Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Started my Pacific Poker experiment last night in an $8+.8 two-table NLHE. Interesting prize structure with five places playing, more than Empire’s two-table payouts of four places. I don’t remember it exactly (possibly because I came in 9th), but it’s something like $56-44-32-20-8 (ratio of 35 : 27.5 : 20 : 12.5 : 5) as opposed to the 40:30:20:10 ratio of Empire. Play was seemingly standard and in line with the $10 tables at Empire, although I never figured out how to get hand histories, so recaps will be difficult.

On the very first hand, I started auspiciously with KK in big blind. Five limpers and I made a 3BB raise, folding two out. Flop was the very ugly AJx, three spades. I take a peek at my cowboys… no spade. Shit. I test the water with a bet, and get raised immediately, followed by a second raise all-in. Easy muck, but I get a bad vibe right away.

Next hand in small blind… JJ. Well, at least the opening hands are nice at Pacific. This time, two callers and a raise on the button. Sigh. I call along with both of the limpers. Of course, the flop is AKx and after I check, someone pops all-in, and I fold. Well, now that I’ve exhausted my allotment of premium starting hands (and lost with both), I settle into a nice little game of fold, fold, oh, and fold again. I make a couple of ill-timed blind stealing attempts, getting re-raised back both times and mucking baby pairs and AT before ending up at the final table as the second lowest stack. Blinds escalate by time, making it easy for the big stacks to stall until the shortstacks get blinded out. Which is what happened to me until I ended up all-in with crap (I think it was 98o), got called with QT, and lost on the river when a Queen smacked down my flopped 8.

Quick note about the blind structure (and this could have a major impact on the upcoming blogger tourney). Strategy on manipulating the blinds may have just as profound an effect as Strategy on playing cards or position. If you manage to double or triple up early, it might be advantageous to start slowing down the game (think Dean Smith with a ten-point lead), get the blinds higher, and force the shortstacks into desperation mode. If you’re lucky enough to catch decent cards, you could pick them off when they’re forced to move in with sub-premium cards, or steal blinds when they’re reluctant to push all-in. Also, with the escalating blinds, the medium stacks will also be vulnerable to blind stealing because they’ll be protecting against being the next ones out. This structure definitely favors someone who gets an early lead and is an effective bully.

I also dropped a $20+2 Empire SnG again. I read back through the recap, and I couldn’t find any major errors until the final hand, unless you count folding Q2 of diamonds from the button and seeing AKJ of diamonds appear on the board. I played about as well as I could given the cards I was getting. My chips were in the pot when I had good hands and pot odds on my side. I’m not really sure why I pushed with six players left and pocket sixes. The 2nd stack had been stealing blinds and I had basically made up my mind that I was cracking back with any decent hand. I guess I thought pocket sixes constituted a decent hand. Fortunately, I was right and he folded. Unfortunately, the top stack was still in and called behind me. I ended up all in against his AQ of spades, putting it to a coin flip. The 432 with two spades kept odds even, and the 8d turn made me the 2-1 favorite. The 9s sent me home.

If I had won that hand, I would’ve taken over 2nd place with three very small stacks still in the game, virtually guaranteeing I would’ve been in the money. (Yeah, I know, if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle) I had a read on all four players behind me, and feel confident that I would’ve ended up head-to-head. Did I play it perfectly? Tough to say, since most poker bloggers seem to feel that you have to win a couple of coin flips to win any tournament, and this was only my second showdown of the night. So, down $31 for the night, and I still think I played well. Am I self-delusional or what?


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