Saturday, January 26, 2008

Crank Dat First Place

As I write this, It's almost 2:00 PM on Saturday afternoon. I've lived Friday and Saturday as one day, which is why there was no Friday post.

My day started around 6 PM Friday night. I got up and showered, and Ryan came over around 8:30. I still hadn't eaten, so we decided to get dinner or breakfast or whatever you want to call it. I convinced him to come along to all you can eat China buffet, next to KMart on Route 30. Afterwards we came back and just bro'ed out at my apartment for awhile. He played a little on his account while I watched Dr. Phil, and my favorite episode of Crossroads from the MHD channel. It features Little Big Town and Lindsey Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac. Ryan scored second in a 45 player SNG, which is always good.

I hopped on when he was done and played a little $55 heads up. My first match was pretty disappointing. The guy had a slight chip lead after a few hands, when we got it all in on the turn, on a board of 10 3 4 3. I had 10 10, he had 43. I totally outplayed him there ; ). JK obv. So after that hand, I had him 2600-400 in chips. He then proceeded to win like every key pot for the rest of the match, and I wound up losing. I don't even remember how it happened. No worries though I won the next match in level one. My 22 vs AK all in preflop. I managed to pull what's known as a "sick hold" and was back to even. Overall I won 3 or 5 matches heads up I think.

I also played a $22 6 handed double shootout to the $530 Sunday Million this week. The way that works is 36 players start the tournament, six players on each table. Instead of consolidating tables as players get eliminated, like a standard tournament, each table plays until there is a winner, and the six winners play the final table. The winner of the second table gets the seat in the Sunday Million, and everyone else at the final table wins $38.

So I started off playing tight, as usual when this hand came up.
Here is a URL address where you should be able to see the hand actually play out. I couldn't get the link to work for some reason, so just copy paste that into the URL. You may need to create a free account with the site in order to see it. Or just keep reading, whatever.

The player in first position four handed paused for awhile before limping in for 100. We both had a little more than our starting stacks of 1500 chips, he had only 15 more chips than I did. Now when a player pauses before deciding what to do, it usually means he is weak. During that pause, he is thinking "Man, this hand is just alright, I don't want to fold it, but I know I probably should. Hmmm, I think I'll ...(insert weak play, only call/minraise/fold)." So just to make sure he wasn't getting tricky with aces, I raised to 325 with AJ, thinking that I was probably ahead. If it folded back to him, and he reraised, I would fold, but when he only called, I was pretty sure I had the best hand at this point.

So the flop comes a total whiff for me, 5 6 7 rainbow. My opponent checked. I also checked because I did not want to be check-raised off what could be the best hand if my opponent was planning on making a semi-bluff with a hand like A 8. He could easily have a hand like A 8 too, since I read him as having a mediocre hand preflop. Check raising on draws is very popular these days, so I often check behind on flops I don't want to get check-raised off of.

Now the turn came a 7, and my opponent made a small bet of 300. At this point, it's fairly obvious to me my opponent has nothing. Let's add up all the pieces. I read him as weak preflop, then when I show weakness by checking the flop, he makes a bet less than the amount bet on the previous street. This is almost always a sign of weakness. Also, there is a pair of sevens on the board, making it less likely that he has top pair. However I don't want to push at this point, because he could wind up making some hero call with A 5 or A 6. I still think it's possible he has A 8. So I'm trying to get to showdown as cheaply as possible with what could easily be the best hand.

Now the river is a 2, a complete blank. He pushes all in. Now let's see what had we narrowed his range down to. The only hands that had us beat were A 5 and A 6. If he had either of these hands, he would not move all in on the river hoping to get called by ace high, or a lower pair. He would probably suspect his hand was good, but he would know that he would not get called by worse, so the obvious play with these holdings would be to check, trying to induce me to bluff with a missed draw or whatever, and then call. It's possible he could have a 7, but not likely since there are two of them out there, and he didn't bet the flop.

He is not putting me on a strong hand obviously since I have been so passive post flop. Clearly if I had a high pocket pair I would be obliged to bet the draw heavy flop. So I think he is putting me on a missed draw, or some sort of weak hand that he thinks I will fold to an all in. He obviously doesn't know who I am.

So to conclude, I think it is extremely likely he has absolutely nothing in this spot. He couldn't even be bluffing with a better ace high, because with A Q or AK he would have raised preflop, not limped in, then only called a raise. So I put all this together and made the call with AJ high, and he showed QJ. nh, gg, etc. etc. Ship it.

So now we are down to three handed. I haven't got any good hands since the last player had been eliminated, and was playing tight, often open folding the button and small blind. Then this hand came up. No link this time sorry.

I was in the small blind with K 2. I raised the 150 blind to 450 for two reasons. One, king high is likely to be the best hand over a random hand. Second, I thought there was a good chance he would respect my raise and fold, since I had been so tight up to this point. He made the call however, having my 3025 stack outchipped.

The flop came J 4 2. I had flopped bottom pair, another hand that is favored over random holdings in a heads up pot. I decided to check however, since I didn't have many chips, and wanted to play a small pot with my mediocre hand. He checked behind. The turn was an ace, putting two clubs and two diamonds on board. Now I decided to bet 525, since I raised preflop, he would have to at least consider the fact that I had an ace, given my betting patterns and tight image. He made the call, so I now had 2100 left in my stack going to the river.

Gin! The 2h. Now if he had a weak ace, or a jack, I had just outdrawn him, and he certainly wouldn't fold either of those hands on an apparent river blank if he called the turn. So I bet 1000, leaving 1100 behind. This could send the message that I am leaving myself room to fold my nothing hand, since I bet less than half my stack and left myself 11 big blinds. To my delight, he pushed all in and I called instantly. He showed 44 for a full house. GG Me. If that isn't the most obviously rigged hand, then I don't know what is.

He played his monster hand extremely poorly. Even though I had been playing tight, a pair of fours still has my raising range beat in that spot preflop. He should have reraised an amount committing my stack to the hand. It's the same concept of not fearing coinflips I discussed yesterday. He should have gambled as a slight favorite over my range, which would have established a chip lead heads up, so that he could win. This play is even more clear in a structure where only the winner is rewarded, and second is the same as last.

On the flop, his check is OK if he thinks I've missed with two high cards. When the turn comes an ace though, and I lead out, he HAS to put me on top pair. Clearly the better play is to raise here and get all my money in. The turn put two flush draws and several straight draws on the board. If that's what I believed he had, and I actually had an ace, which he has to assume I do, that makes over half the deck that could come on the river to kill his action! There are just too many scare cards that would force me into check/call or even check/fold mode. In fact, if he raised the turn, I would probably have been more likely to put him on a draw, since he didn't reraise preflop, making an ace less likely, combined with the fact that so many people love to semibluff with straight and flush draws. When he slowplays all the way, waiting until the river to raise, it sends up red flags, and kills his action even more.

These people make it so obvious what they have, it's almost as if they don't want money. I swear sometimes they think that it would be better off if I just always lost the minimum with my losing hands and won the maximum with my winners. Do they hate money?

After that, I played a $30 tournament which started around 3 or 3:30 AM. There was about 190 players, so I knew it would be over in time for me to get to the gym sometime between 8 and 11 AM. There were only 1500 starting chips. Usually, I am happy to end the first hour, going into the 75-150 level with 3000, regardless of the starting stack in a standard freezeout. However this tournament I ended the first hour with over 7,000. That was good for almost top ten in chips.

Obviously I was out in ten minutes.

The first hand of my downfall was when someone pushed for 2,000 in first position. This is a pretty big overshove, meaning you can safely eliminate QQ-AA from their range. If they had that strong of a hand, they would certainly make a standard raise in an attempt to extract value. The most common holdings for this play are like 66-TT, sometimes JJ, AK and AQ. So when I saw 99, I knew I had his range beat pretty badly. I made the call, instead of shoving over the top, because there was still the whole table to act, and some other pretty big stacks. If any of them pushed, I would be forced to fold. Everyone else folded and he showed AK. The turn was a K and the river gave him the nut flush. No worries, though, I still had over 5,000 in chips with 75-150 blinds, a comfortable stack.

The next big hand occurred when a player who was fairly shortstacked pushed all in for 1300 from middle position. The player to his left called, leaving 3000 chips behind. I had a premium hand, AK suited. I made the no-brainer push when it got to me, and the caller called again for the rest of his stack, showing QQ. A three way all-in for a top three stack with 100 people left is always exciting. The flop was 4 9 K. Turn 10. River J. QQ hit the straight, and my once proud stack was now on life support at only 800, and I was out shortly thereafter.

I still like my plays though, because if I won both of those hands, I would have been the chipleader in the tournament. Oh well, though, you win some you lose some.

After that I made a little breakfast as it was now almost 7 AM. After I ate that, I got ready and headed over to VCMS for the final game of the regular season.

We were in a three way tie for first place going into the last week, with a 4-2 record. We had beat both of the other two teams previously, meaning that if we won, we would clinch first place for the regular season.

To start the first quarter, the other team jumped out to a quick 9 point lead. One of the two fast guards I told you about previously scored on several fast breaks. I think it hit the guys quickly that I wasn't kidding when I warned them about him at practice. They managed to buckle down and play some good defense. They also rebounded well, and did a good job of driving inside and drawing fouls on offense. One of the guys drew a charge as well, which I always love to see. We held them to only one more point for the rest of the quarter, and we ended down 10-6.

Our A team came out for the second quarter, and we controlled the tempo. Our full court press sends many teams into panic mode. We scored six unanswered points within about 90 seconds, and gained the lead. From there we never looked back. Our A team controlled the game very well. Our main three point shooter was on fire, hitting three in the second quarter. Our B team did well too, maintaining the lead we had going into the fourth quarter.

Overall the whole team played well. Several guys were taking it inside and getting to the line like I have been trying to tell them all season. The only thing I want to go over again at practice is the delaying play we drew up this past Wednesday. We had two guys on the court and the end of the fourth quarter who weren't there for practice, so they were doing their best to figure it out as they went along. They got the idea though, slowed the pace of game, limited possessions and we held on for the win.

Another good thing is that one of the B players, who had been the only player in the league not to score got not one but TWO baskets today! Four points in the books baby, count it. Everyone was cheering when he scored, it was pretty cool.

We don't have a game until the 9th of February. We are theoretically rewarded by playing the 8th ranked team. However for almost half the games, including the one we played against them, their best player, who played for RHS last year, was out with a serious concussion. He returned this week. Last time we killed them though, so we are still the favorites to win. Especially since we have two practices between now and our next game, we'll have all the little things worked out, all the plays perfected, and ready to win. I can't wait for the excitement of the play offs.

After the game, I saw my friend's dad and older brother, who coach one of the middle school travel teams. They are a really nice family and I always enjoy chatting with them when we run into each other. Her dad has been coaching basketball for a long time, since we were in middle school, at least, and probably longer. He doesn't even have kids that young anymore, and he is still helping out, which I think is great. One of my old coaches, Mr. Aheart, continued to coach for a few years after his son graduated, when I played for him. I plan on doing that as well, just because I love the league so much.

Anyways, the Vernon boys, who are probably in sixth or seventh grade I'm guessing, were playing Bloomfield. Bloomfield is hardly a slouch on the court. I laughed because it looked like the "kids" on Bloomfield didn't really look like they were in middle school, rather that their sons were old enough to be in middle school. It made me remember the good ol' days of Vernon Travel Basketball. The 2-22 seasons, and consistent 60 point losses to powerhouses such as Wethersfield and Glastonbury.

After we left the gym, we all went back to the house as a family like we do every week. Usually we get donuts, but Dad's donut cutoff is noon obviously, since he has twice refused to stop at Dunkin' Donuts after the 11:00 game, because "it's afternoon, it's not time for donuts." Seems logical. Anyways, we had sandwiches instead, clearly a more appropriate choice given the time of day. I had to give those empty bottles to my mom, since she is collecting them and they were still on my back porch. She had stuff to do today I guess so we left shortly thereafter and I gave them to her.

I'm going to bed soon, should be around 4 PM by the time I do. So I'll wake up very early tomorrow. I might play basketball at 10:30. We'll see. In a few days, my sleep cycle should be back to normal.

Until then,

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