Monday, October 23, 2006

The Sunday Million: Live Blogging (sort of)

This is my attempt at some "live blogging," as I've won a satellite for this week's "Sunday Million" at Pokerstars (Tournament number 33275546), and that starts shortly. I use the phrase "live" loosely, because I don't intend to post this until after the tournaments; the formatting required for what might turn out to be three things going at once might be a bit much.

I hope that I pick up a few "sweaters" if I get deep in one of the tourneys; there might be some notes here on them, too.

My goal here is simply a minor cash; I don't think I'm a favorite to go terribly deep. But a minor cash would still be a good return on the $11 I spent on the satellite to this tournament. And, if and when I reach that point, I can set a new goal.

My original plan was to create a fancy table which would have columns for this tournament, a satellite for PokerStars' Carribean tournament that I also won a seat in, and Game 2 of the World Series. But I busted from the satellite early, and it seems like too much hassle to do the work to create the tables simply to recount a World Series game I wouldn't even be watching live, but on MLB.com's Gameday thingy. So, no table, just minute-by-minute updates of the tournament.

I'll turn comments on for this entry; it's possible, nay, probable, that I'll be taken to task for my play of specific hands. To the extent that criticism is constructive, please do. I can only learn from it.

The only real note I have on the formatting is that I'm using "T" rather than a dollar sign when I talk about the size of pots or stacks, rather than a dollar sign, because the chips are divorced from their nominal value. However, I don't use the "T" consistently; when I talk about bets I often use the number without a "T" or a "$" or anything. I'm not sure why this is, but the possibility of confusion is pretty close to nil in any case, so this paragraph probably doesn't even need to be here.

If it's not obvious, "o", when I'm talking about a hand (eg, KQo) means "offsuit," in other words that the cards in question aren't the same suit.

And, They're off!

4:30. "Sunday Million" begins. I'm assigned to table 518 because of the insane number of entrants. As we begin, there are 6413 total players on 760 tables. The prize structure is posted: 900 places pay; 900th is $256, 450th is $769, 150th is $1539, 45th is $2180, the entire second table gets $5515, and the final table starts at $11,030 and runs to a grand prize of $183,411.80. A couple of hands in, we're informed that this is the biggest Sunday Million in PokerStars history, with its $1,282,600 prize pool.

4:30. I'm a little surprised. We start with a lot more chips (T10,000) than in the small tournaments I'm used to, but the blinds start higher (40/80), too. It's not quite a wash; the advantage is to the bigger tournament, but not by a lot.

4:34. I picked up a couple of hundred on a small pot, but then I played my first largish pot. I take the flop out of the big blind with KQ, no limpers, and flop A9x with two diamonds. I bet the flop, but I'm min-raised on the turn. I call, but fail to catch a diamond, or the gutshot Broadway draw that I pick up on the turn. We both check the river, which hits my Queen, but he turns over 99 for a flopped set. I've lost a little over 1000.

4:39. I witness KK v KK all-in, but I'm not in the pot. The predictable split pot happens.

4:40. An early position player minraises preflop, and I call with 57o out of the big blind. I flop 456o, and after a long pause I check. My opponent overbets, I minraise, and he folds. I pick up about 800.

4:42. A late-position player makes a small raise. I call on the small blind with AT♣. An Ace flops with two rags. I check to the other player, he makes another small bet, and I call. The turn is a Jack, and I bet about 2/3 of the pot. The other player folds quickly. Did he have a big pair other than Jacks? Back up to T10,550.

4:50. (Level 2, Blinds are now 60/120.) I limp along with KTo, despite Cloutier referring to it as a "trouble hand." A King flops, it's checked to me, and I bet. One caller. The turn is another undercard, and I bet again, and my opponent calls again, and now this is a T3000 pot. The river is nothing, and I check behind. My opponent shows a nut flush draw that didn't materialize, and I'm up to over T12,000.

4:51. I raise in middle position with JJ, and pick up the blinds. I'm now at T12,195.

4:54. I open-raise with AJo on the button, and take the blinds. Back to T12,195.

4:55. I open-raise a little light, A7o, two off the button. I'm called by the big blind, but he check-folds the flop. Up to T12,755.

4:56. I limp with 44, the button limps as well, and the blinds come along. I miss the flop, but when the blinds check I try a minimum bet. The button immediately raises, and I'm gone. Down to T12,515.

5:01. (Level 3, Blinds are now 100/200.) I raise in late position with KQo, and pick up the blinds. Back to T12,635.

5:04. At this point, I'm still in the Carribean satellite. Big pots happen simultaneously on each table, and now on both tables, the player on my left has a bunch of chips. It's still early, of course, and they really don't have a lot except in relation to everyone else.

5:04. We've lost over 600 players from the Million, so 10% of the field is now gone.

5:07. A player limps, and I get a free flop from the big blind with K5o. I flop second pair, and when the flop goes check-check (and the turn isn't anything) I try a small bet. My opponent calls, and when I make another small bet on the river, he minraises. I call and am shown a flopped set. Down below T11,000.

5:10. The same thing exactly as happened at 4:40, against the same player, this time while I have AJo. I pick up about 600 chips, to T11,670.

5:13. My table loses its first player.

5:14. A player, in risk of timing out, goes on the clock. Unlike in the smaller tournaments I'm used to, here the clock is two full minutes. Maybe it's not a lot with two-hour blind levels, two minutes, but with 15-minute levels it's a little annoying. On the other hand, if I needed the time, I'd feel like I'd paid for it, in a $215 tournament.

5:17. (Level 4, Blinds are now 200/400.) I pick up my first premium hand, KK, and make a big reraise of a minraiser and a caller. The flop is a little scary, QQ7, but my opponent calls my flop all-in and shows JJ. Maybe a bad all-in on my part, but a worse call on his part, in my opinion. In any case, I double up to T24,340. My opponent, with few chips left, goes all-in the next hand, but survives with a split pot. He then doubles up twice (not through me), and breaks an even shorter stack (who's been playing very badly), and he's right back in it.

5:23. I minraise on the button with 8T♠, and thus my blinds were free this round.

5:24. I fold the third 72o I've been dealt already in this tournament.

5:26. I openraise in middle position with 55. The big blind calls, and though the flop is Q99, I make a continuation bet (after my opponent takes a loooong time to think). He takes a while afterward, too, before folding. My best guess is that he had something like 77, but I'm up to T25,540.

5:28. I've deleted most references to the Carribean tournament, but I went out here. After a long dry spell, I get AQo in early position, and raise. I get two callers, and then my postflop bet (I flop an Ace) is not only called, but raised. I make a bad call. All the money manages to get in on the turn. When we show, I'm up against a flopped set, and drawing dead. I'm out.in 196th place out of 225, significantly short of third (the top three got seats), and I don't even make it past the first blind level. I curse my luck, but I shouldn't have called the flop raise.

5:30. At the first break (we're back talking about the Million again), I've got T25,940 in chips. We have 4581 players left, so nearly a quarter of the field is gone. This is unlike the smaller tournaments I'm used to, where half or nearly half the field is gone at the first break. In any case, the average stack is now T13,999, and the big stack is T73,460. I've just noticed that in this big tournament, they keep track of the 100 biggest stacks (instead of 30), so it's possible that I was on that list when I doubled up. I'm not right now; the 100th biggest stack is over T35,000.

5:41. (Level 5, Blinds are now 300/600.) An early position player minraises. I plan to call out of the big blind with 88, but when the player I doubled through earlier goes all-in for over 4000, I fold quietly. As it happens, the minraiser had TT, and my 88 would have missed everything, anyway.

5:44. I make a questionable limp on the button with A6o after one limper. I flop an Ace, but on an all-heart board. The first limper makes a big bet, more than twice the pot, and that's all I need to see: I fold quickly.

5:45. I semi-steal in late position with A9s, and take the blinds. With the last couple of hands, I find myself at T25,040.

5:46. I open-raise in early-middle position with AQ♣. The button goes all-in [for around 15,000, if I remember right], however, and I can't conceive of a situation where I'm not badly behind. I keep the T23,040 I've got left.

5:49. The button goes all-in for about 2200 on my big blind. I'm being laid 2:1 by the pot, so I call with J4o. The button shows KT, which gives me a great price to outdraw him. I do, and I'm up to T25,635.

5:52. I open-raise two off the button with A7♠, and take the blinds. T26,235.

5:53. (Level 6, Blinds are now 400/800.) In early position with AQ♣, I raise to 2000 since I don't realize that the blinds have gone up. The button and small blind call, and the flop comes Queen-high. I bet 3500 into the T7200 pot and take it down. T31,435.

6:00. I limp in early position with QJ♣. Only the blinds call, and they check to me on a flop that misses us all, apparently, because they fold to my T1500 bet. T31,835.

6:01. I get a free flop in my big blind with K8o, after two players have limped in. When the flop is King high, I bet 1800, and everyone folds.

6:02. Everone folds to my small blind with J4o. I complete, and bet 1200 when the flop comes AJx. The big blind folds, and I'm at T35,035.

6:04. After a limper, I limp along one off the button with JTo. The flop is KJT with two hearts (I have the T), and it's checked to me. I bet 2500, and am mincheckraised (checkminraised?) by the original limper. I call, and the turn is the third heart. Check-check; I'm not betting his hand for him. The river is the fourth heart, and maybe I've salvaged something. But I can't bet the one-card, ten-high flush, so I don't. Check-check again, and he shows JJ for a flopped set: He hit that flop even harder than I did. He doesn't have a heart, though, and I take down a pretty big pot. I'm up to T42,835. (I check, and the 100th-biggest stack is over T51,000.)

6:08. I get my first AA, under the gun. I raise to 2000, but everyone folds. T44,035.

6:09. (Level 7, Blinds are now 400/800 with a 40 ante, or 400/800/40.) Another big stack raises under the gun. I have JJ in the small blind, and after much anguish about calling or raising, decide to call. The flop is all undercards, and I bet 5000 into the over T7000 pot. My opponent calls fairly quickly. The turn is no help, but the call worries me, so I check, and my opponent checks behind. The river is a Queen, and the third spade. I bet 7500 into the nearly T20,000 pot, and my opponent calls, and shows QQ. I was behind the whole time, and am down into the T26,000 range.

6:10. One off the button, I steal the blinds with K9o. I'm inching my way back up, and now have T28,355.

6:13. I don't get to see the hands, but I did get to see somebody go all-in for over T41,000. His opponent, fortified with all my chips, nonetheless does not call. The pot was fairly large when this happened, and now the #70 or so stack is on my immediate left.

6:14. I get AA again, in early position again. I raise to 2000, again, with the same result as last time: I take the blinds. T29,795.

6:23. (Level 8, Blinds are now 600/1200/60.) I get QQ in the big blind. A late-position player goes all-in for 8305, and the button goes all-in for 10995. I call, and the original raiser shows A6s, and the button shows 88. Not only does an Ace flop, but an Eight turns, and I'm down to T17,180.

6:25. On the very next hand, the button open-raises, and against the possible steal I move in for my 17,180 with KJo in the small blind. The button folds and I'm back to T22,400. This might have been a bit tilty, but it worked.

6:26. It's feast or famine lately, and on the next hand, on the button, I get TT. I raise to 3000. The big blind reraises to 7200, and I shove in for my 22,400. He calls, and shows 88; this time the better hand wins. I'm back to T46,360. [It occurs to me while I'm formatting this, that this hand isn't self-explanatory. I figured that the big blind puts me on a steal, and perhaps a tilty steal as well, and so he figured his Eights were the better hand. I wanted to disabuse him of this quickly, and give him the chance to fold weaker overcards such as QJ. His call may or may not have been a mistake, but I lean toward not, because I could have had overcards, too.]

6:29. My table breaks, and I'm moved to table 82. I'm second in chips at the new table, and the table's chip leader is across the table from me. It's a good draw.

6:30. Although tempted, I fold A2 under the gun. I would have flopped a powerhouse, bottom pair / top kicker. Somehow, I don't feel too bad that I folded.

6:32. I fold A2o in my big blind to a possible steal from the button, after the small blind calls. I would have flopped an Ace, and the action makes it seem that I was good. I realize, though, that starting to blog the hands I don't play, might make this a bit overlong. Maybe I'll stop.

6:36. I raise with AQo in early-middle position, and take the blinds. T46,240.

6:37. The under-the-gun player raises to 3000, and I reraise in the next seat to 7500 with QQ. The raiser calls, and checks the flop of 499 (with two hearts). I bet 11,500 into the over T17K pot, and my opponent folds. I'm at T56,020.

6:39. After that hand, we are at the second break. I have T56,020 in chips while the average is T33,159. There are 1934 players left, less than a third of the field. That seems understandable, as the blinds went up quite a bit in that hour. I don't think I made any really donkeyish plays that hour, although I wonder; maybe having this blogged will help me discover some.

6:47. (Level 9, blinds are 800/1600/80.) I get TT in my small blind. But a late position player raises, and the cutoff goes all-in (for about twice the raise), so I decide that discretion is the better part of valor. As it happens, the initial raiser (who called) has JJ, and the all-in has 88, and an Eight hits the river.

6:49. I get AK in the cutoff. I raise to 4000, and take the blinds. T56,340.

6:59. Since I haven't got cards in a while, I spend time wondering whether the player on my right (who now has a big stack, probably about #150 if the list went that far) knows that her avatar looks a lot like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, or if it really is Mimi, or it it was the player herself on Mimi-lookalike day, or what. I don't reach a conclusion.

7:01. (Level 10, Blinds are now 1200/2400/120.) I raise to 6400 in early position with AJo, and take the blinds. T57,500.

7:02. I have A9♣ in the big blind. When the button goes all-in for about 13,000, I call, and she shows KJ. Despite the board giving my opponent about six hundred outs, my Ace is good, and I'm up to T72,900. I've got the window up, now, so I can keep track of the top 100 stacks, to see if I'm among them. But, sadly, seconds after that win, the #100 stack goes over T90,000.

7:05. I get 99 in the cutoff, and open-raise to 6000. The big blind goes all in for about 30,000. I opt to fold, and leave myself with T65,940. The big blind shows AK.

7:11. I start thinking about how PokerTracker will record this tournament; there are blind levels in this tourney that I've never played before. So, when PT talks about how I've done at various blind levels, some of them will have a normal number of hands, and some of them will have about 30. This isn't really a problem, but I was used to seeing a steady progression: I'd played the most hands at 10/20, followed by 15/30, followed by 25/50, and so on, down the progression of the blind levels that I'm used to. Ahh, well, if it really bothers me, I can filter out all tourneys with buyins over $199.

7:11. The top 100 stacks are now all over T100,000 (T100K). The big stack is at T265,400.

7:12. I get TT on my big blind. The under-the-gun player limps, and the cutoff goes all-in for T34,200. As I did last time, I fold my Tens. The raise saved me money, as the limper had KK, and the all-in had AJ♠. No Ace comes, and the KK holds up.

7:13. With 33 in the small blind, and a limp from the button, I raise to 10,000. As expected, both of my opponents fold, and I'm at T67,980.

7:19. (Level 11, Blinds are now 1600/3200/160.) I fold 66 under the gun. Was that too cautious? (As it happens, I would not have hit my set on the flop.)

7:21. As I consider a steal on the button with K2 (someone raised before me, so it didn't matter), I notice that the two stacks on my left are large. To my immediate left is a stack the same size as mine, and his neighbor has a stack of over T90K. That sort of cuts down on my stealing opportunities, unfortunately. As it happens, my table has become a very democratic one; nobody has a huge stack and nobody is on the ropes. That wasn't the case when I was moved here.

7:24. The less-than-stellar cards I've got of late have me worried, even though the average stack is just now catching up to me. I'm starting to anticipate being short, and having to "pick a hand" with which to shove all my chips into the pot. We're approaching the money, and I should get that far, but it's a sinking feeling I'm getting.

7:28. Seven minutes after I wrote how democratic the table was, someone has gone on a run, and amassed a stack of over T150K. Unfortunately, it wasn't me.

7:32. (Level 12, Blinds are now 2000/4000/200.) Everyone folds, and I complete out of the small blind with 39o. On an A96 flop, I bet 5000, and take the big blind's money. I'm back above the 60K mark with T62,860.

7:34. I get 77 in the cutoff, but a big stack raises ahead of me, and another big stack calls. 77 isn't robust enough (in my mind) to go all-in there, so I fold. People start going crazy on the 468♠ flop, anyway, so by the time it got to me I'd have been gone, even with my gutshot straight flush draw. The winner of the pot is now over the T200K mark.

7:37. In late-middle position (two off the button), I open-raise to 10,000 with J8o, hoping to take the blinds. It doesn't work; the small blind goes all-in. I wait a while before folding, but fold I do. Down to T52,460.

7:40. With 903 players left, a player with only 8000 chips left uses nearly all of his time bank to reach the hand-for-hand level. (At this point, play is stopped after each hand until all tables have finished the hand, so that delaying can't get somebody into the money.) With 101 tables still in play, there shouldn't be many H4H hands, but each of them will take forever. And we're two minutes from the blinds increasing again.

7:43. Without playing another hand, we have reached the money: Somebody (actually, seven somebodies) went out on the last hand. I am now guaranteed $256.52 for my $11 satellite buy-in, which is already a good return. I've also reached the goal I had before starting this tournament, that of a minor cash. I said that once I got to that point, I'd think about setting a new goal, but with the cards dead for me, about the best goal I can come up with is to survive long enough to get some cards. If I'm lucky, it will get me to the point that there are 750 players left; that'd get me an extra $130.

7:44. Folded to me in the small blind with K7o, I raise to 12,000 and take the big blind's money. I'm still at T57,260, which is now significantly below average.

7:47. At the third break, my stack is T57,260, while the average stack is T75,181, and the big stack is T332,580. There are 853 players left, a bit over an eighth of the field (13.3011%, if you're scoring at home). That hour, I feel that I did what I could, but the cards weren't cooperating. In any case, I use the break to perform some of life's necessaries.

7:54. (Level 13, Blinds are now 2400/4800/240.) In middle position with KQo, I raise to 10K, and take the blinds. I am now at T65,700.

7:55. In early-middle position with AK, I raise to T10K and am called by the big blind only, a very large stack. I bet T20K at the AJQ flop, and he mincheckraised. I put the last of my chips in, knowing I might be well behind, and discover that I am in fact drawing nearly dead: He flopped the nut straight with KT. Oh well, the $256 is a nice payday in any case, and 795th out of 6413 is pretty fair. I'm interested in playing again next week.

While it's tempting to say that I just got unlucky there (and I did), that's not the whole story. When I saw that flop, I knew that it was very possible that the hand would end up costing me a lot of money. I didn't expect the flopped straight, but I was worried about various two-pair hands that would not be unlikely on that board, particularly if my opponent had AQ or AJ. I could have folded to his minraise on the flop, but half my chips were already in the pot at that point, and I would have had about seven big blinds if I'd folded. If my stack were deeper, I think it would have been easier to get away from this hand at some point, but as it was, I'm not terribly disappointed with my play of the final hand.

(8:00. It's time for the World Series, and I'll format this and post it tomorrow.)


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