Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Heading East ป๊อกเด้ง ไฮโล

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Before this past week I had never played poker on the East Coast. When I was in residency from 1992 to 1996 in Southeast Virginia, I frequently visited the casinos of Atlantic City. However, I was a craps player then. I didn’t play poker in casinos, except on rare occasions when I played 1-5 stud in Vegas. This time I was going back to A.C. with the opposite intentions, playing only poker and absolutely no table games or slots.

This trip was hastily put together at the last minute. I flew from Nashville to Baltimore and drove up to AC from there. It was only $75 each way. The Taj had a great room rate at $65 per night midweek and $85 on the weekend. I got in at 3:30 am, but I had to stay at one of the dive hotels just outside the Taj. I didn’t think I would get all the way to AC from BWI the first night, so I hadn’t booked a room for that night. So after a restless night of sleep in a room without any amenities, I moved up to the Taj and registered for the $1000 limit Hold-em event.

I got off to a decent start, but then I lost two big hands. The first after flopping a set of tens, only to lose to two people who made straights. I didn’t even call the river bet on that hand. Then I flopped a straight, only to lose to flush. I finally busted out, when I was trying to steal the blinds with a Q-9 offsuit. Both blinds called. The high card on the flop was a nine, but I was caught by the small blind who held pocket nines. I thought he put me on over cards and was playing a smaller pair hard. He had aggressively bet pocket 7’s earlier with two queens on the board, losing to pocket Aces. So the play of his 7’s drew me in when I hit the nine.

I decided to play the super-satellite that night. I wasn’t planning to play the main ป๊อกเด้ง ไฮโล event the following week unless I won a seat. The format was different than the WSOP and WPO formats. For $220 you got 2000 instead of the usual smaller 200 tournament chips, which meant fewer rebuys and more post flop play. I like to play more post flop, so I liked the format, but I don’t think it generates very many seats. I had to rebuy once when I put my money in with A-10 suited, against pocket Kings. I nailed the Ace on the flop, but he made a flush when it came runner-runner in diamonds, putting four diamonds on the board.

I was tired and I almost got up, but I decided to buy-in one more time. I added to my stack by busting someone with my pocket nines, when he called with a smaller pair. I wasn’t going to add-on, but I couldn’t resist the lure of playing with over $5000 worth of chips, so before I knew it I was into the game for $720. I was playing pretty well. I caught someone slow playing pocket Queens. I called an unraised pot preflop from late position with K-9 suited in Diamonds. The flop came with a Queen and two diamonds. I love the flop and I was last to act. It was checked to me. I really sensed that someone was looking to check-raise, so I happily took a free card. I hit my flush on the turn and the guy with the set of Queens bet $500. I raised it to 2000 and he called leaving him about 300 in chips.

The river was a blank and he bet into me, which finished him off. Had me made any kind of bet on the flop or before, I would have not played on with the hand. He gave me a free play at him, which was a mistake on his part. I, on the other hand, took my pocket queens into an A-K and won, which made me chip leader going into the final table.

They were paying for two seats and $5200 was going to the third place finisher. We got down to five players, which left us all pretty even in chips, with me probably having the second largest stack. A peculiar hand came my way. The player to my right seemed like a very inexperienced player, who played a rather tight and uninventive game. I had about 5000 more than he did in chips. I was in the large blind with the blinds at 1500-3000. I had a 5-9 offsuit. The player on my right put in 5000, which was not a legal raise. He never said raise, so it was ruled a call. The flop came with a 2-6-7 rainbow. I had a gut-shot straight draw. The other guy checked and I took a free card. The turn was a 5, giving me a small pair. I put him on over cards, after he checked the flop. He bet 6000. I decided to come over the top for 12,000.

To my surprise he came over the top for the rest of his chips. This was only a few thousand more so I called. I was dismayed to find that he had checked an A-7 on the flop. He had top pair and top kicker on the flop and gave me a free draw to my straight. Unfortunately for me it worked out perfectly for him. He won a seat in the main event and I busted out with my short stack next hand. I was stunned. If his raise would have stood before the flop, I would mucked my hand and I would have played my way into the money. If he had bet the flop, I would have been gone too. Instead I was really gone back to my room to get some badly needed sleep.

Day number two for me was the $1000 no-limit hold-em event. I had a lot of confidence in No-limit, and I felt I was playing well. In this particular event I never caught a quality hand. I finally put all of my chips in at the third level with A-K suited against pocket 10’s. I got no help and I was off to the ring games. I got into the first $30-60 hold-em game of my life. A guy sat down with a handful of black chips who had never played hold-em before. I made a quick $560 and moved over to the 30-60 Omaha-8 game. This was a loose game that played just like the 3-6 games I learned on back at the Station Casino in St Charles, Missouri.

In eight hours of play, not a single blind was chopped, because there were always at least four people taking a flop. Despite the juiciness of the game, I couldn’t beat it, dropping a couple hundred bucks in the game. I was actually down a thousand at one point, but I made a nice comeback to get close to even. I had most of what I won in the Hold-em game still remaining, so I was ready to quit. I knew I was getting tired when I turned over a low hand, when there was no low on the board. This play would pay dividends for me later as many of the players from that game were playing in the next day’s $1000 Omaha-8 event.

The Omaha 8 event would be my last event of the year. I had also tabulated my lifetime totals as a major tournament player. I was a lifetime loser of $1000 over about 50 or 60 events. Thus a big win here would make me a lifetime winner. There were only 55 entries. At my table I found Miami John Cernuto and Dale Phillips. Both have been ranked Omaha 8 players in the past. I got off to a good start, actually doubling my chips by the 3rd level, but then I lost a big hand to Dale, when I had A-A-J-10.

The flop came K-Q-8, giving me a great wrap. He had a pair of 8’s after the flop. He called me down and won when a 5 and 6 came, giving him 8’s and 6’s. Before long I was back down below the starting level of 2000. Then I made a come-back. On one hand I actually caught a royal flush with my lone opponent betting into me. He checked the river and I bet, but this time he folded. I then turned my hand over saying, “I wanted to show this” Miami John spoke up and said, “You would had to show me. I would have made 4 Queens.”

I got moved after that and I just went on a tear. I was running over the game, building my stack up to 12,000. I was chip leader for a while. I ran into a young player who was Asian- Indian. He was very polite and apparently new at tournament poker. I believe he had just made his first final table along with another money finish in this year’s USPC. He reminded me of me when I first started playing tournament poker. He called himself Victor, but his real name was Annand Ramdin.

I had raised with K-K-x-x under the gun. I had a huge stack and I was playing the part of the bully. Victor called my raise. An Ace and two nines hit the flop and I bet to see where I was. Victor came over the top. It was an easy fold for me. Then he couldn’t resist showing the bluff. He didn’t have a card bigger than a 6 in his hand. Danny Negreanu was on my right, and I whispered to him, “He should never have showed me that.” Meantime I just laughingly said that was the first time all year that someone had actually successfully bluffed me. Victor went on a nice run and actually came to the final table with the 4th largest stack, but he would try one bluff too many at the final table and I would be there to capitalize on it.

In the meantime, my stack was trimmed when I played a second nut flush against a nut flush. Now, I had to play a bit more carefully. I was down to about 5000 when we were ten handed. Miami John Cernuto had his stack decimated when he had pocket Aces that failed to hold up against Peter Stein, the same guy who nailed me with his nut flush a few hands earlier. Now Miami was in the blind with two $100 chips. The blinds were 300/600. Peter, on my right, and Victor, on my left in the small blind, called along with me on the button. I had K-Q-J-2 double suited.

The flop brought two of my suit and two Jacks. Victor bet out, which I didn’t like, as we were trying to get Miami John out by checking it down, so we could go to the final table. Peter called. I decided to go ahead and raise. I had two of my suit and trips, and I needed chips for the final table myself. I ended up winning with a flush. Miami John had a jack as well, but couldn’t fill his either. So this lifted me to 7000 in chips and another final table.

There were two stacks under 1000 with the blinds still at 300-600. I was in 6th place with my stack. Both of the small stacks went all-in on the first hand. I had two Aces and decided to not raise, so that we could bust the small stacks once again by checking it down. This time we did indeed check it down, eliminating one of the stacks, but the other guy hung on with the nut flush. I got into some trouble when I played an A-2-4-8 heads up against Peter. He raised my blind and I simply called. The flop came with A-A-7. I checked raised Peter. He called my bet on the turn. I neither filled nor caught the low. I realized only by the river that he too had an Ace, but with a bigger kicker.

Now I was in jeopardy. However I was still confident I could play my way back. People don’t realize just how patient you can be with a short stack in an Omaha tournament. I simply waited for good hands. I also didn’t raise with normal raising hands before the flop. I didn’t want to put in two bets with a strong low hand only to hit a high flop. I preferred to wait until after the flop to play my hand. This worked well. I also have been playing a lot of one-table tournaments on another site, and I have been doing quite well in Omaha as well as Hold-em. I have several come from behind wins in these tournaments, which also served as good preparation for this situation. I had two critical hands against Victor. On one hand I flopped top pair with a Jack and a lock low draw. When the low didn’t get there, I checked with a board that had J-10-10-x-x. Neither of us had bet the turn, and I had played the flop aggressively. Victor put a bet in. If I called the bet and lost, I could survive one more round of blinds. This is when he paid for showing me his bluff earlier. I knew he was capable of being induced to bluff. I called after a long pause. He simply tapped the table indicating his bluff, and I dragged the pot.

I had to survive two all-ins. The first time I managed to get away with half of the high end and a third of low end, which didn’t help me so much, but it made Dale Phillips a smaller stack. After a few others were eliminated I was getting short again, and decided to play with J-J-8-9, when we were 5 handed. I was heads up against Victor again. This time the flop came with 10-8-x. I had a double end straight with an over pair. Victor bet the flop. I looked at my stack and I knew that, if I went to the river with this hand and lost, I was out. I decided that in light of Victor’s previous play, I might have the best hand, with a draw at the nuts. I decided to commit all of my chips to this hand, and raised him. I caught the straight on the turn, and all he had was a pair of Aces with no low draw.

From there I went on a rampage. Lonnie Heimowitz, who I recognized from somewhere before, started the final table as chip leader with 23,900. I suddenly began catching big hands against him, and he seemed completely incapable of letting go of any hands. I had shifted gears and I was now playing only strong hands, whereas before I was definitely regarded as a loose cannon. I decimated Lonnie’s stack. I also made quad nines on Peter Stein, putting a big dent in his stack. In between plays I was talking to Charlie Brahmi, who was on my left with a big stack. We stayed out of each other’s way. I kept telling him that he had homefield advantage, as he is an AC native, and a great tournament player. He kept telling me that it was only worth a field goal in the point spread. Eventually, I became the chip leader and Charlie was a close second. Victor was out 5th, before we eliminated Lonnie 4th and finally I took out Peter, who had been such a nemesis to me earlier.

With a heads-up match about to start, Charlie and I discussed a deal. I didn’t want to just chop it up, but we did agree to a $3000 save. First was worth 22,000 and 2nd was worth 12,600. I was slightly ahead and he didn’t seem to want to play it out, which made me want to play it that much more. It was a very tight match for about the first hour with the lead changing hands repeatedly. He finally scooped a big pot where he made Kings and deuces, and I had only a single pair of Kings. He thought my contribution to the pot looked small, and he and I had a bit of a dispute about what I owed. He thought I owed 22,000 to 24,000 and I had 16,000 in. I thought maybe our chips got mixed together somewhere. They finally had to get the cameras to sort it out. We were both getting very tired as it was after 1 am, and I couldn’t even remember the betting of the hand.

Finally the review determined that I was 2000 short, which was better than 6,000 or 8,000. Now he had 60-70% of the chips. The truly decisive hand came soon after. The flop came J-6-4. I had something like an A-2-6-9. I liked the flop. The turn was better when the 9 hit giving me two pair and a nut low draw. Charlie was not playing aggressively with this hand, but I was. The river paired the nine. Charlie checked and I bet. He raised. I figured he put me on a busted low with an over pair, certainly not nines full. I reraised and he simply called. I knew I had him when he didn’t raise me back. That is until he informed that he had pocket Jacks. He actually was afraid I had quads. He had slow played the Jacks with a low draw on the board, but it paid off and I was crippled.

He finished me off after about two more hands. He had a big crowd of locals cheering him on. I can’t say that I was terribly upset. I played one of the best heads-up players in the world for nearly two hours, and it took an improbable fullhouse over fullhouse to decide our fate. With the save I brought home over $15,000, and I am now a lifetime tournament winner; for now anyhow. While Charlie would have chopped it up and let me have the bracelet, if I gave him over half of the prize money, the value to me of having the experience and thrill of playing against such a great player is priceless, so I had to play it out.

One thing is for sure. I am playing the Big One in Tunica. I’ll see you there.




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