Sunday, October 29, 2006

AIPS Event No. 9 -- H.O.R.S.E.

The Ante-Up Intercontinental Poker Series event no. 9, the H.O.R.S.E. event, took place yesterday afternoon. Only 36 signed up to play, meaning the top five spots paid.

Not only does Full Tilt Poker feature those silly avatars, but one can change the “mood” of the avatar as well. I figured a H.O.R.S.E. tournament -- where changing games really does tend to affect one’s mood -- would be a good place to employ this here option, and so early in the tourney I announced to the table my strategy. During Hold ’em, I would play “Happy.” During Omaha High/Low, “Normal.” During Razz, “Angry.” And during Stud & Stud High/Low, “Confused.”

Talk about horseplay. Not much of a “strategy,” I know . . . except maybe for soliciting a few grins around the table. These AIPS events have been a lot of fun for that very reason -- while we’re all certainly doing all we can take our opponents' chips, everyone is also supportive of one another along the way. Really makes for a fun time, win or lose. In the end, my mood-changing chicken was able to limp his way to a modest 15th place finish. (Or her way . . . there was some discussion at the table, actually, concerning the sex of that there animated bird.)

Never really accumulated any chips to speak of. But I was able to keep ahead of the blinds and antes for a good while, anyhow. There were a couple of key hands for me that ultimately decided my fate. One occurred when I was up around 1,800 chips in level 7 (Omaha High/Low). The blinds were 120/240, and I had been dealt 4dAc8sAd in the small blind. A player in middle position raised and it folded around to me. I decided to reraise it in order to push out the big blind. The BB indeed folded and the original raiser just called. The flop came 5d7d3c. This was a nice flop for me, giving me the nut-flush draw as well as a playable low. I bet and my opponent just called. Then came a turn card I really didn’t want to see, the 4c. If my opponent held A-2, he’d made the wheel here. (Bill Boston says in a full-ring Omaha game, at least one player is dealt A-2 about 50% of the time; the preflop raise made it even more likely in this spot, of course.) I was down to 835 chips, so a bet of 240 here meant I was probably playing this one to the end. I checked and he bet. I decided that since I was very likely chasing only half the pot if I called, I had to let it go.

Soon we had reached level 8 -- Razz -- where the stakes had risen to 150/300 (with a 25 chip ante) and I was down to a measly 715 chips. I stole a couple of pots, but as we neared the level's end I was still the table's short stack with 965. Finally I picked up a nice Razz hand, 5c6sAh. Interestingly, two other players also had aces for their door cards, including Columbo (author of the Poker Wannabe blog & those terrific "One-Minute Mysteries" now featured on Ante Up!) who sat on my right. The first player completed to 150, Columbo called, and I also just called.

The way things turned out, I can see now that I probably should have raised it up here. I should have noticed that all three of us were severely short-stacked going into the hand -- the first player had only 1,134, and Columbo only 1,533. Chances were pretty good I had the best ace here prior to fourth street -- in fact, looking at the hand history later, I see that I did -- and I might well have gotten one of the others to fold his hand had I raised it. But I didn’t.

Then came fourth street, where the first player picked up a 3, Columbo a 9, and I drew the last ace in the deck, pairing my board. The first player bet out, Columbo called, and I instinctively gave up the hand, typing “case friggin’ ace” as I did.

I’ve now second-guessed my decision to abandon the hand, but at the time I felt I simply couldn’t go on with a pair on board like that. Another brick on fifth and there would be no hope for me. Someone who knows how to play Razz could instruct me here whether I was right to take my 790 chips and hope to pick up a playable hand sometime down the road. Razz was nearly done, and the antes for the next level (Stud) were only 30, so I did have some time. Still, I’m pretty sure I screwed this hand up -- perhaps by giving up on 4th, but certainly by failing to raise on 3rd street.

As it turned out, the first player had bricked as well -- he had a 3 in the hole and so had also made a pair on 4th street. Meanwhile, Columbo hardly had much at that juncture -- J-8-A-9! To his credit, Columbo hung in, and ended up knocking out the first player with a nine-low. After winning another Razz hand or two, Columbo rode his rush all the way to the final table . . . and to victory! Don’t know if he considered this particular hand as an important one for him along the way, but it definitely helped position him (and not me) for future success in the tournament.

[EDIT (added 10/31/06): In an email exchange with Scott Long, co-host of Ante Up!, Scott reminded me that Full Tilt reorders the down cards at showdown in Razz. That means I can't know precisely what my opponents had in the hole by looking at the hand histories. In this hand, the first player's down cards were ultimately 7c3h2c, so he had at least a seven-low on third street, and in fact may not have bricked on fourth -- if he had 7-2 in the hole. Meanwhile, Columbo's down cards were Js8c7d. That means Columbo probably didn't pick up that jack until seventh street, and almost certainly held 8-7-A on third. All of which tells me that a raise on third by me wouldn't have driven out either player.]

The way I played both of these hands probably proves that I made a good choice when picking a chicken as my avatar. Columbo also uses a chicken as his avatar, but for him the choice appears ironic. Not much that's timid in his tourney play, I'd venture to say.

I probably won’t play the final AIPS event no. 10 -- the deep-stacked No Limit Hold ’em event. The buy-in -- $20+$2 -- is a little steep for me. And while I enjoy NLH tourneys, they ain’t exactly where I feel most confident. I do have a whole week to change my mind, though. As we know, over on Full Tilt us chickens are able to change how we feel with a simple click of the mouse.

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