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I'd been absent from the blogger tournament poker scene for far too long. It feels good to be back and, for that, I must thank the fine folks over at PokerListings. When they first reached out to me for the Run Good Challenge, I wasn't sure because I was rather out of practice.
My first time out, I worked my way into 5th place. In round two, I secured a second place finish, $300 and a guaranteed spot in the finals. In round three, I was pretty happy with my play, quickly moving to the top of the leaderboard before Level III. However, I was out shortly thereafter when my made hand fell to a massive draw.
Then came the finals... and I was ready to play.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The table set up like this:
s1: Kid Dynamite
s2: Amy C
s5: Jason Spaceman
s7: Poker Shrink
s8: PokerListings Matt
In the very first hand, Kid Dynamite got a jump on the field when his AK flopped top pair and the Poker Shrink called him down with AJ. It was really a sign of things to come.
In my first notable hand, I stole a pot from Matt. I called his pre-flop raise with pocket 3s and saw a flop of KJ8. He lead out for 80 and I raised to 200. I didn't want him to call, obviously, but he did. The turn was an Ace. Not what I wanted to see, but when Matt checked, I bet 450 and he, thankfully, folded.
It was another pocket pair that won me my next pot, this time pocket 8s. With the blinds at 25/50, I raised in early position to 150 and got two callers, Benjo and Change100. The flop was AA3 and it was checked around. The turn was a 4 and this time I figured I'd take a shot, betting 375. Benjo called me. The river was a 7 and I figured I'd fire another bullet and fold to any raise. Benjo folded to my 600 chip bet.
Benjo was first to go when Kid Dynamite rivered the wheel. It was sick, but not nearly as sick as when Benjo pulled a two outer to make Kid Dynamite Gigli in Round 2. A few hands later, I would get many of Benjo's chips from Kid Dynamite.
In the big blind, I'm dealt 9Td. KD raised from UTG to 150 and I called. The flop looks good to me, 968. I decide I'm going to check raise KD and try to take the pot down right there. I'm putting him on overcards. He complies with a 275 bet and I raised to 750. Unfortunately, KD called.
The turn, however, hit me right in the gut and I'm sure my straight is good. I check, figuring I'll either get to check-raise again, or perhaps get more on the river. I didn't think betting here would maximize my value. KD checked behind me.
The river was another 6 so I lead out for 1200 and KD called, showing pocket Q's. I wonder what I would have done had he re-popped me on the flop.
By the time the next level rolled around, I was chip leader. I took a nice little pot with my pocket Ts. Matt raised preflop and then lead out on a flop of 254. I raised him and he wisely folded.
A few hands later, I was able to push Michelle off a hand when my KJ flopped an open-ended straight draw. Michelle told us she had pocket Js.
Shortly before the break, the Poker Shrink whent down when he again faced off with Kid Dynamite. This time, their hands were reversed, but the Shrink's Big Slick fell to KD's AJ.
At the first break, we looked like this:
T6280: Kid Dynamite
T2880: Amy C
T1980: Jason Spaceman
T1750: PokerListings Matt
Up until that point, I had seen just 10 of the 82 flops (12%), with only one from either blind. I was 2 for 2 in showdowns and had won 11 pots without a showdown. I was really happy with my play.
The first chink in my armor came in Level V. I'm dealt AK in the cutoff and I raise from 150 to 500. KD re-raises to 1600 behind me. There are three choices: Fold, call or re-raise. I choose what, in retrospect, seems to be the worst choice and just call. When the flop missed me completely, I was forced to check-fold. I either should have folded or pushed him. KD would say he held QQ.
The Spaceman would be the next to go when his 77 lost in a race to Change100's KQ. I would next try to eliminate Matt with pocket 8s, but he woke up with Rockets.
My next shot at a big pot would be pocket Ks. It was folded around to me in the SB so I just min-raised KD, who called. the flop was Q9J, all hearts. I held the King of hearts so I think I was in pretty good shape. I checked, hoping he'd bet, but he didn't. The turn was a blank and when I lead out, KD quickly folded. No soup for me.
My luckboxing abilities would come into play in my next showdown with Michelle. Holding pocket 5s in the cut off, I just limp. It's one of the few times I limped all tournament. Michelle checked out of the BB.
The flop was 393, a flop that I thought suited me well. Michelle checked, I bet 300 and she called. I was a little worried until the turn brought a 5. This time Michelle lead out for 400 and I just called. The river was a Q, she bet 400, I raised to 1000 and she called, showing 37. It was a lucky turn for me! Michelle was crippled and would be knocked out a few hands later.
The next time I was dealt AK, I played it a little more aggressively. Matt raised to 650 in front of me and I raised to 2500. Kid Dynamite thought a long time before folding, saying, "Monster laydown, CJ." Matt would also fold.
My run of great starting hands continued when I would soon be dealt Rockets in the small blind. Change100 raised in front of me to 750 and I min re-raised to 1250. It was just a hand earlier that Change100 broke out the min re-raise on me and I folded. She, however, called.
The flop was Q92 and I checked, hoping Change would bet. She didn't. The turn was another 9 and this time I lead out for 1000. She called. The river was a 4 and I pushed all in. Change thought for a bit before folding. She blogged later that she was holding Tens. It was a very good lay down for her.
Amy C would be the next to go when her 66 failed to improve against Kid Dynamite's Cowboys. And we were down to just 4. Matt would be crippled a few hands later when Change100's QJ would outrace Matt's pocket Ts. I then knocked him out when my A4 held up against Matt's K2. And then there were three.
The break almost immediately hit and the three of us talked deal. Since we were relatively close in chips (I was the slight chip leader), I suggested we each take $700 and play for the remainder (which ended up being about $200). We all agreed and the race for the title was on.
I tried to be the most aggressive, opening up my starting hands and aggressively betting. I tried to take a big pot off of KD with my pocket 3s, but he wouldn't back down and I was forced to fold to his all-in after a Q-high flop.
A few hands later, I pushed into Kid Dynamite with my KJs, but he woke up with Big Slick. I wasn't able to improve and I was out in third place. It only took a few more hands before KD was able to knock out Change100 and take the title.
When the dust settled, the second edition of the Run Good Challenge netted me a $1000 profit. It also helped to rebuild some of my confidence. I used that confidence in my first WBCOOP qualifier last night. It was PLO8 and I finished 16th out of 390. I was really happy with my play even if some railbird.com douche bag thought I was clueless. He obviously doesn't know much about the Luckbox!<-- Hide More
I've now played in my third blogger tourney since my return from oblivion. I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed not only the cards, but the company as well. Amazingly, I've now gone three straight events without sucking out. How long do you think that's going to hold up?
Saturday was Round 2 of the PokerListings Run Good Challenge v.2 and I managed to improve on my 5th place finish from Round 1.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Fifteen players made it to the tables this Thanksgiving weekend, and my starting table looked like this:
Seat 2: Jason Spaceman
Seat 3: PL Matt
Seat 4: PL Dan
Seat 5: Pokerati Dan
Seat 7: Amy C
Seat 8: Change 100
Seat 9: Me
My first big hand came against Pokerati Dan. I was dealt A7o in the BB and Change100 and I both called Dan's minraise. The flop was 474. I lead out for 80 and Dan called. The turn is a 5. I lead out for 200 and Dan again calls. With two clubs on the flop, I'm thinking Dan is likely on the flush draw. It's possible he was on a straight draw as well. The river made that all moot, as another 4 fell. I considered betting, but figured I was likely beat if I got called. Perhaps Dan was hiding an overpair. He checked as well and mucked K3 of clubs. He flopped the flush draw and turned a gutshot straight draw.
My next big hand came in Level II. We were down to five players at our table now and I raised to 100 from the button with ATo. PL Dan called. The flop came AJ6. Dan checked, I bet 125 and Dan quickly called. The turn was a 7 and this time Dan lead out for 300. I considered briefly that he had hit two pair, but instead guess he was making a move, so I called. The river was a 3. Dan checked this time and so did I. He showed KQo.
Those were my only big hands before we got to the final table where I was sitting 4th in chips. Here's how we sat:
Seat 1: Poker Shrink
Seat 2: Michelle
Seat 3: PL Matt
Seat 4: PL Dan
Seat 5: Benjo
Seat 6: Liz Lieu
Seat 7: Amy C
Seat 8: Change 100
Seat 9: Me
Liz came into the final table very short and I attempted to knock her out with AJo. She, unfortunately, woke up with a pair of 6s and I lost the race.
It wasn't long before I got all those chips back and then some. Sitting in the big blind, I'm dealt JTs. PL Dan raised from 100 to 400 after Michelle limped. I decided to take a chance to hit a flop and called.
Hit it I did. The flop came down T-high with a flushdraw. I checked and Dan bet 700. I wasted little time in pushing all-in. He used up most of his time before deciding to call.
"Flush draw?" he asked as our cards were shown. "Okay, I had that part right, lol."
Dan showed pocket 8s and was dead to two outs. They never hit and I got a huge double up to move into a strong second place.
One of the biggest hands in the tournament came a few hands after that one. I was dealt AJo UTG and decided to start using my stack to my advantage. Most of the table was short except for Benji, Michelle and I. I raised to 300 and, to my dismay, the big stacks both called me. Not exactly part of the plan.
The flop was Q63 with two clubs. It could hardly have missed me more than it did, but that didn't stop me from taking a shot with a C-bet. I bet about two thirds of the pot but my 650 bet was called by both stacks. I knew that was the last chip I would put into that pot.
The turn was a J, which actually hit me, but I checked anyway. Michelle also checked and Benjo bet 2222. I folded, but Michelle, suprisingly, called, leaving less than 1000 chips behind.
The river was was a deuce and would have completed a runner-runner flush, if someone were chasing it. Michelle checked, Benjo pushed and Michelle folded. It was a huge pot and it pretty much launched Benjo well out in front of the pack.
"AK clubs," Michelle told us, which meant she flopped the nut flush draw with overs and turned a gutshot straight draw.
"All in on the flop, in my opinion," Benjo said.
"I caught a Jack on the turn... but wasn't playing for my stack with second pair," I said.
Benjo wasn't going to tell us what he had and told us to wait for his writeup. I predicted KQ figuring he flopped top pair. I thought the chances were slim that we were each dealt a big Ace. Michelle was sure he was bigger than that a thought he flopped a set. In the end, Benjo revealed on his blog that his hand was, in fact, AQ.
A little later, I tried to kill off another short stack, and again, my opponent woke up with a hand. My A7s was no match for Amy C's pocket 10s. Nonetheless, I was still sitting with more than twice what third place held, although Benjo was still more than twice in front of me.
I finally managed to bust a shortstack when Change 100 ran her A9s into my pocket Tens.
When we got down to five players, my button raise with JT ran into a push from Michelle. I was priced in and dominated, facing QT. I didn't improve and Michelle doubled up.
Finally down to three players, and in the money, I was solidly in front of Poker Shrink and still well behind Benjo. It got worse when I got rivered.
In the BB with A9o, I made the mistake of simply checking when Benjo completed from the SB. The flop came A43, Benjo lead out, I raised and Benjo called.
The turn was a J. Benjo checked, I bet 575 and he called. We both checked the Q on the river and Benjo showed Q4 for a rivered two pair. That one hurt. I suppose I should have pushed earlier.
A few hand later, I doubled up Poker Shrink when my A6s ran into his pocket Q's. But I got all those chips back when my AQs held up against the Shrink's KJo. Suddenly we were heads up.
"Luckbox vs. the Eurodonk," Dr. Pauly described it.
The tourney ended about 10 or so hands into the headsup when my QJ ran into his KJ. I nearly had my first blogger suckout in a long time when a Q hit the flop, but a K on the turn did me in.
I walked away with $300 and I've now secured enough points to earn a spot in the RGC final table for a chance at a $2500 prize pool.<-- Hide More
Only a few people asked my opinion of the 60 Minutes poker cheating piece. None of them really cared what I thought. Here it is anyway.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker poker cheating scandals and the hard work of the people who revealed them are great stories. That's what 60 Minutes does. They uncover the interesting stories and tell them. They can't be faulted for focusing on the scandal. That it was old news to the poker community means nothing. The rest of America didn't know about it and I bet they found it interesting. I certainly would have if I didn't already know it from top to bottom.
There was nothing patently unfair about the telling of the story. Would poker insiders have preferred if were told in a different way? Absolutely. Though 60 Minutes never implicated the legit sites with any wrongdoing, it never made an effort to clear them either. Was that irresponsible? Maybe, maybe not. Look at it this way. When the Wal-Mart employee got trampled by a sick stampede of sale-blind consumers, we didn't require every news station to say, "Target is still a good store, so go shop there."
If I had my way, I would've edited the story to better clarify the legal debate about online poker. The gaping hole in the 60 Minutes piece was a discussion of the UIGEA and its implications on poker. Simply declaring online poker illegal because the Department of Justice says its illegal is a little lazy. I would guess the producers made the decision to avoid the discussion in an effort to not further cloud the already confusing story. That said, a couple of minutes on the legal landscape could've been warranted--maybe those two minutes we had to watch Anderson Cooper with his shirt off and pretending he was on Pros vs. Joes. (Note: I actually like Cooper and admire his reporting ability--he just blew it on that story).
I have no idea whether anyone from Full Tilt or PokerStars offered themselves up as experts for the story. If they didn't, they missed a very good opportunity. The little I do know about online poker security makes me think the 60 Minutes piece could've benefited from an online poker security expert to say how things should be done and how Absolute and UB failed. Whether 60 Minutes wanted such an interview is unknown, but it would've fit perfectly into the story and the legit sites could've used a voice. I know Greg Raymer was interviewed for the piece. What he had to say ended up as silly internet extras, despite him being a very good voice and advocate for online poker and need for regulation.
I cringed when I heard DanDruff's closing SOTs. Tough indictment of an entire industry there, Todd. I've read that he has apologized. Fair enough. It was a good closing SOT for the piece, despite hurting in the hurtful spots.
The long and the short of it is this: 60 Minutes' job is to find interesting stories and inform the public at large about them in a fair way. CBS, the Washington Post, and 60 Minutes did that. Whose job is it to make sure the public understands the cloudy legal landscape, the benefit the industry could have to the tax base, and the skill-based nature of poker?
Well, folks, that is our job. It's our job to beat down the doors in Washington. It's our job to convince newspapers, magazines, and television programs to air stories about it. Poker is full of very smart people. The people who have built successful and legitimate online poker companies are brilliant beyond our ability to understand. What they are not, however, is in any way adept at public relations. Their sense for marketing is fantastic, but their sense for marketing to people who matter is lacking in a fairly fantastic way. It's one thing to build a customer base, but it will be all for nothing if you don't have the ear of the people who make the rules.
That's all I'm going to say for now, because if I start babbling more, I'm going to get myself in trouble. Some day (and maybe sooner than I'd imagine) I'm going to write up a lot of what I know. Almost did it just now, and decided against it.
Because I'm sometimes smart.<-- Hide More