Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tournament vs. Cash

I believe I am so much better at tournament vs. cash because tournaments employ strategy where a cash game is mostly tactics. My tactics are average, following the fundemental theory of poker mostly. Bet when ahead, raise when vulnerable, fold when behind, donkeys always draw. The last one being the Hellmuth fundemental theory of poker.

But I noticed recently that in playing triple draw and HORSE, my cash game results are pretty good. I expect because I know triple draw pretty well and can switch into limit mode in HORSE.

When it comes to cash games, especially live, I need to avoid what I call, "wishful thinking". You have been playing for hours and you are up maybe 20BB/hour. You are playing well, but are card dead and bored, while other bust players for entire table bankrolls in one hand. Then, I solid starting hand comes your way, you hit the flop, and you go broke. You lost 100BB in one hand. If I can learn to get away from the big hand, I think my next B&M trip will be much better.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Feast or Famine

Since the local big game I took down about a month ago, it’s been feast of famine. (It also told me I am still a lousy cash game player.) Then I took down the Luxor nightly tournament, the Hoy on Monday, and last night took down the big game again. But in the WWdN, the Mookie and the $25k, went out very early.

The $25k was very disappointing as there were 1500 players and at the end of level 1 I had yet to really play a hand. You can’t play solid tight in these giant fields. So when I flopped top two with KQ on a board of KQJ, I figured I was going to the wall. When I made a pot size bet on the turn when a 2 fell, I was committed. Someone called and I figured I was against AK or JT. But it was the nuts with AT. If the stacks were bigger, I might escape. But not here… I just cant fathom playing passive when after 1 rotation, the chip leader already has double up twice and you have not played a hand. You can quickly become irrelevant in these big fields without chips.

But the big game is my favorite kind of game, live and 5 tables or less.
Start with a 10k stack, and after 2 hours I have… 10k ugh. I am the king of hands with a 4 in them. When I finally get 44, I figure it’s an omen. Yeah, that 44 is going to lose.

The AK hand. UtG limper, Raise from UtG+1 to 4xBB. I can’t decide from LP to call or fold. I SHOULD raise to drive out the limper and blinds and isolate, but something is bothering me about this. It will cost me 30% of my stack to call… I decide to call. The limper goes all in and the raiser calls. I yell at myself and fold. JJ for the raiser, AQ for the limper. JJ leads the whole way and sets on the river.

Stealing short handed. I have to “get to work” now and as the players dwindle, I make a nice living stealing and making big bets. I work back to 9k, then take down a hand and I have 14k. I wanted it to stay short handed, but alas it was final table time… I bleed and I go to the final table with only a starting stack size of 10k. The average is like 35k.

I make a couple of steals to keep up with the blinds. Just keep plugging away. Don’t give up. Never say die, never surrender…

Then, the turning point. I am moving all in whenever I have anything and can be first to act. But this hand plays out differently. The UtG limps. The button raises to 4xBB or half my stack. I look down in the Big Blind at 88. Well, I already have 10% of my stack in the blind, so I pause to think. I figure the Original Gangster (what I call an UtG raiser) for Ax and the button for AK. I figure if I move in here, the Ax folds and I race with AK. Since I am the short stack, this seems like a good time to get my money in… IF I AM CORRECT. Well, I was correct on the holdings… But strangely the limper had been quite a charmed man all night. Twice he had come from WAY BEHIND to win big pots and seemed like he played “level 1” cards. (He never really knew when he was behind and just played his holdings). So, I should NOT have been surprised when he called me. The button calls and they both still have chips.
The flop is like AKT. I don’t even know what they have, but I know with that flop my 40/30/30 edge went down to 5%. I get up and grab my coat as all their money goes in. As I pick up my drink and push in my chair, the river is an 8. AK rakes the side pot, but I TRIPLE up to 30k. And everyone looks at me like I am a luckbox. It was really hard for me to feel bad here though. The AT should NOT have been in the hand, and I was a favorite going in vs. and Ax hand.

A few hands later, an LP player picks up the 88 and tries to do the same thing. But I wake up with my only premium hand of the entire night, QQ. It holds up and suddenly, for the first time ALL NIGHT, I cross into positive Q territory.

Then came my Hellmuthian moment. (I invented a word!). With 5 left (and in the money), Scott raises it up from EP. It’s folded around to me and I look at ATo. I think about it for a while, wanting to fold. But it’s Scott and I know his range of hands is the biggest at the table. For that reason, and having position, I call.

The flop is Axx with 2 spades and Scott says all in. In a split second, I say loudly and firmly “I CALL” and flip over the Top Pair. Scott is a big shocked that I make such a quick call with only TP vs. an all-in. The flush draw I KNOW he is on does not get there and I double up (he had me covered). -When you are the short stack ALL night, and a player notorious for playing suited cards tries to push you off a Top Pair, and you just KNOW it’s a semi-bluff, you call before you can talk yourself out of it. It’s 2-1 for you and the best odds/flop you have gotten all night. Emotion takes control and I could not even conceive that there was another move for me here. In retrospect, I wish I would have had the control to think before this act, but I still would have made the call. Scott continued to question my call here, but I was so sure I was ahead.

Now, the table is Tight Aggressive and I change gears. I am looking to see flops and pick people off. I slow play KQ when I King hits and pop a better. I take down the pot. The player on my left is constantly re-raising me and I am biding my time… I sneak in with Ax suited and the flop is ATx. I know he can’t put me on an Ace, so I check. I expect him to push me out, but he surprises me with an all-in. But he did this to me so many times, I only gave him credit for a lesser pair. I call and he shows middle pair. My hand holds up and he is out. He is mad at himself, but I set this up so well AND he flopped middle pair when he could not put me on an ace, with only 4 left and he was the shortest stack at the table. I don’t think he should beat himself up here. BUT he could have made a smaller bet that would have gotten he job done (pot size) without putting his tournament at risk.

I am very aggressive now, but I don’t knock out 3rd. The player on my right does. We make a deal for $ then decide to play it out. It took 2 hands. I decide I am going to raise every hand and out Aggression him. He folds the first one and calls the second one, where I have AT. I win the hand and the tournament.

I really played up the luck factor at the final table, but I think I played pretty good.
* Despite being short stacked all night, I did not do anything stupid. Never paniced
* I may have gotten “lucky” on the 88 hand, but I was the favorite.
* I may have been “lucky” that Scott did not hit his flush draw, but I was a 2-1 favorite.
* I may have gotten “lucky” that I woke up with QQ when 88 went all in, but it was my only premium hand all night (with the exception of a couple of AK hands).

Put yourself in a position to win, and let the mistress variance have her way with you…

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Poser, Know Thyself

I miss the Ramones. Growing up in the suburbs, I was a big poser. I loved punk music, but watched the scene from a safe distance. Sure, I went to see bands, but usually only the ones I just could not bear to miss. DKs, Buzzcocks, and the Ramones. The Ramones were especially interesting in that their albums never sounded like their live shows. They were like two bands in one.

I never wanted to be a real punk. A kid with a nihilist view of the world bent on non-conformity and personal destruction? Not for me. I wanted to enjoy the music, then upon turning 18, go to college. Well, sorta. I wasn't ready for college, and well, umm. never mind, that is not the point.

fast forward 20+ years...

I played in the "Monday's at the Hoy" last night and only 13 players participated. But for a player like me, that is a best case scenario. You see, I play poker based soley on the "fundamental theorem of poker", aka MATH. I don’t "read people" (although I dabble in pattern recognition). I rarely bluff (but I'll steal like a motha), and I HATE getting my money in behind unless I am certain it will look to my opponent that I am instead getting my money in ahead. When you play this conservative style, field size is your #1 strategic opponent. Tactics are even different, as with a big field you need to accept more volatility. Something I accept as readily as a high school reading assignment of Anna Karenina.

Short story long, last night was the longest bubble in freaking history. We were down to 4 player (pays 3) at like level 5. So we had deep stacks and were trying to maneuver appropriately. I had twice the chips of everyone else, and was determined not to do anything stupid. But one player (Tommy2Tone) was freaking Napoleon. Nappy was making CJ the Luckbox look like Bad Luck Schlep-rock (Flintstones reference). It reminded me of the old RISK commercial from our childhood when the Napoleon dressed guy exclaims "Can nothing stop this man?!" as some geeky kid rolls 3 sixes.

But here is game where hand histories tell no real tales. It was the strategm of "dodge and weave" that took me to head up with Nappy, and a change of strategy that secured the come from behind victory. After the longest 2 table MTT I have ever played online, I actually went to watch an episode of "ROME" and fall asleep in the early morning hours... Hail Ceasar!

oh, yes and... save the cheerleader, save the damn internet! http://savetheinternet.com/

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hear ye, Hear Ye

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

2007 WPBT Season coming soon

That's right, another fine year of the WPBT World Poker Blogger Tour is coming your way! And if you are not a blogger, you can still watch the results of your favorite blog author on the big leader board!!!!!

Biggestron is passing the paton to me as the tour admin for 2007. Here is the planned schedule:

Stars and Full Tilt only. Bloggers only.
Results tracked on a WPBT portal to be linked up.

FEB - PLO (cap bet)
APRIL - Limit HE
SEPT - NLHE DS* (unless PS or FT deal Budagi by then)
OCT - 5 card DRAW (stars)

I am going to be soliciting comments on what night and what time works best as soon as I get my ducks in a row...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Community Chest

Take a ride on the Reading Railroad. If you suck out, collect $200.

I have been playing alot of triple draw and HORSE lately and I have a frustrating observation. I lose most of my money in Hold 'em.

I played the WWdN last night and played to a perfect early exit.

I have worked from 1500 to 2200 without doing anything stupid. I get QQ in MP and pop it up (there was a limper) to 5xBB. I get a RAISER out of position.
STOP: What does this mean?
Well, it typically means AK. Someone who wants to make the pot big and scary and see all 5 cards.
WEAK PLAY: Throw all your chips in and pray when he calls.
BEST PLAY: Take the flop and make the read. If you have to get away, you only lose HALF your stack and not all of it.
Oh yes, and remember its a tournament
I make my continuation bet and he comes over the top. 72o? Not likely. Its the big AK and I escape.
2 hands later
I flop a set of 2s on an all heart board. My read, which is correct, is he has an overpair and a heart redraw. Do you get all your money in here? Your Q is maybe .5, does that make a difference to you?
Well, I have to dodge 9 hearts (i dont have one) at the most, plus his other 2 pair cards for 11 outs twice. 25% at best. I am a 3-1 favorite. And when the turn is a blank, 6-1. So, with a Q<1, my money is going in... It did not work out that time.

But I am not mad about all that. That's hold'em. What I am frustrated with is that I have to play HE at all. I mean, the community card concept creates these suckout opportunities by its very nature. When I am playing HORSE now, I dread getting money in during the HE round. I actually like RAZZ far better, despite the junk kicks.

And how to end this tirade? Well, with a hypothesis of course:

Does the Fundemental Theorm of Poker apply to community card games?!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

stolen comments (mine)

I was reading Chris' blog and Ante-up! and saw where he was dissapointed in himself that he could not think through hands like he can while he is watching tv...

I posted this reply:

Here is my 2 cents on this subject. It's one that is VERY important to me...

When you are AT the table, you lack the prospective necessary to think out the hands like you do after the fact. When you are watching on TV, or watching 2 OTHER players at the table, the analysis is much easier because of the 3rd eye view.

As you become an intermediate player, you LEARN from these experiences in addition to your own and often times they will steer your behavior correctly.

Additionally, when you are not in a hand, you have no RISK and thus think very clearly. Much more clear than when you heart is pounding out the national anthem.

As you move from intermediate to pro, you are able to do what Lederer calls "being in the moment". Or what Daniel Negreanu does, which is perform it casually, like an actor playing a part. Its HARD. It comes with YEARS of experience, coupled with patience and an ability to filter out the noise. Every hand tells us something about someone. But its hard for our brains to categorize and store the information, much less use it.

That comes with time... or a raw talent for that sort of thing. Since I have zero raw talent for anything, I always have to go the experience route.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Is there an emotional factor tied to performace?

I previously had read what now is affectionately called "the rant" of Hoyoza with guarded interest. (hammerplayer.blogspot.com) He ranted on the donkey draws he saw and people playing post flop with nothing but overs. That in itself is nothing special. We all need to steam once in a while.

As a matter of fact, in one of those Monday night games, I had an exchange go thusly:
Hold'em No Limit - Level II (15/30)

BB (2543 in chips)
Seat 3: (1248 in chips)
Seat 4: (1084 in chips)
Seat 5: (1290 in chips)
Seat 7: (2956 in chips)
Seat 9: Columbo777 (1379 in chips)
Columbo777: posts small blind 15

folded around to me

Dealt to Columbo777 [Ks Tc]
Columbo777: calls 15
BB: checks

could have raised here, but who cares about winning 30 chips?? keep the pot small right now.

*** FLOP *** [Th 5c 7h]
Columbo777: bets 60
BB: calls 60

Pot sized bet with TP, reasonable and "correct"

*** TURN *** [Th 5c 7h] [7c]
Columbo777: bets 180
BB: calls 180

Pot sized bet with two pair probably vs. draws, again "correct".
Pot is now 540

*** RIVER *** [Th 5c 7h 7c] [9d]
Columbo777: checks, assuming this card helped him
BB: bets 240 about 1/2 the pot
Columbo777: calls 240 crying call (3-1)

*** SHOW DOWN ***
BB: shows [Jc 8c] (a straight, Seven to Jack)
Columbo777: mucks hand
BB collected 1020 from pot

BB said, "silly rabbits"
BB said, "top pair is gold"

Columbo777 said, "yeah, i should have put you on the donkey draw"

Now, note the exchange at the end where the person raking the pot rubs-in the fact that I made, what he believes, to be a donkey move. which is to say, I rode top pair to the river.

Huh? What I did was BET when I was AHEAD, STOP betting when his hand got there, and decided to make a crying call when he bet less that 1/2 the pot. Can ANYONE explain to me how that can possibly be so bad it justified taunting?

And his comment DID tilt me. Thus my sarcastic response. Oh, maybe not in the "bet off all your chips in the next hand" way (I actually got my money in ahead later and got out-drawn). But certainly it upset me, which is saying a lot. 90%+ of my comments when people start mouthing is to constantly just respond with "?". This, for some undetermined reason, irritates people who use the chat box a lot. But this time, I thought it was just annoying.

Yet, the very next time I played, I finish 5th (squeaked in the money) in a tough field. Heck, I finally lost when my AKs ran into QQ pre-flop and he won the race. And Hoyazo has been on a tear since his rant.

Could it be that there is a benefit to being emotionally invested prior to playing? And if so, why?

oh, and his play was not THAT bad really...
Lets play the hand back from our opponents point of view.
First a Free Flop
A gut shot, pot is still small. mathmatically incorrect, but low investment.
Turn brings a flush draw
Again, calls a pot sized bet without odds, this time for 180 (which is still only 10% of his stack) Not great, as he is drawing to about 11 outs or a 3-1 dog getting only 2-1 to call here. The "donkey draw" as I put it, but really not so awful.
And the home-run. He bets half the pot, which is paid off. and he is pleased with himself. Not so much about his play, but probably getting me to call the value bet. He bet the right amount to be called.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Las Vegas Trip Report part 2 (where I give away money)

It’s my last day/night in Vegas. I attend my conference, make my phone calls, and generally make sure my house is in order. There was a “rush street” type reception afterwards where rooms were set up by the vendors, each with a different theme, where food and drinks were served. I passed on the drinks, but did have some sushi. I relaxed with a hand rolled cigar. And then I left the free-loaders gobbling up free "vendor branded" dollar store crap before meeting Poker Prof (www.lasvegasvegas.com) for dinner at the Wynn. Oh and just a note. No. 1 on list of things that you would think would be sexy but aren’t? A Woman smoking a hand rolled cigar.

I had never seen the Wynn before. Wow. Ostentatious. We ate at a restaurant that featured a $32 burger, which we both ordered. It was a stuffed-burger, full of unique flavors. Frois gras? Really? Tasty. But ask any waiter if they serve a Mojito, and they’ll answer “yes”. This is a lie. I think waiters must be trained to answer this question yes regardless of the theme of the restaurant. "Yes, sure. Chez Burger can get you a Mojito". They did serve something CALLED a Mojito, but let’s face facts… It’s going to be sugar water, rum and some mint leaves throw in at the last second. In my head, I bashed his skull in with prof's empty coffee mug.

The restaurant faced a water fall which, upon some random time lapse of nothing weird happening, will break into either an MTV video or an animatronics song that would make Walt Disney jealous. The later, in this case, being a giant frog singing “Low Rider”. And that's all I have to say about that.

I leave for the poker tables. I am currently, after tips juice and miscellaneous tables goofs, up $478.

Warning: The following contains graphic donkey content of a mature nature. Parental Discretion is advised.

The Wynn runs a 1-3 NLHE low end table. Here is the problem. Rich people play here. The table I get seated at has two tight guys to my left, a huge LAG with a ton of chips, more tight players, and a Frenchman on my right. The LAG loved seeing flops with position, in total disregard of the pre-flop raise. Well, more specifically, he would CALL a big raise if he had position and a thin field with ANY TWO. When a player moans with disappointment when a third club falls on one flop, he bets him off the pot and shows a K high bluff. We all saw that coming. The guy literally moaned. Donk-tacular!

But when I understand this guy's LAG mentality and still completely misplay a hand…

I have TT in Mid-position and make 18 (6xBB) to go. He calls from the button and we are heads up. The flop is J65 rainbow. I like this flop. Unless he has a jack, I am ahead. And even if he has a Jack, (in which case he is a JERK) he has put me on QQ-AA. Especially if I bet on both the flop and the turn. So, I make a flop bet of 2/3 the pot and anticipate a call. I( will then bet the turn if a blank falls and take down the pot.) He indeed calls and the turn is a 2. A great card if I am indeed ahead and maybe even if he has something like J9. I make another 2/3 pot size bet and he calls while getting a massage at the table. The river is a 3 and I expect I have won the pot. I bet off the rest of my chips (only about 1/3 of the pot) and he calls. He played J5 and led the whole way, hoping I had AA. “Nice flop” was all I could muster as I left the table.

Story Problem (10 points)
He called a 6xBB raise with J5 because:

1. He could (He had about 500 in front of him)
2. He likes to crack aces
3. He had isolation and position
4. He cared not about odds or the money, just the chance of flopping big and breaking someone.
5. All of the above

Obviously, 5 is the answer. But if everything played out as he scripted, his implied odds pre-flop were just over 4-1 (assuming he breaks me if he hits hard) and IF I had Aces, he is almost a 7-1 dog. (I only bought in for 100 to test the waters and had about 85 in front of me when this hand occurred).

I left not because I felt I was out-matched here, but because of the no-cap buy-in. There were just too many big stacks at the table. That and I did so well at MGM.

So, back to the MGM to grind out more money. After all, I am still up $378 for the trip, right? And its late, but I figure I’ll play an hour and leave.

Fast forward an hour and I am up about $75 bucks. I have just over $225 in front of me. Then, I would go insane.

The player on my left was a big fat guy who played like he was in the world series. He made fancy moves at small pots. There were some generic guys, the guy who kept feeding me chips from the night before, and a serious tattoo guy on my right. (I caught a glimpse of the tatoo and it was poker related. PLUS the word lucky was visible underneath the picture. um, welcome to the 1-2 table Mr. My Life is Poker)

I had taken a SMALL hand off tattoo guy about 30 minutes earlier. This was an exciting hand as he was the button and raised to 3x. I called with 44 in the SB and the BB folded. The flop was 34T. I bet out and it confuses him. Not only did I bet out, I made a pot size bet. He was sure if I had a set I would check the flop and says so out loud. Yet, he hesitates to call. He folds. Then as the dealer deals the next hand he says he thinks I had 99. I tell him he was right and he is noticeably upset. After calming down, he told me he had AT and he wanted to put me all in. pwned. Maybe next time he will.

So it’s the end of the night and big fat guy raises my limp to 3xBB. Tatoo guy calls and I call with AJ. The flop is JT5. TPTK and I bet out. Fat guy raises. He did this at times to win with second best hand, so when Tatoo guys calls, I put in a huge re-raise. Pot sized. Both players go all in. I am already pot committed and if I was way behind, I already made my mistake when I re-raised. Donk-Y. Even if I had AA, my odds were: “Drawing dead”. Set of tens vs. the OESD. The OESD got there on the turn and tattoo guys wins a ton of money and I am the vanquished donk-tacular victim. I get up and go, too tired to play on.

I can’t be upset about getting out-flopped, or Top Pair not holding up. What I CAN be upset about is that the re-raise was nothing but stupidity. There was NO WAY that was the correct play against TWO players. They couldn’t BOTH be drawing. Plus, I made the pot huge, making sure the draw was going to stay. I felt EXTRA stupid as I was up for the night before that hand and managed to lose an ENTIRE STACK on TOP PAIR. I PREACH AGAINST THAT STUPIDITY!!!! I am Jack’s crushed ego.

I finish the trip up $178. Lame. Better than last time when the SAME thing happened (only one loss was a huge suckout by a runner/runner straight to beat my flopped top set) where I lost $220. Oh well, better a winner and disappointed, than a loser and miserable.

As I am checking out, I hear advice about getting to the airport earlier on an irrational level. 3 hours prior?! Are you kidding?

I stood in line for breakfast (at the airport's world famous whatever) and the girl behind me in line had a cliché’ Baby girl voice. You know, like in the cartoons? I thought it was a joke, but it was real. I listened to this latin Betty Boop as I munched my breakfast burrito. Those don’t go together well, especially where there is no salsa in there. Check please.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Las Vegas Trip report (Part 1 of 2)

Disclaimer: I hereby understand and disclose that this trip report is lame in all ways, known and unknown, in comparison to the events that will transpire next week at the WPBT. By reading this, you acknowledge and agree to not hold me in contempt for missing the WPBT blogger symposium in Vegas and admonish me and my lame schedule from further abuse regarding my inability to attend said event despite being in Vegas a week prior to B-day.

It’s a Monday night flight, and I got to the airport a tad early, so I sat down at the Japanese restaurant and got my fix of unagi. Mmmm, Eel. My film for the plane was “Bottle Rocket”. Eh. So-so. The Wilson brothers attempt to amuse you with dysfunctional characters in a ply reminiscent of the overly plotted crime films. Films like this rarely hit. I recently saw both “Rififi” and “Big Deal on Madonna Street” so this should be even funnier. It was not. Cést La Vie. (Hey, that’s French) I missed the Monday night NFL game.

I arrive at 10pm local time (1am for me). As I get out of my cab at the RIO, I see the Hooter’s cab-top ad and recognize the big guy with the big smile on his face. Really. I did SOMETHING with him. Was it stand up? Improv? It was something and it’s been haunting my brain for a week now… Like an itch you just can’t scratch. Even worse, you feel bad about it since you can’t remember. I STILL CAN REMEMBER HIS NAME. ARGH.

Oh, and it’s cold, very cold.

I amuse myself by catching up on a blog written by another Michigan blogger (with huge confirmed junk) who is suddenly posting again!

In the morning I attend a Convention, and stare bleakly at Starbucks Christmas ornaments while I wait entirely too long for coffee. How does Las Vegas not understand that every second I wait for something is a second that I am not gambooooling!. It was weird being where the WSOP was held and there are no poker tables! Just geeks. Lots of geeks. Hey, I run a top 12 percent IT organization according to the pundits and their metrics. Bully for me, off to eat and play poker. ANY time I get a chance to eat sausage and drink German beer, I take it! So it was a quick ride to the Hofbrauhaus (I recommend the veal sausage with kraut) and then a quick exit to one of the better run poker rooms, the MGM card room rodeo fishbowl. VERY long story short, I play tight aggressive and in 5 hours win 2 beers and 2 dollars. Zero sum poker @ MGM.

The next day, the cowboys have started rolling in for next week. Enjoy G-Rob! Some more convention (who cares), and then dinner. I had planned on going to the cool street food court in NY-NY, but alas I got free convention food. So, I decide to play a tournament. Using the ultra-scientific tournament listings page at lasvegasvegas.com (putting the Vegas in Vegas) I decide that my low risk donk-fest is at…..(drum roll) Luxor!!!!

Dicks Last Resort is coming to Vegas? It’s only a matter of time before Vegas has to turn the old downtown in to a world showcase ala Epcot Center to house all things from everywhere.


The Luxor was $47+$13 juice for 500 in chips. $3 for the dealers added 20% for a total of 600 chips. The blinds start at 25/25, so your effective starting M is 12. 24 players. The VERY first hand, a lady raises to 100 from UtG+1 and I have 77. She might have AK or she might have Ax? Who knows. I call and heads up we see a flop of 854 rainbow. I am excited until she bets 200. Am I willing to go out on hand #1? I should be, but I am not. My read is she has the 8 beat. Maybe JJ. I fold.

It was feast of famine with so few chips to play with. One guy gets all-in twice, wins both and each time knocks out another player. I see a couple of flops and surrender a blind and suddenly I am at $375. I have yet to win a hand. Heck, I have yet to see a turn card. The blinds are now 50/100 and soon to double. I decided that I would be all-in first chance I get and roll the dice. Why not? My M is 2 and change and I need to double up to even play. When I look down at A7 sooted, I push. The button, who is the same guy who has sent the two players to the rail, goes into think mode. What is there to think about? He calls with A9o. The Ace flops and I get up to leave. The river is a 7. My one big luckbox suckout for Vegas. I sat back down, determined not to waste it. And waste it I did not! From that hand forward I never got my money in behind the rest of the night. Normal, math correct and nothing fancy play, gets me to the final table.

I have about the 6th largest stack of the 10 (which says little). But what I have on my side is SnG experience and a strategic viewpoint. It seems my opponents had neither. I was like the flowing water, changing my shape to flow around the big stacks, but to come crashing down like a breaking wave on the short stacks. By using my head and knowing what battles to choose, I broke 3 other players. Fast forward to 3 players left. A Swede, a big guy wearing Raiders gear, and me. The Swede was smart but inexperienced. He fell to the Raiders guy. Now we are heads up. Its $500 for first, but only $225 for second. I have 60% of the chips, but offer a 50/50 deal. (sound familiar). But apparently some people are gamboolers. He says, “Nah. If I win I’ll buy a big screen TV”. And the moment he said it, I knew I was going to have the edge. It wasn’t about skill for him, nor the honing of his craft. He just like the idea of winning a lot of money. All I have to do is keep the pots small until I have a big hand. The first 2-3 hands confirmed my diagnosis as I watched him reluctant to spar with me. By hand 5, I broke him when I disguised my top pair flop and got him pot committed on the turn with bottom pair.

He thanked me for something and I thanked him for not taking the deal. He was not amused. Then the lady from hand 1 told me she had TT. It was that fold on hand 1, (yes, and a suckout), that won it for me.

I TRIED to play a bit at the castle, but they wanted me to WAIT for a seat. Their poker “room” is now so small, that when you walk in there all you expect to see is a copier and a coffee maker. "Columbo!" "Playing Poker" "Colum-ster" (etc, et al.). I said, “why should I wait when I can walk right up and sit down at MGM?” and with that cashed back out and left.

At the MGM (where I walked in and there was a seat open) I GRINDED out about $67 at the 1-2 table and finally had to sleep...

Tomorrow, the exciting conclusion where I attempt to LOSE money instead of win it!