I have been quite remiss in penning a blog entry, but since this is primarily a poker-oriented blog, there hasn't been much new to report. Since the underground poker landscape in New York City has halted to a standstill (even if it recharged itself, I doubt I would return, for safety issues), I've been playing a good deal online as usual, mixing some tournaments wth .05/.10 cash games, as well as participating in my normal 2+2 events and Cardschat league events. Despite all that exciting online action, I do find myself yearning for some live poker action. Enter...
Now, I do find myself motivated by money, but this brand new installment in the New York Poker scene caught my attention. Basically, the gist is similar to the bar leagues that you see scattered all over the country that form a thin web to represent this thing called the WPT Amateur Poker League. You play in a free tournament, and if you win a tournament or place in the top third of the leaderboard you participate in a monthly tournament, which if you place high you get to a quarterly tournament, and then you go to Vegas. Or something like that. Honestly, I didn't really read that far. It was live, it was a place where I could feel felt again (locally), so I was going to go check it out, shitshow or no.
Well, upon taking two trains to Greenpoint, it was looking like it might fall on the shitshow end. Loud music, dark bar, tables crammed against each other...not a pretty sight. You were told to be there at 7 to sign up for an 8pm start...but no signup sheet to be found. I decided to be patient since this was their first attempt, and surely enough a signup sheet arrived, and quickly enough we were seated.
I thought it might be too dark to see my cards, or even hear the action, but the music was turned down and the lights came up slightly, so I was encouraged. I then learned the structure - 25 minute levels (not bad), but the blind escalation was of the atypical, speedy variety...25/50, 50/100. 100/200 THEN 200/400, 400/800, 500/1000...3000 chips to start...you get the idea. the 25 chips go away after two levels. The dealers worked on tips alone, and you were strongly encouraged to do so at the beginning, but I wanted to see how good they were. And they were quite good - excellent in fact, surprisingly. Too bad the level of play did not equal the skill of the participants at the table.
I was immediately like a kid in a candy store. Never before, in my entire life, has it been so blatantly evident that the poker prowess at a table was sorely lacking. Confusion about first to act, small and big blind, fumbling chips...but of course there were a couple of sharks in the water, as you'll see soon.
But I was the first shark to bite.
I start picking out the fish quickly...Two hands in, Older Guy and NonDescriptGuy tangle. Non descript calls 50, Older Guy raises to 200, NDG calls. Flop comes Q75 rainbow. NDG bets 100...Older Guy raises to 400! NDG calls. turn is a 3...NDG checks, OG makes it 400 again...NDG calls. River is a 4, NDG checks. OG does 400 AGAIN. Again a call. NDG tables Q4os? OG tables KJhh? King Jack??? He checks the nuts, he raises with nothing? Hallelujah!
I find my mark the very next hand. OG makes it 200, I raise to 600 with AsKc. He calls. Flop comes 6K5 rainbow. He makes it 200 again? Geez. I'm still gauging, so I call. After all, he could be coming in with anything, who knows! Turn is a brick, and I make it 700. He goes all-in. Well...this is a free tournament after all and I snap call.
He proudly tables JJ. River is an A, and I quickly double up.
By the way, raises were rare...limps abounded. And I identifed the other guy licking his chops while I sat back with a big stack...he was raising limpers left and right, picking his spots, and it was that point I said to myself, 'it will be the two of us heads up.' Of course I wasn't even thinking about the other two tables, and as people dropped like flies and I was moved, the environment was basically the same. One or two good players surrounded by people asking what the minimum bet was.
A few chip ups and double-ups later - I never contested a big pot without being clearly ahead- I find myself at the final table. Sure enough, the guy I mentioned earlier...we'll call him Phil Ivey With a Tie (or PIWT), was still doing well. With 8 left, there suddenly was a FIVE-WAY All-in. Stacks were light, except for PIWT, who flopped a set of nines and took all the chips, making him the clear chip leader. So we are down to 4. Me, the NDG who somehow made it here, Dude with Full Tilt Poker Shirt and PIWT. I was roughly even in chips with NDG, with FTP shirt and PIWT clearly ahead. PIWT busts FTP guy with a river 5 in a 55 v KQ battle on a flop of Q5X...and now PIWT has us dominated.
With blinds now at 500/1000 I call 500 in the SB with Jh9h - NDG checks. Flop comes J9X - bink! I calmly check. As he was wont to do when I watched him earlier, he led out for 5000...about 1/3 of his stack. I shove, he calls, and tables K9. No King comes, and as predicted, it's me and Phil Ivey With A Tie, heads-up.
Now, I will admit I'm no heads-up expert - but I've been working on it, and it's now one of the better parts of my game. He had be my about 10000 chips, but I was going to take it down. We both cheekily acknowledged that it wasn't all that hard to get here, without actually saying it, but it was fun. And I had fun playing with him heads-up...I don't really remember all the hands, but we exchanged stacks for about 20 minutes, when I nailed himwith calling 8-10 to his k10 and hitting two pair with about 80% of the chips, and that was that.
So., now I guess I don't have to go again and I get immediately invited to the monthly, but I imagine I'll go again...they are at different venues and I am hoping the other one is a bit lighter and quieter, but it's free and fun...who knows?
In more competitive action, Jordan and I will be going to the WSOP Circuit Event at Harrah's next month for the $350 Event #1. I am looking forward to some live action there, and maybe some cash the night before at the Trop. A report on that will arrive soon enough.