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$500 NLHE Foxwoods – very long

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  • $500 NLHE Foxwoods – very long

    I arrived at Foxwoods around 8:30am. The drive from home (Fairfield, CT) normally takes about 1-1/2 hrs, but as anyone who knows the area will tell you, I-95 can be a real xxxx. Sure enough, just a couple of miles onto the highway, I dodged my first bullet. They are permanently repairing, widening, painting lines, etc. around the Fairfield/Bridgeport area and sections of the road are continuously coned off. We are down to two lanes but the early Saturday morning traffic is moving nicely when suddenly the truck in front slams on his brakes. The whole lane came to a stop whilst the outside lane merrily whizzes along. He edges out into the outside lane to reveal a cone rolling on its side to & fro across our lane. As I edge past it myself I make a mental note to check it's still there on my return. (It wouldn't surprise me.) If anyone has a hankering to travel along every interstate at least once, I suggest you do I-95 very early on a Saturday morning and head away from NYC, unless you have several hours to kill and are particularly interested in highway maintenance. Only one other thing of note on the journey, as I was passing exit 55, the radio jock announced the temp – 55 degrees. Was Presto gonna be my hand?

    I get to Foxwoods and park the car. A tip for anyone who hasn't been to Foxwoods, but plans to drive there … they have plenty of self-parking space but most are far enough away from the hotel complex that they bus you in. Although they are very regular, every few minutes, if you're like me and hate waiting for anything, head for the garage parking. There are always spaces, unless you get there on a Friday or Saturday evening and the elevators take you straight to the casinos. The only reason I mention this is because most of the signposts for Parking try and lead you to the open-air parking, or give you the impression that the garage parking is a bit hit or miss. This is rarely so.

    I head to registration. I used some of my sponsorship points for this event and Mark had advised me to ring a week early and confirm the money was there. I did and it was. This all went very smoothly, the lady I spoke to on the phone told me who to contact a registration. When I did this the person there was already expecting me. A couple of minutes later I'd signed the receipt and got my table & seat number. I'd like to think Mark and Foxwoods for making this process as easy as possible. $500 is hardly whale material and I had visions of 'who are you', 'who forwarded the money', etc.

    The event was due to start at 10am and as it was barely 9am I decided to lose my customary fifty or so bucks at Craps. I have entered half a dozen events at Foxwoods and this has become a sort of ritual. Today was no different. %5 Pass line bet, point made – full odds, please, 7 out. $5 Pass line bet, point made – full odds, please, $5 come bet – 4 rolled, full odds on the come bet, please – 7 out. One day I will at least be able to stay at the table for my drink to arrive

    I head for the coffee bar, I may have to pay for it but it's a hell of a lot cheaper. I go over my game plan. Starting stacks are 1,500 with initial blinds at 25 & 25, 50-min. rounds. Round 2 blinds are 25 & 50, Round 3 – 50 & 100. Play reasonably tight, be patient, but don't be afraid to look for opportunities with position to bet good hands.

    10 o'clock finally arrives and I take my seat. 3 years ago when I first played in a tournament at Foxwoods, the number they would get for this event of buy-in was around about 200. The tables would be set-up just a little from the main Poker Room. This area is under a big sky light and on sunny days some players would have to squint and shade there eyes all through the first few levels until the sun rose. As the number of entrants got bigger, they moved the tournament to a ballroom, much to everyone's relief. Now though, the entries have got so big they use both areas, I was under the skylight but fortunately not looking at the sun. There were 515 entries.

    The deal for the button is made on 1 table and then announced to the rest. 1st hand, I'm under the gun. Rags. Fold. Well, unless someone goes out I've still got average chips :lol: .

    Nothing of note really happened in the first round. Everybody just trying to feel other people out. I took down a couple of hands and ended the round a couple of hundred up without showing a hand. Although I always try to reevaluate as the tourney progresses, I put people into 3 categories early on in the event. Category 1 – first timers. Played a bit online, seen some TV and after all it's only $500. People who know the basic rules (i.e. you get 2 cards and usually you get some more put in the middle). Category 2 – play fairly regularly, read the books, understand the basic concepts, can think a hand through and at least try and put someone on a hand(s). Category 3 – Good players and above. I would put myself in the largest and broadest category, 2. After a few hands, at my table I would say we had 3 – 1's, 6 – 2's and a possible 3.

    My priorities here are with category 3 players, just to play premium hands, I'm not calling raises, I'm folding or re-raising and I'm not limping, I'm going to make big bets simply because I figure to be outplayed after the flop. With category 2's, premium hands as above, but also good trapping hands such as Axs, big connectors and small/medium pocket pairs if I have good position and can see the flop cheaply. I realize some people may disagree that these are profitable hands but with this amount of starting chips and blinds increasing every 50 minutes, you can't just sit around waiting for AA, KK and AKs. At the start of the 4th round a pot-sized raise can be a 1/3rd of an average stack and you haven't even seen a 100 hands yet. You need to gamble a little bit early. I am only talking about good trapping hands here, hands that will make nut flushes and nut straights or top 2 pair. I will let these hands go to any action if I just hit top pair with no monster draws available, although I will make a stab at the pot if I'm first to bet sometimes. With category 1 players I'm playing just good solid cards but I'm far more willing to push them and overplay them if I sense weakness.

    Early in the second round I get Tc9c on the button, a couple callers (cat 1 players) and I call as well. Both blinds come along and we see a flop of TTx. All check to me so I bet $200. I know I'm far from the nuts here and I will lay this down to big re-raise. I have one caller. Again I'm a little wary but when he checks the turn I bet $400. He folds. I had the guy covered and I was pretty sure he didn't have the other Ten but again I would have folded to an all-in bet. Against good players and a reasonably tough table, I would probably call figuring he could be making a move on me and I would rather go and play some ring poker with the other fish rather than grind it out with a small stack against a good bunch of players if I'm wrong.

    The start of the third level (sb 50, bb 100) I have about $2,400. A couple of people have busted and unfortunately they have been replaced with category 3 players. Fortunately they are to my immediate right. A hand I wasn't involved in happened during this round and reinforced one of my goals – don't get carried away with the second nuts – the original cat 3 player (chip leader at the table) and one of the new cat 3 players are the only two to see the flop when the new player calls the original players small raise pre-flop. The flop is not particularly exciting but does contain 2 hearts. There is small bet from the new player who was originally defending his blind and he gets a call. Turn is third heart. Check, small bet, small re-raise. The original player thinks for a bit and then pushes all-in, new player virtually beats him to the pot and wins a huge pot thanks to his Ace flush beating King flush. I was thankful to witness this a few hands later when I get QJ spades in the BB and a free check as 5 of us see a flop of three rags with 1 of my suit. Everyone checks. The turn is a second spade. Again no one wants the pot. The river completes my flush. I make a small bet and I'm called in one place. My Queen high flush is beaten by his King high flush. I guess he learnt the same lesson. Unlike Limit there is a huge difference in NL between the nuts and the second nuts.

    At the 4th level (sb 75, bb 150) I'm doing OK, no big confrontations yet but I'm picking up some blinds, seeing some flops and taking down pots with some initial bets in good position. The only hand I've had to show so far was the QJs and I'm starting to feel pretty good about my game. I can take a bad beat or two against some of the smaller stacks and not be crippled so I decide to take some shots at them if the opportunity arises and as they start to get desperate. Or else I'm just playing big hands. I do indeed get some big hands in this and the next level – AA, KK, AK twice and QQ. Again I never have to show down any of these hands. A substantial raise was only called twice, with the KK and one of the AK's and both of these were mine when I bet the flops.

    At the end of the 5th level I have about 8k in chips and we are all moved to the main arena downstairs. I guess at this stage there are about 200 of us left. Those of us who have come from upstairs draw for seats. As I settle into my new table a quick glance tells me I have a good stack, about 3rd/4th largest at the table and no absolute monsters to worry about. If anyone puts me all-in they had better win or they are gonna be severely crippled. I'm in the 1 seat and opposite me in the 6 seat is some guy going on about P.S.O. I go over and introduce myself to IndyBob. He was having a whale of a time chatting to the table, laughing and joking. I'm normally very quiet & reserved at the table (my British upbringing ), but I joined in with some banter when I raised his blind a couple of times. The antes had kicked in now (sb 100, bb 200, antes 25) and with $9—dead money in the middle it was always worth taking a stab at it if you had reasonable cards and were first in. And honest Bob, I had hands when I did it to you – ATs and QQ. And a bit later he got me back when a raised mine. I was holding a pair of 4's and thought a little bit to make him sweat but flashed them to him as I mucked.

    I got moved shortly after the blinds moved up to 200 & 400 with antes at $25 at the eighth level, and my stack had increased to about 14+K. They are about 80 people left, so I have better than average chips but at this table I'm a short stack. Jeez, when does this table break! Damn it's not, it's gonna be the final table.

    I'm hating this table, lots of good players, with chips and using them aggressively. I win a couple of pots when I raise first in and am allowed to take them down contested but apart from this, I don't play a hand. At the end of the level I got about 14K still and it's the dinner break with about 50 players left.

    After a brief chat with IndyBob and his intended, Rudie, (congrats, again), I head outside for a ciggie and some fresh air. I ring my wife with the latest, as I've done every break, and got the latest on how our beautiful daughter's doing. She's 8 months now and everyday she seems to be learning something new. Only yesterday she learned to come over the top of NewJane when she make a steal move on the button :twisted: .

    I head back but I've missed the PSO crowd, so I wander around the packed fast-food section. When I didn't see anyone I head for the bar by the Sports Book and Poker Room. Even though it was a busy Saturday night, there is always space here, something to bear in mind if you just want a quick bite at busy times. I ordered a hamburger & fries and a well-deserved beer. Thinking about the tournament so far, I was very happy. I had roughly average chips and hadn't really been in a position where my stack was at risk. I resolved to now play only strong hands strongly. I was now almost certainly one of the lesser players left and I wasn't going to risk going bust on anything speculative, especially as my stack couldn't really take many hits. With blinds at 300 & 600 and antes at 100 in round 9, you can easily lose a few K limping and calling small raises and then having to release when/if the flop misses you.

    I know a lot of players think this is the time to loosen up a bit, when everyone is tightening up (I do usually). But I've never been in this position, at these sort of buy-ins before, so I think discretion is the better part of valor! I know it's a cliché but with only 27 being paid, 27th is my Cup Final/Superbowl and anything else is bonus.

    I meet IndyBob before we start again and we wish each other good luck. I moan about my tough table, he tells me he has HuckSeed with a mountain of chips on his left and Kathy Liebert with a sizeable hill on his right. Maybe my table isn't so tough after all. I hardly got any cards in Round 9 & 10 except AA in the small blind only in Round 10 (sb 400, bb 800, ante 100). It's folded to me and I make the minimum raise. The bb calls and a flop of 228 comes. I'm relieved when he threw his hand to my 2K bet. Only one other hand of note involving me came along, when in the bb, it gets folded to the sb, who thinks for a few minutes and folds also. I peak at the T7o as the dealer pushes me the chips. At these limits an orbit is costing $2,100 and I'm relieved that I was given a free pot. Almost every hand was getting raised pre-flop at this stage and my stack had been steadily dwindling, so it was a good break.

    During this level a monster hand was played. Early position aggressive player, second with chips at the table (maybe second overall), made an 3x bb raise, small stack re-raised all-in about 5K. BB and the largest stack calls, EP then re-raises all-in about 30/40K. BB thinks for about 3 or 4 minutes and finally calls. EP has QQ, small stack JJ and BB KK. The Kings hold up and when he has finally stacked all the chips you can't see his eyes over his stack.

    There's another break before level 11 (sb 600, bb 1200, ante 200) and my stack has dwindled to about 8,000. Another cigarette, another chat to the Mrs. And I know I need a hand quick. There are about 35 players left and I'm listening intently for casualties. Nothing. I go an orbit and down to about 5K when 3rd to act I see 99. This is the best hand I've seen for a long time and when the guy on my immediate rights calls, I go all-in. Everyone folds back to him and he calls and flips over AK. Well, okay I'm ahead but I prepare myself for an almighty let down. I don't remember anything about the flop except the wonderful 9. I check he had no str8 or flush possibilities on the turn and allowed myself to breathe again. I still have a pitiful stack but surly we will lose a few players soon. 2 hands later I'm UTG and get AKo, with any sort of raise leaving me committed I push all-in again. If truth be told I wanted everyone to fold although doubling up here would leave me fairly healthy. Sure enough the guy in the BB, the same guy I won the coin flip with before, called my bet. I have slightly more chips than him but should I lose I won't even have enough for my blind.

    This time he has the advantage with JJ. The flop comes down with no Jack but no Ace or King either. The turn is another rag and my heart sinks. And then comes that beautiful Ace on the river. Some say there are moments in life, which are better than sex. When that Ace of diamonds (I even remember the suit) hit the board I experienced one. The adrenaline rush was just unbelievable.

    Now I'm in reasonable shape, more than doubled up twice in a few hands and I have also knocked someone out. Only one of the money now with 28 players left.

    I can also build myself a pyramid. I've been so short stacked with hardly any $100 chips that I've barely had two columns to my name for the last 2 or 3 hours. Now I'm overflowing with 100's (seems that was everything the guy on my right had) and carefully start to build. It's still a bit pitiful compared to the 3-story monstrosity opposite me, but it's mine and I'm proud of it. Then along came the Tournament Director handing out racks. If you can fill it with 100's please do so he says. Seems there's always someone who wants to rain on your parade! They may be the same value but ten $1,000 chips don't look have half as impressive as one hundred $100 chips.

    I don't really remember much about the 12th level (sb 800, bb 1,600, ante 300) card-wise, but I must have done okay because at the end of it I had about 20K in chips and was in the money. The tension was palpable the whole way through. Seven people each and four tables all just playing premium hands, it seemed. Every time there was an all-in the other tables would stand and watch the short stack survive. We were playing hand-for-hand and with about 10 minutes of the level remaining, finally the 28th placed player was known. It was at my table. An early position raise from a reasonable stack meant my trash easily hit the muck. Folded to the BB. He thinks for a minute and then pushes all-in. He has EP raiser out-chipped about 3 to 2. Now it's his turn to think and he seems to take an age. Finally, he calls. Everyone is on their feet, the entire table is surrounded by all the other players from the other tables and the spectators (yes, we had spectators 8O ) are craning to see the hole cards.

    AQo for the initial bettor, KK for the BB, who is now standing on his seat yelling for his Kings to be good. Flop, turn and river are all rags. Finally, we are all "in the money". We have to redraw for seats and I move to another table shaking his hand as we pass. There are only a few minutes left of the round but 4 people bust out in this time.

    Another break, another cigarette and call to my wife. IndyBob and I congratulate each other on our money finishes and I meet JCastle. I return to the table to find my 2 leftover $100 chips had become a 500 chip as the color up and race-off had taken place. A nice way to start the level with blinds now at 1,000 for the sb, 2,000 for the bb, and a 500 ante. After only a few hands we are redrawing for seats again and down to 18 players. Another $500 won and a final table finish now needed for an improvement. In middle position, it's folded to me and I get AQo. I make it 6K to go and it's folded to the BB, who calls. The flop came Q high and when the BB checks I go all-in. He thinks for awhile and then calls. My hand is good with his KQs out kicked. No king comes and so with his suit not an issue I more than double up and have a very respectable 40K sitting in front of me. A couple of hands later he took a bad beat when Kathy Liebert called his all-in bet with QQ and got a lucky flop – a 3rd Q cracked his Pocket Rockets. HuckSeed was also at my table and it was interesting to watch these two play. Unfortunately, he was moved fairly soon, so I only got to see him play a few hands. A strange thing to say I know, but I would have liked to watch him more.

    The game has basically followed a predicable pattern now, with a fair sized raise being allowed to take the pot. Everyone seems to know everyone else by now and I'm definitely the odd one out. First to act and in the cut off I get 66. I think about making a raise but figure I don't want to commit myself too much and take a gamble I might see a cheap flop by just limping. The button folds and with the SB just completing it looks good, but unfortunately, the BB makes a big raise – about 15K leaving him with about 10K. I have him and the SB out chipped by about 8K. I'm not going to play this hand but I don't want them all to think I can easily be pushed around, so I go into deep thought. I ask the dealer how much he has left and make a big deal about leaning around him (I'm in the 9 seat) to see how much the small blind has. I start to go over stuff in my mind and start to question my initial thoughts. I haven't really seen the player before, could he be making a move? Why did he keep 10K back? Surely he's committed if I re-raise. I decide he must have a hand and even if I am ahead I'm only a coin-flip. So, know I try some psychology, I keep pondering what to do. I haven't played many hands and I've rarely ever limped. I figure by now people are thinking I have a decent pair of AK, and I'm hoping I may be able to use this later to my advantage. (Probably trying to run before I can walk, I know!) Kathy Liebert calls the floor to call time on me. I didn't think it had been that long but when you're wrapped up in your own thoughts I guess time can fly. Given 1 minute to decide my action, I muck. Spiro Mitrokostas, who was on my immediate right leaned over and whispered, "you can bet your life he had AA in that situation!" I said I had a medium pair and he nodded in a 'you did the right sort of thing' way. Hopefully, Kathy Liebert will win the WSOP so I can bore my grandchildren with how I'd rattled the great Kathy Liebert; she was forced to try any trick to tilt me. Well, that the spin I'll put on it anyway 8) .

    We're into level 14, I have about 40K and the blinds are 1,500 and 3,000 with 500 antes. After an orbit of trash it's folded to me in the cut-off. I have K9o and decide to try a steal with a 6K raise. It goes to plan until the BB, a large stack, calls. The flop comes JT8 with 2 diamonds. The BB makes it 10K to go. I have about 26K left and clearly a re-raise is not going to make him fold, he has me out-chipped easily. I have 8 outs with my straights and maybe my K, which is a diamond, will be good if it hits. There is 23K already in the pot and if I go all-in and he calls – which he surely will, the pot will be 75K. That should easily be enough to see me through to the final table should I get lucky. There are only 14 of us left and with the prize money not increasing again until the final 9, I think I should have gambled. Writing this trip report has helped me a lot to think about some of the aspects of my game. Although I'm doing most of this from memory, it is all correct, in as far as the hands go, although I'm not always so sure about my stack position at each level. I think next time I will make notes on this and any interesting hands during the breaks as it definitely helps you review the way you played. This hand is a case in point. I folded but after thinking this through and seeing the figure written down, I think I should have moved all-in. By folding I'm not really accomplishing the chance of a money climb. I didn't think my steal was entirely wrong. I'd hardly played any hands, so I think I was being pegged as weak-tight and I couldn't hang around for big hands forever.

    If I'd completely missed the flop then I would have no hesitation folding, but I think I hit enough to go for it. I added how much the pot would be worth and roughly calculated the odds in my mind, but in the end gave in to the thought that I didn't want to bust on a steal gone awry and a draw. Anyway, I could always get 99 and AK in succession again.

    I didn't and the next time I have a hand I'm UTG with 16K and with pocket 5's. I make a 6K raise and 1 player calls me. The only player who has less than me. The flop is all overcards, but I immediately push all-in. He has no problem shoving the rest of his chips in when the Jack on the board matches the 2 in his hand and leaves me drawing dead. I pay my ante for the next hand and have exactly the BB left. So, I'm all-in and have to leave my fate to the poker gods. They aren't smiling. 96o. I get a 6 on the flop but with 4 others just checking it down I'm not hopeful. A second King on the turn lifts my hopes slightly when still no one bets, after all, I now have 2 pair. When they all check the river, I let myself dream a bit. I did have the best 2 pair – kings and sixes, but alas, my kicker was no good – an A6 in one of the other hands, once again showing the importance of kicker cards in No Limit.

    So, a good tournament. 13th out of 515, $2,595 in prize money and all profit c/o PSO sponsorship points. I thought I played well and didn't really make any bad mistakes, although I would play the K9 differently if I had my time again. Incidentally, I ran into the same guy during the $500 Limit tournament – short trip report, AK beaten twice early and QQ beaten in the 3rd round, I'm out – and I asked him about the hand. He said he almost certainly had either AJ or QQ, he couldn't remember the hand exactly but those were the hands he would play that way and he had them both at about that time.

    Thanks to all the PSO-ers I met who gave me encouragement and I welcome any criticisms/comments on any of the hands I've described. See you at the tables.


  • #2
    Excellent report!! And congratulations on placing in the money! Next time I hope you take it all.

    John Berry


    • #3

      A great report. Great tournament finish. Pokeer Bankroll builder.

      GON, WTG



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