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HPT - Turtle Lake, Wisconsin

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  • HPT - Turtle Lake, Wisconsin

    For those of you who don't read my blog...

    Friday night played bi-monthly home game with fellow PSO'ers (most of em anyway). I wanted to work on a couple of things and this is a good spot to do it. Finished 6th of 13 (Jordan went on to win it) but felt really good about my play heading into the weekend's Heartland Poker Tour event. I've probably mentioned this before but the way the Heartland Poker Tour works is there are 4 qualifying rounds of 120 people each - $500+50 entry fee. The top 24 move on to the final round where the top 30 are paid and the top 6 make the television show. The players for the most part are very good - the structure is good, but not great, so you generally will either need to build a stack or win a couple of races in order to have a shot. I try to do the former more then the latter but sometimes you just can't avoid the latter.

    First qualifier Saturday morning, I hung around and built my stack slowly, never getting in an all in confrontation until the blinds were at 1000/2000. Lost two races on back to back hands, the first when a short stack moved all in for 9K when I had AK and his 66 hit a set and the second when I got it all in (I only had 8K left after the previous hand) with... *sigh* AQ (no choice though) that flopped an ace. Unfortunately, the JJ and TT in the hand with me both flopped a set as well and I didn't catch the miracle king. Finished about 40th in that one.

    Normally, that'd be the end of the road for me, $550 is a pretty big chunk of change for me, no matter what my skill level or success rate has been. But I just felt like I could get there - I knew I'd been playing well and making good decisions and reads. Jordan had won $300 in her 1/2 NLHE cash game, so I decided I'd pay for half her entry and enter myself. As luck would have it we'd draw the same table. We have a rule we abide by when that is the case - no discussion of our relationship. Generally we also avoid playing pots against one another like the plague (as to avoid any possible accusations), but occasionally we have no choice but to do so (we end up playing one big hand against each other in this qualifier, that she of course wins lol) However, it is definitely nice to be able to discuss the players and our thoughts on the break.

    There were two loose players in seats 3 and 4, seat 4 being more of a maniac while seat 3 typically played well - just a lot of hands. Seat 4 managed to accumulate a lot of chips in the first round and I just sat back observing what he was doing and how he was doing it - formulating a plan on how I could get his chips. He had made the mistake of showing a hand when he had bluffed and I immediately picked up on a pattern he had - smaller 1/2 pot or less bets when he was bluffing and bigger 3/4 pot or more bets, when he was not. He never check raised, so if he checked, you could be pretty sure he was weak. The first part of the plan was to bluff him off a pot (a small one hopefully) and show him the bluff. I got that opportunity at the 100/200 level when he min. raised FTA and I called with 52s on the button. Seat 3 had limped in and called as well. The flop came T64 rainbow and they both checked. I bet 1/2 the pot and they both folded. I turn over my cards and say "two can play that game" - doing so for a reason... one to let him (and the rest of the table) know that I was capable of bluffing and to possibly get them to come back at me when I had a hand and two, to let Seat 4 know he wasn't going to control this table.

    Which set up the following hands:

    Blinds 100/200 - Folded to Seat 4 on button. He min. raised FTA. I called out of SB with 98o. BB called. Flop came J82. I checked, BB checked and Seat 4 bet 600. I called, BB folded. Turn 5. I checked, Seat 4 bet 1000. I called. River 5. I checked, Seat 4 bet 3000 (I'd seen him make a bigger bet then 1/2 pot on the river twice when called on flop and turn but he had not shown his cards yet, but I had a strong suspicion that he figured the only way he could win the pot was to bet big). I called. He had AT and I take down a nice pot. A couple of the people at the table compliment me on the hand (always good when you have people impressed at the table because then you can play back at them and get them to make mistakes against you because they are leery of your play).

    Blinds 300/600 - Moderately tight player makes it 2000 to go first to act. Seat 4 calls. I call out of SB with 55. Flop comes 632 rainbow. I check, raiser checks and Seat 4 says "ok, let's do it" and goes all in for 7700. I have about 20K at this point. I count out the chips to make sure I still have plenty left if I am wrong and call. Initial raiser folds. Seat 4 flips over his A4o and says "I need an ace" - his ace or thankfully my set do not come and I bust him.

    Other notable hands at this table:

    I folded 2nd nut flush to Jordan - I limped in after Seat 3, and she made it 800 to go (100/200 blinds). Seat 3 called, I called with JTh. Flop came KQQ two hearts. Seat 3 and I check, Jordan checks behind us. Hmmmm, that's unusual. LOL. Turn 8 of hearts. Seat 3 and I check, Jordan bets 1000, seat 3 calls, I just call - I want to see what she does on the river. River is 9 of clubs. Seat 3 checks again, I check, planning on calling a bet by Jordan if she makes one, probably not going to raise her though (ok, I guess I might have been softplaying a little) when she bets 3000. Seat 3 folds. Now I'm in a quandary. That's a pretty big bet by her after two people had called her pre-flop and on the turn. The check on the flop was unusual too - so I put two and two together and figure she either has KK or has a Q. I know she'll tell me later, and whileI might be ahead here, I really didn't want to risk 3000 of my chips on what I thought was at best a 50/50 shot, so I folded. Jordan tells me on break she had KQ and had flopped a full house. Whew. She's a litle unlucky that it was me that had the flush and not Seat 3.

    I win a nice pot from Seat 3 when I limp in after him with KJ of spades. The flop comes AKQ rainbow. He checks, I bet 1/2 pot, he calls. Turn is another A. He checks again, I feel pretty sure he has a king or queen, maybe a hand like QJ, so I up my bet a little to 3/4 pot to see where he is. He calls. River is a blank. He checks, and I check behind him (if he has a king, we're chopping anyway, if he has an ace or jack ten, he'll raise me and I can't call and if he has a worse hand he probably wouldn't call my bet anyway, so checking is best play here). He has a Q and I win the pot.

    I win two nice pots from the player one to my right. The first one, I noticed him glance at my chips as the hand was being dealt when it was his SB and my BB. He had raised my BB once before when it had been folded to him but I hadn't noticed the glance. Sure enough it's folded to him and he looks at his cards and without much hesitation puts in a raise to 1500. I make it 6000 to go (about 40% of my stack) with A2o (cards would not have mattered though) and he thinks for about 15 seconds, mutters under his breath and folds. He wouldn't do that again for the rest of the tournament. The second hand was when he opened for 3000 when the blinds were 500/1000. I move all in with AK for about 18000 and he folds.

    Jordan gets unlucky against a drunk maniac that moved to our table - she calls his UTG min. raise from the SB with Q9s. The flop comes QJ5 and she leads out. He instantly moves all in (he'd been doing this with any piece of the flop) and she calls. He has AJ and hits a jack on the turn to bust her in about 45th position. She would have had about 25K if she wins that pot and likely would have moved on. Tough break, but she played some great poker over the weekend, I'm proud of her!

    Move tables with 40 players left and I have about 27K in chips. Here's where the poker gets a little crazy though because the blinds go from 500/1000/300 to 1000/2000/400. Suddenly I go from having 27x the BB to having 13x the BB with each round costing 7K in chips. No longer can you limp in, and you have a lot of shortstacks making desperation all in moves and reraises are generally called. I still have about 27K when we get to the 1500/3000/500 level. Which leads me to making a big mistake, the only one I thought I made all weekend... a good, young player (he'd won a HPT event already) in Seat 1 raised it to 9000 UTG. From his mannerisms though and the way he said "let's make it 9000 to go" I didn't think he was that strong. I look down at AQ of clubs and cringe (inside, I made sure not to do it visibly). I think about it for some time... my gut tells me to move all in, but then I think 1) it's AQ and 2) it's a seat tournament of sorts and I really don't want to go broke this close to qualifying... especially with AQ. If that was the case then - I should have folded (even though I knew I should have gone all in), so instead I choose to do the worst of the three options... I just call. The flop comes TT9 two spades, Seat 1 moves all in, I mutter "I hate this hand" and fold AQ face up and Seat 1 graciously (he's a nice kid... we spent a lot of time talking over the next two days) rubs it in and shows me his AJo. I was noticeably frustrated... didn't tilt or make any stupid plays, but Jordan pulled me to the side to get the "look" off of my face.

    I move all in once with AJ and get no callers, to keep me in the game a little longer. There are about 32 players left and with the blinds at 2000/4000/500 and me only having 20K in chips, I know I'm going to need to get lucky if I'm going to make it through to the next round. I post my BB, leaving me with 13K. A aggressive female player looks at my stack with hungry eyes and makes it 10K to go from EP. The table folds to me. I've already done the math in my head. There is 20K in the pot already. If I move my additional 16K in, the aggressive female player will call the remaining 6K thus making the pot effectively 26K. So I am betting 16K to win 26K or a little under 2:1 on my money. I plan on moving in with any two cards bigger then 7. I simply can't fold here and expect to make it to the top 24. I've walked around and know that I am one of the 3-4 shortest stacks left in the tournament. Winning a 42K pot however would probably get me through to the next round. Well all that speculation and math is thrown out the window when I look down and see queens. Now the decision is easy. I put the rest of my chips in, she calls with 55, and I double up. My patience after the AQ hand pays off.

    My table breaks when we get to 30 and I fold an orbit or two and get dealt AK in the SB, The kid with AJ from the previous hand is in the BB. I move all in (it's about 3/4 his stack to call). This kids is smart enough to know that I'm not just stealing here because he thinks a LONG time before finally calling with the same hand I am holding. We laugh it up and split the antes. Then a funny thing happens - with about 26 players left in the field, my table suddenly makes this silent deal... nothing was said, but no one at our table was in danger of being blinded out in 1-2 rounds... so the action would go like this. Post the antes and blinds, everyone fold to the BB. And this is how it would go until 2 players from the other table busted out, and I qualify easily. I am thrilled - especially after the AQ debacle and Jordan and I get a hotel room at the casino and go try and rest up for the next day.

    The final day starts at possibly the worst time of any tournament ever (this is the 2nd time I've made a final day here). 8 am. Don't these people know poker players are just usually getting to bed at 8 am? LOL. I'm a bit under the weather, but I crawl out of bed and head over to the casino. I look at my table draw. Oh my, it's a tough one. In Seat 2 is the woman player who doubled me up the previous day with 55 - I know she's got a fairly good game because she won the women's event at Canterbury (the one Jordan made the final table in) and has made a final table in one of the HPT events. Seat 3 is Tony Hartmann, a well known pro from the Minnesota area who has played in all the big events (he's been on an ESPN telecast or two) - I'd played with him in the first qualifier the day before and talked with him quite a bit, really good guy and he remembered Jordan and her purple cowboy hat from Canterbury. Seat 1 was my maniac ATM from the day before. I wish I was closer, but I was in seat 5. Seat 4 was a guy named Andy, a tight, solid player (but a bit predictable) who had also made a HPT final table. It didn't get any better when I found out seat 6 was Brook Lyter. Brook and I had played back in a couple of North Dakota Poker Tour events, so we knew each other from those. Brook had made a HPT final table as well but more importantly he had just come off a 2nd place finish in a WPT main event. He had game AND position. This was a tough spot.

    Brook recognized me and we started talking right away (almost ignoring the beginning action) about poker, North Dakota, his WPT finish, etc; On about the 4th hand, it was folded to the 1 seat who limped in. Seat 2 made it 600 to go (the blinds start at 100/200 on this day as you start with 15000 in chips). Everyone folded to me in the BB. I look down at AK. A lot of people would raise here, but I like to mix up my play with AK early in the tournament, especially out of position. I just called. The first limper called as well. The flop was perfect - QJT rainbow. I checked, the first limper checked and Linda (Seat 2's name) made it 500 to go. That was a small bet considering the size of the pot (1900), so I thought she had a pretty good piece of it, so rather then play it slow, I raised to 1500 right there to see if I was right. She called. I put her on a hand like QJ - possibly a set, maybe 99. The turn was a 7. I bet out 3000 and she instantly called. OK, now I was convinced she had a set, so I was going to be very concerned if the board paired on the river. The river was an 8 though. I tried to think of how much she'd call and made a 5000 bet into the 10900 pot. She called pretty quick and I flip over the nuts. To my amazement she flips over K9. She had flopped the second nut straight and not once did she reraise me. If I had known she had that hand I certainly would have checked the turn or river to induce a bet. I was somewhat amazed though that she never reraised me. That put me up to about 25000 right away and had her down to 5000 (she would manage to get it back up to 25K before overplaying top pair against Brook and busting).

    I didn't play a lot of hands at the table - enough to establish a tight image and garner respect. I picked up AA once and made it 1500 to go with the blinds at 300/600 and everyone folded. I lost a flip with 77 when I limped in with it and a short stack moved all in for about 5000 and I called. He had AK and hit both cards. A big hand for me, and one I'm proud of... folded to Andy in the SB, he makes it 3x the BB to go. I look down at 86 of diamonds and call, feeling I can outplay him post-flop. The flop comes AJ3 two diamonds. Andy bets 1000 (I think the blinds at this time were 200/400) and I call. The turn is a 6, giving me third pair and a flush draw. Andy checks and I try and take the pot down right there with a 2500 bet into a 4400 pot. He calls. OK, so he either has a jack or an ace I think to myself - I'm probably done with the hand. The river is a black queen and he checks. I know the only way I can win this pot is to bet it - online I'd have no problem making that play, but this is something I've struggled with at times live (making this kind of bluff - I can semi-bluff, but stone cold bluffing has not been something I've been able to do much of). I look at his stack. He has about 9000 in chips left. I think if I move all in, he's going to think it's a bluff and call. If I bet too small in relation to the pot size (9400), he's going to call. I need to make a bet that 1) looks like I want him to call and 2) is a big enough portion of his stack that he can't just call. I take a single 5000 black chip and calmly place it in the middle of the table. He thinks for a while. I'm staring at the center of the felt doing my best to control my breathing. After about 30 seconds he says "I think I have the best hand, but I can't call" and folds. After a couple of hands pass, I lie to him (what... a poker player lie!!!) and tell him he made a fold... that I had KT of diamonds that hit a straight on the river (I knew that hand would make sense given the betting - why I chose it). He says thanks and tells me he had AT. Dontcha just love poker?

    I make a good fold in the only hand I get involved with Brook. He raises to 3x the BB UTG. A MP player calls. I call out of the BB with QTs. The flop comes QJ4 rainbow. I check, Brook checks, MP player bets 1000, I make it 2500 to go, Brook makes it 5000 to go, MP player folds. I think through the hand - am positive Brook has AA or KK and show Brook my Q and say "your overpair is good" - he shows KK.

    I won a decent sized pot at the 300/600 level when Linda raised in Seat 2, Tony called in 3 and I called from the SB with 55. The flop came 942 and Linda checked, Tony bet 1000. I thought he was trying to use his position to buy the pot (something I saw him do in the qualifier) and called. Linda called as well. We checked the turn and river. Linda turns over A4 for a pair of 4's. Tony says "I can't beat that" - I turn over my 5's and say "I can."

    The blinds get up to that crazy 1000/2000 level. I tried limping once with 44 and it was raised and reraised. OK, not gonna do that anymore I thought. Amazingly enough, I never got involved with the maniac from Seat 1 - seems like he was avoiding me like the plague. LOL. I get moved right after the blinds increase - wish Brook well and go to my new table. By this point, I haven't played many hands (or had opportunities to play) and have gone from my highwater point of 35K to about 20K. I post my BB and it's folded to the button who moves all in for 6900. The SB folds. I have to call 4900 to win 13900. It's 3:1 on my money. There aren't many hands I will fold here - I know a lot of people would say that the 5K is 25% of my stack and that it's a bad call, but with this structure, you have to take these shots when you're getting this kind of price. I somewhat reluctantly call with T5 of spades. He turns over 99 and is well ahead. The flop brings me a flush draw. The turn an open ended straight draw. It's the ten on the river though that wins me the pot. Math is goot.

    Two hands later, it's folded to me on the button. I look down at aces. I glance down at the button, a little hesitant, look over at the blinds, and say "I raise" - I make it 6000 to go. So far they've only seen me play the T5s hand, so they might think I'm a little bit of a loose cannon (at least that's what I'm hoping). The SB folds but the BB looks at me and asks how many chips I have left. I pick up my arms to show him and say "about 25K" - he says "I'm all in" and I call before he can even finish saying "all" - he has J2 of clubs. He tells me later that the way I played it was perfect, that it looked like a steal. Of course the poker gods make me sweat when he picks up an open ender on the turn, but it doesn't hit and I'm up to 55K in chips, nearly the average stack with 50 players left (top 30 get paid).

    I wouldn't get many playable hands after that. I win a small pot from the BB that the SB and I check down. Generally though the action went like this... raise from someone to act before me, I look down at 94o and fold. There were few times I was first to act and the few times I was, I just didn't want to risk raising and having someone move all in when any raise would be 20-30% of my stack, so I sat back and played it patient, looking for the best opportunities to accumulate chips.

    With about 35 players left in the tournament, it's folded to me in the SB and I have ATh. I make it 10,000 to go. The BB looks at his cards and reraises to 33K total, which is about 3/5 of my stack. If I called I'd have 25K left. Not an option. If I fold, I have 45K left, about 10x the BB. Normally I don't let money impact my decisions, but after forking out $1100 - I decide I'm going to play it safe and try and at least get my money back. I fold. He tells me later he had a small pair (about what I figured because he took so long to decide to raise). I pick up the blinds once by moving all in with AKs (with just 33 players left), but other then that I don't do much.

    We get down to 32 players and it's folded to Tony Hartman in the SB on my BB. He moves all in for 24K (blinds are now 3000/6000/500). I have to call 18K to win 40K. If I call and lose the hand I'll still have 25K. I've looked over the rest of the tables and now that I can fold an entire round and likely make the money. If I win the hand though, I've accumulate some chips and am up to nearly 70K. I look down at A8o. Good enough. I call. Tony has KTo, doesn't improve, another player busts at the same time, and just like that we're in the money and I'm in better chip position.

    Go through another stretch of unplayable hands... the one I do play, I raise the short stacks big blind to 15K from one before the cutoff with 99. The guy who had reraised me (a two time HPT final tabler) when I had ATh flat calls. The BB looks at one card and calls for his remaining 5500. He then proceeds to say "I only looked at one card" - I know right away that he has an ace. "You shouldn't have said that" I say - it definitely gives me an advantage if an ace doesn't flop, because I'm pretty sure the guy who called me has an ace too. The flop comes A63. *sigh* I check. Other guy goes all in. I fold. BB had A6 and flopped two pair and wins the main pot. The guy who called has AJ and wins the measly side pot. Of course the turn is a 9. Too bad it didn't come on the flop, I would have won a monster, but I knew I had to fold on the flop because even if my opponent didn't have an ace, I knew I was losing the main pot to the all in player anyway unless I hit a miracle 9.

    So I'm down to 45K or so after that hand, ante down... blinds go up to 4000/8000/1000 and we're down to 17 players by now. I post the BB and have 23K left after posting it. It's folded around to the SB - a guy who's raised to 3x the BB in the past two orbits and shown TT and QQ when he's done so. He looks over and asks me how many chips I have left... I tell him... and he min. raises. I just know he's trying to apply pressure to my short stack and could have any two cards. I have J5o. I have to call 8000 to win 32000 and I'm probably not going to get a much better shot then this. I could fold here and MAYBE pick up a hand in the next 4-5 hands, but I feel this is a good spot and if I hit any piece of the flop, I'm going to go all in. The flop comes A85. The SB bets 10000. I have 16,500 left and put the rest in. He grumbles and says "well that was one of the stupidest plays I've ever made" and reluctantly calls the remaining 6500 with 97o. The turn is an 8 and I'm nearly a 4:1 favorite to double up to nearly 70K. The river is a 6 though and I stand up and thank everyone.

    Was a great time - good for $1788, $200 of which I had to give to Jordan since we swapped 13% of each other and $50 which went to the dealers. So even though I only netted $300 - I had a great time, I felt I played as well as I could, finishing 17th out of 500 or so players isn't bad. In the second qualifier, I never went all in and was called except with the AK vs AK hand. In the finals, I was only all in once before the flop and was called, and that was the AA hand. If I can avoid all in pre-flop poker... I know I'm doing something right. And while it would have been nice to make the final 6, get on TV and get the big cash... I know it's only a matter of time.

  • #2
    Great, great read Aaron. I felt like I was there watching. Congrats!


    • #3
      WTG. I enjoyed reading it and your passion for poker is evident not only by your plays and teaching, but in how you tell the story to the rest of us. Thanks for sharing.



      • #4
        Hi Aaron, Thanks for an excellent report with lots of detail. I sent some positive thoughts your way this weekend. Congrats. The best is yet to come. Chuck


        • #5
          Thanks for the report Aaron, it made me nervous just reading about it. Congrats.




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