Gargoyle Tournament Series, Season 10, Game 2

Started out fairly normal. I don’t remember any huge hands, but I came into the game with a few goals:

Don’t play as many weaker hands out of position weakly. If I want to play them, I have to player them stronger and pay attention to the people to my left to see if they’re already interested in playing.

If I make it to the middle stages of the tournament, I have to be raising a fair amount when I have position, even with weaker hands. I can’t simply sit by and wait for good cards, but instead look for good opportunities to take some chips down.

Don’t slow play. Nothing good can come of it.

The first hand I remember winning was with A/Jo against Mr. Miles and the Milkman. I was in the big blind and called a small raise. The flop is Jack high and I check call as does Milkman. Mr. Miles checks the turn and I can see him eying me suspiciously. He of course knows that I hit my hand. I lead out on the safe river and Milkman calls while Mr. Miles folds (no surprise). I take down a good pot and Mr. Miles tells me he knew he was in trouble when I called the flop.

After not seeing A/A for a month or so, I wake up in the big blind with it and 3 bet it against Ron who folds after thinking about it. Ah well!

I open from late with Q/Q against Dave (new guy, no nickname). At least one other person calls. The flop is King high (Yuck!) but I bet like I have it. Dave calls. The turn is a Queen, which is awesome. I bet a normal amount and he folds saying he only wanted to see if I would fire a second barrel. Interesting. I’m glad I didn’t try to slow play as I’m sure I would have been crushed on the river.

No idea what I had, but I remember opening and then getting a stare down from Mr. Miles. With our history, we usually smile and banter, but I decided to change it up and just stay calm and stare icily back at him. He folds and says it was scary!

By this point of the tournament I have an above average chip stack, probably 1.5x what I started with. Blinds are still low so I’m feeling very comfortable and willing to take some chances. I decide to try a false tell and raise from late and use a bit of force to put my chips down. This is of course a tell of strength. It works and everyone folds. The mental/psychological side of this game can be fun if you have the chips to get into it.

I make an easy fold against Dave on an Ace high board. It had checked around to him and he bet VERY enthusiastically. We all fold and he says he hit his Ace. I tell him it was obvious from his projected strength and get an odd amount of silence from him. Not sure he knew he was giving off that tell.

At about this point, we combine down to 2 tables and I’m moved to a new table. I have about 20k behind and blinds have gone up to 500/1,000. 20 big blinds is not bad compared to what other folks have.

I limp/call with 4/4 against a least 2 people, including Rocco. I remember when I sat down at the table that I saw him there and remembered that for whatever reason, I’m unusually lucky against him. The board helps: K/Q/4. I lead out and he instantly calls. Everyone else folds. The turn adds a flush draw I think and I fire again and he calls immediately again. This whole time I’ve got him on K/something, maybe two pair or some type of draw. He’s giving off a strong vibe of strength, but I don’t have him on a hand that can beat me. With his willingness to call I want as many chips in the middle on just about any river. I move all-in for my remaining ~10k and he calls. I’m way ahead of his K/J (I think) and take down a HUGE pot of around 44k. Wow.

I call blind from the big blind against JG2’s all in. He didn’t have much and I think it’s a good move for the tournament. We both have two live cards so it’s a flip. I hit one of mine and knock him out. I’m sure he wasn’t happy especially since I didn’t have much of a hand, but with as many chips as I had, I think it was a good risk to take.

From the big blind, I call with A/5s against Jason and maybe one more player. The flop is Qs/2s/3. With the combo draw of the nut flush and straight, I lead out for about 75% of the pot. This was around 7,500 I think. One fold and Jason moves all-in for around 23,500 more. Yikes. The pot is now around 50,000 and I have around 30,000 behind. A call/loss would leave me with 1 all-in move but a win would give me around 80,000. I go deep into the tank and even tell the table that I’m going to take a few minutes.

1 – I go through his possible hands:

A/A – Unlikely as I have a blocker, but possible because he opted to go all-in.
K/K – Somewhat likely
Q/Q – More likely as he seems very confident in what he has.
I eliminate 2/2 and 3/3 as I don’t think he would have opened with those from where he was (middle position)

2 – I start to calculate odds which I’m pretty terrible at. I know that I need 3:1 for the flush draw and decide with the straight draw that I could improve that to maybe 2.5:1 and if I take A/A out of his range I might have 3 Aces I could also hit. So maybe 16 outs at best. Probably at worst I have 13 outs. At best I need 2:1 to call which is what I’m getting. Ugh.

3 – I actually ask him if he has Q/Q. He doesn’t answer.

4 – I’m starting to feel the pressure of time and apologize. Jason actually says it’s ok as it’s a big hand. Interesting. He feels very comfortable.

5 – I finally ask if he’ll show if I fold. He says no. Interesting.

I call.

He shows A/A. Not the best result, not the worst. My odds to win are 43% to 56% with a 1% chance of a tie. If I do the math right, my odds to win are 2.3:1 so I was pretty close!

The turn is a non-spade, non-4 and I cringe. The river is a beautiful 4 and I make a straight to win. Wow.

Jason is stunned as are many other players that I made the call. Someone, David I think, even said it took a lot of balls to make that call. Big praise!

After having a lot of time to think about this hand, there’s one aspect that I left out that would have helped me arrive at his exact hand. What hand did he think I had? Based on my actions, it’s extremely likely that I have an Ace high flush draw. With his ease of moving all-in he is definitely not worried about me hitting my Ace. Therefore, he likely has A/A. If I had thought about this at the time, I may actually have folded.

I call with K/Jd against Doug who is on my left. I donk out on the Queen high flop with nothing but truly project strength. He thinks and then folds saying he doesn’t want to make a hero call. I show as I want to make sure that people know I’m capable of pulling off a big bluff.

We combine down to the final table with me starting as the chip leader. The blinds are accelerating and I’m losing steam, both from an energy perspective and a play perspective. I’m able to take down a few hands here and there, but the blinds start to eat away at my stack.

Somehow I’m able to survive down to the final 3. With around 30k left behind (2.5 big blinds), BobbyBigBlinds limps into me. I check with 8/10. We both check to the river, an 8, and he bets 25,000. I move all-in and he calls and has a straight. Yuck. I didn’t even see that only that I’d hit my 8. Ah well, good game and good night!

So what did I do well?

Did a good job of raising from the big blind when I had the opportunity to steal and it had limped to me.

Did a good job of paying attention to position and really putting pressure on the table when I had it.

Did a good job of not limping as much and truly raising some of the hands I have been limping with. Worked well too as I was able to take down most of my pots without going to showdown.

What did I do poorly?

For sure I felt my attention drift a few times and I definitely got caught up in some conversations that distracted me from the poker. I definitely play better when I’m 100% focused on what’s going on. It’s such a drastic change that if I can get into the zone, I truly can play some amazing poker. If I move out of the zone even a little, I’m almost flying blind and just playing my cards. Take the hand against Rocco into consideration. I could see with nearly 100% clarity what was going on and was able to capitalize on it.

Fun game this month. Of course, it always helps to feel good about the game when you’re winning.

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Gargoyle Tournament Series, Season 10, Game 1

Arrived late, 20 minutes and missed most of level 1

Lost a few and then won a hand.

A few hands later this happened.

I play A/6h very traditionally. I check raise the 2 heart flop, call the turn and then when checked to on the 3rd heart river I go all-in and am called. I have the nuts so get a nice double-up.

I go on a nice string of wins and suspect I’m running like God so start getting money in as often as I can. It works well for a while.

I knew it was over when this happened:

I call a raise with A/Jd. The flop is all low, something like 2/3/6. I don’t think there were any diamonds. My opponent bets about half of his remaining stack. I opt to raise and put him all in as I think I have a good chance of winning with an Ace or Jack. He calls and turns over… A/A. Of course. However, the turn and river complete the low straight and we split the pot. Interesting!

This was my signal from the Poker Gods that #easygame was over. Back to the grind! With near 20K in level 2 or 3 though, I was sitting pretty good for a while.

I was very quiet for a good long while with really the only interesting hand was with A/K Vs. The Rule. I know he wants to hear my analysis of it so here you go:

I raise with A/Ko and get one caller. The flop misses me completely and I make a standard c-bet. He thinks and then calls. At this point based on what I know of him, he doesn’t have nothing. My usual track would be to keep betting to bluff him out of the hand. Maybe give him bad odds. However, I know that he isn’t likely to fold after thinking so long and then calling the flop. He checks the turn and I opt to check back. I immediately see him relax and know he’ll fire out on almost any river card, which he does. I still have a lonely A/K so make an easy fold.

The Rule – I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing your play from the other side!

A little while later, the guy to my right who I had that amazing flush hand against (who had to rebuy) and I have this hand together:

He raises and I jam with K/K. Everyone else folds, he calls and turns over A/2. Not bad. Flop: A/2/x. Ugh. The turn is another 2 just to kick me in the balls.

Thinking I’m the big blind in the next hand, I place my big blind out. The player two to my left goes all-in. I opt to call blind for only another 1,500. He has something, maybe a pair? I turn over 8/4o. Yuck. I do end up hitting the board, but he’s still better. Ah well. In the next hand when I’m asked to place my big blind I realize that I had mis-placed it the hand before. Yuck. Stupid tilt! I refocused and talked 30 seconds of the Mental Game of Poker with Blood Feud and got my game face back on.

I ended up going all-in again a few hands later with K/10s for around 4k. I’m called by Honey Badger who doesn’t look happy. He shows something pretty unexpected: low cards. Can’t remember exactly what he had but do remember that he connected with the flop (bad for me). I do remember hearing someone ask him why he called and he said that I’d been going all-in too often and that you can’t let people do that without calling. One spade on the flop and nothing else good. I shut my eyes and somehow it goes runner-runner for my flush and I’m back to 10k!

We move down to 2 tables and I’m hoping for a new lease on life.

My first hand I’m dealt 9/9 and feeling good. However, by the time it gets to me it’s already been 3-bet all-in. I look to my left and see a couple of folks that want to call. I muck my cards very quickly. 2 callers. The flop is something like 3/3/x. It checks down to the river and then DAN makes a quick bet that is called. He shows 3/3 for flopped quads! I’m very happy I wasn’t in this hand! The original person that had gone all-in also had me crushed so I definitely read the table and situation right.

I’m feeling pretty good and make an early position raise with K/Jh. One caller, the dreaded Mr. Miles! The flop is sort of kind to me with 6/K/6. A 6 is in his range, but it’s pretty unlikely. I bet about 35/40% of the pot with the aim to aggressively slow play. He calls without too much thought. I remove the 6 from his range. The turn is a Jack which is very good for me. Keeping my slow play thoughts in mind, I figure if I bet here he’s going to fold. I want his money so bad that I decide that if I check he’ll probably bet. I check and he bets. I think and complain a little and call. I’m figuring this is a lock when an Ace hits the river. FML. If he has an Ace, which I suspect he does, he has a better 2-pair than I do. I check, he checks. He has the Ace.

Before I played this tournament, I wrote down all of the things I could think of that are potential leaks in my game. One of the major ones is slow playing. I couldn’t find a single example of when slow playing my strong hand had worked in my favor. I found plenty of examples of when slow playing had worked in someone else’s favor against me, but that’s another story… My recommendation to myself was to not do it and simply play strong. That might net me less chips, but this type of situation wouldn’t happen. I couldn’t even listen to my own advice! I had to play so SMART. Sigh.

I don’t last too much longer after this. I end up going all-in from one of the blinds and am called by Dan who has 10/10. I figure I’m pretty good with K/K until a 10 comes on the river. Good night!

In analyzing my play, I’ve found that I’ve had lots of success early on in tournaments but that I can’t seem to keep that momentum going. Instead I’m waiting for good cards. In my head I know that I should be looking for good situations where I can continue to build my chip stack, but my gut still tells me to wait for good cards. The only problem is when they don’t come. It’s definitely something I need to work on.

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Foxwoods $160 Deepstack Tournament 8/1

Joined Cobra for a $160 deep stack at Foxwoods.

20,000 starting chips and 20 minute levels. Pretty good structure and we ended up getting around 105 buy-in’s.

As usual, I started our pretty slow. I really was having a good time watching some of the players at my table as many of them appeared to be terrible. There were a couple of competent thinking players and I vowed to stay away from them unless there was a good situation. There really was so much “good” action that I knew I could be profitable without getting into trouble with them.

Limped/called in a few spots with small pairs. Lost the first pot I opened, with 10/10, when an Ace came on the flop and the aggro guy on my immediate right donk bet. He was doing that a lot and I knew I could find a good spot to take a lot of his chips.

Won my first pot simply by hand reading. Flop came all low and the original raiser bet but looked pretty sick about it. I raised and everyone folded. I feel like hand reading comes naturally to me and that I should really continue to focus on that aspect of my game.

Finally had some good luck and found K/K in late position. Made a normal raise and got 3 callers. Flop was not bad for me, all low, but had 2 diamonds and a potential straight draw. With 4 players in, I decided to just bomb the flop and force at least 1-2 players off their draws. It worked well and only one player, the big blind, stayed in. The turn did not complete the flush but did give the board some more straight potential. My opponent checked and I opted to move all-in. I hoped that would either force him out or force him to make a bad call. He did think about it for a while but eventually folded. This gave me a nice bump in chips.

I went on to win a few more hands with cards like A/K and A/Q.

After the break, I’m sitting on around 30k when this hand happens:

I’m on the button and have A/Qo. 2 limpers and I make it 3ish bb’s to continue. They both call. Flop is A/x/x. Check/check and I bet around 50% of the pot. The first player to act is one of the competent players I mentioned. He immediately raises to 3x my bet. I’m assuming he doesn’t think I have an Ace but at this point I don’t think he hasn’t anything to really challenge my hand with as I’d seen him play mostly straight forward in these types of situations. The other player to act is the aggro guy on my right. His action? All-in. I waste no time and say, “Re-raise. All-in.” Competent guy looks like he’s been played and says, “I think I just donated to you guys.” And folds. We turn our cards over and aggro guy has middle pair, ok kicker. My hand holds up and I move up to around 45k. Nice.

I win a few more hands, but nothing really interesting. I do manage to work my way up to around 60K though.

I’m feeling pretty good when this hand happens.

I’m in the big blind with 6/8o. Not terrible for the big blind, especially if I get to see the flop for cheap. There are 5 or 6 players in the hand and we see a flop of 6/8/9 2 diamonds. Pretty good flop for me as I can almost guarantee a lot of action. I check and the LOL on my left bets about 60% of the pot. She gets 3 callers making the pot pretty large and I opt to move all-in. She has about 20K behind and I’ve got to figure I’m a little ahead against her, maybe 60/40 at worst. She of course calls and it folds around to a grouchy old nit 2 to my right. He is furious. He’s literally just mad about the whole situation. He has about 10k left and just throws his arms up in disgust and calls. She turns over A/Qd (SHOCKER!) and he turns over K/10d. I’m actually really happy to see that both of them have diamonds as now there are only 5 diamonds left unaccounted for that will help them (the other 2 giving me a full-house). The turn however, isn’t the best card for me, another 9. Ugh. Now if either of them pair one of their cards they’ll have a better 2-pair than me. Of course, the grumpy old nit hits a 10 on the river and wins the pot. He doesn’t have the LOL covered so I still get about 10k back from the pot, but I’m down to around 45k again. Why did he have to call!? A bit tilted still about this.

From there on out I start finding myself second best a lot. Looking back, I can clearly see that I was no longer playing my A-Game.

My chip stack bleeds down to around 30k and when blinds are 1200/2400/400 I find myself with 9/9 in late position. I raise to 6,000 and only get one caller, the remaining competent player. Based on his action, I have him on a pair or over cards. The flop is a craptacular A/K/10. He checks and I figure there’s no way to win if I make a normal bet so I opt to shove. He insta-calls and turns over Q/J for the flopped nuts. Lovely. My read was right, it just wasn’t quite what I was hoping for (something like K/Q). My thinking there is that I might be able to bluff that I have A/K or A/10 or something. Ah well! Out in 37th place.

Definitely had a good time and really enjoyed playing in the casino after not playing in one for such a long time. Definitely a lot different than playing at Gargoyles, but for sure, Gargoyles has given me a leg-up on the competition.

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Gargoyle Tournament Series, Season 9, Game 8

As detailed in my last post, I went into this game with a goal of playing less passively. I largely succeeded there, but not without a few hurdles.

Early on I won a few and lost a few hands. However, I went on a nice tear where I was winning more than I was losing. Worked my stack up to around 12,000 (starting at 9,000).

A good example:

Limp/call with A/10. The flop has an Ace. I check/call, check/check and then lead out on a blank river for about pot hoping to look like a bluff. It works and I get a call.

It was nice as I know I had the table off-balance with my greater than usual aggression. I was able to take down orphaned pots and also win when I’d totally missed the flop. Conversely, I was getting calls when I actually connected too.

And then, disaster.

I raise with 9/10s from late and get 1 caller, Pockets. The flop is 10 high. He checks, I bet and he raises. The history of the evening is that he was down and I was up. I’d won a few good pots off of him, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, at this point I didn’t put him on a monster, but something like A/10 or K/10. I figured I could push him around so I went all-in and totally expected a fold. Nope. Insta-call. He turns over 10/10 for the flopped set of 10’s. Gross right? Especially considering I have the other 10. It doesn’t eliminate me, but I’m down to around 2,000 and crippled.

At this point there are 30 players left and we consolidate down to 3 tables. I go into survival mode and actually do pretty well by getting at least 3 double-ups. Nothing that got me back to where I was, but I think I ha 5,000 at one point. Shortly after we consolidate down to 2 tables I shove with 5/5 for around 3,000 (500/1,000/200) and am called by a large stack who has Q/J. He spikes one of his cards on the flop and it’s good night in 19th place. Not bad for survival mode!

The lesson here seems to be that’s it’s ok to be aggressive, but just to be careful. That’s not exactly what I was expecting as I didn’t really want to be too careful. I guess I need to be just careful enough.

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Gargoyle Tournament Series, Season 9, Game 7

Started out poorly by losing a few hands, but then I was right back in after I hit a set of 2’s against one of the players who had just taken most of another player’s chips. However, after really thinking about how I’ve been playing, I came to a big realization.

I limp 2/2 from one of the blinds and call a normal raise. I check/call the flop after I hit a set. I check/call the turn and do the same on the river. My opponent was VERY gung-ho about his hand and that scared me. I played scared.

Realization – I’ve been having a good run of having the second best hand. I’ve also noticed what seems to be a good number of folks either slow playing me or calling with any two cards and winding up with monster hands. This has resulted in me playing scared. Truly, playing like a losing player. I think this has had some very negative effects on my game. I will need to focus some attention on this and will let you know if I can affect change.

A little while later I look down at A/Qo from the big blind. Gargoyle raises and I call. Flop is Ace high, 2 hearts and I check/call. The turn is a King. I check call. The river is a heart. I really don’t want to call a big bet here so I put out a reasonable sized bet hoping Gargoyle won’t raise. He does. A lot. I thought for a good minute or two here and finally decided he probably has the same hand I do. I don’t think he has a flush or if he does it’s a terrible one. He likely has an Ace with a good kicker. Hopefully not A/K as that would crush me. I call. He turns over A/K. Good read, bad call.

Based on the fact that I was 99% certain that he didn’t have the flush, I think I could have gotten away with an all-in bluff here to represent the flush. Thoughts?

My next hand of note was calling with 3/3 and flopping a full house (Q/Q/3). I check planning to check/call or check/raise. The turn is another Queen which I hate. I bet and get a call. The river is a Jack and I bet and get another call. He shows something like K/J for the rivered better full house. Again, I think if I play more aggressive instead of passive here I could have taken it down without going to show-down.

By now I’m getting pretty short stacked. I shove from the button with K/Jd and get 1 caller who shows A/Qo. Yuck. The flop is A/Q/4, 2 diamonds. I don’t hate this flop, but I don’t love it either. The river gives me my 3rd diamond and I get a needed double-up.

Mr N had been doing terrible. With him directly to my left it was fun to play with him, but from the small blind I look down at K/K and after it folds around to me, I go all-in on him. He calls with 5/6s. He was laughing about how I would hate this call and I did! The flop was something like 5/6/x (of course!) but the turn paired by board and I was able to eliminate him. I like this aggression, but of course it was backed by very impressive cards. Nit-much?

So now I’m sitting on 6,000 which is still not great, but better. I call a raise with 9/9 and plan to shove any flop that’s good. Flop is good and I shove, but the original raiser has A/A. C’est La Vie!

With about 2,000 left I decide to button-raise and try to steal with K/10o. One caller, The Rule, from the big blind. Flop is Ace high, which I hate… but decide to bomb away at like I have a strong Ace. No-dice, he calls. He checks the turn, a queen, and I give up and check back. The river is an interesting Jack giving me a straight and he makes a big bet. I announce all-in and look to see for how much only to realize it’s for less than his bet. Up to 5,000 through sheer dumb luck!

After this I truly go card dead, the deadest of the dead, and slowly blind down. With hardly anything left I go all-in with K/J and am called by Gargoyle with 3/3. His 3’s hold and I’m out in 22nd place.

So again, I’ve really been doing a lot of thinking about how I play and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve turned into a weak/passive player. I’m not sure when this happened, but I really need to pay attention to that and try to get myself out of that style as I know it won’t be successful for me in the long-term.

I think I know what’s happened though. Much like other players, the pressure of never seeming to win has been gnawing at me. I had a lot of success early on and now it seems that no matter what I do I just can’t seem to find a win. This has caused me to really become over-cautious. Logically it makes sense why I’m playing like I am, it’s just not who I want to be as a poker player though.

Tell observed: No names to protect the guilty.

One playing I was observing made a pretty big 3-bet. After the bet they looked off into the distance as if they were dreaming without a care in the world. This is a classic strength tell and I correlated it with this player to mean they were REALLY strong. Like A/A or K/K strong. The other player folded and I asked them which it was and they showed (I don’t remember which, but it was A/A or K/K).

I talked with them during the break and they revealed that they knew about the tell but didn’t realize they were doing it at the time. They also told me that they will sometimes use it during bluffs as a false-tell. Brilliant! That’s some good self-awareness to be able to do that.

After the break I saw them make a huge bet and then go into this tell. However, I immediately suspected a bluff as it wasn’t quite the same as when they were strong earlier. For the strength version, it was a very peaceful stare with hardly any movement. Sort of like a wild animal that doesn’t want to get caught. For the bluff version they were still staring off into the distance, but there was some movement included, like they couldn’t quite decide where to stare. One might even say anxious. These types of behaviors are usually correlated to bluffing so therefore, I decided that this was their bluff version. Their opponent called and sure enough, bluff!

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Gargoyle Tournament Series, Season 9, Game 6

Every month, Cobra and I talk about how bad we run, how unlucky we are and how some other players don’t seem to have those problems. Normal poker talk right? We also say that the best way to combat those problems is to play ultra-tight early and then loosen up later. However, that’s easy to say and hard to do. In this game, I attempted to make it work.

Sat down a few minutes late, but within a hand or 2 picked up QQ in the small blind. It folds to me and I raise. The big blind gives me an “Eat shit and die look” and calls. Flop is good to me, I bet, he calls.v The turn is good, but I check for pot control. The river doesn’t do anything extraordinary, I bet, he calls and I take down a nice pot early on.

Near the end of either level 1 or 2 I raise with A/Qo and get 2 callers (one of them Gargoyle!). The flop completely sucks but I c-bet and get instantly raised by Gargoyle. He does this often to me when I miss with overs. I say to him, “Someday I’m going to figure out what my tell is when I miss.” His response is good, “You don’t do it every time.” Interesting, but I have no idea what I did. I fold.

Got Gargoyle back a few hands later when I don’t raise my pocket 10’s and check-raise a low flop. Revenge!

Soon after this I was moved to another table. We play with 4 tables and generally close table 4 as soon as we can. However, people busted out from all tables pretty evenly and I ended up being the first player ever to get moved TO table 4. Weird!

When I sit down, I’m greeted by all of the players except for Rich who says, “Ah, Joker, my nemesis!” What!?

I notice that I’m calling pretty light at this table and spewing chips and remind myself to tighten up.

To no one’s surprise table 4 doesn’t last long and I’m moved to table 1 with a great seat next to Blood Fued.

Nicely enough I’m dealt A/A. I raise and get 1 caller, JG2. The flop looks great and I c-bet. JG2 doesn’t look impressed and calls. The turn completes the flush draw and we both check. The river looks good and the board is King high. He bets and I call. He says, “I have a King” and looks very happy. I turn my Aces over and somehow shock everyone that I had a good hand. Didn’t anyone notice how few hands I was playing?

With the blinds going up my stack starts to dwindle. I jam on Blood Feud with Q/Q and he folds.

A few hands later I get A/A again and raise but get no action. Ok, they must have figured it out that I’m playing tight.

Somewhere in the middle of all this I get to see a free flop from the big blind. I flop top pair (Jack) with a crap kicker. I check, someone bets, JG2 calls and I want to raise or fold. I go into the tank and start trying to decide if I’m ahead. I finally decide that I’m ahead of the guy that bet, but not JG2 who has a very narrow range to call there, something like Q/J, K/J, 10/J. I fold. They take the hand to showdown and JG2 wins with Q/J. Boom, good read.

I jam again a while later with 8/8 after a raise from JG2 and he calls with A/x. He doesn’t improve and I’m up to 9k. Starting stack size again finally! Is JG2 my own personal ATM? Will have to investigate further.

No surprise to anyone, I end up jamming again in the near future. This time from the big blind with J/J after a raise from Giac. He calls with 8/9s, doesn’t improve, and I’m up to 19K. Wow, does this whole “play tight” thing actually work?

My last hand of note for the night was against Risky Business. What’s funny is that there’s a running joke where everyone calls him my name and me his name. Here’s why it’s funny: He raises a standard amount. I 3-bet with A/A. He jams, I call and say, “You’re not going to be happy…” and turn over my cards. He gives me the “eat shit and die look” and turns over his cards which are:


Crap! This happened to me once before a few years ago and I remember it being terrible. Neither one of us improved and we split the pot.

So here’s where my tight play may have been too tight. After this hand I start folding like I’m allergic to cards. I even mention to Blood Fued at one point that it seems like the only thing I know how to do is look at my cards and fold.

Finally the blinds catch up to me and I’m down to around 5 big blind. I jam from the big blind without looking (yes I still do this). Honey Badger calls with A/10. I turn over J/8s. Wow, not bad at all and one of my favorite hands. The flop is kind to me giving me a straight AND a flush draw. However, I don’t improve and bust out in 11th place, my best finish in many months.

As with all experiments I’m glad that I conducted it. I learned a lot about my current abilities, noticed a few leaks and have a good plan for next month.

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Gargoyle Tournament Series, Season 9, Game 5 & March Fun Game

We play these games on Friday nights starting at 7:00. This is a good idea because many of us don’t have to work the next day. It’s a bad idea because many of us put in a full day of work before the game. To counteract this I’ve been drinking a 5-hour energy drink before the games. I had thought this was working until I noticed that about a half hour into this game I was twitching like a mad man. I think I can call that idea a failure.

Few hands of note from this game:

I’m in the big blind with K/9 and get to see the flop for cheap. All low so I call. The turn is a King, but it adds a flush draw. I check-raise and get a tank/call from Mr. N. The river completes the flush draw and we both check. He shows K/J for the better kicker.

I like my check/raise on the turn, but I didn’t really think that it would have me representing the flush. Instead, with his call I thought he would be on the flush draw. If instead I had bet the river I may have been able to take it down.

3-Bet with A/Ks and get a call. Miss the board completely and by c-bet is check/called. Miss the turn and check. Miss the river and fold to a bet. I forgot how much I love A/K…

Raise from late position with K/J. Miss everything on the flop and c-bet. Mr. Z goes all-in and I fold like a cheap suit.

From the big blind I have 7/10c and get to see the flop for free. 9c/Jc/Qx. Pretty good flop for my hand. I check and watch Pockets bet and Mr. N raise. Yuck! I have 2,000 behind and there is about 2,000 in the pot. I jam and am called by both! I get no help on the turn or river and Mr. N wins with Q/J. Good night!

No more 5-hour energy drinks as it turns me into a spaz! I need to find another method to keep my energy levels up without making me twitch.

Having such an abysmal showing I decide to come back the next night for the fun game and just be a goof.

Some very interesting hands:

I limp with 4/4 and for the first time ever live flop quads. I check call. I check the Ace turn and my opponent bets the same amount as on the flop. I say, “Same bet amount equals weakness” and call. On the river I’m still contemplating how to get more chips in the pot so make a speech about being a non-believer because of the same bet and put a pot-sized bet out. He calls and shows A/x. I *think* I maximized my value there.

After this I’m running a bit like God for a while and amass nice chip stack. I keep flopping 2-pair, sets and the like. Back Door notices and is extremely cautious of me, but everyone else is losing to me. Fun while it lasts!

We end up combining down to 1 table and I immediately flop 2-pair again. I raise to a c-bet and Mrs. Gargoyle calls. Ruh-roh. Original raiser folds. I bet the turn and go all in on the river to discover that she flopped a straight. Yuck! Good bye chips!

The very next hand is against pockets. I’m in the big blind with A/6 and flop K/6/6. I bet, he calls. The turn is a 10. I bet, he calls. The river is a 10. I like this and go all-in. He folds and throws his cards face up into the muck. K/10. Um… Yes, he did just fold a better full house than mine as he’d forgotten what his kicker was. I should have been felted there!

After that it was a nice downhill spiral towards 0 chips but I managed to eek out a 3rd place finish!

Much better than the Friday night showing that’s for sure!

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Hand of the Day #5

After 1 limper, I limp on the button with J/6c. Small Blind and Big Blind come along.

At this point I have 73,000. SB has 25,000. BB has 30,000. Early limper has 10,000.

The flop is Ac/Qc/6d. Amazing flop for me as I actually connected and I have the 2nd nut flush draw.

Small Blind leads out. Big Blind raises. At this point, I have them both on some combination of Aces. No idea about the short stacked limper, but probably a small pair or an Ace with a weak kicker. I’m not worried about me making my flush and still losing.

I go all-in. I figure that if the short stack calls but the other 2 fold it’s no big deal even if he wins. If the other folks call, I won’t be as happy, but I still have a good chance of winning.

Short stack calls. Small Blind folds. Big Blind makes a crying call.

Short stack has 6/6 for the flopped set. Wow. Did not expect that especially when I have the last 6.
Big Blind has A/8o. About where I put him.

The turn and river do not help me and I finish the hand with 42,000.

Of course it’s not the results I wanted, but I think I would play this hand the same way next time. It was a great opportunity to gain a LOT of chips and if I’m going to continue in the tournament I need to continue to build my chip stack. With 42,000 chips I have 21 big blinds left. A little short, but still room to maneuver.

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WSOP Qualifier

On Sunday, 2/22, I decided to play in one of America’s Card Room’s WSOP qualifier events. $50+$5 and they were guaranteeing 5 $12,500 packages to the WSOP Main Event. 5,000 starting chips, 15 minute blinds, rebuys allowed for the first 2 hours.

Early on I was pretty splashy as usual. However, I like that, as I get to observe how the other players will react to me. A few of them I picked up pretty reliable reads on. This leads me into my first hand of note. Sitting at 4k chips.

I raise with Q/Jd from late position and the big blind comes along. I’d seen him bully a few other players around with just top pair and knew I could outplay him. The flop is 10 high, 1 diamond. He donks out (of course) and I call. The turn is an interesting K. He checks, I check back. At this point I put him on something like A/10 for top pair on the flop. The check on the turn gave me the impression that he thinks I have a King. The river is a beautiful Ace giving me the nuts. More importantly, I think he now has 2-pair. He checks and I bet about 80% of the pot. Even if he thinks I have A/K, I think this is going to look really bluffy to him and will induce a call. It works and I win a nice early pot to take me up to 6k.

I’m able to do some grinding and surprisingly work my way up to 9k by the first break. A few good hands, but a lot of c-bets are working. #easygame

After the break I go into a bit of a slump and end up down to around 7k.

I’m starting to feel the pressure of the increasing blinds and look down at 10/Jo in late position. There’s 1 limper and I raise, he calls. The flop is 10/7/2 rainbow and I’m feeling pretty good until he check-raises me. I go into tank mode and really think it through. The top of his range would be something like A/10, K/10 or 9/9, but I really think he has something more like A/7. He’d been playing very weak so far. I opt to go all-in and he instantly calls…with 8/10. I have him dominated and easily double-up to 14k.

Hit a few more nice hands. Eliminate someone with A/A and work my way up to 19k. Of course, my one flopped set of the night was with my A/A hand when I totally didn’t need it.

So again, I’m feeling pretty good when I’m dealt Q/Q in late position. One of the shorter stacks shoves and I call. He of course shows A/A. Down to 9k.

A few hands later, I’m dealt J/J and after a short stack jams to my right, I re-jam and am called by 2(!) other players. They show: A/A, K/K, Q/Q. Yuck! Out in 296/1,000. Fun, but I definitely wasn’t done playing. That’s how it goes sometimes though…

At the end of the game, I was very happy with how I played. Definitely am not as good online as I used to be, but it’s still interesting how much of my live play experience translates to online. Gotta love the added aggression though!

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Gargoyle Tournament Series, Season 9, Game 4

Was extremely busy last week so didn’t have much opportunity to write. 1 week to go until the next Gargoyle game!

Having done well in game 3, I wanted to continue that trend in game 4. I never really go into a game “guns blazing” but I did take a 5-hour energy drink to try and keep my level of concentration up. I noticed right away that I was having trouble paying attention and generally having a lot of fun because I was talking to all the other players. Uh oh.

Not too many hands out of the ordinary for me in this game. A few hands of note that I’ll get to. The most interesting thing I was paying attention to during this game were verbal poker tells. I’ve been doing some studying on them and it truly is amazing how much information we players give away by what we say at the table.

Most common: Verbally checking instead of tapping the table, especially when the player normally taps the table to check.

First hand of note: I limp in with 4/5s along with 3 other limpers. A player either in late position or in the blinds raises. It’s not an amount I’m happy about, but I’ve vowed never to limp/fold unless there is a significant reason, so I call. Everyone else folds. The flop is 5/low/low, 1 spade. My opponent checks and I get to see the turn for free. The turn is a 9s (I think) and my opponent jams. With the original check on the flop I really don’t put my opponent on anything more than over cards. I paired the board and now have a flush draw. I opt to call for about 50% of my stack. He turns over 10/Js (goodbye flush draw!) for just over cards. The board runs clean and I eliminate him with 4/5s which is probably my loosest call ever.

I think a lot of the other players were VERY surprised at my call, but I’m really happy that my read was right. I’d have preferred that he didn’t have a better flush draw than me, but even still, I’m 2:1 to win. Very interesting hand.

From the big blind I look down at A/Ko and there is only 1 limper. I check. The flop is all low and my opponent leads out. I call. The turn puts a straight draw on the board and my opponent checks. I check. The river completes the straight draw, but still leaves me with nothing. I read my opponent as the weaker part of his range and that he definitely doesn’t have the straight. I over-bet the pot and he exclaims, “Oh my God Patrick, do you have the high or low end of that straight!?” I smirk at him and he folds.

As usual, as the blinds increase it becomes more and more difficult for me to find good situations to play in. I wish I could say that I’m “card dead” but I really feel that I could continue to win here just by playing a little differently. It’s something I’m working on anyway.

Towards the end of my evening, I started being deal lots of small to medium pairs where I faced intense action and had to fold. Many of my opponents were kind enough to show me their over pairs. Still, I end up bleeding a ton of chips away quickly.

I finally end up going all-in with A/7s from the big blind against a middle-position raise. He calls and shows A/A and it’s good night for me in 17th place.

Still seeing a ton of common tells when I’m able to observe the table. I’m also KEENLY aware when I do something that is a tell and try to mentally jot it down so that I can work on it.

On to next month and hopefully there were be a mini-series that Giac is hosting that I can add to my blog.

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