I guess it stands to reason that the deeper you get into the World Series of Poker, the tougher it gets.  That being said, I have a hard time seeing how things could get much more difficult than my Day 2 table.  I'll go even further and say that the final table will not be as tough as the group I went against yesterday.

Before getting into it, let me give an overall update.  Following the second Day 2 today, we've lost 3/4 of the entrants.  About 6,400 people entered, and there are only 1,600 left, less than 1,000 away from the money.  It's within reach, and there's a chance we may even get there late on Day 3.  Dozens of name pros have been eliminated thus far, including Mike Matusow, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, and plenty others.

My Day 2 table began in the Brasilia room, which is basically the secondary room at the Rio.  The Amazon room is the main room, and the place that we will all be playing in once we've eliminated enough players to fit there.  Right when I sat down, I took stock of my tablemates and their chipstacks.  I was among the leaders at the table, with probably two guys that had me slightly edged.  There was a wide range of styles and nationalities at this new table.  I was in Seat 6, and to my right was English pro John Duthie.  I've seen Duthie before and know that he plays a little loose, often catching people by surprise with low suited connectors and the like.  To his right was an older man that I think must be a war vet, as he had three fingers on one hand and none on the other.  He played a very tight game, but when he got a big hand he pushed hard with it.  To his right was a young German guy who was extremely unpredictable.  He changed gears very well, sitting out for half an hour before raising and reraising five straight hands.  It was tough to get a feel for him.  To his right was a kid in his mid-20s in a long-sleeved Florida Gators shirt.  He was also very tough, and I could tell early on that he knew what he was doing.  Most players seemed to stay out of his way, as he took down a lot of pots preflop uncontested.  Oddly enough, he seemed to do the most raising from early position.  The 1 seat was taken out rather quickly, so no need to worry about him.  Seat 9 was another tough European--a young Swedish kid that seemed to reraise half the preflop raises.  It was hard to put him on anything, as he was very active in most pots.  To his right was a young Canadian kid that played a very tight style, and finally to his right was a middle-aged guy that seemed to play a pretty straightforward game.

On the first hand, I looked down to see AQ in middle position.  With 200-400 blinds and a 50 ante, I made a standard raise to 1,200.  The guy immediately to my left reraised to 4,000, and it folded back to me.  I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of playing AQ out of position, especially against a guy that didn't have a huge stack, so I laid it down.  He showed aces!  Just as my pocket tens on the second hand of Day 1 seemed like a good sign, I took this as a bad omen of things to come.  Did I mention I hate AQ?

The next few hands saw a preflop raise followed by a reraise, followed by a fold.  It gave me a good idea of the way the table was going to go.  I decided to get in on the action (as well as make a statement that stealing my blinds would not be tolerated), when about 12 hands in, Duthie raised from the button.  I looked down to see A7 off from the small blind, and made a meaty reraise of 3,800 on top.  He thought for a bit, then tossed it.

Duthie came into the day with less than 30,000 in chips, but he quickly got back on his feet after coming in for a raise in middle position.  The guy to my left made a huge overbet push of about 20,000 on top.  Duthie barely had him covered, and he said, "I just can't lay this down.  I call."  Duthie flipped over queens, which were in great shape against the 77 of his opponent.  The board ran out safely, and the queens held up.  I wasn't thrilled to see Duthie chipping up, as I knew he could be dangerous.

Shortly after Duthie's double-up, I called a raise from Gator guy on the button with 56 of spades.  The flop came down as perfect as I could hope for--347 rainbow.  Oddly enough, he checked it.  I thought he was looking for a check-raise, so I didn't slowplay my fliopped straight and threw out a bet of 2,000.  Apparently my read was off, as he tossed it pretty quickly.  That seemed like a missed opportunity, but I guess he put me on a big pair preflop and he totally whiffed it.

I only got involved in one other hand before our table got moved back into the Amazon room.  This hand really illustrated why playing with deep stacks gives you more freedom than regular tournament structures.  After Duthie limped in mid-late position, I peeked down at the 46 of hearts.  With position on the cutoff, I elected to call, and along with the blinds, we saw a four-handed flop of J73 rainbow, giving me a gutshot.  The Canadian kid checked, then the aggressive Swedish kid bet 1,200.  Duthie thought briefly then folded, and I saw this as a chance to take a pot off the kid.  I put him on a weak jack, and I called not only with the gutshot, but looking to take it down later in the hand.  The turn paired the 3, and the Swedish kid checked.  I bet 1,800, hoping it would look like I wanted a call.  He must not have seen it that way, as he raised another 4,000 on top.  I still saw him as having a weak jack, and I decided to represent 77, a line that I had followed pretty well so far.  I made a pretty small reraise of another 5,200 on top, and the kid thought for about 20 seconds, then folded.  That was a nice pot, and put me up over 70,000.  Shortly thereafter, we were asked to move into the Amazon room, although our table wasn't breaking.  We all picked up and moved to the back corner of the Amazon room, to the 60th table in the Orange section.

A new player was moved to our table after Duthie eliminated the guy with QQ vs. 77.  A young Spanish kid, he came to the table with about 35,000 in chips.  He wasn't the one to worry about, though, as we soon lost the player in the first seat when the German guy took him out.  Filling his spot was none other than Carlos Mortensen, the 2001 Main Event champ.  "The Matador" had around 30,000 in chips, but when a guy like that has anything in front of him, you take notice.  He seemed to be laying back mostly during his first few hands, and the flow of the table continued--raise, reraise, fold.  I had noticed that the few hands that Mortensen had raised, he had made it a different number each time.  Twice he had made nearly a 5X raise, and both times the kid in the Gators shirt had reraised him and took it down preflop.  A few times he had raised smaller, and on all but one he ended up taking the pot down either pre- or post-flop.  I figured that his oversized raises were with something like a small pair or some kind of suited connector type of hand, and that thinking led to my next play.  Mortensen made another large raise from under the gun, and Duthie called in middle position.  I looked down to see pocket 4s, and thought it might be a good time for a squeeze play.  After Mortenson's 2,500 raise (blinds were 250-500), I put another 8,000 on top.  Mortensen folded rather quickly, but Duthie called.  I can't say I was happy about that, but I figured that if I stayed strong I could take it down.  The flop was beautiful but scary as it came down 49T with two hearts.  I had flopped bottom set, but there were draws galore on there.  Duthie thought for about 20 seconds then checked.  I thought about checking behind and trying to trap, but there was just too much danger out there.  I bet out 10,000, and he thought for about two minutes before folding.  I thought he was going to push on me, but I guess he decided against it.  He looked at me and said, "Nice hand... I think.  I folded queens.  It just didn't seem like the right time."  I wish I had known he had queens, because a check behind may have won me a lot more money.  I thought he may have been splashing around with some kind of suited connectors, though, not a pair.  A check may have made him think I had AK and missed, so I regret the play.  That being said, I dodged a bullet by getting him to lay down queens in the first place, despite having flopped a set.  I wonder how everything would have played out if I had just called preflop.  Mortensen may have caught a piece of the flop, Duthie would have the overpair with no reason to think he wasn't good.  I could have taken a monster.

Not long after this hand, the Canadian kid got mugged.  He raised preflop, and Gators guy called in the big blind.  The flop came down T92 with two hearts, just like the flop Duthie and I had seen..  Gators checked, and the Canadian kid made a 2/3 pot bet.  Gators kid raised, Canadian reraised, Gators reraised, and Canadian just called.  The pot was huge at this point.  The turn was a king of hearts, and both players slowed down with checks.  The river was a blank, and after Gators checked, the Canadian bet 25,000, nearly his entire stack.  Gators guy got up from the table and said, "Wow this is sick."  This was the first brutal decision he had needed to make, and he took a good five minutes before he made it.  He seemed ready to fold a couple different times, and the Canadian kid remained stoic throughout.  Finally, though, he made the call, and he turned over T9, for top two pair on the flop.  It was good, as the Canadian kid had QQ. 

Shortly before the dinner break, we lost the Canadian kid when he shoved for his last 7k with K3, only to be called by Duthie and his 99.  The 9s held, and the kid was gone.  That turned out not to be a good thing, as who came to our table but Bill Edler, the pro I played with on Day 1.  Bill had a stack of about 30,000, but he soon doubled up off the German guy when he turned trip jacks and called the German's push with just a pair of 6s. 

We then lost Duthie in an instance of a squeeze-gone-wrong.  Mortensen raised, Gators called, the German called, and so did the older guy.  Duthie pushed for another 25,000, which elicited folds from Mortensen and Gators guy.  The German thought for a while, then said, "Let's gamble," and he threw in the call.  The older guy got out of the way and we were heads up.  The German had 44, which amazingly enough had Duthie crushed, as he could only turn over 53 off!  That was a pretty sick move, and the 4s held to knock Duthie out.  His seat was soon filled with a middle-aged guy with about 50,000 in chips, but the German cut out half his stack with a couple of well-timed reraises to put him in trouble.

Bill soon whacked the new guy who took Duthie's spot when he came in raising and got one call, then they both checked a flop of 589.  The turn was a queen and Bill bet 5,000, only to have the other guy push for 17,000 more.  Bill insta-called with 67 for the second nut straight, and the other guy was drawing dead with AQ.

All throughout this, I was staying pretty quiet.  I raised a few times from late position to take some pots, but I wasn't really getting into any big pots.  This had turned out pretty well for me, though, as I had just crossed the 100,000 mark by the final break of the night.  Unfortunately, I slid a bit after the dinner break.  First, I got tricky and limped with aces in early position.  Seeing as how the table had been so aggressive, I thought for sure I would see a raise and a reraise before it got back to me, but much to my dismay there were three other calls.  The flop came 28Q with two diamonds, and Mortensen and the Gators guy checked.  I bet out 2,000, and a player behind me folded.  Mortensen called, then Gators guy raised it another 6,500 on top.  What could he have?  I thought he had a queen, something like QJ, and I made the call.  So did Carlos, who I put on a couple of diamonds.  The turn was a black 4, and after Mortensen checked, Gators guy bet out 20,000.  After getting called on the flop, I didn't think he'd go so crazy with just a queen.  I thought about it forever, going back and forth between pushing and folding, but I finally opted to toss it, as did Mortensen.  Gators guy said that if I pushed he would have puked and then called, and said he had flopped top two and that I was scaring the crap out of him with how long I was thinking.  He wasn't going anywhere, though, so that was a good laydown.  I doubt Q8 would have called if I raised, so I probably take it preflop, but at least I got off of it.  After this hand, though, I gave away about half my money on a funky hand.  I had mentioned that the Swedish kid was raising and reraising a ton of pots, and once again he came in raising on my big blind.  It folded to me, and I saw KJ off.  I don't particularly like this hand, but I decided to throw in a call.  The flop was 577, and I thought I could take it down with a bet.  I bet 5,000, and the kid called.  I immediately figured that he was floating the flop, looking to take it down with a bet later on.  I was ready to let him do it, but then the jack hit the turn.  I checked it, and he bet out 10,500.  I called.  The river was a queen.  I checked again, and this time he threw out 20,000.  I really didn't believe him, especially with how many pots he had been splashing around in, but this was a big bet to have to call.  I went with my gut and made the call, and like a punch in the gut he turned over AA.  Ouch.  That pretty much cut me in half, under 50,000.

I bounced back pretty well after that, taking a few hands with preflop reraises with jacks and tens.  I also put a squeeze on Edler and Mortensen after Bill raised, Carlos called, and I popped it 15,000 on top with AK.  I was ready to dance if one of them pushed, but they got out of the way.  I ended the night with slightly less than I had started with--57,900.  In relation to the blinds, I still have plenty of chips, as we'll come back to 600-1,200 blinds with a 200 ante.  There's definitely still plenty of room to play, and I have to think I'll have an easier table than I did on Day 2.  I'm a bit disappointed with that KJ hand, since I probably shouldn't even have called it preflop, but I'm glad that I was able to bounce back.  Day 3 is going to get us close to the money, so I'm thinking that if I can get over 100,000, I'll be looking good to make a run at it.  75% of the people that started it are gone, and I've got a shot, so I'll definitely be taking a positive outlook into Day 3.

Posted by Terrence on July 9, 2009 at 01:52 AM | 4 comments

Well Day 1b of the World Series of Poker Main Event is in the books, and I'm still alive.  Not only that, I now have more than double my starting stack, with a total of 66,925.  We began the day with 30,000 in chips, 50-100 blinds, and two hour levels.  The plan was to play four levels, with a 20-minute break between levels and a 90-minute break for dinner midway through.  The first thing that deserves mentioning is the toll it takes on you to play here.  I've heard that the World Series is as much a physical grind as a mental one, but it wasn't until today that I realized what that meant.  I've played for 18 hours straight and finished no worse for wear, but after about eight hours of play today, I'm spent.  My back hurts, I'm tired, and I'm very glad that I have a few days until I play again.  Anybody that makes it through this thing will certainly have earned it.

OK, on to the good stuff.  I'll begin with my table set-up, which was pretty favorable.  We actually began play shorthanded, as a couple people hadn't shown on time, so there were only seven of us to start.  In Seat 2 was an older gentlemen who seemed pleasant enough, but didn't seem to be much of a threat.  On his left was Bill Edler, a pretty well-known pro that has made a couple of deep runs in the Main Event.  I think he finished top 20 a couple years ago.  I recognized Bill right as he approached the table, but didn't let him know that I knew who he was.  All in all, though, he was a very amiable guy and a fun person to have at the table.  I spoke with him quite a bit during the course of play.

To Bill's left was a younger guy named Jeff that gave off that "hotshot" kind of vibe.  He had a hooded sweatshirt that he usually kept over his head, plus a pair of shades and a generally aggressive style of play.  The seat to Jeff's left was unoccupied, and I was in Seat 6.  On my left was another young guy who played a solid, tight-aggressive game.  Next up was a middle-aged fellow from Ireland named Paul.  When he first sat down I expected him to have that aggressive, creative European style of play, but he was actually rather tight.  Not overly so, but he didn't mix it up if he didn't have something.  Finally, the 9 seat was taken by an Asian guy with a cowboy hat that seemed to be roughly my age.  We'll call him Cowboy Bebop for future reference.

As far as table placement goes, our table was in a great spot for spectators, right in the corner of the middle of the room, which gave people the chance to be within a few feet of the table on two different sides.  Brigid, Pete, and Mom were there all day, and Uncle Kevin was there for a while, also.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm nervous playing in such a big tournament.  I'm really not.  I don't know that I have a word to describe it, but it's definitely not nervous.  I feel energized.  When I walked into the room, took my seat, and had my chipstack in front of me, it was an awesome feeling.  As the day grew on, I became more and more comfortable, and there hasn't been a time when I felt like I didn't belong with the rest of these guys.  Even playing against Bill, a guy who has made some serious money off of poker--I felt like I had a good feel for what he was trying to do.

I wish I could remember what my very first hand of the tournament was, but all I know is that it was ugly.  I folded it, and the older gentleman in Seat 2 actually got a walk, making him the temporary chipleader.  On the second hand, I picked up pocket tens in mid-position, and opened with a raise to 300.  Everyone folded, giving me my first pot.  And for anyone wondering, I am definitely taking it as a good sign that my hand showed up so early.  I folded my next hand, and then sat back and watched the following carnage develop.  Keep in mind how low the blinds are and how much we have in our stacks.  The kid to my left opened for 300, and the guy in Seat 2 tossed in a yellow 1,000 chip.  Now being that he didn't declare a raise, that chip only indicated a call.  Everyone else folded, and they saw a flop of 89J with a couple clubs.  The younger guy checked, then raised the older guy's bet of 800 to 2,000.  The older guy called pretty quickly.  The turn was a red ace and the kid led out for 2,250.  The older guy raised to 5,000, and almost instantly, the kid went all-in for another 23,000 or so.  Just as quickly, the older guy called.  My read on the situation was that the kid had QT, and the older guy had turned a set of aces.  I was close--the kid did indeed turn over QT, but the older guy tabled AJ for top two pair.  Obviously top two is a nice hand, but how can you get all your money in on the third hand with it, especially with a straight on board?  The kid dodged the four-outer on the river, and just like that we had our first elimination.  It was pretty cool, because one of the Cardplayer reporters came up to him and got all the details of the hand, and his name went up on the chip count screen as the chipleader.  I just checked Cardplayer and he was on their live updates almost all day--his name is Dave D'Elessandro.

It wasn't long until I got involved in a pot of my own.  Jeff raised it to 300 from under the gun, and with pocket queens, I called.  Cowboy Bebop also called on the button, and we saw a flop.  It was pure gin, Q33.  Jeff checked, I did the same, and so did Cowboy Bebop.  The turn was a 9, and Jeff led out for 650.  I smooth-called, and Bebop folded.  The river was an ace, which I saw as being a good card for me, because maybe he paired up and would pay me off.  Jeff checked, and I threw out 3,000.  He deliberated for a couple of seconds and then threw in the call, and I showed my queens full to take the pot.  He didn't show, but I have to figure he had an ace.

I got more than my share of pocket pairs early on, and I kept trying to see flops and hit my set.  It worked with the queens, and it worked again about 20 hands later.  It folded around to me in the small blind, and with 88, I limped.  Dave raised it just another 200, and I made the quick call.  We saw a beautiful flop of A84, and I checked.  He bet 800, and I decided to raise it to 2,000.  I figured him for an ace, and fast-playing it might make me more money then if I just called.  he thought briefly and made the call.  The turn was a 7, and I led out with 2,200.  He thought for much longer this time, even letting out an audible sigh, then threw in the call.  I figured that he was having trouble putting me on a hand and was determined to call down with his ace.  The river was a king, a card that I thought might have given him top two.  I made a substantial bet of 6,000.  He thought for a good two or three minutes, saying "What do you have?" with pain in his voice.  He finally threw the call in, and I said, "Set of eights."  He told me that he had turned two pair with A7, which would make it a very tough fold to make.  It also helped that he had so many chips from his early double-up that he knew that calling me down wouldn't hurt him too significantly.

Pocket 8s seemed to be the hand of the hour for me, as I was dealt it four times in the first level alone.  In addition to the aforementioned hand, I took a pot down preflop with a standard raise, called a raise then folded on an AKJ flop with three-way action, and then limped under the gun the final time.  On this hand, Bill raised it to 500 from the big blind, and I was the only caller.  We saw a 9-high flop and went check-check.  A jack came on the turn, and again we both checked.  The river was a rag, and after we both checked, I said, "Are 8s good?"  They were, as Bill had a lower pair, so I took my first pot off of him.  It wasn't a big one, but it gave me confidence because Bill could have tried to bowl me over with a flop, turn, and/or river bet, but he gave me credit for a hand and didn't get cute.

After a couple hours of play, we got some fresh blood at the table as a middle-aged guy named Mike took the 2 seat.  Mike made it pretty clear early on that he was nothing to worry about, calling lots of raises and either folding the flop or paying off a better hand by time it was all said and done.  I got my first action against him after the first break.  After he and another player limped, I did the same with K9 from the small blind.  Dave checked, and we saw a flop of K85.  It checked around to Mike, and he bet out 500.  I was the only caller.  The turn was a 9, and this time I led out with 1,100.  He gave it some thought, then called.  At this point I had him pegged pretty squarley on KQ, KJ, or KT, all of which I had beat.  The river was a 6, making the final board K5689.  It was pretty scary with the straight cards out there, but I figured I'd get paid off by his king, so I made a value bet of 1,100.  He thought for over three minutes, continually checking his cards and looking at the board.  Finally he called and I said, "Top two."  Much to my amazement, he flipped over 77 for a straight.  I was a little confused on a lot of fronts.  Why did he call the turn?  And why didn't he raise the river?  Only T7 beats him, and there's no way I could have that.  I probably would have paid off a raise, too.  It was a very weird hand, and definitely one that I thought I had in the bag.  That's OK, though, as I would get back at him later.

I came out of the dinner break feeling good.  My stack was at 45,600, and I hadn't gotten mixed up in anything too dangerous.  I was making a conscious effort to really use position to my advantage, trying not to over-commit to good preflop hands, and always trying to be the first one in the pot.  I was mixing my play up pretty well, flat-calling a raise with AK spades preflop to disguise its strength, and raising a few times in late position to take down the blinds.  I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar a couple times on steal attempts, but nothing that did any damage to my stack.  One early pot that worked out for me was when I called a standard raise from Cowboy Bebop in the big blind with AQ.  The flop was T94, and I led out for 600, obviously hoping to take it down right there.  He called, though, and we checked the turn and river, both of which were low.  Fortunately for me, ace high was good enough to take it down as he just had QJ for a busted open-ender.

Bebop was no slouch, though.  Twice before the break he put the squeeze play on me.  First, with blind at 100-200, I raised to 500 with 55.  Dave called on the button, and Bebop popped 1,000 on top of that from the big blind.  I called, and Dave folded.  The flop was T44, and he led out for 2,100.  I very well may have been good, but decided against mixing it up in such a marginal spot.  He got me again later after I raised from the cutoff with A7, got called again by Dave, and reraised by Bebop.  Dave and I both folded, and he took it down.  Just before the break, though, he lost a decent pot to Bill that dropped his stack down to about 18,000.

About 45 minutes out of the dinner break, I had the classic case of making the wrong move at the right time.  I hadn't gotten much to play, taking a small pot with AQ on a queen high flop off of Jeff but not really playing much else.  We had finally gotten nine-handed after filling the seat on my right with an Indian guy named Mike.  A very friendly guy, he had gotten moved from another table with a good stack of about 40,000.  Anyway, Cowboy Bebop made it 800 to go from early-mid position, and he was called on the button by Jeff.  Needing just another 500 to call, I looked down to once again see pocket 5s.  I made the call, and we saw a three-way flop of K24 rainbow.  I checked, Bebop bet 1,600, and Jeff folded after a moment or two of thought.  Bebop had been continuation betting everything post-flop, and this actually seemed to be a good board for 55, with only one overcard.  I decided to make a move at it, and I repopped him back to 3,800.  Much to my dismay, it didn't take him long to call.  The turn was about as much as I could hope for.  The 3 got me open-ended, and I stayed strong with a bet of 4,500.  I thought there was a chance that he thought I was full of it on the flop and was calling to take it away on the turn, so I led out again.  Again he called.  At this point, I figured him for one of three hands--AA, AK, or KQ, all of which obviously had me in trouble.  The river was absolutely beautiful--an ace to give me the wheel.  I took my time, asking him how much he had left (it was around 13k), and trying to figure out what he had and how much he would call on the river.  I didn't think KQ could hang around to much of a bet, but AK and AA weren't going anywhere, no matter how much I put out.  I decided to put him all-in, which could also make it seem like less of a value bet and more of an "I want you to fold" bet.  He thought for close to five minutes it seemed like, and I just kept staring at the table, stealing the occasional glance at him to try to get a gauge on his thought process.  Eventually he said, "Well if I'm meant to go out I'm meant to go out," and he put the chips in for a call.  The dealer told us not to turn our hands over yet, because any time there's an all-in the cameras, microphones, and reporters all have to come over.  I looked at Bebop as we waited, though, and said, "I've got you."  Once the dealer gave the OK, I turned over my wheel, and he flipped 22 for a flopped set of 2s.  Ouch.  I definitely got a little lucky after trying to make a creative play, but I think his one mistake was not shoving the turn.  The flop was so dry that he probably called to just set me up for devastation, but the turn put a straight draw out there.  Obviously, if he had shoved over the top of me on the turn I would have been gone, but fortuitously enough he opted to call and allow me to hit.

This was by far my biggest pot of the tournament, much larger than the set of 8s that I stuck on Dave, and it got me up around the 70,000 chip mark, close to the table lead along with Dave.  I didn't get much else for the rest of the level, save for aces in mid-position, which I took down with a preflop raise and no action.  I entered the third and final break of the day with 70,200.

Coming into the day, my goal was to reach 40,000 in chips.  I was obviously well ahead of that pace, barring anything disastrous from happening, so I set a new goal coming out of the final break to see if I could reach 80,000 by the end of the night.  The cards didn't seem to want to cooperate, though, and I mostly folded for about an hour.  I did take one small pot after limping into a four-way pot with KQ of spades.  The flop came A87, with two spades (one of which was the ace), to give me the nut flush draw.  It checked to me and I bet 800 and got called by one player.  This guy had the big sunglasses, big headphones, the whole shebang.  He had gotten moved to the table around the same time as Mike, but before John, a tough-looking guy that reminded me a little bit of my cousin Duke.  John filled Cowboy Bebop's seat shortly after I left my treadmarks on his head.  Anyway, the early position player called my flop bet, then we both checked as a red 9 hit the turn.  The river was the 6 of spades, giving me the nut flush, and oddly enough, he led out for just 800.  I figured he had a weak ace and didn't want to be faced with a tough decision if I made a big bet.  I didn't think his hand was big, so I had to figure out what I could raise that would get called.  I put in another 3,200, a bet that was less than the size of the pot, but not small.  Fairly quicky, though, he mucked it.  Maybe I could have squeezed a little more out with a smaller raise, but it was still a good take.  Outside of a couple uncontested preflop raises, my only other hand of significance was also my only preflop three-bet of the night.  Headphones guy raised it to 800, and Mike called on my right.  I had AQ off on the button, and seeing as I had been playing pretty tight for the past couple hours, I thought this was a good time to flex my muscles a bit.  I raised it up to 4,600 and both guys tossed it rather quickly.  From there, I mostly folded as we neared the close of Day 1, just taking a small pot with T8 of diamonds when I flopped top pair in a limped pot on the second-to-last hand of the day.

I ended the day with 66,925 in chips, well above the chip average in the room and second only to the ~95,000 of Dave at my table.  I feel like I more than held my own.  Bill Edler ended with under 20,000 in chips, and Jeff also had under 20,000, despite catching running diamonds to double up off of Mike's pocket queens with KT off on a ten-high flop.  I outlasted a lot of big names already, as Doyle Brunson got taken out about midway through the day, as did David Pham, Chris Moneymaker, Ralph Perry, and quite a few others.  The seats are re-drawn for Day 2, so I'll have a new set of tablemates, and a whole new challenge before me.  I couldn't really be happier with how my first day of play turned out, as I far exceeded my hope of reaching 40,000 in chips by day's end despite never really being in a bad situation in a big pot (aside from the 55 hand, since I was check-folding any non-A or 6 river).  I know it's only going to get tougher from here, but I think I'm ready to take on whatever comes my way.  There's a long way to go, but with a formidable amount of chips and the confidence to know that I belong here, I've still got a shot.  How awesome is that?

Currently feeling: tired
Posted by Terrence on July 5, 2009 at 04:17 AM | 5 comments

I'm not sure what to think about the word "destiny."  I use it, and I know what it means, but I don't think I believe in it, if that makes any sense.  I would hate to think that there are things beyond my control and that I'm predestined for anything, good or bad.  That being said, poker is a game that makes you think about destiny a lot.  The horrible suck-outs, the miracle rivers, the times when you get the same crap hand four times in a row as if some higher power wants you to either get rich or go broke with Q8 offsuit--it's like destiny is sitting at the table and knows every thought in your head.  God knows I'd like to, but it's hard to discount destiny entirely.

There are certain things that almost ever poker player dreams about--hitting a royal flush, waking up to aces after a raise and a reraise, or flopping a set against an aggressive opponent.  For most players, though, the biggest dream of all is to play in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, with the pros and the wannabes and everyone in between.  I don't know where I stand in that mix, but I do know that this year, I'll be living that dream after winning a World Series of Poker Main Event satellite this past Sunday on Pokerstars.

Ever since I started playing poker seriously, I've entertained the notion of playing in the World Series.  Part of it is the dream of hitting it big, but more than anything, I've always wanted to challenge myself at the highest level.  Most things that I take seriously, I do well at, but I've rarely if ever had the chance to prove myself on so big a stage.  Any level of poker that I've played at, I've flourished, from home games to online play to the pinnacle of my poker career, my win at Hold 'Em For Hunger.

I decided a long time ago that this would be the year I finally gave the World Series a shot.  My bankroll has more than doubled since November thanks to consistent online results, and I felt comfortable ponying up the buy-in for a satellite that gave me a reasonable shot at success.  I've been telling Pete for months that I was going to take a shot.  If I ever faced any skepticism, I told him, "It's destiny."  Tough to argue with that, right?

Pokerstars may have its faults, but one thing it does right is its selection of games and tournaments.  The site always offers an impressive selection of satellites when the World Series rolls around, and this year was no different.  I settled on entering the $370 satellite that promised at least 200 Main Event seats would be given away.  I knew going in that there would be at least 7,000 entrants in the satellite, but I tend to do well against huge fields, and no other tournament guaranteed as many spots.

In the week leading up to the satellite, I tried a couple times to qualify and save myself the $370.  I entered into a 2400 fpp one-table satellite that sent the winner to the $370, but fell short in third place when I gambled for nearly all the chips preflop with A6 and ran into AQ.  I tried one more a couple days before the tournament, but went out in fifth in unremarkable fashion.  My last effort came half an hour before the $370 was to commence, when I decided to roll the dice in an $82 super-turbo satellite.  You began with 500 in chips, 25-50 blinds, and three-minute levels, so there was no skill whatsoever, but it seemed like it was worth a crack.  I got in with KQ against A9 on the first hand, turned a queen, but lost to rivered trips.  At 4:30 in the afternoon, the time had come to suck it up and buy in for the full amount.

My most pressing goal in the satellite was to get a good stack early.  That would allow me to pick my spots better, steal some blinds, and stay ahead of the blinds. Thinking long-term, I wanted to make it to the final 1,000 with an average stack.  I figured this would give me a fair shot to make a run at a seat.  I began the tournament with 3,000 in chips, and folded mostly for the first 15 minutes.  My first playable hand was 55 in the small blind.  With blinds at 10-20 and three limpers, I opted to limp also, and the big blind checked behind.  The flop was picture perfect--259 rainbow.  I made a pot-sized bet of 100, and got one caller on the button.  The turn was a jack, and this time I bet out 200.  Again I was called.  I figured my opponent for something like 89 or T9 at this point.  The river was another 5, giving me quads.  Bingo!  I'd been betting the whole way and my opponent didn't seem to be going anywhere, so this time I threw out 600.  After about ten seconds of though, my opponent went all-in.  I couldn't call fast enough!  It turns out that he had a busted wheel draw with A4, and I guess he figured the 5 as a scare card for me if I had been betting with a 9.  Unfortunately for him, I wasn't going anywhere.

This hand served three very important purposes at this early stage of the tournament.  A) It effectively doubled my stack, giving me plenty of time to pick my spots.  B) It gave me more chips than anyone at the table, which is always great because you can't bust if you have everyone covered.  C) It showed my opponents that when I'm betting, I have the goods.  I figured that this information could buy me a lot of uncontested pots down the line.

My next confrontation came a few hands later from the cutoff seat.  It folded to me, and with my A8 spades, I made a standard raise.  Only the big blind called, and we saw a flop is QJ7, with two spades.  He checked, and I threw out a 2/3 pot-sized bet.  He made a relatively small check-raise, and I had pretty much two options.  Call, and look for my spade, or reraise it and seize control of the hand back.  I didn't figure him for anything more than something like KQ, so I reraised him.  He thought for about ten seconds and tossed it. 

It was a while until I played another big hand, but that was fine by me.  I picked off a lot of small pots, although I wish I could have gotten some action with my KQ on a KQx board.  That being said, I was off to a great start and had settled in quite well. 

About an hour-and-a-half into the tournament, I took a decent pot with A9 after my opponent double-barrel bluffed into me when I hit trips on board.  A few hands later, I milked the same opponent from the earlier A8 spades hand on a jack high board when I held KJ and he held QJ.  I bet small the whole way (the board was something like J5789), and he paid it off.

For most of the tournament, I made a point of trying to be the first one into the pot, or at least not passively calling many raises preflop.  This patient approach hadn't put me in a difficult spot yet, but a few of my table-mates weren't adhering to the same philosophy.  The guy directly to my left was a bluff machine, and he gave most of his chips away on two straight ill-advised hands.  With under 500 in chips left, he figured to be pushing soon, and it was with that knowledge that I made the following play.  I picked up pocket jacks in mid-position, and with the blinds at 50-100, decided just to limp.  This was on the very next hand after the guy on my left had bluffed his chips away, and usually I've found that people will get desperate and push if there's any dead money (limpers) in the pot.  Right on cue, he pushed, the rest of the table folded, and I instantly called the small raise with my jacks.  He had only J7 of diamonds, so I had him mugged, and no miracle came to save him.

I turned up the pressure a bit after this hand, raising nearly every pot that folded to me in late position.  For the most part, the table respected my raises and ceded blinds to me, but even when they called, I was able to take it with a bet on the flop.  This didn't last for long, though, as my table broke and put me in with some unfamiliar faces.  Strikingly unlike my previous table, this one seemed to be hyper-aggressive.  Tons of raising, reraising, and pushing at this table, and not always with big hands from what I could tell.  I dialed the preflop raises back a notch, and tried to wait for a real hand.  My chance came after only 10 or 12 hands.  With blinds at 100-200 and an ante of 25, the under the gun player made it 600 to go.  He had raised or reraised four pots since I had sat down, and I had pocket jacks on the button.  I hate jacks, and this hand is exactly why.  I would hate to just call and let overcards or something ugly hit, but it seems that so many times when you reraise, you get mugged by a monster.  All I had to go on was that this guy was heavily involved in a lot of pots, and I decided to push, a huge reraise, and try to just take the pot right there.  Much to my surprise, he called almost instantly!  That's usually not a good things with jacks, but amazingly, he showed 99, making me a huge favorite to double up to over 10k in chips.  Bucking the typical Pokerstars trend, the better hand actually won, and I was once again in a great spot.

This table definitely had more chips than my original one, with the average stack being around 6k.  I was once again the table chip leader though, thanks to those jacks.  I knew how aggressive everyone was, though, so I still wanted to sit back and let the cards come to me.

There's an interesting aspect to Pokerstars that I haven't seen anywhere else.  Players have the option of displaying their "star level," which basically equates to how much they play and what stakes they play at.  One star is the default, but more stars usually indicates a more experienced, and usually better, player.  Everyone has the option to display these stars at the table or to hide them, and I love it when my opponents choose to display them.  Most of the 3-, 4-, and 5-star players are very good, but they can also be picked on because of their stars.  Allow me to explain.  Better players tend to fold more often.  Position is important to them, as is stack size and a host of other factors that poor players don't even contemplate.  These are the guys that you can actually bluff, because they don't feel the need to be all-in every hand.  It was this thinking that factored into my decision-making on my next big hand.

A player in middle position made a standard raise.  This guy had four stars, and he seemed to be playing a smart, aggressive game.  I was on the button with AJ.  Most times, I would just fold this, as it doesn't play very well post-flop, but I thought this might be a good chance to steal a pot.  I made a sizeable reraise, and after thinking for just a few seconds, he folded.  This play came in handy throughout the tournament, but it's important to note that you need a solid image to be able to pull it off.  I hadn't been getting out of line, and any time I had shown a hand at this table, it was a monster, so my few reraises were shown respect.

Slow-playing is not a strategy I like to overuse.  Especially in a satellite, when survival is the most important thing.  A few hands after my steal on the button, I picked up AQ under the gun and made a standard raise to 900.  The cutoff was my only caller, and we went to the flop.  It was about all I could ask for, 34Q rainbow.  It's a pretty dry board, so I figured a continuation bet might just take it down, and there isn't much I'm worried about letting hit.  Really a king is the only thing I wouldn't be happy about.  So I checked it in hopes of trapping.  He didn't oblige, though, checking behind.  Maybe HE'S trapping, I thought.  I wasn't quite sure what to put him on.  The turn was a 7, seemingly another safe card for me.  I tried to make it look like I had given up on the hand, and I checked again.  This time he bet out 1200, about half the pot.  He had another 4500 behind, and I didn't want to let some funky straight hit, so I pushed.  Plus I figured this might confuse him a bit since I played it kind of unorthodox.  He used up a good chunk of his timer thinking, and eventually he called, showing pocket tens.  I guess he put me on a bluff, but the river blanked and he was out.  With 13,000 in the pot, this put me up to 17,000 and feeling good.

It should be noted that every time I hit one of these big hands to double up or take someone out, I gave a thunderous clap that almost gave Brigid a heart attack each time it happened.  She was on the other couch watching the baseball, and my world famous claps almost put an end to her.  She survived, though, so that was good!

It wasn't long after this hand that I got moved to a much tougher table.  This one had a few players with very sizeable stacks, including one guy that had over 30,000.  Not long after being moved, though, I picked up QQ under the gun.  Blinds were 250-500 at this point with an ante of 60.  I made it 1650 to go, and it folded to the big blind, who also happened to be the big stack.  After just a couple seconds of thought, he pushed all-in!  My first reaction to this was, "No way in hell he'd do that with aces or kings."  I figured him for either AK or a mid-pair.  Either way, my queens rate to be good almost all the time.  I really didn't want to be against AK, but I knew that winning this pot could give me a real chance.  You gotta win a coinflip sometime, though, right?  I thought for a little bit but then made the call, and much to my delight, he had pocket tens.  Losing to my favorite hand would certainly have hurt, but luckily the board was safe, vaulting me up around 30,000 and putting a serious dent into the other guy.

For the next two hours, I basically stole my way up the ranks.  I increased my stack by more than 50% without getting into one major pot, moving up over 45,000.  From what I could figure, the average stack when we got down to the final 250 or so would be around 100,000, so I was well on way to being there.  About two hours of risk-free poker later, I got tangled up in the most important hand of the tournament.  Before doing that, though, let me tell you about one player that made a sick, sick, SICK comeback to win a seat.  He was at my table during my stealing spree, and he lost a huge coinflip when his tens were outraced by AK.  This left him with under 650 in chips, with blinds at 250-500.  From there, he won literally five out of the next eight or so hands, flying up the ranks from about dead last to over 40,000 in chips.  We ended up being separated before it got too close to the money, but I checked the final list and saw that he won a seat.  It has to be one of the most awesome comebacks I've seen.  But anyway, back to the pot of the tournament.

Obviously, queens are a great hand, but they can be tricky as anything to play in some situations.  This was one of those times.  With blinds at 600-1,200, the player under the gun +1 made a standard raise to 3,600.  I was next to act, and I had those tricky ladies.  I don't think folding can be a real consideration here, so I was between reraising and calling.  My decision basically came down to the fact that if I reraised and another player, or even the original guy, pushed on me, I would be sick to my stomach.  I had a big stack at this point, but so did the original raiser, so I opted to just call.  I don't know that it was my intention at the time, but I think my play certainly helped disguise the strength of my hand.  If you want to look at it the other way, it also made me vulnerable to a lot of hands--after all, it was tough to really put him on anything at this point.

The flop was highly coordinated, coming 456 with two hearts.  I didn't have a heart, but you would think queens are probably good at this point.  The original raiser didn't seem concerned, though, and he led right out for 4,800.  I checked our stacks and saw that I had him edged by about 16,000 but hestill had another 22,000 behind.  There was already over 10,000 in the pot.  I still didn't quite know what to put him on, but I figured aggressive was the way to go.  I had a strong hand, and he could easily call with a pair between 8s and jacks.  Of course, kings or aces would call, too, as would a set.  You have to take chances somewhere, though, and I made the decision to push.  Truth be told, I was expecting a fold.  A ton of hands missed that flop, including any overs, and he would have to give me credit for something big.  Rather quickly, though, he called.  CRAP.  I couldn't believe what he showed, probably my worst nightmare- QJ of hearts!  Luckily, he didn't have any overs, but he risked the entire tournament on just a flush draw!  I suppose he could have put me on a pair under jacks, giving him pair outs and a slight edge in the hand, but boy oh boy I didn't want to have to dodge hearts for 60,000.  The turn cut his chances in half when the ace of diamonds fell.  At this point I had probably peed in my pants, I don't quite remember, but I was about as stressed as someone can be while sitting on their couch on a Sunday evening.  Somehow, some way, the river was a black king, and I took a freaking monster pot.  With about 1,200 players left, I was up to 27th in chips.  If you had told me I'd be in that spot when I started hours before, I'd have laughed at you, possibly kicked you in the shins for trying to jinx me, then prayed that you weren't messing around.  This was really the point where I went from believing I could win this seat to knowing I could win it.

I was fortunate enough about a dozen hands later to wake up with kings in the small blind after a desperate shortstack had pushed under the gun.  One player with about 40,000 in chips flat-called the 7,000.  I was slightly worried he did that with aces, but figured it was more likely a mid pair or something like AJ.  I pushed on top and he folded instantly, leaving me along with the shortstack who actually had a little something--AT suited.  I was running hot, though, and no ace fell, giving me a nice pot to inch me closer to 100,000.

If I remember correctly, we were down to about 900 players at this point, so I could definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel.  At this point in the tournament, I figured the top chip stacks would be able to bully the table as the shortstacks fought for survival, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  The next four times I raised I got pushed on, and it never made much sense to call.  I had decent hands, but guys were pushing for 20,000 on me--there's no way I'd want to risk that with hands like A9 or KQ.  These hands didn't kill me, but they took a good chunk out of me- knocking me down from about 80,000 to about 60,000.

The blinds continued to inflate without mercy, and I was anything but safe.  At 60,000, I had 30 big blinds, but even less time than that because of the 250 ante every hand.  I decided to play conservatively and try to wait it out, but I could tell it was going to be close.  I took a cool 20,000 when I made a huge reraise with kings, and repeated the feat a few hands later with aces.  I could have gotten more out of them, but I wasn't going to get cute at this stage and let something funky hit.  After that, though, I was cold as cold can be.  I couldn't find a picture card, I couldn't get a pair (except for 4s under the gun, which I folded), and I wasn't going to risk a significant chunk of my stack to steal.  We were within 100 bust-outs of reaching the promised land, and I thought I'd be able to wait it out.  I was about 160th out of 325, so I knew it would be close, but I wasn't going to play anything at this point that wasn't a monster.

With blinds so high, the bust-outs didn't cease.  In no time we were under 300, and not long after that we cracked 275.  Keep in mind that 233 players would receive a seat, and the top 264 were guaranteed their money back.  I was certainly set to get my money back, but screw that!  I had been playing for about nine hours and getting my money back would have been the worst consolation prize of all-time.  It was neck-and-neck on whether or not I could make it by folding, but I didn't have a hand to play anyway, and I would hate my life if I busted at this stage on a pure steal.  Blinds were 1,500-3,000, and the ante of 375 meant that it cost 8,250 per round.

I finally picked up another hand after dwindling down under 50,000.  The guy immediately to my right (who I later found out was Bernard Lee, a pro that made it to the final two tables of the Main Event a couple years ago) raised it up, and I reraised about half my stack with aces.  He folded pretty quickly, yielding a nice pot to get me back over 65,000.

Little did I know, but that was the second-to-last hand I would win in the tournament.  A stretch of 30 hands went by in which I got nothing at all, and I was left to fold and pray that I'd squeak in.  By this time, we were all guaranteed to get our money back, but with only 239 left, and only six eliminations needed to reach the Main Event, I had the unfortunate distinction of being 239th in chips.  At this point, I had a few other tables open to keep an eye on the shortstacks, but it was very apparent that they could wait me out.  I had to win a hand to make the World Series.  The problem was that my stack had shrunk to under 30,000, and the chipleader was raising every hand as everyone else folded their way to the Series.  Blinds were even more prodigious at this point, reaching 3,500-7,000.  With only 20,000 in my stack, I was forced to post the 7,000 big blind.  We still had 239 left, and I was still in last, even before I posted my blind.  I made a decision that as long as I had something even slightly playable, I would go with it as long as I was heads-up.  That was the case when the chipleader once again pushed.  I had knots in my stomach, but with J8, I had to make a stand.  I knew that if I won I was set, and obviously if I lost I was out.  It made me nauseous to think that this hand was worth $12,000, not to mention the fulfillment of such a huge dream.  No guts no glory, though.  I made the call.

I couldn't complain with the matchup.  He tabled Q5 of hearts, a slight favorite over my J8 off.  I wasn't dominated, so there was hope.  The flop quickly dispelled much of that hope, though, as it came K93 with one heart.  "PLEAAAAAAAAAASE," I begged whoever was listening.  "Don't do this to me."  The turn brought a glimmer, a black ten.  I was now open-ended, and pairing my eight would also give me the pot.  Online poker usually deals out quickly, but it seemed that it took forever for this entire thing to play out.  I'm not a big fan of praying at the poker table, but this was no time to hold back.  "Please God let me win this one.  I'm a good person- I deserve this," I said.  Whether it was God, the luck of the draw, or my old friend destiny, I don't care.  All I know is that a beautiful 8 fell on the river, pairing me up, doubling me up, and paving my way to Vegas.  Amazingly, winning this hand allowed me to leapfrog over 65 players, so I was reasonably certain that I was safe at this point.  Still, I didn't want to take any chances.  Pete, through IM, said, "You're going to Vegas.  You're going to the World Series of Poker."  Being the nice guy I am, I said, "Shut up!"  For all I know, I'd accidentally click raise and get my heart broken in truly excruciating fashion.  I was NOT going to count my chickens before they hatched.

I continued to track the shortstacks, and one by one, they busted.  The final two lost simultaneously, leaving the remaining 233 to celebrate their good fortune.  I was a little bit in shock.  Pete sent a flood of incomprehensible messages that were a reasonable facsimile of what was running through my head.  I just looked at Brigid and said, "I'm going to the World Series of Poker," without much emotion at all.  Five days later, I still don't think I can believe it.  I played great for 9.5 hours, and I got lucky one time when it mattered most.  Now there's no looking back.  I'm going to Vegas, and so is Brigid, Pete, my mom, and whoever else wants to celebrate.  I wired the money to the Rio yesterday, booked a flight on JetBlue and a room at Harrah's, and all that's left now is to kick the ass of anybody in my way.  Is it destiny?  I'll let you know in a few weeks.

Currently listening to: Elvis' Greatest Hits
Currently watching: Cheers
Currently feeling: Ready
Posted by Terrence on June 20, 2009 at 01:01 AM | 5 comments

Tonight I went into the city to see the Broadway show Jersey BoysJersey Boys is a musical that encompasses the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, one of the defining groups of "oldies" music.

The musical was awesome on so many levels.  First off, the actors that played the Four Seasons were superb.  They had dynamite voices, great harmony, and their acting was more than solid.  The Jersey accents were even spot on.  Tommy DeVito, a bandmember and the narrator of the first act of the play, really stood out with an extremely engaging performance.  Throughout the play, he would frequently address the audience, bringing us a little closer to the world of the Jersey Boys.

The first act of the play was fantastic.  Song after song was performed, all the while revealing the story of how the Four Seasons (or one of the numerous names they first went by) became one of the most popular acts in the country.  The actor that played Frankie Vallie was extraordinary.  In just a short time, he morphed from a young, shy talent into the biggest star on the airwaves.  He nailed every song with the same pitch and panache of the real Frankie Valli, from Sherry to Big Girls Don't Cry.  Thanks largely to his talents and those of the last addition to the group, songwriter Bob Gaudio, the group went from not being able to book a gig in a bowling alley to headlining American Bandstand.

As is the case with nearly all things, though, Jersey Boys has a dark side, one that becomes increasingly evident in the second act of the play.  Bandmates struggle co-existing amid fame and fortune, and we get brief peeks into the deteriorating family lives that each one leads.  Tommy accrues a massive gambling debt, Frankie never spends time with his family thanks to the constant demands of the band, and Nick Massio (the fourth member) just can't take the whole thing anymore.  Even though the play allows us a glimpse of more than just the sunshiny aspects of the Jersey Boys' careers, it still retains the charm and theme of underdog success that the first act presented us with, albeit in a more somber manner.  When Frankie's daughter dies near the end of the play, it does more than show us his failings as a father; it shows us his successes in escaping the down and dirty life that Jersey presented for those without a way out.  The way in which he reacted to the news made it all the more poignant.  Despite his shortcomings, deep down he really is a man of substance.

Jersey Boys is made even better by its writing and direction.  The choice to use the band members as narrators throughout the play is an interesting one, and it really helps humanize each character.  Each set change was quick and seamless, and the directorial choices, while sometimes against the grain, worked.  For instance, there are two scenes in particular: one at the end of the first act when The Four Seasons have hit it big, and one near the end of the second act after the death of Frannie, Frankie's daughter, in which the actors face away from the audience.  Despite that similarity, both scenes are strikingly different.  The first is during a performance under the bright lights, a very public show, while the second is during a private conversation between Frankie and Sam.  These choices shut the audience out, mimicking (I think) the way the band member's families felt.  At the same time that we felt so drawn to the Jersey Boys, it seemed like they wanted to keep us at a slight distance.

By the time the performance was done, the audience had been taken on a roller coaster ride.  At different points in the play, one could easily find reasons to both love and hate each character.  The end scene, though, brought it all together.  Taking place decades later at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the scene is the first reunion of all four bandmates.  Despite their past differences, they are able to come together one more time to celebrate what they have accomplished.  Every member of the audience stood up and cheered as The Four Seasons performed one last song together.  Problems and issues aside, the Jersey Boys are worth cheering for the whole way.

Currently feeling: cheerful
Posted by Terrence on November 10, 2006 at 02:15 AM | Add a Comment

Those of you who have read my poker diary probably remember an entry from last year in which I played in the Hold 'Em For Hunger Tournament, a charity poker tournament sanctioned by UNC and held in the Great Hall of the Student Union.  After my final table finish, I promised that I would return next year to try to do even better.  Saturday, April 8th was a long time in the making.

I won't bore you with the other details of my trip except to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself the entire time down there.  On Friday I enjoyed the beautiful weather, taking pictures of campus and reading a book out in the warmth of Polk Place and the Arboretum.  I also went to dinner with Abby, who has never actually been mentioned in this poker diary (because I'm a bum and haven't written in it for a year), but you all know who she is.  Ironically, this poker diary was one of the main reasons we got together in the first place.  Much to my disappointment, though, the distance proved too much for us, and I still haven't learned my lesson with long distance relationships.  We got to go to dinner together, though, and iron things out, because the last thing I want is for us to be awkward and distant.  Even though I wish we could have given it another shot, I get that it just can't work and I think now we can get back to the relationship that made us so happy a few months ago, before the pressures of the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing did us in.

I said I wasn't going to bore you with the details of my trip, didn't I?  Oh well, I needed to get that off my chest.  And after reading the poker story I'm about to tell, I hope you all agree that it was worth it to hear sappy Terrence spill his guts a little.

 The day of the tournament, I woke up at about 11:30 when Andrew came in to wake me up for the Spring Football Game.  Him and I went down to Kenan Stadium to see the annual tradition, and we met up with Adam, my good friend who lives in Whiteville, NC and graduated two years before I did.  After watching the first half of the game, Andrew and I left to get some food from Ram's Head.  I had a barbeque sandwich and fries (God, I miss Southern food), and then we dodged the rain on our way over to the Union to commence the biggest tournament on campus.

After receiving my seating assignment, I made my way to Table 28, the first step in my quest to prove that I'm the best poker player at Carolina.  Most of you who read this probably know this about me, but I really believe I'm the most competitive person in the world.  As juvenile as it may sound, I just want to prove that I'm the best whenever I do something, poker especially.  I think my performance last year put me on the radar screen, and I like to think that my friends think highly of my play, but I knew that if I could follow last year's performance with another stellar showing, people would finally view me as the best poker player that UNC has produced.

I could tell right away that my initial table was not very good.  Right as the seven other players sat down, I could see by the way they spoke, handled their chips, and shuffled the cards that they were novice players, and that told me two things: One, I needed to stick to playing good hands and value bet these people to death without doing anything fancy, and Two, there is no way I should not make it off this table without a good stack of chips.

The first few hands proved uneventful, and I folded six of my first seven.  We began the tournament with 5,000 in chips and blinds of 100-200.  After losing a few blinds, I found pocket 8s on the button after three players had limped in.  I raised it to 700, and they all folded pretty quickly.  Two hands later I picked up A9.  After one player limped, I raised it to 700 again.  The button called, as did the big blind, a player who had the chip lead at the table, and who also happened to be playing nearly every hand.  The flop came A94, and after the big blind checked, I bet just 300 (The pot had 2200 in it).  Both players folded, and I begrudgingly took the pot.

 These players were my favorite type of bad players.  There are usually two categories you can divide players into: the players who raise, bet, and call without knowing why they're doing it.  These players can be dangerous because they can hit a nutty hand that you never see coming.  The second group is the players who play tight, weak, and seem to fear even the slightest bit of aggression.  All of the players at my table were tight, docile players.  This meant that you could take uncontested pots most of the time, and you never had to worry about anything as advanced as even a check-raise or a big bluff.  I used this to my advantage and stole a few blinds in late position, then I raised with AJ.  The player who was playing far too many pots called from the blind once again, and the flop was 776.  After he checked, I bet 900, believing that I was good, but also wanting him to fold right there.  He called, to my confusion, and then checked the turn, which was an 8.  I checked behind him, expecting to be called by any pair.  The river was another 7, putting trips on board.  He bet out 400, a ridiculously small bet considering the nearly 4,000 pot.  I made a crying call, and he flipped over A5.  God only knows why he bet, but I was thankful for the extra chips.

A few hands later, my table broke and I moved to a table right near the front of the room by the stage.  I had a stack of about 11k, and I was happy with where I was at.  The first thing I noticed upon sitting down was that Kayla, the girl who won the entire tournament last year, was seating three to my left.  I decided that I was going to take her out and put her head on my mantle (Not that I actually have a mantle).  She was shorstacked the entire time, and I raised her blinds every chance I got.  K2, Q7, I raised her blinds with anything that could beat an average hand, and some that couldn't.  She never took the bait, though, even folding her 800 chip blind to me, leaving her with 300.  My impression after last year was that she was an OK player who at least knew what she was doing, but this year, having spent more time at the table with her, I can definitely assert that she's not really any good at all.  That's not sour grapes or anything- she just had no concept of how to play.  It amazes me that she was able to win the whole thing last year.  The blinds by now, as I said, were at 400-800, and I knew that I needed to keep progressing to stay comfortable.  After about seven hands, I picked up pocket 8s under the gun.  Even this early in the tournament, people seemed to be able to pick up the blinds with just a minimum raise preflop, so I raised it 800, not wanting to get too many chips in with a vulnerable hand.  The player directly to my left called, and the rest of the table folded.  The flop was 79T, and I checked, hoping to check-raise and show some real strength.  He checked behind me, which I didn't mind, because I figured he missed the flop with overcards.  The turn was an 8, giving me a set, but the board was 789T, so I checked once again.  He bet out 1k, which was a very small bet, all things considered.  I thought he probably had the jack for the straight, but I called because of my implied odds.  I knew that if I hit my boat on the river, I was going to bust this guy.  The river was a beautiful 10, and after thinking for about ten seconds, I just moved all-in, putting him all-in for about 9k.  He jumped out of his chair and said, "All right, I'll call," and flipped over QJ, for the nut straight on the turn.  I revealed my 8s full of 10s, and I had taken out my first player.

This pot put me over 20k, and on the next round, I again picked up pocket 8s under the gun.  As this was my third time already with this hand, I was starting to sense a trend.  I again doubled it under the gun (the blinds were now 500-1,000) and a middle position player reraised me, but only another 2k.  When it got back to me, I took a few seconds to consider what he had, and I settled on either pocket kings or aces.  With such a small raise, I could tell he wanted action, and I called quickly, knowing that if I hit my set I could bust him.  The flop was Q♣8♣6♣, and I checked it.  He bet out 6k, which was a more than a third of his stack.  I counted out the requisite chips and put him all-in for another 11k, and he began to think.  Obviously, this was a dangerous board, and I knew I was good.  That being said, there was plenty of money in the pot, and the last thing I wanted was a call from something like AK with the naked A♣.  I rarely do this, but I decided that it was a good time to start talking.  After he lamented, "I really don't want to go out right now," I said, "Man, I promise you I've got you right now.  If you fold, I'll show you my cards."  He said, "Will you really?"  "I promised him that I would, and after agonizing over it for over two minutes, he finally folded.  I said, "Look, I have middle set," and I flipped over the 8s.  He went, "Oh man!" and turned over POCKET QUEENS!!!  He folded top set!  I couldn't believe it.  I literally did a double-take, let my jaw hit the table, and whatever other cliche you can come up with for being in total shock.  The entire table let out one big "WOW!"  The dealer then picked up the cards, and rabbit-hunted for all to see.  The turn was the case 8!  I would have turned quads, and avoided the double-reverse-one-outer-re-suckout-suckout to take this poor guy out.  He was a pale green after seeing my 8s, but after finding out that he had miraculously avoided death, he was nothing short of jubilant.  That may be the craziest hand I've ever played or seen.

After the blinds had passed me, I picked up pocket kings in mid-late position.  The blinds were now at 500-1,000, and I raised it to 2k.  The small blind, a guy named Joe, reraised me another 3k.  I had seen Joe do this a few hands ago after someone raised on the button, he pushed the kid all-in, and the kid ended up folding, after Joe explained to him that he never bluffed.  Joe also had the chip lead, possibly in the whole tournament, so I thought that my best play was to push all-in and hope to get called by something like jacks or queens.  Just calling was too risky- I could risk letting an ace hit the board, or let him pick up some kind of draw that would bust me.  Plus, if he had something like TT, JJ, or QQ, overcards would slow him down and lose me some money.  Being positive that he didn't have aces and I wasn't walking into my own funeral, I pushed all-in for another 17k.  He began thinking, making it clear he didn't have aces, and I was praying for a call.  I remained completely still though, and just stared at the table.  After about a minute, his cell phone rang.  he picked it up and explained to the caller, "I have to make a big decision in poker right now, I can't talk.  Should I call this guy's all-in?"  Then he hung up. This got a laugh out of the table, but I stayed motionless.  After another minute, he decided to call.  I turned over my kings, and he disgustedly showed pocket 7s.  I was shocked that he called me with such a suspect hand, especially considering that he was the chip leader and I was the only one at the table who could really hurt him.  The board was full of blanks, and I doubled up to over 50k.

The very next hand, I squeezed out pocket jacks, and I doubled the blind to 1600.  Joe again was the only caller from the big blind, and the flop was 774.  He checked, and I bet out 1600, looking to milk him for a little bit.  He called, and after the turn was a 6, he again checked.  I bet 1600 again, and again he called.  The river was a 2, and following his check, I bet out 3k.  He called pretty quickly, and I showed my jacks to take the pot.  He later said that he had A6.  (A quick side note:  Last year, my final hand was A6, and I couldn't crack Godwin's pocket 9s, going out in 8th.  When I arrived at the airport to fly down to Carolina, I cringed when I found out that my gate was A6.  Being a superstitious person, I believed that this was a sign of impending doom.)

I had a huge stack now, and I resolved to continue to play smart poker, hammering away at small pots and trying to always be the aggressor and the first one in the pot.  I knew that I had time and didn't have to press, so when I didn't get anything for about the next 20 hands, I didn't take it personally.  I picked up KQ in the small blind once, and when it folded to me I raised it to 2,500.  The big blind moved in on me for another 6k, and although I knew he had me, I called, getting 2-1 on my money.  He had queens, though, and I took my first real hit of the tournament.  After that, my hands cooled down again, and I kept folding.  Although I lost a bit to the ever-increasing blinds, my stack was still well over 30k.  In fact, I entered the dinner break with 39k, and after a quick perusal of the room by my good friend Pedro, we determined that I was the chip leader in the tournament.

I couldn't even eat during the break, because I was still full from my barbeque sandwich.  I offered the sandwich that they gave me to Steve, who managed to consume the helpless bread and meat structure before you could say "Dave's Discount."  Speaking of Dave, the big-talking suckout artist declined to attend this year's event, instead deciding to play a tennis match in which he shanked four match points and lost.  Sorry Dave, I had to do it.

I came back from the break ready and focused, but shortly after play resumed, I committed my biggest error of the tournament.  An under-the-gun player named Greg (he wore an old school Brewers hat, which I found cool) doubled the now 1k-2k blinds to 4k.  I had K3 in the big blind, and I called for the discount.  The flop was 79T (a popular flop on this day), and I bet out 4k, figuring that this missed a lot of hands he'd raise with under the gun.  He raised me another 6k.  I thought for about 20 seconds, and after getting a chip count from him (he had almost as much as I did), I reraised another 13k.  I really thought that he was weak, but he reached back and slid his entire chip stack into the pot.  I postured for a few seconds to save a little bit of face, then folded.  This knocked me down to 14k, back with the peons, and all of a sudden I had my work cut out for me, especially with only seven big blinds.

I was no in Shorstack mode for the first time all day, and I pushed all-in with K◊4◊ from the cutoff seat.  The blinds folded, and I stayed afloat.  The big blind reached me, and after Tristan, a blond-haired kid with a lot of chips, limped in early position, I said, "Trying something tricky?" to which he replied, "Nope, just trying to see a flop."  He was so earnest that I actually believed him, and after the small blind limped, I checked my Q♣6◊.  The flop was Q73 rainbow, and after the small blind checked, I also checked to get a gauge on what Tristan was up to.  He bet out 5k, and after the small blind folded, I thought long and hard on what he could have.  I was positive he hadn't limped with a monster, but he could easily have something like QJ or QT.  I finally decided that I was good, though, and I pushed all-in.  When it got to him, it was obvious that he was displeased with the recent turn of events.  I was hoping for a call at that point, thinking he may have only two outs with something like 88, but figuring a queen would have called by now.  Finally he called and showed 67 for middle pair.  The turn was a Jack, and the river was... a 6.  I was out.  Tristan hit two pair on the river to take me out.  I just sat there in shock; I couldn't believe it was over.  Then the table snapped me back to reality.  The river had given me two pair also!  I hadn't realized that I had his pair dominated, but sure enough, I had queens up to beat his 7s up.  This pot put me back over 30k, and I was comfortable once again.  I also felt like I had been resuscitated back from the dead.  I had such a gut-wrenching feeling wash over me when that 6 hit, I can't even describe it.  Knowing that I was still alive, with chips to burn, was an amazing, redemptive feeling.  I was BACK.

If I would have been taken out at that moment, I would have bubbled on the prizes.  The top 40 players reached the prizes, and the top prizes this year were pretty awesome.  First prize was a $2,500 46" DLP HDTV, there was a basketball autographed by the entire men's team, a t-shirt signed by Tyler Hansbrough, a hot air balloon ride, a $600 stereo system, a bunch of different gift cards, a slot machine, a ticket to go to Pinehurst to hear a lecture from Greg Raymer and play in a tournament in which the final table got to play with Raymer himself, and more.  I had my eyes on one thing: first place and the TV.

When we reached the final 40 I thought back to last year, and to how Gibby and Chaz had said that their money was on me to win it.  That was such a huge boost to my confidence, knowing that I had people that believed I could win, but it was such a letdown when I came up short.  This year, I knew I had even more people behind me, and I also had some chips to dance with.  I really thought I could take the whole thing down.

When we recombined tables, I was placed at what I will affectionately call the Table of Death.  Every hand at least one person was all-in.  On the first hand, one guy got knocked out.  The second hand saw an Asian gentleman move all in for 11k, a young kid to my right moved in on top for another 6k, and I looked down to see A◊K◊.  I really wasn't thrilled about it, but I knew I had one of the dominated, and maybe both of them.  Plus, I had them both covered- I'd hate to get my money in with this with my life on the line.  I repushed for another 22k to drive out the rest of the players, and we flipped our cards.  The Asian man had A♥J♥, the kid had two black queens, and we were off to the races.  The flop came out K♣5◊9♣, and I let out a clap.  The turn and river were both safe, and I moved to over 80k.

The bodies continued to drop at a record pace, and soon we were combined to three tables.  Maybe it was me, but my new table became the New Table of Death right when I sat down.  All-ins everywhere.  Big hands going back and forth. It was madness on felt.  I got a lot of big hands early, including AK twice, AQ twice, and even AA once.  On every one, I either raised it up or reraised someone, always getting a fold.  One kid had a huge stack and came in raising 20k.  I had my aces and decided to push for another 87k, hoping for a call, but he mucked it.  Greg came in raising later on and I pushed him in with AQ, but he folded and said he had TT.  I was really moving up the leaderboard, especially as more and more players continued to fall by the wayside.  Andrew bit the dust in 17th when he tried to bluff into a made straight.  Despite his final ill-advised move, Andrew really proved to me and a lot of people that he's a very good player.  He made the final two tables last year, and did it again this year.  I was the only other one to accomplish that feat.  Well done, Andrew.

By now, I had complete control of the table.  The last girl remaining had folded every hand since I'd sat with her, and she had nearly no chips left.  Finally, she pushed all-in on the button, which just happened to be my big blind.  She seemed like she wasn't thrilled about going all-in, and I didn't figure her for anything big.  I had 3♣4♣, and I looked at her and said, "Do you have a pair?"  She didn't say anything, but judging from how she first acted, I decided I had to call, getting almost 3-1 on my money.  She had QT off, and I spiked a 3 on the turn to take the hand and eliminate another player.  I picked up AK on the button a couple hands later, and with Joe in the big blind, decided to just push all-in.  He seemed to be getting exasperated by this point, because I was really going after him, and he folded his junk with a sigh.  It seemed like time flew and we were at the final table.

Entering the final table, I had about 230k, second only to Anirudh, who seemed to have about 360k.  I had just met Anirudh the day before, and despite being a Yankees fan, he was a really cool guy and I'm glad that I got to know him.  He is a regular player in Stacy this year, and he seemed to know what he was doing.  Early on at the final table, however, he was bleeding chips faster than someone who took a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the face.  Many times he would raise and be reraised, or would bet post-flop and fold, frustrated, to a raise.  It seemed like he was pressing way too hard, rather than letting the cards come to him.  Meanwhile, I continued to sit back and just play my good hands strong and stay out of the way of marginal situations.  Poker is all about making decisions, and the tougher the decisions you have, the move likely you are to make a mistake.  In a tournament, one mistake can kill you, so my strategy was to avoid marginal situations.  I wanted to put myself in a spot where there was always a clear play to make.  I took advantage of Anirudh's tilt and limped in under the gun with AK.  The blinds were 10k-20k at this point, and he raised it to 60k.  When it folded back to me, I reraised another 90k, and he immediately said, "Take it."  I was steadily increasing my stack, and after winning a coinflip with AT against pocket 9s, I took out the kid who had a big stack earlier, and got myself over 400k.  Down to six players, the faces were very familiar.  The second table that I sat at yielded five players to the final table: myself, Tristan, Greg, Joe, and Brian, the guy who doubled up off of me with pocket queens.  Brian went out in 9th, followed by a middle-aged guy who had been hanging around on a short stack forever.  I then won the AT hand to knock us down to 6.  Greg got taken out by Jack, a player that I had sat with at my last table but not before.  He seemed to be pretty good, and I was keeping my eye on him even when I wasn't in the hand, just to pick up on anything that could help me.

The final five players, in seating order, were me, Joe, Anirudh, Jack, and Tristan.  Tristan had been a space cadet the entire time at the final table- never knowing when it was his turn to act, sending text messages, and just acting clueless.  It was starting to annoy me, but I think I did a good job of containing it.  Also, the spectators were literally sitting at the table.  Alex and Abby even carried on a conversation from two corners of the table, talking directly over Anirudh and the action going on.  All in all, it was a very distracting atmosphere, but I was just focusing on winning.  Joe lost a sick hand to Anirudh when Joe limped under the gun, Anirudh raised half his stack, and Joe pushed immediately when it got back to him.  Anirudh knew he had shot himself in the face, but he had to call, and flipped over QJ.  Joe had KK, and a stranglehold on the hand.  The tri-rag flop only helped his case, and even the jack on the turn didn't seem to matter.  Then another jack fell on the river, and Anirudh was back to having a mountain of chips, while Joe was now shortstacked.  The next two times on the button, I raised with A8 off and KJ off, and each time Joe pushed from the small blind.  I folded both times, figuring I was in big trouble.  After Joe doubled up off Tristan when he woke up with pocket aces, he was back in business.  Tristan was knocked out not too long after that, and we were down to four.

I stayed selectively aggressive, darting in and taking blinds at a fairly regular rate, but not enough that my raises got no respect.  Even though Joe had pushed on me twice in a row on my button, I was confident that he really had hands and wasn't putting a move on me.  With the blinds at 20k-40k, I raised it to 110k on the button with 44.  Joe reraised to 190k from the small blind, leaving himself with 180k.  I had him well-covered, and I tried to figure out what he had.  I really thought he had AK and not a big pair, but I didn't feel like gambling preflop by pushing, because he was obviously committed.  I decided to flat call, and if the flop didn't contain an ace or a king, I was going to go with it.  The flop came out 335, and after thinking for about 20 seconds, Joe checked.  Now I was almost positive that he didn't have a pair.  I thought that he had AK and had put me on a pair, and was slowing down.  I took my time and stared at him for a good minute to try to get a read on him.  Finally I pushed him in, and he called fairly quickly; I thought he had me when he did.  I turned over my 4s and he flipped AK.  I went temporarily insane and yelled, "Oh God, how did you call me with that??"  I really wanted to take the pot right there and not risk getting hit by the ol' six-outer, but Joe decided to go with it.  Luckily, the turn and river didn't help him, and Joe went out in 4th.  He was a good player, and probably the guy that I had played the most pots with over the course of the tournament.  I had gotten the better of him most times, but he definitely earned his spot in the top four.

I don't think I played a hand in the tournament better than that pocket 4s hand.  I avoided a gamble preflop, and made the right read and the right call and push when I needed to.  Three hands later, once again on the button, I found pocket 4s.  I raised it to 110k again, and Anirudh flat-called from the small blind.  Jack started arranging his chips, and he pushed all-in for another 380k.  Right away I thought that he was putting the squeeze play on us.  I had only played with Jack for a short time, but I could tell that he knew advanced plays such as this one.  Anirudh couldn't really call because he had shown such weakness by not raising my bet, and I could be opening with anything, most of which couldn't call an all-in.  I really thought that I was good, though, and I called quicker than I normally do.  Anirudh folded, and Jack turned over QJ, and upon seeing my 4s, said, "Wow, great call."  I looked at the chips and saw that if I won this hand, I would have about 1 million in chips, and Anirudh would be at a 3-1 chip disadvantage heads up.  I could taste victory coming.  The flop quickly replaced the taste of near-victory with the bitterness  that comes when your opponent beats you on a coinflip.  Q88 cemented my fate for the hand, and Jack doubled up and took th chip lead.

 I kept my cool, however, and won most of the next few pots to get back near Jack.  Anirudh got whittled away, and when I raised to 110k on the button with AQ, he pushed for another 16k with JJ.  The flop was K46, and I was preparing to go back to the drawing board.  The turn was a jack, reducing me to just four outs now that he had a set.  A lot of times when I hit a card, I can feel it coming, but this time was not like that at all.  I was getting ready to go back to work when the dealer peeled off the most beautiful card I'd ever seen... a 10!  This gave me the nut straight and took out a stunned Anirudh.  He acted like a total gentleman, though, and really exited with grace.  I was very impressed.  Most players would have a hard time swallowing a river like that, but Anirudh took it in stride.  I gained a lot of respect for him then.

 Now we were at the moment of truth.  Terrence and Jack.  Heads up for a 46" TV, and more importantly, to me at least, the chance to be called the Champion and the best poker player at Carolina.  Everyone reading this probably thinks I'm crazy, but I want to win more than anything.  We took a short break to collect ourselves, and we wished each other luck and congratulated the other on making it this far.  When heads up play began, I had 769k to Jack's 580k or so.  The blinds were frozen on 20k-40k, so we were able to play and not just push all-in every hand, which was great.  The first couple hands gave me nothing.  As much as Tom is my friend, seeing The Lombo offsuit (5 7) the first two hands didn't do me any good.  In fact, Jack took four of the first five pots, and had pulled almost even with me.  I even raised it with 72 off on the button and took the blinds, just for the sake of slowing him down and establishing myself.  Two hands later came the biggest hand of my life.  With the Ace of Spades and the 8 of Diamonds, I raised it to 110k on the button.  Jack, slowly and deliberately, began stacking his chips, almost immediately after my raise.  He then pushed all-in for 580k.  I counted my chips.  If I called and lost, I was down to 120k and basically dead.  This hand was for the whole tournament.  Anyone that has played with me knows that I hate hands like A8 to get my money in with, because it's not a huge favorite over anything, but it can be easily dominated.  I REALLY didn't think that Jack was strong, though.  I folded my hands and looked at him.  Just tried to look straight through him, as if he would tell me if I was good or not.  I could feel the tension of the situation.  I knew that this hand would decide the tournament.  I could hear all the spectators whispering, speculating on whether or not I was going to make the call.  I said, "Jack, I just really think I got you.  I've got you on something like King Queen."  He just stared right at me, which I found interesting.  In my experience, if someone stared at you it's because they don't want a call.  He even cracked a tiny, split-second smirk that I'll bet almost no one but me saw.  I thought and thought- it felt like forever, but I think I actually sat there for about three minutes.  Finally, I said so softly,"I call."

The entire room was abuzz. Everybody flocked as close to the table as they could get to see what we each had.  Jack turned his hand over... King Ten of clubs!  I had made a near-perfect read at the most important time, but I knew it was far from over.  The cards had to hold up for me.  I leapt out of my chair and spiked my cards face up on the table, and yelled, "Hold up one time!"  I clapped my hands and sent out a quick prayer that justice be served just this once.  The flop came out and I retained my lead.  Q86, giving me a pair of 8s, but any pair would still beat me.  The turn was wonderful: an ace, giving me aces up, and leaving him with only four outs to beat me.  If Jack didn't hit a jack on the final card, the tournament was over.  The significance of that didn't hit me until just now.  The river was a 4, and it was all over!  I clapped my hands and let out a "YES!"  I turned and shook Jack's hand and received congratulations from all of my friends that were there to support me, as well as from all of the players from the final table that were still there to collect their prizes and see the finish.  Jack paid me one of the best compliments I've gotten.  "You're the best player I've played on campus," he said.  I felt like I was on top of the world.  Pete, Steve, Jesse, Alex, and others all shook my hand.  Abby gave me a hug.  Pete took a picture of me with the winning hand that is my new favorite picture of myself, and can be seen on Facebook for anyone who cares to check.  As I was sitting at the table, Chaz yelled from the stage, "Terrence, you're taking the TV, I assume?"  "That works," I yelled back.  I took some photos with the people that organized the event, and hung out for a little while longer to savor the moment.

Steve, Andrew, and Pete helped me move the TV out of the Union.  We tried to put it in Pete's car, but it couldn't fit, so we tried Andrew's, also to no avail.  Just then, a pickup truck pulled up and offered to help.  We accepted his generous offer and he drove us to Steve's apartment, where the TV now sits, waiting to be shipped later this week back to New York for me.  We then went back to Stacy and picked up more people to go get some food at Timeout, which was a beautiful thing.

The crowning moment of the weekend was obviously the second I won the tournament, but I'm still astounded at just how nice everyone was to me the entire time.  Pete's parents were kind enough to pick me up at the airport and take me to campus when I arrived.  Jesse and Will let me stay in their room once again.  Without the help of Steve and Andrew, I'd stil be trying to figure out how to move that TV.  The guy in the pickup truck showed that people still do things just out of kindness towards others, and Steve rewarded him with a bottle of hardcore alcohol for his troubles.  Abby went out to dinner with me and allowed me to set things straight, even though things with us had been awkward and depressing lately.  Pete took me to the airport and let me stay at his house on Saturday night, and countless other people had small acts of kindness all weekend towards me.  I couldn't repay everyone for what they did, but I tried to do my part while I was there.  When we were in Timeout, I actually paid for a girl's meal (whom I didn't even know) when I overheard her say that she only had a debit card, and Timeout informed her that they don't take debit cards.

I had a great time in Carolina, as always, and I can't wait until next time I go back.  I got to see a bunch of my friends, and I feel like I become much better friends with Andrew and Stephen especially during my time there.  They're even going to come up to New York for my birthday and we're going to rip up the town for the weekend, maybe going to a Mets game along the way.  The tournament win got me a monstrous TV, sure, but I feel like now I really solidified my legend at Carolina as the best poker player.  Last year was no fluke, and I'm eagerly looking forward to defending my title next year.  Life is good right now- thanks to everyone who helps make it that way.



Currently listening to: I Am a Rock- Simon and Garfunkel
Currently watching: Baseball Tonight
Currently feeling: accomplished
Posted by Terrence on April 11, 2006 at 03:13 AM as a favorite post | 1 comments

Last night was Erik's second tournament.  It began at 6:15 and had 16 entrants, up from 12 last week.  I'd been thinking about my mistakes from the last game all week, just running them through my head over and over.  My mood coming into the game was confidence with a little dash of urgency.  Even though it was just the second week, I couldn't afford to bomb out and give up ground in the Player of the Year race.  The top eight make the TOC, and to be honest, I'm not worried about that at all, as I could probably make it in my sleep.  Player of the Year, however, is going to take some work.

We drew for tables, and I got placed on Erik's nice table that he built himself.  Even better, I had a relatively lackluster mix of players to tangle with.  Tom, Josh, and Foti were all at the other table, while I had, from my left, Will, new Dan, Saied, new Dan's friend, Charlie, Erik, and Joe.  The two most dangerous players were both to my right, and the rest of the table wasn't that intimidating.

The evening began on a wacky note.  The very first hand, Charlie raised it to 250 under the gun.  Joe called, as did new Dan and Dan's friend.  The flop came 4♥5♥K♠.  Dan's friend checked, and Charlie bet out 400.  Joe thought for about ten seconds, then called.  New Dan also called, and Dan's friend folded.  The turn was the 9♣, and Charlie bet out about 600, I believe.  Joe thought and thought and finally mucked disgustedly.  New Dan called once again.  The 8♥ appeared on the river, and Charlie bet about 1100.  Dan called, and Charlie revealed his favorite hand, 2♥3♥, for a flush.  Dan mucked, and Charlie took a huge pot on the first hand by raising with 2 3 under the gun.  Wow.

For the first hour or so, I didn't win a pot.  I saw a few flops cheaply, but mucked after I missed.  Still, I was at about 9400 and fine, thanks to Erik's awesome structure that allows us to actually play. A few trends had emerged that I picked up on.  New Dan apparently watches far too much poker on TV, because he just loved the feeling of moving all-in.  With blinds at 100-200, he moved all-in under the gun for 4500.  Of course everyone folded and he won 300.  Dan's friend loved to see flops.  He called most bets with trash, and was leaking chips like a flu patient's nose.  Then there was Charlie.  Oh, Charlie.  Charlie was playing a lot of hands, most very aggressively, so his swings were tremendous.  For some odd reason, he seemed to be the most aggressive with the worst hands.  To give you an idea of how maniacally he was playing compared to me, who was mostly sitting back and playing solid hands, he raised with a deuce in his hand six times that I know about, and possibly many more.  In the six hours I played, I raised with a deuce in my hand once, an A2 at the tail end of the tournament.  Erik, like me, was sitting back and waiting for his spots to pick off the fools.

With blinds at 100-200, I found big slick in middle position after a limp by Charlie.  I raised it another 600, and Will called behind me.  New Dan then moved all-in for another 3700.  It folded back to me, and I had a decision to make.  With new Dan's propensity for moving all-in, I didn't see how I could fold this getting about 1.75-1.  I hate committing chunks of my stack with ace king, but there's no way that he had aces or kings.  I was worried about Will, though.  His call behind me seemed confident, and I put him on pocket 10s, a hand that may not fold if I flat-called.  I decided that I had to isolate, so I reraised all-in.  This achieved the desired result, and Will folded.  He had 7s or 8s, I can't remember which.  New Dan flipped over Jacks, which was much more than I gave him credit for, although they were the same as deuces as far as I was concerned.  The flop brought an ace, and I took him out and put myself up to about $15,000.  The next hand, I picked up pocket 7s.  I limped in, and Saied raised it 600 from the button.  Dan's friend called from the big blind, and I called.  What flop would you dream of coming in this situation?  I think 7◊5♣2♠ fits the bill nicely.  Amazingly, Dan's friend pushed all-in from first position for 1900.  All I could think about now was how Saied was going to go broke on this hand, because I thought he had high pockets.  After a little bit of Hollywooding, I called.  Saied also called, which was fine, but I was really hoping for a raise on his end.  The turn was a queen, and I checked, as did Saied.  The river was a 10, and I bet 2500.  Saied folded, showing Ace King suited, and I turned over my set.  Dan's friend just had king high, so he was dead.

The very next hand I looked down on my big blind to see pocket Jacks.  Four players had limped, and I raised it another 1000.  They all folded, so I won the pot.  So after an hour and a half of not winning a single hand, I had won three straight and had the chip lead. Amen to good structure.  I opened up a little bit after this, and I started to push my weight around.  Erik, meanwhile, had beaten a few people over the head with pocket kings in separate hands and had built a sizeable stack himself.  Besides the two players I had knocked out, Joe was out when his set of 4s lost to Will's wheel, and old Dan was knocked out when he got moved to our table and busted his short stack within a few hands. With five players at the table, I came in raising with the 7♠9♠ under the gun.  Charlie called, as did Erik.  The flop came K♠Q♥J◊, and they both checked.  With such a scary flop, I figured that being the aggressor, I could take down the pot with a big bet.  I bet the pot, and Charlie folded.  Erik pondered for a while, then said, "I'll get you later."  I flashed him my 7 9, and replied, "But I'll get you now."  Erik turned red, the whole table laughed at him, and I raked the pot.  A good time was had by all.

I put a huge dent in Saied's stack when I limped with K♠7♠ in middle position, and he raised from the small blind to 700.  I called with my position, and saw a beautiful flop of king 7 6 come down. He bet out 1200, I raised another 1800, and he called.  The turn paired the 6 on board, and we both checked.  The river paired the 7, so I had kings full of 7s.  He bet out 3000, and I put him all-in for another 3500.  He showed 8 9 and tossed it.  That definitely wasn't what I put him on, otherwise I would have bet to make him pay on the turn.

From the outset, the final table looked like it would be a classic.  Erik and I were the big stacks from our table, while Tom and Josh had the big stacks from the other table.  Foti had gotten whacked by Mutch, and he had a fair amount of chips, too.  I took the first two hands of the final table with an A9 raise on the button and a bet on the flop the next hand.

As I mentioned earlier, Erik was holding pocket kings half the time.  They literally were pocket kings because he kept them in his pocket and brought them out when he needed them.  At the final table, he played a pot in which he called a Charlie raise preflop, called Charlie's big flop bet, big turn bet, then all-in on the river. The board was something like 4 4 4 8 king, so erik had kings full.  Charlie had ace high, and this hand crippled him.  He fought back gamely though, doubling up off Josh with KQ against AJ, then picking up a few more pots to get back around 13,000.  After the first two hands, I wasn't involved a lot.  I couldn't afford to screw around, especially with so many dangerous players with dangerous chipstacks.  On the button, I limped with pocket 2s after a limp by Tom and a limp by Mutch.  The blinds played, and we saw the flop five-handed.  It was exactly what I was looking for, 2◊3♣5♥.  It checked around to Mutch, who bet out 1200.  With both of the blinds playing this hand, I couldn't just call and give a free card to a straight draw.  I put Mutch on either mid pockets or something like A5 or 56.  I raised it another 1800, and after the rest of the players folded, Mutch called.  The turn was an 8, and Mutch checked.  I bet 2500, not wanting to bet too small to allow him to hit if he had just called with a 4, but also not wanting to get rid of him in the event he had something that was drawing dead.  He called again, and now I put him on a middle pair, and pocket 6s were flashing in my head.  The river was a 9, and Mutch checked again.  I thought he would call a big bet, as the pot was already very big, so I bet 5000.  He thought for a bit, then moved all-in for another 11,000 on top.  This completely shocked me.  The first thing that went through my head was that my set was no good.  I didn't think Mutch was capable of making a move on me here, because he plays very timidly when he's against me in a pot. I went into the tank for what had to be five minutes.  There were three hands I could see that had me: ace 4, something he would definitely limp with in late position, or pocket 8s or 9s, which would have hit a higher set after the flop.  My original read was that he had mid-pockets, so this made sense.  I said out loud, "Mutch, I think I'm beat.  I know you're scared of me, so you wouldn't make a move here."  The whole table seemed to delight in this, but I wasn't happy.  The pot was monstrous at this point, and if I called and won, the tournament was mine for the taking.  However, if I called and lost, I'd be down to 6,000 and in big trouble.  17,000 was still near the average, and I knew I could work myself back, but this was a point where I just had to go with my gut.  I didn't see how I could have him, and I folded.  Charlie, who was peeking over my shoulder, saw my hand and said, "How did you fold that?!"  Erik asked Charlie what I had, and I answered kind of testily, "None of your business," because I hadn't shown my cards to Charlie, therefore Erik wasn't entitled to know.  I think I was a little bit rude with the way I said it, but it was a really hard fold to make and a big point in the tournament, so I had some trouble taking it well.  Still no excuse, though.  As he was raking in the pot, Mutch flashed me an 8, meaning that he had to have another one to beat me.

For the next few hands, I asked Mutch what he had- it was eating at me.  Finally, he said that he had ace 8, but I couldn't believe it.  How could he bet out then call on the flop?  I didn't let the hand affect my play, though, and I won a series of small pots to get back up over 20,000.  Mutch lost a string of pots to get down below 10,000, then the following hand came up.  Tom raised it 4,000 over the 500-1,000 blinds, and Mutch moved all-in on top for another 4800.  I looked down to see pocket queens.  I really hate situations like this.  Queens with a raise and a reraise is one of my least favorite situations, somewhere between seeing a flop with Charlie that has a 2 on board, and being in a pot with Foti when the board reads 9 9 6 6 6.  Mutch was starting to get desperate though, and I thought he may have had jacks.  Tom's raise was so big preflop that I didn't think he had aces or kings.  I put him on 10s or 9s.  Tom had great pot odds to call if I flat-called, though, so I decided to push all-in on top.  It got back to Tom, who I had covered, and he said, "I have a gambling hand, I feel like gambling."  I knew he must have had ace king, because that's the only thing that you can gamble with in this spot; I don't think 7 8 suited is going to cut it against three raises.  Finally, disgustedly, he folded and showed ace king.  Mutch also flipped up ace king, so I was in great shape.  It was almost the same as him having an underpair, because he only had four outs against my queens, instead of the six he would have had his cards were live.  The board ended up being 10 high, so I took a huge pot and eliminated Mutch.  As an added bonus, when he left he said that he had pocket 8s after all in that huge hand, so I made a great laydown.  Tom didn't believe him, but there was no reason for him to lie, plus there was no hand he could have on a flop of 2 3 5 besides pocket 8s, if he bet and called a raise.  Ace 8 would have been an incredibly loose call, and Mutch doesn't play loose.

Charlie and Will got eliminated just after Mutch, and we were down to a dream final four: Me, Tom, Erik, and Josh- the four best players at the game.  The blinds were still reasonable, so we had plenty of room to move our chips, especially seeing as none of us were on a shortstack.  Erik had the chip lead, while I was in second, and Tom and Josh were close behind.  Most of the pots played four-handed didn't see a flop, as a button raise or blind reraise was usually enough to take it.  You could sense everyone probing each other for openings, but no one was yielding any weakness.  I seemed to be getting involved in the most pots, either against Josh or Erik, and I increased my chip count slightly during this time.  Erik had been raising Josh's blinds a lot, and finally a hand came where Josh took a stand and reraised.  Erik was staring him down, and Josh looked at him and said, "Bitch that, bitch!"  Everyone that was still in the room died laughing, and Erik finally folded, giving a big pot to Josh.  Throughout four-handed play, Tom didn't seem to be getting involved much, which was completely unlike him.  He was also tilting a little bit, due to him getting trash cards for a while, as well as Charlie calling him on the river with king high in an earlier pot.  A hand came up where Erik limped under the gun, Tom limped from the small blind, and I checked the big blind with 10 3 off.  The flop came 7 9 10, and Tom checked.  I threw out a bet of 3,000.  Erik folded, and Tom called, much to my surprise.  The turn was a 4, and Tom bet out 4,500.  He played this hand really strangely, and it had me confused.  I figured that if he had a top pair or two pair, he had to bet out on the flop to protect against all the possible draws on board.  That's why I bet out, after all.  I figured Tom for something like 7 8, for a pair and a straight draw.  I decided to push and make him pay to catch.  I went all-in, and he folded almost immediately.  He told me that he had a straight draw, as well as a flush draw that he picked up on the turn.  When he folded, he threw his cards down and said, "Does anyone give me credit for a hand?!"  It's not that I didn't think he had anything, but I thought I was good, so I pushed.  I think this bubbled over from the king-high call from Charlie before, and on the next hand, Tom pushed all-in from the button.  I thought he was pretty tilty at this point, and I looked down to see pocket 9s.  I flat-called, and Erik folded.  Tom announced that he was just trying to steal the blind, and flipped up 4 5 off.  My 9s held up, and we were down to three.

I lost a major pot against Josh when I raised 6,000 on the button with A♥9♥, and he reraised another 9,000 on top from the big blind.  I thought he had mid-pockets, and I thought about pushing, but decided to just call with my position.  The flop came 3 4 K, and Josh bet out 7,500.  I was pretty sure he didn't have a king, and that my mid-pockets read was right.  I moved all-in to move him off his hand, and he called immediately.  Uh oh.  He had pocket 4s for a flopped set, and I was drawing pretty dead.  If I knew he had 4s, I definitely would have pushed preflop, because there's no way he could call me on what was at best a coinflip.  This knocked me below 20 grand, and with the average stack over 50, I was in trouble.  At around 14,000, I looked down to see pocket kings after Erik pot-committed himself with a raise on the button.  I pushed, and he called with A9.  My kings held up, and I was back in the game.

A few minutes later, I called a raise on my big blind with J◊8◊.  The flop came queen 8 6.  I checked, and Erik bet 6,000.  I called.  The turn was a 3, i believe.  I checked again, and he bet 11,000.  I was pretty sure I was good, and I had to decide if I wanted to push or just call.  I flat-called it, which in retrospect was very risky because I gave him a free card to hit an overcard and beat me.  The river was a jack, giving me two pair, and I moved all-in.  I know Erik has this thing with me that he hates letting me bluff him, so he's inclined to call in these situations.  He went into the tank for 7 or 8 minutes, and finally I called the clock on him.  With about ten seconds before his hand would be mucked, I said, "Can you just fold now and save us ten seconds?"  Two seconds later, he announced a call, and I showed my two pair to take the pot.  He told me that my 8s were good without being helped by the jack, and I don't know what he could have called me with.  Ace 6 is my guess.  I think my comment induced a call from him, especially after being pushed around by Josh in that earlier hand.

After this hand, I was in great shape again, and Erik lost a ton of chips to Josh in a strange play.  Josh raised from the button, and Erik moved all-in for about 45,000 in the big blind.  He just had Josh covered, but this was a huge bet.  I thought there was no way Josh was going to call, but then he did, and flipped up A♥K♥.  Erik had KJ off, and was caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  The flop paired both players live card, so Josh retained the lead.  The turn was a king, giving Josh top two pair and Erik middle two pair.  Erik couldn't hit a miracle jack on the river, though, and Josh raked a massive pot.  Following this pot, Erik was severely shortstacked.  I picked up another A9 on the button, and I came in raising 6,000.  Erik got a big grin on his face when he looked at his cards, and I knew I was in trouble.  It was only another 1,000 or so to me, and I called.  He had AK, but I said, "I feel a 9 coming."  Sure enough, a 9 hit the flop, but the river brought a king, and Erik almost peed himself with excitement.  He built his chips back up, but then was finally eliminated by Josh, so we were heads-up.  Josh had almost an exact 2-1 chip lead on me, but with the blinds being reasonable, there was plenty of wiggle room.

Finally, Josh and I could finish the heads-up match that we started over six months ago, when we chopped so I could go play a cash game.  Even moreso than Tom or Erik, Josh is the player I've had the toughest time with.  I knew I'd be in for a battle.  The tone early on seemed to be that Josh was playing more of an aggressive game, raising most times preflop on the button, while I was limping more.  With the blinds being low in comparison to our stacks, my intention was to pick Josh apart a little at a time, rather than get all my money in preflop.  One hand, I had Q♥3♥ in the big blind, and saw a flop of Q 7 4.  Josh bet and I called.  The turn was a 9, and Josh bet again, bigger this time.  I had top pair, but was a little bit unsure about my hand.  I called.  The river paired the 9, and after some thought, I called again, and queens were good.  I took a huge pot with pocket 6s a bit later when I came in raising preflop, then got checkraised on a flop with two overcards and called him down. 

I took the big pots, but Josh was staying afloat by taking the blinds, which I wasn't too keen on defending.  My big calls had gotten me a 2-1 chip lead, though, and a few hands later, I picked up pocket 5s.  I came in raising on the button, and Josh reraised.  I put him on ace something and decided to get all the money in now.  I pushed, and he said, "I think we have a coinflip, I call."  I thought he had ace king, but he flipped over 10s, and they held up, so all of a sudden I was down 140k-20k.  I pushed all-in on three of the next five hands, and took enough blinds to get semi-healthy.  Then Josh pushed on the button, and I saw queen jack offsuit.  I knew I'd have to double up to get back in it, but I wasn't completely committed yet, and decided to wait for a better spot.  A few hands later I got A2 off on the button, and pushed all-in.  He said, "This is so mediocre, but I'll call," and flipped over queen 9.  Just for the record, I don't think I've ever won a hand when I was all-in with A2.  The flop was magic, though, coming A 2 9, so I doubled up to about 50k and could finally play poker again.  

I picked up pocket 6s once again a few hands later, and called a raise from Josh.  The flop was Q 7 4.  I bet out, he raised, and I flat-called.  The turn was an 8, so I had a gutshot draw with my pair.  Josh bet 11k, and that would leave me with 28k if I called.  I thought my hand was good, but didn't know if I should push, and force him out, or call and  possibly induce a bluff.  The only thing I would get him to fold with a push that had me beat was possibly a 7.  The only downside to this was that I could let him hit some random overcard, but I decided it was worth the risk.  Before the river came, I checked in the dark.  The river was a gorgeous 5, giving me the straight, and Josh went all-in.  I called before he even got it out of his mouth, and flipped my 6s.  Josh had 7s, so  I doubled up and took a 2-1 chip lead over Josh.  Once I took the chip lead, I never looked back, and soon I had Josh all-in with king jack to his king 7.  The first card off was a 7, and Josh and I reacted with different extremes.  The last card on the flop was a jack, though, so I seized control of the hand back.  The jacks help up, and I took first place and $200.  I also moved to second overall in the points standings, even with my point-less finish last week, and took the all-time wins lead at Erik's with 2.5 (getting .5 for the chop).  I'm back.

Quote of the day: "Bitch that, bitch."- Josh goading Erik after coming over the top of another of his lame button raises.

Terrence's bankroll: $1324

Currently listening to: Robbie Williams- Man Machine
Currently reading: Erik like a book
Currently watching: Kill Bill Vol. 2
Currently feeling: thankful
Posted by Terrence on June 25, 2005 at 03:17 AM | Add a Comment

I've played plenty of poker since my heads-up match with Roy, but for some reason I've been totally unmotivated to write about it.  It's not that the poker hasn't been worthy of being written about- on the contrary, there are a bunch of stories I need to tell, but I am a lazy lummox who watches far too much baseball.

A quick synopsis of how I've done from mid-May to yesterday: Visited the Oasis, a local cardroom, with Tom shortly after getting back from school.  Sat with $100 in a 1-2 NL cash game, only got involved in two hands, both of which I won, and left with $223.  The play is amazingly loose and bad over there, and it seems like I could support myself and six kids if I had the time to go there regularly.  The average preflop raise was $15, which is insane at 1-2 blinds, and some raises were as big as $40.  So all you have to do is sit tight and wait for a monster.  I picked up pocket kings right as Tom came over to tell me what was going on at his table. I raised it $15, and three players called.  The flop came king 7 4 with a couple of diamonds, and when it checked to me, I bet $40.  I figured there was no point slowplaying, as people call with nonsense.  Plus, these guys hadn't seen me, so they didn't know if I was making a move or not.  One guy called, and the turn was a blank.  I moved all-in for about $45, and he called without too much thought and flipped up 4 10 of diamonds, for a pair of 4s with a diamond draw.  Just horrible.  The river gave him trips, but made me the nut boat, so I took fishie's money.  Later on I limped with ace queen under the gun, and saw a 5-way pot of ace 10 6.  I checked, the guy to my left bet $10, and two others called.  I raised it another $35, and they all folded, so I took another nice pot.

I played in a couple smaller tournaments in the meantime, without any cashes.  I lost a $25 tournament at Charlie's against a bunch of loose maniacs who called everything preflop no matter how much you bet.  I also lost a tournament at Erik's, and lost some money playing with my family in their psycho wild card games.  Just to give you an idea of how bad I was running, I had a straight flush in one hand and lost to a higher straight flush.

I had been in a rut for the first few weeks of summer after my Oasis outing, and I needed something to change it up for me.  I had played poorly at Erik's first summer tournament, finishing in 10th out of 12.  I got some good hands busted, but I played lousy and had some signs of rust.  The only big pot I won all night was when I made a steal raise with 2 7 off in the big blind, and got one caller, and UTG limper.  The flop was 3 6 7, I check-raised all-in, and beat his pocket 5s, hitting two pair on the river for good measure.  I then lost a coinflip to Tom with 6s against his ace queen, then he used my chips to take me out with ace king against my ace queen.

Tom told me about a tournament run by these old men at the Stuart Thomas Manor in Bethpage.  The buy-in was steep, $150, but he assured me they were terrible players.  To validate that, he told me his dad was playing, too.  At the last minute I decided that this was the type of thing that could be my slump-buster.  I played.  On the very first hand a guy got knocked out when he flopped two pair with king 3 (the krablar, pinch pinch) and lost when the board paired on the river to give pocket aces a higher two pair.  On the second hand of the tournament, I had 7 10 of diamonds in the big blind.  Five players limped, and the flop came down 8 9 jack.  WHACK.  I could already tell that these guys were awful, so I bet out 150 out of my starting stack of 1500.  One player called.  The turn was a 4, and I bet out 250.  He went all-in.  I looked at him and said, "Do you have queen ten?  I call."  He flipped over pocket aces, quite proudly I might add, and then I force-fed him my straight.  Hooray for drawing dead!  That doubled me up right away, and I had time to sit back and wait for another big hand.

To give you an idea of how bad these guys were, on the first 9 hands,  7 players busted from our table.  They kept bringing new players from other tables, and they would get mugged on their first hand.  I've never seen anything like it.  The guy with the aces in the first hand took out four guys by himself, and this Goodfellas extra look-alike with lots of jewelry took out a few himself, like when he hit a gutshot straight after calling a bet on an all-spade flop without a spade in his hand.  The event started with 26 players, with 5 getting paid.  Tom, his dad, and I all sat at different tables to maximize our fish-catching ability.  After our table eliminated another, we got combined to two tables.  I hadn't played a hand except for my straight, but I was sitting pretty.  I got moved to Tom's table, where he was also in OK shape.  A few hands in, I woke up with 10♠10♥ and raised it up after Call Man limped under the gun.  Call Man was very strange.  He called everything preflop, and then bet out on the flop, turn, and river with almost no regard for what his cards were.  Somehow, he had amassed a lot of chips using this tactic.  The flop came down J♠8♠9♠, giving me an open-ended straight flush draw.  He checked to me, and I bet about half the pot.  He had this confused look on his face, then he looked at his cards (holding them up off the table near his face like a big fish), then raised me the minimum.  What?!  I could have pushed, but he had me covered, and I didn't want to get all my money in in an uncertain situation against a player like this.  I called.  The turn was a red rag, and he checked.  I was really confused, and I checked, too.  The river paired the jack on board, and after looking confused, he finally went all-in, a huge overbet.  This put me all-in, and I was almost sure my hand was good.  I still had a lot of chips, though, and I thought that if I got away from it, I could still wreck these guys.  I decided to fold.  The guy later said he just had a pair of 4s, but I don't know.  I didn't really care, to be honest.  In a cash game I would have called him in a heartbeat, but I had to maximize my chance of surviving.

The blinds were getting higher, and all of a sudden I was shortstacked after I missed a few flops.  The card of the night was the 9.  Don't ask me why, but if you had a 9 in your hand, you would win.  Pocket 9s, 9 10, ace 9, they all worked for everyone.  After two guys limped, I looked down to see pocket 9s.  Not that it mattered that 9s were working, because I didn't have much money and I had to pick a spot to move.  I went all-in, and the chip leader on my right called when it got back to him.  He flipped over 9 10 of diamonds, and I had a bad feeling.  The flop came 5 7 king, with two diamonds.  The turn was a black 6, so going into the river he could hit an 8, 10, or diamond to beat me.  The river was the Black Mariah, though, and I doubled up.  I stole a couple blinds, and was back above average when we combined for the final table.  By this time, Tom was in good shape, his dad was done, and Mr. Call had lost all of his chips calling an all-in with bottom pair.  The first hand of the final table, I was in the small blind, and it got folded to me.  The big blind had been at my previous table, and he was pretty tight.  I looked down to see ace king.  I didn't have enough chips to make a decent raise, so I just went all-in, even though it was a bit of an overbet.  There's no sense betting half your stack and giving a guy 2-1 to bust you, I figured.  He thought for a second then called.  Oh crap.  I turned over ace king and he tabled pocket deuces.  "Oh God, don't let me lose to this," I said.  I really don't understand how you call with deuces there, but some guys just can't fold pairs, I guess.  The flop gave me an ace, and now I was in great shape.  This left the guy with just a couple chips, but he tripled up twice to get back in it.  One guy who I hadn't played with yet had a monster stack of chips, about three times the closest competitor, and he was raising like a maniac every hand.  I would have done the same thing, because we were now down to 6 and on the bubble, so everyone was playing tight to make the money.  He came in raising on my big blind, and I saw ace king.  After thinking forever, I tossed it.  Tournament poker can be brutal sometimes.  I could have called and then moved or folded on the flop, but if I missed I would have been down near the two shortstacks, so I figured it was better to wait for them to bust before I made a move.  Plus, the chip leader could have had any random hand, not a dominated hand like I would usually figure him for here, so I would only be about 62-38 on him against two random undercards.  After what seemed like forever, the shortstack finally went out, and we were in the money.  I doubled up when I flopped a straight with queen ten against the chip leader, and then me and Tom made a deal.  No matter where we finished, we'd split our winnings.  Tom had me outchipped by a little, but with my double up I was pretty close to him.  Another guy got whacked, and we were down to four.  Tom was second in chips, while me and the guy with aces on the first hand were at the bottom.  I picked up king jack in the big blind, and after aces guy and chip leader limped, I checked.  I should have pushed, in retrospect, but I figured to get at least one call and I wanted to see a safe flop.  It came down queen 10 5, and I made a bad play.  I checked, even though there was a ton of money in the pot from the blinds, and I had not much.  I had to play this straight, and the correct play was clearly a push. Aces guy bet, chip leader folded, and I called with my straight draw.  It didn't pan out, and his bottom pair turned into trips to boot.  If I had pushed on the flop, he probably would have folded.  I took 4th and $220.  Tom ended up in second and got $440, so we each got $330.  First placed payed about $1100, so it's too bad we couldn't hit that, but the blinds were ludicrous, so you had to just push and pray by time it got heads-up.

I'll post a new entry tonight on yesterday's game at Erik's.  It will be quite extensive, I promise.

Currently listening to: Gavin Degraw- Chariot
Currently watching: U.S. Women's Open
Currently feeling: full
Posted by Terrence on June 23, 2005 at 07:43 PM | Add a Comment

Last night was the first heads-up match between Roy and I.  We began at around 9 o'clock with $20,000 in chips and the blinds at 100-200.  We raised blinds every 20 minutes, but we were playing so fast, that we got a lot of hands in on each round.

Early on, my goal was to see what Roy's plan was.  I have to admit, I played a little timidly, and he ran me over for the most part, taking a $25,000 to $15,000 chip lead without any really huge hands.  Then the following hand came up to swing the match:  I limped in with K♠8◊, and Roy raised it another 500 to go from the big blind.  He'd been doing this fairly routinely, and this time I called.  The flop came down 9♠ 9♣ 5♥, and Roy bet out 900.  I didn't figure him to have hit this, and I didn't give him credit for a pocket pair or other strong hand because of the aggressive manner in which he'd been playing up to this point.  I called his bet, planning on raising later to take the hand.  The turn was a K♣.  This changed my mindset a little bit.  Roy bet out 1800, and rather than raising, I just called, figuring I could induce a bluff from him on the river.  I thought that if I raised now I would take it down, and I didn't think I was in danger of getting outdrawn by anything.  The river was a K◊, giving me kings full of 9s.  Roy bet out 3000 this time, and with the way his betting kept escalating throughout the hand, it seemed obvious that he wanted to get rid of me.  I also stopped to consider that maybe Roy actually did have a hand, because he usually won't fire all three bullets on a total bluff.  A standard play here would have been to value-raise, just doubling his 3000 to 6000.  I figured this would be too obvious, though, and I wanted my bet to look like a steal bet.  After all, he couldn't possibly put me on having a king with the way the hand had played out.  I raised his 3000 to 9000, and he went into the tank for a couple minutes.  Finally, he called, and I showed him my kings full.  He told me that he had pocket aces, which really shocked me, as I hadn't given him credit for anything like that.  That means that I hit perfect perfect to beat him, the only way it could have happened.  It was a dirty hand, but at least my intention were pure.  This pot put me up to around a 2-1 chip lead, exactly where I wanted to be.

Now that I had seized control of the match, I wanted to ride the momentum and keep him down.  I became more aggressive preflop, and the blinds were at 200-400 by now, so that was a bit more profitable than it could have been previously.  A good example of my big stack play came when I had Q♠5♠, and made a raise of 600 on the button.  Roy called, and we saw a flop of 10♠6♠3◊.  He bet out 1200, and I raised all-in on the flush draw.  I knew that he couldn't really call here with anything but a strong top pair, and if he did call, then I had a 2-1 shot of winning the match right there.  He folded though, which was fine by me, and I took the pot.

I kept whittling Roy down, and he wasn't able to stab at so many pots, so I kept improving my chip lead, until he was down to $3500 to my $36,500.  I knew his shortstack style, and he would push whenever I seemed weak, so when I picked up pocket queens in the small blind, I thought it was the perfect time to trap him.  He had been pushing almost half the time I limped in, and I had made up my mind early to limp with big hands to trap him.  The trap worked to perfection, and Roy moved all-in after my limp. I called him immediately, and the look on his face was priceless.  It was something like shock coupled with dismay.  I don't think I've ever seen Roy caught so off-guard at a poker table.  I turned over my queens, and he flipped over ace 5 off, making me about 2-1 to win it.  For some reason, though, I didn't think I would win, just because our heads-up match couldn't be over with this quickly.  The flop was all rags, but sure enough, the turn was an ace, and I couldn't spike a queen, so Roy doubled up to 7000.

Now the momentum had shifted again.  Roy became more aggressive, and it seemed like I was backpedaling.  He came in raising 1000 on my big blind, and I called with A◊5♥.  The flop was A♥4♠6♥.  I checked it to Roy, and he bet 1000.  I check-raised him another 2000, and after some thought, he called.  The turn was the 3♥, so now I was open-ended in addition to having a weak flush draw with my top pair.  I checked it again.  Roy bet 3000, and I just felt like he was seeing my check as weakness.  I raised all-in for another 5400, and he called, flipping over 7♥8♥ for a made flush, the one thing I didn't want to see.  That doubled him up and actually gave him a slight chip edge on me.

Roy continued to ride the momentum, and I could tell he was gaining confidence against me with each hand.  I went on a string of 8 2 offsuits  and jack 4 offsuits that lost me four or five straight blinds, and with the blinds being at 400-800 now, that certainly didn't help.  Roy got back to being aggressive, raising almost every pot on the button.  I was playing far too passively, and I rarely came over the top of him.  Before I knew it, I was down to about 4500.  I stayed patient though, and trusted that I could work myself back into the match.

After taking a few small pots and getting back to about 8000, I had a little bit more room to play.  I picked up 8 4 offsuit on the button, and decided to just double the blind.  I hadn't done this all day, and I figured it might throw Roy for a loop.  He said, "Minimum bet?  Sign of strength.  I call."  Then we watched a beautiful flop of 8 8 Q come down.  Roy bet out 1000, and I doubled it.  He called.  The turn was a 3, and Roy again bet out 1000.  I went all-in for another 4500, and after some thought, he folded a queen face up.  I think if anyone from the SPT would have seen this hand, they would be shocked.  They all have this image of Roy being a loose, lucky player that calls everything, but it's really not true.  I don't know how he put me on an 8, or maybe kings or aces, but he did, and he made the right fold.  There's maybe one or two other guys in our game that can make that fold, especially against me.

Even though I didn't double up, this pot got me right back in the game, and now I had the momentum.  I took a whole slew of small pots, mostly by betting out on the flop when I hit second pair.  A huge hand came up where I had 4 5 of hearts, and I limped in.  Roy checked, and we saw a flop of 2 6 8, making me double-gutted.  Roy checked, and I put some thought into it, but decided to take a free card.  The turn was a jack.  We both checked.  The river was a 7, giving me the bottom end of the straight.  Roy bet out 1,200, and I raised him 3,000.  He thought for a while, and finally called.  He had jacks for top pair, so I took a nice pot and took the chip lead back.

I came in raising with A♠9♠ on the button, and Roy called.  The flop was 3♠3♣7♠, giving me the nut flush draw with two overs.  Roy bet out 1,200, and I called.  I was thinking of pushing, but figured if he had trips I'd get called right away, and Roy still had a lot of chips, so I would be crippled if I lost it.  The turn was the J♥, and Roy bet out 3,000 this time.  Still convinced I had 15 outs, I called.  The river was the A♣, giving me top pair.  Roy bet out 5,000 this time.  That ace wasn't exactly what I wanted to see in the face of a big bet, because he could have been pushing with trip 3s the whole way.  I thought he would have looked to check-raise me with a 3, though, and I called after much thought.  He had 2 4 off, and was on a total bluff the whole time.  This pot put me back in commanding position.

This was possibly the biggest hand of the match, and there was no way I could have won any more from it.  Here's why it's sometimes better to just call with a hand rather than push, even if you think you're the favorite.  If I pushed on the flop, Roy would have folded and I only would have taken his initial 1,200 bet.  By just calling, I induced him to keep bluffing, and wound up with an additional 8,000 for it.  Against good players, sometimes it's better to let them keep betting at you, because they'll fold most times if you come over the top of them.  Aggressive players tend to keep betting if they sense weakness, though, so you can often trap them by just calling.  It's risky, but can pay big dividends.

This pot put me up about by about a 4-1 margin, and I kept leaning on Roy after that.  I picked up pocket 7s on the button and came in with a standard raise of 1500.  The blinds were now 500-1000.  Roy called, and the flop came down K♣5♣6♥.  Roy checked, and I checked behind him, because he seemed strong.  The turn was the 8♥, and he bet out 1800.  I thought of pushing here, as I figured if I was good, he wouldn't call, and if I wasn't I had 10 outs, but I still thought he was strong, so I figured 1800 was a cheap way to bust him if I hit one of my outs.  Before the river came, he went all-in in the dark for 4000.  This was fine by me, because I figured a 4 or a 9 would win it for me.  The river was a 3♣, though.  Not what I wanted to see.  The problem is, Roy is just crazy enough to make this move without a hand because it represents such strength.  I even thought he would be crazy enough to do it with a flush draw and a pair, and that flush draw had just hit.  After thinking for a full two minutes, he told me that I could pick one of his cards and look at it.  This led me to believe right away that he had me, otherwise why give me free information.  I was pretty sure he wanted a call now.  I turned over one card, and it was the 9♣.  What a scary card that was!  He could have the flush or the straight, although I had two of the 7s in the deck.  I didn't think he could have 8 9 or pocket 9s, because if I saw this card I would call instantly with a king.  I finally decided that I was beat, and I tossed it.  He told me that he had 7♣9♣, so he made the nuts on the turn and then improved to a flush on the river.  He really was strong on the flop, and he told me he would have pushed if I had bet, so I'm glad I didn't.

Although Roy won this pot, I did a good job of minimizing my losses.  Roy was around 10,000 at this point, but I was determined not to give him the momentum back.  He came in raising 1500, and I looked down to see ace 4.  I went all-in, believing that he wasn't that strong, and he folded rather quickly.  A few hands later, I checked pocket 4s in the big blind, and we saw a flop of 5 5 3.  We both checked, and then checked the turn, which was a 6.  The river was a 4, giving me a boat, and when Roy bet out 2,000, I went all-in.  He thought for a bit, then folded, saying, "I don't know why I thought that long; that was an easy fold."

With the blinds as high as they were, and with Roy shortstacked, I knew I had to keep him down.  Avoid making loose calls, and push when possible.  If all the money is in the pot, there's a chance I could knock him out.  The mistake he made earlier is that he was never able to get me all-in when I was shortstacked, although with the blinds being lower, I was able to wiggle more.  With Roy under 5,000, I pushed whenever I saw a king or better on the button.  He kept folding, and he folded his small blind a few times, also.  With only 3,600 left, he put in his big blind.  I commented that he basically had to call my all-in blind.  I saw K◊2◊, and I pushed.  He thought, and then folded, leaving himself with just 2,600.  He had 4 8 off, but I still think he had to call here.  He folded the next hand, and I looked down to see A♠10♥ on the small blind.  I went all-in, and he called his last 1,100 and flipped over A◊2♥.  The flop was completely safe, and the last two cards offered no help to Roy, either, so I had won our heads-up battle.

I took $20 for the win, and clinched that my bankroll would be over $1,000 for the school year.  I really wish that some people were around to watch this match, because it was some fantastic poker, the best I've been a part of since the Levittown Tournament of Champions, and easily the best heads-up match I've been a part of.  I think Roy and I showed why we're the two best players here, and the match really could have gone either way.  I've always admired Roy's play, but our match just reinforced that respect in my mind.  That boy can play, and he makes me elevate my game to contend with him.  It's too bad I'm going back to New York and won't be able to play with him much anymore.  I'll miss our battles.

Terrence's bankroll: $1039, after beating Jesse heads-up two days ago, winning a four-man tournament with Jesse, Andrew, and Albert, beating Pete heads-up, beating Roy heads-up, and beating Bobby heads-up twice.

Currently listening to: More Than Love- Los Lonely Boys
Currently watching: Baseball Tonight
Currently feeling: accomplished
Posted by Terrence on May 11, 2005 at 07:06 PM | 4 comments

The Tournament of Champions has come and gone, and it ended in heartbreak for me.  We began with $15,000 in chips, and I quickly ran my stack up to about $25,000, mostly by taking lots of small pots and avoiding any marginal situations.  I really focused on position, playing most of my hands near the button.  I took one pot off Will when he came in raising 1000 under the gun.  I was on the button with 8 4 offsuit, but Will, a tight player, will give up all but the strongest hands.  He'd shown pocket kings twice already, but I figured him to be much weaker than that.  I reraised 2500, and he called.  Unless he hit the heck out of the flop, I knew I had him.  The flop came jack queen 4, and after he checked, I bet 2000 and took it down.  He showed pocket 10s.

For some reason, it kept getting folded around to me and Aaron in the blinds.  I limped every time, regardless of the strength of my hand, because I wanted to trap Aaron in a big pot.  Finally, I did.  I picked up pocket 7s in the small blind, and after it folded to me, I limped.  Aaron checked, and the flop came king king 7.  BINGO.  I figured that if Aaron completely missed this flop, check-raising would only win me a small bet from him.  If, though, he hit the king, I could take a monster off him by betting out.  I reasoned that this could work because I'm known as being pretty aggressive, betting at lots of pots, and the guys know that on a flop like that, I'd usually try to bet to take it down, because whoever bets first usually takes it.  I bet 800, and Aaron doubled it.  Perfect.  I figured he had to have a king here, so I tried to rope him in some more.  I reraised 2000, and after some thought, he reraised 3500.  I immediately asked him for a chip count, and he had 4500 left.  I put him all-in right away, and then he hemmed and hawed for a while.  He knew he was beat, but there was a lot of money in the pot, so he called and flipped over king 3, or the Krablar, as it's known on Daniel Negreanu's website.  He told me he was hoping for a chopped pot if I had a lousy king.  What was funny about it was that he ruled out pocket 7s as a possible holding I had.  He said before he called, "You definitely wouldn't have played pocket 7s like that."  The satisfaction of having outplayed him so badly only lasted so long, though.  The river brought a 3, completely turning the tables, and relegating me to one out which didn't come.  I just sat there for a bit and tried to compose myself, but it felt like I had been punched in the gut.  If I had won that pot, I would have been at around $40,000 in chips, with a monster chip lead and complete control of the table.  In my mind, it was game over at that point.  As it was, I was down to my original $15,000.  I couldn't seem to hit anything after that, and I went out in fourth.  Short on chips, I pushed with king 8 of hearts, and Pascale called with pocket 8s.  Two hearts flopped, but nothing hit, so I was done.

The real reason for this post, though, is to talk about an event that is forthcoming.  Roy, my arch-nemesis and most dangerous opponent, will take part in a three-night, heads-up deathmatch with me.  Here are the stakes:  Our first match will be in no limit hold 'em, with blinds escalating every half hour.  We will begin with about 100 big blinds, so there will be plenty of room to dance.  The next night we will play HORSE, with blinds escalating every round.  The third and final night will once again be no limit hold 'em, and blinds will stay stationary throughout.  This could easily last for days, I anticipate.  Each match will be worth $15, with the winner of 2 out of 3 (or a sweep) receiving an extra $5.  It will probably be played in the Stacy lounge.  Spectators are welcome, but are encouraged to shut their faces.

I've played other tournaments besides the TOC, but don't have the time to write about them.  I won two boohbahs in the last few weeks, putting me at five total, so I received a purple boohbah, also. 

Terrence's bankroll: $987

Currently listening to: Home- Michael Buble
Currently watching: Nuggets-Spurs
Currently feeling: nostalgic
Posted by Terrence on May 4, 2005 at 09:09 PM | 2 comments

Last weekend brought the long-awaited arrival of the Hold 'Em for Hunger tournament, a $20 buy-in, 300 entrant tournament in which the winner won a trip to Aruba to play in a World Series of Poker satellite.  The money went to charity, and the top 30 finishers received prizes, the best of which included the aforementioned trip, a 27" flat screen TV, a new Dell computer, and a surround sound speaker system.

I had been gearing up for this tournament since I first heard about it a couple months ago.  I looked at it as my one real chance to show the whole campus that I was the best around.  I was pretty confident in my chances, despite not playing that well since spring break.  For one thing, I didn't have to worry about setting up and running this tournament, unlike the Stacy games, and the top prizes were plenty enough to make me focus, especially in comparison the the relatively paltry sums we could make on Tuesday and Thursday.  More than anything, though, I just wanted to prove that I was the best.

I sat down at my first table and sized up the competition.  Most guys were chatting before we began, so I got a feel for their personalities right away.  They all seemed to be pretty inexperienced players, with the exception of Alex, who was seated across from me.  I didn't think that bluffing was much of an option against these guys, so I just told myself to wait for the best hand, and then bet it strong.

Chaz and Matt, who put the tournament together, did an excellent job.  The tables, chips, atmosphere, everything was top-notch.  The only complaint I had was the blind structure.  Blinds escalated much too rapidly, and this forced players to get all their money in early and often.  This really cuts down on the skill factor, but it doesn't totally negate it.  That being said, I understand why they did it, because it was only a one day tournament and they only had so long to get it done.

We began with $5000 in chips, and blinds at 100-200.  The very first hand, I looked down to see pocket 5s.  I limped in, and I saw a flop with 3 other players.  The flop came down 5 6 7 with two hearts, giving me bottom set.  The small blind checked, and the big blind bet out 1000.  I took my time to think, because my whole stack could be riding on this hand.  The guy that bet was obviously a terrible player, and I knew I had him beat.  The problem was the people behind me.  I didn't feel like raising and seeing them stick me with a flopped straight.  At the same time, I couldn't lay this down now.  I told myself that I would call, and then push on the turn if a safe card fell.  One problem, both guys behind me called.  So there was already almost 5000 in the pot!  Keep in mind that this was the first hand of the whole tournament.  Before the turn card came I prayed for some black paint.  But down came a heart, putting three on the board.  The small blind checked again, and the same kid bet 1000 again.  I knew he didn't have the flush, but I was worried about the others.  I called, looking for the board to pair on the river.  The kid behind me called, and then the small blind went all-in!  This seemed to be the most obvious flush move ever, because the guy had to figure he'd get called.  The initial kid folded, I tossed my set, and the guy behind me folded as well.  I was a little put off that I had just lost almost half my stack on the first hand, but I saw how bad these guys were, and I figured it was only a matter of time until I came back.

I didn't have anything to mix it up with the next few hands, so I just sat back and observed the idiocy going on all around me.  It seemed that noone could raise more than the minimum, as preflop everyone bet 400, and if someone reraised, they made it 600.  Astoundingly bad play all over.  Someone showed ace queen to take a pot, and I told them that I hated ace queen more than any other hand, because I've historically lost with it.  I had had this same conversation with Roy and the guys before the game, telling them that if I got busted with ace queen, then they could kill me.  Well, what do you know, I looked down, and saw ace queen after a weak player raised it under the gun.  With the blinds moving at the rate they were, I knew I had to move, so I begrudgingly pushed with the devil hand.  It got back to the UTG raiser, and he called and flipped over pocket 8s.  I hate getting my money in on coinflips, but it's almost unavoidable in tournaments structured like this.  I knew he wasn't that strong, so I was hoping for a nicely dominated hand like ace jack, but I couldn't complain.  The flop came out a beautiful ace queen jack, giving me top two pair and reducing him to two outs or a runner-runner straight or flush draw.  The turn was the 4 of spades, so that gave him 11 outs, because he had the 8 of spades and I had none.  Amazingly, the river was a blank, and I doubled up to about 5000.

A short while later, I was on the small blind.  One player limped, another raised the minimum, and I called with ace 7, as did the big blind and the limper.  I wasn't sure what I was looking to hit, but these guys were so easy to read that I would know soon enough.  The flop came ace 4 5, and I checked, not wanting to get reraised by a better ace.  Everyone else checked, and I knew I was good, because these guys weren't nearly sophisticated enough to do anything but bet top pair.  The turn was a 9, and I checked again, hoping to induce a bet.  No dice.  The river was a queen, which seemed like a good card because it probably paired someone, and I bet out 700 into the 1600 pot.  The original raiser called me but never showed what he had, so my ace was good.

Before I leave this table, let me write down what transpired in a hand betwee Alex and two other guys, just for future reference that I wasn't hallucinating when this occurred.  One of the guys that kept calling the 1000 bets on the first hand, wth only 1200 in his stack, limped in for 400 in middle position.  OK, horrible play, but I forgive you.  The guy that kept betting at that first pot, who now had only 800 left, ALSO LIMPED IN on the button, leaving him with 400.  The small blind folded, and Alex, in the big blind, checked.  The flop came jack 2 4, and Alex said, "I'll put you guys all-in."  The middle position player thought for a few seconds, and then called, and the button man thought and thought and thought and folded.  What the hell is happening here?  Alex turned over jack 9 for top pair, and the short stack, whom I'll just call Confused and Sluggish Black Guy, turned over king 6 for... king high.  Alex dodged a king on the turn and river, and Confused and Sluggish Black Guy was dead.  Let me take this time to implore anyone who doesn't know how to player poker this: Learn how to play before you play!  Otherwise, you're better off just buying a ticket and not showing up.  At least the charity gets the money then.  Wow, this guy was bad.  And it took him 3 full minutes to deal out everyone's hand when he had the deck.  Just dreadful.

This hand saddened me for a short while afterwards, as I reflected upon how many imbeciles populate the Earth.  It got me quite depressed, but I snapped out of it in time to get moved to table 6 (from table 31), which was all the way in the opposite corner of the room.  I went over there with 6600, not a terrible stack, but I wasn't keeping up with the blinds as much as I had hoped to, so I needed a pot rather soon.  We only got in two hands at that table, then we took our dinner break.

After the break, about half of the players were busted out, leaving about 150 of us.  Stacy Poker Tour was thriving, with some huge stacks, like Roy, Jesse, and Alex, and a bunch of guys who thrive on grinding it out, like me, Pascale, Joe, and Godwin.  I came back to one of the most incredible rushed I've ever gone on before.  A few hands out of the break, I picked up ace jack of hearts in the small blind.  A middle position player raised it, and I read him as being pretty weak, so I pushed all-in on top of him.  He called with ace ten, and I hit top two pair on the flop to take it.  A few hands later, I picked up pocket tens after two people limped on the now 400-800 blinds.  I moved all-in, and everyone folded, giving me a nice 2800 pot.  A few hands later, I got pocket 8s in the same position.  I pushed, and no one called, so I took all the dead money.  Then, on the small blind, I picked up ace king of hearts after someone under the gun raised it.  I thought about flat-calling, but I'd rather do that with position, so I pushed all-in.  The big blind then started thinking and thinking, and finally he called.  The under the gun player just shook his head and folded, as it was a substantial amount more.  I turned over ace king of hearts, and the big blind turned over ace king off, so I was fine with that.  For one thing, we had the UTG players dead money in the pot, and I was almost freerolling for a heart flush.  The first two cards off the flop were hearts, but the poker gods didn't deem it fit to give me another one, so we split the pot.  The under the gun player then told us that he had pocket 9s, which would have been good, eliminating both of us.  Whew.  Later, on my small blind, I picked up ace king of diamonds when a tight, early-position raiser came in.  I had him covered easily, and I put him all-in.  He called reluctantly, because he was pretty pot-stuck, and he had ace jack.  Big slick was good, and I took him out.  In a way, it was poetice justice, because he was the guy that took me and Pete out in the intramural pool tournament a while back.  That one was for you, Pete.

Just because I ended the paragraph doesn't mean that my rush was over.  I just want the reader to get a chance to catch his breath.  After this pot, I was the second biggest stack at the table.  The guy who had pocket 9s began to lose his mind, and he pissed his money away in about 5 minutes.  The blinds were now up to 1000-2000, so the players were dropping like flies.  A new player sat down to my left, and he had everyone at the table covered.  He seemed fairly decent from the first few hands I saw him play, but he looked like he could be set up for a trap, as he liked to bet big post-flop.  By this point, most preflop raises took down the pot, even minimum ones, because to call would mean to commit a big chunk of your stack.  The big stack decided to double the blind under the gun, and wouldn't you know it, it was my big blind.  It folded to me, and I squeezed a king 9 of spades.  I called the 1000, and we saw a flop of king 10 4.  I checked, thinking I was good, but not completely certain.  He thought for two seconds, then went all-in, which was a huge overbet.  With about 9 thousand in the pot, he bet enough to put me all-in, which was about 27 thousand.  I went into the tank.  What could he have?  He could easily have big slick, aces, or king queen with the raise under the gun.  I looked him up and down, and he was giving me the best withering glare he could muster.  He seemed to be trying too hard, though, as if he wanted to scare me, and I decided that he was really pretty weak here.  "I call," I said, and pushed my money in.  He flipped over ace 10 of hearts, giving him second pair, so my read was right.  I stood up and threw my cards on the table and yelled, "One time let the best hand hold up!!!"  The turn was a 9, giving me two pair, but an ace or a ten would still beat me.  The river was a rag, but it put for clubs on the board.  I clapped and then looked back in horror to check if he had a club.  Two hearts doesn't equal a club, though, so I was safe.  This was easily the biggest pot we had seen at the table, and I was now the chip leader at our table, and quite possibly the whole tournament, with about 64 thousand.

Right before I went on my rush, they showed the top ten chip leaders at the time.  Roy was in third, Alex was in 7th, and Simkins was in 10th.  The chip leader had around 35 grand, so I had definitely put myself in the top 10 at least by time I got my 65 grand.  For the rest of my time at the table, I stole a couple of blinds, but didn't get involved in any other big hands.  By time we combined to four tables, I was sitting pretty comfortably with 65 grand.

Unfortunately, some of the Stacy guys were starting to bite the dust.  Roy lost all of his money when he got in preflop with ace 9 against ace 7, only to see two 7s hit the board.  Alex also got whacked, along with Ferris, Pascale, and Pete.  Still going strong were myself, Godwin, Andrew, Baby Ace, Yush, Simkins, and Joe from the third floor.

The blinds got really ridiculous when we made it to four tables, beginning at 4000-8000.  I had a relatively large stack, but I didn't even have ten big blinds.  Damn you, fast structure.  I played pretty tight, as making even one raise meant committing half your stack to the pot, so I didn't want to get busted by nonsense.  I picked up pocket queen in second position one time, and I just pushed all-in, rather than raise half my stack and then have to fold if an ace or king hit the flop.  I took it uncontested, and when we combined to three tables, I had about what I had started the last table with, only now, other people that had survived had built their stacks.  I was still fine, though, barring any major Matusow moments.  I got seated to Andrew's right at my new table, and I was also confronted with the fact that Steven, card cheat extraordinaire, was still alive.  This didn't please me too much, but I figured it was the least I could do to take him out.

$1000 antes were now in play too, so with 5000-10000 blinds, it cost $25,000 a round to play.  I couldn't get anything worth playing, and I tossed pocket 4s under the gun, because I didn't want to commit my stack with such ugly crap.  Finally, it folded to me on the button, and I saw 2 3 of clubs.  Very ugly, but Andrew, in the small blind, would only call me with a premium hand because he didn't have much money, and drunk guy in the big blind had been playing very passively. So I raised it 12,000 on top of the 10,000 blinds.  Andrew folded, and drunk guy called.  The flop came ace 8 6, and after drunk guy checked it, I bet 10,000 and he tossed it quickly.  Thank God for that, or I was in trouble.

I called a raise from Maniac Indian guy in the big blind later on.  I held ace jack.  The flop came king rag rag.  I checked, and so did he.  This was very strange, because on all of the pots I had seen him play, he had bet out on the flop after raising.  I figured he must have had the king and was hoping I caught something.  The turn was a jack, giving me second pair, top kicker.  I checked again, and he bet out 15 grand.  I thought and thought, but I was almost sure he had the king, otherwise why check it?  I hadn't played with this guy where he would be scared of me.  I folded it, deciding to wait for a better spot.  I later found out that I had him, as he just had ace 4 for ace high.

With the blinds so high, the action went quickly, because almost every pot had an all-in.  Andrew finally got whacked after tripling up and doubling up, and a few hands later we were down to the final table.  By this point, I hadn't picked up a ton of pots, and I was down to about 45 grand, good for 6th, I believe, out of 10 at the final table.

Right before the final table began, they turned off the lights and played a clip from Rounders, the scene where Mike McD bluffs Johnny Chan.  That got me pretty excited, and during the time before we commenced playing, I paced around outside the table to calm my nerves.  Stacy Poker Tour was wel-represented at the final table, with myself, Godwin, and Baby Ace.  I'm not sure how Josh made it there, but he must have done something right.  Also, Steven the Cheat was on my right with a healthy stack.  Godwin had a mountain of chips after tripling up at his last table when his ace 3 hit a boat against two other guys.  The blinds started at 6,000-12,000, with 2,000 antes, so each round cost 38,000.  Being that I only had around 45, I needed to make a move.  My hands were a bit less than stellar, though, ranging from 2 5 off to 4 9 suited, at best.  Once, a short stack moved all-in from under the gun, and I thought of repushing with queen ten, but decided against it, although I would have taken it.

Sadly, i got anted away.  The table was playing pretty tight preflop, and a raise usually took it down, although a raise meant committing your whole stack with the way the blinds were.  A few times it folded to me in pretty late position, and rather than push blind, I kept tossing my trash hands.  In retrospect, I wish I had pushed a couple times to stay afloat, because if I got a big stack I would have murdered this table, as they were pretty unimpressive as a whole.  Finally, with blinds at 7,000-14,000 I got ace 6 off under the gun.  Not a great hand, but I would be committed on my big blind next hand, and this sure beat that, so I pushed.  It got over to Godwin, and he looked at me with this awful sadness in his eyes.  I knew he had a big hand, so I told him, "If you gotta do it, you gotta do it, man."  If anyone was going to take me out, I'd rather it be Godwin so he has a chance to do some damage.  He finally called, and everyone else folded.  He tabled pocket 9s, and the flop consisted of a nice mixture of trash and rags, so he held up.  I got up and received a nice ovation from all of the players and spectators, which helped lessen the blow of coming so close only to fall short.

Baby Ace went out in 10th, and Godwin lasted all the way down to third, where he just couldn't overcome the nasty cards that this girl Kaylie was getting.  She went on to beat Cheaterman heads up on a hand he played absolutely awfully.

Overall, I'm very happy with my play.  I played very well the whole day, getting away from hands that could kill me (the set on the first hand) and always getting my money in with the best of it.  Fortunately, my hands always held up, which doesn't always happen in big tournaments like this, so I couldn't have asked for much more.  I just regret not pushing a couple times at the final table, because I know I would have won if I got anywhere above an average stack. I just know it.

Stacy Poker Tour REPRESENTED in the tournament.  Six of the final 30 players were Stacy players, as well as 8 of the final 34.  I think we showed that we're the best collective bunch on campus.  And congratulations to Godwin, who outlasted us all, in third.

I also want to thank everyone who stayed around to cheer me on after they busted.  Roy, Gibby, Will, Pascale, Pete, everyone else, it made me feel really good to have you guys behind me.  When I went on stage to collect my prize, I also got a nice hand from everyone.  I took home an extremely nice poker tabletop from Empire Poker, 300 gold-embossed, 11.5 gram clay chips with racks, and two decks of cards.  I'll also be receiving a t-shirt that states that I made the final table, which I think I may value even more than the other prizes.  I may not have won the tournament, but I think I at least let everyone know that I'm one of the top players on campus.

In other news, I've been in a drought at Stacy, with no money finishes since before spring break.  I've done fairly well on Thursdays though, and I have three boohbahs this semester.  I won tonight, hitting lots of hands, but played very well, and I took out Moonie heads up.  Despite the prizes, I'm just going to subtract $20 out of my bankroll, because that's what I paid the entry fee out of.  But I definitely got my money's worth.

After the tournament, we went and hung out at Bobby's apartment all night, playing ping pong and a freeroll HORS tournament for a black chip.  Pete got a big stack early, and Ryan decided to bet Roy and I that Pete would win.  We gave him 5-1 odds on a $3 bet, and he sweetened the deal by offering to throw in a green chip that said "Pete sucks" in Sharpie to the guy who eliminated Pete.  Roy got busted early, but I took all of Pete's money on a big pot-limit omaha hand where he had kings and I had aces.  He barely survived, and Andrew took him out on the next hand to receive the yellow chip.  Having just won $3, I offered it to Andrew for the green chip, and he readily accepted, so I now have a token of Pete's suckitude.  I went on to beat Andrew heads-up, and I claimed my black chip, as well.

Quote of the day: "When it got down to 40 people, me and Gibby were ready to put money on you to win."- Matt, who put together the tournament.

Terrence's bankroll:  I have no idea what all the individual numbers are, but the sum total is $985.

Currently feeling: accomplished
Posted by Terrence on April 15, 2005 at 01:26 AM | 3 comments
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