I went to River City in St. Louis last week to play in a number of the HPT (Heartland Poker Tour) events.


My week starts on Saturday in event 1B.  We start with 15k chips, 30 min levels and draw table 24 seat 6.  269 players were in 1A the day before, so we’ll easily be over 550 players.  I see how this day is going to go by the first hand.  I get an open before me and I look down at QQ and make a standard 3-bet and pick up 2 callers.  The flop is 853 and when it checks to me, I make a standard c-bet that everyone calls.  The turn is a K and I get bet/raise in front of me.  Obvoiusly, my hand is no good, so into the muck they go.  Over the next three orbits, I pick up four more small pocket pairs and setmine with all of them to no avail, as they’re all losers. 

I finally get one in the win column, as at 100/200, I get 4 limpers into my BB and look down at A9o.  I check and see a 9 high flop.   I make a value bet of 700 and get one caller.  The turn is an A and when I fire out 1200, he mucks, so I finally win a hand. 

Just before the first break (last orbit), I get three more losers.  The first hand, I open QQ and get two callers, including one opp that is playing every ace.  Flop AK5 and I get a bet and a huge raise in front of me… needless to say, QQ is once again into the muck.  I then open AK and miss again.  Then from the button, I setmine with 33 and miss again.  I hit break with 7650 chips.  Tourneys like this are very frustrating, as I’m getting hands to see flops with, but can’t hit a flop to save myself.

The next two hour session is a total repeat of the first one.  I get pocket pair after pocket pair and still can’t hit a flop.  I’m now up to 0-10 setmining and 0-10 with winning the hand.

It just keeps going and going.  I do finally win a hand, when I pick up QQ again and get back to 10k chips when my turn c-bet takes down a pot, but after that, I’m back to a bunch of swings and misses with three more small pairs.  I then get into hands with KTs and QTo and totally miss those too.

I then look down at 88 and with 14bb, in they go.  Opp has AT and turns a T, so I’m out in about 250th.  Not the way I wanted the trip to start, but if I have to have a frustrating day like that, let it be in one of the smallest buy-ins.

My second tourney is a deepstack, 20k starting chips with 30 min levels and I draw table 43 seat 1, right by the rail, so everyone’s going to be watching.  The first level is uneventful, but as the beginning of the second level, I look down at QQ and make another standard raise (cringing inside after having QQ cost me a ton of chips in the earlier tournament).  I get two callers, but this time I finally hit a set!  I lead out and both call.  The turn is the case queen and I check, as do the others.  I was hoping for an A on the river, but get a king instead.   I make a value bet and the opp goes into the tank and calls with AK.  This gets me up to 25k chips, so I’m finally above sea-level for the first time all week. 

Before the first break, I win a pot with AA on a preflop 3-bet and another with AQ on a Q high flop due to a c-bet, so I’m at 26950. 

Just after break, I find out that 135 are entered, 18 cash and there are 110 left.  I now find that the law of averages does hold, as I get the exact opposite of what I’ve had so far in these tournaments… I go totally, totally card dead.  The next two levels are fold after fold as I’m seeing more 49o’s than I really care to.  We’re now down to 81 left and I’m sitting just under the average stack.  As we hit the second break after level 8, we’re now down to 63 players left, but I’m down to 10bb so my next play will be a shove.

The problem is though, that the majority of the rest of the table is in shove-mode too and the first orbit, I don’t have a single opportunity to get them in first (unless I wanted to shove 23o from UTG, which I won’t do).  The next orbit, I get a shot with Q8o, shove and take down a set of blinds/antes.  Then I look down at a dressed coocoo (T9 clubs) and into the middle my chips go from the cutoff.  The BB tanks for a minute and calls me with A8 of clubs, so I don’t want to see clubs.  The flop is AT6, so while I have a pair, I still need help, the turn is an 8, so I’m down to two outs.  The river 4 sends me to the rail in 52nd.

Seeing both extremes, I’m back the next day for event 6, a $150 buy-in.  I draw table 25 seat 9, but as I’m waiting for the tourney to start, I was given $15 in machine freeplay on my player’s card, so I’m going to see what I can turn it into.  Thanks to a very generous nickel video poker machine (quad 2’s on deuces wild) and another machine, I’m in a much better mood, as I’m basically freerolling this one. 

As this tourney starts, I’ve got a totally different mindset, especially after the first two levels.  At the end of the first level, they let me see a free flop from the bb with a tank hand in a family pot.  The flop misses me, but it checks thru.  I get a 2 on the turn and fire out 475 and take my first pot of the day down.  Just after the blinds go up, I 3-bet KK and get a J high flop.  I lead out for basically a half pot value bet and get shoved on.  The opp has been playing, not only LAG, but borderline maniac, so when he shoves, I snap-call with my overpair.  He turns over QJ and I double up to 19k chips.

Just after break, we find out that there are 195 entered, 23 get paid with $5700 on top and there are 110 left.  I now go card dead again, but I’m still hanging in with a 25bb re-steal stack that I get to use when a loose player opens and I jam ATs over them and pick up some chips.

We now get a mass exodus, as the field drops from about 100 left to 70 left in just over an orbit.  As the blinds are going up, and going up quickly, I’m now down to 14bb, so I’m looking for a spot to open-shove.  I didn’t get to open-shove, but when a player opens and gets a caller before me and I look down at QQ again, in my chips go.  The opener folds, but the other opp calls and turns over 77. When the board runs out blanks (glad the guy didn’t have A/rag or I’d have been on the rail), I’m now up to 33600 chips at 600/1200/200.

Just before break, I show that I’m more than happy to re-steal again, as there is an open and I rip with 99 from the SB.  The BB isn’t capping his cards (which he did every time he wanted to play a hand), so I didn’t have to worry about him and a standard raise would put 2/3 of the opp’s chips in the pot.  He had to have been on a pure steal, as he insta-mucks to my shove and I hit break with 34500 and 61 players remaining.

As we come back from break, I notice that my table is going to be the next one to break when it gets down to 54, as we’re now playing 9-handed at all tables.  Also at break, they move a huge stack 2 to my left, so I won’t be able to steal much, so a table break could be a good thing.  The first hand back from break, I get a shove from a shorty and when it gets to my BB, I look down at AT of spades and call.  The opp turns over QT diamonds, so I’m in great shape to pick up a pile of chips when there is an A in the window.  Unfortunately for me, the rest of the board is 2345, so it’s a chop, UGH!  I’m back at it the very next hand, as I open AKo when it folds to me, so I’m now up to 39k chips.

We hit 54 left (23 paid) and I’m off to table 19 seat 2.  When I get there, I see that there are a number of short  stacks at the table, along with two huge stacks.  I now go totally card dead again and due to more blind raises, I’m down to 13bb and looking for a spot to shove again.  I open-shove twice, the first with KQo, and the second with total junk (47o), from the SB.

I’m still looking for a spot to shove as we hit 46 players left (half remaining cash).  I get an open from one of the two huge stacks (the opp has opened a couple pots, but seems to be pretty tight), then the opp to my right shoves.  I look down at TT and that’s plenty good enough for me to re-shove with, so I’M ALL IN!  The lady to my left (I’ve got her covered by 600 chips) also shoves!  It gets back to the original opener and he goes into the tank bigtime.  He wants to play the pot, but not a 4-way pot.  After about 3 min in the tank, he mucks 77 face-up.  The player to my right shows 33, I flip over my tens and the opp to my left shows J9o?!  Really? Call 2 shoves with a tight, bigstack opener left to act with J9o into an 80k+ pot?  The flop is three blanks, but the turn is a J.  When the river bricks, I’m out in 46th. 

Win that pot and I’m sitting at double the average stack and not only would I be a favorite to cash, but I’d be well on my way to a final table.  The result’s bad, but I’m really happy with the way that I played all day as going over the hands afterwards, I don’t come up with any large mistakes at all and wouldn’t have played any of the hands differently.

My 4th tourney is a main event satellite where 20% of the field transfers to the main.  I make my way to table 33 seat 4 and even though it’s 80 degrees outside, I’m glad I brought a jacket with me as it’s an icebox in this area. 

I start out being fairly active and winning some small pots, but about 20 minutes in, I see that I’m not going to be able to steal much, as Josh Turner sits down in the seat to my left (he’s only got 8 live wins and has made over $500k).  The first two hours are a roller coaster, as I get up to 19500 from my 15k starting stack, but drop to 14925 at break when I open AQs, get a flop of QJ4 and an A on the turn.  The river is a T and the opp donk-bombs the river.   This is setting off every alarm in the building as the opp is tight/passive.  It doesn’t take long for me to put my two pair into the muck, as I’m 100% certain they have a K and they show KQ when I muck.

We end up with 88 entries, so there are 17 $1650 main event seats and $990 for 18th.  I was hoping for 50-60 to show up, so this is huge.  Coming back from break, there are 70 left.  The first level in this session is just me observing how the rest of the table is playing, as I’m card dead and when we hit 60 left, I’m still at 14k chips.

As I get down to 24bb left, Josh opens from UTG and when it gets to me, I look down at AK spades and here goes with my re-steal stack, I’M ALL IN!  He goes into the tank and finally decides to call and turns over 88, so the race is on.  I catch two spades on the flop and the Q of spades on the turn seals it and I double up to 30k chips thru the toughest opp at the table!

We get down to 50 left and now with the next 5 out, go from 10 player tables to 9 player tables.  With 45 left, the blinds go to 500/1000/100 and I’m sitting on 29k chips.  As we hit the next break, I’m sitting on 27600 chips with 40 players remaining and I’m just under the average stack.

We break another table as we’re down to 36 left and I get into it again.  Josh shoves his micro-stack (after taking a beat on a flip) from UTG, so when it folds to my BB, when it’s les s than 2bb for me to call, I call blind and flip over J8.  8-ball on the flop, so I’m now up to 34k chips and have taken out the best player at the table.

As we break another table, I do not like what I see as I’m now sandwiched between two monster stacks.  I’ve got 30k chips, but it’s only 15bb, so I’m looking for spots to shove. 

I get two chances to as both times it folds to me and I look down at AK and I’M ALL IN!  Everyone folds and I’m now up to 40k chips.  I’ve played this satellite structure multiple times for the HPT and also once for the Mid-States and know that the goal in them is to get to 50k chips, as that will most likely guarantee a seat.  I’m not there yet, but I’m getting closer.

As the blinds go up again to 1500/3000/400, I’m sitting on 11bb, but we’re now down to 21 left.  I get another to shove (my fifth shove in less than a level), so when I look down at AA, I’m hoping that it gets called.  It doesn’t, but I’m back up to 40k chips.  I then rip another one from UTG+1 with AQ and everyone folds, including the BB that only has 2bb left.  I figured at least he’d call, but it does get me to 43k chips.

After the blinds go thru, on my next BB, I get a limp from the SB and look down at 37o and check.  The flop is J84 and the opp checks.  Well, he’s got a ton of chips and wants to see flops and is playing very straight-forward postflop, so his check is a miss.  Since he missed, I’m betting ATC, which I do and take down another pot to get back to 41k.  We’re still sitting on 21 left though, as the all-ins have ended with the shorties winning them.

We now begin hand-by-hand with 3 tables and 19 players left.  On my BB, the SB does the same thing, limping into me.  This time, I shove over him with A9s.  He tanks for a second and mucks.  He does the same thing the next time I’m in the BB, but this time I have 28o and check.  The flop brings an A and a big bet from him, so I know he’s got ace/rag and let him have it.

I’m now at 40k chips, but down to 10bb at 2k/4k/500.  There are no short stacks at my table now, but there are 3 similar to mine.  The table behind me loses their shorty, so we’re now ITM!

As we hit the next break, still playing hand-by-hand, I’m at 32k chips.  The blinds are now 3k/6k/1k, so I don’t have much time left.  However, there is a stack at the other table with an M of less than 1 and 2 shorter than me at my table, including the player on my right that keeps trying to see flops and has given away about 50k in chips.

The first hand back from break, the stack that is basically even with me shoves and picks up a set of blinds/antes, so I’ve got 2 stacks smaller than me.  The shorty on the other table now shoves, not only once, but twice and wins both.  UGH!

Now, it’s a game of chicken between the player on my right and me (unless someone blows it).  He’s slightly shorter than me, so he has to win a pot to outlast me.  He finally shoves A8 and gets three callers.  I have 49o and am not calling him with it and leaving myself with less than one BB.  The board runs out AQJT6.  Someone has to have a king, right.. NO!  A pair of aces holds and it’s not even a chop with someone.  You gotta be kidding me!

Well, that puts me in a really bad spot, as when my chips go in with K5 diamonds, I get 7 callers (the only one that mucked was the guy on my right and with chips left after a call, I’m calling with 2 blanks if I were him).  The board runs out without a king or 5 and is all black, so after playing great all day, I miss out on the seat and end up with $990 in cash.  Win about a thousand dollars and leave the casino feeling like I just got run over by a truck.

I was hoping to be playing the main event tomorrow, but instead, I’m back at home, still sick to my stomach over not winning the seat.  Although, this really says something about the field strength of the satellite, as many of the players that won seats played flight A today (I would have played flight B tomorrow morning).  Four of the qualifiers from my satty are currently in the top 10 in chips as of when I’m writing this.

All in all, with the casino paying for the $150 (that I should have cashed and made a final table run in) and my cash in the satty, it was a positive week for me, although it could have been a great week if I caught a break and had my TT hold and won the $1650 ME seat. 

I’ve got a little over 3 weeks to get over this, as the next HPT stop is just outside of Chicago, so it’s only about a 45 min drive if I avoid traffic.  I was going to only play a main event satellite, since I played four tourneys in St. Louis, but may play a couple extra tourneys now, maybe add in the bounty tourney, a second satellite and possibly the survivor (that I bubbled here last December, if I’m not playing the main event).