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WPT $3K event at Lucky Chances

WPT $3K event at Lucky Chances - Mon Nov 11, 2002, 01:05 PM
Deleted user
I arrive at Lucky Chances at 11:30 and head to the cashier window to register. I pick table 15, seat 10. I really don’t like the 10 seat but table 15 is likely to be one of the first to break since it looks like 150-160 players for the main event, so I’ll probably get a new table and seat pretty quickly.

I go to the buffet in Rene’s and grab a quick bite. As always, the buffet is excellent! Around noon I finish up and go back to the tourney area. I head to my table and grab some cushions and get ready for battle. The table is still empty so I wander around, soaking it all in. There are a lot of tour players running around and saying hi to each other; I recognize a few.

I take my seat and the table slowly starts to fill up. “Shuffle up and deal!” comes over the PA and we’re off! My pregame strategy is basically to concentrate and focus on every hand; no distractions. Play tight early and be extremely careful if I get involved in an unraised pot, where I often get myself in big trouble. Blinds are starting at 50/100 and we have 10,000 starting chips. Rounds are 60 minutes. Seats 1, 4, 5, and 6 are still empty and I am going to take it very carefully; I have a tendency to push it too far when tempted by the unprotected blinds and I decide I am not going to fall into that trap this time. I’m only going to play premium hands. I don’t recognize any of the players at my table until seat 1 is filled by Tom McEvoy. During the Partner’s Bounty event on Monday night, I was at Tom’s table on his left and managed to take him out to win the bounty. This time he’s got position on me!

During the first round, I pick up a few marginal hands: QJs, 44, 88, A9s. I’m thinking I’m probably playing too tightly as I lay them all down. I don’t play a single hand during the first round, but I do manage to pick up the blinds twice as it is folded all the way around to me in the BB. The table is playing very tightly, and in hindsight I probably should have loosened up accordingly and played a few of those hands. By the way, about 15 minutes into round 1, they announce that the first player has gone out, none other than Men “The Master” Nguyen! I later heard he got crippled by taking his 8h9h against AhKh and a flop of all hearts. Shortly thereafter a local, very loose, player drew out on him and he was done.

As the first round ends, I’m at 9550. I play my first hand 5 minutes into the second round and steal McEvoy’s blind from the SB with Q7. Nice. A few hands later I pick up AK. UTG player on my right raises up to 500, I reraise to 2K and take the pot down uncontested. With about 15 minutes left in the second round our table breaks. I get table 9, seat 4, and head off to see what awaits me.

As I approach table 9, I see murderer’s row. In seat 1 is Diego Cordovez. Seat 2 is Erik Seidel. Seat 3 is Phil Hellmuth. Seat 6 is Howard Lederer. Seat 7 is Randy Holland. Seat 10 is Richard Tatalovich. Seats 8 and 9 are filled by people I don’t recognize, but after sitting at the table for a while it’s clear they are known commodities to the rest of the esteemed players. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto! After I won my seat a few weeks ago in a super sat, I spent a lot of time trying to decide if I should sell the seat or play it. After much soul searching, I realized that while I don’t ever plan on competing regularly at this level, one of my poker goals was to play in a big event like this, and so I decided to play it for the experience. Except for McEvoy, the first table lineup was a letdown and I wondered if I was going to get the experience I had paid for, but looking over table 9 I wonder if I am going to make it through round 3. When Mike Matusow comes over and asks why they have all the champions at one table, I realize my goose is probably cooked, but I’m going to enjoy every minute of it! Nothing significant happens through the end of round 2 and I am still at par with 9750.

Midway through the third round, I still haven’t played many hands. Richard in seat 10 is UTG+1. He’s been the most aggressive player at the table, regularly opening the pot with a 3x raise. Blinds are 150/300 and as usual he opens for 900. It folds around to me on the button and I find JJ and decide to play back and raise it to 2200. It folds back to Richard, who thinks for a while (he is a big thinker, regularly taking a minute or two to decide his move) and he asks how many chips I have (I have about 8500 left) and then he moves all in. I’ve got him covered by about 2600. Now it’s on me. As I am thinking, he asks me if I have a big ace or a pair. I watch him carefully and say pair. He gives no visible reaction. I’m thinking that he’s got a big A and is trying to move me off the hand, and I also am thinking that I need to try to hit a hand and get some chips to play with at this table. I decide to call and as he says “I hate this hand”, raising my hopes I have caught him overplaying his hand, he turns over KK. I guess hand values are a bit different at this level; I’m usually pretty happy with KK! I get a great flop of 8 9 T, but the straight doesn’t get there and I’m hurting. It was a big mistake; I knew I should have laid it down but just felt that, as the dead money at the table, I was being tested and I had to show some backbone. I picked the wrong hand.

It’s actually kind of liberating to have a small stack; I felt I was playing too tight and I know need to make some moves with my small stack or I’m going to be finished early. On the one hand, I don’t want to go out only a few hours into this event, but at the same time, I know how to play a short stack. I pick my spots carefully and get a few hands and a little luck in round 4 (200/400, 25 antes). I get AA twice. First time I am in the cutoff and open raise it to 1200. Button folds and Lederer asks how many chips I have (5K or so) before mucking and all I get is the blinds/antes. One orbit later, I get AA on the button and seat 5 is now empty, so Lederer is on my immediate left. I make the same raise to 1200 and I am sure that Howard thinks I am on a steal and he’s going to come over the top. Sure enough, he pauses and then makes it 4200 to go. BB folds and I quickly push my remaining chips in. He turns over KTo and I double through. By the end of round 4 I’ve built my stack back up to 12K! On my right, Diego and Phil are still at around 10K and Eric is at about 20K. I’ve held my own and gotten back into the game.

In round 5 (300/600, 50 antes), I pick up AQ again and after Richard makes his regular open raise to 2K I move all in on him. He asks again if I have a pair or a big ace and I say this time I’m not telling. After his usual 2 minute pause to think, he mucks 55 face up. Nice. He had me on a bigger pair. At the end of round 5 I’m at 11,275. Still hanging around.

Eric takes out Diego 10 minutes into round 6 when Diego tries to steal the blinds with his short stack from the button with Q4o and Seidel moves him in with pocket 5s. The 5’s hold up and seat 1 is open. Ten minutes later, seat 1 fills up in a big way when Scotty Nguyen sits down! Things aren’t getting any easier, but I am loving it! It’s like playing a round of golf with Tiger, Jack, and Arnie!

Round 7 (600/1200, 100 antes), Seidel opens for 3K. I find AQ again and move my 8K stack in to try and take it down right there. Unfortunately Richard in seat ten moves his big stack in with AK, Seidel quickly folds, and I’m standing up to leave when a Q hits on the turn and I double through! I’ve been pretty tight and haven’t been making many moves on the blinds, so when I pick up Q7 on the button and it’s folded to me I raise it to 3K on a steal and Howard raises me 6K more and I have to dump it. It’s not like I thought I was going to get a lot of respect but I had hoped that I might use my tight image every once in a while! A short time later, Phil opens with a raise with 55 and Howard calls with JJ. Flop comes 4 6 7, Phil moves in and Howard quickly calls. Phil hits his 3 on the turn and Howard is out. He is replaced by Mike, yet another pro, who sits down with about 40K. On his first hand at the table, I pick up KT on the button, raise it to 5K on a steal, and he moves me in. I think long and hard; I’ve got about 8K left. Having just sat down, neither of us have any handle on the other’s style. I have to assume he probably has a decent ace or pocket pair and he’s taking advantage of his big stack. I decide I don’t want to go out of the tourney on a blind steal gone bad and I give it up. This was actually a critical hand, and in hindsight I wonder if I should have called here.

Still in round 7, I pick up AA again. Hellmuth opens for 4K from the button, and I pause to figure out what to do here. He’s got about 18K left, I have 14K. I’ve come over the top of Phil a few times and haven’t shown a hand, so I am thinking he may be inclined to call me if I do it again so I move my 10K all in. BB folds and Phil quickly folds. He was on a steal; I probably should have called, although I could easily have gotten hammered by some strange two pair hand and so I think it was the right move. Phil lays a mild beat on Scotty when Scotty opens from the button with a raise, Phil moves in on him with AJs and Scotty quickly calls with KK. Flop of A J x gets Scotty a bit on tilt. Shortly thereafter, Phil proceeds to go on a three hand rush, picking up (and showing) KK, AKs, and AA in consecutive hands, making big raises or reraises which are not called. He finishes round 7 by winning a big pot against Richard, taking K7 against what Richard said was “an A” and a board of A K x x K with a lot of chips going in on each street. Phil’s got a big stack now and he knows what to do with it!

We move into round 8 (800/1600, 200 ante) and I’m at around 14K. Money is getting shallow for me. I’m looking for a hand to go with and it just isn’t showing up. Just as I’m about to take the big blind I get tapped and moved to a new table. It looks like the BB just busted out. The rules state that the player who is about to take the BB is moved “to the open seat closest to the button”. In theory, and usually in practice, this means I will have to take the blinds at the new table shortly. However, I slide into the open seat 1 just in front of the button and since the deal has already started I manage to miss the blinds! That’s the good news. The bad news is that Tom McEvoy’s in seat 2! I don’t recognize any of the other players (there is a Steve Z in seat 5, perhaps Steve Zoltow?).

I’ve got about 12K. I’m looking for a hand. PLEASE. We’re playing 7 handed right now, there are 37 players left and we are playing 9 handed tables so we’re waiting for one more to bust before going to 4 tables. Blinds are moving fast because of the empty seats. On my right in seat 10 is a huge stack, and he’s raising every hand. I’m looking at a succession of trash hands…24s, 24, 23, J2, 72, absolutely nothing to go with. The table fills and we are down to 36 players. I pick up 55 UTG and almost make my move, but I’ve gone out too many times with a small pair to an overpair and the table is full now so I decide to pass. Had we still been 7 handed I would probably have gone with it.

I’m down to 7K and I pick up A4o. This would appear to be the hand. I move in, and the SB calls me with AK. The flop is A 2 9, turn is a 3 putting 3 spades on the board (he has the As) and I manage to go to the river with 6 outs. I don’t get one of them and I go out 33rd out of 152 with 2 minutes left in round 8.

It was a great experience and I’m glad I played the seat I won. I had decided I was going to sell the seat, so thanks to Lucky Chances Tournament Director Matt Savage for helping to convince me to play. When I was at Lucky Chances on Saturday to check things out and sell the seat, I was talking to Matt when a local player came up and asked Matt to help him sell his seat for $2900. Matt took a couple of steps forward and asked one of the tables in the middle of the $1000 TOC format event (Omaha 8, Holdem, Stud in rotation) if anyone wanted a seat for $2900. One of the players said yes and the deal was done. When I told Matt I wanted him to sell mine just like that, he said no, I should play. I asked him why he didn’t tell the other player that and he told me that may have been the right choice for that player, but it wasn’t for me. On my drive home later on Saturday I realized he was right. This was an opportunity I just could not pass up. If you consider that Howard Lederer regularly plays the highest limits at the Bellagio, if I wanted to sit down and play with him for 6 hours I would have lost way more than $3K! Add in Hellmuth, Seidel, Cordovez, Nguyen, McEvoy, and the rest of the pro’s I played with and really, how could I have gotten any better value for my dollar?

What did I learn from this experience? Lay down Jacks to a big reraise? I already knew that, but the reinforcement from this experience is unforgettable!! I felt that I was not aggressive enough; when I had opportunities to steal the blinds in the later rounds, I wasn’t getting what I felt were strong enough hands to steal with given my relatively short stacked position all day. I was afraid of getting played back at, and with a short stack I knew I couldn’t afford to mix it up and would have to lay down. Losing ¾ of my stack with those jacks left me without the chips I needed to play aggressively, and given the competitors at my table, that made it really tough.

While I was initially pleased to see that I had position on the four pros on my right, it later became apparent that this wasn’t the advantage it first seemed to be. The problem was that even when I had hands like KQ where I would have opened with a raise, I was never able to get the first raise in with the high level of aggressiveness from the pros. That meant that I either needed to make a big reraise with these hands or pass. Maybe I need to learn to call in these situations but I felt like I needed to reraise or fold.

I also wonder about the final hand I played. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in this situation, waiting for a pair or an ace, only to find an ace and end up getting called by a bigger ace. I am starting to wonder if I’m not better off looking for a king rather than an ace in these situations, assuming that someone who is going to call my raise is likely to have an ace, probably a bigger one, and I’ll be drawing to three outs.

I also think I need to practice defending my blinds more. It’s not that I plan on regularly defending my blinds, but I found myself throwing away 44 in the BB when the button raised, A2s when the SB raised, hands like that. I think my failure to defend set me up as a target for others and I need to work on defending my blinds without getting killed.

I was also very reluctant to just call any bets. I don’t recall ever seeing a turn card unless I was all in. Now, since I was very obviously the worst player at the table, I almost thought about going with Sklansky’s “System” and just either mucking or raising all in whenever I had a hand. I knew I would almost certainly be outplayed after the flop by any of these world champs, so I really wanted to avoid getting in that situation. Combined with my short-stackedness, I just didn’t feel like I could mix it up.

I will undoubtedly continue to think about this over the coming days and weeks and I know I’ll grow as a player as a result of this great experience. Although my goal was to finish in the money (top 18 ), I feel good about my performance (with the exception of those darn jacks!). And I couldn’t have asked for more in terms of the quality of the competition at my table (actually, I could have asked for a bit less!). I hope to have an opportunity to go up against this kind of competition again someday.

Here is the end of day one standings...guys I played against in bold

WPT Event - No Limit Hold'em Championship (End of Day 1)
November 10, 2002
$500,000 Guaranteed Gold Rush
Lucky Chances Casino
Prize Pool $456,000
Entries 152

Place Name Prize
1 Paul Darden 470000 chips
2 Phil Hellmuth 433000 chips
3 Chris Bigler 276000 chips
4 Vince Burgio 156000 chips
5 Tommy Garzo 103000 chips
6 Antonio Esfandiari 81000 chips
7 Jackson Young (San Francisco) $16,000
8 Kent Lin (San Jose) $11,000
9 Erik Seidel (Henderson) $9,000
10 MF Wong (San Francisco) $4,500
11 Michael Dobrich (San Francisco) $4,500
12 Tony Ng (Regina Canada) $4,500
13 Sam Batshon (S. San Francisco) $4,000
14 Steve Zolotow (New York) $4,000
15 Lam Hoang (San Francisco) $4,000
16 Rob Phillip (San Francisco) $3,500
17 John Maka (Hillsboro) $3,500
18 Mark Burtman (Paduca) $3,500
Mon Nov 11, 2002, 01:24 PM
Deleted user
Excellent post!! What great reading!
I don't know how you kept track of so many hands
and remembered what your thinking was.
My only comment on your play is that you don't
give yourself enough credit. You are much better
than you think you are. Next time make your
decisions based on the assumption that those
famous pretenders are holding your money and
you want it back!! ...aloha
Mon Nov 11, 2002, 01:49 PM
Deleted user
excellent report, thank you for posting for all of us to read. as huk said, i think you underestimate yourself. i strongly believe in having a positive attitude, and never feel defeated until you are gone, becuase you can cause yourself to lose. if the players at your table were all unrecognizable to you, not pros from magazines and t.v., would you have played any different? just something to think about...... great finish and good luck in the future!!!!!!!

Mon Nov 11, 2002, 02:12 PM
Deleted user
Thanks guys. You know, I would say that I really wasn't THAT intimidated by the company I was keeping; it was more a situation of having a short stack and not being able to afford to mix it up much without facing elimination. If that straight had gotten there with my jacks, I wonder how things would have been different as I would have eliminated Richard who was being overly aggressive and preventing me from being able to make any moves and I would have been a big stack at the table.

I really enjoyed playing with "the big boys"! I wasn't nervous at all.

I must say that the "mileage" I gained playing so much at PSO was obviously a big contributor to my comfort level. You guys provide a good, challenging game!
Great Stuff - Mon Nov 11, 2002, 03:01 PM
Deleted user
Great report and great reading! Thoroughly enjoyed it!!

What an incredible table of talent you were initially moved to: Diego, Seidel, Hellmuth, and Lederer! And then when Diego is out he's replaced by Scotty Nguyen!?!?!?! Jesus! And with all this you managed to finish 33rd!!!!! TREMENDOUS!!!!! Congrats!
Mon Nov 11, 2002, 04:42 PM
Deleted user
Great report. I, too, enjoyed reading it.
Mon Nov 11, 2002, 05:57 PM
Deleted user
Great report. What an excellent experience to have had, and you finished 33rd! Well done.

On his first hand at the table, I pick up KT on the button, raise it to 5K on a steal, and he moves me in. I think long and hard; I’ve got about 8K left. Having just sat down, neither of us have any handle on the other’s style. I have to assume he probably has a decent ace or pocket pair and he’s taking advantage of his big stack. I decide I don’t want to go out of the tourney on a blind steal gone bad and I give it up. This was actually a critical hand, and in hindsight I wonder if I should have called here.
I think so. You're most likely behind, but usually not by that much unless you are very unlucky. Most often in that spot you will be even money or 3-to-2 dog, and you are getting far too large pot odds to fold.

What did I learn from this experience? Lay down Jacks to a big reraise?
Well, you made 2 mistakes in that JJ hand. The first mistake was re-raising in the first place with JJ. It appears that the money is too deep to do this. You want to see the flop with this hand on that depth of money as you have a great chance to double through when it hits. Re-raising takes that chance away as you usually have to fold to a further raise and miss seeing the flop. You were right that you should have laid it down. There is no way the UTG is going to move in with AK or any lower pair than KK, on that depth of money against a player playing tight, even if you think they are pushing you about.

Again, great report. Enjoyed it greatly.
Mon Nov 11, 2002, 06:33 PM
Deleted user
Originally Posted by Noodles
Most often in that spot you will be even money or 3-to-2 dog, and you are getting far too large pot odds to fold.
That's what I realized after the hand. But the old "is this the hand you want to go out of the tourney with" thought came to mind, and at that point the answer was no...the realization that the pot odds really compelled me to make the call came a few minutes after I folded!

The first mistake was re-raising in the first place with JJ
I'm not so sure. Normally I would respect the EP raise, but this guy had been opening 50% of the pots we played with a raise. It wasn't obvious that he would have a big pair here.

The question is, if I had just called and then seen that 8 9 T flop, I am assuming KK is going to check raise me all in, or open the betting all in, and I am going to have to call there so the outcome is the same, right?

You were right that you should have laid it down. There is no way the UTG is going to move in with AK or any lower pair than KK, on that depth of money against a player playing tight, even if you think they are pushing you about.
The reason I reraised him was to try to take it down there; I did have him outstacked. When he came back over the top, I found out what I was looking for and should have given it up right there, but I convinced myself he had AK and it was a coin flip. It's interesting that later on he did call my all in reraise of Seidel's open raise (when I had AQ) with AK. So in a way I had a decent read on him; I am still convinced he would have done the same thing there with AK.

Normally I'm not a big fan of coin flips, but at this table I was pretty open to the idea of doubling through on a coin flip!

BTW, I saw AQ a lot during the tourney and ended up pushing it much further than I would have liked. I absolutely hate the hand. I did enjoy hitting the Q though!
Tue Nov 12, 2002, 12:09 AM
Deleted user
Man, I wish I'd paid closer attention to your opponents stack size before I wrote my first post to you ops:

After writing that post out, I just now realised that the money might not have been deep enough for what I said to apply. If not, and it depends on his stack at the start of the deal, then I apologise as your re-raise would indeed have been the correct thing to do in that case.

If his stack was only around 6k when the hand started then you did the right thing by re-raising. The call of his all-in was the only mistake, as you realise. But then, it was probably a correct call if you can widen his range of hands to other hands besides QQ, KK, AA, AK. Otherwise it is a fold.

Assuming his stack was only around 6k at the start of the deal, then I agree with everything you put in your reply to my first post. I could reply to it, giving my reply as if we were talking about the deep money situation I thought it was, but that would get confusing so I'll leave it. Unless you don't understand why it would be wrong to re-raise with JJ in that case, and want me to post a reply in that context.

Geez, wish I'd kept my big mouth shut now
Tue Nov 12, 2002, 01:34 AM
Deleted user
I don't think your raise with JJ is that bad a play. As you point out, he has been opening almost half the pots for a 3X BB raise. Obviously he can't have QQ, KK, or AA on all of these hands. I would not call in this situation. If you call and a Q, K, or A flops, then what are you going to do. Even if three babies flop you still are going to lose your money to an overpair, so why give a free flop away. I agree with your raise to try and win the pot right there. I would either raise or fold.

As for when to call, raise or fold based on depth of money, I think sometimes we can over analyze things (I have never been able to quite understand all of Noodles' theories on this subject Is it just to figure the implied odds one can get?). Poker is also a game of people not just numbers, and if you feel you have a good read on someone you've got to play your read. What if you were 80% sure he was playing pocket 10's or 9's, would it matter what the depth of money was?

Great write-up and like everyone else is saying give yourself some credit. You played with the big boys and you more than held your own.

Ricky Hard
Tue Nov 12, 2002, 01:58 AM
Deleted user
the jam is returning...
Tue Nov 12, 2002, 10:49 PM
Deleted user
As for when to call, raise or fold based on depth of money, I think sometimes we can over analyze things (I have never been able to quite understand all of Noodles' theories on this subject Is it just to figure the implied odds one can get?).
Understanding how the depth of money alters and influences the game is fundamental to big-bet play. No decision can be made without first considering the depth of money and pot size. It is the key element. Implied odds is a part of it. As are other things such as actions having different possible meanings, and hence an effect on the range of hands we can put a player on, depending on how deep the money was when the action was taken etc.

The goal of big-bet is to win big pots. A set is the ideal hand to do this with. With shallow money, re-raising with JJ or QQ is the way to go. With deep money, re-raising with JJ or QQ takes away your ability to win a big pot with hands idealy placed to do so. You can only win or lose a small pot preflop when you do this. It totally destroys the hand value of JJ/QQ on deep money. Better to re-raise with 72o as it will achieve the same end result.

What if you were 80% sure he was playing pocket 10's or 9's, would it matter what the depth of money was?
Yes, it always matters.

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