HPT Turning Stone Main Event

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Well, after satelliting in last week after a sit & go and MTT when I made it into the top 20% both times, I drove back up to Turning Stone resort outside of Syracuse NY to play in the Heartland Poker Tour Main Event. I figure since LVMichael put my last story into the trip reports, I'll just start it off in there this time.

There were 173 players who signed up and they paid 20, with 20th getting about $2200 and 1st taking home about $72,000. I played solid early and won a few pots, including a couple where I was pre-flop raiser and took it down with a continuation bet even though I missed. I also had one or two where I had good hands and they held up for the win, although I'm not sure I had to table any cards except the final hand. But, I got unlucky and wound up busting about 5 hours into the tournament at about 110th place.

I did have a couple of interesting things. At my second table I was 2 to the left of Al Krux. Not a really well know pro, but I recognized the face and someone mentioned how much he'd won in tourneys -- I looked it up and it is over $1 million and he has a few WSOP final tables and one WSOP braclet. He lives up in Syracuse and came down for the event. He seemed to know the dealers well so I guess he’s a regular and was a really nice guy. Based on that, I wish him the best and hope he went deep and has a lot of good runs going forward. Also, when I was headed up to my room I ran into a guy who was in the tourney and had been at my table for a while. He seemed like a decent recreational player and he asked me "so what are you going to be playing out in Vegas?" He seemed genuinely surprised when I said that I wasn't going out for the series and I had been playing way above my normal limits today thanks to a satellite. So, I guess I acquitted myself pretty well based on his read.

I think there were 3 key hands for me in the tourney and I'm not sure I played the first two right (spoiler alert: they'll be in the strategy section) but I don't think I played them terribly either.

Here’s a description of them:

Hand #1 - blinds are 100/200; I'm on button and a guy who I know to be a good and pretty solid player raises from early to middle position to 800, 4 times big blind which seemed to be his standard raise with good hands; I flat call (pot about 2000). He has a big stack probably 40-50K in chips and I'm at between 15000 and 20000. Flop K-Q-garbage rainbow. Guy bets out about 1500 and it folds to me, I raise to 3500 and he insta-shoves. I put him on only a few hands Q-Q, K-Q, K-K, A-A or A-K and after thinking about it a bit and trying to get a read by asking "K-Q? "pocket Queens?" I decided that I can only tie 1 hand and I lose to 4, so I'm not going broke there and folded saying "I think you've got me beat." A guy who had said he played with him before (and who was in my tourney to make this one and seems to be a pretty good player) said "I know he had you beat." I'm not 100% sure, but I'm comfortable with my fold -- I had raised to get an idea where I was and I can't believe I was ahead but I could easily have been way behind.

Hand #2 - blinds are 200/400 with a 50 chip ante. I'm at a new table and have played maybe 10 to 15 hands here, so I don't have much info on these players. It folds to small blind who calls. I have 7-5 suited and check (pot was 1050). Flop 7-4-3 with 1 in my suit. Guy checks and I bet out 700 and he calls (pot is 2450). Turn is a high card like a J and puts 2 hearts out there, he checks and I check behind. River is a blank, I think an 8, no heart. He bets 1500. I am really perplexed because he could be betting into weakness, or have called with a couple big cards. I think and say, “well you’ve either got me crushed or you’ve got complete air and I’m just not sure.” So, I called. I think it was an iffy call, but like I said I wasn’t sure. He turned over 3-3 for a flopped set. This put me down to about 11,000 to 12,000 in chips.

Hand #3 - Blinds up to 250/500 with a 50 chip ante. I’ve been pretty card dead since the last hand and the antes and blinds have been eating into my stack so I’m down to just under 7,000 but I have a decent read on the table by this point. Under the gun (who was a youngish internet aggressive but pretty good player) min raises to 1,000 and an early position donk calls (he was older and had been calling with a lot of pretty crappy hands and underbetting his good ones), the small blind (with the 3s) calls and I look down at A-J. Since no one has shown a lot of strength (unless the under-the-gun was min raising with a monster) I decided to go for it and push all in. My all in was for 6050 chips to top of the 1000 and the pot was then 10550. Under-the gun thinks about it and folds, the donk snap calls for about 1/3 of his remaining stack and the small blind says “well then I fold.” The Donk proudly flips over K-J off suit so I was way ahead. Flop was safe 2-4-6 rainbow but the turn K gave him the lead and the river 8 didn’t bail me out.

I said “nice hand” and “good luck everybody” and walked out of the room. Honestly, it felt like someone kicked me in the stomach.

I think, other than the weak call on the 2nd hand I played it well and I really can't get my money in a lot better with that short of a stack. Plus, considering how fast the donk called, I don’t think if I lay down the second hand, the extra 1500 chips would have made a difference and he’d have still called. So, I guess it was just not my day.


P.S. I figured since LVMichael put my last story into the trip reports, I'd just start it off in there this time but I have to check a Las Veges room to post it there myself. So, I'll mention that the Turning Stone room is huge, probably about the size of Aria maybe Venetian -- and the hotel is a nice property, but not a nice as either of those.

If you want to remove those mentions, I'm totally cool with that. But maybe there should be a box for "Non-Las Vegas Rooms" or "Outside Vegas" or something like that.

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  1. wow. tough break. don't second guess yourself at all about how you busted out. I think you played that last hand great. You made a move with the best hand and got it all in extremely good. Don't be results oriented. You just got unlucky.

    I like your fold of AK in the first hand. You still have plenty of chips and villain's hand screams strength. If he is a NIT, he could have a set here. Either way I agree with your estimate of his range so I agree with your fold.

    Hand #2 is marginal... Your hand reading seemed solid. You read it correctly that he either had a monster or was bluffing. You picked the wrong one. I often make the same mistake... You could have been right.

    It sounds like you played pretty well. You need to have some luck to make the money in large tourneys. Better luck next time.

    thx for sharing

  2. Maybe I missed it but what did you hold in Hand #1?

  3. @harryhood

    harryhood -- no I screwed up the initial post (now edited) and forgot to put in that it was A-K.


  4. @vookenmeister

    vookenmeister - actually that's the only one of the 3 hands posted, I really felt good about how I played. As you've probably seen I've posted the other 2 in the strategy, that one I'm not bothering because I feel like with my chip stack, attacking weakness to grab chips is a solid tourney play that I need to make to go deep. Even though I know A-J off is not that strong, I just felt like there was a ton of dead money in that pot and really expected to take it down unopposed given how few hands I had played -- although I was a bit worried about the UTG being tricky with a monster. I was shocked (yes I know it's the Heartland Poker Tour and maybe I shouldn't have been shocked, but I was) that the guy had snapped called with K-J off. Also, I realize that I got unlucky on the hand so I'm not second guessing that one at all. Hell, I was a 3 to 1 favorite, I'll take that all day.


  5. Yeah. And I disagree with yappy about betting the turn on the other hand. I don't think 7-4-3 rainbow is a big draw. Your opponent called a flop bet which I don't think he does with just a gutshot. Not much that u know of to be scared of on river. 6 gives u straight. 5-keep the pot small you do NOT have a monster. Peel the turn. If you bet u could get raised off. You can then snap call the same amount on river. If u are ahead your opponent has at most something like six outs

    Problem is yappy has a hell of a lot more experience than I do but I still don't think the board is drawy enough to push the turn hard.

    Sure you can the raise the sb withjust 32 but calling is not bad. U didn't play that hand bad IMHO

  6. @vookenmeister

    Vookenmeister, I think some of the difference in the line is style. Yappy plays more aggressive and much looser than I do and it sounds like you are somewhere in the middle. I'm working on the aggression, since I know I need to amp that up. Getting different opinions is why I posted the hands, I like to hear how other people think things through, it can show me places where I can play things differently and therefore add a few more tools to my bag. I think on that hand, I blew it not raising pre-flop, although my sense (based more on the player's hand and his play after the hand in question than anything I knew at the time) is that he would have called a raise and then either called or check-raised the flop. Still, raising there pre-flop is good for a lot of reasons -- including keeping people from limping on your blind. I think that is something online MTTs didn't prepare me well for, since I get moved a lot in them. That tends to keep me from thinking about how my play on one hand will impact things 4 or 5 orbits later. So, i didn't consider punishing the limper as a good enough reason to raise, which really with that hand it is.

  7. yeah... i agree about punishing the limper from the blind. I like it. I was struggling with the turn play mostly. Yappy posted a good follow up and it makes sense but I'm still a little more risk averse post flop than he is. Though if you find a site to look up my tourney stats, you'll see I am a complete maniac who will pretty much raise any non-raised pot in the cutoff, button or blinds with junk (after the first couple levels). I'm working on finding the right spots for those thin value post flop moves in tourneys. Cash games I'm quite a bit tighter which is not saying much :smile: Been experimenting there as well especially at stealing pots. Mixed success. I'll keep plugging along on it.

    thx for the strat posts. I got a bit out of them myself.