Sunday, February 10, 2008

First Round Win, Rock Band, and a Sunday Million Run

Ok so I haven't updated in a few days. The past day or two I have been staying up really later than I had planned, meaning I've been really tired right before bed, which is when I write my blog every day.

Saturday I woke up around 1 AM and played a little poker. I didn't win anything except a Sunday Million satellite, which is always a good score. It was an $8 6 handed double shootout. I've described the format of those before. I won my first table fairly easily. The guy I wound up getting heads up with was a total donk. He had gotten lucky to knock out a bunch of the other players, but I was able to beat him heads up when he limped in with KK. I had J 4 and turned a third jack. The second table was easier than the first one! One guy was sitting out the whole time until he blinded away, so he never had a shot, literally. There was one other player who was so bad I had no idea how he managed to win his first table. So I won that table as well, and a seat into the Sunday Million. However, I had already won another seat, left over from last week, when I skipped it for the Super Bowl. So I played the Sunday Warm Up as well.

After that I played a little Guitar Hero, then got ready to head for the gym to watch the games before ours. I got their at the start of the 9 AM game. Ours wasn't until 11. The game before ours was very exciting. It ended being a one point game, with three lead changes in the final minute.

Our game went well. We had a one point lead at the end of the first quarter. The last time we played this team, they were beating us in the first and third quarter, when the B squad is out. They have us out-matched size wise in most spots. This week though, one of the faster guard players on their B squad was out with a broken wrist. One of our B players was also out with a sprained ankle, so his older brother played down. They are allowed to match up according to player rank, meaning one of their players can come in the game during the B quarters, but I think these roster adjustments was one of the reasons we did better this time around. Also, our full court press worked well as usual, and the guys were doing a good job of driving it inside, drawing fouls, and getting to the line like I've been stressing all season.

The A squad did well, maintaining a small lead for the second quarter, which we took into the half. During the third quarter, we stumbled a bit. They caught up, and eventually took a five point lead. The whole crowd was hooting and hollering every seconds, and their coach was ecstatic, one enthusiastic fist pump after another. We had to call a timeout, settle down and make sure everyone was focused, to keep their heads in it. A few minutes later, the player who was playing down from A, converted three three-point plays in a row. He hit two three's, and made a basket with the foul on the next play. We were back in the lead by three.

We ended the third quarter up by six. We extended the lead to ten in the fourth quarter. From there I told them to slow the pace of the game, so they wouldn't have a chance to catch up. But we wound up converting often enough to put the game out of reach and we won by about 20. I was happy with the way everyone played. They committed less fouls collectively, and they are playing good defense. The biggest thing we need to improve on is executing the plays during game time. Everyone knows the plays during practice, but during the games they sometimes need to be reminded of what's going on. I think next week at practice, we'll indicate a player on the A and B squad who will be the designated inbounder. I've told them before that the inbounder is responsible for making a play happen and making sure everyone is in the correct places before making the pass.

Next week we are playing the team that beat us by twenty during the regular season. In that game, we only had five players, who were exhausted by the third quarter. Next week however, we'll have our full roster, and their best player will be in Europe, so I think we will have a very good chance to win, and play for the championship.

After the game, I went out to Super Buffet with my sister, my brother, and his friend. After that I bought Rock Band, and we all came back to my apartment to play. I'm obsessed with the Guitar Hero games, I have all four. Now I finally have Rock Band to complete the collection.

After they left, my friend who goes to the Naval Academy called me to say that he was home, so we hung out for awhile.

So Sunday morning I was ready to play some poker, and play well. I was fortunate enough to be playing in two of three $200 buy in tournaments PokerStars holds on Sunday. Unfortunately PokerStars was having server troubles, and three of the tournaments I usually play got canceled. My revised schedule looked like this: (this is all from memory, so I might unintentionally be omitting a few.)

1 $20 180 player SNG ( I only played one because SNGs stopped running eventually due to the server issues)
12:00 PM $20 20k guarantee
12:45 $215 Sunday Warm Up 500k guarantee
1:00 $5 5k guarantee
$22 NLHE
2:15 $22 1 rebuy 1 add on
3:00 January top 1000 TLB Freeroll $20,000 added prize pool
500 FPP direct satellite to EPT finale in Monte Carlo, one package guaranteed
4:15 $11 rebuy, 45k guarantee
4:30 $215 Sunday Million, 1 Million guarantee
5:00 $55 25k guarantee
7:00 $11 20k guarantee
7:15 $11 1 rebuy 1 add-on
8:00 $27.50 25k guarantee
8:15 $55 shorthanded

The tournaments that got canceled were the 2:00 $11 15k guarantee, the 2:15 $3 rebuy, and the 3:30 $11 Sunday Hundred Grand.

So my schedule was pretty light, but I had the two majors, plus the freeroll, which is always good, because it's free money. The freeroll wound up turning out very well, because they were sneaky about it. Usually you get an e-mail, saying congratulations, as a top whatever TLB finisher for the month of whatever, you get to play in whatever tournament. Not this time though. You had to find the tournament on the schedule and register for it yourself.

Another interesting thing about the $11 rebuy is that it normally starts at 4:00. Today though, they decided to delay the start until 4:15 so that everyone who missed the 3:30 Sunday Hundred Grand which has the same buy in, could still play a big MTT if they wanted. This tournament usually gets around 1200-1500 during the week, and on Sundays, maybe over 2000 people. Today though, it had over 7700 entrants!! What a ludicrous prize pool! $38,000 for first!! When I finished fifth in that tournament a few months ago, I won $3,300 and first was a pathetic $13,000.

I had two cashes overall today. The first one was in the only $20 180 player SNG I played. I finished 9th. The big one, that catapulted my bankroll back up towards the comfort zone was in the Sunday Million. Early on, in I believe the second level, I won a fortunate hand. Sitting pretty, with 50-100 blinds, and over 11k in chips, I called an UTG raise with Ah2h. I only make this kind of play early in a tournament when the stacks are deep, relative to the blinds. The justification is that if you miss the flop, it is hardly a detriment to your stack. If you are fortunate enough to hit a flop like all hearts, 345, A 2 7, 2 2 K, or some other combination giving you a monster hand, you can win a big pot. All the other players folded, except the big blind, who called. The flop was 5h6h7h, giving me an ace high flush. The only hands that could beat me would be 8h9h, or 3h4h, for a straight flush. The big blind (who we will soon find out is a donk) checked. The preflop raiser also checked, and I bet right out, 500 into a pot of 800ish.

A lot of players would slowplay, here checking behind, or making some outrageously small bet. However if I bet right out, it makes it look like I am afraid of the potential flush. Also, I want to get a chance to get all the money in now if someone has a hand 777, 10 10, or a straight. If I check and a fourth heart comes, it would kill my action except for maybe the Kh or Qh.

So now it was on the big blind, who instantly minraised to 1000. He had about 8000 left. The raiser folded. I knew he was not about to fold so I reraised to 3500. This guy again raises to absolute minimum, to 6000. I pushed in and he called showing 8s9c, for a flopped straight, drawing completely dead.

Obviously I was very lucky have such a cooler go my way for such a massive pot, but the other guy still played this hand very poorly. When you flop a monster, you need to bet right out (like I did). If the raiser had a hand like KcKs, he probably would have felt the need to protect his hand and would have made a large raise. Then he could have three-bet all in, winning an even bigger pot if his opponent feels committed to call at that point, with more chips already in the middle. Also, Furthermore, his hand is strong but extremely vulnerable. He's giving us both the chance to check behind with the naked Ah.

So after that gift from the poker gods, I was able to win mostly small pots the rest of the way, and cruise into the money without any major confrontations. Once we got into the money, I never had more than 20 BBs, which is when I get into shortstack mode. I got to experience playing with Ryan "Daut44" Daut. He was directly on my right from the time we made the money onward. He won the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, an $8,000 buy in WPT event for over $1.3 million. I only played one hand against him, which was pretty standard. He raised on the button, and I pushed in from the SB for about 12 BBs with Ad7d. He folded.

It was kind of an unusual situation because at one point, I had about 18 big blinds, and was tied for the chiplead at the table. Every single player at our table was below average. I was grinding out the medium stack for a long time. I made some timely blind steals and treaded water for what seemed like forever. I feel that this is the most improved part of my game since starting my online career. Playing the 10-25 BB stack is the single most important aspect of online tournament poker, since the average stack for most online tournaments is about 25 big blinds. After losing a few tough hands that would have put me back in contention, I pushed an 8 BB stack UTG with JJ, got called in two spots, by AQ and KQ and lost. I finished in 169th of 7700 for a decent score of $1400.

Afterwards, I cleaned up from yesterday. Also I saw that the one and only Humberto Brenes was playing 10c-20c limit hold 'em. I was fortunate enough to notice as soon as he sat down, because once everyone notices, the wait list gets to be a mile long. So we were three tabling together, and I just raised and reraised every time it was my turn to act. It was a lot of fun and he kept saying his infamous "de chark is hungrrrryyyyyy!!"

Here is a fun hand where I completely outplayed him. ; )

I'm just kidding obviously I was just messing around and got lucky.

Tomorrow I'm going to bring Buster to the vet. Some of my brother and sister's friends have had bad luck with the pet store where I bought him. He is really motionless a lot. I often poke him just to make sure he is still alive. I'm going to bring him in for a check up just to be sure he is feeling 100%. I also want to get to the gym, since I haven't done that in awhile. Not sure if I will play tomorrow or what time I will start.

Until then,

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