Wow! I just had one of the most intense takeoffs of my flying career. And it’s a long one cause my mom is a flight attendant and I have been flying my entire life. It’s weird too, because I used to have ZERO fears when flying. But sometime around the age of 24 (I’m 27 now) takeoffs really started freaking me out. It’s odd that this fear would just appear at such a late age. Perhaps it has something to do with getting older and taking less risk. A few of my friends noticed 24 was also the age when I “got rich”, so maybe now I have more to lose. I dunno, I know the statistics and all so I really shouldn’t have any fear.
Ok so I woke up for the tournament in time to register and get hand one, which is a first in a while for me. I usually like to sleep in because I feel the rest is more important than a few blinds in the beginning but lately I’m starting to reconsider. There are many opportunities to get some of the “dead money” and I don’t want to miss any. I registered in the morning to find that everyone who registered the day of the tournament was seated together, and normally the late reg’ers are all pros. So every table at the end of the room was tough and mine was no exception. Seat 1 – Jason Potter, 2 – Tony Cousineau, 3 – Hoyt Corkins, 4 – Randy Haddox, 5 – David Tran, 6 – Bill Edler, 7 – Me, 8 – Brandon Cantu, 9 – Justin Bonomo.
I have played a lot of hands with all these players except seats 1 and 4 so I pretty much knew what to expect from them. Brandon was still high off his WPT Bay 101 win so I knew he would be full of confidence and a betting machine. I liked having him behind me because I could check big hands to him and count on him to bet. Wouldn’t you know, that situation arose early in level 1, with the blinds at 25-50 and 15k in starting chips.
I picked up AA and everyone folded to me in the cutoff +1. I raised to 125 hoping to get one caller. Brandon was one off the button and Justin was absent as was the SB and “Tight Tony” was in the BB so it was unlikely he would call. Sure enough Brandon called and surprisingly so did Tony. The flop was A98 rainbow. A pretty good flop but not one that would get much action. It’s unlikely they held anything to get any good action on except 89 so when Tony checked so did I, hoping Brandon would take the lead at it. Like a book he bet 450 and Tony folded. I decided it’s more likely he has an air ball and my hand would be too obvious if I raised so I opted to just call. The turn was a semi scary Jd, bringing up a back door diamond draw. I again checked, cause I know Brandon doesn’t like to give up the lead and bluffs a lot. He now bet 650, a semi smallish bet of half the pot. I considered raising. My thoughts were if he has nothing at all, I’ll just win the 1950. He could have a draw, but I felt he might even be crazy enough to call a big raise or even put the pressure on me and move in representing the QT, which is a hand I actually put in his range on the flop. I decided to take a risk and just call and keep the pot small and manageable for the river, and hope that he fires a 3rd bullet with air on the river. The river was a Qd, terrible! Now any 10 is a straight and backdoor diamonds got there, although I didn’t think that hand was as likely. I decided to bet what some would call a “blocking bet” of 1000. It was small enough that it looked like I could be betting for value, and I felt he couldn’t raise with a 10 himself because I could have KT or a flush and since my set was so disguised he couldn’t raise me for value with a straight. I also didn’t want him to bluff a pot-sized bet of 2600. He thought for a minute and raised me 2000 more. I was totally confused now and no line really made much sense to me. I know he is bluffy and considered that fact when I made the call. He shocked me with the 2d4d. In retrospect, I don’t mind my flat call on the turn. Tuan Le thinks I should have raised him but I feel that is results oriented thinking. He is a huge dog to hit his hand and if he does miss there is no way he checks the river with 4 high to just pass me a free 2600 pot. And if the river is a board pairing diamond I win a huge pot. I also hate my bet of 1000. What I do hate is my payoff. I should have known that if he was going to bluff he would have probably raised it a big amount to make it hard for me to call. I have shown strength on 4 streets now so he has to know 2000 isn’t going to get me to fold. Basically my curiosity cost me 2000 extra in chips that I didn’t have to pay.
I didn’t let the loss discourage me. I was down to 11200 and continued with my plan from last night. I folded down to about 8000 when another interesting hand occurred during level 3 with blinds at 75/1450. I limped under the gun with Ac3c. There was a lot of limping going on at the table and I didn’t mind playing that hand versus a lot of opponents. Surprisingly it folded around to the BB and Bill Edler just checked. The flop was Q73 with two spades. Bill checked and I decided to just try and take it now with a small bet of 300. Bill thought and called. At this point I knew the worst hand Bill could have was a flush draw and with that and two cards over a 3 I was done with the hand unless I improved. The turn was the Ad, giving me top and bottom. Bill checked and I thought and decided I wasn’t going to dog it if he did have a flush draw and give him a free card. I bet 600 and he raised me to 1500. His raise was small and it scared me. I put him on most likely having a pair on the flop, now he is raising me like the Ace improved his hand. This would mean I’m beat. I wasn’t’ sure and once again couldn’t make the big lay down. The raise was so small and there were a few hands I was beating. The River was the 5s completing the flush and he checked. I decided it wasn’t worth a bet and checked behind. He showed AQ and was shocked I didn’t bet A3. What can I say, I knew what he had and wish I was good enough to have folded the turn. I was down to 6500 but still had heart.
I got moved twice and nothing interesting happened when I got to a fairly good table. The only face I recognized was Joe Sebok. I folded patiently and decided to raise the button when it folded to me with 85 off suit. The blinds were 100/200 and I made it 600. There was a woman in the SB that had not played a hand and a very old man in the BB that had also not played a hand. She folded and he called. The flop was 732 with two clubs. I saw what appeared like he wanted to bet and then he checked. I checked behind to avoid the check raise and see his turn action. The turn was a Q and he checked again. I decided he can’t have much to check twice and bet 1200. He called rather quickly. I put him on a flush draw or small pair, such as the 7 or 3. The river was a 2 and he checked again. I didn’t want to check and just pass him the pot, especially if he had something like JTcc and couldn’t call the river so I bet 1200 again, leaving myself 3000. He called with no hesitation and showed TT. I was not playing well. I should have realized he was playing tight and for him to defend his blind he had to have something. I still had 3000 and was not going to go down easily.
I folded til my next BB when 3 people limped it, including the SB. I had a fine hand to see a free flop with, 6h7h. The flop was K89 with two spades and we checked to Sebok, the last limper and he bet 600 into a pot of 800. The SB folded and I decided Sebok plays a lot of hands and is very loose and I had the perfect stack to move in with. I raised him 2400 and all in. Enough that I created some fold equity if he had a weak hand or a draw. To my surprise he called with JT and won with jack high. Oh well, that’s poker I guess. Overall I would give my play a C+ for this tournament. The only things I think I did right was not give up when I got short early. I fought for a few hours, and lately that hasn’t been the case when I get short, I just ship it in ASAP and get out of there. So I fixed some of the things I was doing wrong, but did some new things wrong. It’s all about adjustments and hopefully I’ll get them figured out by the WPT Champs in Reno.