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The Return of The Legend: $230 No Limit Hold’em and $340 No Limit Hold’em

April 12, 2019

So yesterday I wasn’t planning to blog during the tournament (and obviously I didn’t) but then my starting table broke and I found myself moved to a new table where I got to play with The Legend himself, and witness firsthand one of the most highly anticipated returns to the felt the poker community has ever seen and I knew I owed it to fans across the world to document this historic event.

But first, let’s have a look at how cash games went for me the last couple days after my last bust out on Tuesday:

It just goes to show how much more consistent cash games are than tournaments. I would have had to finish in 3rd place of the HORSE tournament to top my earnings in the cash games the last two days. I ran pretty good in the games (just look at those o8 numbers), but still, I find it much easier to make 100+ big bets in cash than to finish 3rd in a reasonably sized tournament.

Back to yesterday’s tournament.

I made notes on most of my key pots and this first one was at my extremely favorable starting table:

Blinds are 100/200 and someone min-raises from early position and I call from the small blind with T8 of diamonds and the big comes along as well.

The flop is Q95 rainbow but with no diamond and the big blind donks out 600 right as the PFR is about to bet 600 himself. He ends up just calling and I’m getting 4 to 1 with my gutter and dreams of stacking fools if I hit my straight, so I call also. I think this spot is probably a little light and a diamond on the flop would swing it to a no doubt call, but I don’t mind reaching a little bit when I’m positive my opponents are capable of huge mistakes. Plus, who knows, maybe other good things can happen.

The turn is a king and the big bets 600 again and the PFR folds. Well, this is a slam dunk bluff-raising spot. You can tell by his sizing that his hand is probably weak and he most likely has a weak queen. I’m not exactly sure how I’d approach this if the PFR called, but when he folds, this spot is ripe for a takeaway. I make it 2200 and win the pot right there.

With blinds at 200/400, someone opens to 800 and it folds to me in the small blind with TT. You know what I would hate? If I 3-bet this hand and then my opponent 4-bet me. I’m not getting all in with TT pre here, so I decide to make sure I don’t have to face that obnoxious spot and just call.

We go heads up to the 965 flop and my opponent bets 3000 into a pot of 1900. It’s not often that I tank to a single flop bet, but this is pretty weird. It’s an absolutely insane sizing and ultimately I just decide I can accumulate chips just fine in spots that aren’t so murky and make a painful and annoying fold.

Same blinds, someone opens to 800 and I call with 98 of spades on the button and we go heads up to Q97 with two clubs. He bets 1200 and I call.

The turn pairs the queen and he bets 1500. I actually like that card and make another call.

The river is a blank and he fires another 2200. It’s worth noting his bet size hasn’t increased very much and that’s a sign of weakness, plus I’m doing some noninvasive studying of him (meaning I’m not trying to stare into his soul) and he doesn’t look comfortable at all. I make the call and he says I’m good and I don’t make him show his hand.

And then the Poker God’s intervene and break my highly favorable table and move me to The Legend’s table. I already know he doubled early in the tournament and as I sit down he’s playing a massive 3-way pot on 774 and one of his opponents basically has a starting stack in the middle before folding and his other one stacks off with Q7. The Legend has A7 and it holds and before I even take a hand, he’s sitting on a stack of over 100k with the blinds at 200/400 like a true legend should be.

ChowMein is also at the table and I lost a reasonably sized pot to him by flatting his raise with KK and hoping to keep his range wide postflop or induce a squeeze behind me, but instead I found myself playing a 5-way pot and seeing an all heart flop with no heart in my hand. I called a bet from ChowMein and we went heads up to another heart turn and both checked. He bet the river and I folded and he flashed me the king of hearts.

I must have chipped down in some other pots because when this next hand comes up I have about 13k with blinds still at 200/400.

Someone opens to 1200 from the cutoff and ChowMein makes it 3400 on the button. Like I said, I have 13k here and I pick up TT in the small blind. It’s pretty gross. I don’t love jamming 30+ bigs here with tens against a raise and a reraise when I probably have zero fold equity, but I also don’t love my table draw and this seems like a good spot to gamble and hope to double up or start fresh somewhere else.

I jam and ChowMein ends up calling with AK of clubs and I hold.

That cripples ChowMein and he busts a short while later, making the table quite a bit easier.

I open to 1000 with KJ of clubs and The Legend calls on the button and so does the big blind.

The flop is JT4 with two clubs. We smashed it. There are a lot of hands I would check here and I think this is a reasonable good hand to balance my checks with, as there aren’t many bad free cards for us. The Legend checks back.

The turn is the six of clubs, giving me a flush and I bet 1500 and The Legend calls.

We are heads up to a board-paring six of spades on the river. Obviously, my first instinct is to bet, but then I start wondering what I can get value from and there doesn’t seem to be many hands. I thought he could have a busted one card flush draw though and maybe he would bluff with it. I thought he was more likely to fire a bluff than call a value bet, so I sent it over to him and he obliged me with a 3500 bet and I called. He shows KT and my hand is obviously good.

I kind of wished I’d given some serious consideration to raising there. I never expected him to bet a hand like KT, so I figured if he bet, he’d mostly have bluffs in his range and it seems somewhat possible he could still have some ace high flushes in there as well. But after seeing the KT, I feel like I absolutely need to punish him with a raise. We have lots of history without having any actual history and the way I played this hand, I could easily see him calling a check-raise on the river. Maybe he gets away from it but I wouldn’t fault him for calling either.

Two players limp at 300/600 and I make it 2500 on the button with AK and both players call. Yay!

Flop is KJ4 and I bet 4500 when they check to me. If I’m beat here, I’m going broke. The stacks aren’t deep enough to find any folds. One player calls my bet.

The turn is a 7 and I put him all in for 15k or so and he thinks a bit before folding.

That puts my stack in the 40k region with blinds at 300/600, so I’m sitting on 65+ bigs at this point.

Meanwhile, we are situated right by the podium where late arrivals and re-entries check in to find their seats and Cobra comes by for the second time and says, “Hey what’s up guys, I just woke up,” a line he already used the first time he re-entered and had to walk by us. 😂

Two players limp at 300/600 and I limp along on the button with 96 of hearts and we go four ways to a flop of QT4 with two clubs and one heart. They all check to me so I try to pick the pot up with a bet of 1500 and two players call.

I’m not going to barrel unless I pick up equity and the queen of hearts is a pretty great card for me to keep telling this story. I bet 4500 and only one player calls this time.

The river is yet another queen. That’s a bad card, but when he checks, I don’t want to check behind and let him win with his KJ or J9 straight draws, so I bet 5000 with designs on trying to fold out those hands only. If he has a pair, he’s calling. He does call and I just pitch my hand into the muck.

That hand sent me just below 30k.

With blinds at 500/1000 I call a middle position raise with AThh on the button and a blind comes along also.

The flop is KQJ with two clubs and they both check to me. I bet 4000, sizing with intents on jamming the turn, and both players call.

The turn is an ugly 4 of clubs and they both check to me. It’s pretty gross, but I can’t check back here and possibly let another club or broadway card come off for free. When they both call, I have less than a pot-sized bet left, so if someone happens to have a flush here, I guess I’m just busting out. I jam. They both fold.

I’m back over 40k now and when registration closes after level 6, I’m sitting on 46.5k. Meanwhile, The Legend has over 120k and I tell him that a true legend would forfeit that stack and start fresh just to prove he can do it again. He doesn’t oblige.

I’m inactive until the 800/1600 blind level and find myself defending a middle position min-raise with QTo in the big blind.

The flop comes down 875 with two diamonds and a spade. I expect this flop to whiff his opening range pretty hard and favor mine, plus I expect this player to react truthfully to a flop bet here, so I lead out 4500 and he calls. Well, that’s the last thing I expected. I figured he would fold most of the time and jam if he actually had something.

I think with the stack sizes being what they are, I’m not going to try to bluff my way through this one after getting called on this board texture, but then I turn a queen (a second spade) and suddenly I feel like I probably have the best hand. The pot is almost 18k and he only has about 20k left, so I put him all in and he snap calls with… I’m not sure… it looks like A8… maybe it’s A9? The river is the 4 of spades and I win a very ni-

Wait, what? He won? Apparently he had the A9 of spades and rivered a flush. It’s always a great feeling to not get a good look at your opponent’s hand before the river comes and not realize you lost the pot.

That pot sends me back down to the 20bb range and on the very next hand it folds to a competent player on the button and he jams ~16bb. I look down at 33. I think this is a very close spot. I’ve looked it up since and if my opponent is shoving an unexploitable range (~34.5%) on the button with his stack size, then 33 is actually the worst pair I should call with.

For him to be jamming 34.5% though, he needs to be shoving hands like K4s, J7s, T7s, T9o, and other suited hands down to 65. I think he’s shoving wide, but maybe not that wide so maybe 33 is a hand I should remove since it is at the bottom of my calling range. If I had 40-60 bigs here I certainly would have folded to maintain my stack size rather than engage in a coin flip situation. But with 20 bigs, I wanted to double up now and took the gamble. I called and held against his A8o.

That puts me back at 40k when this next hand comes up.

Dude playing really tight-solid in a small sample opens to 4000 under the gun with blinds still at 800/1600 and I look down at 99 in middle position. I’m sitting on about 25 bigs and this seems like a weird spot. Do I really want to get it in here against this dude that has opened two pots since he’s been at my table? No, sir. But 99 also feels too good to fold. I think I can flat here and re-evaluate postflop without necessarily putting myself in a set-mining only situation. I call.

We go heads up to KK5 with two hearts and I call 4000 again.

The turn is another king and he checks it over to me. It seems like I should be betting but I have a feeling this player is capable of checking better hands to me, so I check back, planning to re-evaluate on the river.

The river is another king! That puts quads on the board. He checks it again. Ugh. I ended up checking here and letting him win with JJ. It’s interesting to note that I checked back the turn because I still thought he could check better pairs to me, but on the river I decided not to try to bluff him off those same hands that now lose to any ace. I thought if he had a hand like AQ, he would check this river, figuring he was unlikely to get value by betting but could by setting me up to bluff at it.

At the time, I didn’t think it would be very credible for me to bluff the river since AQ was my only likely hand I could play this way and have the nuts on the river.

In retrospect, I think I have to bet. How many pairs am I flatting with pre? Maybe JJ through 88? There are 6 combos each of TT-88 and one combo of JJ left. So that is 20 pair combos I could turn into river bluffs. There are 16 combos of AQ alone. If I’m ever flatting with hands like AJ suited or AT suited here, that gives me an extremely balanced range on the river to bluff and value bet with and since I’m probably never winning the pot when I check back 9 high, I think I had to bet here and I don’t think it would have required a large sizing since if I did have an ace, I probably wouldn’t go for a polarized sizing.

Oh well. You live and you learn.

I was back down to 20 bigs or so when it folded to the button and he opened. I had 66 in the big and decided to reshove, but this prick asked for my stack to be counted down before calling with QQ and I failed to improve and busted out.

The Legend had about 160k when I busted and played extremely well from my observation. He was very calculated and took his time with every decision. He ended up finishing in 25th place for a small cash and after winning a Main Event seat in a satellite, that makes him 2 for 2 on the trip so far.

After the tourney, Cobra and I had a nice little candlelight dinner together and some amazing steaks.

I didn’t play any cash because I felt exhausted so I went and saw Pet Sematary and tried to rest up as much as possible for a new day.

I feel good!

This is a $340 no limit Hold’em event with 25k stacks, blinds at 100/200 to start, and 40 minute levels.

Stack updates here on break.

An Observation: We are at 200/400 and three players limp in… the big blind jams for like 10k. How is it possible that every single limper has something to think about? You thought your hand was only worth a one big blind limp and now suddenly it might be worth 25 bigs? Fuck outta here and fold your damn hands already.

First Break: Sitting on just over 40k after three levels of play and that is pretty amazing considering I’ve whiffed with AQ four times, AK once and AJ once in raised pots. My table is playing loose, aggressive, and sticky, so I haven’t wasted any chips c-betting bricked flops when my opponents haven’t shown much tendency to fold.

So maybe this hand wasn’t the greatest idea. Loose, sticky player limps at 200/400 and I make it 1500 with K4 of diamonds on the button.

We go heads up to AQ4 with two diamonds and he check-calls 1500.

The turn is a jack and I bet 4000 when he checks to me. I’m going to be pretty sick if he check-raises here but I don’t think it’s likely since I have an obvious range advantage and he probably needs like KT exactly to raise here. Mostly, I want the pot to be bigger if I get there on the river. He calls.

The river is the 9 of diamonds and I don’t have to punt my stack. Yay! I bet 10k out of my 16k remaining rather than cramming because my polarized sizing haven’t been getting called… and he calls!

That’s basically where all my chips have come from so far.

Observation: Somehow the standard open size at my table has become 3.8x at the 500/1000 blind level. I’ve seen three different players do it in the last 15 minutes.

Wtf.

Second Break: 25.1k

Geez. What does it take to get to 40k and keep building? I had a flurry of good hands in level 4 – TT multiple times, QQ, 99, and 77 – and managed to turn those hands into less chips than I started with. And then I just went two full levels without playing a hand.

On the bright side, that 25 big blind stack I’ve been nursing the last twenty or so minutes was itching to get in the middle right as registration was about to close, so at least I managed to stay on a single bullet.

Dinner break is at 5 PM, so we are only going to play a half hour so longer before then. I’ll be looking for good reshove spots with my stack size, like, you know, jamming 66 when someone has QQ.

😁

Dinner break is at 5:10 actually. One more full level.

5:04 PM: And I’m out. Jam 15bb with 88 and run into AK and AA. Had a bit of a sweat when the board started T639 but no love on the river.

I’m not going to lie. I feel a little discouraged. I just checked my ledger and I’ve now gone 18 tournaments in a row without a single cash. That’s pretty frustrating.

Obviously, I am not running good, but I can’t pretend like I’m bossing these tournaments. I am simply not good at accumulating chips. I rely way too much on luck and there just aren’t many spots where you have a really good hand and someone else has a pretty good hand and you get paid off for heaps.

I have done pretty well overall as a survivor in tournament poker, but I think it’s time to figure out how to level up.

I’m going to take a break and decompress for an hour or two. I checked out the cash games and didn’t see anything appetizing. I’m sure the NL games are good and I should probably push myself to play them, but I feel like relaxing for a bit first. I haven’t hit the hottub up since I’ve been here so I might do that for an hour or so.

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