The ANZPT PLO Rebuy was the one that I have been looking forward to and it didn't disappoint. The rebuy chip was only allowed to be used when you were below your starting stack. After the first hand, we had 5 Rebuys at our table. I chose to use it as a second chance in case I got unlucky. It was valid for 4 levels after which you could get a refund. It could not be used as an Add-on. As I'm trying to contain my investment levels to within my bankroll, playing the tourney for a $275 entry as opposed to $515 meant that I could win more - sort of.
The first thing that I noticed about the structure was no antes. As these contributed to my downfall on Sunday, this was a bonus. With a 5000 starting stack, the 40-minute Levels of 25/25. 25/50, 50/100, 75/150, 100/200, 150/300, 200/400 levels were very generous. This tourney wasn’t going to be won within 12 hours.
I played like a rock for the first four levels. 4 or 5 of the others were in every hand though and potting it up. Inevitably these monster stacks tangled and there were casualties. It was easy to spot the bad players (who were very dangerous in the early stages) and in hindsight harder to spot the good ones who were chasing the easy money with marginal hands. Two guys got their egos and trash talk started early and both exited within the first 2 levels. The guy with all of their chips became a massive bully and even when he got back to average stack kept going. He went on to cash, so fair play to him. He was definitely lucky to get through those first couple of orbits though.
I limped or played the big blind when I could and made one pot-sized bet when I flopped trips and everyone folded, a combination of image and board texture. I was happy to take the family pot.
A couple of orbits later, there was a hand that gave me a lot of confidence that it might be my day. BB again, I had QQxx when the board came Q97, two hearts. There was a reasonable amount in the middle, probably 150 x 6 or something. OOP, I checked to see what developed, ready to pop it whenever it got back to me, but everyone checked. I wasn’t too unhappy as I’d decided not to go bust on that board having to make a decision on the Turn. The 3rd heart came on the Turn. I checked again to see what developed. Pot, Re-pot and I was done with the hand. 2nd Nut Flush lost to Nut Flush. My stack would have been gone. I was in no doubts at any stage in the hand that the right move in a cash game was to pot it on the Flop. I pondered the hand multiple times over the next several hours at the table and the more I think about it, the more that I really like my play. It isn’t the aggressive style often advocated, but it suits my personality and remember, my goal here was to cash Harrington style while I read and re-read Gus Hanson’s book.
Next crucial hand came before the first break. I had 10800 in chips, starting stack was 5000. I had my rebuy chip in my pocket which was good until the first break. In the BB, I limp again with 88xx, blinds . Flop 38J. I checked, TAG to my left raises about half the pot, I call. Turn was a T and he fires 3000, again I call to slow him down. River blanked and he fired 5000 into a significant pot. The bet didn’t seem to make sense to me and the more I thought about it, I was sure that he was just mistaking Tight for Weak. It was also just before the break which is notorious for making moves.I called with the luxury of my rebuy chip in my pocket and he mucked. I got to pick up the pot without showing and after the break, this was a regular point of conversation as they tried to work out what hand I was on.
It turns out that right and left of me were two aspiring full-time professionals and I could see that they knew it was a basic mistake for them to let me away with not showing. They certainly regretted missing out on very valuable data. I spotted one of them later in the big 25/50 PLO game where he’d been with Lisandro all week. He was short-stacking that game with $5K when the average was well over $60K (in real money). Anyway, I now went to the first break, well above average with $17K.
Next crucial hand, I have AAxx in early position and limp. I’m using this play more and more and advocate it in a loose game. In fact, I am getting more and more like Adam from the 2+2 Pokercast who advocates a style that rarely if ever raises pre-flop unless it is for a substantial portion of you stack. Anyway, I limp as do several others. Board comes 666, way ahead or way behind. Check and then a 600 bet into an 1800 pot from second position. Call, fold, fold, I call with tight image, fold. Turn doesn’t really matter, unless it’s a 6 which it isn’t.1200 into 3600 pot. I call in case it is the 2nd barrel with KK. River blank and he fires 4500 into the 6000. At this point, I’m done with the hand and show my AA fold. I know I was right but others questioned it. With my tight image, why would he string me along and risk his tourney on the river to a re-pot without the nuts. He also had no reason to think that I could get away from AA which was my obvious hand. We were both well above average and the couple of thousand didn’t dent my stack at all. In retrospect, the call on the flop was a mistake. I should have min-raised and found out where I was at then. I guess I hoped that they’d both shut down but in reality, I’m never going to be sure having shown weakness.
I played my hands and position as the cards dictated for the second and third sessions. Picturing Tiger Woods positioning himself for the final day assault. With the nature of PLO betting, I was very conscious of position as you can get yourself in a lot of trouble quickly OOP. My stack grew steadily right until the dinner break when I was well above the average stack with about 45 players left. Then the hand which was the subject of the last post came up.
Villain was Terry, someone that I met playing as a pub game regular about 3 years ago. Terry’s sole source of income these days is his poker, so I guess that that makes him a professional. We were seated at the same table and decided to grab a burger together during the dinner break. The conversation was very good and we talked about what may lie ahead in terms of bubbling, final tabling etc. Neither of us were planning anything rash just yet. Certainly it never crossed my mind that we would clash on the table so soon afterward. Soft playing would not be an ethical option for either of us though.
To recap, KK99dd vs AAxx. Unfortunately it was very strong AA67dd and I went from the 42% that I suspected that I might have been to a 35%. As you can imagine, no help from the board and my stack was seriously dented. In some respects I seemed to be effectively crippled. Most important for now was to regather my thoughts and not tilt. It is funny the competitive camaraderie that comes at these times. Two players went out of their way to remind me not to tilt which was appreciated.
Grinding it out
Now to knuckle down and not do anything too serious. Next hand dealt was well above average, but I folded as I wasn’t confident in my ability to think properly so I mucked to avoid anything silly. In hindsight, it was an exceptionally good decision for me and one that I'd recommend considering. If in doubt, muck. It doesn’t cost anything to fold apart from potentially lost opportunity.
Next hand I’m in the BB and get rubbish. Thankfully the 942r flop gave me top 2 pair. Again, not wanting to be rash, I checked to see what would develop and the short stack went AI. Everyone folded back to me and I thought about it and was convinced that he had an overpair to the board. I was right but the runner runner Jacks was gut wrenching. Now I was counterfeited and crippled.
Stayed cool and folded for a few orbits with my stack dwindling from 8000 to just on 5000 now with 600/1200 blinds I think. I really got such rubbish that I couldn’t tangle and my stack was so short I was going to get multiple callers. Then I got AAxx and pushed AI with 2 guys who checked it down. The A on the flop tripled me up – woo hoo!
Patience, patience, patience. Blind structure was so slow, I could wait orbits and pick up blinds to tread water. Then they broke our table and I missed the blinds. We’re down to 30 and I’m hanging in. I actually got a couple of walks which was fun as those around me started feeling bubble-fever too. It’s a bit like being a teenager thinking that the world is looking at you. In truth, everyone was also looking at the big stacks and was a bit afraid to attack me for fear of being re-popped. Somehow, they just dropped like flies around me.
AAxx again UTG, shove, BB said that he didn’t want to double me up and again I was cool with that. The big stacks continued to tangle on the other tables and in one hand they had 4 people AI preflop – way to go. We lost 2 that hand. Before I knew it, it was 22, then 21. I can’t recall playing a hand. When the next one dropped, we redrew and I got Table 23, Seat 1. I stacked my chips slowly and walked slowly only to find the Button at seat 8. Then I realised that 10 and 1 being empty the blinds had just passed – sweet.
I doubled up once more when we were on the bubble and playing hand for hand. Someone tried to steal my blind with random rubbish and I had AAxx in the BB. I thought a long time about folding which no-one could believe. I’m not convinced that it would have been the wrong move as I had enough for 2 orbits. As it was, I had to sweat the potential of 2-pair to the river.
2 hands later, Frank from Crown Casino on the other table lost his short stack and I was in the money, $611. A couple of people then exited quite quickly which I’ve noticed online. I needed to make it to 14th to jump up $200 – highly unlikely.
This for me was the highlight of my tournament. Weird I know. There were 15 left and I looked down to find KKxx in the CO. If I could make it to the final table, the jumps were significant. If I doubled up, and never played a hand, I felt that this may be possible. Time to make my move and steal the blinds. “Pot”. Actually, I slid my stack in and the dealer game me 150 chips in change. Fold, Fold and then insta-call by BB. Bugga, I knew he’d call but this looked like Aces.
Then I heard the commentator announce, we have an AI player on Table 22. The table was still looking at me and my 150 chips. I started looking at the cards and feigning a decision. Could I get away from a 18K pot to hold onto 150 chips preflop in PLO. Ridiculous. Then the announcement came … “we have lost our AI player”.
I then called, it was AA and I was on the rail. Like death and taxes, this had been inevitable since I was crippled with KK99dd, but by delaying my 150 chip call for a minute, I just made $189. After 12 hours of poker, I was very pleased with still being very aware of a lot of what was going on around me.
Having played for 12 hours on Sunday and Tuesday, whilst I enjoyed every moment, I was mentally exhausted. My concentration levels were much greater than for an online session with so much new data to gather and interpret.
I was obviously very pleased with the result. I also exceeded my expectations with the variety of my play. I think the quality was good for me but a million miles below Gus Hanson.
I met a bunch of people that I respected and enjoyed their company. I outlasted Grant Levy by about 11 hours and Kiwi G by about 30 minutes. There were a lot of positives to take away from the experience. I even paid for my two entry fees and made $10/hr on top.
That said, it was my first glimpse of life as a poker pro and it wasn’t particularly attractive. The utility of the emotional positives are insignificant compared with the lows that you are subjected to with gut wrenching bad beats. The exhaustion levels would be compounded had I to play today and tomorrow again. The people you meet would have lives surrounded by poker, etc.
As for my WSOP ambitions, they’re stronger than ever and I’d like to prove the concept of +EV a lot further in these relatively small buy-in situations before possibly having a crack at cashing in the Aussie Millions. I know that I'm getting way ahead of myself, but we can all dream can't we? And heck, I'm feeling pretty good right now. Here's looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight. Aah, the simple pleasures of life.
3 weeks ago