Once again, I try for a poker title

So last Friday, I once again made an effort to capture my first NCPTtitle.

Photos by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com

Greg Raymer looks bored by my play.

As I mentioned a few months ago, I wanted to be more aggressive. Last month wasn’t possible because of the extra aggressive players at my table and poor cards, but this month I was able to put my new plan into action.

And it worked for a while. At my table, soon turned $30 in chips into $100. But I then hovered around that mark for a while (I think my highest was about $130), and when I made the final table, that was the end of me.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s how the tournament and some of my more memorable hands went down.

I actually won the first hand. A small pot, and I don’t remember the cards. But a possible good omen.

I won a few more small pots. There were no massive hands at our table for the first while.

And then Amber showed up (he was late because of work commitments). In case you don’t remember him, he was the guy who called my all-in last month when I was holding pocket 7s and he was holding 53 off suit (the flop showed a three and the river another three).

This led to my first memorable hand.

Hand #1

The very first hand Anber was involved in, he was first to act. Blinds were 50 cents and a dollar. He raised to something like $3.50. Everyone folded. I was big blind, and looked down at KK, So I reraised to about $8. He called.

Not sure of the exact flop, but it was something like Q-9-4. I put in $5. He insta-raises all-in. I insta-call, and flip over my KK. He shows something like J-9 (I know he had a 9, just not sure of his kicker). He doesn’t hit, and I double up.

A few hands later, he lost to someone slow-playing pocket aces, and was eliminated.

I started winning some more small pots here and there. Some where I had an over pair, some where I had middle or bottom pair, and some where I missed the flop completely and just continued betting anyways.

Paul was doing pretty well against Angelo, as he hit two rivers in a row against him to take a bunch of his chips. This is a good lead-in to my next hand.

Hand #2

So here’s the thing about this hand. I remember the outcome, and the hole cards we both had, but I remember nothing else about the hand.

At some point, Angelo went all-in and I called. He had KJ, and I had AQ. I don’t remember when he went all-in, or if there were bets before that, if there were draws on the board, or anything. I just remember two things: 1) I was winning when we showed our hands, and 2) he hit something on the river to win the hand.

This was key for several reasons. I lost at least $18 on this hand (about one-third my stack at the time), and it kept Angelo in the game (this became key later). The only reason I remember he hit on the river is because he was giving Paul a hard time about rivering some big hands, and I wanted to make a comment when he did it (although I didn’t).

Anyways, so I slowly started building my stack back up. I won a good chunk of money in the next hand.

Hand #3

I don’t know the name of the guy I was up against (he was the one slow played aces against Anber), but he called, and I was big blind, looking at 67 off suit and a free flop. So I checked. The flop came 5-8-9. So I flopped the straight. Not sure if there was betting involved or not at this point. The turn brought a king. I bet here for sure, and after thinking about it for a while, he called. The river brought an ace, which was perfect for me. I had the absolute nuts, and if he was calling to see if an ace hit, then I should get paid out. So I bet. He thought about it some more, but then folded, saying he figured I had him out kicked.

Looking back at that hand, I think he had an A7 or A6, and was hoping to hit a straight. Then, when the ace hit, he realized it may not be good enough. Of course, that’s just a guess.

Not much more happened to me. Eventually, we got down to nine players, and I was at the final table. I looked to be in good shape. The top four won money, and I was around fourth (with some major short stacked players around me).

Unfortunately, this is when I went cold when it came to cards. I only had a couple of good hands for the rest of the night. Once, I had AK suited when first to act. I raised all in (I had about five times the blinds, so I figured an all-in was better than raising three times the blinds and being pot committed on the flop). At one point, I had AK offsuit. But it didn’t hit. On the flop, someone bet, there was another caller, so I folded.

I was either getting really good hands, or garbage.

I did have three memorable hands at the final table though.

Hand #4

I think there were six people left at this point. I’m in the big blind. Action is folded to the small blind, who simply calls. I look down at AA, and I have a decision to make. Raise now? Try to trap? The guy in the small blind (Giovanni) can be pretty tight. Against almost anyone else at the table, I figure a raise is best, but here, not necessarily so. So I decide to check, as I hope I can win more money on the flop than if I raise now.

The flop was nothing remarkable, but there were two diamonds on there. Giovanni checks. I put in a solid raise, and he takes a few minutes to think about it. He decides to fold, showing two diamonds. He didn’t want to take the risk on a flush draw. The dealer shows us the next card. It was a diamond. So I’m relieved that he decided to fold.

Hand #5

This time I’m in the small blind, and I have a hand like 78 suited. No one else is in the pot, so I decide to call. Angelo checks. Flop shows nothing great, and I’ve pretty much decided that I will fold here. But my check is followed by another check. The turn is interesting, as it gives me a flush draw, and a straight draw. I check again. Angelo bets this time. I call.

The flop brings down the card needed to give me a straight. Since I haven’t raised once this hand, I want to continue playing as if I’m weak. I figure if Angelo has anything, he’ll raise, and I can re-raise. If he has nothing, then he wouldn’t call a raise anyways. Plus, a raise after so many checks would look more suspicious. So I check. He checks, showing a pair.

He gave me a little flak for calling on the turn (he didn’t realize I had a flush draw, and the fact the straight was open ended). Then I got a little flak for not value betting on the river, even though he said he wouldn’t have called a raise there. So in the end, I won the pot, and I don’t think there was too much of an opportunity to get more. So I like my play this hand. And it’s good to mix up the play.

Hand #6

I kept getting pretty much nothing, except for those two hands. We’re down to the final five, so we’re right on the bubble. At one point, I was third in chips out of five, but horrible cards took that away. So now I’m short stacked. Blinds are $10-$20, and I have $40 in chips left.

I’m in the small blind. Action folded to me. I look down at an AJ of clubs. So I obviously move all-in. Angelo figures he almost needs to call, as it makes more sense to pay $20 to win $80, plus knock me out (which he’s right about). So he calls, and has 3-6 off suit.

Before the flop is even dealt, knowing my luck with stuff like this, I say good game and get ready to get up from the table.

Flop brings something like 3-5-9. Only one club. So I went from a big favourite to a 4-to-1 underdog. The turn brings another five, which was interesting. It doesn’t really improve my odds too much, but I can now win with an ace, jack or nine. Unfortunately for me, none of them hit, and I am out, finishing on the bubble.

Interesting to note that Angelo knocked me out of the tourney, when earlier in the night, I had the same opportunity to do to him (hand #2).

I am much happier with the way I played this month than I have been in previous months. I was more aggressive pre- and post-flop. I was winning hands and big pots. Anytime I called an all-in, or went all-in myself, I had the best hand. Sometimes, the cards fall your way, and so betimes they don’t. This month was more of the former than the latter.

All in all, a good night, even if I didn’t finish in the money.


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