This morning I was on the hunt for a better value morning low-rolling tournament, and settled on the $60 buy-in 10am at Planet Hollywood. 4500 starting chips, blinds start at 25/50, 20 minute levels. Now that's much more like it. There were 18 players, rising to 23 with late entries and re-buys. Top 4 places got paid.
There was a wide range of abilities represented, no-one was truly bad but in general play was way too passive. After half an hour by picking my spots I had nearly doubled my chip count without ever having to show my cards, and then when I did I took down a moderate pot with trips and my table image was made. I ran this up to 14,000 mostly on pre-flop raises or c-bets, and was chip leader going into the first break without ever really having to put much of my stack in jeopardy. “My, you've been doing well”, a player told me in the break. “It's easy when you get the cards”, I lied.
Play was in general too passive and I was nearly an hour and a half into the competition before I was put in a spot where I had to think. I was in the big blind for 600, there were a couple of limpers and the small blind pushed all-in for around a quarter of my stack. I was holding KQ. I was (rightly) sure the limpers would fold to this, but the small blind (eye-patch guy – I guess “small blind” was a fitting name) had been playing a fairly strong game and could be taking a punt, so I ultimately decide to call. He shows K8, and I take down the pot.
I entered the final table still leader with around a quarter of the total chips in play. Stacks had evened by the time we were down to 6, but I took down a large pot with a third of my stack committed 3-ways with bit of luck on the river and I battled through to go heads-up with around a 2-1 chip lead. Now I could not have picked a better guy to go heads-up with – he was probably the most passive player on the final table. Unless he got a monster he would fold his small blind pre-flop, or fold his big blind to a min-raise. And if he missed the flop, he would fold to any aggression. I was around 10-1 chip leader when I called his all-in and he out-drew me. I got him down to 10-1 again before the next all-in which I won when my pocket deuces held up.
First place, $377, after around 3 hours play.
Moved on at 2pm to my next low-rolling destination, the MGM, for some more 2-4 limit action. Immediate seating (there were 2 x 2-4 tables in play, plus a whole bunch of 1-2NL). This turned out to be another very fun table though the dealers were for the most part less charismatic. Yesterday's humor had included whether you could read anything in if someone made a two-handed raise (and all the way through the “one-fingered call”, the “eight-fingered raise” and … its logical conclusion … the “two-elbowed fold”). Today it revolved around whether wearing a hat improves your luck, and how I was playing with grandma's grocery money but she didn't know it yet: “Hey, I must be a good player because I'm getting staked” … “Looks like she's eating rice again this month”...
Bar service was incredibly fast – easily the fastest so far. I hit on the bright idea of ordering a different drink each time so make it easier to remember how many I'd had. After a couple hours I was starting to run out of ideas so starting ordering a things I did not know what they are (what on earth is in a whisky sour? The general consensus was whisky and .. er … sour). Tomorrow I might be more selective.
This was probably the highest standard of 2-4 play I've seen all week – and it was certainly an aggressive game with a large proportion of pots raised pre-flop. It was a session of two halves. I took a couple of early big hits. Within the first 5 minutes I had limped in late position with QJ diamonds, and saw a flop of:
T98, two spades.
V1 bets, V2 raises, I re-raise to 6. V1 and V2 complete, everyone else is out. Pot is around $30. I have absolutely no read on any of the other players as I have only just got to the table – except that V1 appears to be very drunk. In 2-4 limit you do see a very variable standard of play, so it can be very difficult to place people on hands. I'm thinking maybe I am against top pair, a flush draw, an overpair, an oesd, a lower straight, maybe a set or even two over-cards. Hey, at 2-4 limit I could even be up against middle pair or a low pocket pair.
Turn is 9 clubs
Bad news if I'm against a set. V1 checks, V2 bets, I raise (let's see where I am), V1 and V2 complete. Hmmmm …
River is 3 spades
A card I really didn't want to see at all. V1 checks, V2 checks, I bet, V1 calls, V2 raises. Now I'm sure I'm beat, but I am so pot committed I call the last 4 dollars, as does V1. V1 shows A5 spades for the flush, and V2 shows 98 for the full house. Ahhh well, if I I'd been at the table a little longer and seen the play I think I may have got away from this one. V1, being a little drunk, then spends the next minute or so wondering why the pot wasn't pushed to him. I took another big hit about half an hour later. Flop is KK9. I hit my ace-high flush on the turn, but apparently V is holding quad kings.
Carried on a slow decline getting good hole cards and promising flops which mostly either came to naught or were beaten on the river, and after a couple of hours I was down to my last 7 dollars. There was a pre-flop raise, I look down and see A clubs J hearts on the big blind so I figure I'll go out with a bang and re-raise to 6. V puts me all in, and we're heads-up. He shows KQ, gets a Q on the flop, but I get runner runner clubs to take the hand with the nut flush, and I'm up to 18 dollars.
The very next hand I limp in with QJ on the small blind. There is a queen on the flop, and a jack on the turn, and I more than triple up to $60. Hands were being kinder now, and I eventually left with $82 of my original $100 buy-in.
Shortly before I left, a new couple sat down at the table. They had already been in discussions with the floor as to why they couldn't use their free table game play token in the poker room, but ultimately they seemed to accept this. Then, after about four or five hands, the guy says to his partner “What kind of game is this? This is like some Indian casino”, and they racked up and left. I do not have the first clue what their problem was – were they expecting Pai Gow?
So after 15 hours cash game play I am $118 down, but up $262 on the tournaments. Tomorrow I am moving home to try out the center and north strip.
Monday 31st August
Planet Hollywood, $60 10am tournament
Time to drinking first drink: did not order one
Tournament structure: 8/10
Ease of competition: 7/10
Fun-ness of dealers: 6/10
Fun-ness of table: 6/10
OVERALL RATING: 8/10
MGM Grand, 2-4 limit, 2.00pm – 6.00pm (4hrs)
Time to be seated: immediate
Time to drinking first beer: 10 minutes
Total drinks consumed: 1 x Corona, 1 x Sam Adams, 1 x Bloody Mary, 1 x Margarita, 1 x Gin and Tonic, 1 x White Russian, 1 x Whisky Sour, 1 x Mai Tai (Bloody Mary rating 7/10, Margarita Rating 7/10, White Russian rating 8/10, Whisky Sour rating 7/10*, Mai Tai rating 5/10*)
Cocktail service: 9/10
Room management: 8/10
Ease of competition: 5/10
Fun-ness of dealers: 5/10
Fun-ness of table: 8/10
OVERALL RATING: 7/10
* I do not have much to compare these against