Thursday, December 27, 2007

Writing again

After taking a long hiatus from posting, I am finally writing again. I have been invited to write a blog over at Pokersift, a new blogging website designed bt Adam Schwartz of the Rounders podcast, soon to be renamed and sponsored by 2+2 publishing. I'm not sure if anyone stops by here anymore but if they do, you can find me over there under Murf72.

Though perhaps I'll still keep some stuff posted over here as well. Not sure yet.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

First cash of June

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, popular, or political, but because it is right." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Well…even though it wasn’t much, I am happy to finally get a cash in an event this month. Played the $150 Pot-limit Omaha event at Binion’s yesterday and finished 28th out of 243.

I felt I played pretty well, and again put myself in a spot where with a couple of breaks I could have made a run at the $9,100 first place prize, but I ran pretty card dead the last hour. PLO is a game where position is so important, more so than NLHE, and the last hour I didn’t have strong enough hands to open from early position and almost every pot was opened before it got to me in late position, and there weren’t enough chips to flat call more than one time by that point. It was unfortunate because the three players to my left were very tight players, but it was always raised before it got to me. Only twice was it not, the first time I had K922 and passed and the BB got a walk. The second time I decided it was too good an opportunity to not steal, so I raised a pathetic looking KT72ss and the BB woke up with AKKJss and pushed all-in. I called getting 2.5-1 odds and hoping he had AAxx but lost the pot.

By the time it got to the money (they paid exactly 28) I had about 17,000 chips and average stack was around 35,000 with 1000/2000 blinds. I played an 899T and bet a flop of J73 with 2 clubs but was called by a smaller stack who showed KJ7x with the club draw and the board came 3-2. I was down to 6000 chips and went out in my BB when I called my last chips after the button raised and I was double suited with J983 all black, but the flop was T53 all red.

Disappointing to be knocked out of course, but at least a cash can serve as a confidence builder when struggling. Props to my friend Christi who cheered me on during the event.

Still up in the air about my tournament schedule the rest of the month. I’ve been playing more cash games this week and have found it a bit more relaxing. As to the bigger tournaments, of which my plan was to play 3 WSOP events, I’m thinking the PLO8 on June 25th almost for certain, but I’m actually thinking that the other event I might play is, instead of another WSOP event, there is a $1000 PLO event at Binion’s July 2nd. The main reason is the starting chips at that Binion’s event is 10,000 chips, as opposed to the WSOP events which are 3000 chips for the $1500 events or 4000 chips for the $2000 events.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stud h/l

"That was the song that put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there" Neil Young when asked about Heart of Gold

On Sunday I played in the Stud h/l event at Binion’s and for the 4th time in 5 tourneys there I got about 2/3 through the field and then busted. I was doing well and ran my 5000 starting stack to about 12,000 with a 7 low and aces up hand and a rolled Kings (with a King out) where I filled up against a flush and three sevens. Then I took a sick beat when my Aces up and 6 low lost the whole pot to a wheel. Then, after looking for a hand to play, I opened with (A3) 3 on a table that had become very tight at the 600/1200 level but got a caller and a reraise from a 4 showing. I caught an ace and fired, again was called by the K-T suited and raised by the 4-6. A strange raise from probably the best player on the table, even if he had a 3-5 underneath he’d be concerned. I though maybe rolled fours. I reraised to see his reaction and maybe force out the flush draw. But the K-T called and the 4 reraised again. When he caught a Ten on fifth street and me a seven, there was no dought he had 4-4 underneath. But I called fifth street with four outs plus I could catch 2 runners for a low. But he paired the 6 on sixth street and I caught high and folded knowing 2 just outs remained.

With the antes 100 I had only 1400 left, and needed to play soon. I wound up thinking putting my chips in the pot with a 24J and made nothing. But I did get home almost in time to see the entire Sopranos finale.

I’m going back to cash games this week, though I will probably play the PLO at Binion’s on Wednesday


“We cant fix every problem, but those that we can, we must” Bono

Last Friday I played in the HORSE event at Binion’s. This is an event where I think I’d have a big advantage, as I have a bit of experience at playing all the games and feel I play them all pretty well. But I was disappointed to be knocked out about halfway through.

Some big hands: With limits at 300/600 in Hold’em I had AA and it was raised twice before me and I capped, a three-way flop came AKQ rainbow. They checked to me, I bet, one caller. Turn a 4 again I bet, river a Ten. Guy opens all-in for 540, I call expecting to see AJ but he has AQ and I had a nice stack.

In Stud I had an ace showing with an AJ of diamonds in the hole. A jack raised and I reraised, a Ten called behind and the J called. I bet fourth street and fifth, picking up two more diamonds. Both players continue to call, showing J79 and T84. I need a diamond for a flush or a matching card for aces up. The T84 pairs his 8 on 6th but checks. I don’t improve and take the free card. I blank out the river and lose to tens and eights. Frustrating.

I had about 12,000 chips (starting stack was 6000) and had been moved to a much tougher table. Three players there I knew as being tournament specialists around Vegas. And I played a bad hand in Omaha h/l against two of them where I got stuck in the middle with the second nut high straight and second nut low and paid them off on the river in a big pot. I also had the only flush draw going to the river. This pot cost me half my stack.

Then a very frustrating hand in Razz where I raised with a 3 showing and a 48 in the hole and got called by a loose player showing a 6. I caught a 4 and he caught a Q. I bet my 34 board and expected him to fold 6Q but he called. Then I caught a Q and him a J. Again I figured him to fold to my bet but he stayed. At best he now had a Q low and a draw to a Jack. I paired the 3 on 6th and he caught a Ten. The river paired me again and I bet out hoping for a fold but he called flipping over an A79 for a T976A. It was a badly played hand by him I must say, but that is the game we play. I was down to 2K in chips after that at 600/1200 and re-raised a raiser a few hands later in Razz with a A34 against his 357, but wound up catching 4-8-Q-4 and he made a 7-6 low.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

WSOP event #9

“You learn a lot about people when they lose” Donald Trump

Yesterday I played the $1500 Limit Omaha h/l event. It was a confusing day, as we started in the overflow room which is actually a pavilion located just outside of the Amazon room (the main tournament room). It accommodates 600+ players, but because of the extreme winds that ripped through Vegas yesterday, play was not a very pleasant experience. A couple of doors actually ripped off their hinges and I was told that a couple of the roofing cables broke. There were two main lighting fixtures 30 feet high in the room (the tables were lit by individual smaller lights just above the tables) and one was just above my head and everyone was pointing at it saying that it was bound to fall sooner or later, so it was actually a bit scary. At one point I saw Todd Brunson talking to one of the dealers and pointing to the lighting fixture as the wind howled. After a few hours the winds got so bad that one guy at my table refused to play anymore and shortly after, play was stopped until they could find us all tables inside the Amazon Room. It really was kinda lame.

As to the play, it wasn’t the best of tournaments for me. The starting stack was 3000 and I never had more than that. I had a playable stack the first 3 hours, then spent the next 2 1/2 hours short stacked until I went bust. I lasted till just after midnight and busted out in somewhere around 320-330th place out of 690, it was difficult to know exactly how many were left because of the tables spread throughout and the clock problems. Honestly, I wasn’t really very happy with my play as I had trouble balancing the different levels/styles of my opponents. I paid off bets in a few spots where I could have saved chips. In particular I got a lot of trouble from Mel Judah and the player to his left (didn’t know his name but he looked familiar), both of whom I would say outplayed me. They were both aggressive and mixed up their game well. Judah played mostly solid cards, but I saw him call down the turn and river with AAxx on a JT98 board and was correct that his opponent had nothing.

It was a very tough table, as all the players commented, including one who got moved to our table who said his previous table was much easier. I could also say that I outlasted players who I saw bust before me like Phil Helmuth, Scotty Nguyen, and Chad Brown, but none of that is worth the price of admission. The other tough players at my table seemed to be Omaha specialists. There were only two players who were somewhat weak at the table, and one of them was getting hit over the head with the deck.

One way I spewed some chips was getting involved in a couple hands out of position, and calling down for half a pot with mediocre two-way holdings. I think I was a little too concerned with being perceived as weak-tight and later run over, and calling down in those spots spewed a few chips that I could have used later.

I can only remember two interesting hands, both from later on in the tournament when I was short stacked. I had an A34x on a 256 flop and wound up taking ¾ of the pot vs. another A3. Later I had A4KQ double suited in the small blind and Mel Judah had raised. The BB called also and we saw a three-way flop of K85. We both checked to Judah and he bet. I check-raised hoping to knock out the BB with a possible A3 or pair and it worked. Judah called and the turn was a 3. I bet 300 on the turn and check-called the T on the river so that I couldn’t be raised all-in in case I lost both ways, Judah showed A23x and we split the pot. I needed a 2 on the river for a scoop and he needed a 3. A break like that would have gotten me finally above the 3000 mark but that break never came.

I’m not sure of my schedule the rest of the week, I seem to be lacking a bit of confidence right now. I tried to play some cash games online for an hour or two and get it back, but lost there as well. It’s been a tough week.

Also, I’m reconsidering my WSOP schedule. I definitely think the PLO8 event June 25th should be a significant +EV for me, but I’m contemplating switching the $2000 Ohaha h/l event for either the $2500 HORSE or a Hold’em event. I’m thinking that I’ll run into less “specialists” in the HORSE and I play all the games well and can switch on and off well, but maybe I’m overthinking and I just had a tough table. If will only think about the HORSE event if I get some confidence in the next few days, cause it's on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More Binion's pus WSOP

"Real courage is being afraid to do something, yet doing it anyway"

The great thing about Binion’s tournaments is that they are a great warmup for the WSOP. They schedule an event that is always the same game as the following day’s WSOP event, only Binion’s does it at 10% of the buy-in. So for example, yesterday was the $150 Omaha h/l at Binion’s and today is the $1500 Omaha h/l at The Rio.

This week I seem to be consistently putting myself in spots where I have a chance to make a run at a tournament win, but keep getting the door shut on me at around the same point in the tournament. Yesterday was a great turnout with 283 players at Binion’s and I got knocked out around 85th.

The hand that did me in was at the 1000/2000 level. With A248 and a flop of AJ8 rainbow, I bet out with two pair and the second nut low draw but was called in two spots. The turn was a gloomy looking Ten which completed a broadway, put a flush draw on the board, and gave any ace a likely better aces up. I was hoping for a free card here but the BB bet 2000 into me and I called given I had the low draw and maybe four outs to scoop with an ace or 8. The player behind me then raised to 4000 and we both called, leaving me with one pink 500 chip. The river was a 4, bricking my low draw and leaving me with two pair and no low. The turn raiser bet and the BB called and I folded preserving the one chip. The raiser of course had a broadway str8. I quadrupled up soon after but busted on my next attempt.

Had a nice time at the WSOP the last couple days. I watched quite a bit of the Stud/Omaha mix event and on Sunday even got to see Doyle Brunson’s hole cards for a couple rounds, and later watched a table with Greg Raymer, Jen Harmon, Andy Black, Paul Darden, and 1985 WSOP Main Event champion Berry Johnston. On Monday I ran into a guy named Mike who I had previously met and he wanted to stroll the room and look for people he saw on TV. We watched a bit of the crazy $5000 Pot Limit Omaha rebuy event, and later watched one of the final two tables of the Omaha/Stud mixed event with Annie Duke, Chris Ferguson, and Josh Arieh. Arieh was second in chips and trying to bully the table, but he ran into a couple of hands and within the blink of an eye all his chips were gone and the final table was set for Wednesday 2pm.

Unfortunately I won’t get to watch much of it. But there’s a good reason, cause I will be playing in the $1500 Omaha h/l event at The Rio which starts at 5pm! Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pot limit Hold'em

“God gave us alcohol as a social lubricant to make men brave and women loose” Dave’s pal in Just Like Heaven

Had a great time again yesterday at the Binion’s Classic. There were 186 players for the Pot-limit event, which is a real good turnout for a non-no-limit event. Hopefully, having fun and playing relaxed will eventually result in a nice cash.

Again, had a nice table and joked around and talked with everyone. We talked about the rumored problems at the WSOP with the new cards and the 4-hour lines, the great “oldies” car show running on Freemont Street, and a host of other topics. Met a nice woman from California who was 43 and a grandmother of three. Also Mike from Oklahoma City who is playing the same WSOP Omaha h/l event I am. There was another guy (I can’t remember his name) who chatted quite a bit and was from Vegas, and when someone asked him how long he had lived in Vegas he confidently said, “Four days!”

As to the tournament, I think I played real well again, at least as well as I think I can play.
The first 3 levels were very quiet, mostly I participated in conversation and got comfortable with the players, since I knew I’d be with them for quite a while. Binion’s breaks down tables in a predictable manner, and I was at a table that would be 6th last to break. I didn’t have much action during the first three levels. I played a couple pots in position but didn’t connect. A couple times when someone was about to raise preflop, I told them to “take it easy” and a couple times got them to agree, lol. I made one decent pickup when 3 players limped in the third level for 75/150 blinds, I pot-raised an AT and pleaded that I had a family and that I needed to tell them that I won at least one pot. They let me have it, and I ended the break with 3850 chips from 4000 starting chips.

I had some action in the second session. At 150/300 I had a Q9 in the SB and limped after everyone folded since I had a good rapport with the BB. Flop came K93, I checked to see what he’d do and control the pot size to my advantage OOP and he said “Well, I should bet this but I wont.” The turn came a Q and I bet 400 and he called. The river was an 8 and I bet one pink chip (500) and he called again and showed a King as I took it down. At 200/400 I made a raise to 1400 with QJs and a solid player who I had played with the day before and remembered me, reraised all in for 1500 more. I thought AK was fairly likely given his reaction, I think he would have hesitated a bit more with AQ. So getting 2-1 I called, and indeed he flipped over AK. I flopped a Queen, he turned an Ace, and I rivered a Jack.

Later I was in late position after two limpers with 44 and made a pot sized raise, but the UTG limper reraised all-in. It was a tough decision as he struck me as the type player who might resign himself to sticking it all in rather than folding a KQ/KJ type hand. He even said “Might as well go all-in” which could mean that type hand, or could also be a false tell with AA/KK to get action. I was getting around 2.5-1 on the call which is an easy call if I knew he had just two overcards, but I decided to muck. One thing that influenced me here was that even if I was right that he was resigning himself here, he could easily be resigning himself with 66 or 55.

Soon after I picked up 77 in the SB, and after several limpers I decided to limp along rather than create a large pot OOP where it was likely I’d get called somewhere. Flop came QQ4. I maybe should have led at this pot but I was concerned about being called or raised by a four with two bets to come and not knowing where I was. I decided to check and it got checked around, which is bad because I let a free card come off when I likely had the lead. Fortunately a six popped off, and I bet out here for a little more than half pot and got a caller. I was pretty sure that was a hand like A6, and when a 7 fell on the river I was even happier. I had about 4000 left and bet half of it into a 4500 pot and he reluctantly called, and when he mucked he claimed that he wouldn’t have called 2100 lol. I asked if he had A6 and he said yes and I believed him. I ended the second break with 7800.

In the third session, I made a move against the grandmother. With blinds 300/600 I raised the pot to 2100 with 89o from the cutoff. She was about to muck her BB when she change her mind and announced “I’m gonna call.” She was a decent player, but had already told us that she wouldn’t risk her whole tournament on just a draw. Flop came QJ4 and she checked. It was in thew wheelhouse of what a BB would defend with so I checked behind with a gutshot and a possible turn bluff opportunity. An ace came on the turn and when she checked that was a great opportunity to bluff so I fired out a 2/3 pot bet and she folded after thinking a bit. She claimed T9. Soon after, I made a late position raise after two limpers with AT, and the UTG guy, same guy that reraised me earlier with the 44 hand, reraised all-in again. Getting around 2.5-1 and having him covered by a few thousand, I decided to take a stand here and was very happy when he turned over KJ. I had around 16K after that hand.

At 400/800 I potted an AQ in late position after two limpers, but the SB called. On a 873 flop, I decided to bet against this player. He was a studious player who had seen me check behind a couple times earlier in this spot like with the 89 hand, and I felt he would give me a bit of credit if I continued the bet here and likely lay down AK or a small pair. I bet about half the pot and he check-raised me all in and I pitched the hand. Soon after, I limped behind several players on the button with a J9s and called a minbet with middle pair, then layed down to further aggression. I was down to around 10K when I picked up 99 in early position. I raised the pot to 4200 and got called by a player in late position. This player was selective in his starting cards so I was cautious. When the flop came K86 I was in a bad spot. There was nearly 9K in the pot and I had about 6K left. It was generally a decent flop for 99, but this players range I thought was fairly tight. I was afraid of AK or a higher pair. I truly thought he might lay down JJ/TT even QQ here for a bet. To check/fold here or check and give a free card or give up an opportunity to fold out TT-QQ seemed a bad play, so I made the other bad play and pushed. We must choose our weaknesses in this game. Well…he insta-called and turn over AK and I was done. Several of the players shook my hand and thanked me for the conversations and I walked away in 42nd place.

Today, I think I’m not gonna play, I have a few things to do plus want to see The Sopranos. I think I might go over to The Rio though and check out the action.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Tournament month

"I did what I had to do because it was the right thing to do...but even an ordinary secretary, or housewife, or teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room" Miep Gies

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, but I am going to try to keep an ongoing blog this month.

There are so many great tourneys this month going on in Vegas between the
World Series at The Rio, Binion’s Poker Classic, and The Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza events, plus the Bellagio Cup. So I’m dedicating the month of June to live tournaments. I’m going to try to play one almost every day. I plan to play a few World Series events, many of the Binion’s ones, and probably a few of the Venetian ones.

Today I went to Binion’s for the first event which was $150 buy in No-limit Hold’em. My compliments go out to Binion’s for putting together what seems like it will be a truly great series of tournaments. Registration went smooth, the tables were set up nice, chips were nice, and the tournament was run very smoothly with tables being broken down and players reseated very orderly. Overall, it seems like the staff at Binion’s has done a great job. The tournament had a nice turnout, 281 players. More on Binion’s another day, as I will be playing many more of these events.

As to the tournament, I didn’t pick up much to play the first 3 levels. You start with 4000 chips and blinds 25/50, 30 minute levels. I raised an AT in late position and was reraised from the SB and folded, later I raised an AK to 350 from UTG during 50/100 and was re-popped to 1000. I was certain this player would not do this with AQ but would commit more chips on an ace or king board with a hand like JJ or 88, he was that type player. There was no chance he was laying down a pair for a preflop reraise, so I flat called and the flop was 894 and I gave up when he bet strong. I was sure he had a hand like QQ. I ended the first 3 levels with 2100 chips when we went to break.

The second session was more successful. When I got low, 4 players limped into the pot on my big blind and with 750 in dead money out there, I pulled the squeeze play raising all in with my 68o. Everyone folded. Soon after I raised an AK and all folded and I showed, a few hands later I raised an A9s after a limper who I did not think would call and took it down, and in my BB I bet a safe K32 flop with A5 in my hand and took it down, and I was back up to around 4800.

With AT in my next big blind, an interesting hand came down. I decided to check the option after the UTG+1 limped and the SB completed, as I had too much to raise all-in and an awkward amount left if I raised smaller, plus the UTG+1 limper was a decent player so I was catious. Flop came T64 two clubs. The SB checked and though I wanted to check-raise cause I though the UTG+1 might bet air or a hand like JTs, I thought there was too good a chance that he might check behind and my hand needed to be protected. So I bet 1000 into a pot of about 1150. I was surprised to be called in both spots. The turn was an 8. I was trying to figure out if both players could be drawing here, but the only draw on the flop was the flush draw. Possibly one guy with a hand like JT/QT/KT and the other drawing? I had about 3200 left and decided my hand was likely good so I went with it. Both players thought a long time and folded. I ended level 6 with around 8500.

My table was a lot of fun, and I was chatting it up quite a bit, making jokes and inventing new games. Sometimes I am like this at the table, and sometimes I stay pretty quiet. I guess I like to mix it up a bit. Several players to my left were decent if not pretty good, and a few to my right were not so great. We talked about inventing a new game with two dealers and two hands in Hold’em where you keep one hand in reserve and can later switch a card for a fee. Needs work, but has potential. I suggested that the game needed a name, so one guy at the table asked my name and decided to call it “Murf’s fucked-up Hold’em.”

After the second break, with blinds 300/600 and 50 ante, I called blind from the big blind when a girl moved in for 1700. With 3000 in the pot and me closing the action on an all-in, it was a no brainer for 1100 more. I had J3o and she showed A9 and I turned a jack to win. After winning another blind battle, our table got moved. I raised a couple times and took down blinds. With about 12000 chips at 400/800, I contemplated a reraise from the BB with 55 against a mid position raiser, but decided to pass. Soon after came my downfall, I reraised with 99 from the SB against a button raise, and he called with AK and won the flip, dropping me to around 7000. On my next BB, the button went all in and I called with A7. He showed 89o and spiked an 8, crippling me to 1000 chips. The next hand I had the SB so I was in for 600, and had to call the other 400 with 23o against the UTG raiser. He showed AK and held and I was out in 75th place.

Overall, I’m very happy with my play today. Hopefully I can say that each day, and have faith that that will be enough to make a couple nice scores. Today’s event paid 28 spots and $10,000+ to first place.

Tomorrow is the $150 pot limit Hold’em event which should be fun. Quite a bit more forced post flop play in PL compared to NL, so I look forward to that. I think I should be stronger against the field in PL than NL.