Foxwoods Mega May ’07 Trip Report

Part 1
For some reason, Foxwoods decided it would be a good idea to have a $3000 deep stack tournament on a random Thursday. Todd invited me down to play satellites on Wednesday, and I took him up on it. I’m a time nit, so we left way earlier than we needed to and got there like an hour early. After registering, we got some Panera breakfast. He commented that he might not play the evening satellite, which was fine by me, cuz I have a ton of work I should be doing anyway, but I told him that if I qualified and he didn’t, I’d spring for the hotel room.

The first real pot I played, blinds 50/100, I called an EP raise with 7’s. The BB came along also, and the flop was like A74 with a flush draw. The raiser bet 350, I made it 1000, and he folded. I would put the odds of him having folded any Ace at <10%.

Next orbit, I overcalled an UTG raise with Ad 5d on the button. We ended up going five-handed to the flop, which was Qd Td 6s. The raiser bet 500 into a 1550 pot, UTG+1 called, and then a guy in MP made it 2000. Effective stacks were like 10K, still 100 BB, and while I contemplated a shove, I ultimately folded. The EV of that play really comes down to whether I can get a fold from AQ, and I’m just not sure I can. Maybe a little weak tight.

After folding for ages, I raised As Qd and got called by the BB. He checked a K-high all-spade flop, and I bet 3500 into a 4500 pot with like 5000 behind. The BB mucked pretty quick.

Before long, the rapidly increasing blinds had me in push/fold mode. Unfortunately, it was tough to be first into the pot, there was so much limping and min-raising and [censored]. It would have been great to pick up a shove-worthy hand against one of those clowns, but it didn’t happen. When I finally got folds to me in the CO with 8x, I was ready to shove any two, but finally found something decent in ATs. Folds!

Next orbit, blinds were up again. I had some old nits to my left and was looking forward to shoving their BB’s, but they kept busting before I got the chance. Finally, with like 7.5x, I shoved K5s into a tight player from MP1 and picked up the pot. That was enough to give me 11 BB, and the next hand, I contemplated shoving KJo UTG+1 but ultimately folded. In retrospect, I think that was a mistake; I suck at compensating for big antes.

There was one monkey in particular who kept limping when blinds were enormous. The only other guy at the table who seemed like he could be decent got caught shoving 82o against this guy’s limp when the BB woke up with AA. Flop 824 BOOM BOOM BOOM!

Unfortunately, this made it a little tougher for me to make the same move on the limper a few orbits later. Blinds 800/1600, this guy limps in, I shove Q9s for 10K. He tanks, deliberates, and ultimately calls with AJ to bust me. Oh well, he’d been limping much worse, and if he’s thinking about folding AJ, I’ve already won.

After lunch, it’s time for cash! I get on the 1-2, 2-5, and 5-10 NL lists. The 1-2 opens up first, and as I’m unracking, I see a re-raised pot with a 456cc flop. The pre-flop raiser bets, caller check-raises all in, gets called, they both show AK. Niiiiiiice.

I can’t wait three hands, so I post in MP2 and find AQ. That’s work. I open for $8, but whoops, it was a straddled pot. Oh well. The guy who re-raised AK last hand calls, CO calls, straddle calls. Flop QT7, I bet 25, AK guy makes it 75, I call. Turn blank, I check, he bets 100, I shove 125 more, he calls. River A BOOM BOOM BOOM T7o no good sir. He’s upset, and doubly so when I leave two hands later to go play 2/5 NL.

As I’m sitting down, a very friendly guy with an accent I couldn’t identify sitting to my left shows me that he’s holding a straight. He bets big on the river and warns his opponent he has a straight, but the guy won’t listen. I post from the CO next hand, a guy in LP open limps, I pop it to 25 with QTo, the friendly button guy calls, the limper calls, and the BB calls. Flop T87, I bet 75, button quickly calls, the others fold. Turn 8, I check, he shoves 295, I think and fold, he shows me an 8.

Next hand, same guy open limps, I make it 25 with T8o, friendly CO calls, BB calls, limper calls. I got to stop raising this trash. Flop J98, I reach for chips and CO says, “Don’t do it, I have a Jack.” I bet $40, he calls, the others fold. Turn J, we check it through. River 7, I bet $75, he calls with K8. Hyachah!

The friendly foreigner was generally pretty loose, but I think maybe this tilted him. A few hands later he overcalls a bet on a QT8 flop. SB check-raises all in, UTG+1 cold calls, the better and first caller fold, and my buddy calls. Turn blank, UTG+1 shoves 300, foreigner calls with AT (!!!), and obviously he gets shown J9 for the nuts.

Dude rebuys for 200, and a few hands later tosses in a green $25 chip UTG. He says he meant to raise, but the dealer rules it a call, which he seems fine with. A tight old guy raises to $40, some guy who claimed to be a pro but wasn’t that good calls, and UTG shoves for like $140. Call call. Flop 955, shove call. UTG shows me his AA, but he’s up against QQ and 99, and the “pro” wins a big one. Foreign monkey leaves in a huff.

Once he left, the game got real bad. A rather young woman who seemed to be a regular took a seat to my right and started complaining about how slow the game was. Soon she was raising limpers like 50% of the time she was in late position. I resolved to pop her the next time she did it (she had commented how no one ever re-raises with KK+), but found Qc Tc and decided to take a multi-way pot in position. Four to the flop, $100 in pot, flop K74cc. She bets $75, I call, others fold. Turn 4d, he best $125, I shove for $270, she groans. “Set of 7’s? Did you hit the 4?” She turns over a K. I’m staring hard at the felt. “I have AK.” I try not to look panicked. Finally she folds, saying, “I guess I’m not beating much. I actually had KJ.”

“Yeah, I didn’t expect you to fold AK.”

“So you had me?”

I smiled. “I didn’t expect you to fold AK.” Pretty bad move by me really, but I had just decided she was pushing too hard and went with that.

A few hands later, I opened for 20 from LP with 64s. A pretty straight-forward player called in the BB. Flop AKJr perfect. He checks and calls $40. Please. Turn 6, he checks and fold quickly for $120 (effective stacks were like $750). Yeah, I didn’t think so.

It was like 5:30 at this point, and I needed to go check whether Todd wanted to stick around for the 6PM satellite. He said he did, so I came back and posted from the CO. The entire table limped around, and I checked Kd 4d. Flop 6d 4c 2d. Checks to me, I bet $35, button makes it $100, I shove for $235 more, he snap calls with 66. Yeah, I had a bad feeling about that. Turn Qd HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA SHIP IT!!! He keeps shooting dirty looks at me, and five minutes later I leave the table HAHAHHAHAHAHAHA.

Time to play the 6PM satellite.

Part 2

With about ten minutes to go before the 6PM $500 satellite, I spot Rich (2p2’er Shorty55), whom I first met in Vegas last summer and who took half my action in the 2K I played at Foxwoods a few months ago. Then again, he’s not tough to spot, partially because he’s like eight feet tall, and partially because he’s neither an octogenarian nor a corpulent Italian and therefore sticks out like a sore thumb in the Foxwoods poker room.

We chat for a few minutes, and he tells me he was debating whether to come while playing 5/10 NL online. As he explains the decision-making process: “I flopped bottom set with 22, turn is an A, I’ thinking ‘Great, he’s got two pair, time to get the money in.’ Turns out he had AA for top set, but wait, deuce on the river! When something like that happens, you just have to go to Foxwoods to play tournaments. Poor guy, I saw him make quads under quads in the next half hour, too. Never seen that before.”

We take our seats, and my starting table turns out to be real soft. Early on, with blinds 25/50, UTG opens for 200, UTG+1 calls, and I re-raise to 1000 with QQ. UTG folds, UTG+1 calls, flop is a very nice J52r. This guy has passed up two opportunities to reraise me, so I’m not too worried about AA/KK/JJ, and I’ve seen him overvalue top pair already. Basically, I’m looking to bet the flop and call a check-raise for 8.5K. That’s exactly what happens, with him showing me JTo. Even though I got his chips, I still wish he could somehow rebuy and keep sitting to me right.

Oh well, as consolation I open to 300 (blinds now 50/100) with QQ next orbit, and BB reraises to 1000 pretty quick. Live donks tend to do stupid shit with Aces and sometimes with K’s, and the size of this raise felt more like TT/JJ/AK trying to end the action pre-flop. I call, and flop is 742. Well, no getting away now. He bets 2K, and I call. Turn is another blank, he bets 3K with 3.5K behind, I think, reassure myself that he doesn’t have to have AA here, and set him in. He’s got JJ, and I’m up to like 27K from my starting 10K in half an hour. Heart live poker.

After that, it’s mostly folding for me, because the play is too loose to make many moves. I snap off a short-stack shove with AKs on my BB, I think he had like AT or something I dominated.

With blinds 200/400/50, I pick up ATs on the button. The worst player at the table limps in, I make 2K, he already has 400 in the pot so obviously can’t fold for 1600 more. Flop A95hh. Not ideal, but this guy’s pretty bad. He checks, I bet 3K, he hems and haws forever and tells me he doesn’t know if he can call but I know he can and sure enough he does.

Turn was something harmless, he checks, and I check behind cuz I know he’ll let me know where I stand on the river. It’s an off-suit 8, making for one more hand I don’t beat. He checks again, and I finally decide I can’t value bet. He tables A8o and tells me I should have bet the turn, as he would have folded. I purse my lips and nod sagely in acknowledgement of his advice.

Unfortunately, the structure on these satellites sucked, and after going card dead and not playing a single pot for the next three levels, I was back on life support at the next break. I was also starving, and Todd and Joe (a guy from our home game who met us at the ‘Woods on his way to NY) had already gone to eat. I asked Rich if he wanted to eat after I busted, and he told me not to think like that. “You’re going to play a short stack really well against these guys.” True. “Just be patient. Especially in satellites, by desperation threshold is literally like 3 BB’s these days. If you ever get a hand, you can get back to average so quick.” True.

I do some more folds and shove AQ over a raise. Unfortunately my new table features a maniac old man who loves to shove his stack in retarded spots, so it’s once again tough to make moves. Then it happens: rockets, American Airlines, the holy grail of poker! At 800/1600, I make it 4100 UTG. The old man shoves, though unfortunately he recently got clipped after calling a re-raise with AJ and shoving a rag flop checked to him (obviously JJ insta-calls him). Then MP1 cold calls the shove. I’m up against A9 and QQ and hold up. Back in business, baby!

We’re approaching the bubble now, but I think I began overcompensating a little too soon. There were roughly 40 left in the tournament with 19 spots to pay. I had one of the biggest stacks at the table. Another big stack who’d been described to me as a little aggressive and capable of psychotic calls opens for 6000 from MP. I had the opportunity shove 35K more at him with AQo in the SB, but elected to fold. Probably bad.

Then with 38 left, I folded A8 in my BB to a 4x all in from a player smart enough to shove a very wide range from MP1. He showed me an A, though, so it may not have ended well for me if I called. The same player later re-stole from me twice when I tried to steal from late position. Eventually I took a BB from him by raising KTs to 8K from the button, blinds 1500/3000/400. He had only 19K behind, so I was prepared to race against him if necessary, and he knew he had no fold equity.

When blinds jumped again, everyone behind me was short enough to me to open shove from LP. I did this once with AQ and once with 99, showing the first time just for future credibility.

I made another mistake when I let an old man on my right, who’d been min-raising quite a bit and getting away with it (“It’s either a cheap steal or an invitation to raise, and it’s up to you to figure out which,” he’d explained) open limp my BB for 4000. I had like 48K, he covered, and I was going to shove a wide range. For some reason I convinced myself to take a flop with 97s, though I ended up folding bottom pair to a river bet. I should have just shoved pre-flop, there’s no way he calls, and as it turns out, I would need the extra chips.

Things really got hairy when blinds hit 3000/6000/1000. I decided that even with 23 players remaining, I could quickly end up in trouble with just 48K, so I took a shot at open shoving J9s from the button. The same good player in the BB had like 25K, but I still felt he’d fold a fair amount so that he could invest the last of his chips in a shove rather than a call. Unfortunately, he had AQs, but fortunately I spiked my J. GG yo.

With 21 left, I had 11 BB’s, and elected to call a 2x all in from a guy with whom I was kind of friendly holding 92s on my BB. He jokingly begged me not to call, but had no hard feelings when I did. He had AJ and turned the nuts, but I hit a runner runner flush that I didn’t even realize I had to bust him.

Things really started going slowly with 20 left and 19 to pay. I had a well above average stack and was prepared to fold everything, but then I started getting paranoid. I’ve had some really brutal bubbles in EPT and WSOP satellites in the last few months, and so when I got KK in the SB, I elected to shove and pick up some easy money. I showed, and the BB said she fold AJ. Wow, what a disaster it would have been if she made a monkey call. I reprimanded myself after that. Another guy thanked me for showing and told me he folded 88. “You would have called me in a second,” he told me. You go ahead and think that.

Finally the bubble burst, and I won my seat. At this point it was after midnight, and I still hadn’t eaten. I had some stale animal crackers with me, and I bought a muffin hoping to avoid eating those, but it turned out to be even staler. Screw you, Fifth Street Café! Anyway for some reason it took forever to process 19 vouchers, and then we all had to take our vouchers over to the cashier to enroll in tomorrow’s tournament.

At about 1 AM, Todd and I headed over to the hotel to check in. He’d made reservations the day before, but the old man at the front desk told us kind of insistently and bitchily that we didn’t have a reservation at any Foxwoods hotel. Finally he found it had been cancelled since we hadn’t checked in by 6PM. Todd had misunderstood this instruction on the phone and thought we had to CANCEL by 6. The guy was actually pretty helpful with reinstating the reservation and getting us the original rate. He also had the most disgusting teeth I’ve seen this side of the Atlantic, with most of them missing and the ones he did have discolored and jutting out in odd directions. Shudder.

The room was nice, very large with two large beds, nice furniture, a big bathroom shower, and even a balcony. I was disappointed to find the balcony door unopenable. I guess they figured out that a 17th story balcony was an invitation to disaster at a casino. After a late-night meal of stale animal crackers and Colin Ferguson, we turned in for the night.

Part 3

Todd and I hit up the breakfast buffet at the Veranda Café. I mentioned that I like casino buffets for cheap meals because although some of the food is guaranteed to be terrible, you can keep rolling the dice until you find something you like. If you order a sandwich from the deli, you’re stuck with it no matter how unappetizing it is.

This holds true at the Veranda. On my first trip, I grabbed pancakes and French toast. The pancakes were so hard that even by raising my knife a good six inches and slamming it down onto them, I could barely make a dent (and let’s face it, when a pancake is capable of holding a dent, it’s not going to be a good pancake.) The French toast was pretty good, though, as was the bacon.

We talked for a while about all the “pros” we’d encountered yesterday. There are obviously a ton of guys who hang around the Foxwoods poker room, lose money pretty consistently, and consider themselves pros. It was a bit more surprising to me, though, that, as Todd put it, there are also a lot of guys who travel the live tournament circuit and live the lifestyle but are actually financing a losing habit because they have some lucrative business on the side. I guess it’s also possible that some of them hit a big score early on, convince themselves they’re good, and start burning through their winnings trying to make it as a pro.

But we’d both played with these guys who were just back from the Bellagio 25K or the Caesar’s 10K or whatever and talking about how they play all these live tournaments and then just demonstrating a complete lack of really basic poker and/or tournament poker skills. For example, there’s one guy I played with at both the Foxwoods 2K and in a satellite yesterday who talks a big game and knows everyone on the circuit, but from what I’ve seen (and what I’ve heard better players who know him say), is not especially good.

With like 25 players left in the satellite last night (19 paid), he blinded down to the point where he was posting like 30% of his stack in the BB. Antes were huge, and there was no way he was going to fold into a seat. The CO raised, a smart and aggressive player in the SB shoved, and he unhappily folded, saying he would have called the CO hoping to be 60/40. I just can’t conceive of anyone making money playing tournament poker and not recognizing how much his situation improves when the SB shoves and gives him protection and better odds on his money with what is likely not a much tighter range than the CO was raising in the first place.

We also talk a bit about our plan for the day. The tournament doesn’t start until noon, and the director has already said that if it isn’t over by 1AM we’re going to break for the night and start over at 1PM the next day. Todd definitely has to be back tomorrow morning, and is supposed to be back by 6PM for the ballroom dancing lessons his fiancée insisted on in preparation for their impending nuptials. He assures me, however, that it will not break his heart if he has to miss the latter.

“Are you any good?”

“Nope!” he scoffs. “Our teacher suggested we choose a song without a beat for our dance because the beat ‘just confuses’ me.” Pwned.

I still don’t know how I’m going to get home if I do make it through the day and he has to leave. My friend Logan mentioned he might come down tonight when he finishes a law school final, so my new plan was to hope he’d be willing to stay the night if necessary.

My starting table features at least one of those “pros” I was talking about, a guy I played with at 2/5 NL yesterday. He seems to be one of those live players who is way too loose, passive, and predictable, but makes some good reads and sometimes traps aggressive players like me with retarded slowplaying. I believe his name was Brian.

Other players of note include a tall, skinny guy with glasses who looks like a grown-up Harry Potter, a tremendously fat Italian-American kid with trashy goatee and a huge silver cross around his neck, and a guy whom I actually believe when he claims to make money at poker. His story is plausible for a couple of reasons, most notably that he can produce a concrete figure of what he’s looking to earn in a month and that he seems to have a budget that really does depend on him winning this money. Specifically, he owns a Cold Stone Creamery in Manhattan, that, he says, has so far cost him over 100K in his first two years of business. “I have to earn 12K a month playing poker just to keep the place open.” The fact that he’ll openly admit to having lost money so far on a business also suggests he isn’t just deluding himself into thinking he’s a winner at poker.

There are a couple of empty seats at the table, and I’m not happy when one of them is filled by another familiar face. I played with Lenny during the Foxwoods 2K. He seemed to be good, and I later learned that at last year’s World Poker finals he’d won two preliminary events and the title of best all-around player. Sweet.

To my right are a couple of limp-monkeys, with Harry Potter being the worst offender. Blinds start off at 25/50, 30K starting stacks, and go up every 40 minutes. Not a bad structure at all for a live event with just a four figure buy-in. The limpers quickly ignore me, and when I pick up black 3’s, I pop a couple of them to 350. The fat kid, who I think was named Paul, calls from the SB, and everyone else folds. The flop is K-high with all hearts and no 3. He checks, I bet 650, and he folds.

Next orbit UTG and UTG+1 limp, I make it 350 again, this time with QQ, and only UTG+1 calls. He checks and calls 550 on a Kh 4d 3h flop. We check through a 7s turn, and then he leads for 1000 on a 7h river. For whatever reason, I didn’t think he had a flush. I can’t see him limp-calling many Kings, and I don’t know why he would have a 7. Then again, random live players are pretty passive and suck at making thin value bets, and I couldn’t really see this being a bluff for barely half pot. Finally I decided this could be a blocking bet with like 66 or something often enough for me to call with a pretty under-represented QQ. Nope, he’s got 33 for bottom set that boated up. Whatever, he didn’t win nearly enough to justify his pre-flop call.

The next time I raise up some limpers it’s with As 7s. Once again, Paul calls in the SB. I’m starting to see a pattern here. I get once other call and elect to take a free card to a gut shot on a Th 9c 6h flop. Paul leads for half pot on a 4c turn, and the action folds to me. What a weak ass bet on this very draw-heavy board. I’m so tempted to float him and fire at one of a dozen river scare cards, but I guess he could have a lot of draws in his range, so I may end up bluffing into him when he hits. I fold but make a note to punish this dumb LAG if I get the chance.

Blinds jump to 50/100, and Lenny gets himself into some trouble against Cold Stone. He opens from like CO-1 to 300, and Cold Stone re-raises to 825 out of the SB. Lenny calls. Flop K52r, Cold Stone bets, Lenny calls. Turn is a blank, action goes check bet call. Now on a blank river Cold Stone pots it for 6K. Lenny looks pissed and finally calls. Cold Stone turns up a pretty obvious KK, and Lenny angrily flips over his AA.

Lenny looks to be steaming pretty bad and leaves the table. He is gone for literally 15 minutes of so. What the [censored] kind of professional acts like that? It wasn’t even a bad beat, 90% of the money went in when you were way behind, and you didn’t play it particularly well. 300 BB deep, I think you need to 4-bet AA (and a lot of other stuff) pre-flop when a solid player re-raises your LP raise out of the blinds. After he check-calls turn in a spot where it doesn’t make much sense for him to have any kind of draw, I can find a river fold, too.

And regardless, you run into some bad luck and have to leave for 15 minutes?! During one of the most profitable stages of the tournament?! Anyone who’s spent a fair amount of time at the tables, let along a professional, should be able to handle a rough spot better than this. But whatever, I don’t mind having him gone.

Next pot I open is with AK for 300. I get called in three spots, including by Paul and Brian. The flop is a dangerous Kh Th 8d. I bet 900 (probably should have been more), and they all fold. Jesus, what are you monkeys calling with pre-flop?

Lenny finally returns, and I’m about to pop some limpers but for some reason decide to overlimp instead with 87s. As soon as I did it, I was like “[censored], you know Lenny is going to raise you guys from his button.” Sure enough, he makes it 800, and along comes Paul from the SB. The others fold, and I’m tempted to re-raise, but I know that makes no sense at all, so I just call looking to make a play at the flop, cuz I still don’t believe Lenny.

It’s a not very appealing JTTr. We check to Lenny, who bets and gets check-raised. Bah, I fold. Lenny calls. Turn is something irrelevant, Paul asks what Lenny has left and then bets half of that. Lenny call. Shaaaaaaaaaaady. River K, Paul shoves, Lenny insta-calls with JJ for a full house. Paul apologies and flips over KK. HAHHAHAHAHAHAHA NICE TRAP PRO!!!!!

“I strung you along so nice,” Lenny is muttering to himself. Yeah, calling off half your stack on the turn was real sneaky of you.

“I knew I needed it. I mean, you called half your stack.” Paul says in his own defense. Does that mean you were check-folding the river? I have my doubts, but nice hand. Paul seems better than average and like he could be a pain in the neck, but I’d still rather see him with the chips than Lenny. Lenny does leave the table with class, though, shrugging his shoulders and saying “What can you do?” He’s probably not a bad guy at all, and almost certainly a good player, I just wasn’t in the mood to have any respect for anyone. It’s part of getting psyched up for an event I’m not really bankrolled to play.

For the next hour or so, I’m real quiet, and decide to capitalize on that by popping some limpers to 1200 with QTo (we’re now at 100/200). “Haven’t heard from you in a while,” the guy to my right says as he mucks. Thanks for noticing.

A few hands later I check Jc 7c against a ton of limpers on my BB. The flop comes 8h 7s 4h. I know I ought to just give it up here, but I decided to check and raise if there’s a bet from late position. Brian takes a stab at it for 800, and he’s so passive that I should have known better, but I make it 2400. The others fold and he calls. I check and fold my gut shot on a turned 9, and he shows me a set of 4’s. Yeah, yeah, I nod knowingly at him.

We get a break and come back for 100/200/25. I’ve lost about 10% of my stack in the first two hours but still have well over 100 BB. Not for long, though. I’d decided to open up now that antes had kicked in and raised to 700 with Tc 7c in MP. Brian calls from the SB and leads into me for 1500 on a Th 8s 6s flop. I’m obviously not folding, but I should’ve bothered to put him on a hand. Instead I just called pretty quickly.

The turn blanks, and he leads 3500. I know I’m in trouble now, but I still feel like I should be able to 9 outs on the river or a bluff a spade, so I call. The river is an ugly offsuit 3 and he makes a blatant value bet of 4000. I muck, and he shows QQ, which I really should have known. He’s passive enough not to reraise that pre-flop, too passive to semi-bluff a draw like he did, and too passive to fast-play a set. Only an overpair makes much sense, and with these stacks, his weak-tight tendencies, and his fondness for ‘reads’, I think I could’ve taken him off the hand if I were willing to be more creative.

A small turn raise leaving a pot-sized bet left for the river would have been perfect. If he were fast-playing a set, he’d likely shove the turn, and there’s no way he calls a river shove even with AA when we’re well over 100 BB deep when I call flop and make a sketchy turn raise. If I do hit an out, I might even be able to take him to value town, but the bottom line is that I failed to recognize a situation where I would have been better off playing top pair as a bluff rather than a bluff-catcher. Against a guy like Brian, who is bad per se but has a lot of exploitable tendencies, there’s a lot of money to be made with plays like this. It’s one of the reasons I want more experience with live poker, because you don’t run into many spots like this in online tournaments (though you do occasionally in cash games, which is where I’ve been working on lines like the one I’m advocating here).

I overlimp K6s on my button and see a K25r flop. SB leads 600 into a 1400 pot, BB calls, Brian makes it 1600, and I fold my top pair and backdoor flush draw. Both blinds call. Turn is a blank and they check it through. I put Brian on AK that he was raising for value and to take control of the betting. Yes, he overlimps AK, I’ve seen it. River A, blinds check, Brian bets 3500. SB thinks and calls, then BB thinks and calls. SB shows KQ, Brian looks pissed, flashes a K, and folds. WTF? Was he value betting? Bluffing? Neither seemed likely for him, I don’t know what that was all about.

Everyone looks to the BB, who tables A3. Now Brian really looks pissed. “I was going for a gut shot.” So you were. “I wouldn’t have called the river, really thought you had AK, but then he called and I was priced in.” Wow. Brian is really pissed.

Now sitting with around 20K, I open for 600 UTG with Qs Js. Paul calls, someone else calls everyone else folds. Flop J23r, I bet 1200, Paul calls, other guy folds. Turn blank, I check-call 2000. A Q river gives me two pair, but it occurs to me that unless he cold called KK/AA pre-flop, the two pair doesn’t really improve my hand versus his range, except for KQ and AQ. I check again and call 3500, he show QJo.

This [censored] guy. I’m stoic as usual at the table, but in my mind we’re having a whole conversation where I’m berating him:

“What are you doing calling my UTG raise with QJo? You going to outplay me with your awesome post-flop skillz?”

He laughs arrogantly and shrugs. “What are you doing raising QJ UTG?” then high fives one of his goombah friends.

“Buddy, the immensity of the gulf separating my situation from yours is rivaled only by the size of your stomach.” Ooooh, good line, too bad we’re not actually talking. I’m so [censored] clever.

I quiet down, what with all the stations at the table, but do manage to steal blinds a few times. I also take note of an aggressive player a few seats to my right who bluffs off most of his stack but then gets a fair amount back. With blinds 200/400, I’m already contemplating a re-raise out of the BB when he makes it 1100 from the CO. The station in the SB calls, and now it’s obligatory. I glance at my 73s just out of curiosity, and then pop it to 4500. This is the first time I’ve reraised all day, and the raiser’s been at the table from the beginning to know that. He folds quick, but the SB looks ready to call. He asks how much, thinks for a long time, and finally folds. That’s obviously good for me, but truthfully I was already thinking to myself how easy it would be to make his additional 3400 mine as well on most flops.

At 300/600, I made it 1800 UTG with KQo. Not great at a 10-handed table, but I was shallow enough that I wasn’t too concerned about reverse implied odds, and entering UTG seemed the only way I could be first into the pot. Brian called on the button and Harry Potter from the BB. Flop AK8, and now Harry leads for 10K, slightly overbetting the pot (big antes). This was super uncharacteristic for him, as he’d largely been real loose passive. Brian min-raises to put him all in, and he tanked for like 2 minutes, finally calling. Brian showed AQ, and Harry had 88 for bottom set HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA TAKE THAT PRO!!!!

Wow, was he mad. “What the hell were you thinking about?”

“It was for all my chips. You know, potentially a $200,000 decision. I just wanted to get it right. You could have had a higher set.”

“What?!?! I would have re-raised pre-flop.” Good to know, since you’ve passed up every opportunity to reraise AK and QQ. Jesus some people are stupid.

I couldn’t resist a little needling. “You must have thought for sure you were good when he had to think.”

“Of course I thought I was good!” Brian snapped at me. “Why the hell would he have to think about 88?” I just smiled and laughed a little as he steamed.

After our next break, I decided I had a good stack size (19K) to steal raise at 400/800. I’d be putting in just over 10% of my stack, which should make it tough to call or re-raise me. It’s a stack size I like online, anyway. I made it 2200 from MP with K7s, and undeterred, [censored] Paul called on the button. I check-folded a ragged 9-high flop, and he showed A9o. Good God what are you doing with these calls?

Next orbit a guy who just lost a big pot open shoves 5800, and I shove AT over the top. He’s got JJ, but I spike the A to bust him.

We’re coming up on dinner now, and there’s talk of buffet vouchers. I joke that I don’t want to bust on the buffet bubble, then last hand before break a pretty straightforward players opens for 4500 UTG (at 600/1200), and I find JJ in the SB with 15K. I ask the dealer if I’ll still get a buffet voucher if I bust here. “There are no buffet vouchers.”

“[censored], then I’m all in.” UTG calls with AK, but I fade and I get a nice double up just before dinner.

I talked to Logan at like 4:30 and he said he was driving down from Boston, but he still hadn’t arrived when we started back up at 6:40. I folded the first few hands, and then when I was UTG+1, the first to act open shoved. I looked down at AA, and just as I was asking for a count, the player behind me started to say call then quickly shut up when he realized I was thinking. I did my best to pretend I hadn’t heard him, thought for a minute, and shoved over the top. UTG+1 quickly called with 88 for his last 10K. UTG had 65s, and suddenly I was above average for the first time all tournament.

Not two minutes later, Logan walks in. “You missed it, man. I just won a three-way all in with Aces.”

“Nice job. I’m gonna go play 2/5, just saw one of my favorite fish sitting over there.”

He watches me play one more hand where I pick up A9o on the BB and fold to a 10xAI from UTG+1. “Nit,” he scoffs. With big antes, that could be a correct call if UTG+1 were shoving perfectly, but I’d say the odds of that are about 100:1.

Next orbit I pick up AK and raise Brian’s BB. What a shocker, he calls. I c-bet an AQx flop and leave him room to check-raise me, which he considers but ultimately folds. “I almost moved in on you,” he tells me menacingly. Bring it on, tough guy.

The aggressive player I squeezed a while ago lost a big pot to Brian after semi-bluffing the flop and turn and nailing his gutshot on the river only to find that the 5s also completed a flush for Brian, who had open limped QTs on the button. At 1K/2K, he tossed his last few chips in, and a new player to my right isolated for 4500. I found AQs and made it 14,500, prepared to fold if the guy shoved for 55K. Something about that little raise made me suspicious. He called me raise and checked and AKJ flop. Hmmm, I still didn’t have a good feeling and checked behind. Turn blank, we check through again (bad, I should have bet). River Q, he checks and curses when I bet 15K. “I let you get there,” he says as he folds. Then he sees my hand and asks why I didn’t bet sooner in a way that makes me think I was good all along. Oh well.

Probably the biggest mistake I made all day came when I checked T8o in my BB against four limpers (with average stack being like 25 BB’s, LOL) and saw a 975r flop. I led for 10K, which is how I play draws out of the blinds when I’m deep. I’m not sure how bad it is here, but I’m pretty sure people are either going to shove or fold, and when they shove I’m often not going to have odds to call because my T often won’t be an out. I think check and evaluate, sometimes calling, sometimes raising, would have been better, but then again people love to slowplay sets and may just call down with one pair, so maybe I’m not killing my hand value completely by leading.

Anyway, Brian shoved last to act and gave me a very tough decision. It was 27K to win 87K for me. Ugh, but Brian’s so passive, is my T ever good here? He could have some of my outs with a pair plus draw or have a redraw with a set… this is so thin… I fold. “I wasn’t drawing,” he told me. Nobody thought you were drawing, buddy.

Next time I opened was against Brian’s BB. I raised to 5500 (at 800/1600) with KJs, Paul called on the button, and Brian called. The flop was complete rags. This shallow I usually give callers a lot of credit and just check-fold stuff like this. But against these two monkeys, I felt the need to bet out 12K. Paul folded quickly, and Brian thought again about check-raising. I’d bet enough that he had no fold equity, though I could have easily folded to Paul. Finally, he mucked. “I know my pair was good.” No you [censored] don’t know that, or you would have moved in. I really hadn’t been that aggressive, I don’t know why no one every believed me.

A young guy who dressed like Jersey trash but was actually a pretty cool kid took a seat to my left. He introduced himself as Jeremy. We chatted a bit, and I saw him talking with his mother outside during break. “Your girlfriend’s cute,” I told him when we returned. He looked confused for a second and then laughed.

“Man, I saw the most amazing ass upstairs. This Asian check… good God! So juicy. I wasn’t just looking, man, I got up and followed her for like five minutes, just staring at that ass.” He drew the shape in the air with his hands. “I finally saw her from the front… SHE WAS A [censored] TRANSVESTITE!” It’s lucky I wasn’t drinking anything or it would have come out of my nose. Several Foxwoods regulars at the table knew who he was talking about, apparently she’s a regular blackjack player from Boston.

Now one of the chipleaders at my table, I opened A9o from MP1, and just the BB called, leaving exactly a PSB left in his stack. Flop 9h 9s 5h. He checked, which I took as a sign of strength, since I’d been expecting a flop shove, but you never know with these live donks. I didn’t expect him to fold to a flop bet, but I felt that I might as well give him rope to bluff just in case. “How much you have left?” I asked suspiciously, wanting him to think I was scared of his flat call/ flop check line. He told me, and I tapped the table cautiously.

He quickly shoved a blank turn, I doubled checked that I actually had trips and called. Ah Th is not what I wanted to see, but he missed, and I took a nice pot.

At 1500/3000/500, the CO shoved 24K with QJ, but my 66 in the BB snapped him off.

When the 61st player busted, we got three new guys at our table. They were paying 30 spots, and with 135K (120K would have been average), I liked my standing quite a bit.

The action folded to MP1, one of the new players to the table. With blinds 2K/4K/500, he opened to 14K last hand (which was only his first or second at the table), and I folded my BB after a moment of hestitation. He opens to 14K again, and this time the player to his immediate left, also new to the table, calls. The raiser had about 135K to start the hand, and the caller had about 120K.

Action folds to me in the SB, where I have TT and about 135K. My sense was that the raiser is likely to have a stronger hand than you would expect in this spot, because he’s raising twice in a row at a brand new table. The caller may also be kind of strong, having called off over 10% of his stack. A re-raise is going to commit my entire stack to the pot in a spot where I’m only likely to get action from hands that crush me and maybe from AK.

In like 15-20 minutes (ie not long at all in live poker time), blinds will be 3K/6K/1K. This is kind of a critical juncture in the tournament, because the ante suddenly becomes absurdly big and makes the whole thing much more of a crap shoot. In other words, this is a good time to gamble. I pick up a ton of equity if I fold out hands like AQ/AJ/KQ.

I decided to pop it to 55K with 80K behind. This both to make my hand look more like KK/AA and less like AK and to give either of the Villains in the hand the opportunity to make a bad flop fold. These two didn’t really look like the type, but there are players in these events who will call pre-flop and fold for like half pot on the flop even when it should be obvious that I’m shoving any flop.

The raiser tanked and finally came over the top with QQ. A Q in the door sealed my fate, but the fact that he tanked makes me think he would have folded JJ and maybe even AK, so I don’t really regret how I played it. Logan and Todd came over just in time to see us turn the cards over. Great, so Logan shows up just in time to miss my triple up and just in time to see me bust. Sweet timing bro.

After paying off the QQ, I had exactly one T500 chip left, just enough to pay the ante. 9:1 odds baby, probably the most +EV play I’ve made all tournament! Action folds to Jeremy in the SB, who completes and bets an AT3 high flop. The BB folds, and I flip over J5 for no pair, no draw. “You’re ahead,” he says, turning over 87s with no draw. Sweeeeet. But wait turn A river T we have to chop the antes!?!?!?!? Akfhdlahfahgajfklahdagadsl you freaking donkey call my all in with 8 high and runner runner a chop? Unreal.

I’m now armed with 2000 chips. UTG raises to 11K, I call all in blind, everyone else folds. He’s got AK, I turn over… 66 OMG I’m ahead!!! “I haven’t lost a race all day,” I tell him. The streak holds, but the dealer messed up and didn’t create a side pot. She tries to give me back just 7500, Fat Paul is arguing that I deserve 9000, and I have to tell the entire table to STFU as I patiently explain why I get 10,500. Can’t beat a septuple up!

Next hand, action folds to me CO-1, I look out of curiosity only and shove. SB isolates, which he ought to do with a super wide range, but of course he turns over TT. Ace on the flop OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO WIN THIS TOURNAMENT!!! I can envision some live donkey at the table using me as an example of why never bluff at a sidepot. “Kid had just enough to pay the ante, and he went on to win $200,000. I learned my lesson then and there….”

The next thing occurs to me is that I have no way of getting home if I do stay until tomorrow. Logan has already told me he has to be back, so now I have visions of myself taking the bus back to Boston with a bunch of old women, their oxygen tanks, and 200K in cash tucked into my sock.

Whoops, Tc on the turn, and I’m busto. GG Foxwoods.

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