Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Treasure Casino, Renton (plug)

Last October, I collected notes about tournaments across the south Puget Sound area. I received an e-mail last week from the poker room manager of the Treasure Casino in Renton. He'd seen the list (and my postings on the Seattle Area Poker forum) and asked if I'd add their information. I'm not getting a kickback or anything -- he just asked nicely. Sounds like a reasonable request to me. I've never played there, but I did stop in there once at 4:30 in the morning, but the friendly staff advised me that all the other degenerates had gone home or down the road to Silver Dollar.

The poker manager writes:

We have daily $30 total tournamenta twice a day at 12:30 & 6:30 pm, 5000 starting chips, blinds double from 25-50 every 15 minutes. (Except for the 'hiccup' from 200-400 to 300-600, then 500-1000, then back on the double train.)

Our daily tournaments have a prize pool of $400 guaranteed, so if it's just you at tournament time - you get all the money. (I had 3 people show up once...)

Saturday and Sundays we have $60 total buy in tournaments at 12:30, where you start off with 10,000 in chips.

Saturday, March 24th, at 12:30, it's $125 total (110 + 15), 10,000 chips with 20 minute rounds.

Vacation Monday: Breaking even

I felt really good about the poker I played on Monday. At Palace, with 13 players left, I was down to a single $500 chip and a chair with blinds at $500 and $1000. With a lot of luck and good tight play, I ended in fifth place, winning $45 (net +$25). At one point, I was in the big blind and folded KQo to a raise and re-raise -- and I would have lost to AQo. Nice laydown.

After the tourney, I played the $3/$6 game for about 45 minutes, end ended up breaking even there.

At Happy Days, I used my $25 win from Palace for my buy-in, and busted out in 12th place under the gun with K9o, when I held only enough to pay the oncoming blinds. I won $10 with the match play coupons, though, so really, I ended up ahead $10 for the day. +$10, and played poker for almost five hours... that's a fun day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

If it wasn't for luck, I'd win them all

Last week, I wrote:

Next Monday, I play super tight in the tourneys, only committing my chips when I'm almost sure I've got an advantage. Only allin preflop with QQ-AA or AK pre-flop, and only all-in postflop with trips or better, until I'm in the money or my stack is an orbit or less deep. (We'll see in this space next week if I can actually do this.)
So... how did I do?

I missed the Palace tournament; I took my daughter to a dentist appointment instead. I arrived at Palace at about 9, got into the $3/$6 game at about 9:30, and left $100 lighter at about 10:30. My AJs hit a board of A53-J-x only to be brought down by a slow-playing small blind, who had called a pre-flop raise with 42o. A few minutes later, I ran into quad kings while holding top two pair.

I only "won" two hands: pocket aces on the button (folded around to me, I merely call, the big blind folds post flop, net +$4) and A9s (the board is A87-7-7, I split the pot with an A6, net +$7).

At Happy Days, my blackjack match plays got beat (including my double-down 11 against a dealer 3), as did two of the next three hands.

In the tournament, with blinds of 400 and 800, I had 3600 left (from my starting 5000), and was in the small blind. It folded around to the button, who called, and I completed with A 7. I've got 2800 left. The big blind, who has a slightly smaller stack, checked. The board came A57 rainbow. I toss in 1000 with my two pair. The big blind immediately pushes his stack of 2100 all in. The button folds. It's to me.

I put the big blind on a bigger ace, which my two pair is beating. I call, and he turns over 86o, for an open-end straight draw. I'm a 70%/30% favorite, but the turn is a 9, giving him the win. I'm crippled at 700 chips, and push QTo a few hands later. It doesn't make it.

It wasn't post-flop trips or better, as I'd promised myself, but I'll replay an edge like that in a tournament every chance I get. It was just an expensive day of bad luck. Unlike some previous sessions, however, I'm very satisfied with how I played.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A down Monday, my first B&M comp, and next week's strategy

Yeah, blogging this one a bit late.

The regular Monday vacation poker day started at Palace, where I signed up, then had to make an emergency run to my daughter's school for a few minutes. I returned 10 minutes into the tournament, having missed only one hand -- they started late. About 45 minutes later, on the button and with my stack about half of its original size, I push all in when a middle position raised. I show AK, he shows AJ, and a jack comes on the flop.

Over to the ring game, where I end up ahead about $40 before I leave to go to the noon Happy Days tourney. I also asked for a breakfast comp (my first time ever), and got it no questions asked. Free eggs. Sweet.

I've arrived at Happy Days a bit early, so I buy into the $3/$6 game there. Several times over the next 20 minutes I'm dealt the second best hand, play it too agressively, call weak draws with proper pot odds, and lose $100. At blackjack, I win a match play and lose a match play, play some more, and end up +$2.

I need to stick around at Palace longer next week. I don't know why I find the game there more profitable than Happy Days' ring games, but I'm roughly +$100 at Palace $3/$6 lifetime, and roughly -$180 at Happy Days $3/$6.

In the Happy Days tourney, I survive for about an hour before I get moved to another table. This table had lost several players, so I went from being one of the big stacks to being a very small stack. With no read on anyone yet, under the gun, blinds at $400/$800, and $2600 in front of me, I push pre-flop with 7 6. One caller shows pocket red threes. The board helps neither of us, and I go home.

It turns out that 7 6 is a 50% to 47% favorite over non-spade pocket threes (with a 3% chance to split the pot). I knew it was close, and figured I'd put my money into both tournament situations with the best hand, which is what you've gotta do. Even more importantly, I'd have done the same thing even if I'd known the cards I was facing.

In retrospect, I'm not so sure that was the right move.

I used a Barnes & Noble gift card (thanks, TMIB and Pony!) and bought The Poker Tournament Formula a few weeks ago. In it, Arnold Snyder discusses fast local tournaments, and how to play them differently than the longer, day-long tournaments that the other pros write about. In short, blind-stealing from two off the button is required when nobody's entered the pot; aggression into single-suited flops is mandatory. The odds are slim that someone has two clubs when three of them are on the flop, so it might as well be you who takes down the pot. To do so, though, you can't give someone proper pot odds to draw to their 40% chance to hit a fifth club on the turn or river, so you've got to bet big. Doing this, you'll win a lot of small pots, and lose big ones, but in short-term fast tournaments, you'll often not have the opportunity to lose the big one. By betting the pot, a caller is making a mistake, and as Sklansky points out in Small Stakes Hold 'em, poker profit comes from your opponent's mistakes.

Sklansky, however, is talking about $3/$6 play, not tournaments. In a tournament, making a play that will win 52% of the time is a quick way to the exit. Making my 7 6 move three times leaves me less than a 14% chance of survival. A better opportunity probably would have come along some time before I was blinded away in the next three orbits. My past tournament wins at Happy Days have come when I won a few small hands, then just waited for everyone else to get busted out.

Arnold says this playing this way -- playing early for survival -- will very rarely get me into the money, but that playing as the agressive blind thief will get big money finishes or nothing. That explains why I've never finished first in a brick and mortar tourney. However, I've gotten enough money finishes that if I play a super-tight strategy, I'll get my money back about half of the time, and will profit about 10% of the time. If that 10% covers the 35% of the time I bust out, I break even.

Next Monday, I play super tight in the tourneys, only committing my chips when I'm almost sure I've got an advantage. Only allin preflop with QQ-AA or AK pre-flop, and only all-in postflop with trips or better, until I'm in the money or my stack is an orbit or less deep. (We'll see in this space next week if I can actually do this.)

And I'm staying out of the Happy Days $3/$6 game.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Aggression and playing loony

Aggression wins bigger pots.

Case in point -- at a six-player $0.01/$0.02 no-limit table, I'm dealt A K under the gun. I raise to 6¢. A typical "I have a hand" bet is 8¢, so this might look a bit suspicous, but I want one or two callers.

The player to my left raises to 10¢, the next two players call, and the blinds fold. Back to me, I need some of these guys out of the pot, so I raise to 30¢. They all call, and four of us see the flop: 6 7 3

Time for the aggression.

First to act, I put in 30¢. I'm representing that I either hit a set, or have AA or KK. One player folds; the other two call. I really should have bet more, because anyone with two hearts is about 40% to make their flush, and the pot's giving them 5:1 to call the bet.

The turn is 3

Either I fold here, or I push. If I push, it's a complete bluff, representing that I had a set on the turn, and hit a boat or quad 3's on the turn. I've got the other two players outstacked, I think about it for a few seconds, then bet $2.69, which is exactly the size of the largest stack still in. I could have just gone all in, but by betting this amount, it's telling the other player "I see your stack size, and I'm calling you out."

They fold, and I take in a monster $2.13 pot (net +$1.43).

Playing loony wins, too

I'm dealt K 2 in middle position. I limp in for 2¢, as do the seven other players who see the flop of

2 7 K

Check, check, check, and the person to my right min-bets 2¢. I pop it up to 8¢, the two late position players fold, and the small blind goes all in for $2.33. It's folded back to me, and I go into the tank. The small blind had joined the table four hands ago, and won two of them on the flop, getting others to fold. He'd just seen me play the previous hand, where I took down a monster pot when I flopped a straight with my JTs, beating out AQs. I didn't know what to put him on, but figured he might have the hammer, or a couple of clubs, or a set.

I really discount that he's got a set of 2's or kings, because it's very rare that all four cards of a set would be in play this early. He's either got K7 or a set of sevens, which puts me way behind, or he's trying to protect Kx or AA, which puts me way ahead. I call.

He turns over J 8. WTF what he thinking? Only runner-runner clubs, jacks, eights, or ten-nine can save him. When the turn is the 4, he's drawing dead. The queen on the river is irrelevant, and I take down the $4.82 pot (net +$2.27).