. In the half hour that we were there to register and scope out the venue we saw Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, Eli Elezra, Alan Cunningham, Huck Seed, Men Nguyen, Joe Hachem, Eric Seidel and a bunch more that I don't remember.
On to the tourney.
We start off 5 handed at my table. Three registrants had yet to show and two seats were open waiting for late buy ins. Ultimately Cherish Andrews
sits down to my immediate left. I don't recognize her, but a guy at the other end of the table congratulates her. She's eventually forced to divulge that she had come in fourth place in a tournament earlier this month. About half way through the second blind level Simon Charette
sits down in seat number four. He looks familiar, but I wouldn't have been able to name him if the guy in seat five didn't out him. Simon won event 23 earlier this month.
On a side note, I found Cherish Andrew's twitter page. She is selling 1% stakes in herself for $35. If my math is correct after 42 or 43 sales she'll have paid for her entry leaving 57% of the profits for herself. I'm going to start a price war next year. 1% stakes in me will only cost $30. Don't all volunteer at once, there are plenty of sponsoring opportunities for all of you.
Back to the tourney. I had terrible cards the entire tournament. I'm sure that's what everyone says, but I almost nothing I could do anything with. I don't think I saw an Ace until halfway through the second level. I had a bunch of hands that I might have considered gambling on in our league, but those are marginal hands that are more likely to lead to trouble than anything good. The exception to my hand luck was pocket nines. I got them four times in the first two hours. The first time I flopped an open ended straight. The turn gave me a set, but gave the other three players in the hand my open ended straight. I guess I should have tried to take the pot there, but I was forced out. I didn't feel good about my set. It was too easy for someone to have the straight. The river ended up completing the low end of the straight so the best I would have done is split the pot. The next two times I had nines, I took down some medium/small pots on the flop. The last time I folded three handed to flop bet with an ace on the board. Cherish ended up taking that hand with pocket sevens. So I guess I was playing a little too conservatively.
Despite not playing many hands, I was able to get up to just over 5K from the starting point of 4.5K after the first level. I lost a little bit in the second level, down to around 4.8k when we got to the final hand before the break. I was in the big blind and seven players called a min bet ahead of me. Of course I came along for the ride. Eight handed, the flop is J 8 3. Fifth or Sixth position bets 500 and I pop it to 1000. It folds back to the original bettor and he pushes all-in for about 2k more. I call, and he shows pocket jacks. the turn and river don't help and I go from an OK stack to a real short stack just like that.
I feel like I played the hand correctly. I wanted a lot of people in the had so I'd have someone to pay me off if I hit my set, which I did. Unfortunately someone else flopped a better set. I was putting him on AJ, or maybe two pair, or a big over pair. I think I'm ahead in that scenario the vast majority of the time, and if I don't make that play I'm costing myself a lot of chips. Maybe he intentionally disguised his hand by betting the way he did, or maybe he got lucky no one sucked out on him, but I feel like he should have bet pre-flop to prevent 8 people from getting into the pot with him in the first place. The chance of not hitting someone's overcard has to be pretty slim. He got lucky and just about the only scenario that pays him off happens. For me, I wasn't going past the flop unless I hit my set or it checks around. Before the hand I was counting up my chips so I could update my friends at the break, and I guess I should have just walked away, happy to be even at the second break.
The third level was pretty uneventful for me. I start with 1900 chips for blinds at 50/100. I tried to take stabs at a couple pots, but got pushed out both times. Finally I raise preflop with pocket sevens. Its reraised back to me for most of my remaining chips. I figure I'm going to have to make a move sooner or later, so it might as well be now and call. He has AK, but flops an ace and just like that I'm going home.
Overall I think I played OK, maybe a little more conservative that I should have. I generallly tried to avoid gettin into confrontations with mediocre cards. Theres nothing worse than pairing your top card with a bad kicker and being forced to fold because you aren't confident in your hand. There's no reason to let yourself get into those situatoins. As a result, I folded a lot. A lot. However sometimes maybe I should just play a random hand or two, to keep people on their toes, and because I may hit a big hand, or be able to claim a pot or two with continuation bets.
Overall players at the table weren't as aggressive as I'm used to in live tourneys. Probably because the blinds don't start out as high relative to your starting chips as in the smaller daily tourneys. The blinds also increase at a much nicer pace, so there is no reason to panic if you aren't doubling up in the first half hour. There is still a lot of pre-flop raising, but it was only 2.5-3.5 the big blind, and there wasn't a lot of all-ins out of nowhere. The game flow was definetly something I was more comfortable with, I just couldn't quite take advantage of it.
I played in the $85 dollar tourney at Ceasrs the next night. This is where you realize how bad players can be. The contrast with the WSOP was incredible. It was impossible to get a read on the table. A pre-flop raise of 1200 with blinds at 50/100 gets called by three people with garbage hands and my 600 raise when I get aces scares everyone out. I'm doing fine in this tourney as well, when the big blind calls my preflop raise. He asks me if I'm going to keep stealing his blinds. I didn't think this was the case, but I may have raised him the last time he was in the blinds. I have KK. The flop is A 9 4 and he goes all in immediately. I'm not even convinced he saw any of the cards on the flop. I think about it for a while and ultimatly decide that doesn't have the ace. I'm pretty sure he was going all in no matter what. I may or may not have been right. He turns over 96. Its possible he thought I was trying to steal and that he could take it back from me with his middle pair. I'm sure you konw where this is going. He rivers another 9 and I'm down to the proverbial chip and chair. I actually manage to triple up ont the next hand with queen high, but it still wasn't enough as I was forced in again on the next hand and didn't survive. Oh well. That's poker as they say.
Overall, it was a good time, it just lasted significantly less time than I was planning. I hope to be back again next year. And I was only partially joking about that selling shares in me part. If I don't win my way in I'll need to finance it somehow.
Originally posted at blog.pokerwords.com
Labels: poker tournament, strategy, Vegas, WSOP