(Note: I reading this over, I feel that it's not one of my best reports. Goes along with the whole day, which was kind of off kilter. The second day was much better, as will be the report, which I'm writing now)
The 10k final of the UPC drew 55 players, just as it had in July. It lacked a little luster in the absence of many of the top Full Tilt players, who apparently hadn’t returned from Monte Carlo in time. However, the field was still very strong, a testament to the power of television, as this is one of the most watched poker shows.
<SPAN> </SPAN>I love the structure of this event. You start with 30k in chips, with blinds of 50-100 and 1 hour levels. Once they reached 5 tables, it was reduced to 7-handed, and kept that way throughout. Short-handed poker with good players leads to some great poker playing. A lot of the time in tournaments, especially in the modern era, the preponderance of bad players places a priority on taking advantage of mistakes, rather than playing high-level poker. There was a lot of great poker playing in this event, and I think most players enjoy it.
I arrived at my table to find Mark Seif to my left, as I had in the last WPT at the Bellagio.<SPAN> </SPAN>Having Mark to your left is not a good thing. To my right was Daniel Alaei, Kristy Gazes, Tom Franklin, and Amir Vahedi.
I started out playing aggressively, but was really out of synch. I wasn’t hitting any hands, and my bluffs weren’t working. At the first level, I raised in late position to 150 with KJ. Mark called. The flop came Q-T-4 rainbow. I checked, and Mark bet 300. I didn’t put him on a big hand, so I re-raised to 1500, figuring to pick it up there. He called quickly. The turn was blank. I made a big bet of 4000. Again he called quickly. The river missed me and I was done with it. We both checked and mark showed QJ offsuit. The man will not lay down a hand.
There was an empty seat at my table from the start. It was filled by Barry Greenstein. The game was really on now.
I continued to bleed chips and had soon lost half my stack. Barry opened a pot for 1000 at the 150-300 level. He got five callers, and I looked down at AA in the cutoff. I made it 8000, hoping Barry would figure me for making a move. He folded, but Todd Gierhan, an online qualifier called. The flop came 3 babies, I moved in and he called, showing QQ. My hand held up. All that struggling erased by one pair of aces. I need to try to get them more often.
Barry had about 12k when he raised again up front. I moved him in with KK, and he showed 99. I not only ko’d him and got up to over 50k, but he gave me a copy of his book as he does to every player who ko’s him in a tournament. Barry’s ok. He was replaced by Men the Master.<SPAN> </SPAN>
Tom Franklin had been playing very solidly, as he usually does. With the blinds 300/600/50 he opened up front for 2k. He had about 24k more, so I called with 77. The flop came 8-7-6 rainbow. He bet 2600. I made a raise to 7500, hoping he would think that I wouldn’t raise that much with a set and would move in with a big pair. Instead, he called. I was very surprise by the call. He obviously had something, and was pretty much committed to the pot, but why just call with a live board like that? The turn was a ten, and he moved in for about 16k. I replayed the hand in my mind, and it hit me what I was up against. Two 9’s! It was the only hand that made sense. The pot was laying me a little over 2-1, but I was over 3-1 to fill up. Losing the extra 16k would put me back to about 30k. The only other possibility was that he had an over pair, and had called determining to put the rest in on the turn, no mater what came. But I didn’t give him that play. This was one of the biggest laydowns I’ve ever made, but I was so sure I was right that I went with it.
Just before the break, I pick up AA again. As people are leaving the table before it’s their turn, something I think should be grounds for a penalty, Men raised to 2600 up front. I wasn’t giving him credit for a big hand, thinking he was using the old ‘raise when everybody’s leaving for break’ trick. I made it 7500, and he re-raised another 12000! I moved in for the rest of my chips, about 25k. He thought for about 5 minutes before folding. I overheard him later saying he had jacks.
Near the end of the day, I was down to about 40k, playing 6-handed. I raised to 3k up front with 5c2c. Kristy called from the big blind. The flop came Kc-Tc-4h. Kristy checked, and I bet 7k. She called. I put her on a weak king, or maybe a draw. The turn was a blank. She checked, and I moved in for 30k. She thought a long time, and I couldn’t imagine a hand she could call with. She finally called, and showed me AK! There’s no way I could put her on that hand. I don’t think she was trying to, but she trapped me good. I was prepared to go home until the club came on the river. I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar, and came away with the cookies. About 80 thousand of them.
I lost a few chips, then picked up aces again! This had to be a record for me. I raised to 3k and Amir called. The flop came J-7-2. I bet 4k and he called. The turn came a 7. He checked, and I checked behind him. If he had a 7 I was beat, but if not there couldn’t be many cards that would give him a winner. The turn was a blank, and he bet 5k. I knew I should just call, but I couldn’t stop myself from raising to 11k. Big mistake. He immediately moved in. Damn. I had to fold. It was the wrong spot to try to get a small raise paid off.
I ended the day with about 66k. I hadn’t played especially well, but a few big hands and lucky breaks, and I was in good shape. Sometimes it goes that way.
thanks again for another well-written, and excellent read Blair....can't wait to hear about day 2.
Yes. Keep 'em coming, please.
I'll say it again, Blair is the MVP of this site. It's all about quality with him, not quantity, and I'm DOWN with that. Blair, I don't know if you always read the replies to your posts, but I have a question about your book (which I haven't read). Has Phil H ever said anything to you regarding the title?
great job blair gl
and yes phil h. has a new book coming soon titled
THATS NOT FAIR BLAIR!
Very cool. Definitely am going to get my hands on it at some point.
Nice work Blair! Love the insight but I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on the big laydown.
Knowing Tom's style of play, did you really find it likely that he would automatically push w/ his 99 once a straight was made? He had to be fairly certain his hand was best at that point, so why wouldn't he use let you continue to be the aggressor and then decide to call or complete the check/raise. What about the play leading up to this or your history on Tom made you so certain that he didn't hold the overpair or something other than 99? I'd love to get even a glimpse at your thought process here because, with lack of any info other than the play of this hand itself, I can honestly say that I don't think I'm capable of this laydown.
Thanks in advance!
Incredible laydown Blair. Very nice read! Musta felt great the next day when he told you he had the exact hand you put him on. Well done Sir, and thanks for the excelent (as always) tourney reports!
Experience in poker is a critical element in advanced play. For players with thousands of hours at the tables, sometimes the answer just comes to you, and you're not sure from where. In fact, I often try to blank my conscious mind and let my subconscious do the work, something known as soft focus. That's what happened with Tommy. I was a little confused, especially after his call on the flop. I expected him to either move in or fold. When he moved in on the turn so quickly when the ten hit, I suddenly got got this very strong intuition that he could have only had 9's. Then I worked it back in my head. The only hands he could have called a raise of that size on the flop were an over pair to the board, or a set. I might have given other players credit for other possibilities, but not him, considering he originally raised from the 1-hole. His range of hands for an early position raise , at least in my mind, was AK, maybe AQ, and a pair of 8's or higher. When he called my raise, I eliminated AK and AQ. If he'd had AA,KK,QQ or JJ, and chose to continue with the hand after my raise, he would have been comitted to the pot and would have moved in there in case I was getting out of line with some weird drawing hand. That left TT,99 and 88, none of which I could beat on the turn. Nines made the most sense, because he would probably have moved in with a set of 8's, and either folded or moved in with tens. With 9's had he missed the hand, he could still have gotten away from it with 16k to work with if I moved in on the turn. And in fact, that's what he told me his thought process was when I asked him about the hand.
I second that Hawk.
I love Blairs reports.