Friday, January 14, 2005

Foxwoods Thursday AM Tournament
"Sometimes you gawwwtta play any two cahhhhds, kid." - 85 year-old after she badbeated me
I fell asleep just after 2am. It was a dense foggy night and you could barely see ten feet in front of you. There's a light house about a half a mile from Senor's house in Narragansett, Rhode Island. While I crashed on his couch I could see the faint eldritch beam from the lighthouse intermittently fighting it's way through the thick fog and into the window of his living room. It's almost hypnotic and helped me fall asleep. That was until his 14 month old son woke up screaming around 3am.

Senor took him into their walk-in closet to play (since I was sleeping downstairs). The kid was making a lot of noise and I wondered if Senor gave him pots and pans to play with because sounds similar to that type of bashing was what I heard trickling downstairs. I tried to fall back asleep but couldn't. Normally I wouldn't have cared, but I needed some sleep. I was going to wake up at 6:30 because we were scheduled to leave for Foxwoods no later than 7:15am to get in line at 8am to reserve our place in the tournament. I eventually wandered upstairs and I saw Senor's wide-eyed son smacking some plastic hangars against the wall. Since I was up, Senor took him downstairs and put cartoons on the TV. That went on for almost an hour and he eventually got sleepy and went back upstairs. I switched the channel and watched the tail end of Laurel Canyon, a Kate Beckinsale movie which was filmed in the same L.A. neighborhood that my friend Haley grew up in. I finally fell asleep after 4am, and the next thing I knew... it was 6:30 and I had to get ready for Foxwoods.

Senor, his brother Jay, and myself arrived at Foxwoods at 8am on the dot and got to the poker room in the largest casino in America by 8:10. The NL tournaments sell out fast, even on a weekday morning. They cap the tourney at 250. I had gotten number 149 which assured me a seat in the tournament and I showed up at 8:10. They were sold out by 8:20. Unreal. We met up with Senor's cousin Jon and it was his first NL tournament. He was a little nervous but we gave him some quick tips. I thought about playing for 90 minutes before the tournament started at 10am, but decided to take advantage of the free buffet coupon I had gotten with my Greyhound ticket. I bought a round trip from NYC to Foxwoods for $26 (includes a free buffet coupon and two free Keno games) and arrived Wednesday afternoon. Senor picked me up and drove me back to his house without going into the casino. Normally I rent a car which costs about $100 including gas. Yeah, rental cars are super expensive in NYC even with my corporate card (McGrupp Films, Inc.) but I loathe trips on Greyhound. You get what you pay for. But having to only lay out $26 (minus the free meal) meant that I only needed to win one big pot to recoup my expenses for the trip.

Anyway, I never had the breakfast buffet at Foxwoods and if you are ever there, it's worth your time. It's kind of hard to fuck up a breakfast buffet, yet I've seen it happen at several other casinos. I'm not a coffee and eggs kind of guy. I grabbed some bacon, a sausage link, and French Toast with two types of potatoes stacked up on the side of my plate... both hasbrowns and spicy home fries. Those both tasted yummy. The French Toast was a little dry until I added a nice dose of Vermont maple syrup. The bacon had the perfect level of crispiness that I look for in my breakfast pork products. They bring you your drinks, which is cool. I ordered OJ. I also ate a biscuit and added more butter and a few slices of bacon. I ate a small bowl of fruit and a half a croissant before I left. I almost forgot about the poundcake! They had marble poundcake and I snagged a slice. I could have gone back for another random plate of goodies but I didn't want to overeat an hour before a poker tournament. I should have tipped but all I had were $100 bills and a few $20s. Next time, I'll make it up to their staff.

I found my friends and we chatted for a few more minutes before the start time. I showed Jon a piece of paper that listed the tournament structure including the blinds and antes. I told him that he needed to allow a lot of the other players to knock themselves out in the first few rounds. Jay was excited to play since he made the money in his last tournament a few days before Christmas. He came in 26th and took home $160.

The Foxwoods NL tournament costs $80 + $20 entry fee. No rebuys. 250 players max and a total prize pool of $20,000. Top 30 places pay.
Here's the payout structure for a 250 person tourney:
1st: $5,000
2nd: 3,000
3rd: 2,200
4th: 1,400
5th: 1,000
6th: 800
7th: 700
8th: 800
9th: 500
10th: 400
11-15: 280
16-20: 240
21-25: 200
26-30: 160
The blinds start at 25/50 with 20 minute levels. In level 5, antes are added. You start with T2000.

Level 1: I found a series of Ace-face cards in the first orbit. AQ, AJ, ATs. I limped in all three times and won a small pot with ATs. I finished the round with T2100.

Level 2: Blinds 25/50. I folded 77 and 55 to raises in front of me. One of the hands I would have flopped a set. Then it got ugly and I was knocked out twenty-seven minutes into the tournament. I have never been booted that early in a live tournament before. UTG limps in and I am two seats away. I limp in with AJ. There are two other callers including the BB. The flop: A-Q-3. The BB and UTG check to me. I bet the pot and the UTG calls. The turn is a J which is also the second heart on the board. He bets T300, I raise to T600. He moves all in. I think about it for a few moments and call. If he has KT, AQ, 33, or JJ, I know I'm beat. Maybe he's got a huge draw, like a straight and flush with a Kx suited. The guy is staring at me while I clock him and that told me that he didn't have it since he was acting strong. Online I can't see the other players and would never had picked up on that tell. I pushed my chips all in with two pair. He turned over KK. Huh? I felt confident seeing him misplay his hand. How many times does a two outer hit the river? It happens online at Party Poker all the time. But I was at Foxwoods. In real life, poker is not rigged. Right?

The river was a King.

Kicked in the junk once again. I took a deep breath and collected myself while everyone at the rest of table was happy it didn't happen to them. I had 75 chips left and was out two hands later when I moved all in with 66. I was the first out bounced out of my friends. It was 10:30am and I quickly called my brother to tell him the sad news. Then I called Briana, who was still sleeping back in NYC. She had bankrolled me for the tournament and was hoping to wake up around 2 or 3 to find out I made the money. That didn't happen.

I understand why he limped in with KK. Sometimes I'll limp UTG with a big pair hoping that there's a raise behind me. That's a standard move. I thought that perhaps I should have raised preflop to gain information. If he comes over the top, then he's got that monster pair and I fold my AJ right away. Instead, we both limped and saw the flop without any information about his hand. Why he called on the flop with an Ace on the board is a mystery to me. Maybe he couldn't lay down pocket Hellmuths. But there was only 225 in the pot when the flop came out and about 800 in the pot by the turn.

On the other hand, I pushed all my chips in without having the nuts at the time. KT would have been nuts. All I had was two pair. Again, after watching him for thirty seconds, I had a gut feeling that he didn't a winning hand. I feel that one of my strengths playing in live games is my ability to read people. It's not a perfect science and I make some misreads, but it's an advantage that I don't have when I play online.

I decided before the tournament that I would play very aggressive early and take some chances per the advice of Felicia. That was a big flaw in my multi table tournament play. I do well when I get out to a big lead. I'm a big stack player. Recently in other multis, I found myself surviving half the field by the second break but I was always towards the low end of the field in chips. I needed to take more chances. I might get knocked out sooner but in the end 40th place paid the same as 240th place. Pushing all in at the time gave me an opportunity to double up 27 minutes into the tournament. I took my shot and it only a two outer saved my opponent and crushed my dreams and personal goal for 2005 of making a final table at a Foxwoods tournament.

Ring Games

I was steaming a little and decided to play $2/4 while I waited for my $4/8 table. When I was eventually called for $4/8 a half hour later, I decided not to take it and wait for my friends to get knocked out before I grabbed lunch with them (they skipped breakfast) and play $4/8 afterwards. Plus my table was really soft, so why leave? On my first hand I won a pot with KK and even though 6 people saw the flop, my cowboys held up. Unfortunately, the next time I had KK, I ran into AA. If that was a NL table I would have lost my entire stack for sure. Later on, my QQ was river'd by some 85 year-old grandma in a wheelchair who was breathing irregularly through an oxygen tank. She was holding J3o.

"Sometimes you got to take a shot!" she told me after I made a snarky comment that she badbeated my Hilton Sisters.

Actually she pronounced "shot" like "Shawwwwt!" in her thick New England accent.

"Sometimes you gawwwtta play any two cahhhhds, kid."

She was down $250 at that point. I wanted the rest of her stack and that's why I didn't want to switch tables. I don't care of she's an old lady in a wheelchair, moments away from being touched by the wraith-like hand of Death. A lot of people might frown upon me from taking advantage of an elderly lady sipping red white with ice cubes while gambling away her social security check at 11am, but fuck that. It's not like I crashed a senior citizens center home game and ran over a table of myopic octarians. We were at the biggest card room on the East Coast. She knew her risks the second she wheeled up to the table.

Jon was knocked out soon meand Jay got some awful hands and ended up getting blinded out. Senor outlasted all of us and finished somewhere between 60-70. He was happy he hung in there that long since he plays more stud at Foxwoods then hold'em. I was proud he made it that far! I cashed out of my $2/4 table down 5BB. We grabbed footlong hotdogs at Nathan's and then they all left and returned to Rhode Island. I went back to the poker room and decided to play $5/10 since there was open seating. Why wait for $4/8?

Foxwoods has a $5/10 game with a kill pot and the button only came out twice. I bought in for $300 played super tight. I saw a few flops with pocket 8s, 9s, and 10s. I hit a huge hand when I raised in LP with 44. I flopped a set and some old woman who looked like George Costanza's mother called me all the way to the river with J4o and her two pair. My JJ lost to Q8o by some kid who watched too much poker on cable. He was wearing shades and would toss his cards in a spiteful manner at the dealer when he got a bad hand. He flopped a gutshot draw after calling my preflop raise with a questionable hand. I thought I had a winner when I saw a J on the river. That gave him a straight.

I felt that the table was pretty tight with no more than 3 or 4 people seeing a flop. Preflop raises tended to get no more than 3 people in a pot. The table was tight with the exception of George Costanza's mother who would play a lot of random hands. Just when I decided to loosen up and switch gears to play a few more hands in LP, I found AA. I raised and got two callers including George Costanza's mother. The flop: Q-9-5. She checked, another guy bet and I raised to $10. They both called. The turn: rag. The river was an 8. I even raised on the turn and everyone checked to me on the river. I bet and everyone called. The guy had QTs. He was betting out with top pair. George Costanza's mother flipped over 85o.

"You cannot be serious!" I shrieked in my most irritated John McEnroe imitation.

She didn't even make eye contact as she stacked up her chips. One of the regulars sitting next to me did the berating that I wanted to unleash. I bit my upper lip and ordered a beer from the waitress as he got on her case. All those putrid bad beats on Party Poker had helped me take on a more indurante approach to horrid suckouts.

AA beat by 58o? It was one of those days.

I wanted to say, "What the fuck were you doing calling a preflop raise with that junk, then calling two bets on the flop with bottom pair? I've played 5 hands all afternoon at this table. All pocket pairs."

It goes to show that the best cards usually don't win. Like that grandma at the $2/4 table said... "Sometimes you have to play any two cards."

I decided to walk away after that vicious bad beat. I picked up my chips and cashed out. I was down 10BB at the $5/10 table and down 5 BB at the $2/4 table plus tips for drinks. Since Briana picked up the tournament fee, I only had a total loss of $120 plus the bus ticket. On the bright side, I had an opportunity to slake my thirst for more live multi table tournament play. I also took advantage of the opportunity to see one of my best friends and his wife and his brother for a bit and watch cartoons with "my nephew" at 3am. He's a crazy little kid. Someday we're going to teach Senor's son hold'em.

BBJ on Party Poker

I got home late and fired up Party Poker since the Bad Beat Jackpot was near 600k. I played with Drizz and had Chad on the rail. This morning I woke up and played for a little bit on the BBJ tables with Drizz, Donkey Puncher, and Josh. I lost 5BB but I was also multi-tasking reading blogs and catching up on all the news articles I missed. Tonight I will definitely be slumming around the $2/4 BBJ tables.

If you don't have a Party Poker account, you are missing out! You can use my bonus code: TAO4 and download the software here. A lot of fish playing in those games. Like Iggy said, if you play ABC poker in those games, you'll add a few bucks to your bankroll while having an outside shot at hitting the jackpot.

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