Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Project Phaser - Phase Zero

I came up with a really bitchin' preparation plan for the 2018 WSOP last weekend. It has phases. Phase 8 is when it all comes together and I crush it at the WSOP. Technically, I haven't even gotten to Phase One yet, but Phase Zero went down Tuesday at Lucky Chances and that's the topic of today's post.

But even before I got to Phase Zero, I did play cash games on Monday at Bay 101 and if you were so inclined, you could call that Phase Negative One. I Love Phase Negative One. Phase Negative One involved me making every draw and generally running hot for 8 hours in a $2/$3/$5, $500 max buy in no limit game, eventually rolling out the door with $2,080 in profit. So any pressure I might have felt about my first in person tournament in a while was fully quelled by Phase Negative One.

Now Pictures! Here is what Lucky Chances looks like and what I looked like just before rolling in there.

I brought my lucky beard with me.

Asian motifs coming out the wazoo!

Pictured here - people playing various games of chance on a Tuesday morning.

This thing will bite off your finger if you don't pay your bookie.

I got there at 9:40 for a 9:30 start tournament and found only two tournament tables going. This was odd in the sense that the tournament had a $210 buy in and guaranteed $4,000 for 1st place.  They'd need some more players or this sucker was going to be winner take all! 

Of that $210, $175 goes to the prize pool, $25 to the house and $10 for "Staff Appreciation." The last $10 is technically optional, but you get 12,000 in chips if you pay it and 10,000 if you don't so it's actually mandatory. I think this is stupid. 

By 9:55 they started a third table which included yours truly. Eventually we got 45 buy ins and 8 re-entries for 53 total entries. If you look on the lower right here you can see the prizes for the top 6 places. 

You can also see that Lucky Chances in their infinite generosity has added $10 to the prize pool to meet the $4,000 1st place guarantee and has noted such on the fucking board. Wow Lucky Chances you guys are REALLY doing us a solid. I'm not great at math, but I can use a calculator to tell you that 53 people putting up $200 (neglecting our deepest $10 appreciation for the staff) is $10,600 and there seems to be $9,285 in the prize pool but that 19 cents per entry that you gave us deserves to be called out above the first place prize. 

On to actual poker and not me just blither blathering! Here is what my sad looking chip stack started out looking like. Green = 25, Blue = 100, Black and White = 500 and Brown and White = 1,000. 12,000 chips to start! Go time!

I played no hands in the first hour. Cancel go time and replace with sit and do nothing time!

The main highlight of this time was listening to the dude to my right who was a small 60ish Asian guy with a huge gap in his teeth. He was telling stories about his youth where I understood every 4th word, and laughing like a hyena every time he won a pot or when anything interesting happened. It was like he was on a cell phone with a really bad connection in terms of what I was getting. But on one hand he got his last 5,000 in the pot with A9, the board ran out 9 high, he beat KQ and the instant the river hit he said a perfectly clear, high pitched, but quiet "Oooooooh, thank you for the double up!" followed by a standing, loud as hell  "HE HE HE HA HA HA HA HA HA HE HE HE HE HA HA HA HA HE HA HE HA HE HA!" I wish I could make this my ring tone.

After the 4th level (they were 20 minute levels) we had a break and I came back to a stack of 9,475 with blinds of 200/400. A fairly wild player raised to 1.050 and I looked down at AA in the big blind. I made it 3,000 to go and he instantly shoved all in. I snap called, he rolled over AK of diamonds and the flop came down 9 7 5 with two diamonds.

At this point I thought "I guess it's good I took some pictures, because sitting here for an hour, playing no hands, and going broke with AA to AK isn't going to make for much of a blog post."

The turn was a K and I was even more sure of my impending doom, but amazingly the river was a black 3 and I was up to 18,350 chips.

After dribbling back some chips, about 45 minutes later in level 7, I got QQ in the small blind with 12,000 in my stack. Under the gun made it 2,500, I shipped it, he called with AJ, the board ran out garbage and I was up to about 25,000 with 28 players left.

I got moved to a new table and with blind of 500/1000 and 1000 in antes (they ran a new school structure where rather than have everyone put up antes, they have the big blind ante - I think this is smart) I made it 2,500 to go in the small blind with QJ off. The big blind called and the came down QQ2. Bingo! My plan was to bet the flop small and hope that he's take one off. Next I'd check the turn to make it look like I was giving up on a bluff and then check raise all in. I bet 2,500 and into the 6,000 pot and he called. So far so good. The turn was a 5, I checked and he checked behind. Ack! The river was a K and I considered betting, but felt like he probably had air and I should give him a chance to try to steal it. I checked again and he fired out 2,500 into the 11,000 pot which looked like either a K or a bluff. I had 13,000 left and decided to make it 8,000 to go hoping to get called by a K. He quickly called and I was good. Later he said he had Q9 so I may have missed some value there, but I'm fine with how I played it.

I had 37K with 20 players left rolling into level 10, and I shoved it all in with AK vs a raise to 4,500 and a call, but they both folded.

My next big hand was the key hand of the tournament. With blinds of 800/1600 and 1600 in antes I called a middle position raise to 4,000 with JT off in the big blind. This is a borderline call, but most tournament players are uncomfortable playing post flop while I am very comfortable with it these days so I'm making it a goal to see flops in close spots. The flop came down 983 rainbow giving me an open ended straight draw and two overs. I checked, my opponent bet 8,000 with about 60,000 behind and it was back to me.

 This was a great semi-bluff spot as I expected him to bet the flop with his entire range, this board hits a big blind calling range harder than a preflop raising range, I had good equity no matter what he had, and I had a good table image. 

I grabbed some chips to make it 22,000 but then realized that would leave me with 14,000 which really wasn't enough for a good push on the turn, so I just shoved all in. My opponent thought for about 5 seconds and made the call with K9 of clubs (there was one club on board). The turn was a Q and the river was a 7. Thank you for the double up. HE HE HA HA HE HA HA HE HA!

The villain in that hand would not shut up about this hand. It started with "I can't believe you called me with jack ten there." Then a couple of hands later the board came out with a J and a T and he said something else. Then 5 minutes later he showed me his phone where he'd checked the odds and showed that he was a 54/46 favorite when the money went in on the flop. 30 minutes later he was still talking about it. And another guy asked me about it later too like he just couldn't understand what I was thinking when I moved all in. To him it was a simple as I did not have a good hand, why would I put it all of my chips? 

Anyway, it put me up to 83K chips and in the chip lead when average was 37K. Here is my stack! OK it doesn't look all that impressive, but I was in first damn it!

A little later I raised Q9 of spades to 6,000 on the button with 1000/2000 blinds and the big blind shoved for 20,000. I was certain to be behind here, but risking 14,000 to win 29,000 I was getting the right price to call. He rolled over A3 off, I hit a Q, and I was up to 112K with 13 players left.

Oooh a pretty pink one on top!

For the next hour I mostly folded. People were playing pretty loose and I was getting no cards so I just waited. 

We quickly moved to the final table and seemed to quickly get to the money bubble as well. Everyone voted to take $400 off of first place to pay 7th. I was in the middle of the pack and opted to not object even though it was not really in my best interest.

I only played 2 hands of any note at the final table. On the first one I made it 11K to go with 2K/4K blinds from the button with KQ of hearts. The villain from the JT hand, who was still out for blood, called in the small blind and the flop came out 964 with one heart. He checked and I checked it back. The turn was a beauty - the T of hearts giving me a gut shot straight and a flush draw. My opponent bet out 20K with 30K behind. I figured he would probably call if I put him all in, but even if he folded one time in five, raising would be much better than calling or folding. I shoved and he quickly folded. Whoop Whoop!

In the second hand of note we were playing 5 handed and I made it 18K to go under the gun with Q9 of hearts with 3K/6K blinds. The big blind who had no clue and was seeing a ton of flops called and then checked in the dark. The flop came down 653, I shoved for about 60K and he quickly folded. 

I stole the blinds a few times made a three bet or two that no one called and before I knew it we were down to 3 players. The other players suggested a chop and I agreed to a chip count based chop. I had 136K and the other players had 72K and 428K and I agreed to take what amounted to about 2nd place money. Specifically I got $2,140 after tipping an additional $10 for my even deeper staff appreciation when the listed places were $1,110 for 3rd, $2,235 for 2nd and $3,600 for 1st. Not bad right? 

This isn't exactly a high drama finish, but I think I can say that I went Phase Negative Zero on those mother fuckers! That's what I call it these days when I make all my draws and win about $2,000. 

In fact this was an amazingly low drama tournament. I was only all in an at risk 3 times - with AA vs AK, with QQ vs AJ and with JT vs K9 on the 983 flop where plan A was really to win by bluffing - and I only busted one player but managed to effectively finish in 2nd. This is highly unusual, but totally optimal as far as the only being at risk when way ahead and really only needing to win one race. 

6 hours of play, $1,930 in profit, time for chicken and beer! HE HA HE HE HA HE HA HE HA!

My $10,000 bankroll for Project Phaser is now at $11,930. Next action is the start of the Battle of the Bay at Lucky Chances on Sunday with a $630 buy in (including even more staff appreciation) event that has a $40,000 first place guarantee.

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