Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tournament at TI

I joined a group of people celebrating Jen's birthday last night at Isla Tequila Bar at TI. I wasn't hungry so I just had a glass of berry sangria, which at $7 was well-priced for a bar on the Strip. The food was Mexican, but it was fancied up so much that the quesadillas looked like toaster strudels.

Afterward, a crowd of us went to the poker room to play in the nightly $60 tournament. I have never played no-limit or a tournament in a casino, but I've been curious about tournaments because you can turn a small buy-in into a big cash. So I figured I would give it a shot. There were 43 entrants including re-buys, and about 10 of them were in our group. This is usually a soft tournament, but the people in our group are all affiliated with poker professionally (poker bloggers, poker writers, and poker website creators), so the competition was going to be tougher. Not that it mattered because regardless of the other players, I wasn't going to have a clue as to what I was doing.

In my usual 4/8L game, I am very comfortable. I can chat with other players, and I know what to do in terms of cards to play and number of chips to put in the pot. Last night I was completely out of my element. I was so nervous when the tournament started that I was actually hoping to have bad hole cards so that I didn't have to make any decisions. In limit, all I have to do is count the number of big blinds in the pot to determine my pot odds, but in no-limit, I had to actually count the number of chips people were putting in and how that compared to my stack size. That's a lot to keep track of.

I think I had only one raising hand all night. I had AQo one behind the button early in play. I raised to 3 times the big blind, and the blinds called. The flop was something like 10-10-7, and the blinds checked. They seemed weak, so I knew I had to bet, but I had no idea how much. So I just grabbed some chips and threw them in. I think my bet was larger than the pot, but it got the blinds to lay down their hands after some contemplation. So that was my first success.

Later, I had J-7o in the big blind, and the small blind completed. The flop was 10-7-3, and the small blind raised. I figured he was taking a stab at the pot, so I reraised (again, I didn't know how much to put in, so I doubled his bet). He thought for a long time, and fortunately by this time I had been playing long enough that I wasn't shaking the whole time sitting there waiting on him. Eventually he folded. Again, a small pot, but a small little victory for me.

Eventually, the blinds ate me up. I had 1100 left and the blinds were 600 and 300 (we started with 2000 and I think 50 and 25 blinds). I was under the gun and saw A8d, so I pushed my two chips all in. Everyone folded except the big blind, who called with AKo. The flop was paired with two diamonds, but the turn and river didn't pan out. I went out in 21st, but made it through an hour and a half of play.

I can't say that I had a great time. I would have much rather been playing a cash game at the Wynn where I could socialize, have a drink, and still know what I was doing. I'm intrigued by tournaments, and I definitely have more respect for tournament players now. Perhaps I'll get some practice and try it again one day. But until then, you can find me at the Wynn.

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