Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reno Trip

I went up to Reno this past weekend to participate in the $1090 "All In" main event and a televised $50/$100nl 6handed cash game at the Atlantis Hotel (not to be confused w/ the hotel w/ same name in the Bahamas). I guess you could say the trip went well, w/ winning the main event for $33k and being the big winner in the cash game w/ a $15k profit.

Even though my original plan was to play in the cash game, I decided to fly in a couple of days early to partake in the $1090 main event. I've been playing more live tournaments this year and for the most part have been enjoying the experience.

I'll summarize my tournament experience in the next few paragraphs but I would advise most to skip it and read my cash game experience which was much more interesting (skip down to ***Cash Game***) unless you like reading about tournament summaries.


So I knew there would be tv cameras around because they told me the tournament, mostly the final table would be filmed so I wore patches from Cardrunners and FTP (because they offered to pay me per episode I was only if I can get them to sign me!). Normally I eschew wearing anything that might peg me as some kind of poker pro but if I'm going to get paid for wearing stuff, I'm in (also if I'm representing a site I will agree to promote the site in any way if asked).

Well it turns out the main event was comprised mostly of locals and you can reenter as many times as you want if you bust before the 1st break. I didn't know that until about 30mins left for the break and decided to gamble to get a big stack. Well that didn't work out so well and I ended up having a 6k stack (from starting 20k stack) w/ 1 hand left before break and I decided to opr w/ T2s w/ the intent of getting all in at some point. Fortunately for me one guy had JJ and another guy had AA and I busted (not often you hear that as the truth) and I got the opportunity to rebuy w/ a new 20k stack.

Anyway I ended up running my new stack to the chiplead midway through day 1 and pretty much held it all the way to the win. I played well w/ my only big pots where I was all in (but had other guy covered each time) included KK vs. AJs aipf, KJ vs 99 on JT585 all in at riv (don't ask), QT vs A9 of diamonds all in on flop TT7 (all black), and A2 vs 99 all in on flop 345r.

When we were down to the final 13 (and 11 get itm) a couple of people proposed taking some money off the top to pay the 12th and 13th players. Normally I don't want to be the bad guy and don't object but this time I objected for a few reasons. I was a big chipleader and wanted to abuse the bubble, most of the players left really wanted to cash (easier to abuse), most of the players weren't very good, and it was getting late (around 2am) which meant most of the players were up past their bedtime (older Also I was cl in a Wynn event a couple of weeks ago and I didn't object at the same proposal but after I busted I was regretting that decision because that was a time where I could've accumulated a bigger stack and maybe things could've turned out differently. I was not going to give up +ev spots anymore to be nice to everybody else. Anyway I ran my chiplead up from 500k to over 600k abusing the bubble and play ended for the night when we got itm w/ 11 players left.

The next day at the final table I happened to be the youngest player (I guess that means it was kinda soft?) and was on the direct right of Jennifer Harmon. Her husband Marco and her were invited pros and were bounties in the tournament. I happened to knock out one of the other bounties (the hotel owner..a Sasha Cohen ringer and a super nice guy) and won $1k for it (so got my 1st buyin back). The final six players would play on a televised final table. Well Jennifer busted in 8th which was bad for the tv producers hoping to land a good tv least they had (obv. a joke).

At the tv table I put a guy all in w/ 99 vs. his QQ and flopped a 9 to bust him. I had 900k to his 250k w/ blinds at 12k/24k so it was kind of standard (although my read on him was he usually has AJ+ or a big pair there but it was 5handed and I had plenty of chips, plus I'm allowed to get lucky once in awhile after being on the other end too many times this year, especially in bigger tournaments). After that I coasted to victory w/ the hu match only lasting about 4 hands (final hand got all in on turn w/ T4 on a 643T board vs 94..don't remember the river card since my opponent was drawing dead).

Balla Trophy:

***Cash Game***

I was excited to be part of this for a couple of reasons. It was going to be televised and we were going to play $50/$100 nl 6handed. I have played in live games that big before but not 6handed and obviously not on tv. I wasn't sure how big the game was going to play (whether there would be much straddling going on or stakes would be kicked up, as the producer said that would be a possibility) so I brought plenty just in case (about $100k).

We drew for seats and it turned out I drew the worst possible seat being on the direct right of Dan (DJK123) Kelly, the kid that won the WSOP $25k 6handed event last year. I'll get to that in a moment. We also had Brent Roberts, a prolific online cash game player, Dan Harmetz, a rich guy that won over $300k on High Stakes Poker on GSN, a pro from Phoenix named Jesse, and a local older guy named Mike (very friendly guy).

Everybody bought in for $25k except DJK who bought in for $50k (even worse for me since he's on my direct left). Early on I made a couple of betsizing mistakes and felt tilted from that (but it didn't affect my play). Very early hand, Jesse opens to $300 from co, Mike calls from sb, I have AJ of hearts from bb and consider 3betting to set a tone but elect to call since I really have no reads on my opponents; flop 885 w/ 2 hearts, chk, chk, Jesse bets $500, Mike c/r to $1500, I cold call, Jesse folds, turn J, Mike bets $2500, I call, river 9 of hearts making my nut flush, Mike checks and I bet $6k and he tank folds A8. Granted there was $9400 in the pot and a $6k value bet doesn't seem so bad but right after I bet it I realized it was too big. Every draw got there including fd and oesd and it's early on and players are probably going to be more conservative than curious. I felt like I costed myself $4500 (because that was a bet that was probably going to get called, and later he told me he would've called that amount).

About an hour later I raise to $300 w/ T9o from the sb vs/ DJK's bb and he calls, flop comes 986r, I bet $400, he calls, turn 7, chk chk, riv 5 making a 9 high straight on board and I bet $700 into the $1400 pot but accidently throw out an extra $1k chip making my bet $1700. He folds and I hit my head (figuratively) for my error in betting chips. Granted he might not have called $700 but I think he would have for the hopeful chop, so I think I cost myself $700 there.

At this point I'm up about $4k but thinking how badly I betsized those 2 hands and should be up another $5200 or so, not to mention it doesn't look all that good on tv. Anyway I decide to buckle down and make sure I don't make any more betsizing mistakes.

DJK made my day tough because he was 3betting more than the entire table combined and I was the person he was 3betting the most because he was on my direct left and I would open plenty of hands, especially in late position. I had to make some adjustments like tightening up (which I didn't like to do) and opening smaller ($225 to $250 vs standard table open of $300).

Finally we play this hand...Mike opens to $300 from co, I flat w/ QTo on button (for reasons I won't mention, although I considered 3betting), DJK 3bets to $1400 from the sb, Mike folds, and finally I elect to call in position (after having folded numerous middling hands to his 3bet oop). Granted this call is thin but I needed to play a hand vs DJK and I was in position. Flop comes T73 w/ 2 hearts, he bets $1800, I call, turn ace of clubs, chk chk, riv 9 of diamonds, he bets $4200 (?) I tank call and he shows me KTo...doh! The river call is super thin and I think folding was best (w/o knowing DJK's hand) after thinking about it. Once he checks the turn and bets the river it's always for value. He would've bet the turn w/ all of his bluffs. Now I'm not sure how thinly he value bets the river though, if his range includes QT or JT but I think he probably bets a little smaller w/ those hands in case he runs into a better ten. I also called because I folded every hand it seems to him up to that point and I wanted to let him know I would call w/o much (not sure if that's enough of a justification to call though). At this point I got stuck for the 1st time all day.

Dan Kelly ready to raise as usual:

I was never flustered or tilted in seriousness at any point though. I took it one hand at a time and made decisions that I felt were best....also I was on tv and was representing CR (and FTP) and I wanted to make myself, CR, and FTP look good!

I did offer $200 (then upped it to $300, then $400) midway through the day to everybody to change seats w/ me. No surprise everybody turned it out (who wants to be on the direct right of a constant 3better anyways).

Eventually I got up about $5k and everybody agreed to kick up the stakes to $100/$200 nl for the last 1-2 hrs. I admit this is the biggest I've played but again the amount of money didn't really affect my decisions, I just focused on the correct decision at every moment including bet amounts. Well the last hour I finally picked up a couple of good starting hands vs DJK (AK and AJs) and as always he 3bet me but I 4bet him w/ AK and he folded and I called w AJs ip and flopped an ace and won a decent pot.

I made a $100 prop bet w/ him that we would finish the final 16 hands within the last 30mins of filming and I won that pretty easily. I played every hand very quickly to try to win it, but didn't make any bad decisions in haste for that reason. Also on the final hand Jesse and Brent in the blinds decided to do a $5k flip (just shipping in $5k blind and letting the board roll out determining the winner) if everybody folded to them. Well everybody folded to them and I booked $100 w/ DJK and Mike each on Jesse winning and he ended up w/ 66 vs Brent's Q7o (talk about flipping for real) and winning.

So I ended up winning $15,300 which made me the big winner in the game along w/ another $300 in props (unless I miscounted DJK's stack at the end..I think he ended up about $10k winner). The producers told me they will have a tv deal in place within a month and I'll know the air times and channel then. They're telling me the content was great but I'm a little skeptical because I'll admit the table talk was not that entertaining. Maybe the poker content will be cool but we'll see. They also told me the show , called "High Stakes Hold'em", will have a different angle than other cash game shows in that they're going to have viewers try to play along and determine players' hole cards. Former WSOP player of the year Tom Schneider is one of the commentators for the show (along w/ one of the TV producers).

Racking up:

I didn't end up getting involved in any huge pots (that was saved for DJK and Jesse..many times over) but just played meticulously and won steady over the course of 12 hrs (long session w/ 15 min breaks every 90 mins). I did ask if I can talk about the hands before it aired and they said it was ok (hence my blogging about it). There were some other interesting hands but you'll have to watch it to see. They told me the series will be aired over 13 episodes and include the tournament final table. I guess since I won the tournament and was the big cash game winner I'm the seriously it was for me just about playing the best I can play, whether it was televised or not. I was highly critical of myself when I made mistakes and I made a couple but at least I'll learn from them and will play even better poker in the future (in front of or off camera).

Special thanks to Lana of Cardrunners for hooking me up w/ the invite to the cash game. It was a good trip and I hope I represent Cardrunners well when it airs!


  1. Great write up. Man, you really deserved a solid tourney win, and the cash game was just icing on the cake. Don't forget your buddies when you make it "big time!" Great job bud. Keep up the good work.

  2. Well done, definitely deserve it. Keep it up. Now you just need to ship a couple of WSOP events. Ship it !!! GL

  3. grats on the win and the sick session...I gather from your entry that you were impressed with DJK's game?

  4. Tx guys...hopefully my run good carries over to Mohegan Sun next week.

    Yeah DJK is good...tough to play vs if you're on his right....reminds me of...well, me :)

  5. Hey, congrats John; you look all business holding up that trophy. Looking forward to seeing the televised cash game!