Sunday, June 19, 2011

Everything's bigger in Vegas (even birthdays)

When I came back to my room in the Gold Coast after busting on Thursday, I spent a while thanking people for a plethora of birthday wishes on my Facebook wall (credit my mother for making me write thank you notes as a kid). This felt a little strange as even though it was my birthday back home (hence the birthday wishes), it wasn't yet in Vegas where it was still the day before. The following day I got a text message from my poker soul bro Mark to let him know where I was that evening so we could celebrate my birthday. Now I'm not a person who places much significance on my birthday - I tend to the view that your life is defined by what you do on the other 364 days of the year rather than what you get up to on your birthday - but nevertheless I genuinely appreciated all the birthday wishes and Mark's invite. By the time Mark made it to the Gold Coast it was past midnight and therefore technically no longer my birthday in Vegas, but I still went for a birthday drink with Mark and Parky in TGI Fridays. So in a sense I didn't have a birthday but rather a birththreedays.

Both Mark and Parky were in ripping form. Parky had emerged unscathed through day 1 of the Seniors event, noting optimistically that while the bubble hadn't burst yet, he expected it to do so overnight as "there's a good chance at least half the field will die during the night".

I walked over to register for my third bracelet event before I retired for the night, and got up positively brimming with optimism. My first table featured Barry Donovan but broke within an orbit. My second table was mixed: I was to the immediate left of a very good and very affable guy from Edmonton, a high stakes cash player. So far in Vegas I've been maintaining a silent brooding table presence, saying more or less nothing, quite enjoying the fact that almost nobody knows who I am here so I don't have to talk. But there was good banter at the table and my neighbour was a particularly interesting guy with some great stories. It was also very interesting to observe his play. Like most high stakes cash players, he played way more hands than most tournament specialists, relying on superior post flop skills to compensate for any equity surrendered pre flop. So it was a real learning experience for me to watch how he played a wide variety of hands against different types of opponents. Like most tournament specialists, I think my preflop play is basically as good as it'll ever be, but there's still a lot of room for improvement post flop when the effective stacks are relatively deep.

I made a reasonably good start and was happy with how I played, apart from one hand where I flopped trips but lost value with the line I chose. I don't think I've played the perfect tournament here yet (that is, one devoid of mistakes). Maybe it's a bit unreasonable to expect to play an entire tournament without a single mistake when you're playing as loose as I generally do here (way looser than I do live back home), but it's still a goal worth striving for. By the time the table broke, I'd noodled up to about 6k from a 3k lowpoint.

My new table was a more silent sullen affair. Card death and a few light opens that got snapped off saw me drifting back a bit to 5400 when I opened 77 utg for 400 at 100/200 with a 25 ante. A serial three bettor made his standard 2.3 threebet to 925 and it's back to me. I'd often just fold here but not against this guy with this stack: it seemed the perfect spot for a lightish 4 bet jam. I don't 4 bet light very often live, probably not as much as I should, but even by my conservative standards this seemed perfect. I usually have the best hand, he folds a fair chunk of his range that sevens are racing against, and I usually would be racing when called. As it happened, he snapped with AK and the board ran out TT2A6 to send me to the rail. No regrets about the exit though.

There's usually a law of diminishing returns with movie sequels and so far Doke In Vegas 4 is a pretty unsatisfactory rehash of Doke In Vegas 3, in which our intrepid hero went out near the bubble in his first bracelet event, went out earlier in each successive bracelet event, but saved his bacon in the stts and turbo tourist trapaments. Hopefully there's still time for a twist in the tale though. I do feel like I'm playing much better than last year. Thanks to my switch to online mtt specialisation, I now play 20 bbs or less very well, and I'm also playing better in the early stages of these events. I've made chips early doors in all the events whereas I used to blind down until I won a flip or was on the right side of a cooler.

Next up is my first 1k event in about 10 hours. With only a 3K starting stack, it's even more important in these to make a good start, and not spew early doors. Also important to get some shuteye before, so off I go.



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