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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Art of the Deal

As you you may recall (and if not, you can read about it HERE) Stamps and I finished tied for second place in our Vegas or Bust Poker League. The top two finishers in the standings win a seat to the WSOP this summer at the Rio.

We had several options on settling the tie. One was to play heads up for all the marbles, which neither of us wanted to do. Another was for both of us to go, but take care of most of the hotel and plane cost out of our own pocket. The third scenario was the one we chose.

Stamps won a seat in the first year of the league and did poorly at the World Series, busting in the first couple hours of play.

"I've been and don't really have a desire to go back," he said. "Why don't you let me take a cash payout and you go," he continued.

"How much do you want?" I asked.

Stamps threw out a number and the negotiation started. However, this one was a little different. I thought the payout he wanted was too low. He thought my offer was too high. Go figure! We went back and forth for a week and finally settled on a number with which we could both live.

So, for the third year in a row,  I will get the opportunity to play in the WSOP! Ms. Duck and I will fly from Austin sometime in June. As soon as we decide on a firm date I'll let you know. Hopefully, some of you will be in town and we'll get a chance to visit.

Till next time, win the flips.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Picture Perfect

Whom among us has never dreamed of holding one of those oversized checks in a casino while getting our picture taken? Well, my friend and fellow poker player Ollie the Account accomplished this feat earlier this week at the Coushatta Casino in Kinder, Louisana!

Playing at a $1 slot machine, Ollie said he had decided to spend up to $300 to see if he could "hit a big one," before heading home the next morning. Two Hundred dollers later he hit for over $5,700!


How 'bout a loan Ollie?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monday Night Poker Tournament

Bobby Dee invited me to meet him and play in a local poker tournament. I had played in this particular tourney a couple times before, once final tabling, but just missing the money.

Tonight's game was a $35 buy-in with 30 players taking a seat. Each player started with $4,500, and the blinds began at $25-50. As I mentioned in a previous post, the blind levels only lasted 15 minutes and doubled each time. So you better come prepared to mix it up.

The standard 3X raise didn't thin the crowd too much in this game, so I raised to $250 (5X) when I entered my first pot. I was on the button and had two limpers plus both blinds already invested when I peeked down at 5-6 sooted and thought it might be a good opportunity to steal a pot and try to stay ahead of the blinds. The BB called and everyone else folded. The flop was ten high, with no chemistry, so I bet another $400 when the BB checked to me and took down a decent pot with nothing.

By the time we got down to two tables the blinds were up to $200-400 and I was sitting on ~$6,000. I went card dead for a couple rounds, tossing hands such as 8-3, 6-2, 9-4 etc. I finally picked up a few hands and ended up knocking Bobby out when I raised from the button with A-6 offsuit and he called from the BB for his last $1,500 with K-J. Neither of us improved and we moved to the final table with my chip count at ~$19,000.

I started quickly at the final table, with an opening hand of A-Q off. Blinds were at $1,000-2000 at this point and after a limper from UTG, I raised to $5,500. It folded back to the the original limper and he pushed for an additional $7,000. I called and he flipped over 6-6. I didn't get any help on the flop, but paired my ace on the turn and took down a nice pot.

My second hand was even better, pocket aces. I open-raised to $5,500 and received one call from a short-stack, who tossed in his last $2,500. The pocket-rockets held and we were down to seven players.

After the first two hands I now had a decent stack and a chance to cash. The tournament paid the top three finishers. Things were looking even better when I peeked at my third hand... A-K. As I pushed forward my standard $5,500 raise, a couple players smiled and shook their heads. It folded to the button, who called. Both blinds mucked and we were heads up. I bet $6,000 into the K-J-9 flop and again received a call. The turn was a blank, so I pitched another $8,000 in and once again received a call. The river was an ugly ten, so I checked. The button tossed in his last $7,000 and I tanked for a minute or so trying to determine if my opponent really had a queen. I finally called and was shown A-Q for the rivered straight.

We got down to the bubble with three of us having similar stacks and one player possessing about three times as many as the rest of us. The big stack had entered quite a few pots and pretty much bet every street, forcing the smaller stacks to either fold or risk busting on the bubble. His LAG style came into play as the biggest hand of the tournament (for me) was dealt.

I was UTG when I looked down at pocket jacks and decided to limp in for $4,000. There are a couple reasons I limped with such a big hand with only four players, one good and one bad. I didn't want to be the bubble-boy after playing so long and what better hand to go busto on then J-J? Also, I had busted in an ugly way in our Vegas or Bust League (see here) and I was still smarting from that hand. Of course that hand has nothing to do with the jacks I was holding now, but psychology can be hard to overcome at times.

The player to my left then pushed for $13,000 and I knew I would have to call. The big stack called, as did the BB and I, so we had a family pot. The player who pushed was the short stack, so the rest of us were hoping he would get felted. The flop had a jack, completing my set, but there were also two clubs.

All I could think of was, "Here we go again. Gonna get sucked out on."

That was before I noticed the other two cards were both sixes and I had flopped a full house!

Both other players checked as you're supposed to when a player is all-in. I decided to bet $8,000 to ... well to be honest, I don't know why I bet there. The big stack called, so all I could put him on was a jack with a big kicker. I checked the 8d on the turn, hoping to take advantage of his loose aggressive style. He didn't disappoint, tossing in a $10,000 bet. I cut out $10k from my stack and set it aside as I counted my remaining chips as if I were contemplating a call.

I decided to call :)

The river was another small card that missed the flush draw, which is what I think he must have put me on. He tossed in another $10k and I pushed forward my last $11,000. He pitched another $1,000 in and I showed him my flopped boat. The original raiser had A-Q and Mr. Laggy claimed to have pocket tens.

Now we were in the money and I was the big stack. I toe-tagged the former big stack a few hands later when he pushed with T-8 sooted and I called with A-Q. There were two more aces on the flop, but it also gave him a flush-draw. The turn was a blank for both of us and a queen on the river gave me another boat and the pot.

I had an 8-1 chip advantage as we entered heads-up play. Blinds were now $3000-6000, so I knew I was only a couple hands from a tight battle if I lost them.

I raised to $15k from the button with K-T offsuit on the final hand and received a call. My opponent checked the T-8-7 rainbow flop and I said, "I'll put you all-in."

"I'll call," he replied, turning over J-6 of spades for a gutshot straight draw and a backdoor flush draw. Neither hit for him and all the chips were in my stack.

First place was $360, which is nice, but sitting at a poker table with every chip in the room in front of you is as good a feeling as you can have at a poker table.

Although I had been fortunate to win a flip or two, and have my important hands hold up, I was pleased that I had gotten my money in with the best hand each time. Decent play and a little good luck goes a long way!

Till next time, win the flips.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Hockey Picks- April 18th

One game looks good on today's menu.

$18 on NY Rangers (-180) over Pittsburgh

The Rangers have won 7 of their last 8 and are also 7-1 versus the Penguins. Pittsburgh has lost 6 of their last 7.
Starting Bankroll                           $1,500.00
Profit/Loss                                       $44.00
Current Bankroll                           $1,544.00

All picks are for entertainment purposes only with no guarantees implied. Any money wagered is at your own risk.

Good luck!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hockey Picks- April 16th

A couple games look good on tonight's docket as we drop the puck on the first round of playoffs.

$17 on NY Rangers (-170) over Pittsburgh
The Rangers have won 6 of their last 7 and are also 6-1 versus the Penguins. Pittsburgh has lost 5 of their last 6.
$16 on Tampa Bay (-160) over Detroit
The Lightning have won 3 straight and have beaten the Red Wings 7 of the last 9 times they've met. Detroit has lost 6 of their last 9.

Starting Bankroll                           $1,500.00
Profit/Loss                                       $50.00
Current Bankroll                           $1,550.00

All picks are for entertainment purposes only with no guarantees implied. Any money wagered is at your own risk.

Good luck!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Worst. Beat. Ever.

Not as in a one outer, but the stakes were as high as I play and the beat was brutal.

Going into the final tournament of our Vegas or Bust Poker League, I was leading Tin Man by one point and Ranger Rick and Stamps by six. Our league awards WSOP seats (plus airfare and lodging) for the top two players, so all I needed to do was finish no lower than sixth in the tournament and I would secure one of the seats.

My strategy was to play tight early and avoid getting into any big pots. The only way I would put myself in danger would be if I was holding the nuts. Just sit back in my easy chair and let the other player knock each other out.

My $1,500 opening stack was down to ~$1,100 about 45 minutes into the tourney. Blinds were up to $40-$80 and I was on the button. Ollie the Accountant had been eliminated just a few hands before and we were down to nine players.

There were four limpers in front of me and I looked down at pocket jacks. As I noted before, I wasn't interested in getting involved in big pots this early so I played the hand as a small pocket pair and just called.

The flop was J-4-T with two hearts. It checked around to me and I bet $300, figuring it would take down the pot. As expected everyone folded, except for J-Dawg. He hem-hawed for 30 seconds or so and then pushed all-in.

He had me covered, so I knew if I called and lost, I would be out in ninth place and would put my WSOP seat in danger. On the other hand, I had ~$650 chips left, $380 in the pot already, and I was holding the nuts. J-Dawg never bets on draws, so I put him on either two pair or hopefully, a smaller set. I just couldn't bring myself to fold and made the call.

He surprised me by turning over Ah-7h for the nut flush draw. The turn was the 9 of clubs and I only had to dodge one more bullet. The river was a red card, but lucky for me it was a diamond.

J-Dawg asked for a count and started counting his chips that were now mine. "Whew," I thought, "that could have been disastrous."

"Hey, wait a minute!" I heard Stamps holler. "J-Dawg has a straight!"

"What," I said in disbelief as I looked at the board.

The river diamond was an eight, hitting J's gutshot straight draw. I was so focused on hearts that I didn't see the straight. Hell, nobody did.

Oh. My. God.

Talk about a kick right in the nads.  Just brutal. The very thing I didn't want to happen, had. I was out in ninth and had opened the door for both Stamps and Ranger Rick to move past me in the standings.

I won't bore you with the details after that hand, other than to say that Stamps finished in second place in the tournament, which was enough to move him into a second place tie with me for the final seat to the WSOP.

Our league rules state that if there is a tie for second place, the player have two options. They can agree to split the prize money, which is enough for a buy in and most of your lodging, but not enough to cover airfare, or play a heads-up tournament for the entire prize. Stamps and I plan on meeting Tuesday to decide what we want to do.

So, as I write this I'm very disappointed at the way I finished league play. However, I also realize it could have been worse. But... damn.

CLICK HERE for the final standings.

Till next time, win the flips.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Monday Night Poker

Bobby Dee and I attended a local poker game Monday night, the same one I wrote about recently. This time however, we went to play in a NLHE freezeout tournament.

The buy in was $30, with a $5 add-on. If you do the add-on (and everyone does), your starting stack is $4,500. Opening blinds are $25-50, with 20 minute levels.

"Not too bad," I thought, but soon realized that the blinds doubled each level. It took about an hour before the shove-fest began.

I lost about a quarter of my stack early when I flopped a set of sevens, only to get run down by a rivered straight. A gutshot at that.

I took down the blinds plus one limper when I raised from the button with pocket jacks. The only other hand I remember winning before changing tables was when I once again raised from the button with 6-7 soooted. The SB called, along with one other limper. After both my opponents checked an ace high flop, I bet half the pot and took it down.

Blinds were at $100-200 when I changed tables, and I was sitting on $4,600. Time to get busy!

I won my only hand at the table when I open pushed "the dreaded pocket kings." It folded to the button, who hem-hawed before calling with K-J. He hit a jack on the flop, but didn't improve and I got a much needed double-up.

My final hand was 7-7. I again open shoved for 8 BB and was called by Q-J offsuit. The flop was harmless, but a jack on the turn did me in. Out of 28 players, I finished tenth. Bobby was able to hang on a little longer, finishing in fourth. Unfortunately, the tourney only paid three spots.

Can you say "Bubble Boy?"

After busting the tourney I walked over and joined the $1-2 cash game, buying in for $200. Interestingly, most of the players were of the female persuasion and were also pretty easy on the eyes. The men had a pool going on the NCAA Championship Game and were more interested in watching that than paying attention to their poker game, so I thought that might give me a little bit of an edge.

* Victim of my set of fours

As happened the last time I played here, I got off to an quick start. Limping from UTG on my first hand with pocket fours, I had one caller plus the BB.  The flop was a beautiful 3-4-A. After the BB checked, I bet $5 into the $7 pot. The caller folded, but the BB raised to $15. I thought just calling was my best move in order to build the pot. The turn was an harmless ten and my opponent lead out for $30 and I once again called. The river wasn't scary and the beauty to my right slid her remaining $75 out. I insta-called and was shown two pair (A-3). Another nice start!

* Pocket jacks relieved her of some chips

Two hands later I raised to $10 with pocket jacks, getting one customer. I checked an J-T-5 flop (two spades). My opponent pushed forward $20, ran her hand through her blonde locks, and looked a little dismayed when I popped it to $60. She called and we both saw a red duck on the turn. Not wanting to let her draw on the cheap, I tossed 15 redbirds in front of me and she released her hand.

Three hands in and I had doubled my buy-in, but I wasn't making any friends.

* Bitten by the River Rat

My stack stayed around $400 for the next hour or so, then I won another nice pot when I looked down at Ad-Kd  and raised to $14 from the button with two limpers in front. I got one call from a bespeckled beauty and we saw a flop of K-8d-4d. Nice! My caller checked and I bet $20 into the ~$35 pot and got a call. The caller checked the off suit T on the turn and I bet another $70 with my opponent coming along. The river was the Td, giving me the nut flush. She removed her glasses, trying to read my soul after I slid out a healthy river bet. She made the correct decision and mucked her hand, ending our brief, but volatile relationship.

I headed home after another half hour of play with a nice $300+ win in the cash game.

Can't wait to go back and give it another shot!

Till next time, win the flips.

* The ladies pictured above may not be the exact players at my table :)