Thursday, January 18, 2007

PCA Trip Report

Sorry for taking a while to write this, but I needed to take a break and clear my head from the traveling and such (plus I'm lazy). My flight was from Raleigh, NC to Miami FL and after a 3 hour layover I'd be flown to the bahamas. I left Raleigh about 830am and arrived in Miami sometime later. The aiport wasn't exciting but ironically the guy I sat next to in the entire ended up being Bel0wAb0ve, a good friend through online poker. I also met #1PEN at the airport, and was already getting excited about meeting everyone and relishing my first PCA experience. I was traveling with my roommate from home, Micah. I arrived in the Bahamas Atlantis Resort around 6pm or so. With the legal drinking age also being 18 along with the gambling age, as soon as i dropped off my luggage in our villa I headed to the bar in the lobby and got a Corona with a Lime. I probably had a few too many Coronas, but I wasn't playing Day 1A so who gives a shit if I had a good time. I met so many faces to put with online screen names it was an interesting experience. That night at 730pm I met up with PoorUser and and headed to the Pokerstars party. It was very well put together, the orderbs were delicious, and the atmosphere outside was pretty amazing. They had all the Team Pokerstars pro's there (such as Raymer, Hachem, Moneymaker, Greenstein, and others) being very friendly and having a conversation to anyone who wanted to talk.

During Day 1A, I hung out with Stoweski(who chopped the $1500 postlim for $70k congrats!), Yellowsub(who luckboxed his way to a Mill in Monte Carlo), tbthanx(a talented 5/10nl player on stars), Clayton(one of the funniest guys I know), and a few of their friends that go to UGA. We hit up the water slides and wanted to get all the vacationing out of the way before all the serious poker days. The single water slide is in a word, fierce. You literally are not moving then all of a sudden going straight down what seemed like 40 something mph then immediately horizontal through to the end. That probably isn't a great way to describe it, but, it was very intense to the point where I basically held my breath the entire time I was going so fast my muscles had tightened up. After the slides during the day I just took it easy mingling amongst all the poker players in the lobby because I wanted to be well rested for my day tomorrow to play. I ended up going to bed about 1230am which gave me more than enough rest.

Now to the fun stuff, my first WPT event! The feeling when sitting down when the first cards are being dealt was a combination of nervous/anxious/excited/focused for me. I have played plenty of live poker to only be 18, but this was way different than most of what I had played. My table draw wasn't too tough, but I had the fucking 10 seat which sucks because I can't see the action or chip stack of the 1 or 2 seat usually. Another shitty break was that both seat 1 and 2 were absent but 20k in chips was still there. The reason it's shitty is because now people with marginal hands that would normally just fold preflop in late position are raising more when I'm either sb or the button. I went to check the seating chart for who was at my table and the only names I recognized were my good friend Kush Patel that I have had good times with at Turning Stone, and Carlos Zambrano (no, not the cubs pitcher) who recently got very deep in the $15k bellagio 5 diamond if I'm not mistaken. Kush was on the other side of the table but I was glad to be on Carlos' direct left. We started with 20k in chips and the blinds at 50-100.

After fluctuating between 18k and 22k for the first level or two I was settling into the zone and was playing very well, being patient and nailing the hand ranges that I had on strangers at the table just from reads etc. I found it to be extremely helpful to notice every hand played even when I'm not in one, because it is a chance to pick up a weakness to exploit or a tell. I love it so much when idiots who are dealt kings preflop, play it some odd/terrible way, then show it to me. It's just like they held up a sign in front of my face telling me how inexperienced they are and that they want me to bust them when they play a huge hand similar again, because most of these players are not capable enough to play kings different the 2nd time around they get them.

There were a ton of hands played that I could talk about, so I'll just recap the more important ones. The player in the 3 seat seemed decent but was too loose preflop, and very aggressive. He had already check-raised me a few hands that I continuation bet in position with air and I mucked. This hand took place at the 100-200/25a level, with the 3 seat raising UTG. He made it 600 to go, while standard, he had been making at least 4x raises and sometimes bigger preflop so It made me think he might have some sort of bigger hand than usual. It folds to Carlos in the cutoff who flat calls and I call with 99 on the button while the 2 *sitting out* players in the blinds are already folded. 3 to the flop it comes AT9 rainbow and I look like I was just told I have cancer or something. Original raiser checks as does Carlos, and I fire out 1200 and what do you know, the 3 seat check-raises me to 4000. Carlos folds and I just call knowing 3-betting the flop would kill my action, not to mention he is likely firing the turn, so I just call. The turn is a Ten and he checks after pausing for about 20 seconds. At this point I was sure I had the best hand and wanted to make a bet that would entice another check-raise or call from a hand like AJ/AQ/AK which is what I'm sure he had. I bet 4750 and left myself about 9800 which he debated and just called. The river was a Q and he checked rather quickly. At this point the pot is huge and I have a little over a half-pot sized bet left and stick it in with a slight hollywooding for about 40 seconds. The hollywooding isn't mandatory, but I knew I was more likely getting a call if it looks like I'm somewhat indecisive and unsure. He counted out 9800 and it left him about 21k seeing as he had already doubled up coolering someone who had AJ on an AJ4 flop when he had AA. Anyways, he thought and folded and I scooped a big pot and was feeling confident. Carlos then leaned over to me and asked if I could beat QT, and i said "no, why?". He then replied with a casual "Well, I would have caught runner runner boat with QT that hand". This was nice info to know that Carlos is calling UTG raises with QT so it immediately widened his calling preflop range.

About 30 minutes into the 100-200/25a level Carlos on my left had been wearing out my small blind every round with me not getting 1 hand to defend with. Although I don't mind folding terrible hands when he does it, I'm definitely looking for a hand that I know is ahead of any 2 cards (which is what he was raising). After raising normal suited connectors and such preflop and continuation betting only to get raised about 5 times, I was back down to 20k or so. Since anyone who called my preflop raise hit every time, it was tough to accumulate chips. I was a little frustrated but kept calm and collected with no worries. Soon after i was small blind and the big blind who has still not shown up is sitting there with a sign over it saying "Carlos raise me". Folds to Carlos on the button who didn't even look at his cards before he raised makes it 700! I watched him with my head down the entire time he never even snuck a peek! I look down at QhTh in sb and make it 2400 to go knowing I have the best hand here most of the time. He then looks at his cards and flings in 1700 more. I wasn't worried about playing a re raised pot with a live pro that much, but it was the fact people had been outflopping me that had me slightly uncomfortable going to the flop. The flop came AhAx5h giving me a flush draw. This was a great flop for me to check to Carlos because it looks more like I re-raised with an ace in my hand so he will likely check behind this flop giving me a free card for a flush draw. Also, knowing that if I lead into the pot he is going to be sure I don't have an ace and raise me, but I didn't want to play a big pot here. He checked behind me on the flop and the turn was the 4h bink! I lead out 3500 which is a pretty decent sized bet, at this point I'm hoping he has an ace and raises and I can stack him obviously. Carlos just calls my bet and the river is the ugliest ace of spades I have ever seen. There is now 3 of a kind on the board which turns my flush into garbage. I take about 20 seconds and check, seeing as a bet would be a bluff and he turns over 54o for the winner. I just decide to muck and not even show my hand to give any information to the players at the table about how I play. This also accomplished and image of me being a total bluff machine never having a hand post flop though. I'm not sure if it was already that image, but the fucking ace of spades solidified it.

I decided to tighten up since I'm Mr. Bluffoffhischips to everyone at the table now. The last hand of the level I get dealt 33 and a tight older man raises to 600 UTG + 1 and I call in middle position heads up to the flop. 832 rainbow and we are in business. He had about 10k from making a few bad calls so I was looking to capitalize on his station-like characteristics. He led for 600, which was a little over 1/3 the pot size. I knew he didn't have AK/AQ or some broadway cards because he would have either just checked or made a larger pot sized bet. It was almost like I could sense his feeler bet into a "I have an okay hand and will call you down if you string me along" type vibe, so I did. I raised to 1600, figuring with his stack size being just small enough to keep him around with some pocket pair. He then called and the turn was an offsuit 6 and he checked to me. I bet about 3/4 the pot to 3k setting up a river shove if all went well. He debated and debated and called 3k. The river was a 5 and he instantly said I'M ALL IN and slung out his one 5k chip he had left. My gut wrentched looking at the 86532 board with a set of 3s and just 7k left in my stack. I knew he had some marginal pocket pair, and 55 or 44 would fit the description perfectly. I should have followed my instincts and folded knowing I was beat. I used some irrational judgement about my bluff-like image and somehow talked myself into thinking maybe he thought I was 2 barrelling which is fucking retarded because old people are dumb and have no idea of logic like that. I made the donk call and he flipped up 55 and i just mucked my hand and left the tournament area for the 15 minute break. I was pretty pissed off and agitated. After the break I came back to the table with only 2k entering the 200-400/50a level being UTG first hand. I was in a pretty frustrated and my friends comments about chip and a chair was more cliche than helpful advice to bring me out of the dumps.

So first hand back I have 5 big blinds and an M of 1.8 or something retarded and look at a King and shove UTG and everyone folds to my surprise. After blinds I shove a couple more times with AcKc and Ts8s with no calls to "chip up" to 3500 which was an improvement but I'm still totally shortstacked. I get KcTc UTG + 1 and shove and the 3 seat who is kind of loose thinks for a minute and calls which I didn't think was too bad knowing his range is wide. Then all of a sudden a player I didn't even notice instacalls all in for his last 3200 chips and I'm just saying "oh fuck" in my head thinking I am going to have to flop a royal flush to suckout. The 3 seat flips over 55 and the other short stack tables AJo and I show KcTc like it's aces knowing how live I am and how there's a possibility of a comeback. The window card is a jack but a king rolls off right after an 8 and jump out in front. The turn and river brick a 7 and a 3 and we are in business with 10.3k at the 200-400/50a level and a rejuvenated mindset. After a few orbits and getting blinded and a walk, the 3 seat raises UTG to 1800 total. He had been making fairly big raises like that so it didn't set off any alarm bells as very strong. Folds to Carlos on my direct right who flat calls and I look down at two lovely ladies and slide in my 9k in chips. 3 seat folds then Carlos agonizes for about a minute then calls with JJ. I was surprised to see him that strong seeing his QT call earlier from the 3 seat's UTG raise. He looked at me and said "man, I just knew you had queens, what a terrible call." After that comment I gave him more respect after the 54o debacle for being an intelligent player. My queens hold and I'm back up to 20k, sick.

A few orbits later I get AA in middle position and make it 1200 to go. The big blind called the raised after thinking for a little bit with 14k behind after the call. The flop was T92 rainbow and he checked to me. I bet 1600, only half the pot, trying to induce some sort of action since I'm still have an image that I'm always bluffing when I continuation bet in position. He thought about it and kinda looked up at me almost to get a read, and started reaching for chips. He raised me 2200 more to 3800 total which was a weird raise, but I'm not complaining knowing I have him crushed by his body language. I take about 30 seconds and slowly make a call. The turn is a queen (not the greatest card in the world) and he checks to me again. He had 10.5k left so I bet 4400 giving him just enough room to come on in. He thinks about 30 seconds while looking at the board and says "raise" without even looking at his stack. He starts counting it out and realizes how short he is and just says all in I call and he shows me KQ. River is a brick and I'm up to 36k to end the level after starting with 2k and my ticket to bustoville already booked.

At the beginning of the level Kush busted and another good friend of mine MrTimCaum took his seat to witness my miraculous comeback. To start the 300-600/75 level a huge stack was moved to my table with around 100k or so. MrTimCaum commented to him "oh not you again, are you gonna keep raising every hand?". I later saw the player with 100k in the 50-100nl cash game but at the time just labeled him as an aggro player who loves to play big pots. Huge stacked aggro player raised 2k to go in middle position and I'm on the button with 88 and flat call. There were actually people sitting to my left now so his range isn't as wide as it would have been earlier with them empty. Flop came T75 rainbow and he checked to me, I bet 3k and he thought for a little while and he called. Turn came a 4 and he checked again, I really had no idea what to put him on here, but I know I didn't wanna play a huge pot with 88 here and just wanted to get to a showdown so I checked behind. River came a jack and he bet 6k. The hand just didn't make alot of sense to me as I ran through the play on all streets. I figured he had a relative monster or air and called and he tabled J9o as I mucked :( *sigh* etc. It was probably the thinnest value bet I saw all tournament but I quickly gave away over 1/4 my stack on the hand and was unhappy with myself.

I was soon moved to a new table with an older Asian man on my left with a gillion chips (110k to be more accurate) and a strange style of play. The player on my right also had about 60k and as I started talking to him I found out he was WestMenloAA on Stars. I have alot of respect for his game and this he is definitely a top notch player and was glad to have him on my right. There weren't many hands I played during the 300-600/75a level where the pot exceeded 6k or so and I just stayed patient to pick my spots with this stacked Asian guy on my left. The 400-800/100a level didn't bring much action for me either as it was the last level of the day and I wasn't trying to do anything idiotic and just play solid, pack up, and get to day 2. I didn't get many spots where there were pots to enter with slightly marginal hands and I ended the day at 20.8k and a bode of confidence.

That night I hung out in the lobby a little late seeing as play started at 12pm and I got to bed at 4am, but that was enough rest for me to play my A game on day 2. The best news I heard all day was that they were reseating for day 2 seeing as the fields were going to be combined. So that got a huge stack to my left away from me, and WestMenloAA who ended the day with an astonishing 150k (after people were handing him chips thinking he was spewing, to only have a monster each time). My day 2 seat wasn't all that bad, with the only person I recognized at my table being Muchaka about 3 seats to my left as I was the 3 seat. With 21 big blinds entering the day starting at the 500-1000/100a level I was super confident. Not only did I battle and grind after being down to 2k in chips, but I also am more comfortable/used to having 20 bb stacks playing online so much.

The very first hand of day 2 I look down at JJ UTG + 1 and make it 3k to go. A young looking Asian kid (I hate to keep stereotyping Asian players, I'm not racist, it's just part of the whole "image" thing) flat calls with about 23k behind after the call. HU pot to the flop of T95r and I fire 5.5k and he raises to 11k, a min raise. I'm somewhat worried but I'm not folding this as short as I was, even though most of the times in this spot facing a min raise I'm demolished by AA-QQ who slow played. I stuck in the rest and he beat me into the pot to turn over....A..Q? WTF? Uhhh hold? Turn jack river not a king ship the double up on the worst played AQ I have seen recently. Up to 43k to start the day And I'm ready to keep accumulating chips throughout the day comfortably.

The player in the 7 seat who looks rather amateurish with the way he makes decisions and is raising 3-4 pots an orbit starts to accumulate some chips. He is continuation betting every flop and never getting played back at. There is no way after 4 orbits he has had this many great starting hands, so when he raises UTG + 1 to 3k and it folds to me in the sb and I peek at AA, I decide to flat call to let him see if he wants to keep making continuation bets postflop. The big blind also calls but only has 12k after he calls so I'm not worried about him at all. The flop comes Q43 with two diamonds, and I check and plan on check-raising obviously. The bb checks and the aggro player reaches for chips and then all of a sudden changes his mind and checks and I'm a little frustrated the plan has gone off course. The turn is an offsuit 5c and I lead 6k, bb folds and aggro player thinks for a while and calls leaving 18k. River is an offsuit 9, which is a total non-action card. At this point the way the hand is played I feel I have the best hand so I start to debate a value bet that isn't fishy looking in a pot size relation and isn't all of his stack. The pot is pretty big at the point (22k) and he only has 16k left. I decide to just shove and he jumps up and yells "I CALL I CALL I'M ALL IN". Fuck. I don't even turn over my hand knowing my aces are no good and he tables A2o for the goddamn wheel. I just muck my hand and start walking. I talked to Corey (Muchaka) about the hand on break and he couldn't believed I had aces and thought I had air. I guess I need to fix my "I'm always bluffing" vibe at the table. Then again, I was strong and gave off a false tell so maybe I shouldn't, meh. We go on break and I'm somewhat torn and frustrated but am still in high hopes after yesterdays brutal grind. I come back to the 600/1200/200a level with 17k, comeback part 2. The third hand in I get ATo in the cutoff and make it 3600 to go instead of open shoving. Online there is an arguement for just shoving here sometimes, but in this event it is a different game. The players are so tight that shoving ATo here is like shoving any two cards since if you get called you smoked. Plus, my stack was still big enough to fold to a preflop re raise knowing I'm behind. So, the button doesn't notice my stack size and flat calls. It's important I notice this because he has 60k or so and his range might be wider, which takes the "has to have a monster" range out of the question. The blinds fold, and the flop is Q77r and I have a pot sized bet left of 13k. I stick it in just hoping he doesn't have a 7 or a queen, and he calls with king fucking queen. No ace, and good game me :/

I was very happy with the way I fought the entire time when nothing was going my way instead of just tilting it off saying "whatever I don't care anymore". Day 2 was a Sunday so I grabbed my laptop to play all the Sunday tournaments in a few hours. I didn't do anything in the huge majors but won both the UB $30r and the UB $120+9 with bounties tournament for a total of 15.5k in winnings. Bel0w gave me a good confidence boost when he telling me how sick of an accomplishment it is to bust out of an 8k WPT even and still have the focus to concentrate and win 2 online tournaments in the same day. I played 2 more postliminary events ($1500 and $2500) and didn't cash in either. The levels were cut short after the $1000 event ran too long the day before :/ I got coolered in the $1500 losing half my stack on a A8774 board with 7c5c to Js7s who called my UTG raise from bb, nh sir. I ended up hanging around and shoved 2200 at the 200-400/25a level with A9o in the cutoff and ran into AQo gg me. The $2500 event I got pretty deep and finished 33rd out of 167, with first being something sick like $123k which ZeeJustin ended up winning. I lost a huge pot with AA on a KK679 board to 99 at the 400-800/100a level when he rivered a 9. I should have folding because the only thing that I was beating on the river was a floated bluff and I still am disapointed at just thinking "I can't fold aces" more than "these aces beat nothing" in a tournament that I was doing well in. The postlims are so soft and give online players a huge edge with the structure of being comfortable at stack sizes opposed moreso to the main event where it was more similar to a deep-stacked cash game.

Overall, I had a blast in Nassau. The bahamas weren't that great with a beer costing $6 a pop and no verizon service for me to talk to anyone back home the whole time. Also, the last night I was out with a bunch of 2+2er's and these locals tried to scam some of us who went to Senor Frogs on some retarded POS club named "Bambu". If it weren't for all the great friends I made at Atlantis, it would have sucked. A few of the nicest/down to earth guys you will ever meet that I got to hang out with is TMay420, Imper1um, Thorladen, and Apestyles. It was definately a positive experience and I am for sure looking forward to next year's PCA. Oh! and before I forget, my good friend Ryan Daut (who you have surely heard of by now) won the bitch. I just want to say Daut is an awesome guy, and very deserving. I hope Green Plastic doesn't get more credit than he deserves (nothing personal) but Daut is extremely smart and owned Isaac HU, sincere congrats bro.