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USPC: Live One (Atlantic City)

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  • USPC: Live One (Atlantic City)

    I really waffled back and forth over the past week deciding whether to play in the US Poker Championship PSO Live event at the Taj in Atlantic City. A month earlier, I had just played in a 50+15 tourney at the MGM in Vegas which was the largest buy-in to-date. I knew I was going to go down and meet/support the other players, but wasn't sure whether I was "ready" to make the jump from a $50 buy-in to a $500 buy-in. I kept debating whether I needed more experience at live events, should I play in two $300 events instead, etc. Finally my wife convinced me to go ahead and give it a shot, so I got up early on Saturday morning to make the one hour drive down to Atlantic City.

    I arrived right at 8am when registration was supposed to start, and there was already a decent line. Unfortunately, it was another 40 minutes before they started signing people up. So I got to stand in line hearing everyone else talk about how good they were all doing in the previous USPC events and other tourneys around town. I knew I was in for an interesting day when I received my seat assignment: Table 66, Seat 6.

    I then wandered over to the area Ed (aka Johnny Bravo) had designated for the PSO Live gathering. It was good to meet a number of my fellow PSO'ers! We wished each other luck and we were off to our tables.

    We started with T5000 and the levels were 50 minutes each. This was by far the longest rounds I had ever played, so I figured this would give me a great opportunity to study my opponents. It took about five minutes for the first player (at another table) to bust out. At least he received an enthusiastic round of applause for his effort! Play at our table was fairly tight for the first orbit. Usually the first raise took down the pot.

    [Important Hand #1] After getting over my initial set of nerves, I looked down at Pocket Kings. Blinds were 25-50, so I raised it to 150 [3xBB, just like Hazy taught me to... ]. The big blind reraised to 400. I reraised again to 1200 (just to be clear where my hand stood) and he called. "Now we're playing", I said to myself. The flop came Q74 rainbow. The Big Blind announces All-In. I couldn't believe it! I'm already being put to the test and we're still in the 1st Level. So I go into a deep think (all the while hearing $500 entry fee echoing in my mind). The only three hands I can put him on are the big three: AA,KK,QQ. I'm not scared if he has KK, we would just have a split pot. So I'm worried about AA or now a set of queens. I think that if he had Aces, he would have reraised me again before the flop. After a raise and a reraise, I don't think you would call to "trap" the other player. So I decrease the likelihood that he has Aces. So now I have to worry about Queens. I think his play before the flop is quite reasonable for Queens. He would certainly reraise my initial raise. So now I put his All-In bet in the context of the flop. If he now had a set of queens, why would he bet all-in? Wouldn't he want to trap me? Granted, it's a nice sized pot, but I just started to get a feeling that the bet was too big. He has me covered, so I call his bet, and I am the one all-in. He flips over AJ. I couldn't believe it! I sweat out the Turn and the River and no Ace or runner-runner appear, and I've doubled up!

    Before moving tables, the only other notable hand from the first couple of rounds was when an Early Position player makes a raise before the flop and gets one caller (the button). Flop comes 3-3-2. EP makes a bet on flop, turn, and river, each time called by Button. EP turns over 3c2c for a full house and proclaims this is his favorite hand since he won his first tournament with it (hey, at least it was sooted!). Button (as well as rest of table) shakes head in disbelief.

    Before end of Level 2, I get moved to the table I will spend the rest of the tournament. I tighten up at the new table so I can get a feel for its dynamics. Antes kicked in at Level 3, so we're now playing 100-200 with 25 blinds.

    [Important Hand #2] About mid-way through Level 3, I'm in big blind, and I get KQo. All fold to mid-position player who makes a raise to T500. I decide to defend my blind and so I call. Pot is T1325. Flop comes K-Q-5 (two of one suit). I bet out T700. He only thinks for a few seconds, and pushes All-In. Oh boy! Here we go again. Although I have around T10,000, he has me covered, so once again if I call it's my tournament at stake. I had only noticed him betting aggressively when he had a hand, so I didn't consider him having a set of fives. So again I went into the tank. I think I'm in pretty good shape, and the all-in raise doesn't seem to fit the action. So I make the call and flip over my top two pair. He grimaces as he turns over pocket Aces. Once again, I have to avoid an Ace or a runner-runner straight, which I do, and now I have a little over T20,000.

    At the break, I check in with the other PSO'ers, and although a couple are out, we still have a good number in the tourney. It's then that I notice that one of the guys who's been at my table is also a PSOer (John, aka USWeapon). We talk a bit about the table dynamics, and it's back to the felt. Nothing significant happens in Level 4.

    [Important Hand #3] Level 5 has a 75 ante, and blinds of 200-400. I'm in early position with AsQs, and so I make a standard raise to T1200. I get one caller. Flop comes 9s-8s-3s. I've flopped the nut flush. I think this is where I make a mistake. Because I led out before the flop, I tell myself it would look too suspicious if I suddenly checked instead. I also thought about betting less than 1/2-pot, but also feared it would look like a trap. So I made half-pot bet, and he folded. In talking to a couple of PSOers at the next break, I got a mixed reaction. Some thought I should have checked to wait for him to make a hand. So I am curious what do you think about that play? What should I have done to have gotten maximum value for the hand?

    At the break after Level 5, USWeapon tells me that since he is short-stacked, he will have to take a hand and make a stand. So the first hand back, John goes all-in, and triples up with the three-way action. The PSOers stay alive!

    On the other hand, my cards run very dry through Levels 6 & 7, and I have an aggressive better two to my right that eliminates any limping into pots. So with 100 antes, and 500-1000 blinds, my stack whittles down to just over T5000 as we head into the break. I have to remind myself not to get impatient as I fold hand after hand. I play no more than 5 hands in that almost two hour time period.

    So during the break, I again check in with the PSO gang. I find out that there are only 3 of us left. Level 8 brings 800-1600 blinds and a 200 ante, so my M is in the red zone. It's my turn to take a stand. Ed kids with me that he wants all of the credit when the dealer gives me A-9 and I double-up. Frank (ChessSafari) has also been very encouraging and wishes me luck as I take my seat again.

    [Important Hand #4] First hand back, and I look at 10-10. I can't complain with that hand, so I raise all-in from third position. Three players fold, and I'm thinking maybe I'll take the pot now when a guy at the opposite end of the table reraises all-in. He has a hefty stack so he chases everyone else out. I'm hopeful as I turn over my tens, only to stare at pocket queens across the felt. Oops! This is it. Nice hand, I say as the dealer turns the flop over. Wouldn't you know a 10 is the first card revealed? Hello! Only my second suck-out of the entire tournament (first was early on when my A3 ended up turning the wheel on a 2-5 runner runner). Although I've doubled-up, I'm still in bad shape.

    [Important Hand #5] Less than one orbit later, I see 4-4. I push all-in, and get one caller. Only this time, I have a few more chips than the caller, so while I would be effectively eliminated, it wouldn't be official. He turns over A-7 offsuit. My baby pair hold up, and for the first time today, I've eliminated another player.

    I work my way up to a stack size around T35000. By far my largest count of the day. It's at this time that I allow myself to look at the monitor to really see where I stand in the event. I mean you couldn't help noticing next to the time clock were the number of players still in the tournament. I saw that number go down into the 400's, the 300's, and I made note of it around 250 that I survived half the field. But it wasn't until Level 9 (1000-2000, 300 ante) that I allowed myself to look at actual number of tables left, and what the payout schedule was. With 513 entries, they were paying out top 45. SO you could hear players counting down. Only 40 to go to the money... 30... 20... 10! Midway through Level 9, I noticed Yan (Siberianex) getting up from his table. I stood up and looked over to Frank, who gave me the thumbs up that I was the last PSOer standing. Wow! I couldn't believe it! I sat back down opening the door just a little bit to the belief that I may actually make the cash (37th-45th paid out just over $1,000). The player two to my left had personally eliminated four players at our table in the past two rounds (including stack sizes #2 & #3), and his chip stack was probably in the neighborhood of T150K. I figured players were definitely tightening up as we got closer to the bubble, and the big stack took great advantage of it. I called a T8000 bet and one other caller with pocket 5's. But when flop came A-K-x and Chip Leader bet and player to my right called, I knew the small pair wouldn't hold up and I folded.

    [Important Hand #6] There were around 15 minutes left in Level 9 until the dinner break, and number of players were ~ 50 when I played my last hand. Big Stack continued accumulating chips, and I figured everyone else was playing very conservative. My stack had decreased to just over T20,000 when I got Ac-Tc. I was third to act, and so when the two in front of me folded, I raised to 7000. The next gentleman folded, and Big Stack waited about 10 seconds and reraised to 15,000. The table quickly folded back to me. Crap! I know this is the time to accumulate chips. But it's such a difficult balancing act between that and hanging on to win the money. My M was less than 4 when I made the raise. I'm sure I could have made it to the dinner break, but I also thought I could take the blinds and antes which would buy me another orbit. So now I have a decision to make. I can't call in this situation. I'm either folding or going all-in. I think the Big Stack has been bullying everyone, and with a large chip stack is more inclined to gamble than the rest of the table. But I'm SO close to the money! Grrr... what to do? Finally, I think AT suited is not that bad a hand, so I reraise all-in which he immediately calls. He flips over QQ. Ugh! My heart sinks as my hand doesn't improve, and I'm eliminated in 49th place.

    So... the BIG question is what would you have done on my last hand? I haven't been able to stop thinking about since then. I go back and forth on whether I made the right call or not. I was talking to one of my friends this morning, and a suggestion he had was whether I could have gotten up from the table and walked around to the other tables to see whether there were any other very short-stacks who were likely to be eliminated. Honestly, I didn't even think about that, and that certainly shows my live tournament inexperience! I would certainly welcome any feedback or criticism about this hand or any other that I mentioned!

    So all-in-all, I would say my mission was accomplished for playing in my first semi-major tournament:

    1. I wanted to attend a PSO Live event and meet some of my fellow members.

    2. I wanted to play in an event where the buy-in was significant enough that the vast majority of players were there to play poker and not a crap shoot. For the most part this was true. I'm sure there were a few yahoo's who couldn't care less, but far less than the $50 tourney I played in Vegas where 1/2 the field was out in the first hour.

    3. With 50 minute rounds, I thought this would allow me to gain valuable live tournament experience not usually available in 15-20 minute rounds from smaller tourneys. I survived for 8 hours, and was able to observe players and their actions in a far different light than I ever had before.

    The good news is that I lasted longer than I thought I would.
    The bad news is that I was so close to the money!
    The good news is that I got to meet a group of PSOers.
    The bad news is that I got to meet Johnny Bravo (he he... ahem, sorry Ed!).
    The good news is that I was fortunate enough to win a seat at the Live One Grand Finals.
    The bad news is that I REALLY have the poker bug now! Bad! :twisted:

    Thanks for taking the time to read this trip report!


  • #2
    The good news is you know how to write a great trip report!

    The bad news is we will expect the same quality every time!

    The good news is it sounds like you had a great time and a lot of fun!



    • #3

      Winning isn't always cashing, winning is sometimes "achieving."

      It appears clear to me you "achieved" plenty.

      First, outlasting the PSO competitors speaks volumes, the experience you got was invaluable, and the you said it best, now you got the bug...

      I suspect you will jump right back in, make the necessary adjustments, learn in areas that may not be as strong as you need to compete against stiffer competition, and in general, take your game to the next level.

      We are proud of you and look to see you in the winner's circle many times to come...

      You Rock!




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