Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Juicy tournament win

I played in a home game last night that was the definition of juicy. The Wall Street Poker League was well represented, with Matt Slavin, Darko, Scott Lawler and Thomas Downes all in attendance. The structure of the game was a $30 buy-in tournament with rebuys allowed for the first 2 hours or so. As it turned out, rebuys ended up being allowed for the first 2.5 hours (!) but it turned out all right. Chips were purchased in blocks of $500 and the blinds, starting at 2-4, gradually increased in a haphazard manner until they were 200/400. 8 players started and the top two places paid out at 75%/25%. Play was very loose with some players buying back 5 times or more; I won't say who ;-0.

It was tough going for me for a few reasons. Reason one, the play was so loose that I tightened up instinctively which made for some good and bad laydowns on my part. Reason two, the organization of the game was terrible. Maybe I'm spoiled by the well run poker room that the League has (thanks in large part to it's members), but I felt somewhat responsible for trying to keep the game moving. There were barely enough chips for everyone and they came in 7 denominations! Rebuying was a chore as we tried to scrape $500 in various chips each time someone bought back in. The cards were substandard Bicycle cards and they were prone to bending. There was no blind clock, so blinds went up whenever the table felt like it. People were cross-talking and not paying attention to the action, so it was a hassle to keep the game moving faster than a snail's pace. All of this added up to a frustrating session, which ultimately ended up in a satisfying manner.

How so? Well, I cashed, that's how! In my experience, playing a rebuy tournament where people are playing this loosely, the best way to accumulate chips is to tighten up and wait for a solid hand. You will most likely get called when you hit something and you can double up quickly. This happened to me in the second hand of the night when I called a small pre-flop raise with As4s and the flop came 3s 5s 6s. I had flopped the nut flush and the straight flush draw!. I made a half pot bet and got a call and a raise. I called and the other player called. The flop came a beautiful 4h. Now a 2 or a 7 made a dead straight and I could pick up some real chips. This is exactly what happened when Matt moved all in with a 2s in his hand and I called with the nuts. All of a sudden, I was in the chip lead.

But the chip lead is overrated in a re-buy game. I had to sit on my stack for awhile in order not to bleed off chips. I was determined not to have to rebuy. My only other big hand that paid off was a K-little suited that I got into cheaply in the big blind. I flopped two pair with an A on board and Thomas bet out. I absolutely hate bottom two pair situations, so I made some sort of big reraise and Thomas made an excellent laydown, flashing A-T. After that, it was a waiting game for a while. Eventually, the hour got later and when we shut down the re-buys, the other players started dropping off one by one. Darko suffered a bad beat at the hands of Scott when, with 7h7s, Darko moved all in with Ac Kh Jc on board. A very gutsy bluff considering there had been action pre-flop. There was one other person in the hand, who folded, and Scott made the call showing an incredible 7d7c! At this point, Darko has a 0% chance to win the pot outright but only a 4.5% chance to lose if Scott makes his runner runner four flush. Sure enough, the two clubs came out and Scott became chip leader after surviving an awful call. But that's poker for ya.

Soon, it was an All League battle for the money with Thomas, myself and Scott in a battle for bubble boy. Scott, in particular, was making some very interesting all in moves and flashing some huge bluffs. For example, I had 66 which I raised pre-flop with and Scott called. The flop came down 955. I checked, too timidly as it turns out, and Scott moved all in. I folded and showed my cards. Scott collected his chips and showed 84o. Nice move. Later on, in the big blind, I got QhJh. Thomas, on the button with the small stack, moved all in. Scott, with the big stack in the small blind, called. Cursing my luck, I folded. I really wanted to play these cards against Thomas who was down to about 900 in chips. Scott showed Ac7c and Thomas showed pocket 10's. The flop would have given me two pair and the turn a full house! But I wasn't in and Thomas scooped the pot. I eventually fought back to the point where I was a slight chip leader and we all decided, at 11:20PM to chop the pot 3 ways. There was $425 in the pot so we split it up at $140 each with the extra $5 going to me for being the big stack. Juicy and Sweet.

Good night overall.

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