Live tournaments that start on Sunday always pose a problem for me.
I'm forced to weigh my options between whatever live tournament is going on and playing all of the huge-field online donkaments filled with satellite winners and weekend warriors.
It's usually a difficult decision, but in this past Sunday's tournament there was a bracelet on the line, which made the decision pretty easy ... especially once PokerStars and Full Tilt both replaced their big weekly Sunday tournament with satellites for the WSOP Main Event.
My starting table wasn't particularly tough, but was certainly not nearly as weak and inexperienced as most of my starting tables for the smaller NL events at the WSOP.
Familiar faces included Berry Johnston, Kathy Liebert and Steve Miller, who I played with a bit in Australia on his way to a 16th-place finish (if you watched me fold for an hour on the broadcast, he's the guy who got it all in with A-Ko after Kevin Saul four-bet him all-in with the 7-4o).
Unfortunately, Kathy had forgotten her iPod on this particular day. Now, Kathy is a very nice person. However, she has the ability to talk endlessly about anything, even if no one at the table responds to or acknowledges her.
In an attempt to get some peace and quiet at the table, I even offered to let her borrow mine. She took it, much to the delight of my tablemates - especially Berry. Berry had more than a few hysterical quips for Kathy about her incessant chatter. Anyway, back to the story ...
Early in the first level, I cracked Steve's Q-Q by making a straight with the 3♠ 4♠. I increased my $6k starting stack to just over $8k with that hand.
Shortly after, I had 5♠ 5♦ and made fives full of aces against a player holding A♠ K♥. Not a bad spot to be in. Less than 30 minutes and two orbits into the tournament, I was the early chip leader with over $15k.
After losing a few decent pots with second-best hands and unsuccessful bluffs, I was back under $10k. Then I got extremely lucky to get my stack back to $15k. I limped behind a couple of early-position limpers with 8♣ 8♥ from late position, partially because I suspected that one of them may have limped with a big pair.
Flopping a set in this spot can be extremely profitable, especially when your opponent lets you limp in behind him. The benefits can often outweigh those of isolating these limpers and playing a bigger pot in position as the aggressor.
The small blind completed and the big blind checked. The flop came Q♦ 8♦ 6♠. Everyone checked to me, and I bet $600 into the pot of $1k.
Steve, now in the big blind, thought it over for a minute before moving all-in for just over $6k total! The action quickly folded back to me (disproving my theory about the early-position limper having a big pair, since he'd at least think about it here, if not led the flop) and I obviously called.
He turned over 6♥ 6♦ and I managed to fade his one out twice because I run good like that.
Soon after, that table broke and I was placed at a new one that seemed much softer. The only familiar face was that of Adi "Intervention" Argawahl, a good friend of mine and a very talented online player.
It's usually a good idea to keep the pots small at a new table while you try to learn about your opponents, but on this particular day I just couldn't help splashing around.
With the blinds at $100/$200 ($25), I raised to $550 from late position with the 7♠ 8♠. The big blind shot me a glare for raising his blind and defended.
We went heads-up to a T♦ 9♥ 5♠ flop. He checked and I continuation bet $800 with my open-ended straight draw. He check-raised to $2,200 with about $5k behind.
His demeanor, combined with his glare pre-flop as he defended, led me to believe that he would make this check-raise without the monster hand that his line generally signifies.
Also, the flop was rainbow, which means that all eight of my outs would likely be live, and I couldn't get called by a player who was semi-bluffing a flush draw and was now pot-committed.
I stick my whole stack of higher-denomination chips into the pot, putting him to the test. He goes into the tank for a minute or two, and eventually makes the call ... with the J♦ 8♦!!! Sadly, jack-high is good, sir.
BINK!!! The 6♦ hits the turn, obviously giving me the stone-cold nuts. I'm still looking to fade a seven or a queen, which would give my opponent a higher straight.
Somehow, I failed to realize that the same card that gave me the nuts had given him a flush draw and it took me a second to realize why he was celebrating when the A♦ rivered!
Less than an orbit after I'd arrived at the table, they showed up to break my table again. Apparently, they wanted to give me just enough time to donk off half of my stack with eight-high before sending me off to what may have been the toughest table in the room.
As if the presence of Josh "David Pham to the mix later on.
After being relatively quiet for my first hour at the table, I decided to start mixing it up with some weaker hands (since they're all I had to work with at the time). I raised to $800 from the cut-off with the 8♠ 6♦.
Arnaud Mattern called from the big blind. He checked to me on a flop of K♠ K♥ Q♦, and I fired a $1,100 continuation bet. He quickly called. Oops.
Generally, I'm absolutely finished with this hand and will never put another chip in the pot after my opponent calls my airball continuation bet.
But he had called my flop bet so quickly that it seemed like he wanted to slow me down. A player will usually Hollywood a bit or consider a check-raise before calling with a king in this spot.
I put him on a weak queen or a straight draw, both of which will have a difficult time calling a turn bet. Note that I still don't try a third barrel here unless I have a fairly tight or at least solid table image.
I fire out $1,800. He thinks for a moment before asking if I will show one if he folds. I agree to show, since I was pretty sure that he was not leveling me and find out if I'm strong enough that I really want a call.
And after all, showing one card is a small price - I'd practically be willing to drop my pants in front of the entire Rio for this guy to muck his hand at this point!
He folds, and I show the 8♠. =)
During the next level, a buddy of mine tried to pwn me. I opened for $1,100 in middle position with the K♠ K♥. Josh "pbdrunks" van Duhn reraised to $3k total from the cut-off.
Since I knew he'd three-bet a wide range and fold most of it to my four-bet, I decided to just call once it folded back to me. I checked the 3♠ 7♣ 9♣ flop to him, praying that he would fire away.
He checks. =(
Either he has put me on a big hand and has slowed down accordingly, he has flopped a set and is trapping, or he has A-K and is trying to peel a free card to make a hand.
The turn is the A♦. GAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
I check to him once again, this time because I'm unsure of my hand and plan to reevaluate. He bets $5,500.
Although I'm very concerned about the combination of his check behind on the flop and his turn bet, I just can't fold two kings to one bet after slow-playing to disguise the strength of my hand. I decide that a call here would look so strong that he would be unable to bluff the river.
Therefore, I called the $5,500 with about $16k behind (Josh had me covered by a small amount, I believe), with the intention of folding to a river bet.
Thankfully, it went check, check when the J♦ hit on the river. Josh said, "Your ace is good, Matt" and looked pretty disgusted when I turned my hand over. He told me later that he'd held K-Qo.
I went to dinner break with over $25k going to the $300/$600 ($75) level.
Shortly after getting back from dinner, I was involved in a very interesting pot which I'll detail in Part 2.
"All In At 420"
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