July 2006
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Watching myself from the rail (Part 4)

And it’s over. I guess we were about 560th in the end.

It all went very choppy. The table broke and before I could open up the new one I’d raised to 2400 under the gun with AQ. One player calls and the flop brings 245.

We apparently bet 3200 out of position here, leaving us with 5800 but the other player has a bit less. He moves all in for 7400.

[01:44] Fake Me: committed

Well, yeah. Easy for me to criticise when I’m somehow completely detached from the hand I know. This is one of those bets where you look like a genius when he holds AK and can lay it down, but otherwise gets you into a world of trouble. It’s a check-fold, or a move all in – there’s no half measures with these stacks. I’d often push here if there’s something to represent but on this super low board, any pocket pair is going to play, so you won’t get any worse hands to call so you’re only doing yourself a favour against AK or another AQ.

[01:44] Fake Me: arse
[01:44] Fake Me: F**K

We didn’t get any help and we’re down to 1600 with the big blind coming right now. Any two will do now with 900 already in the pot in blinds and antes, and 33 looks sweet. It’s very sweet in fact when a 3 comes on the flop and we just about stay alive.

Next hand JJ vs KQ and we double up.

Next hand TT vs KK and it’s time for bed.

[01:48] Fake Me: bollocks
[01:48] Fake Me: sorry

Hey, it’s a hell of a lot better than having me blind away because I can’t make the start. At least we had a shot…

Anyway, I’d already noticed that a lot of the Full Tilt pros were playing this, and looking at the top stacks now I can still see John Juana, Erick Lindgren and Kristy Gazes vying for a seat. We finished above Phil Gordon, by the way, for what it’s worth. It does seem a bit tight though that these players – who undoubtedly are getting their Main Event entry paid by Full Tilt – are playing this satellite. One would expect the Team Full Tilt field to have a decent success rate in these satellites (it will be interesting to see how many of them make it), and certainly you would expect better than 1-in-24 to make the top 127.

So if Full Tilt are paying their entry to the satellite, isn’t this just a stealth rake? And if they’re not, why are these guys playing it at all?

Watching myself from the rail (Part 3)

The strangest thing about having someone play for you is that I’m really not sweating it that badly at all. We’re getting in bad shape, picking up just the blinds with AA and somehow I’m not relating what’s happening on screen at all to my shot at a $10k seat and ultimately $10m and all that fame and (more) fortune malarky.

Even when this happens, I just find it … well… slightly amusing.

[01:30] Fake Me: well 5 hands to push or not
[01:30] Fake Me: all in next hand
[01:31] Fake Me: ok not this time
[01:32] Fake Me X: KJ o
[01:32] Real Me: nooooooooo
He duly moves all in, from early middle position

Fortunately the big stack big blind folded, and we’re still alive.

And try as I might to stay out of it, I can’t. But whether I’d follow my own advice here I don’t know…

[01:37] Fake Me: ok this level is going to kill us
[01:37] Fake Me: looks very dodgy now mate
[01:37] Real Me: push any 2 if folded
[01:37] Fake Me: here we go
He does as I suggest
[01:38] Real Me: gl
[01:38] Real Me: what ya got?
[01:38] Fake Me: KQ
We are called by AJ, but the flop brings a Q and we survive
[01:38] Real Me: f**k yeah
[01:38] Fake Me: rockin

An average stack is within sniffing distance once more…

Watching myself from the rail (Part 2)

So Full Tilt’s fear that they’d be out of pocked on the guaranted tournament was – as expected – a load of nonsense. There were 3,050 entrants making 127 seats to be awarded! They’re making a cool $106,750 in entry fees from this tournament alone.

I also just checked at PokerStars who were having a 150 guaranteed seat satellite today – with 7,377 players they are awarding 234 seats! Blimey, that’ll go on until the wee hours and then some…. The self proclaimed largest satellite in the world ever, and it’s very hard to argue. I didn’t even realise their software could cope with such a big field – usually it’s capped at 3600 or some such number.

I got back a bit earlier than I thought I would and I’ve already seen myself rollercoaster.

[00:13] Real Me: how are we doing?
[00:14] Fake Me: 5500
[00:14] Fake Me: make that 9200
[00:14] Fake Me: AA just held up
[00:19] Fake Me: in 50th place
[00:24] Fake Me: 11595 chips

At that point we were in 37th place and I’d finally got settled, microwaved myself a chicken burger (surprisingly good, and ready in just 55 seconds) and pulled up the table on screen to watch.

Then it all went a little pear shaped. The first hand I saw with AQs turned into the nut flush draw vs two overpairs (88 and JJ on a 7-high board) and we got no love from the poker gods. I decided to stop watching for a while – clearly it’s bad luck to observe yourself from afar, with likely side effects ranging from mild itching to a variety of natural disasters.

But by the time I was brave enough to peak again we were back down to just over 5000, and the average had overtaken us. It’s now the second break, and after a steal with 66 (so I’m told) we have 5,785 with 250/500 blinds and a 50 ante. 1090 players remain and the average stack is 8394.

Watching myself from the rail (Part 1)

So I’d already qualified for tonights Full Tilt 100 WSOP Seat guaranteed satellite, but after I realised I wouldn’t actually be able to play it from the start I’ve had to make a deal with someone else to play it for me. I can’t really say who this is, as he’s apparently had to arrange to “work from home” tomorrow in case it goes on late (I figured it’d run to about 5am if all goes to plan).

The prize package is a $10,000 WSOP Main Event Seat with $2,000 for expenses paid in cash. I had tried everything to get Full Tilt to deregister me from the tournament – I’d asked if I could transfer the seat, take it’s value in satellite tokens to play other tournies on their site, even if they’d give me the $535 seat value to buy into a WSOP event for which of course I’d agree to wear their gear (which is pretty hideous) whilst I played. They gave me the runaround for almost 2 weeks, sounding like something was going to happen but eventually the Promotions Manager said no.

Their excuse: this is a guaranteed seat tournament so you must play it. They were afraid that there would not be enough entrants to cover the 100 Main Event seat prizes. Like that would ever happen. I was more pissed off that they kept me hoping for so long without a straight answer, than the fact that they wouldn’t actually bend the rules for me. I mean, how long does it take to say “rules is rules”?

Anyway, so to get my glamourous assistant to play the tourney for me, I had to give up the $2k additional prize money – not an awful deal for either of us really, as I’m already in Vegas if I get the seat and the chance to $2k cash for 6-8 hours playing at no risk isn’t bad. I’m just hoping its enough incentive for him to not actually play this like a freeroll!

The fun starts at 11pm, and I’ll be back probably sometime between midnight and 1am.

Leicester Gala

Finally I manage to drag myself out of the house for a live game of poker and whizz along the A50 towards Leicester. For some reason, my sat nav keeps telling to turn round. It wants to take me on the M6 to the M69 for some reason. This way is never used to be the quickest even before the A50 bypasses (bypi?) were completed and it’s never tried it before. I think the heat was getting to it.

Getting to Leicester early is essential. It frequently sells out well ahead of the start time, plus they do a very nice range of burgers. I had the Texan burger this time, which comes with bacon and cheese. This was a change from my usual Stilton and Bacon Burger, which as you might expect comes with bacon and a different type of cheese. There’s definitely a pattern, but I haven’t been disappointed yet.

I register for the game at just after 7pm, for an 8pm start, and there’s already 27 players in, which isn’t bad as you can’t register until the night of the tournament. In total there were 49 players when it kicked off, with seven tables of seven. The usual capacity is 56 (8 tables) but I think this might have been a sell out at 49 tonight as they were short of dealers. My table kicked off without a dealer and Old Steve (not me being rude, it says this on his name badge!) the cardroom manager had to deal for a few minute whilst they borrowed someone from a roulette table. Not even a mention of us having to go self-dealt even for a while.

It’s a pretty uneventful night for me, and I think I’d underestimated how fast this tournament moves, having enjoyed reasonable success with it in the past. Although I couldn’t remember if the 150/300 blind level used to be played, or I’d just gotten lucky early on when I’d played before. They coloured up the 50 point chips after level 1 of (50/100) – and then stormed up to 100/200 then 200/400 before things start to settle down.

I survived a potentially early bath when I folded 89 on my big blind after a raise and a call. I just didn’t think I had the chips to defend with a very mediocre hand. When the flop comes TJQ I’m thinking I’d be screwed if the raiser had AK. In fact he had QQ but the other player wouldn’t lay down AT and the turn K made him the nut straight.

Apart from one situation, where I was fairly pleased I had the balls to make what I thought was the right move, nothing particularly exciting happened. Sitting on the big blind with 1800 chips left, the player to my left min-raises to 400. One mid-position player calls and the small blind calls. I look down at 77 and I really want to call and hope to catch a set, which is probably the best value play. But looking at my situation I decide that it’s worth a crack to try and take the pot down right there. I figure the two callers are probably weak, and I have enough chips to stand a chance of pushing them off a mediocre hand by making it 1600 each more to call. My worry obviously is the min-raiser to my left and I don’t yet know what that means, but being left with 1600 after a call and not hitting a set – 1500 after the small blind – and blinds going up to 200/400 soon this feels like a perfect opportunity to pick up some dead money. If I don’t run into a bigger pair and barring some really manic overcalls, I’m either taking down 1400 uncontested (almost doubling my stack) or going 50/50 with a decent overlay.

So I move in, and all three players fold. I’m back in the game.


I can’t get enough chips to deal with the oppressive 200/400 level. I see AJ and raise, to end up racing with a short stack. His K6s gets there and I’m left with 1400.

Then I’m left facing playing the next hand or putting in half my stack in blinds. I take a quick peek and feel that QJ is good enough. The player to my left instantly calls 1400 cold, and the big blind also calls. After they check a flop that doesn’t help me, the player who called 1400 preflop bets at the dry side pot and I figure I’m done. He actually has A4 and hasn’t paired yet, so I’m still alive but drawing thin and I don’t make it. The vast majority of times he’d be doing me a huge favour here with the donkey bet, but as the big blind told me she’d also folded QJ it made no difference.

On the way home at 9.15 – not great, but that’s the way it goes I guess..

Losing with a flopped straight

I’ll try not to turn this into a bad beat whinge.  I got beat, but it wasn’t particularly bad.  I just want to write the hand down to help me think about how I played it.

Party Poker No-Limit Hold’em, $ BB (10 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from (Format: HTML)

Hero ($20)
BB ($24.75)
UTG ($26.05)
UTG+1 ($37.55)
UTG+2 ($13.65)
MP1 ($36.54)
MP2 ($6.20)
MP3 ($24.15)
CO ($31.85)
Button ($27.24)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Tc, 7h. Hero posts a blind of $0.10.
3 folds, MP1 calls $0.25, 1 fold, MP3 calls $0.25, CO calls $0.25, 1 fold, Hero completes, BB checks.

So this call is a bit loose with a poor hand and no position. However this game was playing pretty weak-tight and I’d been able to take down a lot of four- or five-way pots with a single flop bet when the board came low or paired. I was in a seeing-the-flop kind of mood, and this was probably about the worst hand I’d be completing the small blind with.

Flop: ($1.25) 9s, 8c, 6d (5 players)
Hero checks

Mmmm looks good. Let’s make sure. My staight is the nuts. and the board is a rainbow. All good. I don’t need to show any strength here, with a low board I might not get any action anyway so let’s either allow someone else to take a stab or if nobody wants to bet then someone might catch a decent second-best hand on the turn.

BB checks, MP1 checks, MP3 bets $0.75, CO calls $0.75, Hero calls $0.75

OK, two people with chips to give me and two still to act. I like to call here. Make me look weak, nobody will really pay attention and encourage the other two to join in with the calling and the donating 🙂

BB calls $0.75, MP1 raises to $1.5, MP3 calls $0.75, CO calls $0.75, Hero calls $0.75, BB calls $0.75.

Now it gets interesting. A minimum raise as a check-raise from MP1 – what the hell does that mean? Does he have a huge hand? Or is he trying to build a pot with a big draw? The hand I’ve not considered so far – and at the time didn’t consider until it was to late – was the mighty TJ. This hand has a decent draw, and pumping the pot vs 4 opponents is profitable as long as nobody comes over the top. Would he do this, though, and risk a reraise from MP3 which might price out his draw completely?

There’s a wide range of hands for the min-raiser, most likely a set that thinks it’s the best or possibly a limped overpair that wants to know if it’s good. Right now there’s no hand that I’m behind. It is this bet that I just don’t know whether to call or raise. On the one hand, I want to keep everyone around when I have the nuts, but I want to make sure I know that I either still have the best hand after the next card, or that it moves me back to second place so I can get out.

Like I said, I hadn’t really considered JT as a threat. I’d decided that I’d slow down to a pair on board, although this is silly. If I figure someone for a set, let’s raise it up now because they’re never folding it. But what do I do when a Q or 7 falls… I needed to know, and didn’t.

So guess what…

Turn: ($8.75) Qc (5 players)
Hero checks, BB checks, MP1 checks, MP3 checks, CO bets $4, Hero raises $14.25 (all in) BB folds, MP1 folds, MP3 folds, CO calls $14.25.

So is my hand good? Maybe… Can I lay it down? Almost certainly not. So I think I have to push now. Against the made straight with JT I’m toast. Against a set I’m still in pretty good shape. If I just call, again I’m possibly giving an inferior hand a chance to catch up before making a difficult decision, and a quarter of the deck will pair the board to give me that decision. The pot’s big enough that I’m probably going to have to call even if it pairs, unless I can convince myself there’s really nothing I’m beating.

Then again, that $4 bet doesn’t really show any great strength. CO has limped along the whole way so far, now everyone checks to him and he bets in position on the first high card to hit the board. Maybe he just has a Q and suddenly likes the look of it, or maybe Qx two pair.

I panic-push, and this isn’t a great situation to be in or a great move to be making. The one hand that has me crushed is a distinct possibility, and I’m throwing money away to that hand, whilst if the bettor only has top pair he might well get away from it. I can’t really see many better alternatives right now though.

River: ($27) 9d (2 players)

Final Pot: $27
Main Pot: $27, between Hero and CO.

Hero has Tc 7h (straight, ten high).
CO has 6h 6s (full house, sixes full of nines).
Outcome: CO wins $27.

So I got lucky, and was against a set. Then I got unlucky and he boated to beat me.

What did I do wrong? I think I got too greedy early on. The first flop call was probably best, as long as I was prepared to react to a possible better straight getting there as well as a full house. But after the min raise, and another call I guess it’s time to start asking for information, even if I do have the current nuts. I needed to bet big enough to make a straight draw make a mistake and force any made hand to decide whether they are good.

Given a second chance, I sandbag the flop and reraise to $8. I get it all in against CO and still lose. In fact this way I’m giving him twice as much pot equity by putting my money in earlier, but I just don’t think I’m good enough to play the hand any slower and confidently make the right decision.

New Gutshot Web Site

The new Gutshot web site is now live, with one or two components developed by yours truly.  In fact, the bits I wrote seem to be mostly the sections that took a bit of a bash in transit from one server to the other, but I’m sure they’ll be OK again soon.  We just need their system admins to put the right server modules back in place and then we’re in business again.  Check out the odds calculator and the poker diary.  They’re really rather good 🙂

I can’t take any credit for how this looks (they have an excellent in-house designer) and really my involvement was just a small part of a massive relaunch.  This is a pretty awesome poker web site.  The slick black and orange logo is already all over the cardroom, and now it’s made it to the web site as well.  Opinions seem to be mixed about the light-on-dark colour scheme.  I think it looks pretty sexy on my LCD monitor and my laptop, but when I’m reading the forum on my older CRT monitor (which is getting on a bit, and doesn’t really do midtones any more) then it does send my eyes a bit funny after a while.

Maybe this web site should carry a "best viewed on a flat panel monitor" advisory!

Most Pathetic Quest Ever?

So much for my quest.  First day went OK, but not great, with me winning a seat to a $50+$4 satellite on PokerRoom, which it turns out is good for any $50+$4 event apart from the one I wanted to play in.  Looks like entry to the Stage 2 Poker Classic is via the Stage 1 tournament only.  Bit stupid really, and a pisser for me because now I have to find a decent $50+$4 to play on there.

In any case, through some combniation of not having a clock in the living room and getting caught up in the previous night’s Big Brother on Sky+ over tea, I’d managed to miss the 7pm Stage 2 tournament three nights running.  Played just one more UltimateBet satellite since my enthusiastic qualification mission began, and subsequently turned into a damp squib.  Just too much to do before Vegas (T-14 now!) so it was totally the wrong time to try something like this.

So that UB tournament was a $10+$1 rebuy/addon into a $215 Aruba qualifier and has the dubious honour of having the most blatently rigged final hand in the history of online poker.  The screenshot pretty much says it all.  Click the thumbnail to see the full horror…

Three handed and short-stacked, I move all-in for about 7 times the big blind with a pocket pair.  It’s usually ahead here.  The small blind calls with his pocket pair.  He figures to usually be ahead.  Big blind goes mental with the third pair and we’re in a three-way all-in situation 77 vs 88 vs 99.  Needless to say the winning hand was belonged to the chip leader so it didn’t matter that he was way behind pre-flop.  It was all over 3 seconds later.

I made some notes along the way in this satellite also – see, I started off on the right foot with the quest!  But right now I think leave it at that.

To be continued… sometime, hopefully fairly soon.  Maybe.

Las Vegas is back on TV

The cheese on toast that is Las Vegas is finally back on Sky One for a third season.  Not content with using and abusing every possible Vegas cliche already, they had to end the second series with a casino being imploded, and now it’s been rebuilt.

The most impressive thing is that during the construction work, the Montecito hotel appears to have moved a couple of miles along the Las Vegas strip!  In the previous seasons, there were some fairly clever computer generated shots of a shiny fake hotel sitting across the road from Mandalay Bay.  This is the south end of the strip and keep going any further south and you get to see not a lot more than desert, the airport and a freeway intersection.

This is roughly the site of the Klondike casino, as featured in the movie Miss Congeniality 2 – semi-essential Vegas viewing, and although far from a great movie, it’s really not that bad for an unnecessary sequel to a film about a beauty pageant….  The Klondike is 45 years old, and is actually due to be getting knocked down itself any day now (although I don’t think an implosion will be necessary on this tiny place!). 

So then there’s a shot of the strip from a distance in the season opening episode of Las Vegas that shows the all new Montecito glimmering in the distance, right between Aladdin and New York New YorkMonte Carlo has been obliterated, and Manadalay Bay stands alone at the right of the screen.

You can be absolutely certain that if it moves again I’ll be taking notice!  In fact I’m starting to wish I’d burned a copy to DVD so I could post a picture 🙂  There must be someoneelse who cares about this stuff as much as me…?

Questing (Part 1)

I have decided to make it my mission this week to qualify for a big event through an online satellite.  Why, I’m not really sure with Vegas just round the corner (T-18!).  But I’ve not had much time to play poker lately and I decided that if I was make time to play this week then I’d do it with a mission.

I’m still not going to be able to throw myself at this, with hundreds of other real world things to get done before we go away, but any poker I play will be focused on The Mission.  I’m going to try to (gasp) single-table these games too, something I haven’t done for quite a while.  Occasionally two quallies I want to play will overlap so I might make an exception, other than that I’ll have to see just how good my patience is!

I have identified four possible satellites that I want to get into as cheaply as possible:

OnGame Poker Classic:
Stage 1: $6+1
Stage 2: $50+$4
Stage 3: $300+20
Final: $5000+$200 on Sept 2nd played online down to 45 players
Final 45 play live in Barcelona Sept 28th-Oct 1st

Aruba Ultimate Poker Classic:
Sub-qualifiers to satellites costing $200 or $1000
Event is Sept 23rd – Oct 1st
$10,000 package includes $5,200 entry plus travel and accomodation

Camp Hellmuth:
Satellites are $109, package worth $3000
Event takes place in Vegas Aug 11-13
Camp value $2000 + $1500 expenses paid

Ultimate Bet WSOP $3k Satellite:
$30+$3 rebuys or $50+$5 freezeout.
Prize is $2000 in WSOP entries + $1000 cash.
I’d use this for a main event satellite and another preliminary event.

I’ve so far played four qualifiers, and so far managed to keep to one table at a time without getting itchy fingers!

PokerRoom $6+$1 Poker Classic Stage 1.  I began at lunchtime with the 12:10 qualifier and it was short and sweet, but thanks to a masterpiece of misplanning this early in my quest I’d already put some bacon in the George Foreman grill before I realised it was about to start and would have been distracted by food shortly afterwards anyway.  8 minutes in and I was busted with QQ, moving in on the flop with my overpair vs two flush draws which both hit on the turn.  I was pleased to see I was ahead but didn’t really like the move as my all-in came after I got raised and called by the other two players.  The bacon factor, along with seeing that there was only one seat and one cash place in this satellite with 24 players almost certainly influenced my decision.

$11 feeder to Camp Hellmuth satellite.  I survived 59 minutes before busting out in 6th place – hey at least I didn’t have to sit through the break with hardly any chips left…  There were only 9 entrants in this giving us a small overlay on the seat value, but meaning that it was first place or nothing.  With a minimum raise to 120 under-the-gun and one caller I reraise to 340 with 44.  If the min-raiser actually has a hand and comes to life I can get away from this with 865 chips remaining.  The raiser folds, but the weak caller wants to see a flop and I feel I have to move in on the flop when he checks to me as long as the board doesn’t look too scary.  He instacalls with JT on a J62 rainbow board (couldn’t ask for much better without a 4!) and I’m done.

$20+$2 satellite to $109 Tournament.  As UB now offer tournament dollars, even though this was not a Hellmuth satellite I would be able to use the seat value to play in the event I wanted.  This seemed like good value, with one seat for every five and a half players (I have had decent success in a similar structure on PokerStars) however it was a turbo tournament with 5 minute levels.  In total there were 38 players for 6 seats and $106 cash, but I went dry when it mattered and got called by a rag ace when I needed to steal some blinds.  I went to the rail in 16th place.

PokerRoom $7+$1 Satellite to $50+$4.  This seemed to be a bit better value than the Stage 1 qualifier, with the same value ticket prize.  Finally, things go right and I land a ticket for just over 2 hours work.  I have more detailled notes about this one, and depending on whether it sounds vaguely interesting when I read it back I might post some hands later.  However when I went to register for the Stage 2 tournament, it wouldn’t let me use this ticket!  My next mission is to find out why…

Played: 4
Cost: $48
Won: $54

Not exactly impressive yet.  About even 🙂

Continue reading Questing (Part 1)

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