Little Creek South Sound Championship $340 No Limit Hold’em Main Event – A Final Table Run!

March 11, 2018

This tournament kind of snuck up on me. The South Sound Championship series at Little Creek isn’t exactly on my radar. The preliminary events aren’t that attractive and the weak field sizes don’t really make them worth playing. You typically have to final table to make the money and probably have to finish top 3 to feel really good about it. Well, at least I would.

The Main Event is a little different though. I don’t play it every time it comes around – mostly because I forget about it – but it’s decent enough. I actually took 4th in this event back in spring of 2014 and that was a career high score for me at the time. I think I cashed for a little over $4K. 20K in starting chips for $340, 45 minute levels and the level jumps are tolerable. There’s definitely some play in it. Also, the fields at Little Creek are insanely soft. Overall, the play is surprisingly passive and pretty straight forward. There are some guys that can play and put pressure on you, but they are the Puget Sound rounders, not the locals. Most of the Shelton area players are really easy to play against. That makes this event with a deeper structure attractive even though the field size is kind of ho hum. There were 92 entrants in this one and that paid the final table only.

One annoying feature of the Little Creek tourneys is that they are 10-handed. How is this still a thing in 2018? Just brutal. 10-handed poker sucks period, but feeling crowded the whole time you’re playing makes it so much worse. And this isn’t a temporary thing. You have to suffer all day long, even at the final table.

I only had one player I’m familiar with at my starting table. The highly unorthodox, extremely talky, and slightly obnoxious Puget Sound superstar known as Flex. I actually wrote about Flex in a very unflattering light (I believe I called him “Loudmouth”) in one of my first tournament write-ups back in 2012. Oh hell, I’ll go ahead and link it even though it’s somewhat embarrassing for myself as well: Freddie’s $110 Deep Stack. It’s worth noting this was over six years ago and propping $4/$8 limit hold’em was my only job at the time. So… fair warning! Anyways, having Flex at the table isn’t a great thing. He is capable of making things difficult for you and drastically increasing your variance in a field that otherwise doesn’t require much risk early on. It also means you could double up early, so there’s that!

Levels 1-2

Blinds 25/50, there’s a raise to 150 and I defend T6hh from the big blind. Four of us see the QJ8 with two hearts flop. I end up calling 300 on the flop and all four of us are still in. My draw is pretty big, but this isn’t the board texture I expect to get folds on, so jacking it up here just bloats the pot out of position when I haven’t made anything yet. The turn bricks and I have to call another 600. I think we are heads up at this point and the small blind has been the aggressor the whole time and he checks when the river is a 9 and I make my straight. I bet 1500 and he pays it off.

Blinds 25/50, I call 150 from the cutoff with KQo with multiple players in already. The flop is Q52 with two hearts and one diamond. There are six of us in and Flex leads out for 500 (after PFR checks), player to my right makes it 1000, and I immediately have the instinct that I want to raise. That’s odd because raising seems like the worst of my options in this spot most of the time. I push this thought aside and decide to just call and see what happens. Everyone else folds and Flex calls also. The turn is the 9d and both players check to me. I do not believe this is any sort of trap and I’m not really surprised by this action considering my instincts that neither player seemed strong on the flop. I bet 1700. Flex calls and the player that raised the flop snap folds. Yup. With that said, I don’t expect to get paid off on many rivers, so I will be checking back a lot of cards. The Kd on the river is an interesting one, but before I can think too long about what I’m going to do, Flex fires out a healthy bet of 7500. There is a key piece of missing information that makes this not a snap call. I don’t have the Qd and the Qd was not on the flop. If Flex has a queen, which seems likely, then he has the Qd half of the time and it makes a lot of sense that he just went running diamonds. In fact, it makes so much sense that this might actually be a clear fold. The only other logical hand I lose to is JT of hearts. It’s also hard to come up with hands he could be bluffing with. A4hh? A3hh? 43hh? Other missed heart draws? QJo? QTo? I don’t think so. Sometimes I think I’m taking up too much time in spots that actually probably require a bit more thinking. In retrospect, all things considered – especially the bet sizing – this seems like a pretty easy fold, but in real time, I decided to pay it off even though I called out his hand before he showed it to me: queen high flush.

There was another hand at the 50/100 level where Flex had limped in under the gun, there were two other limps and I made it 600 to go with AK and Flex ends up beating me with J7o on AJ67x, making two pair and getting another healthy river bet from me. As I said, he’s sticky and drastically increases your variance. On the bright side, I decided to pot control turn and check back.

Still, after the first two levels I had 7700, which means I had lost over 60% of my stack already and was wondering if I should punt the rest of it and rebuy if I didn’t chip up early in L3 (the last level to rebuy).

Levels 3-4

Blinds 75/150, I defend J4cc from the big blind for 400. Three of us see the A84 with two club flop. I check, the next guy donks 700 into Flex (the PFR) and he calls. I started the hand with about 10K I think and, again, I don’t expect anyone to fold on the flop and I have too many chips to want to get them all in right now. I call. The turn is a 7 and I check again, the next guy bets 1000 and Flex makes it 4500. I actually give some thought to making a mathematically incorrect call here. If I make my flush on the river, I can’t imagine that Flex will be able to fold with such favorable pot odds, so I could feasibly call here and fold when I brick and probably double up when I make flushes and maybe trips. It’s 100% a bad play, but there is appeal to gambling to double up since I have a half stack and if I miss I’ll be that much closer to rebuying for a fresh stack. I ultimately decide to make the prudent play of laying it down though and so does the other player and Flex shows us both the A7.

Blinds 100/200, I open to 500 with A9 of spades and only the big blind defends. Flop is 762 with two spades and the big blind check-calls 500. The turn pairs the 2 and I decide to keep barreling and bet 1200. He calls again. Sigh. I guess I have to get there. Oh, hello 3 of spades! He checks and I have 5500 and really think if he has anything he’s going to call jam, so I stuff and he does call… with 75o and I double up to 15.5K. We’re healthy again!

Blinds 100/200, someone opens to 600, Flex calls, and I make a very loose defend with 96o. Flop is J65, I check, PFR bets 1200, and Flex folds. I think this is a standard peel. I bink the 9 on the turn, check, he bets 2100 and I make a somewhat hefty raise to 7200, he stuffs it and I snap call. He tables AA and I hold to double up to 37K. Hey, loose preflop call justified! You cooler these people when they have big pairs and they are not folding.

Levels 5-6

Blinds 200/400, someone min-raises to 800 and I call with 33 in position. Flop is 742 and he checks to me. I bet 1300 and he calls. Turn is a jack and he checks again. I already ran this hand by someone else because I ended up hating it. He has done nothing in this hand to make me think he has anything at all, so I feel like betting again here is best. I bet 2200 and he raises me to 7500. And then he proceeds to stare daggers at me. I take my sweet time with this decision and whenever I look at him, he is staring me down, not breaking eye contact. This, plus his two checks and extremely narrow value range (sets? KK, AA?), has me thinking I have the best hand and that he probably wants me to fold. I noted that we were 20K effective and this is basically a decision for his stack size. I ultimately decide this is the kind of high variance spot I’m trying to avoid in this field and make the fold, but I hated it. When I ran this by a friend he suggested checking back turn and possibly calling rivers. I countered that it seems better for me to set my own bet size on the turn while protecting my weak hand and check back rivers than it is to check turn and let him set the bet size on the river and have to play more of a guessing game. Oh well.

Blinds 300/600, I open to 1500 with TT and call a ~9k jam and hold vs AK.

Blinds 300/600, four callers and I check 92o from the big blind. The flop is K92 with two hearts and a diamond and I lead out for 1300 and get two callers. The turn is a very safe 5d and I bet 5000. The next player goes to call with a 5K chip and accidentally drops two of them into the pot, effective min-raising me to 10K. The other player folds and it’s back to me. I do believe it was an accident, but I’m also not in love with the situation. I decide to play it safe and just call. The river is the Qd, which is not a great card for me and I’m pretty happy to see him check back and my two pair holds vs KT.

Blinds 300/600, I open to 1600 with AJhh and only the big blind calls. Flop is T63 with one heart and we both check. The turn is the 2s and I call 2200. River pairs the 6 and he fires out 2600. This is the guy that was staring daggers at me earlier and this spot is much less pressure and I’m getting the same live read and basically snap call this time. He shows A9ss and I win the pot.

I have 68K after six levels on the third break of the day.

Level 7

Blinds 400/800, someone jams 5400 and I call with JJ, but wind up losing to his AJ.

Blinds 400/800, someone opens to 1700, there’s a call, and I make it 4800 with AA. The opener jams for 11K and the other player is pretty deep behind with me and goes into the tank. For the briefest of moments, I actually think he’s going to jam, but he ultimately winds up folding. I snap call and the all in tables… AA. What. The player that folded audibly winces when a ten spikes the river and claims he folded pocket tens. Considering how much time he took and that he looked like he might jam, I believed him. What a dodge! I end up splitting with the other aces.

Another player familiar to me is at my table now, a long time frenemy that I named after Batman villain Solomon Grundy a long time ago because, well, there’s a resemblance. I’ve been crossing paths with Solomon Grundy for years now and he pops into my cash games once in a while but I almost always see him in the bigger local tournaments and even sometimes on the road.

Once upon a time, I sat in a $5/$10 no limit hold’em cash game at Little Creek, thinking it was just a $3/$5 game and ended up selling action to my wife (back when she was my girlfriend and we didn’t share money yet) when I realized I was playing in a bigger game. I was a $4/$8 limit player at the time and didn’t play much no limit and certainly didn’t play it at this level (and never have again), so I was far out of my comfort zone. Anyways, Solomon Grundy was in this game and I will never forget the pain of getting all $800 I had in front of me in the middle with KK and seeing him table AA. It broke my heart and crushed my soul at the time. Losing $800 was a lot to me back then and having it all happen in one hand was stunning.

Well, I bring Solomon up because he opens the button to 3k here with blinds still at 400/800 and I look down at 99 in the small blind. He has about 16K behind and his sizing is quite big, so I decide that I’m just going to have to embrace the variance of this spot and play for stacks. I 3-bet to 10K because the big blind was deep with me, but he folds and Grundy stuffs the rest of his stack in. I snap and he tables 77 and I win a big pot and wish him well.

Blinds 400/800, very next hand and I’m on the button now and open to 2200 with AJo. I have two very capable and aggressive players in the blinds, so I don’t expect to get folds very often and I will be continuing if the SB 3-bets and probably getting it in against the BB’s stack size. Only the big defends and the flop comes down A84 with two diamonds. He check-calls 2700 on the flop and then check-calls 6000 when the 4 pairs on the turn. The river is a queen and he has about 10K behind and checks. I don’t see much upside to betting here since I’m chopping with all the aces I was beating now and it’s hard to imagine him calling with worse. I check back and win and after he makes a comment about “how does he have an ace on the button after winning a big pot?” and I wonder if jamming river actually makes perfect sense because of the metagame dynamics.

87.4K on dinner break.

Levels 8-9

Blinds 600/1200, I defend K8hh for 3000. Flop is KQ8 all clubs. Not excited to play a huge pot here, so I check-call 5500 on the flop and then we both check when the turn brings the four card flush in. The river is a blank and he sizes super small at 5200 and I pay it off.

Blinds 600/1200, one limper, button makes it 3100, and I have AKcc in the big blind. Button has been playing rather snug and we are both deep, so I elect to take the lower variance line of just flatting and taking a flop and the other player comes along as well. Flop is A73 with two spades and I check-call 3500 and the other player overcalls. The turn is the 4s and since I expect to be ahead of the button’s range and am now highly vulnerable to spades on the river, I decide to lead out for 8500. I’m a little concerned about the limper, but I also realize my hand can look like a flush here, so I think it’s fine, even though my sizing is quite small. I am happy to see both players fold.

I open to 2800 with 33 and only the big blind defends. The flop is 942 with two diamonds and he donks a hefty 6k. He has about 18k behind and his flop sizing is big, so this is a really weird spot. Still, it seems way too weak-passive to just fold flop. How often is he leading out big with strong hands? Instead of making sure I put a c-bet in first? I flat. The turn pairs the 9, which I love, but he jams for 18k, which I don’t love. This is a tough spot and I spent a long time in the tank thinking about it and came quite close to folding. Ultimately, his line didn’t make much sense to me and he did not seem comfortable at all. I was quite sure he was bluffing. My main dilemma was if he was bluffing with hands I lose to, like 4x of diamonds or 55 maybe. Since losing this pot wasn’t going to cripple me and I thought he was full of crap, I made the call and he tables A8o and bricks the river and I ship a sexy pot, leaving the rest of the table in legit shock.

Blinds 600/1200, I open to 2800 with JJ and the sticky, solid player on my direct left calls. We are heads up to AT8. Here’s the thing, I expect this guy to continue on this board texture a lot of the time and that is going to make things difficult for me if I’m the aggressor. I also expect him to bet worse hands a lot when I check and checking would be my go to line when I have hands like AK or AQ here. We both check the flop. The turn is a 9 and since I’m never bet-folding this card and I showed weakness on the flop, I think check-calling is best here. I check-call 3000. The river pairs the 8 and I am quite happy to check-call 5000, expecting to win this pot almost all the time. I don’t think he has an ace and I’m blocking straights pretty hard. Unfortunately, he shows me the 87o for trips.

I’ve been jotting my hands down all day and after that hand, as I’m typing stuff on my phone, he asks “are you writing down that I’m a donkey” and I say, “no, I wrote that down a long time ago,” which got a solid laugh out of him. We banter a little more and then he says something about “let’s just take their chips” motioning to the other players like we should just stay out of each other’s way and I’m like, “wait, what did you just call me with?”

Blinds 600/1200, I call 3100 with AJ on the button and we are heads up to KT9 flop with two clubs. I have the ace of clubs and peel for another 3100. The turn pairs the ten and he bets another 3100. I’m not sensing strength and I feel like that’s a better card for my range than it is for his, so I eventually pop him to 8500, expecting him to fold a lot. He calls though and the river double pairs the board with a 9 and I decide to give up. He shows K2 of clubs and I feel a little sick. First, that I didn’t consider 3-betting pre and second, because I didn’t put pressure on him on the river. I felt much less sick about this hand when I saw this guy pay off a turn bet and a massive river bet on a 98xQJ board with AJ a short while later (his opponent had 97). I’m pretty sure I saved chips on the river here.

Blinds 600/1200, my notes say I opened to 3500 with QQ here. That seems strange. Maybe there was a limper or I must have had some other reason to increase my sizing. Anyways, I end up getting called in three spots. The flop comes down 873 with two hearts and the big blind just donk-jams 25k. I call, the others fold, and he tables 98o. Just a total overjam spazz with a weak top pair hand. Unfortunately, his suicide attempt gets a safe landing when a 9 spikes the turn and I can’t counterfeit him on the river. The first hand of the tournament that made me truly nauseous.

Blinds 1000/2000, dealer accidentally gives the small blind a third card and the SB has it set to the side, not touching his actual hand and says “it’s this one.” Meanwhile, I’m looking down at KK in middle position, sweating the situation. The dealer calls it a fucking misdeal. Jesus, we know what card is the burn, buddy, wtf are you doing? I’m tempted to say he should call the floor, but I think that reveals my hand strength anyway, so whatever. It’s a misdeal. So gross and unnecessary.

Levels 10-11

Blinds 1200/2400, we have some bad note taking here. It says someone opens to 5000 and I make it 14k with a 60k stack and he calls. Flop is ten high and I c-bet 16k and he folds. What I didn’t list was my actual hand. I believe I had QQ.

Blinds 1200/2400, I open 6k with AA, big blind defends and folds to a c-bet and I am peaking again with 19 players left.

Blinds 1200/2400, I open 6k with AQhh and big blind defends. I bet 8500 on Q62 two spade flop and he check-raises to 28.5k, leaving himself with ~14k behind. I jam and he snaps with Q5 and I hold and bust him. Peaking!

Blinds 1200/2400, it folds to the small blind and he says “5 more” and then tosses out a single 5K chip. Dealer rules it a raise to 7400, which is 5000 more than the big blind. I’m sitting there with K7o and I’m not really liking what’s going on here. I’m not even sure saying “5 more” and throwing in a single oversized chip is a raise, and if it is, it almost certainly is a raise to 6200 and not to 7400. But whatever. I try not to be “that guy” if I can and don’t say anything. I call. The flop is 742 and the small blind hardly even looks at the flop before betting 12k. Since he is giving off such strong physical tells, I think calling and letting him continue to bluff (or folding if his demeanor changes) makes more sense than raising. Turn is a 3 and again he puts zero thought into the situation and bets 16k. Easiest call of my life. The river is a 6 and since I think my hand is good 98% of the time here and that he probably can’t call anything on this run out, I check back and win vs AK.

I now have 190k with 17 players left and average stack is 108k.

Blinds 1500/3000, I open to 7500 with KQo and someone jams to 33.4K. Easy call. He tables QJss and spikes a jack to double through me.

Blinds 1500/3000, someone opens to 7500, there’s a call, and I decide to call with KQo. Four of us see a king high flop and after the opener checks, the first call jams for ~42k total. Can’t really call with KQ pre and fold here, so I make the call and the other players fold. He tables AK and I get super lucky by spiking a queen on the turn, winning a huge pot, and busting a player. I am peaking again at just under 200k.

Blinds 2000/4000, I open to 10k with 99 and the sticky player on my left makes the call. The flop is K72 with two spades. I would pretty much always c-bet this flop texture, so I bet 14.5k and he calls. Turn pairs the king and also brings a third spade. We both check. The river is a 7, which I actually hate because this guy has proven he’s capable of having 7x hands in his range. I check again and he bets 30k. Kind of a tough spot here. What am I really beating with that he can call on the flop with? Small pairs only really. Unfortunately, he would now have to bluff with those hands. But really, it’s a pretty small range: 66-33. He would almost certainly check back with 88. Anything else he can have, I am probably losing to, unless he’s on a weird airball. Again, seems like an easy fold in retrospect, but I called and he shows KJ.

That dips me below average with 12 players left. I have 125k and average is 141k.

Blinds 2000/4000, I open to 11k with AJ and call a 40k jam and bust a player holding KT. Down to 11 and on the money bubble.

Blinds 2000/4000, button opens to 10k and I make it 40k from the small blind with QQ. I am quite surprised to see him call. Flop is 886 with two diamonds. There is 84k plus antes in the pot and he has about 125k behind. The board texture isn’t super wet, so I can probably get away with betting something like 33-40% pot here, but I decide I don’t want to do any guessing if bad turns come. I just put him all in and put max pressure on him. We are on the stone bubble, so I’m actually surprised when he starts thinking about it and when he ends up tanking for a very long time, it dawns on me that he has a real hand. A pair. I want him to call. He does. Tables JJ. Turn blank. River blank! He’s out! And I basically get a full double as we move to the final table and into the money.

In fact, I start the final table with 350k, which is either the chip lead or close to it, and the average stack is 184k.

A look at the prize pool:

10th – $608
9th – $608
8th – $1065
7th – $1220
6th – $1520
5th – $2130
4th – $2890
3rd – $4560
2nd – $6235
1st – $9580

In other words, the payouts are brutally flat. There is a bigger jump from 9th to 8th than from 7th to 6th and all the jumps are pretty insignificant until four players left. At this point, I am going to be disappointed with anything less than 4th place, I think.

Blinds 3000/6000, I open to 16k with AJ and the big blind defends. Flop is AJ9 one spade and he check-calls 18k quite quickly. He checks-calls 40k very fast on the Ts turn also. River is the 6s, which brings in a backdoor flush, but I have the ace of spades and the jack of spades is on the board, so I’m not concerned about a running flush and he has shown such an eagerness to call that I go for it all on the river and put him all in for his remaining 150k. Unfortunately, he mucks it. Still a nice pot for me to start the final table.

Blinds 3000/6000, folds to me in small blind with AJ. Big blind is nitty and has about 12 big blinds. Easy jam. He snaps and rolls QQ. Sigh. He holds and I double him up. 370k with 8 left.

Blinds 3000/6000, I open to 14k and the button calls. Flop is AKJ and I think this is a good board to pot control. I check-call 25k. Turn is a blank and I check-call 25k again. I’m very unconcerned about my hand with his bet sizing. River bricks again, I check, he bets 30k and I snap. He rolls KQ and I’m good.

Blinds 3000/6000, folds to me on the button and I have A5o. The small blind has a decent-sized stack and plays too tight to play for stacks with him, but the big blinds started with 40k and I’ll definitely get it in with him. I open to 16k and only the big blind calls, which is really strange considering his stack size. Flop is 775 and he open-jams. Snap call. He tables AT and I hold and bust him.

I am now peaking near 500k with 7 left and am totally set up to ship this whole thing.

Blinds 3000/6000, one limper, I make it 20k with AJ and he calls. Flop is QJ5 and he donks 50k. Did I say I was set up to win this thing? Hold that thought. Can I possibly fold AJ here? It is atypical to donk good hands into the PFR so the line is toying with me. But the fact that I am thinking about folding it means that my instincts are telling me something is different here. Sigh. I don’t listen to them. I decide my hand is too good to fold on the flop and if I’m not folding on the flop, then it’s hard to imagine folding ever given his stack size, so I jam. He snaps with QT and I dust off an extra 125k to him.

Blinds 4000/8000, and I’m about to make another misstep. I open to 20k with 55 and the nitty player on my left jams for ~100k. If I asked myself before the hand if I was willing to get 100k in pre against this player before I opened the answer would have been “no.” The problem is, this guy is so tight, I feel like he’s folding roughly 85% of the time. Maybe more. Since he’s almost certainly jamming AK and AQ and probably some more unpaired hands, I have to call and I end up doubling him again when his AA holds up. I actually did flop a one card four flush, but nope!

Blinds 4000/8000, I open to 22k with T9 of clubs. I am increasing my opening sizing when the sticky player that was on my left earlier is in the blinds. He calls and the flop is AAK. He checks to me and I size way down at 15k to make it look like I’m itching for a call and he folds 77 face up.

Blinds 4000/8000, I open to 23k with 44 and only the small blind calls. Flop is K76 all spades and we both check. Turn is 4d, giving me a set and he checks to me again. He has somewhere between 70k-80k and with the pot size at around 60k, I just go ahead and put him in. He then flashes me the ace of spades and a 7… and mucks. Wow. What a flop check by me and what a turn.

Blinds 6000/12000, I open to 30k with QT suited and the nit on my left jams for 85k. Goddammit. I call. He has KK and doubles through me for the third time. UGHHHHHHHHHHH.

That puts me down to 178k and the sticky, good player has all the chips now and proposes a deal. He offers us all $3500 each and he gets the rest (which is a little over $7k). I have about 15 bigs, which is either the shortest stack or the second shortest, and the second biggest stack probably doesn’t even have 22 bigs. The next player out gets $1220 and we are going to have to finish in at least 3rd to get more than $3500. I don’t particularly want to make a deal, but I have zero leverage, and neither does anyone else really. Still, I stay silent and let everyone else talk it out. I am fine playing. Absolutely fine. But if everyone else agrees, I think I have to take the deal. The reality is, the six of us are all very close to push/fold stacks and I might be the only one that actually realizes that and will play accordingly. Also, the payout structure is so flat that surviving and laddering up isn’t overwhelmingly appealing. They all eventually agree to the deal and I begrudgingly agree as well. Can’t be too upset about a $3500 return on a $340 investment, but the competitor in me was a little sad. The competitor in me also would have been pissed if I was the next person out for $1220, so….

A nice little score that gets me almost even in live tournaments for the year.

I have six more possible events in the Muckleshoot Spring Classic over the next week and after typing 5000+ words in this post, I will definitely not be posting play-by-play blogs for each event! Heck no. But I will keep you guys updated.

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