June 2008
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A bit of poker-style gambling

In case the graph didn’t make it clear, I’ve made it through to the second round of the WSOP satellite. I play again at midday (8pm UK time).

Not sure if I’ll bother with a chip graph this time, it was pretty intense trying to keep up with meaningful updates and the whole thing was over in exactly one hour. It’s only because I got lucky that the graph had more than 3 points on it.

We started with 1500 chips and doubling the blinds just wasn’t fast enough. It went up every fifteen minutes: 25/50, 50/100, 100/200 then 200/500.

Two players progressed from each table of eight, and I assume it will be the same format today to reduce the field to just one table of ten to play for the cash and the Main Event seat. At that final table, about 40 hands will determine who wins bottom place money ($500) and who wins the top prize ($10,000). Just like on TV, I suppose.

To say it’s all a bit random would be an understatement.

But, on the other hand, the quality of the opposition is terrible. This game had everything you could ever dream of. Players who have no idea of the value of their cards, or their chips. Even though the chips have numbers on them, in case you forget.

It was just like the scene in Ocean’s Eleven where Brad Pitt is teaching a bunch of movie stars to play poker, except nobody was famous and the dealer already knew to deal to the left.

Given more chips and enough time, I am absolutely positive I could have pissed all over my table yesterday. As it was, I was forced to get lucky in a 3-way race holding KJ against A6 and 23. Making the overcall there with the nut low wasn’t even the worst play I saw.

These players mostly weren’t here for poker, they were here in spite of it. The tournament took place in the promotions area where slot tournaments are held (the machines were all around the edge of the room) and I’m sure that really that’s what everyone else wanted to be doing. It’s much more fun to slap a button and not have to think; to have a machine tell you whether you won rather than have to try to work it out for yourself.

One player tabled QJ on the river twice, making a hesitant call each time. The first time the board showed two queens, a jack and two little cards with four hearts and his full house beat a king-high flush. (In the WSOP, that same call with the absolute nuts would get you a one round penalty for soft-playing). The next time he called on the river holding QJ on a board of 67TA2 with 3 spades. A busted gutshot straight draw has rather less showdown value.

He wasn’t alone in being married to a drawing hand with zero cards to come. When one player bet the river holding 23 and having paired the 3, she got paid off by JT because there was a king and queen on the flop.

A pre-flop raise was usually a minimum raise, although any raise was rare. A flop bet, was usually a minimum bet – usually following the question "how much can I bet".

The betting patterns were so peculiar I don’t think there was any chance of trying to play this any other way that staying out of trouble, picking a couple of spots and getting lucky when it mattered.

In fact, I even laid down AQ pre-flop when we were five handed. The first player to act moved all in and I looked round the table to see what was going on. It was the first time anyone had taken more than 5 seconds to make a decision and suddenly I’d drawn attention to myself.

The big blind, who had us both covered, had already counted out the call and was holding the chips over the line ready to release. Unable to put either of them on a geniune hand, I didn’t want to take a likely 40% shot at survival so I let them fight it out and the big blind’s K9 knocked out KQ with a straight.

It was satisfying to qualify and I’m sure it would have been frustrating to miss out. I did see one dude in a Bodog top walking out of the room on his cellphone, presumably complaining about losing a 60/40 against a hand that should have never been in the pot. At least he didn’t have sunglasses on.

I’m under absolutely no illusions that it’s an automatic win. Clearly I do have an edge over the field, but there’s really not enough time to let it have much of an effect. I like my spot, but the poker gods have to like me too.

Still, I only have to get lucky twice more to win a ten grand seat now.

EDIT: 2nd in the "semi-final".  Only one player from each table advanced though so I’m done.  There’s a cash drawing at 5pm for a last chance of some winning.

1 comment to A bit of poker-style gambling

  • It’s even worse than I first thought.  Harrah’s really don’t like me any more.My latest batch of casino mail just arrived.  I get three weeks worth forwarded at a time and the only free room offer this time was for a mid-week stay.As I’ve been on the mail

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