First event in my schedule is off and running, and it felt like a great achievement in itself just to get here and sit down in decent time. Firstly, the F1 Grand Prix is setting up in the streets of Las Vegas surrounding the Strip, making driving in to the casinos an absolute nightmare to put it mildly. It took a good 30 minutes to get half a mile. Secondly, I've somehow managed to put my back out (insert joke here) in the last day or so, meaning that the basics like getting up in the morning, and getting myself dressed are a tad more taxing than normal. Anyhoo... we're here, and we're playing, and curiously, we are taking about ourselves in the plural. Wake up, Kevin. Get a grip.
Level 3 already, in the tournament, and currently around 95 entrants just for today's flight, the last of 4 day ones. My table for the most part looks like they know what they are doing, so for now, it's plod along with a starting stack of 40k for me and see how it goes. Obviously that means I've already ran one small bluff and got it through successfully. Partly as a tester, and partly because I just can't help myself.
First re-introduction to the pain of tournament poker. I put in a decent sized raise with QQ. Long/short is that it loses to A2, who makes trips, then further improves to a flush. The dealer also manages to expose the Qh from the deck in the process, basically leaving me with only one out in the deck, which never materialises. Down to 30k. Ho hum.
First break at the end of level 3. I had a couple of mishaps but still fine with 30k at 200/400/400.
It's good to see that even with all the hype about how the cool kids have "solved" poker in the last few years, there's happily still the potential for people to play horribly. I just witnessed a 3 way preflop all-in on my table with about 70k in the middle at 200/400/400. The hands were: AQ, JJ and AK. certainly none of them are bad hands in and of themselves, but I'd still be somewhat wary of punting 90 bigs in preflop, much less calling 90 bigs with any of them this early in the tournament. God bless America.
I wasn't planning on my posted updates at this point being quite so in-depth, but the pace of play and the vibe of the table occupants mean it's worth pointing out a few things of note, even if not directly related to my hands. A woman just came to the table as a new player. The very first hand she sits down, she manages to get 40,000 chips in the middle preflop with... 66. Yep. 66. She's up against AA, JJ, and AQ, and the 6 on the river catapults her up to around 125k and pisses off the other players once the dust has cleared. Now, I'm certainly not throwing stones at people and saying this is dumb etc. It's just probably not something I'm going to be doing anytime soon with a 40k stack first hand. But, we're all different. Some people play these things for $300 with 5 bullets on them, and are happy to just get the chips in and punt to try to get a stack. It's all relative. I guess what I take from it is that there's still a ton of value in playing these things, if you have a bankroll and half a clue.
After 7 levels (about 5 hours) of poker at the same table, I have to say that I'm almost wishing I'd bitten the bullet and decided on putting up a 30k package playing a lot more poker, irrespective of whatever the outcome is today. I've seen some HORRIBLE plays in amongst the fundamental stuff. I'm a very big believer that once people pony up their buy-in, they can basically do whatever they like. I will say however, that some of the people at my table are not going to be winners in the long run, that's for sure. Whatever. It's good for the poker economy.
Going into level 8 and I'm still on around 40k as we start at 500/1K/1K.
Finally... a bit of love when my 22 rivers a boat in a 3 way pot with one player all-in. He busts, and I'm now up to 53k.
We've reached the end of level 9 and the 3rd break. I lost a sizeable hand near the end of the last orbit, but I'm still OK on around 35k. 90 players remain from today's 222 starters.
Registration for today is finally closed, so around 28 players from today's starting field will make day 2 and will be in the money. I've been pretty card dead, and sitting tight for the last few levels, but shortly, it'll be time to open up the throttle a bit and start rowing for home. I'm now on about 30k, the average stack is 110k or so, and the limits are 800/1600/1600, which costs each player 4k a round, so I'll need a bit of love from the poker gods sometime soon. I just saw 77 go all in for almost 50k, get snap called by AJ as if it was aces, and win a pot well over 100k, so it's possible that I might have to just grit my teeth and shove, hoping for a double up from someone who has no idea how shitty their starting hand actually is....
The screen is showing 68 players now left in today's flight. I've danced around and made the odd move to win most hands without a showdown, but there's going to come a point shortly where I will need a full double up. Until then, I'll keep bobbing and weaving. One old boy must have had a 110k stack, and he just basically put his service revolver to his head with second pair, pulled the trigger, and gave the whole lot away after all the cards were out to the other player who calmly called with top pair. I love poker, it really does attract all sorts.
Finally, a bit of love from above. I find QQ in the big blind, and ship the lot into 4 people preflop, getting one caller. He has 66 (!) and luckily I hold. Back up to a much healthier 60k.
I just managed to dodge a bullet when I got away from QQ cheaply instead of shoving preflop, which normally would have been the standard move with a shorter stack. I had a feeling that the old robot in the 6 seat was going to get stubborn with what I figured to maybe be a rag-ace or similar in the big blind, so we ended up seeing a cheaper 4 way flop. It came AK9, and when the dust cleared (I folded on the flop to action from 2 players) he indeed ended up winning the pot with A7 offsuit, taking a 35k chunk out of some other poor unfortunate instead of me along the way. Sometimes the instincts about the other players can be much more important than the actual cards. 56 players now left as we approach the end of level 12 and the 4th break.
Level 13 at 2K/3K/3K, so the antes are really starting to bite. I've dwindled down and made a few very disciplined folds, but finally I find KK and ship it, only to be called by... AK. Unusually, my hand holds up, so I'm back to around 55K again.
Ahhh, the pain and ugliness of tournament poker never quite goes away. I finally find the double up moment I've been waiting for, which will get me up to over 120k with my 1010 vs AK, and there's suddenly confusion about if the small blind is forced to call as he threw one chip into the pot. It transpires that after the floor rules, he's not held to a call, both he, and another player on my right have folded an ace. Good for me right? Only 4 outs for my opponent instead of 6. It was, until he immediately flops a King, and sends me spiralling down to about 14k. The next hand I move in under the gun with A9, and get called by...A5, which again looks favourable for me. Flop comes 234, and I'm hoping for a chop at best, since she's immediately made a straight. Exit Kevin in 49th place from 222 starters, 21 spots off the money and 10 hours in. Sigh. It happens. Always burns a bit, but if you're going to spend ages bemoaning your misfortune, poker's probably not for you.
For my first tournament outing on this trip, I'm fairly happy with how I played overall. I was largely card dead, on a pretty aggressive table, half of whom seemed to hugely overvalue their starting hands a good percentage of the time. I saw at least 8 players or on my table so go from a 100k - 150k stack down to matchsticks in the blink of an eye, often with hands like AJ or 77, which gives me hope for future events, even if the first one I've played in didn't end up being a winner. The old card sense was pretty much on point, and I didn't make any glaring errors, maintaining a shorter than average stack the whole time. Food, off home, dust myself off, and regroup in preparation for the next one.