Dawn is gimpy these days. Some sort of foot surgery. So to make her feel better, she invited everyone over for an impromptu tourney at the Crackhouse. It was an interesting format. Sort of, make the rules up as you go along. Blinds were 25 minutes long and they went up at a relatively slow pace. In addition, you were allowed two re-buys if you were felted. In attendance were Karol, Dawn, Mary, Alceste, Ari, Chugarte and his wife and some new players I never met before, Kerns and Woody. Woody is from Dawn's Scrabble club and he talked to himself a little too much. I was frightened. Joining us later on was Karol's brother and two of his friends. Given that everyone was allowed 3 total buyins ($10 each; friendly), the pot eventually grew to $270.
At the start of the game, around 8:30, I immediately donked of a whole bunch of chips (all of them) to Alceste when I got QQ in relatively late position. The blinds were 25/50 (first level) and there was a pre-flop raise to 175, which 4 people called! So instead of raising, I called hoping to see a flop. Yes, I should have thinned the field, but I was hoping, with so many callers, that there were so many Aces and Kings out there that the board would miss everyone. Alcests ended up raising for me to my left. He made it $1000 to go. Everyone folded (uh, ok) and I called, eliciting 'ooohs' from the gallery. The flop was TJK, rainbow. I moved all in. My line of thinking here was that I had flopped the OESD and I might very well be winning against a middle pair. In all liklihood, though, I knew Alceste probably had a good piece of that, but if he only had AK, I might be able to convince him I flopped a set. No such luck. He squirmed a bit, but called with AK in his hand. I had 9 outs to improve here, but none of them came and I called out for my first rebuy.
My second stack didn't fare much better than my first stack. I bluffed off a bunch of chips with AJ. My board didn't connect but Kerns called my huge bets with 9c5c when he connected on the 9 high board. I didn't improve and I was down to my last 600 of that buyin. I managed to scrape together about 1300 when I got felted by Karol. I had A7o in the BB and it folded all the way around to Ari, who flat called. Karol completed and I checked my option. The flop was A95. I didn't know if I was the only one with the Ace, but the action certainly suggested it. But just to make sure, when Karol checked the flop, I checked too and Ari fingered her chips but checked. Ok, I think I'm good here. The turn was a 6, giving me a gutshot as well as top pair. Karol checked again and I bet 600. Ari folded and Karol says, "all in". I assume she's coming over the top on me in an attempt to get me to lay down. Are you kidding me? I call, you thief! I turn over my top pair and she...turns over A9! She limped in the SB with A9 and then slowplays me to perfect when she flopped top two!!! I berate you Karol!! I didn't hit my gutshot and I was felted. REBUY on table 1!!!
I promised myself I would play my last rebuy tighter, not that I was really loose with the others, but I obviously pushed in places I might not normally have because I had the luxury of coming in again for only $10. In late position, in my 3rd hand of the 3rd rebuy, I look down at 3s4s. Everyone limps around to me (maybe 4 callers) and I inexplicably put in money with the small suited connectors. Thankfully, no one raises and there are a lot of callers so it's a juicy pot already. The flop is nearly as good as it gets for me, 348, rainbow. When it limps to me, I bet out a 3/4 pot bet. Alceste calls and then Chugarte's wife goes all in! In my mind, I'm assuming at least one of them hit a set (probably 8's), but I can't lay down 2 pair. I'm just not that tight tonight. I move all in and Alceste agonizingly (but correctly) folds his middle pair. Chugarte's wife (sorry, I forgot your name so this is what I'm calling you), turns over a pair of 9's and I flip over my monster. Now, it's true that she has some outs but she basically needs a 9 or an 8 or runner runner pair on the board to counterfeit me. The turn is harmless and I sweat the river but it's a 4. Chugarte's wife protests when the chips are pushed to me ("I have 9's and 4's") but we point out that I have a full house and all is well in the world. Just like that, I triple up and I'm a force at the table. I have a few more big hands until I'm actually the chip leader in the middle of the tourney. As time wore on, and more buyins came into the tourney though, I wasn't able to grow my stack anymore and Mary and Karol started accumulating chips at an alarming rate. I got a big opportunity to jump out in front though, but lady liuck cursed me. I had AJ in the BB and it limped all around. I *hate* raising from the BB, unless I have AA or KK. You're out of position and very vulnerable to a slowplay from seats 3, 4 and 5. Sometimes, with moderate hands like AQ, AJ, QQ or JJ, I might throw in a small raise just to sweeten the pot, but that's in cash games. In tourneys, I want to see the texture of the board. How's this flop then? JJ8? I flopped trip Jacks with the best kicker. It limps around to Chugarte who stabs at the pot with a half pot bet. Folds all around to Ari, who raises about 2000. I have the 3rd nuts right now, so I'm confident that Ari has a Jack, but not the boat. Her raise tells me she doesn't have the nuts (I hope). I move all in at this point. Chugarte folds, Ari calls and she shows QJ. I show my monster and she says, "I *knew* someone was going to have AJ". The turn is a King and the river is...a Queen! Ouch, she hits her three outer and severly dents my stack. Nothing I can do there. I still have about 6500 in chips left, and I have to play them tight or I have no chance whatsoever.
I start folding hands until, in the big blind, I get AK. I have about 4100 in chips left at this point. One of Karol's borther's friends moves all in over a limped bet. Dawn moves all in with a shorter stack. I move all in. We all show down and Karol's brother's friend has QQ, I have AK and Dawn has A4s. It's looking like about a 60/40 draw for me, on the 40 side. The flop is harmless but the turn is an Ace and my hand holds up to take the whole thing! Just like that, I'm back in the game. There are 5 players left at this point, Mary, Karol, Chugarte, Alceste and myself. I'm in a comfortable 3rd place, with the top 3 players playing, but the blinds are whipping around fast and at 300/600, they're eating us up quickly. Alceste, on the short stack, is turning into a "push monkey" (Dawn's phrase) and I know he's gonna get caught eventually. He does, and he goes out in 5th place. So now it's me, Karol, Mary and Chugarte. Chugarte has a very low stack and I'm just waiting for him to bubble so I can make a run at improving over 3rd place. Well, I get A3 in the BB and when it limps to me, I check. The flop comes K32. No one bets. The turn is a K. Karol bets out at it and I contemplate what's going on. I probably have the best hand here, BUT Chugarte is very small stacked. If I donk off chips to Karol, *I* might be the one to bubble! That would suck. So I fold, showing the 3. Karol smiles because she knows she put me off a hand with nothing (Queen high she said and I believe her). But I'm playing the passive game, not trying to mix it up with the big stacks (scared money anyone?). So I'm happy that on the next hand, Karol limps on the button and Chugarte calls in the BB. The flop is 57Q. Chugarte, first to act, moves all in. Karol insta-calls and says, "I have Aces". She does indeed and Chugarte slumps in his chair, not even turning over his cards. His wife deals the turn, a blank and then the river, which catches air and flips upside down on the table. "Was that a six?" asks Chugarte. How silly, how could a six help him I'm thinking. I'm in the money now. Why isn't he leaving?!?! The river is indeed a six and Chugarte exposes his hole cards, 34o! He bluffed the flop but ended up hitting his gutshot for the straight! NO!!!! I'm not in the money. Dawn is in the corner cackling at the turn of events.
A few hands later, the big stacks mixed it up when Mary, in first place, doubles up Karol of all people! The action had all been pushed preflop with Karol eventually moving all in with AKo and Mary agonizingly calling with AQs. A King flopped and Mary lost most of her chips, putting her into an improbably low 4th place. I did the honors of finishing her off when I called her all in of 4300 with my QdJd. I was in the big blind and already comitted to 1000 of the pot. She had A6 and I flopped a Queen. Syonara Mary. Sorry it had to end like this. So now I was in 3nd place, nearly tied with Chugarte, with Karol in a strong 1st. Play went back and forth for a few minutes when I made a raise UTG with A7o. Chugarte came over the top on me for an extra 2500 and Karol folded. He had made this play on me twice before and both times I held similar hands which I folded. But this time, I studied his body language. Unlike the last few times, he was not relaxed. He started breathing heavier and stared straight ahead, not moving an inch and refusing to make eye contact with me. I remembered my Caro, and this is the classic sign of a guy who DOESN'T want you to call. So I trusted my read and came over the top all in on him. This would just about put him all in if he called as it was another 6500. He looked somewhat defeated, but called, showing A6! I was very happy to show my A7. True, we would probably chop the pot, but I made the right play and I was happy with that. The flop was KT8. The turn was a wonderful looking 7, giving me nearly a lock to go to second place. Oh, but the river, cruel river, was a 9, completing the gutshot straight AGAIN for Chugarte! It stung, but I was happy to take 20% of the winnings.
Chugarte's wife, who had busted out long ago and was kind enough to deal, didn't seem happy that he won the hand. She had been looking to go home for a long time now and had been making it clear. So when Karol refused an offer to chop for less than 50/50, the mood at the table was tense and fraught with possibilities. Karol was badly outchipped at this point, but she ended up doubling through a few hands later. Karol, being a heads up specialist, isn't likely to chop when she's ahead, but the pressure of marital strife laid out bare in front of her finally convinced her to give it up. Congrats to Karol and Chugarte! And little old me...
One last point I want to relay about friendship and being good people. Karol and Dawn slaved over a hot oven to bake me a birthday cake, which they presented at the first break. It was a sad looking sheet cake, with frosting glopped on in a haphazard way. But to my eyes, it was the greatest cake I had ever seen. Just to know that someone thought enough of me to take time out of their day to actually make ME something, is a memory I will never ever forget for the rest of my life. I'm awed and humbled to know the IHadOuts girls. They are the cream of New York poker.