Bubble Boy in the $9+1 Saturday Qualifier

Instead of finishing up my Vegas trip report last night, I found myself seated at the Party $9+1 Party qualifier with 240 other players. Now usually I don’t have the patience to sit through these marathons, but I figured I’d probably bust out early and then resume my $3-6 grinding (and maybe drop the hammer on somebody). Confession: when I get the hammer, I get more excited than I do when I get rockets.

Anyway, the Party tournament went very slowly for the first 2 hours, as the blinds slowly escalated (they almost have a reasonable structure for these multis!). I don’t think I played a hand (besides the blinds) for the first hour and a half, taking the Penguin’s advice to “survive early” and “play late”. To make it worse, I was hoping to get a workout in after I busted out, so I wasn’t even drinking.

I collected some chips by stealing a pot or two, and got myself up to about T1900. I was starting to wake up when I was dealt QQ UTG, and raised it up 600 (3x the BB), fearing only AA and KK. To my surprise, the player to my left went all in. To my horror, the button called, forcing me to make a tough overcall. With two all ins, I didn’t like my ladies anymore. I was getting decent odds on the call, but two all ins after a UTG bet? I folded, and watched the board come K Q J, and just hoped someone would show KK so I wouldn’t smash my monitor. Nope: AA lost to JJ, and I would have been 4000 chips richer, but at least I was right in laying down the hand.

The orbits went on and on and on, and finally I picked up some hands. With the blinds up to 100/200, and me shortstacked at around 1400 chips, I picked up A8o in middle position and made my standard 3X BB raise, only to be called in two places. Trouble. Flop came Ad Qd 7s, and I was committed, so threw in the rest of my chips, doubting that my kicker would hold up. 2 callers, and I got ready to exit with an ugly 90th place, but to my surprise the chips slip my way, and I was in business. One caller showed A3o, and I was now back in the game with 4200 chips.

I have to say that the play was generally terrible up to this point– a lot of people limping, and lots of weak tight play. I played pretty tight, hoping to steal my way to the final table when the blinds got high, and people tightened up trying to get in the money.

30 players left and play is super tight. I’ve stolen a couple blinds with KQ and middle aces, and I’m almost up to 5K chips. I get J2d in the SB, and everyone folds to me. The blinds are 400, and BB has around 200 chips, so I figure this is the perfect time for a steal. I raise it up 1200, and hope he folds… but he calls, and the flop comes A K 7, no diamonds. Now I’ve got two choices… give up on the hand, or represent the Ace to try to steal the pot. I’ve already got 1200 in, and losing the hand will put me in rough shape. I figure that to call for 800, there is a very good chance that the BB has an Ace, and I reluctantly check. To my surprise, he also checks, and the turn is a rag. What could he be holding? I quickly fire a 1K bet to try to represent the Ace, and BB goes into the tank and finally, to my disgust, calls. The river is a 9, and I don’t think I can push him off the hand, so I check to him, and he turns over pocket 8’s.

A good read by him, and a bad one by me. By not betting the flop I lost this pot– for him to make that call on the flop would have been pretty tough, and the ace scared me off. I don’t regret the steal attempt. I didn’t have enough chips to coast into the final table, and I believe that stealing on a very tight table against a relatively short stack was my best shot at building my stack. But my mistake was betting on the turn… either take a shot on the flop and then check and call, or give up when I miss the flop. The worst play I could have made was to show weakness by checking the flop, and then continue betting on the turn.

You aren’t allowed many mistakes in tourney play. And this one cost me half my stack. But I wasn’t quite dead yet. I had 2K chips to work with, so if I could double up I still had a chance. The blinds went up to 500, and this time I found myself in the SB with A6o. Everyone folded to me, and it was now or never… 22 players left, and I had one of the shortest stacks, so I had to double up to have a shot at the final table. I moved in, and was called by the BB. The flop came 9 2 2, the turn a 9, and the river a 6. I liked my chances with Ace high, but the BB turned over 98o to knock me out 22nd out of 240.

The total tourney time was around 3 hours, and what did I have to show for it? Well, I learned something. Survive early, steal late. And when stealing, either give up when called, or try to take the pot on the flop. DON’T bet the turn after checking the flop, this play will cost you. You’d think I could have figured that out BEFORE I made the play, but maybe sobriety was clouding my mind.

I do recommend these Multis if you have the patience to sit for 3 hours. There is a ton of dead money there, and if you play tight and catch a couple hands, you’ll have a chance to make some moves when you get to the last 50 players. I really think Multis offer a reasonable way to hit it big, and if my wife starts working nights I might start to play more of these. When you’re getting cards, it’s a hell of a lot more fun than grinding. At least I say this until I go out on the bubble with 20K in prize money.

I also had the honor of being “sweated” by the mighty Iggy himself, and probably wouldn’t have survived the 3 hours without him. Expect big things from this man (or is Iggy a woman?) in the near future.

Check out BG’s Conference Championship picks. He was on the money last week, and I think he’s nailed these games as well. His “things I don’t understand” was also a relief, knowing I’m not the only one baffled by most of the stuff going on in the world (“The Sports Guy” should definitely have his own show).

Pauly is back after a brief hiatus with another Foxwood tale. I miss my old stomping ground, but I’ll take the wild LA poker scene anyday… Chris and PL continue their ride on the low-limit swingset… and I can only hope that TFG is in the poker lab, devising a down home texas recipe for winning hold em.

The conclusion of the Vegas-State Line trip to come. And oh yes, the hammer will drop… The creator of the challenge himself says he’s throwing his hat in the ring, but he’s too addicted to the 6-max tables, which by the rules, can’t qualify for the prize. Fear the hammer!

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