Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Shuffle Up and Deal - Free Poker Gold Rush - Week 1

Week 1 for the Free Poker Network Gold Rush was last night at Brother's Bar and Grill in Rochester. I went into the evening confident but humble. The summer leagues I stunk up the joint only making the points once, but felt good about finishing 2nd in the HU Challenge. I played that turnament smart and relaxed.

The census numbers of the first night were a little disappointing. Only 51 people were there. Last year, in the fall, we had 80.

My goal for the evening was to just play smart. I've pretty much given up on any tricky plays early and only bluff in situations with low risk. It's too easy to lose chips to a complete donkey move and get behind the 8 ball early.

The first time I put chips in the middle voluntarily was against Grant M. I've played him several times and he's agressive and likes to bluff. The blinds are 25/50. He limps in UTG and I'm the BB. The LB calls and I check pre-flop with KJ. The flop come J 8 4 rainbow. I check the top pair, I'm positive the Grant will continuation bet and I'm rewarded with a raise of 200. The turn is a duece. I check again, I really believe my hand is good at this point. I really doubt he would limp with A J or a pocket pair. There are no draws paying off at the moment and I'm sure he'll raise for me. Again he raises, this time about 400. I call. The river is a 5. I now firmly believe I have the best hand, but I don't like to die with just top pair, so I check again. I plan to call any raise that doesn't leave me devastated. This time he raises 700, I call. He turns over A 9...yeah! I knew he didn't have it! Score one big pot on picking off a bluff by being patient and reading the hand carefully.

I took out another guy a few hands later. I had 9 7 on the button and called the min raise from the UTG player (Evan Kramer). He'll make that same raise whether he has big cards or a weak ace. He rarely limps. Everyone else folds, so we are heads up. The flop is Q 9♣ 6♠. Evan bets have the pot, but it really feels like a continuation bet to me. The turn is a 8 I now have a flush and straight draw. Evan likes to stay aggressive once he has the lead and he bets the same bet as the flop. When he's done that before, he's usually just betting at the pot with nothing. I think about this, I probably could take the pot right now with a bet, but I seriously think that even if he hits on the river with a pair, I might still have him if I hit the flush or straight. So I check again. The river is a blank. He checks. I didn't improve, but I'm sure my 9 is good. But if I raise here, I'm only getting called or reraised with a better I check. He had nothin. Score another pot for not folding to some pressure!

The final hand of note last night occured just shortly after the hand with Evan. I'm the chip leader at my table table. The blinds are 50/100 and I'm in the cut-off with 33. I limp in with 2 limps in front of me. The button folds and so does the LB. The BB checks. The flop comes 2 36. It checks around to me I raise 400 to see where I'm at. Only the BB calls. Now, she's new to me. I've never seen her before, but she seems confident of not arrogant. From her conversations thus far, she seems to be a competent player. There was no raise to her in BB so she could have any 2 cards. I'm guessing she's either hit the straight or drawing to the flush or the straight. The turn comes A♣. She checks again. This really makes me suspicous. Does she already have something? or is she still drawing. I bet out 700. She instantly calls me. OK...I think she slow playing now. The river is 2♠. If she's drawing to the flush, she missed, if she had 2 pair...she's got a smaller full house. She could have got the straight on the flop, or a pair of sixes in the whole...but I'll be will to 700 that she has the straight. She instantly goes all in. Even if I lose this call, I'd be back down to the starting stack or just a little less. I call. I was now the huge chip leader at the table. The funny thing was as she left the table, she slides her chips my way and says "Merry Christmas". I thought that was funny, because had she raised on the turn, I might very well have folded or just called and then folded to any raise on the river had the 2 not come.