Sunday, December 14, 2008

And the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Poker Tournament Goes to...

My weekly poker league ended last night, as 16 of us played in the finals. There was just over $1,800 in the pot, with 5 spots paid ($800/500/300/200/160). I experienced the full range of starting hands and tough situations, coin flips and bad beats (both given and received).

After playing 3-handed for about half an hour with blinds so high that none of us had more than 10 big blinds left, we decided to each take $500 and play it out for the extra hundo and coveted championship trophy (minus the hockey sticks).

I got to heads-up against Andy, crippled him when my A-6 outdrew his Q-Q, and took it down shortly after. Obviously the suckout was the main reason I won, but there were two hands earlier in the night that I'm especially proud of. Both ended up being big pots, and I won them both, enabling me to make it to the final 3 and get lucky for the win...

With blinds at 100-200, I opened from the cutoff with 9-5. I hadn't seen many good cards or played many hands, and I needed to start growing my stack, so I figured my raise could get some respect from the button & blinds. Roy and Mike did fold, but Bill thought for a few seconds and called. Luckily, the flop came a raggedy 9-high with 2 suits...but Bill bet out 900, leaving him with only 1,200 behind.

This would normally be a tough spot for me, but over the course of the league, I had seen Bill bet a good portion of his stack...only to have someone else come over the top and get him to fold. As soon as he made the bet, I pushed in my stack and waited. I had Bill covered, and he started agonizing over his dilemma. He asked, "So you have Jacks? Queens?" I knew at that moment Bill had pocket tens...I had to get him to fold.

He asked if I'd show my cards if he folded, and I told him I could show him one. That was a huge mistake on my part; if I indeed had a big pair, showing him just one card wouldn't prove anything. Showing one card indicated that I probably hit a pair on the flop, meaning his overpair was way ahead. So as he kept looking at me, I camly told him twice that I "have a hand," and tried to act as 'normal' as possible. I must've projected just enough perceived strength; after another minute or so of waffling, Bill finally mucked his cards, and I flashed the nine. "Did you have tens?" He nodded quite painfully. Whewwwwwwwwww.

At the next level, Mark min-raised the 400 blind to 800. I peeked down at an ace...squeeeeeze...another ace! Of course I'm looking for action, so I made a smallish re-raise to 2,000. Hoping to isolate and get heads-up with Mark, that's just what happened, and we saw another raggedy flop, this time Queen-high. Mark checked, and I asked him how much he had left: the count was 2,700. "Okay, I bet 2,700." I tried to say it with a twinge of doubt in my voice, hoping to raise some suspicion on his part. My read on Mark is that he usually doesn't believe that others have him beat, so I wanted to induce a heroic call. First I started fidgeting a little, putting my hand over my mouth, trying to look uncomfortable. Finally, after another 30 seconds of waiting on Mark, I went for the final false tell...I leaned back in my chair and folded my arms on top of my remote control cradle (a.k.a. my belly). I'm not sure if was due to my perceived weakness, but Mark made the call with just A-K, and he was drawing dead after the turn.

Now who knows if all my acting and posturing actually factored in my opponents' decision-making, but the bottom line was I accomplished the two biggest goals when playing poker: getting a better hand to fold, and getting a worse hand to call.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's That Time Again...

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This PokerStars tournament is a No Limit Texas Hold’em event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 339231