The LA Poker Classic Rebuy Tourney

“It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life, and if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient and thin.”
–Katharine Butler Hathaway
First off, congrats to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for their win, proving that smart football and out-preparing the other team goes a long way. Billy B is hands down the best coach ever to walk the sidelines, and in a few years the NFL will be a totally different environment, full of film study, statistical tendencies, and positive EV gambles on third and short. Hats off to you, Mr. B.
Second, I’ll be moving my server over the next couple days, so this site may be down for a bit… If all goes well, the move should be complete by Wednesday.
It’s a bad sign when you find yourself blogging about the previous weekend’s action, but I’m going to blame it on my first week at a new job and a cross-town move. More on these later, but let’s pick up where we left off… last post, I’d had an excellent dinner with Al, Eva , Grubby, Grubette, Felica, and Glenn, and managed to catch some cards to win enough cash to buy in to Saturday’s $300 NL tourney. The ever-so-kind StudioGlyphic picked me up on Sunday afternoon (after his birthday celebration the night before!), and we hit the LA super highways and headed for the mighty Commerce for the LA Poker Classic.
I’m not a tourney player. Nor do I like rebuy tourneys. Nor did I like the field full of big names and deep pockets for this tournament. So what was I doing wasting my money on a tourney where everybody in their right mind was paying at least $900 to enter?
Good question. I guess the answer is that I’d never played in a big tourney, and it seemed like fun. I’d also gotten 3 weeks of vacation pay in my final paycheck a couple days before, but would have taken the vacation time in a heartbeat if I had the choice. So the tourney, while not much of a vacation, was an attempt at me treating myself to something nice between jobs.
I also have been vowing to work on my No Limit game for a while now, and as limit becomes more and more of a grind, I find myself naturally drawn to the world of unlimited sized bets. This seemed like a good opportunity (albeit a bit expensive) to work on my NL skills, as the tourney was drawing some excellent players, from both the amateur and pro ranks. But I still prefer limit.
The tourney structure was pretty ugly– unlimited rebuys for the first 3 levels (40 minutes each) and a single or double add on allowed at the break. I don’t think I’ve ever played in a live tourney where I didn’t do the add-on, but I wasn’t planning on putting $600 more into the prize pool. Start with 500 chips and the blinds are 10-15, which people griped about, but 33 big bets seemed like plenty to work with. 851 players entered, so I figured I was somewhere around 800-1 (not coincidentally, I believe these are the same odds as catching runner-runner perfect-perfect cards).
Rather than bore you with the painful details, here’s a quick summary of the tourney highlights:

  • I doubled up the second hand of the tourney: limped in with KQs, flop comes Q high, player to my right bets. I call, turn is a King, and he goes all in. I am afraid of a set of 5s, but call, and he shows QJ. I double up, he shouts, “Rebuy!”
  • I lose half my stack with AK when the ace hits on the turn and gives an aggressive player broadway. I bet the pot when the ace hit, and when he pushed in his stack of 500, I was pot committed. Sure enough he had KQ and had turned the nut straight. I hated my play here, and it was just too early in the tourney to risk that many chips when there were a ton of hands that could have beaten me. This was one of the “rookie mistakes” that I will stop making with some more experience. My table was great, so I reluctantly did the rebuy (justifying it by reminding myself that my winnings from the night before had paid for my initial buy in) to get me back up to about T900.
  • I worked my stack up to about 5000 mostly by being aggressive with middle pocket pairs.
  • My chip stack wasn’t too far below Amir Vahedi’s, who was at the table next to me. I kept hoping to stay ahead of Amir, but his stack seemed to have grown every time I looked over.
  • Just as I felt like I was starting to own the table, we broke and I was moved to a table with a bunch of players who looked very tough.
  • I asked The Italian Pirate (seated a couple tables to my left) if he knew anyone at my table, and he told me that the guy 2 seats to my right was a Scandinavian pro who had finished well in the WSOP. The rest were unknowns, which was somewhat comforting, but the table was pretty tight.
  • The table chip leader busted 6 players in a row when he was all in as an underdog in a span of about 30 minutes. He had about 30K in chips. The rest of the table combined was somewhere around 25K. Of course, he was 3 seats to my right and raised nearly every pot.
  • The blinds kept increasing and my cards went dead at the worst possible time. I was able to steal the blinds a couple times, but couldn’t get the monster stack to call me with my best hand, pocket tens. The blinds slowly ate me up until I pushed with 44, and chip leader put me out of my misery with his pocket nines.

Final tally: 881 players. 955 rebuys. 458 add-ons.
Prize pool – $662,554.
I finished with about 19 tables remaining, so that puts me around 200th with only one rebuy. More importantly, I was pretty happy with the way I played– I felt like I remained focused for nearly the entire tourney (all 6 hours I was alive), and made a couple big plays when the opportunities presented themselves. I did make 2 mistakes that were mainly from lack of experience, but overall I was happy with my play. But my No-Limit game still needs plenty of work…
Captain Obvious’ lesson of the day: Tourneys are more fun than cash games but far less profitable (in terms of EV). Cash games are far less fun and far more profitable.
I was glad to meet Absinthe on Saturday. His smart and cynical perspective was refreshing, and I have some more reading to catch up on. I also briefly met Obituarium, who has a DEADLY sense of humor. The folks from Las Vegas Vegas made the drive out, and it’s always a pleasure chatting with the Joes (jr. and sr.) and Foiledcoup. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to speak with them for as long as I’d like, as their visit was cut short by some unfortunate circumstances. I expect we’ll soon get the full story from the Vegasites themselves…
This was the second time I’d played at Commerce with the blogger trio of StudioGlyphic, FHWDRH, and Bill. Mix in a little Al and Eva, and a dash of Grubby, and it makes for some interesting No Limit action. I bounced around the No Limit tables trying to keep up with the blogger chip stacks, but after the tourney, my brain felt like mush.
I did witness Bill playing the maniac and splashing the pot in some great acting as he sat behind a tower of $5 chips in the $200 NL game. He shocked the table by checking the flop, and was able to catch his card on the turn, punishing the table and cackling as he raked another big pot. A quick look at the rolling eyes of the other players indicated that the table’s tiltmeter was nearing maximum level. Note to self: sit with Bill at Commerce.
I was exhausted from the tournament, and attempted to play some NL, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I said my goodbyes, and hit the road, wondering what the next week would bring. The Commerce tourney and blogger meet-up was a strange way to end an important chapter in my life.
A new apartment and a new job at Full Tilt Poker kicked off the next chapter, but a recap will have to wait until next post. I’ll leave you with a few links to keep you busy in the meantime…

  • Poker Wire is a live tournament update site from the good people at Full Tilt. Check it out for live updates for LA Poker Classic updates at Commerce.
  • I got an email from DG at Texans for Poker asking for some support for the cause. If you play poker and live in Texas, check out their site and get involved. These guys (along with the infamous Dan M. of Pokerati) are pushing for the legalization of poker in Texas. It is called TEXAS hold em after all.
  • I received a link to this blog in the mail and thought it was worthy to pass on. Check out Jen’s writeup of her performance in a tourney in Australia. I hope she continues to post.
  • The great Andy Prock has broken new ground in poker Artificial Intelligence. Check out his food for neural networks in his summary of poker action categories. Although this may seem common sense to you non-AI people out there, Mr. Prock is actually laying the groundwork for some very interesting analysis here. I look forward to the results…
  • Congrats to DoubleAs and Otis for finishing 2nd and 3rd in the Empire 10K guaranteed tourney on Friday night. I was amazed to see 2 bloggers at the final table, but it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. DoubleAs is probably the best NL playing blogger (at least from what I’ve seen), and when Otis isn’t writing superb posts, he plays a mean tournament. Congrats to both, and I’m sure we’ll see more victories in the future. Players like them make me glad I stick to cash games…
  • And last but not least, we have the heartwarming story of The Film Geek. The young punk had the audacity to guarantee victory in the Party Poker Million qualifier, despite relatively little No-Limit tournament experience. And then he had the further audacity to make good on his guarantee. Check out his superb tourney writeup. It illustrates the excitement involved in playing tournament poker, especially when you’ve got nothing to lose. I was able to sweat Chris for most of the tournament, and was quite impressed by some of the moves he made. A tip of the cap to you, Film Geek.

Whew. That’s enough for Super Bowl Sunday. Learn from the Pats– bring your A game and always come to the table prepared. Thanks for reading.

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