I've only been playing poker seriously for a year now. In that year, i've watched a LOT of poker on TV. WPT, WSOP, EPT, even the freaking celebrity shows. Awful!
As reported previously, I won a walk-up seat into the Degree Poker Championship on Monday morning. That's luck right there folks.
I played nut-peddling poker mostly, and threw in some bluffs that paid off. Didn't lose a serious hand, and built my stack into $45k, then cruised through.
A Notable Monday Hand:
I have 55 in the BB, and tightie UTG raises to 3xBB (200/400 I think), I call. I put him on KK, AA, QQ, JJ, AK -- tight. I flop a set and check to him. He bets $5k, i raise to $15k. He pushes and I call. Busted his KK and sent him home.
Busted a few people, and made it to the top 20 of the starting 250... yay.
I don't know what it is about me at the poker table, but people always think i'm full of it. I must have that optimum bluffing frequency down because they have no clue. Busted a lot of people, including two women, one of which got back into the tournament by draw. She's got fingernails like freddy kreuger.
I cruised through getting my stack up to around 65k. As big stack at the table in the BB in the 2000/4000 level with 200 antes, the SB raised me all-in for 17k when I was BB. I don't think this was wise on his part as there were only 5 players left to be eliminated, but so be it. I checked my hole cards and found big slick unsuited. Hmm. At 65k chips I was in cruising mode, and had no interest in getting into some big volleys with players. At the same time, busting people put me closer to the money and it was only 13k to call. I figured AT-AK for him, or a pocket pair to risk his tournament. He seemed like a pretty solid player too. He seemed to get a little nervous when I didn't auto-fold, so that made me happy. I finally decided to call as the ante's and blinds made it a decent bet.
His pair held up. He thanked me later for doubling him up and letting him stick around the tournament. I don't hate the play.
I made it to the top 20 of todays 80!!! Round 3 baby.
Then the staff mentioned that each round 3 playoff game was going to be a full TV table. While they had handhelds out a bit for the round 2 action, and it didnt bother me, I was sort of stunned at the thought. Hmm... I'm going to be on TV playing poker. I'M GOING TO BE ON TV PLAYING POKER!!!!!!
I would like to say, in all honesty, that this tournament was a class act top to bottom. Upon passing round 2, we were photographed, invited to dinner at the high-end Noir 17 in fallsview along with TSN and the sponsors, and given a 3-night hotel stay at the casino itself. That was nice of them, and totally unnecessary. Huge kudos to all the companies who made this happen.
Since i've never played a TV table before, I had to go down and see the setup while Playoff 1 was on. TSN filled the whole ballroom with fog to make it appear smoky, I assume to give soft edges to the photos. This tournament was being broadcast in HD after all (yow). The TV table was typical, with a lit-rail and hole-cams. Each player was mic'd to the table. They had a stationary camera (the sort of ones that hockey/football are shot with), a boom cam, and two mobiles capturing every action. Wow.
Honestly, the cameras didn't bother me. I must be confident enough in my poker game now, that I don't feel like i'm going to look like an ass in front of a few million people too often... either that or it doesnt bother me to look like an ass... hmm. After being mic'd to the table, they had us test our hole-cam card views, then we got going. $10k in chips each, winner advances to the finals.
One player in 5, Fernando, was raising wildly and playing aggressively. His raises were large and bold and the table was rock-like to begin. Unfortunately, my cards were... lacklustre. I went a full two laps of the table (which put us into round 3o of blinds) without playing a thing. Rob at the end of the table actually looked at me and said "PLAY!". I couldnt. I had low-aces in EP, nothing suited, 92o, 72o, nothing. Unless I wanted to bluff-re-raise Fernando and risk all my chips, there wasn't a lot I could do. I prefer to be the first raiser in if i'm going raise with crap cards.
Here's how my big hand went:
I have 33 in BB (200/400). Fernando raises from the button (one player out already) to 1200 or so. I call, figuring if i hit a set, i might get him to bluff off some chips on me, and if I didn't I had bluff potential myself as I hadn't played a hand in two laps of the button -- tight image. Flop came down A-9-6 (or close to that for the small cards). Since Fernando had been raising wildly and this was my first hand, I bet out $1k to represent the big ace. He called. At this point i'm putting him on a draw, possibly a small ace. Turn was a blank, I bet out $2k to make was appears like a value bet and give some poor drawing odds. He took 15 seconds and called that one too. At this point i'm suspecting a trap for my "big ace". River comes down, I grab my chips and briefly consider whether I should take a final poke at the pot, but decide to check. He pushes, I fold. I'm down to $5k of my starting stack.
Next time around, I made a questionable play. I had Q9s in the BB and called a raise for 800 more from a semi-loose raiser (this was one of my best hands today). Flop comes down K-9-x. I check, he bets $1k into a $2500 pot, and I call. Turn is a blank, I check, he checks behind. River is a blank, I check, he checks behind. Then immediately he says "I should have bet this" and flips over KQ or KJ. I guess I had him afraid... I should have folded this, I did have 5k before the hand pretty much, and burned 2k in it.
Down to 2500 and i'm feeling the blinds and antes now ($400/800 in 1 minute and i'm in the BB at $200/400). Still getting crap cards. Finally, in BB, UTG, a relatively weak player, raised to $1200. Folded around to me, and I pushed with 9Ts (figured him for picture cards or an ace so I wasn't dominated, and needed some luck anyways to stay in). I didn't want to lose another 1200 from my stack and be blinded into oblivion -- would have had ZERO folding equity at that point as well. He did some weird jedi-thing... I kid you not. I hope this is on TSN because this guy was really playing it up. Finally, he called. Flips over KJo.
Flop comes down with a J-9-x and i've got hope, turn is a blank, river is a K and i'm done.
I'm disappointed that thing's didnt go so well, but I feel like I tried to make the best of a bad situation when I ran my "perceived" good hand into a better one early. I'm sitting here at work, trying to focus on this, but I can't take my mind off what might have been had I been given something to fight with.
I hope I didnt sound whiney on my exit interview with TSN, I really had no cards but that's no excuse. I played that Q9s hand badly (shouldnt have played it at all) and $5k had a lot more folding equity than $2500 does. Bah. That one is going to grate at me for a bit.
Thanks to Unilever (Degree), TSN, and Fallsview for putting on a hell of a freeroll. I hope I make it back next year.