Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some nights it just isn't happening

I played in the 6 p.m. tournament at the Goldstrike tonight.

Because of DST, it was dark when I got to the "strike."

I enjoy playing at all five Tunica casinos that have a poker room, but the Goldstrike is probably my favorite.

Tonight, poker was booming at the Goldstrike. Their regular configuration is 16 tables (more when a WPT or WSOP circuit event comes to town) and all were filled. Half were taken by the 80 runners who entered the tournament. The entry fee was $110, there were 20-minute levels, and blinds started at 25/50.

I was basically card dead all night except for this hand: The blinds were 300/600/50. A loose guy raised to 1200 from second seat. Another guy called from late position. I was in the small blind and had 7800 left, and held: K K. What would you do? I raised to 4000. I was actually giving them pretty good odds. After my raise, there was 7500 in the pot (My 4000, the two 1200 bets, 600 for the BB and 500 in antes), and it only cost either of them 2800 more to win this big pot. The first guy folded, but the late guy called. The flop was J-9-3 rainbow and I put my last 3800 in and he folded. Too bad he didn't have A-J or some hand that he couldn't get away from. Because I was low on chips, I was willing to give him attractive odds to try and outdraw me. That's the difference between a tournament and a cash game. Here, because accumulating chips is paramount (when you are shortstacked), you occasionally have to take actions that are not mathematically sound.

Then the next hand, I was on the button with Q 5. It folded around to me and I raised to 1400. The SB called and the BB folded. The flop was A 10 7. Ouch, players like to call with weak aces, so this was definitely in his range. He checked and so did I. If he has an ace, I don't want to bet. If he doesn't have one, I can still steal the hand later. The turn was a fourth spade (I don't remember which one). Again, we both checked. The river was a rag and he bet 600 into me. What the . . . ? I called and he turned over Q J. I guess it was a blocking bet as he hoped his pair of jacks was good. I said "Flush," but unfortunately had to show my hand. The BB was not amused that I raised his big blind with Q-5 off, but hey, that's poker.

I had one other decent hand, big slick. I raised and everyone folded.

When we were down to three tables, there was excitement and noise at the table next to us. A guy came running over to tell his wife (who was at our table) that there were four people all in. He had AA, and there was KK, QQ and 10/10, all in the same hand. The live poker is so rigged, I tell you. Guess which hand one? Actually, the aces held up when all low cards were dealt on the board.

When we were down to two seven-person tables, I had almost no chips left. The blinds were 1000/2000/500 and I had 8700 left. It took 6500 to make it around the table one time. I normally don't let myself get so short-stacked, but everyone else was feeling the pressure and it was not uncommon for a big raise or one or two players all in before it got to me. I didn't want to make a move with no hand and no fold equity, so just watched myself bleed to death.

Finally, I was in the highjack seat and everyone folded to me. I shoved, but unfortunately the button had A 10 and plenty of chips. I turned over J 2. Now, I look like a dope, but both my cards are live. In fact, I'm only a 2:1 underdog. According to the poker odds calculator at Card Player magazine, he is 65.10% to win and I am 34.46% (it doesn't add to 100% because there could be a tie).

The flop came and I hit a jack, but unfortunately an ace also came. The board bricked out from there and I was finished for the night.

I'm not complaining. Really, I'm not. I played well given the cards I held. Some nights it just isn't happening.

Here are two more photos of the Goldstrike that I took tonight after the tournament:

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