Life Shouldn't Be A Fuckin' Grind

I will never be a poker pro, but my lifetime poker ledger is positive and I think that's something to be proud of.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Central Coast Poker Championship

I haven't posted on here in months, but I figured that today's tournament was worthy of a trip report. Today I played and cashed in the Central Coast Poker Championship at Chumash Casino in California. Buy-in was $240 with a guaranteed prize pool of $125k and $25k for first. About 700 people started and I got in from the waiting list a few minutes after the tournament started. We started with 5k in chips and the first level as an hour, but levels after that were 30 minutes and the blinds started to get kinda ridiculous in the mid-levels (but, I digress and I'll get to that later).

I sat down on my first hand and limped a KJo and won a small pot on a K high flop. Then I played a lot of small-ballish poker basically trying to find a spot where I could win a lot of chips, but trying to avoid big risk with any marginal hands. Early on in the second level, I had my first big hand. I picked up 22 UTG and limped in for 100 (at this point blinds were 50/100 and I still had about 5k). A couple other people limped, then the small blind raised it to 300, I called and the guy to my left called. Flop came 2Jx with 2 hearts, the SB threw out a 500 chip (which turned out to only be a 100 bet), then I (thinking he'd bet 500) raised it to 2000, the guy on my left folded, but the SB went all-in and I of course called him. He had KK and I doubled up to 10k. From there I basically stayed steady, going up and down by only a few hundred here and there, and basically maintaining. I did have one other interesting hand at my original table though. The guy to my left had quite a few more chips than me and raised about 4 hands in a row and I was starting to feel like he was just stealing the blinds (at this point they'd gone up to 100/200), so when I picked up 66 in MPish I raised it to 600 and he was the only caller. The flop came down A22 and I bet out pretty close to a pot-sized bet, figuring that if he didn't have an Ace, he'd fold to me and sure enough, he folded, but flashed QQ and I felt really good about my play.

I moved tables shortly after the first break and stayed in that seat for the rest of the tournament. I didn't have a whole lot happen in the early stages of my 2nd table as I was trying to feel out the other players and the blinds started to get big. I did have 2 hands I didn't like too well. In the first I think the blinds were 200/400 and I had something in the 10k range. It was folded around to me on the button and I raised to 1k with K8o (not much of a hand, but I thought it was worth a blind steal), the BB went all-in for about 5k more and I had to fold a started to beat myself up over it, then realized that I'd played it right and there was nothing I could do. The hand I don't really think I played right was shortly before the lunch break. I had about 11k after posting the big blind and the blinds were 400/800. One guy in EP raised to 2500ish and another guy in LP went all-in for about 5700 and I looked down at 2 red Tens in the BB. I had no idea what to do, but opted to take the conservative route and fold it. It turned out that the other two players had AK and KQ respectively and the flop came 10 high, so of course I could have won big on that hand, but I'm still very unsure about whether or not I should have played it.

From there, the blinds started to get kinda crazy, but I limped into the lunch break with 12,600 and blinds about to be 1k/2k with a 100 ante. After lunch I managed to chip up a little bit here and there and barely keep my head above water as the blinds and antes got progressively bigger. At one point, as my stack dwindled to about 2 big blinds in the 2k/4k level, I found an AKs and managed to get all-in against an A7 to more than double up to about 26k. Then a few hands later, I was in the big blind for 4k and and early position player moved in for 5700 total and everyone folded to me. With over 13k in the pot I couldn't possibly fold there with any two cards so I called blind and flipped over a T9o against something like A7o. The flop was a huge tease coming TJQ, but the river was an Ace. I feel like that was a really important hand there as I would have had over 30k if I'd won that pot and maybe could have made a few moves. Instead, I was knocked back down to under 20k and from there I just didn't find any hands that I felt comfortable doing anything with and all I could do was fold, fold, fold. I limped my way into the money with less than one big blind left (blinds were 3k/6k and I had about 5500), then doubled up with A6o, but didn't find anymore hands to play after that. On my final hand, I had 15.5k and blinds had gone up to 5k/10k with a 500 ante. I was in the big blind for the first hand fo the level with 2/3 of my chips in the pot and UTG+1 moved in for 19k total. I called blind and found a 73o, he had A4 and I didn't get lucky.

All in all, it was a pretty fun experience and I'll take the $430 I walked away with after leaving $20 for the dealers. I wasn't even able to double my money, but I'd pretty much written off my buy-in so it was more like winning $400 than the $200 or so in profit. The structure wasn't bad, at least in the beginning. We started with 5k and blinds were 25/50 for an hour, but they started going up every half hour after that and I feel like they left out several crucial levels to allow for enough play. In particular, with about 100 people left, the blinds were 3k/6k with a 300 ante and the average stack was only about 35k. That's an average M of about 3, which is pretty silly IMO. Even leaving out the antes would have helped a little bit in allowing for a decent amount of play. Even so, I had a good time and I'm pretty happy that I cashed since it was my first cash in a live tournament. I'm a little disappointed that I wussed out around bubble time and didn't try to get a stack going, but the sad truth is that the money mattered to me. My roll really wasn't big enough to handle the buy-in but I did it anyway and I'm glad that I did. In the future though, I'd like to be able to be a bit less concerned about the money next time I play a tournament.