Tuesday, January 02, 2007

From End to Beginning

Mellow. That's how I'd describe my New Year's Eve and Day. And I wouldn't have it any other way. On the evening of the 31st, I was honored to be invited to Mt. Otis to both spend time with good friends and give well wishes to Uncle Ted who's relocating to my old stomping grounds in Bahston. G-Rob made an appearance both pre and post newscast and proceeded to drink and smoke with a smile on his face indicative of someone who's just won some stupid wager with some stupid moron. Still, it was a great time and I was thankful to be included.

As has been recent tradition, I hosted the 3rd Annual New Year's Day tournament and simply hoped I'd stay off host's tilt as long as I could. We had some out of towners come by for the day, something for which I'm always honored. Whenever people make an hour-plus drive (even 3 hours) just to come sling cards at the house, I try to make their effort as worthwhile as possible.

This year, we had CJ, BigPirate, TripJax, Falstaff, and SpecialK make the long trek to G-Vegas for the event.

For this tourney, I was going to try something new with the structure. After reading Steve Zolotow's article in a recent CardPlayer magazine, I decided to make the level times longer once the final table was reached. His reasoning was that at many of today's higher buy-in tournaments, most of the true poker play in the first few levels is due to the large relative stack sizes to the blinds. At a WPT final table, where a large majority of the money is awarded, the structure dictates that much of the split between skill and luck is too heavily weighted on the luck side. You can alter that split by making the blinds stay smaller in relation to average stack size for a longer period of time.

So while we were at three and two tables respectively, the blind levels were 20 minutes in length. Once we were down to nine players, the level length increased to 30 minutes. I thought that we'd get to see more flops and avoid the push-fest that so often accompanies tournament end games. For the most part, I think this alteration was a success.

The results were posted yesterday, and I'm more amazed than anyone that I made the money. Originally we were to pay the top four: $600, $380, $250, $150. When we got down to the last five, we agreed on a fifth place save for the $60 buy-in. When I got headsup with TeamScottSmith, I had a 61k to 54k chip lead. We agreed to a deal giving each of us $450 and playing it out for the remaining $50.

Here are some hands of note wherein there were minor, boring, already-known-by-the-poker-world strategy considerations taking place.

Hand 1: We're down to two tables and my stack is around 3600 with blinds of 200/400. With my M at 6, I'm somewhat in push or fold mode. In the big blind, I see the table fold around to TripJax on the button. He's in steal position, and I know he knows all about stealing, so his 3x raise to 1200 is not surprising and could well mean anything. TeamScott smooth calls from the small blind and I look down to see AJo. Not great, but my thoughts are the following: This is classic Harrington squeeze play territory. A suspect raise in position and a smooth call not indicitave of any real strength. I decide to push. TripJax folds as I thought he would and TeamScott goes into the tank. Why? I have no idea. He had pocket Queens. My misread paid off in spades when the Ace hit the flop and TeamScott didn't re-suck. I now had some maneuvering room. Based on the information at hand, I'm fine with my play. Had TeamScott re-raised preflop, he'd have won a smaller pot and not lost a huge one. Still, the guy came in first so who am I to say how to play a hand? Oh yeah, I'm a poker blogger.

Hand 2: We're at the final table and UncleTed is very short stacked. His M is around two, so his open-push from middle position means a wide range of hands. The blinds were 500/1000 and it was folded back to me in the big blind. I needed to call 1900 into 4400 pot and all I had was 98o. Still, those cards were likely to be live and when you consider that my stack was over 15000, the call was rather easy. I rivered a 9 to eliminate UnlceTed in 9th place.

Hand 3: This is were I get crippled in headsup action. On a flop of Jxx with two spades, I raise TeamScott's flop bet then call his all-in re-raise with AsJc. TeamScott has the suited hammer, 27s. The turn brings the Js and I have trip Jacks and the nut flush draw to TeamScott's made flush. I miss the river and he takes a 107k to 8k chip lead. I can't make the comeback and finish second.


I really need to thank everyone who showed up and made it one of the best tourneys I've hosted in a long, long time. No drunken debauchery around the mini's and even Teddy Ballgame kept his own personal decibel level down.

Thanks to Daddy for the pre-tourney advice.
Thanks to Shep for bringing his extra table.
Thanks to Random101 for bringing his table top and chairs and for shuffling during the headsup play.
Thanks to Frank the Tank for dealing the entirety of the time after he was eliminated, which happened to be first.
Thanks to TheMark for bringing some chairs and his cash game chips.
Thanks to the denizens of the Spring Hotel, DealerTim and Sherrie for mingling the worlds of illegal raked games and no-juice G-Vegas tournaments.
Thanks to Otis for having me over the previous day.
Thanks to Falstaff for the schwag he brought the last home game.

I hope the New Year starts off just as well for everyone as it did for me.

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