Sunday, February 06, 2005

In this episode of Hella Hold'em, we will look at how a sister, a brother, and his wife ended up in the money at last night's game at Shelly's. Collusion? Or just plain coincidence?

(Spoiler: it was just coincidence!)

I hosted a Super Bowl Saturday game last night at my house. From now on, against my will but due to overwhelming popularity, the games at my house will be referred to as the Shellmuth games.

We ended up with 13 players; it would have been 15, but Scott of the Diamond game fell ill, and Robeerto was MIA. The game: no limit Texas hold'em. Starting chips: T2000. Blinds: 15 minutes. Buy-in: $20, no re-buys. The prize pool of $260 would be divided amongst the top 3 places, at an approximate 70%/20%/10% ratio. The bounty from our last game at the Forest would be on Nudi's head, as he'd won that tourney a few weeks back. His $20 buy-in would come out of 1st place and go directly to whoever knocked him out of the tourney.

Prize distribution:
1st - $160
2nd - $50
3rd - $30
Bounty: $20

We'd been shooting for a 9pm start time, but waited a few minutes after 9pm to see if Rob would show up. He was unreachable on his cell, and around 9:12pm, we gave up and pulled his chips out of the game. After drawing random cards for seats, here's how we ended up:

Table 1:
1. Randy (love of my life)
2. Manda (my sister-in-law)
3. Dusty (husband of Jen)
4. Eric (my brother)
5. Kathie (wife of Armando)
6. Eileen (my mom)
7. Nudi's Dad

Table 2:
1. Jen (wife of Dusty)
2. Nudi (bounty on his head)
3. Armando (husband of Kathie)
4. Ed (formerly of Diamond game fame, now a Shellmuth regular)
5. Shelly (me)
6. Ray (of the Forest)

Good lineup. I was happy with my table setting. Ed was to my right (where I prefer him to be), and Armando was 2 to my right (also a preferable arrangement). Ray was to my left, and I haven't played a whole lot yet at tables with him, but I sense him to be a solid player. And, he was wearing sunglasses. I was also happy to have Nudi at my table, for the chance at the extra twenty bucks. Jen is always fun to play with (even though I can't read her to save my life), and I can't think of a single final table that she hasn't made, so she would be a worthy opponent. I was also glad to be at a different table starting off than Randy - not that I don't like playing with him, but that I think the two of us do better respectively if we start out apart. As much as I try to keep emotions and relationships aside from poker, it's a lot harder to do that when playing against Randy. I usually manage to "play my game" against him, but it takes more conscious effort and I'd rather not have to think about it early on in a tourney. I'm pretty sure he'd say the same thing about me.

Ed volunteered to deal our table - thanks, Ed!! Randy dealt table 1.

Level 1: Blinds 10/20, 9:15pm

The very first hand at my table saw Armando take down the pot with a Nerf Hammer, 7d-2d. I think it was folded to him in the big blind, but still. Noteworthy!

My first hand of the game came in the form of snowmen, pocket 8's. Whenever I see pocket 8's, I always go, "Yay!" in my head - more for the cuteness of 8's looking like snowmen than my joy of holding that particular little pair. Ed busted me with J6 for two pair - but they were soooooted! That hand kinda hurt my stack, as I was betting it fairly strongly with the blinds at 10/20. I lost 125 or so on that one.

Late in level one, Nudi displayed the first Big Blind Special, taking down a nice pot with his 5-7o turned straight.

Level 2: Blinds 20/40, 9:35pm

I'm holding J9 in middle position, and call the BB with a few limpers. Board flopped me open-ended 8-10-x, and I checked. Nudi bet out, I smooth-called. Turn came a 7 and hit my straight, and I checked. Nudi continued to bet into me. I continued to call. I checked a Queen on the river, and unfortunately Nudi didn't bet it after my check. I took the pot with a straight 8 to Queen. I almost felt bad slow-playing that hand - Nudi is a cool guy. He cracks me the hell up, with all his izzle talk.

Level 3: Blinds 25/50, 9:50pm

The bounty is paid. Armando was holding his wife's favorite hand, the sailboats (pocket 4's) and limped in. His sailboats hit a set on the flop, and Nudi bet into Armando all the way. Mando smooth called down the river, and when a pair hit the board, he really was sailing with his boat. Nudi didn't know what hit him, and was knocked out first of the night. Armando takes Nudi's partially shredded $20 bill and is now playing for free.

Eileen (my mom) was moved from table 1 to table 2 to replace Nudi and even out the head counts.

Level 4: Blinds 50/100, 10:05pm. Nothing to note.

Level 5: Blinds 75/150, 10:20pm

Armando and the curse of the split pot. He just couldn't seem to knock anyone out, despite having several opportunities with people all-in against him. Board is showing 7-8-9, and Armando is holding pocket Jacks. He puts Ray all-in, and Ray calls with his J9 top pair. I think both players may have been all in at this point. Board turns a 6 and rivers a 5, for an on-board straight. Split pot.

I found myself with about 12xBB in my stack at this point, around T1900. Not quite on life support but not doing so well. Not catching anything playable. I look down to J-10 on the button (a hand I saw quite a few times last night) and decide to limp with it. My first mistake: I should have raised. I was on the button, and there was nobody in the pot ahead of me, with the blinds to follow. I gave the blinds a free look at the flop. (Foreshadowing...) Flop comes J-Q-4. Check - check, I bet 200. Ray (SB) raises all in T735. Jen (BB) folds. I count out my chips and do some thinking. Does Ray have a Queen? He limped into the pot, so probably a face card with an unimpressive kicker. He's fairly aggressive, so if holding a pocket pair, even a small one, I think he'd have raised it up pre-flop. Considering his short stack, he could have been betting a draw and hoping to take down the pot right there. I decide to call with middle pair of Jacks. It was going to hurt if I lost, but I chose to gamble. We flip our cards up, and I see that Ray held Q4 for two pair. Ouch. My hand did not improve, and I'm now at T800-ish, beaten and battered. It's all-in or bust time.

Moral of that hand: raise with even a marginally playable hand on the button when it's folded to you!! Don't give the blinds a chance to catch. And if you aren't willing to raise it, FOLD IT!

Level 6: Blinds 100/200, 11:00pm

We stopped between levels 5 and 6 to color up. My table goofed and colored up both our 10's and 25's, thinking we were clear on hundred dollar increments from there on out, but we forgot about level 7 to come, which would have required the 25's. Oh well. We ended up skipping that intermediate 150/300 level that would have been between L6 and L7 here.

My tournament life is on the line, and since the button had passed me at the end up level 6, I had a few hands to choose which one I'd go all in with. A few hands into level 6, I see Q-10d in the pocket. This is the one. Diamonds are a girl's best friend, and the lady was here to bring me luck. C'mon, lady luck! I push all in for 800. I get two callers... greeeeeat! I used to think that was a good thing - you could more than double up then. But, the indication of people calling a raise, particularly one of 4xBB, means they probably have hands, which will probably dominate you. That is bad.

My mom is all in with her 600 by calling me, and Ed calls as well. We flip 'em up. Mom has K4s. Ed has 77. I've got my Q10d. PokerStove's outlook on the hand at this point:

Hand 1: 26.4551 % { Ks4s }
Hand 2: 38.2631 % { QdTd }
Hand 3: 35.2818 % { 7h7c }

OK... I have a shot here. Flop came rags with two spades (*gulp!*), turn brought my glorious Queen, and the river - no spade. Whew! I nearly tripled up, though knocked my mom out in the process. Sorry, ma! I'm back in the game.

Side note on my mom - I'm only a little sorry about knocking her out. She tore the hell out of our 2004 games, placing in the money in a slew of them. She went on a five-tournament run early in the year! She stuck around to watch the rest of the tournament, the trooper that she is.

Level 7: Blinds 200/400, 11:00pm

I felt kinda bad about this one. Ray was having a tough time of it, seeing a whole lotta nothing pass through his pocket, folding would-be winners, that sort of thing. (After he brutalized me earlier with the Q4, though, my sympathies were short!) This hand did magnify the streak of un-luck Ray's been on lately though. I'm holding K6 in the small blind. It is folded to me, and I call. Ray raises to 800. I figure, heads up, my hand was at least race-able, with over 50% equity to win or tie. (I looked it up today to find K6o to have 54.2% equity against an unknown hand, pre-flop). I decided to call the extra 400. Flop comes AA6. Being first to act, I wanted to see where I was at. Does Ray have an Ace? 'Cuz I've got a 6 for two pair with a nice kicker. If he has the Ace, God bless him, and if not, I want to take this pot right now. I go all in, which ended up being about a pot sized bet. Ray thinks about it, mumbling that I'd spiked my ace, and mucks his hand face up - the Hilton sisters. He laid down QQ. Yikes. I probably should have mucked and let him think I had the Aces, but I didn't, and showed my K6. I didn't mean to add insult to injury - I was just saying, "at least I had something - I wasn't trying to bluff ya." I'm sure it came across more like salt in the wound. Sorry, Ray! In post-game evaluation, Ray was a 72% favorite on that hand pre-flop.

Level 7 also saw a fluky little hand. I folded J3o, but as I pushed the cards to the center of the table, they flipped over. So, the table played the hand with J3 exposed. Three people were in the pot - Ray, Jen, and Armando. Go figure, two of them held a Jack, but they played anyway. Jen had AJ, and Ray had Jx. Flop comes 5-6-8 with two clubs. Armando had top pair and a flush draw at this point with his 10-8c. Turn came a Jack, giving Jen and Ray now top pair, with Jen's kicker in the lead, and Armando hung in there for his draw. River came a 3 (no club), and Jen tripled up with her top pair top kicker. Damn, my two pair woulda been good! Ed said something along the lines of "How do ya like your J3 NOW?!" Oh well.

Level 8: Blinds 300/600, 11:20pm

Kickers rule!! For the second time in the evening, I won crappy little hands by out-kicking my opponents. The first time, my 9-8 beat out 9-7 in a battle of the blinds with Ray, where our nine's and kickers played a scattered rag-and-face board to which neither of us connected. This time, my J-10 beat Ed's J-9 in a similarly scattered and un-bet board. Nice.

Ray on the short stack (seems like he was short-stacked the entire game) had an impressive suckout against Ed. Ray called all in with 3-5o versus Ed's JK, doubling up when a 5 hit the turn and Ed didn't improve.

Then, the Hilton sisters paid me a visit - twice in a row! The first time, I raised it up 2xBB from one off the button, and was folded to. I look down next hand, and there they are again! Same bet, this time from the button. Armando was in the big blind, so he was already invested, and I hadn't noticed this when I bet but he was short stacked as well. He goes all in over the top of me, +400 more. I call. We flip up and he's got K9. I have in my notes that the flop came 666, but I'm not sure that's accurate, as I think there'd have been some comments about the devil, and there weren't. At any rate, the turn came a Queen, and the river came a King, for boat-over-boat action. I took the pot with Queens over Sixes, versus Armando's Sixes over Kings. Good game, Mando. At least ya played for free!

Amazingly, it took until level 8 for table #1 to see their first casualty, while our table had lost 2 at this point.

Level 9: Blinds 400/800, 11:40pm

We played level 9 for 10 minutes, and during that time, table 1 lost Nudi's dad. That put us at 8 players, and we decided to combine into a final table.

The lucky 8:

1. Randy
2. Amanda
3. Ed
4. Eric
5. Kathie
6. Jen
7. Shelly (me)
8. Ray

The first issue at the final table was the dealer button. The initial problem: I only have one dealer button. We were using my poker chips, and Randy's brand new set, and his set didn't come with a button. (Bad me: they'd been a Christmas gift to him from my mom, but I was in charge of buying the set). So, table 1 was using a little stuffed lizard that I had gotten down the shore at one of the boardwalks in New Jersey back when I was living there. The lizard was affectionately dubbed "Button Shitter" because he had a tiny hole in his leg that nobody could find, and he was leaking little granules of sand throughout the game. He used to have tape on his leg - somebody must have removed it, though nobody will admit to it. If you flipped him on his back, he wouldn't leak, but it was then noted that he looked like a cheap whore laying like that, so Button Shitter just continued to drop sand all over the table. When we all combined to table 1 for the final table, I suggested that we use the "real" dealer button. I was practically stoned to death, as the table 1 crew had grown attached to Button, despite his incontinence, so we used the lizard as the button for the rest of the game.

Level 9: continued. Final table.

We had 5 minutes left of level 9 to play. Ray went all in with AJ - my nemesis hand! My brother Eric called him with A-10. Ray was loving life as an A peeled off the deck, but no sooner could he celebrate than a 10 fell on board. *thud* The groans around the table escaped involuntarily, and Eric took Ray out with 2 pair, Aces and Tens. Considering Ray's anti-karma for poker as of late, his final table appearance was notable (though unfortunately quick).

Soon thereafter, Ed goes all in for 1800 with AQ. It is folded around to Randy, who is grinning and thinking hard. It was that kind of grin where either he had Ed beat and was considering a sympathy fold, or had a marginal hand that he really wanted to play. Ed's saying, "C'mon, show me your Aces..." while Randy just shakes his head. Having 800 in the pot already in the big blind, Randy calls the extra 1000. Ed shows his AQ, and Randy shows.... a Nerf Hammer! 7-2 of spades. His quote: "I figure, everyone else catches with it, why can't I?" Actually, it's only about a 2:1 dog against any random hand in equity to win/tie heads up. And against AQ, Randy was still 37% to win the hand. Sometimes, ya just gotta gambooool. The poker gods laid a quick and harsh smackdown on Randy for the hammer move, though, as the flop came QQA - a flopped boat for Ed. I doubt we'll see the hammer from Randy for a while.

Level 10: Blinds 500/1000, 12:00am

Kathie went out against Jen. Jen pushed all in, and Kathie called all in from down to the felt. Kathie holds 8-3, Jen has A-5. Jen's hand didn't need improvement with Ace high, but she ended up taking it down with two pair, which always feels better than losing to Ace high. Not that losing feels good, but.... Good game, Kathie!

Then came Eric's lucky hand for the night. Let me tell ya a little about my brother. The poor guy gets beat and beat and beat at poker. And it's not because he's a bad player - he just seems to take a lot of bad beats, and usually goes out early in most tournaments. He and I had a great time mogging at the snack table, lamenting our awful lives at my 30th birthday party last October, where we went out 2nd and 3rd. As much as I don't quite understand his call here pre-flop, I can't blame the guy for taking a stab at it. He was just happy to be at the final table!

Randy's got QQ and goes all in, 1100. Eric thinks a bit and calls. This call was probably a third of his chip stack or so. The cards are flipped up, and Eric shows his A2 offsuit. What?!? He cold-called 1100 with A2o?? That might be considered a questionable call, but Eric had a reason for calling:
"It was my shot to take his ass out!"

Wow. A pre-meditated attempt to take down my man, from my little brother. I could only sit back and watch. (Randy replied, to me, "And THIS is the family you want me to marry into?!?!!!!")

Eric's A2 turned into a boat, and Randy sailed away in 6th place. Brutal.

I helped my chip stack a little bit more at this level, peeking down to see my snowmen (Yay!) in the pocket. Amazing they don't melt in there. I made it 2000 to go, 2x the BB, and Jen called me all-in with her K7. The snowmen held up this time.

Also in level 10, my nemesis AJ won me a pot which took Ed out of the tourney. I hit two pair, and with Manda also in the hand, took a very nice pot. My stack was feeling quite healthy at this point. Ed was the bubble boy.

Randy announced his congratulations, as the remaining 3 of us were now in the money. Hmm... it's me, my brother, and my sister in law. Accusations of collusion flew around, as did mention that my SIL and I have ended up heads up a couple times in the past. Manda feared out loud that I can read her like a book, and I already knew from previous comments that she can read me like a blog! Honestly though, it was coincidence that the three of us finished in the money. It was more of a miracle that Eric and Manda were both in, because they generally play pretty rough against each other, and in most cases, end up taking each other out in most of our tourneys. Randy continued to deal the game (thanks, baby!)

Level 11: Blinds 600/1200, 12:15am

I see pocket 6's and bet enough to put Eric all in. He guilted me for doing such a thing to my brother, and then called. A-10. My 6's held up, and Big E took 3rd place.

Heads up, me and Manda. A couple hands later, I saw my nemesis again, AJ. I raised to 2400 pre-flop, and Manda called. Flop came Jxx, and I put Manda all in. She verbally called, and then said, "Wait a minute!" and wanted to reconsider. Everyone was looking at me for clarification of the house rules, and generally, my house rules are, what you call plays. So, her all in would have to play. But I didn't want to be a jerk, so we haggled for a minute about what to do. Manda said, "There's still 2 cards to come, right?" and I breathed a sigh of relief - I had put her on a flush draw, and when she finally called all in and flipped up her cards, she was playing an A-high overcard (A8). My Jacks held up, and I took down first place.

Woohoooo, I win! Boy, I needed it.

The final rankings:

1st - Shelly (me) - $160
2nd - Manda - $50
3rd - Eric - $30
Bounty - Armando - $20

4th - Ed
5th - Jen
6th - Randy
7th - Kathie
8th - Ray
9th - Mr. Nudi
10th - Armando
11th - Dusty
12th - Eileen
13th - Nudi

It seemed to be a pretty darned quick game at just under 3 1/2 hours for 2 tables, but people didn't really start getting knocked out till around level 8. That seemed odd. I think one thing I want to do is switch to 20 minute blinds, with this same structure. Or, maybe 20 minute blinds for the first 6 levels, and 15 minute blinds thereafter.

All in all, a good time, and for me a very surprising win, considering how bad I felt about my chances mid-game. I still have to work on the pre-flop aggression. I just don't use it enough. Post-flop, I'm fine. I think it's the fact that pre-flop, when your hand really isn't a hand until you've seen the flop, it feels "risky" to me to bet, when anything can happen on the flop. I really should consider the flipside of that - no matter what I'm holding, even if it is a marginal hand, ANYTHING can happen on the flop - and that anything doesn't have to be negative! It could also be beneficial. If I have faith in my post-flop play, and am confident that I can make the laydowns if the flop doesn't hit me, I think I could drastically improve my mid-game position by picking up more chips early on. Something to work on for next time.

Thanks to everybody who came out last night. Now, I must go take a nap before heading to Armando's for the Super Bowl. Would you believe it took me 3 hours to write this up?? This blogging stuff sure is tough! :)

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  1. Ed said...
    This tournament is a whole different game if my KJ suited holds up against friggin 35o. I hate this game....I quit! Never playing again......until about 5:30 tonight when the 5 and rebuy on good 'ol riverstars. Good tourney tho shell...congrads and see ya at the next one
    SirFWALGMan said...
    Nice Game! Hey Answear this: If a programmer fails a project in the woods with nobody around is it a failure?
    Shelly said...
    There is no such thing as failure - simply the need for continuous debugging! :)

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