Friday, June 30, 2006

Limit Hold Em WSOP Event #4 Day 1 (I'm Still Standing, Yea, Yea, Yea)

After consulting a few people I decided to go against my original plan and enter the 1500 Limit Hold Em event today. Limit Hold Em has always been my bread and butter game and the majority of the money I have made playing poker has come from grinding out live and online Limit Hold Em cash games. All that aside I lately have become bored/frustrated/sick of Limit Hold em and have pretty much made a full transition to No-Limit full time.

My plan for the World Series was to concentrate on big bet poker and take the limit hold em days as days of rest or days to play cash games. However, I woke up this morning feeling good and itching to play another WSOP event after tasting a small amount of success the day before. The biggest obstacle in my way was that the 1500 limit hold em was going to get over 1000 entrants making it a 3 day event. This meant that if I made day 2 I would have to miss the 2500 6-Max NL tourney, an event I have been looking forward to for months. When I expressed this concern to my cousin Danny he referred to this as being a "high-class problem", and suggested I ignore this variable when making my decision. That in mind, I ate some breakfast and headed down to the Rio in plenty of time to play Event #4.

My starting table featured Kevin Song , a very good old school professional poker player who has had particular success in limit hold em tournaments including a bracelet in one a few years back. I started off pretty hot, in spite of Kevin being directly on my left and had 2500 before I knew it. Unfortunately I got involved in a few bad spots and eventually found myself back to my 1500 starting chips at the first break. Soon after the break I hit a rush, and then this hand occured.

2 players limped in EP to me and I made it 200 to go with 2 red Jacks. Kevin called right next to me and when the smoke cleared it was 6 to the flop for 2 bets. The flop came 8c3c2c, and when it was checked to me I bet my very vulnerable overpair. Kevin raised me and cleared the field. My plan was to call the hand down at this point unless I improved or it became extremely obvious my hand was no good. I check and called a turned 2 and then the river came my Gin card...The Jack of Clubs. This put a 4 flush on the board, but made me top full house. I decided to go for a bet 3-bet and Kevin raised and then crying called my 3-bet with what he said was a flopped set of 3's. This hand put me at 6000 and I was the table chip leader and well over twice the tourney average.

For the next few hours I went up and down, and ended with about 8000 chips when I was moved to a new table right before dinner break. I had a very enjoyable dinner break where I changed up my normal routine of going to sit down at a restaraunt for a meal. Instead I went to the snack bar and got a chicken sandwich and a fruit plate and headed over to the cash game area to fire up a $4-$8 limit hold em game. I have been talking with a few people including my friend Shane about expert dinner break routines, and I was really intrigued by this one which allowed me to stay in the gambling/poker mindset while also being able to unwind a little bit and play without pressure. I dropped about 35 dollars in the game but had fun and was ready to go when play resumed.

Post dinner break I went on a nice little rush to get to 15,000 in chips when this hand developed agaisnt Adam Katz's favorite poker player Phil Gordon.

Folded to Phil in middle position and he opened with a raise, I was the lone caller, defending my blinds with 55. The flop came Q65 rainbow and I went for the check-raise, Gordon obliged by betting and then rapidly 3-bet when I raised. At this point I had 3 choices. I could 4 bet and keep the heat on the rest of the hand, I could just call and attempt to check-raise the turn, or I could call the 3 bet planning on leading any turn. I chose the 3rd option. The reason for this was I thought that Phil would not be able to fold a Queen if I took this line but he might smell out a huge hand from me if faced with a 4-bet on the flop and could get off a Queen much easier. There is probably more about this hand to discuss, but for now I am going to move on to the turn action and maybe revisit the flop later.

The turn was an A, and it also made 2 clubs on the board. I went with the plan and led into Gordon, and he called but was noticably disgusted. When a good (great) player gives off such an obvious tell usually he is up to someththing and in the heat of the battle I didnt really pick up on it. (I will explain later what he was up to)

The river was an offsuit 4 and now one of the hands I feared got there (87). I still decided to lead and paid off Phil's river raise and was shown the 8c7c. This hand would have put me up to 20K but instead I was knocked to around 10...a tough break, and a key hand.

Back to what Phil was up to by his turn body language. Now that we know his hand was 8c7c, we know he turned a monster draw. By giving off weakness on the turn he encourages me to bet the river no matter what I have pretty much. Also, when someone reluctanly calls a bet, usually that hand isnt a solid draw, because limit hold em pots are almost always big enough to chase garden variety draws. Phil gets the best of all worlds if he can sell a weak made hand to me...If I am bluffing I will fire one more bullet if I think he is weak, if I have a decent holding I will be more inclined to make a thin value bet, and if I have a monster I wont attempt a check-raise because if he is weak he wont bet. This means that the 65 percent of the time he misses on the river he just folds his 8 high and moves on, he wasnt gonna win the hand anyway so no harm done, but the 35 percent of the time he does hit he is in good shape to get 2 bets. Anyways, I am getting tired so that is enough about that hand, but it was an interesting one for sure.

Soon after I got down to 10K I vaulted back to 14 and for the next few hours I was between 9 and 14, hitting a bad run of cards but winning some small pots to stay alive.

Then this key hand crippled me. I opened Under The Gun with AKo and was 3-bet by a guy who I had seen play extremely tight for 2 hours. I was pretty nervous about the 3-bet and put my opponent on a very narrow range of hands. The flop came AT9 and I was happy but planned to play the hand cautiously. The turn bet was 600 and I just called, figuring I didnt want to scare JJ-KK away but also didnt want to lose any more than 1 bet per street vs a hand that beat me. Although I hit a good flop I did not feel comfortable. The Turn was a small card and again I check and called. I wanted to have a playable stack if I lost this hand, and I think this is the type of hand that is supposed to be played differently in a cash game than in a tournament, especially if u are a short stack. The river was an offsuit Q and I considered betting, but luckily check and my opponent gave me a break by checking behind with ATs for a flopped 2 pair. My pre-flop read was wrong but luckily my cautious play left me with 4200 in chips to keep fighting. I was annoyed with my luck, but happy that I stayed disciplined and aware of the situation I was in.

My stack dwindled down to 3500 with 104 people left of the 1068 starters, I was in bad shape and in danger of bubbling and not making the top 99 places which were being paid. Phil Gordon raised UTG and I had 99 and a decision to go with it or not on the button, after talking to Phil a little I got the feeling that he didnt mind an all in by me at all which made me think he had 99 or better, AK or maybe AQ. My read could have been wrong for sure, but he was playing ultra-tight and it seemed like he had a hand he was happy about. I folded, but then 2 hands later I decided to gamble.

The UTG player raised, he was short stack and I knew he had a big hand 88-AA, AK and maybe AQ...he might have folded AQ im not sure. I was actually planning on folding my AKo when it got to me, but then there was a cold caller. Througout the tournament Cold-Call meant pair between 22-TT about 90 percent of the time, so thats what I put the caller on. Vs 2 pocket pairs smaller than me I all of the sudden would be faced with a nice triple up situation and I decided to go with my hand. To make a long story short, all the money got in pre-flop more or less between me and the other short stack and the bigger stack cold-caller...UTG had QQ, Cold-Caller had KK and I was in a world of hurt. Flop came rags and I was already devising my expert 6-Max NL strategy for tomorrows event, sure I was done in this one. Turn nothing and then....BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM Ace of diamonds on the river and I have 11K again!!!!!!

From then on I hit a nice rush and also played some hands well post flop making some good value bets, inducing a few bluffs/calls and by the time I was moved to a new table I had 25K and was well in the money. I built it up to 27K and then lost a few thousand back when I picked up KK but ran into an ace high flop, I was raised on the flop and got off the hand, my opponent showed me AQs and I was feeling good with about 22K right on average with 69 runners left going in to tomorrow.

Cliff Notes : I have 22K in the 1500 Limit Event, I am already in the money and first place is 330K. All the payout structures and real time updates should be available on and Blinds start at something ridiculous like 1000-1500 tomorrow so a lot of luck will still be involved, but I do feel pretty confident that maybe I can get something done here.

Thanks for reading...Go Red Sox


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9:10 AM  

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