Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Crown Poker Championships - 7 game event

So I finally decided to play some live poker ... or more to the point, Crown decided to host a mixed game tournament that I had the time to play in (it was run on a Friday night).
The event was part of the new tournament series, the Crown Poker Championships. Not sure if its going to be a regular part of the tournament schedule at Crown, but its good to put another tournament series on that is not going to break the bank (most events were $350 or less to enter). This seems to be something of a departure from their more recent efforts with the WSOP, APPT, ANZPT, etc, which are more geared to the 'pro' or aspiring pro & have significant buy-in fees (and often tougher fields as well) becoming part of the regular tournament schedule, at the expense of events like the Victorian Poker Championship & the Melbourne Poker Championship.
Recently I simply have not had much time to play live poker, so have rarely been to Crown at all this year, so only found out about the series thanks to various posts on Facebook & ultimately did not decide to play in the event until early on Friday afternoon.
Although a few of the regular in mixed events didn't play, preferring to play in Flight 1 of the Main Event that started the same night, I was surprised to see that there were 44 players in the end for the event, which is pretty good for a non-holdem event at Crown.

Of course it still amazes me how some people play in this event ... and two hands in particular stood out for me, one that I was involved in & another that I was watching. They were both hands of seven card stud, one high & the other a hi-lo split. Of course the stud games seem to be the worst played at Crown, largely because they are so rarely played in a live setting in Australia these days ... Also please bear in mind that the hands I am assigning people are somewhat approximate, but are roughly correct.

The first was a hand of Stud hi-lo that I was not involved in. The hand played out 3 ways past 4th street & I was stunned at how the hand played out ... Player A had been leading the betting from 3rd street & had a board something like JK82, Player B had a scary low board, something like 42A7, while Player C had a high board with straight potential, something like 9JKT. Player A had as I said been leading the betting since 3rd street & continued to bet on later streets once Player B picked up an Ace & checked their initial option. 7th street was where things got interesting. Player B had obviously made a low & with the other players being either unlikely or unable to have a low, it made sense to put in a bet on 7th, in the hope of being called by both players & getting an extra half-bet back with the low. Player C then decided to put in a raise! This is the interesting spot! With the scary board, he was obviously representing a straight & it would seem to be a reasonable play if that's what he actually had! If you were player A (who apparently had three Jacks - starting 'rolled up'), what would you do? After some thought, he decided to fold, with the rationale that Player C could only make such a play if he had the straight & his trip jacks obviously don't win against a straight, so better to save a bet than throw two bets (and possibly more - Player B with the low hand could then re-raise to make the pot even bigger) when his hand was likely beaten. Of course Player B called & we came to a showdown ...
Unsurprisingly, Player B had a 7-low, but also a pair of Tens to go with it ... while player C had ... a pair of Nines! Player B scooped the pot!
A bold play by player C & in some ways, a good play to get player A out of the hand, however given that he only had a single pair, not the type of move that is profitable (as the final results of the hand proved). If he had a hand like 2 pair or better, where it is much less likely that he can be scooped by the low hand, then it is a much better play, though it also relies on the ability (or lack of a 5-card hand) of player A to get the 'semi-bluff to chop' play through.

The second hand of note was one I was involved in & unfortunately wound up on the wrong side of the ledger as a result of it ... this was a round of 7 card stud hi in the middle-late stages of the tournament (I think the limits were either 1000/2000 or 2000/4000 at this stage) with two tables remaining.  I was in late position with split Aces (A8)A & before action go to me, there was the bring-in (3), a call (8), a complete (Q) & a call (T). Of course with such a strong starting hand, I raise (AKA the '2-bet' in stud) & to my surprise, all four others (including the bring-in) who were in the hand call my bet! I continued to bet on 4th & 5th streets, before checking 6th street. At this stage I still only had the pair of aces & although it is a strongish hand, I was not in a position to keep betting my hand for value, as I was not confident I had the best hand (and most likely I didn't at that stage). It was difficult to put some of the other players on hands & with the size of the pot already being huge, it was tough to see how I could get any of them to fold.
By 6th street, the various boards looked something like this:
Me: (A8)AK63
Player B (initially limped): 84Q6
Player C (initially completed): Q529
Player D (initially called): TK8J
Four players made it to 7th street (the bring-in folded on 5th or possibly 4th street).Of all the board, player D's was the scariest as he could very easily have a straight, if not another hand that beats my Aces. When 7th street was dealt, I looked down at another 8, giving me aces up. Seven Card Stud is often seen as a 'race to two pair', so when player D bet, I felt sick, but decided to make a crying call, expecting to see a straight. The other two players in the hand folded, presumably they missed some sort of draw that they felt compelled to call to 6th street, & player D turned over his hand for three Jacks! Presumably he started with pocket jacks & picked up a third jack on 6th street, which was enough to win the pot ... and of course with the previous action in the hand, he even decided to bet on 7th with 'only' trips! A sick hand & a bad result for me (and the other two who lost a significant amount of chips in the pot), which ultimately saw me nurse a short stack for the remainder of the tournament.

I managed to sneak my way into 4th place, which in theory was good for a $1450 prize, although I made a deal with one of the other shorts stacks prior to the final table (8 players were on the final table, but only the top 6 were to be paid) that if one of us made the money & the other missed out, we would effectively chop 6th place money ($795), so that we would both make a small profit from the evening rather than have one of us go home empty handed after a long tournament. The net result is that I effectively went home with $1055 in prizemoney, so generally happy with the evening, though would have liked the big Stud hand over again ...
Full results & payouts available on the Crown Poker website.