Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WSOP Event #20 - Part Two

When I last left off my WSOP Event report, I had just paid off the nut full house with second nut full house. Not only did my chip stack drop to roughly the 1800 range, but I kept thinking that I should have been able to fold to the river raise. I do recall thinking to myself however not to beat myself up over the decision. I still had chips and the blinds were still only 50/75. I was short, but not without life. The only problem was that in a PLO game, there is no "shoving" strategy in your arsenal. If you can only make a 3.5x pot-sized opening raise, you need to have a hand.

The table I was at was still fairly passive. In fact, I bled chips from the blinds when the pot-odds dictated a call with marginal run-down holdings like 4678 and the like. I bled all the way down to 1100 in chips and posted a twitter update lamenting my status. Still, I intended not to just blow my last chips away in disgust.

Reacting to my twitter update, AlCantHang wandered over to the table. His intentions were noble, he reminded me to get Medusa running on my iPod, a tradition we developed back in the Party Poker days. He railed me one time while I was short in an online tournament and I managed to somehow final table it only after switching iTunes to constantly play Medusa over and over and over again. I complied with his suggestion, it was an outstanding idea.

I finally was dealt a playable hand in the big blind. A late position player opened and my 9TTJ single suited was the hand I was going to go with. I re-raised pot and we got it all in. Of course, I was behind. The opener showed AJJx and had me pretty well beat. Cue the T-high, all heart flop. I took a second look at my opponents cards and saw no red. I dodged the 1 remaining Jack and doubled to about 2400. Medusa at work as they say. Then, our table broke.

My new table was filled with bigger stacks than the one I left, so I knew it would have more action. I got a free flop in the big blind with AQ63, suited Q in spades. The flop came down As9s6x, I flopped top and bottom and second nut flush draw. Vulnerable, but strong enough to lead at. I bet about 2/3 the pot and everyone folded except for the small blind. He check-raised me such that it was either push or fold for me. I felt I had to gamble at this stage and shoved. He called and showed A9xx with no spade re-draw. I was behind, but it was a great situation. I said, "Queen or a spade please to the dealer." I bricked the turn, but flushed up on the river and doubled up again. It was nearing the end of level 4 and I was over 5100 in chips with an average near 7500. It was a spot I could hardly complain about based on where I'd been.

The next hand of interest was the very last one played before the end of level 4. I called a raise in position (position is the NUTS in this game) with JT87 single suited. There were 4 players to the flop of 974 rainbow. I had flopped a 10-card wrap, any 6,8, or T gave me the nut straight, so when the initial raiser c-bet, I called. The turn came a 6, putting a second club on the board to go along with the 4 of clubs from the flop. I had the nuts, but no flush redraw. Again, the original raiser led out, but it was a bet less than pot size. My raise if I chose to do so, would commit me all-in effectively. I wasn't sure exactly what I was up against, but I felt that again, this was a time to gamble and get it all in with one card to come. My worst nightmare would be that I was up against the same hand with the flush re-draw, but I took that chance.

I raised pot, he did the same and we got it all in. What did my opponent have? Second nuts, but they were the 5c and 8c. He had no straight outs, but he did have the club outs. For a second, when the river came, I thought I was good. It paired the board 7. Unfortunately, it was the 7 of clubs giving my opponent a straight flush and me a ticket to the rail.

I'll admit, I was deflated. The guy had 3 clubs in his hand, so he only had 8 outs at most and was betting as if he had the nuts. But that was the level of skill in this tournament and the luck factor is just huge in Omaha. If I win the hand, I'm probably sitting on an 11k stack and well above average going into the break. Instead, I went to drown my sorrows at the Hooker Bar with Al and WriterJen. I ended up buying their drinks since they got to hear my bad beat stories. I'm good like that. Oh yeah, I also hit Quad Aces for $800 while I was there, so that dulled the pain a bit....

...More PLO cash game action to come...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interim - Sirens

I have the second part of my WSOP / Vegas trip coming, but I just can't find the time to put in the work for a decent post. So, I give you an evolution of Sirens in metal. Pretty much the same topic if you think about it.

Earliest Sirens - Savatage:

More Sirens, this time from Coroner: (FYI - Mental Vortex is an absolute hidden gem in progressive metal. The songs from this album take a bit of listening to get used to, but once embedded in your brain, you'll hopefully discover the genius behind the music. And no I'm not kidding.)

Even later still, The Sirens Song by Parkway Drive: (Heaviest of the offerings perhaps)

And finally, sirens in their own right, Cut Throat by Kittie: (I'd roadie for them for free. Pretty sure.)

Monday, July 05, 2010

WSOP Event #20

I'm a firm believer in the fact that poker is a psychological game. It's all a matter of how your ability to decipher the proper information from the poker table is affected by everything else that's going on around you. For me, most importantly, it's highly dependent on my level of confidence. All I really wanted out of my WSOP experience was a sense that I belonged, a sense that I could compete. I did not want to show up and immediately think I was in above my head.

For some reason, whenever I walk into the Rio during the WSOP, my confidence in my poker ability just dissolves. I look around at the thousands of players and think to myself, "Well, I'm the fish, these people are all better than I am." Obviously that can't be true; well, it could, but the odds are against it. Still, that is the main reason I played the 5/5 PLO cash game the day and night before Event #20. I wanted to gain some confidence, a feeling that I belonged.

After two separate sessions, both winners, I felt exactly that. PLO is perhaps the game into which I've put the most amount of study. A hundred and fifty thousand online hands, a book here and there, and participation in forum discussions about PLO hands were all things I have not done in a long time with respect to NLHE. And I saw people making what I thought to believe horrendous mistakes. That's all I needed, some form of evidence that I had a shot to do well and capitalize on others' inexperience. Sure there would be better players than myself with more experience as well, but I didn't think I'd be the huge fish at the table. That's all I wanted.

I began the day a bit early and had a filling breakfast, planning for the long haul. I registered without a wait and sat quietly with AlCantHang in the Amazon Room. The tourney was being held in the Pavillion, but I wasn't going to be the noob sitting alone, first at my table. The Amazon room was about as empty as possible and the quiet beforehand was good for my concentration. Finally it was time to get going and I bid my adieu to Al and found my seat.

My intentions were to pay as much attention as possible. The focus required to spot everything for several 2 hour intervals was going to be taxing. But that's what is required to do well. One guy at my table made some bad plays but got lucky, I took note in case I was ever in a hand against him. The $1500 buy-in got you T1500 and 3 red rebuy chips. Many folks took their rebuy's right away, as did I, to start off the tournament with T4500. Of course, I busted a shortie who did not take his rebuy and only won about T1000 in the hand.

There are several arguments about when/why you should take the rebuys. You're forced to take them at the end of level 4 regardless. But prior to that, should you? I chose to take them, based on the argument that you want to maximize your value early against the weaker players. In fact, on one hand I saw a set over set that resulted in only a T1500 double up for a guy who could have got T4500 out of his opponent. Other folks argue that you should never be all in for T4500 at a 25/25 or 25/50 level in the WSOP. That argument is valid, but with a weaker than normal field, some people were playing big pots with suspect holdings early on.

One of the defining hands for me came in the 50/75 level. I started with probably around T4800 and raised pot with AdQdJsJc. I got called behind by one player on the button and the blinds folded. The flop came K72, all diamonds. Having flopped the nuts in hold 'em, a check could be argued for. Not so in Omaha. Either a worse flush is coming along for the ride, or many times a set will too. I bet about 3/4 pot and got smooth called by the button. Don't pair the board, don't pair the board, BAM, 2 of hearts. I sighed (internally obviously) and checked. The button checked behind.

The river was the worst card in the deck for me. A Jack, giving me Jack's full. Now here's where I made my mistake. River action with my hand, in my opinion, should be either bet/raise/fold or bet/call. I don't think a check is in order with my hand. My Jack's full beats 7's full and other odd-ball full houses if my opponent called with a 2 in his hand. So if I bet, I'll get called in those spots. However, if I bet and get raised, I have to be beat and should fold. At least that's how it tends to go down online against competent opponents.

So I bet about 2/3rd's the pot and got raised. Ugh. The action screams Kings full based on the flop call and the turn check. And what did I do? I called. Kings full it was and I was now a short stack. I immediately hated my call and then banished those thoughts from my head. If I kept any negative thoughts flowing around my skull, it was going to lead me into an "aw fuck it" play and I still had chips. I saw people go from near out to well over starting stack in a couple of orbits at my table and there was no way I was going to simply torpedo my remaining chips in a stupid fashion. Granted, this WSOP event was a low buy-in to many folks, but to me, it was my first and only Event for the year. No reason to give up now.

...to be continued...