Interesting Millions report from??? on rgp
http://groups.google.com.au/group/rec.gambling.poker/browse_frm/thread/54009020c2a00fe2/dc420998b3635e0b?hl=en#dc420998b3635e0bI didn't originally write this as a trip report, more as sample blog entries forthree days, but it's worth posting anyways.The Day BeforeI remember when the day before a major tournament was quite an event for me. Iwould spend hours acting in the way I felt a person who was not nervous wouldact. I would tell myself that I was not nervous and that I would play for thewin instead of folding down near the bubble to try to sneak into the money for aten thousand dollar payday. I would try to determine a basic strategy for thetournament and scout out the room to make sure I knew exactly where my table wasand where the bathrooms were located. I knew the way I should feel, I knew whattype of emotional state I was supposed to be in, but I just wasn t there. Itried to compensate with over preparation, which was counterproductive. Iremember these things quite clearly, because it s only been two years since myfirst major tournament. In just two years, though, I ve come a long way. I have played in enough majortournaments (WPT, WSOP, and EPT main events) that I do not feel out of place. Ive played with and busted out plenty of famous players. More importantly, I vegrown immune to the pressure of playing in a tournament with such a large entryfee. I really view the chips as just chips and play my best game to try toincrease my stack and not bust. When I sit down at a table with a famousplayer, I am not intimidated. I just evaluate their game like anyone else s andtry to adapt. I don t come into the tournament with a planned strategy, insteadassessing my opponents and the situation and trying to respond appropriately. With this new, laid-back attitude, I really only have two rules to guide myactivities the day before a major tournament: don t play any poker, and get tobed on time. My girlfriend Sarah and I thus had a free day today to do with what wepleased. After leisurely waking up in the mid morning, handling emails, andwatching an episode of 24 on DVD, we decided to walk into the main downtownMelbourne area to get some lunch. Our lunch was tasty, and we didn t mind thetypically slow Australian service as we had great seats looking out a window atthe entrance to a major mass transit station. It was a beautiful day, typicalfor Melbourne in summer, perhaps 75 Fahrenheit and not a cloud in the sky. Thepeople watching was of average interest. The only thing really of note was thatnot only are the people here in general friendlier, they even look friendlierfrom afar. Perhaps it s more random smiles or heads kept upright and lookingaround rather than focused at the ground ahead, I m not sure, but we definitelyfeel welcome here. After lunch we took a long walk past some shopping areas so that Sarah couldscout them out for tomorrow. I m not a shopper so it s better that she does theactual shopping alone, but it was a nice day, perfect for an after lunch walk. We eventually became sweaty and tired and headed back to the hotel for a briefrest before dinner. The afternoon was pleasant, but not terribly interesting orexciting. The reality is that while there are certainly some unique features ofMelbourne and Australia, it doesn t feel much different being here than havingmade the 2 ½ hour drive from Seattle to Vancouver, Canada in summer. Theculture is different in some ways, but mostly the same. People are friendlyhere, they use some different words, and they have different accents thanAmericans. Like Vancouver. After the tournament we will be traveling to otherareas outside of the major cities, and then we hope to experience more of theuniqueness of Australia. For now, we ll just be happy with seeing a few sights,relaxing, and enjoying the good weather. The online poker site where I qualified for this tournament has invited us to aVIP reception tonight, offering free booze and snacks. Having qualified formany live tournaments through online sites, I know that these types of eventsfall into two categories. The first category is the all-out bash. These eventsinvolve hundreds of players, large venues, several bars, much food, and oftenlive music and other entertainment. These bashes before tournaments are a greatplace to meet up with friends in order to catch up, exchange room numbers andseat assignments, and plan future outings. Unfortunately these types of bashesonly occur at events that are linked to one particular online poker room thatqualified a large percentage of participants for the tournament and often timesis even running the event itself. The Aussie Millions is not that type of tournament. Multiple sites qualifiedplayers and it is not officially associated with any poker room. That meansthat any poker room hosting a reception for its qualifiers will be inviting onlya small fraction of the tournament players. The venue will be smaller, likelyjust a rented room in a restaurant. There will be little or no entertainment,and many players will show up not knowing anyone. As we all know, the averageonline poker player is hardly a social butterfly. Many will stand around aloneor occasionally chatting with their guest, not daring to engage any unknownparties in conversation. The online room will have representatives, probablysomeone from marketing and a couple of well known faces from the poker worldthere to shake hands. In short, the reception will in reality be a small roomfull of deer caught in very bright headlights. But, hey, there s free beer. I need to go to sleep tonight a little earlierthan I did last night in order to wake up at the proper time tomorrow, and beermakes me tired. Plus, Sarah s only been to the larger, more fun parties wherewe knew a lot of people, and wants to experience this type. I m also prettysure she thinks I m exaggerating the differences between the two types ofevents, so she holds out some hope of walking into a lively gathering. I mdoubtful, but we ll soon know for sure. Day OneAllow me to explain how major tournaments usually begin. The tournament area isa zoo by 30 minutes before start time. There s a line of people waiting toregister at the last minute. Registered players crowd the rest of the room. Some are looking for their tables, some are talking strategy, some are swappingpercentages or selling or buying pieces, but most are probably telling bad beatstories to uninterested parties, because that s just how poker players are. There are broke players looking for last-minute backing. Dealers sit at tablesto guard the chips and also to verify ID and seat assignment and hand out chipswith players arrive at their seat. Friends, family, and curious members ofthe general public stand around and gawk at the famous players or just thegeneral spectacle. They generally stand in the worst possible places, cloggingup traffic through the room. Only the tournament staff seem to be in any hurryto fight that slow traffic as they frantically work to complete preparations sothe tournament can start on time, or at least without too much delay. Theplayers start finding their seats five to ten minutes before start time, buthalf of the table might still be empty two minutes before start, and many of thefamous players prefer to make an entrance sometime after the first hand has beendealt. All of this activity, along with the massive collective nervousness andexcitement and anticipation, create quite a buzz in the room. But then the buzz stops. The tournament director gets on the microphone, andeverything quiets down noticeably. The director usually speaks for a minute ortwo, maybe five at the absolute most, discussing rules and thanking people andgiving directions and details. But they re very brief, and they quickly getdown to issuing the command to shuffle up and deal . It s usually a very quicktransition from everyone up and milling about to getting down to business at thetables, at least if the tournament staff is any good. Today was quite a different experience. Everything was normal up until thepoint where the tournament director took the microphone. First he gave alonger than normal speech about the rules. OK, I can appreciate an attention todetail and order, and he did highlight some rules that are different than thoseused many major tournaments. Then things got weird. The normal process oftournament initiation paused for twenty minutes while we were subjected totwenty minutes of what was basically really bad variety show. First they pulledJoe Hachem up on stage to talk to the crowd. Apparently this casino inMelbourne is Joe s home casino and he is well known to many of the local pokerplayers, and he did win the WSOP, so I guess I can see why they put him onstage. Next time they should probably give him some idea as to what he mightsay, though. I m pretty sure he was just as unaware of the intended topic orgoal of his speech as I was. He stumbled through some words, seeming to be anice enough guy. At least I am now completely confident that I can correctlypronounce his last name (hock-em). After Joe took his seat, the directorintroduced a well-known local poker player who was going to perform a song onstage. Errr he s going to what? Sure enough, he performed a full on rock song,complete with prancing around the stage. I d never heard of him and he wasn tparticularly good. I must confess that I was weak and unable to completelystifle my laughter. After this gentleman mercifully left the stage, theyintroduced Lleyton Hewitt, Australia s top men s tennis player who is in townfor the Australian open. But they didn t just introduce him; he had a full-onprofessional wrestling style entrance, complete with theme music and a fast walkfrom the back of the room through the crowd of spectators. Lleyton didn treally seem to know what he was supposed to say either. I did get the distinctimpression that I was supposed to be in awe just being in his presence, and thatwhat he said wasn t really supposed to be important. He also seemed like a niceenough guy. Finally, he was directed to tell the dealers to shuffle up anddeal, ending our twenty minute detour from normal tournament initiationproceedings and thus allowing us to get to the business of playing poker. Ifear that my words are not able to properly express the oddness of the event. You ll just have to trust me that not only was all of this out of place, butevery player in the room was 100% uninterested and just wanted to get to playingpoker. And play poker we did. We were scheduled to play five 90 minute rounds,starting with 20,000 chips and 50-100 blinds. I should mention that when Ifirst sat down at my table, I recognized none of the other players, which is agood sign. But as tournament time drew nearer and almost all of the playerswere seated, we still had an empty chair. As time passed, that chair becamemore and more likely to be filled by a famous player. Eventually Phil Iveyfilled that seat. Famous players are an interesting bunch. I m hardly good friends with any, so Ihave really no way to give you their take on things. Daniel Negreanu s blog isthe closest thing available. I also have no real way to tell you objectivelywho s overrated and who s really just that good. All I can tell you about Philopposed to other famous players is what I hear second hand, third hand, orworse. I do hear plenty, just as in the poker world I hear plenty of pokergossip about many other famous players. The thing that s different about PhilIvey is that while I ve heard people talk about him many times, it s always beensome variation of three basic themes: 1) He likes to gamble at things other than poker, including playing craps forhigh stakes.2) He s the best player in the world3) He s extremely focused with incredible powers of observationI find the second item on this list to be extremely unique and compelling. Allfamous players have their fans and supporters, but there is a much shorter listof players who have any size of a following of fans who claim that they are thebest in the world. I hear this most often said of Ivey. But more amazing isthat I ve never heard anyone say the opposite. I never hear that he soverrated. You d figure that at some point he d have made a demonstrably badplay that might have been noticed by someone who was a hater who then spread theword about a horrible play that Phil Ivey made. Nope, at least not that sgotten back to my ears. Impressive. Let s get to a hand or two. At the first level, I had the big blind in the 3seat of 100 chips. Ivey raised it to 300 in the 6 seat and is called by thegentleman on his left but then folded back to me. I thought the raise was to200 chips and put out one more black chip with 98o. I had to put out an extrachip to make 300 when I realized the raise was to 300, not 200. The flop wasJ98 with two clubs, and I have no clubs. I checked, Ivey bet 600 chips, and theother player folded. This was a dangerous flop and I did not have position, soI wanted to make a sizable raise that would likely win me the pot right there orat least charge a reasonable amount if he wanted to draw, so I check-raised to2200. Ivey called without too much thought. The turn was the Ac. I am nowlosing to any two clubs, AJ, and any hand that beat me before. In addition, anyhand I was beating that has a club in it just picked up a ton of outs. At thispoint I hate my hand, I may well have the best but I m not going to get paid byanyone I can beat. My goal is to see a showdown as cheaply as possible. Icheck and Ivey thankfully checks behind. The river was the 7d. I know Ivey hassomething because he called the checkraise on the flop. Every draw got there,but I could be beating some hands that he holds here such as QJ or KJ. Idecided to make a blocking bet of 1550 into the pot of about 5000. With thisbet I accomplished a few things. First, I kept him from making a larger betthat could either be a value bet or a bluff to represent one of the many drawsthat hit. A bluff would be a good option for him with a weak hand after Ishowed weakness on two straight streets when the draws (and an ace) hit. Iwould probably have to fold to any sizable bet though as there were far morehands he could hold here that beat me than bluffs. Second, I made a bet thatcould easily be a milk bet with a flush or even a straight, trying to squeeze alittle more money out of him, so that he would probably not consider a raise anoption with a very good but not great hand. This would bet me to showdown ascheaply as possible. Third, I would know that I was beat if he raised and couldeasily fold. I could easily have a very strong hand here and a raise of anysubstantial size would expose his stack too much for him to risk it. He calledand turned over TcTh for the straight. At first glance it may seem as though Imissed a bet on the turn to protect my hand, but he actually had any A,Q,J,7, orclub that didn t make a house, for a total of 20 outs on the turn out of 44cards. He was nearly even money on the turn and had position and would knowwhen he hit, so I was correct to keep the pot small. I soon played another hand with Ivey. At 100/200 blinds, Ivey limped in earlyposition which he had been doing with a reasonable number of hands. Anotherplayer limped after him and I completed in the SB for 100 more chips with QJo. The BB declined to raise. The flop was Q84 with two spades, of which I havenone. With deep stacks I did not feel compelled to expose myself with top pairweak kicker against two players who have position, so I checked. Ivey bet 600,the player behind him folded, I called, and the big blind folded. The turn wasthe Qh. I now had no choice but to like my hand, but I didn t like my chancesof getting paid by a hand I could beat. As I had not really represented a queenon the flop, I decided to check and let Ivey continue to bet. He did indeed bet2000 chips, which I called after a brief thought. I did not think he would havesimply limped preflop with AQ. I thought it possible he would have raised KQ,but a limp was possible early position as well. I think he would have raised 88but not 44. He could easily have been betting any pair 99-AA or a nut flushdraw. The river came a low dud, non-spade. At this point, I could not see himcalling with a worse hand that did not also include a queen. In that case, hewould also bet, so I could do just as well by check-calling. I felt I couldinduce bluffs by missed draws by betting and also minimize my loss against ahand that beat me. He bet 4000 and I had to call. Even if I put him on neverbluffing here and always having a Q or a house, I really didn t think he couldhave AQ so KQ was the only hand that had me outkicked, I outkicked all theothers. I felt it was an easy instinctual instant call, and call instantly Idid. He turned over KQo to win the largest pot to that point at our table. Ilost 7100 chips on the hand, but I think others might have lost more with myhand, and few others if any would have lost fewer. I played hands against other players during the first two levels as well. I wona few pots, but generally ran poorly. I was getting poor starting cards andmissing flops when I did get something to play with. There were two players atour table seeing a lot of flops and making a lot of aggressive actions postflopwith a frequency such that they were likely to sometimes be raising with nothingand often with less than superior hands. Each player was exhibiting hisaggression in his own particular manner. One player would jump on everysituation where it was checked to him on the flop in position or it was checkedaround on the flop and the turn was a blank. In each case he wouldsignificantly overbet the pot, and not once was he challenged. The other player was continually challenging continuation bets. When playerswere raising preflop and then betting out on the flop, he would put in asubstantial raise to effectively put them to the test, to ask them the question, do you really have a hand to play for all your chips? . This particular playerwas calling most of my preflop raises. I originally countered by not makingcontinuation bets. After establishing my reluctance to make continuation betsby check-folding or checking down a few times after raises, I figured I mighthave built up enough credibility to get respect for one continuation bet. Iraised in position with KQo and this player was the only caller. I totallymissed the jack high flop and made a continuation bet. He raised mesubstantially. I folded. If the stack sizes were different and the structureallowed less time, I would have strongly considered coming all-in over the top. As it was, I would be risking too much and blinds were short. I had plenty oftime to wait and trap him. It s easy to be profitable against this type of playif you are patient and wait for a hand. They key is to not let the playercontinue to snap off your continuation bets when you miss. It s simple, juststop making them. I would adopt a different method of dealing with this playerif the blinds were larger relative to the stack size because each pot he wonwould be significant even without the continuation bet. As it was, I had plentyof time and the potential payoff when I caught him would be well worth thewait. A few players busted out within the first three levels. When a table was brokento replace those players, a few notable people showed up. WSOP bracelet holderand tiltboy Perry Friedman sat down in one seat near Ivey. Another player whosat down to my left was notable at first primarily because he simply didn t fitin. Poker players aren t all grungy folk, just most of them. But this cat wasmore than just well groomed for a poker player. There was something about himthat was just, well, too clean. He was young, athletic, and reasonably dressedwith actual fashion accessories. Then he started talking with Perry and Phil ina friendly manner. I have to admit I was distracted from watching a few handsthat others played by observing this gentleman and trying to figure out who hewas. I wish I could tell you a wonderful story about how I became 100% sure ofhis identity, but I m currently only 90%. Did I mention that when LleytonHewitt was on stage, I couldn t actually see him? Because I m fairly sure thats who was sitting on my left for about an hour and a half, until he busted. When I got back to my room after the tournament, I looked him up on Googleimages and found some pictures that didn t really look all that much like theguy sitting on my left, but some pictures that looked a good bit like him. I mstill not sure, perhaps Perry or Phil could clear this up for me. Honestly Iwould be somewhat skeptical if it was the pictures alone, it s more the factthat he was just clearly out of place in a poker room and friendly with thefamous players that has me thinking it was Hewitt. In any case, I was at one point down to 5000 chips out of my starting20,000. I lost chips in the two pots I described above to Ivey, plus Imissed a lot of flops. Let me briefly describe some of the other hands I playedin the first three levels. I utilized my observed information about the chronicoverbettor vs. weakness in order to double up against him at one point, but Ipromptly lost some of the chips back. I got into a blind vs. blind battleagainst a gentleman on my right who was always raising my blind from his smallblind when it was folded to him. I picked the wrong time and ended up with A9oall-in vs. his TT, but I caught an ace to double up. It was a prettyfrustrating first three levels. I did get lucky to stay alive on that all-in,but I also had a lot of tough situations and missed flops that I got out of withminimal damage. I ended the first three levels with about 18,000 chips. As wewent away for our break after the third level, we were informed that our tablewould be moved to a feature TV table across the aisle after the break for thelast two levels of the day. Apparently having Phil Ivey and Perry Friedman atyour table has privileges. To be continued... Day One ContinuedI must begrudgingly admit I had mixed feelings about being on TV. Anyone whoknows me well would probably assume that I was annoyed to be on the TV table. We players are not compensated in any way for our appearance on TV. Mostamateurs are just happy for the exposure. Famous professionals rely on thisexposure to build themselves as a brand and increase sponsorship opportunities. They would pay for the airtime. As an anonymous professional who doesn t reallycovet the attention, I kind of get screwed. I get no money, but others have ascouting tape of my play for future reference. I thrive on being anonymous, oflooking and acting like your average chump and taking advantage of peopleunderestimating me. I do not want excessive exposure, not unless I m beingcompensated. That said, after over two years of being a professional pokerplayer and being asked the question, Oh, have you been on TV? and having toanswer no. , I would really not mind being on TV once. I think my mother wouldbe proud to be able to brag on me as well, and would help my family and othersto see me as being a legitimate professional. This TV table was not a standard TV table with hole-card cameras. It had thelogo and all the TV lighting, but every hand was not to be recorded. The showwill only include a small amount of their first day footage. There was a cameracrew assigned to our section of tables that hovered around our table by defaultbut would go record hands at other tables if called away. They had othersspotting for them so that they could come running when a famous player got in abig hand. While I got in a few notable hands at the TV table, as I willdescribe below, there is no guarantee I will be on TV. There is also noguarantee that if I am on TV, the hands I played will be accuratelyrepresented. For once I have actual interest in watching poker on TV, if onlyso that I can tell my mother if I ve been on TV, and also so I can competentlydiscuss the hand(s) shown with knowledge of what audiences actually saw. EnoughTV blather, on to a couple hands. I didn t just play hands against Phil Ivey, but my biggest and most notablehands were against him. Ivey was attacking my blinds regularly at the TV tablefrom early-mid position. I had been playing very tight with no cards, so Idecided to take a look at a flop one time to see if I could take a pot away fromhim. I felt that with my prior tightness I would be able to representsomething. I had repeatedly shown caution against him and when I had checkraised him, I had shown down a hand that was strong at the time of the move. So, at 150/300 blinds, he raised to 900, and I called out of the small blindwith 68o. The flop came Q99 with two spades and a club. I checked, and Iveybet 2000. I decided that the best course of action to steal this pot would beto call and take the pot away on a later street. Effective steals againstsophisticated players involve assigning yourself a specific very strong hand andplaying the hand as though you had those cards. I decided to give myself ahand of 89. It s the same hand I called Ivey s raise with in the blind before,so it would be easier for him to put me on defending my blind with this hand. After I called the flop, the turn came the Ac, putting two flush draws out onthe board and also the scary ace. I checked, as I would with a 9 hoping I dtrapped a big ace, perhaps a spades suited ace. Ivey bet 4000. I check-raisedto 12,000. He thought for a long, long time and folded. I exposed my hand. Igenerally do not believe in exposing my cards, and this particular exposing ofmy cards had its plusses and minuses, both related to image. If I didn t show,everyone would continue to assume I was a weak tight player who sometimes playedodd cards but mostly played ABC poker. They d just think I hit a hand. I wouldbe able to use that to my advantage to bluff again, amongst other things. Byshowing the bluff, I typed myself as unpredictable, and unknown, potentiallyable to make large bluffs. This would greatly increase my ability to doublethrough someone and win a big pot. I can t say I carefully weighed thesefactors before deciding to show my cards. It was instinct. I will say that Ive been in situations like that before, and I do think it was the rightdecision. You need to have an image at the poker table that allows you todouble up if you re going to win a tournament, and it was time for me to gainthat image. The blinds were big enough that I needed to think about doubling upwith good hands rather than simply controlling pots and limiting the risk ofbusting. I played one more big hand with Ivey, with 5 minutes left to play in the day andblinds 250/500. I was in the big blind. An early position player, a fairlytight player, raised to 1500. Ivey called, as did another player in thecutoff. Before I even looked at my cards, I was smelling opportunity. If I hadany reasonable hand here, I had a chance to make a raise and potentially steal anice pot preflop. I also had an opportunity to flop a hand with any two cardsand take down a nice pot postflop. When I looked down at my cards, I saw QQ,pocket queens. This was the situation that was going to make up for all the badstarting cards, missed flops, and missed draws I d experienced all day. Theonly play here with QQ was to reraise and reraise large, for multiple reasons. First of all, I was still worried that the original early position raiser mighthave me beat. It would be unlikely that any of the other players would flatcall with AA or KK, but the early position raiser could have had me beat. Ineeded to gauge his strength now. Second, QQ is not a hand that wants to seemulti way flops. If I was to see a flop, I needed to thin the field. Third, Ihad shown the earlier bluff against Phil and also been caught in another bluff,so my large raise could easily be seen as a steal attempt that one of theoriginal callers might play back at. If the original UTG raiser, whom I decidedwas tight, decided to come back at me with JJ, I d just have to fold and let himhave the chips. The original raiser thought for a long time but then folded,which was quite the relief. Phil Ivey then reraised me a substantial amountvery quickly. I m honestly not sure how much this raise was, because the otherplayer folded and I quickly announced myself all in. Phil indicated he was allin, and we turned the cards over. He had JJ. He asked for my chip count. After I told him I had 31,500 chips, he counted it out as the cameras came over,and they ran the flop. The doorcard was a J, and I did not improve. He had mecovered, so he won the 67,000 chip pot and I busted out. Oddly enough, busting out was one of the best feelings I ve had in tournamentpoker. When I busted, I calmly stood up and shook the hand of the gentleman tomy right whom I d been chatting with and wished him luck. I then turned aroundand walked off. I didn t feel bad at all, I wasn t upset that I took a bit of abad beat, I was genuinely and totally just satisfied that I got my chips in withthe best hand. As I realized that I wasn t in the least upset about gettingunlucky I just became me more satisfied. Because the worst thing you can do asa professional is get upset about luck. As you move up through the ranks, thepoint at which you know you ve made it at a given level is the point at whichyou take bad beats but it does not affect you. If you re truly comfortable withthe level and with your play, you ll know you re a long term winner and won t beconcerned by the short term swing. That s how I felt, and boy did it feelgood. This is a really hard feeling to explain to most people, even to someprofessionals with bad tempers. The four hands I ve discussed in detail from this tournament all involved meplaying against Phil Ivey. In these last two, I appear to have gotten the bestof him. I just want to make clear that the point of these hands is not to claimthat I am a better player than Phil or even that I played better as a wholeduring our first day at the same table. I think his plays against me were verydefensible given the information he had available to him. These were amongstmy more interesting hands I played, so they were the ones I discussed, for thatreason and that reason only. There were many hands not mentioned againstmyself and others where he took down smaller pots with aggressiveness or gotwell paid when he had the best hand. The truth is that I have now joined thelegions of players to walk away from a session against Phil having not observedany significant weakness to report.
"The key to limit hold'em is to put a man to a decision for some of his chips"