Saturday, August 23, 2003

Act Two Tournament... the Skinny

There's a famous line from Doyle Brunson, "If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour... then you're the sucker."

Act Two is single table (10 man) No Limit Hold'em tournament. The buy in is $115 and the winner gets a coupon for the next scheduled Act Three tournament (worth $1,060). When I sat down to the table to play, I was nervous because I felt I was outmatched. The majority of the ten players were regulars at Foxwoods. They knew each other and knew the dealers by their first names. I was in trouble and I knew I needed to do two things.

1. Play only solid hands (A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-K, J-J, and A-Q)
2. When I do play, to play aggressive and put the other players in the pot on the defensive.

I knew only one other player at the table. I met him a couple of hours earlier at the same table Senor and I played $2-4. He was a solid player and he told me he won an Act One tournament, so I made him for a decent player. I drew Seat 2.

The table breakdown:
Seat 1: Mid-40s guy, I figured he was an ex-cop or state trooper.
Seat 2: Me
Seat 3: Old guy in his 60s. His tattoos on his arms were older than me.
Seat 4: Middle-aged "ethnic" guy
Seat 5: "The lawyer" in his late 30s
Seat 6: Young guy from Omaha, Nebraska (his second Act Two of the day)
Seat 7: Late 20s glasses
Seat 8: Guy from North Carolina I played with
Seat 9: "Steve" mid 30s
Seat 10: Friend of the guy from NC, late 20s. He wore sunglasses.

Here's how the blinds went (little blind-big blind). Each level was 15 minutes long.

Level 1: 25-25
Level 2: 25-50
Level 3: 50-100
Level 4: 100-200
Level 5: 200-400
Level 6: 400-800
Level 7: 600-1200
Level 8: 1000-2000
Level 9: 1500-3000

The highest the blinds got were $600-1200 when I got busted.

Everyone got $2,000 in chips. I didn't play anything the first few hands. The guy in Seat 7 won a couple of big pots with A-K and A-Q. The lawyer won a few pots when he bet $300 a couple of times. And the ethnic guy seemed to irk the lawyer. He sat in front of him, so he'd raise before the pot before action got to the lawyer.

Before the tenth hand I caught pocket Aces. Since I raised $300 pre-flop and a couple of people called. The flop came out all rags, and I bet heavily. Everyone folded and I won a rare pot with A-A.

A couple of hands later I got A-10 suited. I called the pre-flop raise of $300 from the ethnic guy. I flopped the nut flush. I decided to slow play the guy. I bet $500 and he called. I did the same on the turn. On the river a fourth club fell (I still had the nut flush) and I went all-in. He folded. And I took the majority of his stack. I now held the chip lead with over $3,600.

The first guy who got busted was the ethnic guy. When he left the lawyer was pumped. He was getting bullied all night by him. The kid from Omaha was next to fall before the guy with glasses in Seat 7 got busted after he went all in with K-J.

The next few levels I got decent cards. I fell into a rush of pocket pairs. 3-3, 4-4,7-7, 9-9... and I didn't win any pots with those cards. I lost some of my stack playing those hands. I threw away A-4 one time when there was a medium sized bet in front of me. I didn't feel too good about that hand. Unluckily for me, I would have flopped the Wheel with 5-2-3. And the pot was huge too!

The cop next to me was bluffing a lot. I watched him carefully. He went all-in a couple of times and would often try to steal small pots where everyone checked. He was involved in one of the crazier hands all night. There was plenty of action with a couple of raises pre-flop. I mucked my hand and the flop came out 4-A-4. Only the lawyer and the cop stayed in. Next fell a Jack on the turn, the on the river another 4 fell for 4-A-4-J-4. The lawyer went all in and the cop called him. The lawyer turned over A-10 suited for a full house 4s over Aces. The cop just turned over one of his cards... a 4! The cop flopped trips, then got four of a kind on the river. The lawyer was "wicked pissed". He tossed his cards up in the air over the dealer's head. He definitely wasn't bluffing that time.

By Level 4 ($100-200 blinds) half the table had been busted. Seats 1,2,3 (the cop, me, and the old guy) and Seats 8,9,10 (the NC guys and "Steve") only remained. Most of the chips were on the far end of the table (Seats 8-10) and I had the second shortest stack.

In Level 5 I got A-9 off suit. I called a $400 bet. An Ace fell on the flop. I had a pair with a medium kicker. The cop moved all in. I made him for either Aces or a high pair like Kings or Queens. I was just hoping I had a better kicker if he had an Ace. Since he was right next to me, I picked up on how he played his hands. I knew he had a good hand, but I knew he didn't have the best hand. He was trying to intimidate me. I could do two things:

1. Fold if I think he's got me beat.
2. Call his "all-in" if I think he's trying to steal the pot with a semi-bluff.

I had more chips than he did so I called his bet of $2,000. We turned over our cards and he held A-3. I had a better kicker. He was asking the dealer for a 3 on the turn and river. Nothing fell that could help him, and I won the pot (about $5,800) after he went all-in. I knocked out my first player in this tourney.

By Level 6, the old guy next to me was gone and "Steve" looked good as the chip leader. When there was three people remaining I lost a lot of chips on blinds, since the game was short-handed and the action went around quick. I got K-J and I called Seat 10's "all-in" betwhen the flop was J-7-5. He held Q-J. Nothing on the turn or the river helped him. I made it to teh last two guys. I held $8,000 in chips. Steve had $12,000.

It was now Level 7 and the blinds were $600-$1200. You know the rest of the story how I got busted with the infamous A-9 suited against his K-9 off suit. After the flop, with only thre eouts that could help him, I had 82% of winning the hand with trips and an Ace kicker. Steve was an underdog at 7 to 1. Again, this was an ideal situation for me. Everyone I know would have done the move I made. I went all-in against the chip leader. Alas, the King fell on the turn, and my tournament was seconds away from being over.

I now know what it felt like to be Phil Ivey (9-9) when Chris Moneymaker (A-Q) knocked him out at the 2003 World Series. Ivey had a full house Nines over Queens to Moneymaker's three Queens. Until Moneymaker caught an Ace on the river to give him a ful house Queens over Aces. Ivey was stunned and when that happens you really don't know what to do or say. I just kept shaking my head. Another bad beat, probably the worst of my young career. The frustrating thing was that I didn't lose because I made a bad play. I lost to the percentages. Shit happens.

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