Friday, October 3, 2008

Why can't they all be this easy?

I played in the 6 p.m. Friday night poker tournament at Harrah's. All the images are high resolution so you can click to enlarge them.

Harrah's Casino & Resort complex is large. The Tunica casinos are in groups or clusters, but Harrah's is big enough to be its own cluster, so to speak. Here is one of their hotels.

Here's how the casino looks from where I enter it to go to the poker room.

There were 48 of us who plunked down the $100 buyin to get 10,000 in chips. The levels were 20 minutes each and blinds started at 25/50. For the first two hours all I did was fold. I just didn't pick up any hands, but was feeling in a patient mood, so didn't get out of line.

Finally, when I did start getting some hands, my image was tight and I was able to make continuation bets that weren't called. My chip low point was T4000, and that was when the blinds were T400/200/50 -- not good. I went on a mini-run and built my stack up to about T18,000 with the blinds being 500/1000/100. I picked up big slick and made a standard raise from early position. A late position guy shoved all in (we had similarly-sized stacks). Now the small blind went into a long think, and shoved all in for another T8000. What would you do? It's easy to say call, but I already said I had a good hand (my initial raise) and the other guy said he didn't care. This could have been bad news, but I finally called. There was extra money from the SB who shoved, an extra 1000 from the BB and there was 1000 from the antes. I was shocked when both of the other players turned over the same hand: A-Q ! Y-E-S ! My hand held and I was in good shape to win the tournament.

I didn't sit back, though. I kept getting good hands, and I was very aggressive with them. Example: I had 9 9 from early position and raised. The big blind called. The flop came with Q 6 3 and I took the pot down with a CB. Everything was working like magic.

When we got to the final table, there were two short stacks (which is usual) and two semi-short stacks. Players immediately started talking about how much money would be get if we chop (divide up the prize pool). I always hate to be the bad guy, but it would be ridiculous to chop when I had so many chips. I believe there were 480,000 chips in play and I had around ~120,000 of them. I said what I always do, "Let's play for a while." That leaves open a chop later and sends the message that when there are short stacks who are hanging on by dental floss, then no way am I chopping and other players should be thinking that way too.

The table was playing tight, and this played into my hands. I kept up my aggression. When a player had a stack of 25,000 and I came in for a raise to 8000, for example, they could see they would be playing for their entire stack (before the hand was over). If they called, they would essentially be pot committed. They call this leverage and there is interesting reading in both the Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide (Tournament Edition) and in the book Kill Everyone.

On one hand, a young internet-type guy limped in with J 10 and I moved all in. He had plenty of chips left, around T35,000, but he called!! I turned over A K and he was in trouble. The board bricked out and my stack was even larger. He had been playing patiently, but finally snapped. He must have been either tired of folding or tired of seeing me bully the table.

Every now and then someone would again bring up the idea of a prize pool chop and I kept saying let's play for a while. Meantime, my stack had grown to 270,000+ -- more than half the chips in play. At about this point, they could see that there was no way I would ever agree to an even chop, so someone proposed that I would get $900 and they would chop the rest (around $700 each except for the short stack who agreed to $650). I could have held out, but $900 was more than second place, and stuff can happen.

This is what 270,000 in chips looks like. I had 130,000 in 5,000 denomination chips. The rest are 1,000 and 500 chips. The blinds and antes were 4000/8000/1000 and the 500s hadn't been colored up so we were using two of them for our antes each hand.

Here is a shot of a section of the casino that I took when I left at a little before 11 p.m.


  1. Excellent! Yes, if only they all were that easy. How far are you from Tunica, and is the $100 tourney the one you play exclusively?

  2. I'm ~30 minutes from the casinos (they are spread out, so it varies depending on which one). I've started playing in the Friday night one at Harrahs (that I just reported on), but have played more at the Goldstrike. There is one I like that is tonight (Saturday) at 6 p.m. It is a $110 buyin. The casino adds $1500 to the prize pool to draw players in!! Very sweet. If I do say so, I've had good luck in that one too.

  3. Congrats Memphis! Always good to hear about good things happening to good person's!