Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Donkament Success!

Wow it's been a long time since I posted anything here!  Sorry to anyone who actually takes the time to read my little missives for posting so sporadically. I'm super impressed with people like RobVegasPoker who post regularly. As always I only post when I have something worthwhile to share or a rant about something that has ticked me off.  This time it's my (spoiler alert) decent finish in a cheap poker tournament at my home casino, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in beautiful Altoona, Iowa.

The tournament in question is their weekly Tuesday afternoon tournament that kicks off at noon every single Tuesday except when Christmas falls on that day of the week. It's a $30 buy-in with a $5 dealer add-on that gets you an additional 1,000 tournament chips. Pretty much everyone takes the add-on which makes the starting stack 4,000. The structure is quick, but not turbo or hyper speed. The entire tournament takes about 4 and half hours to complete. There are 20 minute blind levels and the levels go as follows:

  • 50-100
  • 75-150
  • 100-200
  • 200-400
  • Break (10 mins)
  • 300-600
  • 400-800
  • 500-1,000
  • 1,000-2,000
  • Break (10 mins)
  • 2,000-4,000
  • 3,000-6,000
  • 5,000-10,000
  • 10,000-20,000
Iowa's racing and gaming commission has some weirdly strict rules about tournament poker. The casinos have to submit the tournament details including the maximum number of entries they will accept for each tournament. This tourney is capped at 90 entrants, but they do allow alternates to enter as people bust out for the first two blind levels. On most days they have an alternate list that is 15-20 people deep and usually don't get all of those in since the field for this weekday tournament is heavy with a certain older (aka uber tight) demographic.

The payouts for yesterday's tournament were as follows:

  1. $980
  2. $616
  3. $392
  4. $247
  5. $193
  6. $117
  7. $84
  8. $84
  9. $56
  10. $56
I'm a little fuzzy on the 4-5-6 amounts, but it is definitely something in that range.  Regardless of the number of entries they always just pay the final table and it's on the top-heavy side, so you have to finish in the top 4 or 5 to make it worth your time in my humble opinion.

Prairie Meadows has a very, very strict policy regarding the use of electronic devices during their tournaments. If you have your phone out when the dealer starts pitching cards for a hand, your hand is dead.  It doesn't matter if you were just checking the time, changing songs on iTunes, or playing a little Trivia Crack to kill time between hands.  Your hand is dead.  This makes it very hard to take any kind of electronic notes on hands, so I have to go completely off my memory.

On about the 4th or 5th hand of the tournament (50-100) I was dealt pocket 10s in early position. I raised to 325 and got two callers.  The flop was something like K-10-4 rainbow.  I bet 400 and everyone folded. I don't know what everyone else's strategy is when flopping sets, but I don't like to slow play them except in very specific circumstances with an especially aggressive opponent. Otherwise I want to get as much money in the pot as I can.

I don't remember playing any really significant hands during the next level or two although I'm sure I raised at least once or twice with AK type hands preflop and just took down the blinds.

In the 3rd level (100-200) one of the younger players at the table who was seated in seat 1 and UTG tossed out a purple 500 chip without saying anything.  The dealer looked at him a little sideways and said, "Were you intending to raise there?" The player said, "Oh, yeah, but I guess that's just a call, huh?"  The dealer confirmed that it would just be a call of the 200 chip big blind. About 6 players followed suit and limped along including me holding 10-9 of clubs.

The flop was a lovely 6h-7h-8c to give me the nut straight, but with a scary heart draw on board. The UTG player who allegedly meant to raise preflop bet 1,000. It folded to me and I was considering whether or not to make a reasonable raise or just jam.  I only had slightly more than the 4,000 starting stack at this point and I figured any raise at all and I'm pot committed no matter what happens on the turn or river. I announced all-in and moved all my chips in front of my cards. It folded back to the villain and he started monologuing and staring me down as I calmly looked back across the table at him. "The question is did you hit the straight or a set? Which is it...straight or set?  <sigh> Okay...I call."

He rolled over 6-8 off suit for two pair. I showed my 9-10 to give him the bad news that he was about a 75-25 dog. He didn't improve and I doubled up and he was down to about 700 remaining chips. In the post hand chatter he said something along the lines of, "Man that was sick.  And the crazy thing is that if I had been allowed to raise there you probably don't even play that hand." I responded, "I'm probably calling with 9-10 suited in that spot even if you raised to 500...or maybe you're an experienced enough player to know the single chip rule and you only wanted everyone to think you intended to raise with 6-8 off suit from under the gun so if it hit it would be well disguised and you could get paid off."

He kind of blinked at me with a face that said "you caught me" and stammered, "N-n-no I totally meant to raise there....or whatever it doesn't matter now." I guarantee 100 percent he was trying to shoot an angle there. I expect he had two intentions with that move:

  1. Discourage raises from other players to see a cheap flop
  2. Disguise the strength of his hand if it happened to connect with the flop
Aside from that hand there were very few interesting hands.  There was one hand early on where I raised UTG with pocket jacks to around 3x the big blind.  A middle position player 3-bet and then the big blind shoved.  I thought for maybe a minute before folding my jacks.  The middle position player called the all in and they rolled over AK (middle position) and QQ (big blind). The AK flopped an ace, but QQ turned a set and I got away relatively unscathed with just the loss of 3 big blinds or so. On the very next hand I was dealt two jacks again. I raised the same amount as before and got two callers this time.  The flop was A-A-J.  It was checked to me and I bet about half the pot with my boat hoping one of the other players was slow playing an ace, but alas both folded.

Since this is getting a little long I'll jump to the end.  I finished 3rd for a payout of $392.  Remember the villain/angle shooter from earlier?  He played short stack ninja and when I left he was heads up for the whole tournament with a commanding chip lead.  I don't know who won it, but I'd bet he did.

I tipped $32 of my winnings to the dealers. How do others determine how much to tip in that situation. I figure I've already given $2.50 from the tourney buy-in ($25 to the prize pool, $2.50 to the house and $2.50 to the dealers) plus the $5 add-on, so that makes a total of $39.50 I've personally contributed to their tip pool. That's about 10% of my payout. Agree or disagree?

So subtracting the tip and the tournament buy-in and add-on I cleared $325 for about 4 hours work. I'll take it.