Sunday, May 13, 2007

The State Championship

As I wrote earlier today, I finished 15th at the Minnesota State Championship for the MN Poker League. I was both really bummed, but I also quite proud of the fact I took 15th. I really wanted to win it all, but it just wasn't in the cards. I'd like to recap the day that was my experiences at this tournament.

When I sat down at the first table (see picture at the left), the table seemed to be a mix of a handful of strong players and a few more dead money players. I was very happy to spot the suckers. I was able to do this in just a couple of minutes...I knew I was NOT the sucker! I started slow, as was my plan, I started out in the number 8th position. I really liked starting here. The button started in the 10 spot and I had a great view of the players at the table. The 10 and 1 spots couldn't see each other since we had dealer. There was nice grandma type to my immediate left, and an educated, upstanding leader type in my BB. So two passive players for me in position. My under-the-gun player was a different story. He was fairly aggressive and picked many spots and hands to raise. All 3 guys to my right were passive players as well.

At about the 3rd hand of the tournament, I was dealt an A Q o. I did a standard raise and the all folded. This was the last time my unbet stack was below the starting amount until I busted. Yes, that's right, I never at any moment in this tournament below 10,000 chips. I hadn't realized this until I started working on what I was going to write here.

The next time I moved my chips was when I was under the gun a couple of hands later. I was dealt Kh Qh and had done a standard raise. The only caller was the button. A player, that on very recent hand had put a big part of his stack on the line with pocket 5s. The flop came 10h Jh 4h. I floped the second nut flush! I bet out half pot size. He quickly called me. I figured this meant that he was either on the flush draw or had caught part of this flop. The turn was a As. I bet half the pot again and he smooth called me again. Now I'm wondering if had a straight draw or the ace of spades or a set? What could this guy have that would make him keep calling. I was also thinking about the hand earlier that he called it down with a pocket pair. Something was suspicious here. Well the river was a blank to anything I thought he might have. I was first to act after the river was dealt. I really didn't think he had the ace high flush. I would be suprised that he never reraised me at any point in this hand. I still had my entire stack when we started the hand and he was already missing half of his. I followed my gut and raised him all-in. My heart sank when he insta-called me. To my suprise, he turned over pocket 9s! OK...the donkey lost...and everyone at the table scratched there head there trying to figure out just what the heck he was doing in that hand...I guess, I didn't really care...I was now the table chip leader!

I stole a few blinds in the next few trips around the table and started really getting a feel for the table. A few loose players started to showing themselves. None of them sat next to me. The retired guy 3 to my right sure limped a lot of pots. After a few trips around the table, I played KK from in the whole with a standard raise. The only caller was the BB. The flop came K J 6 rainbow. The guy I was in the pot with was a pretty loose aggressive player and I chose to slow play my set. The turn was a 10. Now at this time, the guy in the pot seemed to change his demeanor and bet the pot. My feeling was he had hit the straight. I gave him a fairly large raise and he thought for a minute and called me. I was sure he hit something. The river seemed to be a blank for both of us. He bet out a value bet. I knew it...he hit the straight. I called any ways just to make sure. and I was right...he hit the straight. Thankfully, I had taken such a big pot from the other guy, I could afford this.

The next time I was in the BB, the retired guy limped into the pot and was the only one with money after the LB folded. I looked at my cards and found Js 5c. I checked the option and watch the flop. JJ5...Gin! I checked and he checked. The river was a 10. I checked and he checked. The river was an ace. At this time, he seemed to get really excited and I thought he was going to bet, so I asked for a chip count. He started to count his chips and the dealer started hounding me about needing to do something and I kept telling him that I was waiting for the chip count. I don't think the dealer got it. The retired guy and the guy to his right were busy counting the chips and came up with a number for me. I announced raise to that amount and he insta-called me and turned over A 10. He was really proud of those cards. I showed the J 5 and he was still really happy and the dealer needed to explain to him that a full house beat his 2 pair.

Now I had about 30,000 in chips! But here was my first really big mistake...I didn't play a hand again for a very long time. I had a big stack and just watched. In retrospec, I should have played it like I do online. Open up my hand selection a bit and splash it around some.

I had a feeling my play was too tight because when I opened a pot, everyone would fold. Now I did have a big hand each time that happened, but I standard raised each time from a variety of positions. I WAS PLAYING TOO TIGHT.

Well, just before dinner break, I was down to 23,000 in chips and had fairly recently moved to a new table. The blinds were at 3000/6000 (I think...I was getting tired and hungry at this time). Since I was now short stacked, I raised all-in with KK from under the gun. Brenda about died at this time and she said "I was think, Tim! What are you doing?" Everyone back to the BB. Now in the few hand I'd seen of this guy, he splashed his chips around a lot. Since it was only 17,000 more for him to call...he did just that. He turns of AK and I turn over KK. I had him dominated! There were no aces and my hand held.

A lot of people were busting out at this time. Most pots were getting splashed into a lot. I chose to stay out of the way when the deck tuned ice cold. Most hands now contained at least one duece. I was really hoping to switch gears, but geez! I just don't bluff that often with absolute crap...maybe I need to start??? Something to think about.

We kept busting down...people were dropping all over the place. Before I knew it...we were at 2 tables! I was in the top 20! But look at my stack. I was short stacked and the tightest player in the tournament. I could get a hand and opened my hand selection even further. I started moving all-in with K 10, Q 10. This bought me some blinds, but nothing else.

We were down to 15 player, and my stack was still tiny. I was in the 4 position and found KQ. The blinds are at 4000/8000. I have about 30,000 in chips and move all-in. It folds around to the BB. He thinks for a while and justifies calling because he's getting the right price. OK...whatever you need to do...and calls. He keeps talking about how he's pretty sure and hopes his cards are live and turns over K 10. According to the odds calculater at, I was a 3:1 favorite. To make a sad story quick, he hit 2 more tens and I was out in 15th place.

I'm happy I died with my boots on and lost to the inferior hand. I learned a lot playing in the tournament and met a lot of really nice people.

Brenda and I hung around to watch Jerry make the final table. He started the table in 3rd chip position, and finished in the same spot. For a detailed play by play, click here.

Thanks to everyone that called and sent text messages! Those were really encouraging and greatly appreciated. This experience has inspired me to keep going trying again to make a run at a championship.

Here's a pictue of me with 2006 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Finalist and Minnesota Poker League founder Brook Lyter.

A picture of Brenda with Heartland Poker Tour event winner Jennifer Kriewald.

Jerry at the final table! Gallery grew even bigger as the night drew on! Follow this link to see a play by play written by Brook Lyter.

Posted by Picasa


Bodie25 said...

Nihan' Sir. Wish I could have been holding the KT against you in that hand. I would have folded.

Next time I'll be sitting right next to you, or in the gallery at least.