This is a follow up to my last post here, where I talked about one memorable hand from my recent experience at the 7PM, Friday night Orleans Tournament. Now here’s the full scoop on this rather incredible (for me) tournament result.
Even the best poker players in the world will surely acknowledge that there’s a strong element of luck in tournament poker (cash games too, but I think it’s much more enhanced in tournaments). Some of the luck you need is obvious: getting good cards, getting good flops, hitting the occasional suckout yourself while avoided them from your opponents. It never hurts to have the river card that gives you the nuts give your opponent the second best hand either.
Some luck is less obvious: what table you get assigned to, who is sitting next to you, when you get sent to a new table, when a new player comes to your table, all these things have an effect on your success.
Of course, having your opponents make mistakes is critical, and the timing of those mistakes is even more critical. So it was absolutely incredibly wonderful dumb luck that one of the players at my table made probably the dumbest move I’ve ever seen in a poker game, at a time when no other play could have saved my tournament life. If, instead of doing what he did, he had made a play that 99.9% of all poker players on the planet would have made (including the really bad ones), I would have a much shorter post to write, indeed, I might not even have found the tournament blogworthy at all.
That’s the kind of luck I had. I had a lot of other luck too, and we’ll get to all of that. But I should start at the beginning, because this is my blog and my readers demand really long posts.
I might have played in the tournament anyway, as I’ve played it a few times before (see here and here). It’s a great tournament with a huge turnout and there’s always a great chance I’ll run into people I know and people who have appeared in previous blog entries of mine. But once it was announced that this night was going to be that week’s “All Vegas Poker Weekly Showdown” event (see my post here and AVP’s thread here), I knew I was going to participate. AVP is a great site and I try to support it wherever and whenever I can.
So I showed up early and even before buying my entry, I saw a familiar face, none other than Poker Grump who was final tabling the noon tournament at the same venue (I believe it was a HORSE tournament). I think Grump cashed in that event. He had had enough poker for the day and didn’t stick around for the evening event. Probably just as well, as he likely would have been assigned to my table and then busted me out early with his favorite hand, the mighty deuce-four.
Anyway, I purchased my entry directly from the Orleans tournament Director, the inimitable Suzie McBaine. Yes, that’s her real name. When I first mentioned Suzie on the blog (see here), I dutifully assigned her a fake name. But subsequently, Suzie exposed herself (and I mean that literally, see a picture of her exposing herself in this post) on my blog, so there’s no point in trying to cover her up now.
Despite the intimate nature of our relationship, I am fairly certain that Suzie didn’t and doesn’t recognize me. No problem, it is actually her pal Jeanne who knows me and reads my blog and who roped Suzie and their teammate Judy into posing for the picture you see in that post.
So I considered reminding Suzie of who I was when she was writing down my name on her log for the tournament. I figured I’d say, “Don’t you recognize me? I’ll give you a hint. Picture me holding up a cell phone camera and you lowering your shirt for me.” But I decided not to do that, mostly because she was pretty busy taking registrants and also because there was one of her male co-workers right next to her and I didn’t want to embarrass her.
Although, it is pretty obvious that she doesn’t embarrass easily.
Immediately thereafter, I noticed some familiar faces sitting at an otherwise empty table, about half hour before tournament start time. Along with Jon Friedberg, the President & CEO of AVP, and my blogger pal Stump, who also is an AVP forum member, there was Poker Genius himself, chatting with both of them (and Jon’s lovely female companion). Ugh. I thought about moving on but the fact was, I had to talk with Jon, for reasons that will become apparent within the next week or two. So I ignored PG and had a nice chat with Jon. After PG took off—looking for someone to stake him in the tournament, it turns out—I learned that both Jon & Stump were quite familiar with PG, which isn’t surprising at all. I’m pretty sure that anyone even remotely familiar with the Vegas poker scene has a story about PG. Stump even mentioned that he had given him a small stake a few days earlier. For the first few levels of the tournament, I saw PG roaming around, looking for a sugar daddy. He finally found one, but didn’t last nearly as long in the tournament as I did. What a damn shame. Anyway, Stump will figure more into this story later, I assure you.
There was one other person there I eventually met from AVP. I had been noticing a guy walking around—apparently not playing in the tournament—wearing a shirt that said “Get Naked” on the front of it. This naturally caught my eye, but I have to admit that it would have been a lot more interesting if it was being worn by a female. (See below) It turns out that this t-shirt promotes a local pizza place, “Naked City Pizza”–a pizza place I haven’t tried yet but now know I must soon check out. Anyway, the guy wearing the shirt was introduced to me as the AVP’er Minton, who tweets under another name, Mitzula. His tweets almost never fail to crack me up. By the time I met him, I was deeply involved in the tournament—to my amazement—and didn’t get a chance to say more than “hi.”
Finally, we get to the tournament itself. As I usually report, I started out card dead. But there was one hand that I seemed to be getting over and over again. It was Ace/Jack. I wanted to play it aggressively, because you really need to play a hand like that in a tournament when you can’t wait around forever for a better hand. But it seemed that every single time I got it, and I got it a lot, there was a raise in front of me. Suddenly A/J doesn’t look so good then. And the one time it wasn’t raised in front of me with that hand, my raise was re-raised. By a player who was fairly tight, so I had to think I was behind. It was too early to take a risk, so I folded.
Up until the first break (which is 4 levels, 90 minutes), I had exactly one pocket pair. It was Aces and I got one caller on my raise. I bet again into a flop that featured 2 10’s and an 8. I bet again on a blank turn and he still called. The river was another 8.
Now he had first action and had been checking and then calling. This time on the river, he again checked. I checked behind him. With a double paired board, and with him calling me on the flop and the river, I was very happy to get to a showdown without putting anything more into the pot.
Sure enough, the guy says, “You were supposed to bet” and shows an 8/something for a full house. I just smirked. I was born, but I wasn’t born yesterday. Not about to bet into a double paired board with my lousy Aces. So he was pissed at me for not giving him a chance to check raise me!
But let’s see…..he called my flop and turn bets with bottom pair!?! Sometimes bad play is rewarded. Here was such a time. And it cost me a fair amount of chips. So much so that it was beginning to look like I might not last until the first break. I did last, but I was, by my standards at least, pretty close to just being in “fold or shove” mode as soon as the blinds were to go up after the break. I used to delay that determination too long, now I usually get to that place before the book says I need to. Having shown that I can cash in tournaments, I try to play more aggressively in these deep stack (12,500 starting chips) tournaments. I’d rather not play for hours and hours with nothing to show for it. So I start thinking shove as soon as I get to an “M” of 10 or even higher, rather than 5 (see here). That gives me a lot more fold equity and if I bust out, I haven’t invested a lot of time.
But after the break, I started getting a new set of cards. Gone was the old familiar Ace/Jack. Instead, almost every hand I got had a frickin’ deuce in it! Seriously, all I saw was 7/2, 8/2, J/2, K/2, etc. Yes, I did get the mighty deuce-four, aka “The Grump”, once, but it was raised in front of me and sorry, Grump, I just didn’t want to risk my tournament life with it. Turned out it was a good thing. The raised was called and the board would have completely missed me. My four high would have ended my evening.
It was during this round—before the second break—that I was moved to a new table when ours broke. But the cards remained the same….everything I got had a deuce in it. My plan had now long been to shove with any two paint cards, any Ace, any pair, and the damn cards were just not cooperating.
I got my second pair of the night soon after I got to the new table. It was fives, and my shove was not called, so I picked up some chips. I was actually disappointed. I was so low on chips I almost wanted to bust out there. And if I got called and lucked out and got a double up, well that would give me a fighting chance, something I didn’t seem to have at the moment.
That’s what led to the Ace/Jack hand I described here, That A/J suddenly looked like flopped quads after all the hands with deuces I’d been folding. But I had no choice but to accept the walk, pick up some antes and the big blind from the guy who had thrown his cards into the muck, mistakenly thinking the hand was dead.
As indicated in the last post, this guy (seat 3, the BB in that hand) was not having a good night. I wasn’t sitting next to him for more than two minutes before I started hearing him kvetching. He had two main gripes, as far as I could tell. One was the usual, getting sucked out on. The other, though, was playing too cautiously. Apparently he kept seeing hands he’d folded preflop hit the flop big. I heard him mutter to himself—or perhaps to me—“I’m playing like a pussy tonite. I gotta stop playing like a pussy.” One example that I saw was when he folded A/10 to a raise and a shove. The two hands that were shown were A/J and Q/Q. That was of no consolation to him when there were two 10’s on the flop. He cursed rather loudly, pissed and moaned, but the truth was, given his chip position, he made the right call, even though he would have tripled up if he had made the bad call. Then I heard him say, “Every time…..every time.” At that point, I don’t know if he had put an expletive in front of the word “time” or not. He might have.
Not long after, he got the hand he wanted, and he didn’t play it “like a pussy.” It was the dreaded pocket Kings and he got it all in preflop, to someone who had him covered. Unfortunately for him, that someone not only had him covered, but also had a pair of Aces! I shoulda told him, right? He didn’t get the miracle he needed, and his tournament life was over. Tough break.
This time, he totally erupted. Shouting so loud they could probably hear him on the Strip, he screamed, “Every f****ing time! Every f***ing time!” he repeated this quite a few times and no doubt would have been warned about his language and/or asked to leave, if he wasn’t, you know, already leaving. When he left his seat, I noticed that at the next table over, having been blocked from my view by this poor guy, was Stump himself. Like everyone else in the room, he heard the guy’s cry. And he looked at me and said (or more like mouthed, without really verbalizing it), “Every f***ing time! Every f***ing time!” I mouthed the same thing back to him. It became a running gang between the two of us, every time we ran into each other, we’d say to each other, “Every f***ing time! Every f***ing time!”
Meanwhile I was desperate enough for chips that I shoved with 10/9 suited…and got no callers. A few hands later, I myself was dealt the dreaded pocket kings. So I shoved and got no callers. Finally figured out a way to win with those suckers! Since this was my second shove in about four hands (both taken down without a call), I did something I almost never do—I showed my hand. I wanted to make sure they knew I wasn’t shoving light just because of my chip situation. I told Stump—from across the two tables we were at—that I won with pocket Kings by not having anyone call my preflop raise and he said to me “The dreaded pocket Kings!” Heh heh. Someone’s been reading my blog!
Our table was a bit away from breaking, so when we lost another player, they had to move a new player to the table in seat 3. I immediately recognized him. I had to think a bit as to who he was, but fortunately, my brain was working this night (at least in this case) and I suddenly remembered this guy from the one time this year I had played at Planet Hollywood (see here). He was the guy I referenced who claimed to have shaved points as a college basketball player back east. My goodness, the Vegas poker world is a small one indeed.
He didn’t seem to recognize me at all, which is not surprising. I’m shocked I remembered him, since it was only one time I played with him and he was a guy, and not a really hot chick. A really hot chick I could be expected to remember. A guy? Not so much.
But remember him I did. He was one of those guys who gave a lot of commentary on the hands, how they were being played, what players might do. Sorta like Poker Genius but a lot less annoying. He was actually pleasant about it and I tried to use his commentary to help my game. So finally I asked him if he usually plays at Planet Hollywood. He said he’s played there a bit. Then I asked him if he played college basketball back east. He was kind of stunned, and said, “It was some time ago but yeah. I guess we have played together!” He proceeded to tell me a totally different version of the point shaving scenario he had told us at Planet Hollywood. As I said at the time….a player lying at a poker table? Who’da thunk it?
Anyway, it was soon after Planet Hollywood Guy showed up that the hand I alluded to at the beginning of this post came down. The hand that saved my sorry ass. The hand of the tournament—for me, at least.
Despite my best efforts to chip up, or to shove and got lucky, I had let my stack get ridiculously low (the A/J, 5/5 and K/K hands described above were not double ups and that were my only playable hands for like forever). I knew that this orbit, when the big blind came to me, I was going all in no matter what. After seeing hand after hand like K/2, Q/2, 6/2—not even Ace/2, which I would have shoved with—I had no choice when it was my big blind. The blind bet itself, plus the ante, had me pot committed. I don’t remember if the amount I had left after posting the ante and the blind was a little more or a little less than the blind, but it didn’t matter, this was my last hand, barring a miracle.
I looked at my cards and was relieved to see King/Queen, both black, unsuited. This was an absolute monster considering my previous hands, and since I was going to shove even with 7/2 there, I felt I had at least a fighting chance.
As it turned out, no one raised in front of me. It didn’t really matter, I would have shoved if there had been all-ins in front of me. I was actually glad I didn’t get a walk this time. It wasn’t that late, I had been hanging by a thread for a long time, and if I busted out right then, I still had time to do something else that night. And hanging by a thread for all that time, seeing nothing but hands with deuces in it, was no fun at all.
Anyway, there were three limpers in front of me, no raisers. I could conceivable had seen the flop for no more chips, and then decided what to do, but that would have been pointless, especially now that my K/Q was looking pretty good in the absence of a raise.
The three limpers all called my raise of course—pot odds dictated they should—and no one re-raised. So there was no side pot—that is critical—and thus the four of us saw the flop. It was Jack high and all hearts (no pair). Since my King and Queen were both black, and no card was close enough to the Jack to make a straight draw, the flop missed me about as much as it possibly could. The three players still with chips checked around. The turn card was a low black card that didn’t change a thing. Again, checked around.
The river was low heart. Yeah, there were now four hearts on the board, and again, my two cards were all black. I had King high. I had mentally checked out of the tournament when I saw the flop, but now I was starting to gather my things to take off. I was pretty much the picture of “dead man walking.”
After the river card, the first guy—seat 4, the same guy in seat 4 in the previous post about this tournament—checked. But the next guy actually bet. He bet about the size of the pot. It seemed like a weird move. No one would call him unless they had a heart, and a high one at that. He was representing a high heart, who would want to challenge him with anything less?
The next guy folded, and the first guy—seat 4—folded as well. So that was it, his bet was pulled back since no one who had chips left called him. No side pot, it was all for the main pot, which of course, I was a part of.
I stood up to leave as I flipped over my cards. The guy who bet the river looked long and hard at my two cards. I had King high, that was it. He looked at the board, he looked at his own two cards. He took a few seconds, maybe half a minute looked at all the cards a second, a third time….and mucked his cards face down! He couldn’t even beat King high!
Huh????? I couldn’t believe it, but I sat down and gathered up the chips the dealer was now pushing me. I hadn’t just doubled up, I hadn’t just tripled up….I had managed to quadruple up!
No one could believe how dumb a move the guy had just made. Planet Hollywood Guy—who wasn’t in the hand—had commented to me on it being a bonehead move even before there was any further action (since I was all-in, that was ok). Everyone else at the table was shaking their heads in disbelief. Seat 4 was muttering something like, “Why do that there, we’re at the point where you want to bust people out.” Yeah, and besides, what did he think his move would get him?
I mean, any heart, any pair—even any Ace—had me beat there! Since he couldn’t beat King high, his only way to get chips there would be for someone to raise him, then he’d shove all in and get them to fold to his bluff. That’s it. There was no side pot to bluff at. Oh, I guess he felt that his what—queen high?—might beat my what—jack high—thinking I was shoving really, really light there? And by getting the other two to fold with his bluff there, he had a shot at taking the pot with a higher card than I had? I guess that’s it, but if he couldn’t beat King high, that’s a really lame move to make.
More likely, he forgot that I was all in, or that there was no side pot at that point, and was thinking a bluff would actually work there. Incredible.
Planet Hollywood Guy told me how incredibly lucky I was, and I couldn’t disagree. Never in my tournament poker career have I ever benefited so greatly from such a monumentally stupid play before. Thank you, donkey, wherever, whoever you are.
I didn’t ask at the time, but I was thinking that one of the two players he got to fold—most likely both of them—had hands that would have won the pot if they hadn’t been coerced to fold by the big bet the guy made. And it turned out, many hours later, I found out for a fact. After our table broke, the donkey and seat 4 and I were all separated. I ended up at one of the three final tables (yeah, I’m getting ahead of myself) and Seat 4 came to the table I’d been at for awhile (the donkey was still alive too, amazingly enough, at another table). As soon as he saw me, he said to me, “You should be long gone. You shouldn’t be here.” I laughed. “Did you have me beat there?” knowing exactly what he was talking about.
“Yeah, I had a Jack. I can’t believe that stupid move. I folded a Jack, if he doesn’t bet, you’re gone. You’re living on borrowed time! You should be long gone.” He actually started to explain to the guy next to him what happened. He pointed out the donkey at the other table, so I joked, “You mean my brother?” He thought I might be serious for a second. I said no, I’d never seen him before. But you know what? If I had just seen that happened, and not been a part of it, I might very well think that there had been some collusion there. Of course there was not. Just one unusual bit of luck, being in the right place to take advantage of a completely donkey move at the right time.
Suddenly having four times the chips I had started the hand with certainly helped, but I was far from out of the woods. Then, a few hands later, I had Ace/Queen. Still didn’t have enough chips to play with, so I shoved. A guy who had me covered called….with Ace/Jack. Hey, that’s my hand. Lucky for me, he didn’t hit anything, I think I even caught a queen for good measure. A double up and this time I actually had some chips in front of me, for pretty much the first time all night.
This got me to another break, where I again chatted with Stump. Unlike me, he was having a good night, from the get-go he seemed to have more chips than Lays has potato chips, while I was chip starved all night. Of course, we greating each other with the now traditional, “Every f****ing time! Every f***ing time!” But by this time, he was reporting that his attempt to use his huge stack of chips to bully the table was backfiring a bit and he was starting to chip down, instead of up.
After that break, the table broke and I found a new bunch of players. One I was surprised to see was an Italian guy. I was surprised to see him because I thought he was gone. When at the previous table, a little before Seat 3 busted out with his Kings vs Aces (“Every f****ing time! Every f***ing time!”) This Italian guy screamed almost as loud and almost as profanely as Seat 3 was about to. He was over at a table diagonally across from mine. I don’t know what happened, other than the his opponent must have hit something like a one or two outer against him. The way he bitched and moaned and swore, I assumed he had busted out, but I guess not, because there he was across from me when I got to his table.
He was a loud guy, and found it necessary to react loudly to the cards—good or bad. And he wasn’t shy about voicing his opinions on how people played, as I’m about to report.
By now I had somehow gotten about 70K in chips, and for the first time since like the third level I was out of my own self-imposed “fold or shove” zone. I think the levels were like 300/800/1600, so there was a little room for play. It was still a long way from the money though. There were 235 runners and the top 25 would get paid. I still wanted to be aggressive and if I busted out, the night was still, well, if not quite young, not quite old, either.
In early position I got K-10 of spades. I made a decent size raised. Italian guy—who has more than twice as many chips as I had—shoves. I think for quite a while. I was new at the table and all I really knew about him was that he make a ruckus a few hours earlier when he got sucked out on. I almost folded, but then figured, what the hell, I still have time to hit BSC if I bust out here. I needed a double up if I hoped to cash. And I had already committed a fair percentage of my stack with my original raise. So I called.
Italian guy turns over 7/7 and is shocked that I called so light. Whatever, I knew my reasoning. The flop and the turn had nothing for either of us, but the river was an absolutely gorgeous 10, handing me the pot. Of course, the Italian guy cursed like a longshoreman. He pissed and moan. And he made it clear that he thought I made the stupidest call in the history of poker. “How could you call there with King-10? King-10??? How could you call there with 70K in chips with a lousy King-10?” I just chuckled. These comments no longer bother me, and, as I said, I knew what my thinking was. And I resisted the temptation to respond with, “How could you shove there with a lousy pair of 7’s?”
But he kept bitching and moaning, and swearing just a bit. And I believe he used the word “stupid” several times to describe my play. No matter. As it happens, soon after I moved to this table, Stump joined us, and we of course greeted each other with our new catch phrase, “Every f****ing time! Every f***ing time!” So as soon as Italian guy starting bitching about his luck and my bad play, we looked at each other and mouthed, “Every f****ing time! Every f***ing time!” back and forth to each other.
Finally, and mostly for Stump’s benefit, when the guy kept bitching about how I could possibly risk my tournament life with King-10, I said to him, in the most sarcastic voice I could possibly muster, “But it was sooooooooooted.” He didn’t react, he just kept bitching. But Stump cracked up.
For the first time in like forever, I actually had a decent stack in front of me, and for the first time actually thought there was a decent chance for me to cash in this thing. So soon thereafter, I had a setback. With my stack of about 140K I raised with Ace/Queen. A guy I have covered shoves, and I call. Ooops. He had two Aces. No miracles, and I lose half my stack, back to where I was before my K-10 soooooted paid off. Actually, a little less.
But I continue to hang on. Suddenly my table is one of the last three, and suddenly we are down to 26 players. Someone suggests paying the bubble. Our table agrees, one of the other tables agrees, but the other table says no. So we play hand for hand for a few hands. As I described here, this is an excruciating experience, but this time it didn’t last long before someone busted out. But I have to admit, that once we got close to cashing, I started playing ultra tight. No longer looking for a place to shove unless I had Aces or Kings….or even then. I didn’t get anything too strong then, but I did throw away a couple of hands I might have played if I was either in the money or far away from it. Like KQ, for instance. On the bubble, I just threw it away and watched A/K go up against two Jacks. ‘And then threw up a little in my mouth when two Queens hit the flop. Nice triple up I would have had there.
But finally I made the money, and then managed to watch the Italian guy bust out ahead of me. Very satisfying, to say the least. Less satisfying was seeing Stump bust out in front of me. I think it was before we were in the money he managed to hit some kind of miracle flush on the river against some nice, cute gal. But he went first.
Finally we were down to 15, assuring me of a fairly decent pay day. By now, it was past 2 AM. My old pal Ace/Jack was dealt to me so of course I shoved. The big blind happened to be the guy who told me he folded a Jack when my King/Queen held up thanks to the donkey move of hours earlier. He looked at me and said, “I think I’m supposed to call here.” He had me well covered, a loss would have hurt, but it wouldn’t have been devastating for him. Plus he was already in the pot and by now the blinds were really huge. So he called and showed me Queen/6 suited. Not bad, you would think.
But somehow he made a frigging straight on the turn—I can’t even recall if it was with the Queen or the 6—and I was done, out 15th, cashing for $405. I had played over 7 hours of poker, and I would say I was seriously, seriously short-stacked for at least 6 of those hours. And had benefited by the worst move I’d ever seen in a tournament. So I was very pleased. I know it was the luckiest tournament success I’d ever had. But hey, that’s poker. Right?