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Friday, June 12, 2009

My most ugly day in tournament poker this week

The Venetian tournament again started very well for me but then turned into my most ugly tournament experience I ever had. But in the beginning I was absolutely owning the table.

First hand AK on the button, raising, it's folded and I show that I am not stealing. From the next 30 hands I play about 20 (all with decent hands) and win 16 ... mostly the blinds but some small pots too. The table starts to hate me. Finally we go to a showdown and my opponent falls almost from his chair as he sees that I checked the nutflush with a double pair on the board. He couldn't understand but I earned a lot respect from some other players. Which saved me from starting them picking on me harder.

During the first two levels my stack went from 15k to 22k and I even was the guy who now was defining the standard betsize ;-) Then again one hand pushed me back down. But this time it wasn't a bad played hand but rather a bit unfortunate gathering. With Q9s I hit a set on a 99x board. I was ahead at that time but a Ten on the Turn turned the worse kicker into a Full House. Good thing I didn't push here to much ... that hand could have been even more expensive. In a weired Déjà-vu I saw Matusow's exit from the 2008 WSOP Main-Event later that evening again. His AJ vs A9 almost developed the same way but cost him the whole tournament.

From there it was an up and down. Down to almost 5k and recovery to 18k. The on to a new table. But before that I had my first ugly experience of the tournament. There was a raise from EP and then an all-in for about 8k from the short-stack next to me. This happend just shortly after I made my way back up to 18k and I had lost big with QQ vs AA not long ago against a n "any-two-can be raised" jerk. Again I found QQ and thought for a long time. With action pending behind me (one hasn't acted so far and the original raiser) I decided to let my Q's go. this time The other guy then pushed all-in and the original raiser folded. Guess what: 78s vs. AK ... and a Queen hits on the flop. That would have been a huge pot!

Looking back I think that was a borderline decision and I most probably should have went all-in against the all-in player to isolate. Not sure if the other guy would have called then with his AK (I had him slightly covered).

The new table was very entertaining but the blinds started to hurt my 18k stack now. Finally I got my money in with KK vs. AK and made it up to 30k. Then an even worse situation came up: I have TT and make a standard raise from the small blind. Big blind calls. The Flop is Q-8-3. I check and the other guy checks too. Turn is a 5. I check again almost being sure he will now make a bet to take the pot down. He bets 3k into a 6k pot. Blinds at this time were 500/1.000 (100). I don't think he is very strong here and make a re-raise to 10k. He asks what I have left and makes it 30k to put me all-in. Wow! I so much wanted to call him but I finally let my hand go. He takes the pot and showes JT for complete air!

I I had called that would have been a pot of 70k total ... but even now hours and a whole night later I can't find a good reason that would have satisfied a call here. Of course I would have been sitting on a huge stack then but this isn't poker anymore. That's rolling dice then. I think my re-raise for one third of my stack (with a pocket pair) was a decent move. But re-raising with nothing for half of his stack is just crazy. The worst thing is that I would have played a super-strong hand (like a set) the same way and he would have fallen into that trap (which he will most probably against somebody else).

The Queen was a very unfortunate hit on the flop here. As this was a battle of the blinds he still could have had many other parts of the board (e.g. set with a low pair). But even being sure I did the right thing it is still so devastating to know that I was fallen into his trap and passed on the biggest tournament pot of this week.

My stack went downhill to 11k and my money went in with KK again. Guess who called? The guy who had trapped me. Guess what he had? AK. Guess what happened? An Ace hit on the turn. Out in 239th of 660 after almost 6 hours of play.

I then decided to alter my plans and not play the Venetian on Friday. Although I love to play there and they have great tournaments I really need a change of venue. So I play the Caesars Mega-Stack instead today. In addition that one has a little smaller buy-in then todays event at the Venetian. And I definately didn't feel for investing into my biggest tournament of the week at the moment. The prize pool will be lower as they get only around 200 players but thy skipped the main-event seat - so the prize pool is all cash now.

But I am in Vegas and I am here to play poker. So for the evening I went to the new "M" Hotel & Casino. This one just opened in March and is the southern most strip casino. It's about 3 miles south of my hotel but (as well as my hotel) still located on Las Vegas Blvd. aka "The Strip". It's a nice little casino with a small but wonderfull pokerroom. Played there for about 2.5 hours and went home with another nice win. Not as big as the day before but still worth the time invested.

So now it's time for my last big tournament of the trip. To be honest I am already biased to go back to the Venetian. Poker players are crazy, aren't they? But I will stay with my decision here. At least I don't have to regret anything if this doesn't go the right way - but I would bugg myself if I go to the Venetian and something weired happens today.

So wish me luck ... this is my last chance for a big win and a possible extension of my trip ;-)


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