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Sometimes, Playing Well Just Isn’t Enough

September 27, 2009

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Vegas so I did what any self-respecting degenerate type person would do… spent the day in a casino. Now, before you get on me about wasting my time inside on a sunny day, remember I live in the middle of the desert. We get lots of sun. And anyway, this was a planned excursion to downtown, as opposed to a spur of moment type thing.

Earlier in the week, Michalski and I talked about hitting the 2PM tourney at Binion’s, where a buy-in of $110 ($70 for a starting stack of 2,500 and $40 for an additional 2,500) gives you a chance at a guaranteed $10K prize pool. With a fairly small field of about 125 players, it’s not a bad deal. So down to Glitter Gulch I went.

Now, there are a few strategies you can employ when it comes to taking your rebuy/add-on and, in my case, I decided to purchase the additional chips right at the start of the tournament. With short levels and blinds that double every 20 minutes, I like having as much ammunition as possible in the early going in order to make sure I have as many players covered as possible. It’s a strategy that paid off almost immediately.

On the fifth hand of the tournament, I picked up pocket Aces on the button and, with one limper in the pot and blinds at 25/50, I made a small raise to 200. The player UTG called and we saw an Ace high flop with two hearts on the board. He checked and I bet 350 hoping to just get a call. Imagine how happy I was when instead, he check-shoved for about 2,000 and I could easily make the call. He turned over Ah-5h for the nut flush draw, but I faded his outs and took his starting stack, giving me nearly 8,000 chips by the end of the hand.

Things kept going my way through the first hour as my big hands held and, more importantly, my opponents paid me off. River Broadway with King-Jack? Take down a 1,200 chip pot. Raise pre-flop with pocket 10s on the button and flop my set? Ding! Raise with pocket Jacks and have an opponent shove with Ace-Jack off? Thank you. Cards just kept falling my way and, by the break, I was sitting on a comfortable stack of 12,000 with blinds moving to 200/400 with a 25 ante.

Of course, I should have known that after a good start, the wheels would come off. Honestly, I don’t feel like I misplayed any of my hands, but rather, I just stopped connecting. Take the hand where I lost half my stack in a blind vs. blind battle. The small blind limped in and I decided to see a cheap flop from the big blind with Ks-10s. My opponent bet 500 on a flop of As-Qd-9s and I raised to 1,500. He called and checked the flop, which brought the 10c, giving me a pair to go with my straight draw and nut flush draw. I bet 2,500 and he raised all in for an additional 300. I called and still like my chances when he tabled Ace-Jack, but failed to improve when the river bricked out. Suddenly, my 12,000 chip stack was down to about 6,500. Ugh.

I picked up Aces in the small blind on the very next hand, and added a few thousand chips to my stack before getting involved with the most aggressive player at the table when I called his min-raise to 800 with Kc-9c from the button. The flop came Q-Q-10 rainbow and I called his 1,200 chip bet hoping to hit my gut shot. He checked the turn, which brought the 3d and I checked behind (possibly my one mistake of the day). When the river brought the 3c, he moved all in for about 5,000 and I debated making the call but just couldn’t convince myself that my King high was actually any good. Back down to 6,000.

I stayed out of the mix for a little while until I picked up Ace-Queen in early position. With blinds now at 400/800/50, I raised to 2,100 and Mr. Aggressive moved all in for less. Immediately behind him, Lara Miller moved all in with her short stack, and I called. Lara turned over Ah-9h and the villain showed pocket 8s. I caught my Ace on the flop, which also brought two hearts to give Lara a flush draw, and felt pretty confident when the turn brought a black 6. Of course, the villain found his two outer on the river when the 8c hit the board and suddenly, I had just 2,000 chips left.

My demise came a few hands later when I shoved from the button with Jc-10c and got called by an old cowboy holding Ace-Queen. I flopped a pair and a gut-shot with a board of Ace-King-10, but again, couldn’t find a way to improve and made my exit.

Overall, I think I played well and had a good handle on the table, aside from the aggressive British guy who continued to mix it up with all sorts of junk. Still, playing well just wasn’t enough today. Then again, the great thing about Vegas is, there’s always tomorrow.

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