After crashing on a friend's couch I grabbed the airport shuttle from downtown Toronto to the aiport before flying to Denver and onto Vegas, where I was met by the incomparable Jeff Miller of CR. Jeff took me out to some bizarre Korean hole in the wall before putting me up in a room up stairs without air conditioning (in record Las Vegas heat). That wasn't before he let his two mangy mongrels lick my face for hours. It was a rough start to the trip and I am not sure if I have fully recovered psychologically.
The next day we hung out with his sweet kid Ava in the morning. That is to say I woke up early, got my own breakfast (nice guy that Jeff is) and humoured Ava as she showed me the various unimportant things in her life. Hours later a disgruntled Jeff wandered downstairs barking racial epithets into his phone and telling his daughter he didn't love her anymore. Jeff's parenting style is an equal mix of apathy and racial epithets. I tried to soothe the beast with a gift for picking me up, but apparently Jeff doesn't like anything Canadian.
That afternoon Jeff and I checked out the Rio before finding my lodgings for the next six weeks, meeting notoroius swampers Kevin, Chris, and Bill. Chris is lucky enough to be bad at poker, and hence, had to get a fake real job with PokerNews as a blogger. Yesterday during a long shift he wrote up this piece on the live games going on at the Rio. He has yet to ask me for a word of writing advice, the clueless Irish wanker that he is.
I didn't impress my housemates when I retired early like an old man, abstained from alcohol, and ran through the desert at sunup. Aparently you still have to pay the fourth hooker if she shows up whether her charge is asleep or otherwise incapacitated, and the boys were left with a tab and a combinatorics issue. I did have time to soulread Bill in battleship (B2 ftw) shortly after this photo was taken.
I went to the Rio again Saturday, this time to buy in for the 1500 event and grind some cash. The 1-3 game was reasonably soft, though not overly spewy. A kid sat next to me who was the picture of delusion. He was wearing a pewter bracelet that he had won after taking down some regional tournament, and he decided to buy in to the 1-3 game for the minimum (a hundred bucks). Unsolicited he asked the table (this is at the Rio mind you, tournament tables are literally in sight) "Anyone here playing the world series of poker?" This was met with no response from the table. That was his lead in line to "I'm playing four events. Got sponsors and shit." Still no response. Later when facing an all in check-raise from his opponent on a JJ97 3 club board he asked "You strong?" which lead into the inevitable "I just don't believe you buddy." It really is like this here. Walking stereotypes. (He called drawing dead for what it is worth. I surmised that his story of playing events was invented after watching him play for an hour, that is until I saw him waltz down to the starting table next to mine at the next day's event. But I am getting ahead of myself.)
I sat up from that table after three hours down a couple hundred bucks and took a little break before putting in another session of about equal length. The only really interesting hand took place in the second session and started 8 handed with a weak-TAG women limping under the gun only to be isolated by a maniac Caribbean tourist having fun to 8 bucks. I, next to act, re-isolated to 25$ with A4cc. It snap folded around and they both called. I had about 280 in front of me, just covering the tourist; the woman had probably 215.
The flop comes down QJcc8h and they both check to me. Now there is 79 in the pot and I have my second interesting decision (the preflop isolation being a gameflow/recognition spot). I can stack off right here right now and try to get it in with 40% equity if I am lucky, or I can check back. Once I bet I have to get it in facing a raise and on this type of board I do not have that much initial fold equity versus their combined range and not that much chance of my ace being clean often when all the money goes in. Moreover if I make the check back I am going to be able to see the river almost always and make great future decisions. The Caribbean maniac tourist enjoyed the game and had been trying to hand read at the table so I can count on him excluding clubs from my hand once I check back. In any event I checked back.
The turn was the 2s, a total blank, and the lady lead out confidently for $40, a bet the tourist instantly called. Again feeling an absence of fold equity and getting a good price I flatted. The pot going into the river is about 195 bucks once the rake is taken out. The river is... the Th. Both villain's checked pretty quickly. Naturally, there was only one thing left to do, and I told the dealer I was all-in for 215. The lady let it go quickly but the tourist was not happy about things. After much theatrics he folded T8cc face up. That was a nice scoop and I managed to grind out a small loss.
The next day was my first event, the second starting day of the 1500 re-entry. I was lucky enough to get a ride to the Rio from Bill and packed a day's worth of snacks and supplies. Unfortunately most of those snacks would go unconsumed. My starting table had some weak players, but no droolers. I was pretty active the first two hours, either the most or second most active player next to the guy on my direct left, who was lagging it up. He won a 3-bet pot versus me in button versus cutoff that I check-folded turn to a small bet with an unimproved AQo, as well as raising my flop c-bet on an A73r board when I had JJ. I had read him for being a strong player based on his bet sizing, activity (pouncing on my activity), the fact that he won every pot he played, and his general comportment. This read, along with my read on some of the other younger players (that they were good), proved to be off (I think, but I could be proven wrong again).
Not to tell a story nonlinearly but the hand that came down didn't involve me. The laggy player to my left opened the pot preflop for a standard raise and was called by weak-reg two to his left, before c-betting and double barreling a board of AT9fd, Jo. On the 5o river he checked, to be faced by a bet of 1350 chips on the river from the in position player. This figured to be about 55% of weak-reg's remaining stack. The lag elected to call, however, attached an extra 1k chip to the bottom of his calling stack. It was obvious to me, to the dealer, and to all the players involved, that the intention was call, and not raise (this being important in that this was not an angle shoot). The lag tried to scrape the 1k chip back into his stack but instead had to complete the full raise, which if you have done the math, ended up being a min river check-raise, putting his opponent all-in. I figured that the weak-reg would feign a decision for about 30 seconds with his missed flush draws, and would otherwise call with anything he could have been value betting on this river given the action. Three minutes later no one had called a clock because of the unusual nature of the situation.
He eventually folded, which, to my mind makes very little sense. I can't see a hand that can value bet the river, then not be a big enough favourite versus the lag's bluff-catching range given the price he was getting on the river, to call it off. After weak-reg let it go the dealer told laggy that he had to show, as if the situation wasn't bizarre enough. Laggy turned over A2o. The first thing to my mind was how much money that raise must have made Laggy, who surely folded out a better hand from weak-reg. Then laggy and the young guy in seat one proceeded to conclude that laggy must have had the best hand, since, surely weak-reg would have called with "an ace[!]"
At this point in the proceedings I was already short and couldn't put my new found knowledge to use. How did I get short? Well I didn't win any large or medium sized pots in my progression from 4.5k to 5.5k early. I got a lot of hands and spots, picking up pots with c-bets or simply preflop. My best opportunity to pick up chips in this span came with a river value bet that went uncalled. I had opened JJ to 5x in +1 and was called by weak-reg, who had position. The flop was 832r and I continued for 8x, then for 18x on the 2o turn. On the ace of spades river I knew I was overwhelmingly likely to have the best hand and hence put out a value bet of 35x, which elicited a large tank from weak-reg. In this spot a player like weak-reg will generally think I have an ace that got there, a stronger hand like eights full, or nothing. Hence I was hoping he would see 55 as the equivalent of QQ, call, and melt-face after I showed JJ. The problem of course is that I can't have that much in the way of air or missed draws. On the other side was the fact that this would mark the third pot in a row I had won off of him, having made a river bet with Q9 on T78,9,Q that went uncalled, and taken a heads-up pot down with KJ on Q87r facing him. Despite that he let it go.
Next up I lost two pots in a row, one of which I am sure I played great, the second I am ready to face some flack for. First, under the gun opened to 3x, +1 called, and I looked down at AKo in +3. We are 10 handed. We were still played 25/50 which meant that UTG and I were about 80x effective, and that therefore, I could not stack off profitably. UTG and +1 are also more competent, while the two worst players at the tables are in the blinds at the other side of the table, so flatting to me seemed clear. Both blinds came along as one would hope, and the five of us saw a 245r flop, giving me the nut high with a gutshot. It checked around to me, the initial raiser wanting nothing to do with c-betting. It seemed to me that, as far as better hands went, I could probably fold exactly 77 from +1's range, and that was about it. The blinds would continue with any 2x. If I check back here and turn an A or K I should be able to get 2 streets from UTG or +1 relatively often, as well as a street versus the blinds (who have 3x in their range). So not wanting to stab for that reason I checked back to see the Ao turn (full rainbow). The sb lead out for a sizable bet, 12x if my iPod notes are to be believed. The BB called, with 3 players to act. UTG and +1 folded quickly and I had a decision. To make a long story short I found the fold there with AK, saving myself a sizable bet. Results vindicated when SB proved to have 53ss and BB held 83hh.
A few hands later I was in the big blind and it folded to the player in seat 2 who was a red sox fan and about my age. I had pegged him as 'standard-meh-reg' -- everything he did was standard, his bet size, his not paying attention to the table (iPad MLB scores ftw), the lines he took or didn't take. So when he opened to 2.5x (125) on the button on the fold around I had a mind to make my first 3-bet of the tournament with a wide range. I squeezed J3dd and 3-bet to 6.5x (325). This was probable mistake 1. He called quickly and the flop was Ac2h3h. I c-bet 7x (350) and was called quickly. Not to veer too far into strategy but b/f > x/c pretty clearly here imo. The turn was the 7d, so I felt like I didn't have much fold equity in this spot. Sure I am going to get folds but probably not enough. Anyways as a consequence of that I have to decide to fire both turn and river or give up now. I had not showed down a hand and while I had been active I hadn't given any indication of only taking aggressive lines. So I bet 12.5x (625) looking to fire most rivers. Villain snap called. The river was the Qs. So now if I had a plan that was to bet the river, this seemed like a particular good river to fire.
First and foremost, AQ/AJ are going to constitute a fair amount of the top of his turn calling range (and therefore his calling range). I block AJ and now the board blocks AQ. He also snap called, an indication of a no-decision and usually weakness. I have a set blocker. So I also think he can have a lot of A4s/A5s as well as AXhh on the turn. If I can fold those out and a few AT combos I think I have a good spot to fire the last shell. The final thing that swayed me was that, out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach for chips after the river card came down. This is a pretty level 1 tell of strong is weak -- they reach for chips to dissuade you from firing. So I bet 25.5x (1275). I had 2150 behind if he called which would be 43 big blinds at that level. Granted we were going up to 50/100 and 43 big blinds would quickly become 20.
I was pretty focused at the table and really wasn't hesitant in any of the spots, least of all this one. Once he reached for his chips and gave that tell I had further reinforcement to pull the trigger. Villain tanked for a long time. I feel like my physical posture could have been slightly better (I was slouching a bit I think but hard to tell not being able to look at myself) but this is really nitpicking at this point. He was taking long enough that I forgot I was in a hand and my mind was drifting. Finally he put the chips across the line and even gave me the "hold my hand out face down ready to muck." So I snap rolled my J3 when I saw that like it was the nuts, a habit I developed in Peru to confused the slowrollers. He had the AJo, which wasn't actually a hand I was looking to get to fold, and he should almost certainly be calling with that hand since it is probably at the top of his range. Maybe I am rationalizing and maybe I am pegging his turn calling range as too wide, but if he's taking a few minutes to call in this spot with AJ I don't feel too bad about my line.
From there I played pretty tight as I was short. About an orbit had passed and red sox opened in +1 to the same amount, 125. I had AKo and 3 bet to the same amount, 325. He called, the flop was T73ssc and he min check-raised my c-bet of 400. I folded -- I suppose I could have checked back flop as I had backdoor king of the suit. I was down to about 1300 and went through the blinds to get to 1100. The aforementioned min check-raise all in hand transpired shortly after this hand.
I played three more hands. I open shoved 88 from MP for 17x and the BB, a tight player, open folded 33, which was unfortunate to not get a call there. Later I opened KJss to 200 at 50/100 in the CO with 1600 to start the hand. BTN lag called and the BB weak-reg came along as well. KQdd6c was the flop and BB checked to me. At this point I had established the guy to my left as a betting station so I checked to him. He stabbed 275 and I had an easy check-raise all-in which he folded to.
My bustout hand a tighter newish player in his 40s opened to 250 in MP and I squeezed AKo in the BB after it folded around to me. I went all-in for 1700 and he called with KK.
I was surprised how calm I was from the start of the tournament until I busted and I feel like I executed quite well. My decision making was there and I was thinking deeply about the spots in game (which I take as a sign of my A game). I played a lot of hands but with the exception of J3s I got a lot of good starting hands. There are of course adjustments to make and the J3s hand will be one that I might want back. But in general I am feeling very confident still about my preparation, my mental focus, and my play. The other younger guys at the table yesterday just weren't doing some of the things I was doing and of course I had a larger edge on the weaker players. Next event won't be until later this week. I think today I am going to take off and go for a long run and hit the cash games again tomorrow.