Two steps back to get one step forward

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I am in the process of grinding out a series of Step single table tournaments at in an attempt to win an entry to a WPT event being held in December in Las Vegas.

Because each step offers five prizes, two that move you up one step, two that keep you at the same step and one that moves you down one step, in theory it should be easy to master and move forward.

Of course chance and poor decision making can also have an effect on the results.  I started the steps by using a “Gold chip” and then advanced up to step five before losing and having to start over.  I tried starting again from step one and advanced again to step 4.  In my last series, I was out and did not want to start at the beginning so I bought in step 4. I stayed there for about three sessions before losing at sixth place.

One of the problems I am finding at any of the steps, is having enough players in order to play. I waited for five hours on one occasion for a step 6 tourney to have enough players.  I had to un-register and give up as the hour was getting late into the evening and I would not be at my best.

Last night I wanted to restart my climb at step 4 but no one was waiting to play. I noticed that step 3 had 7 players registered.  I registered and within a minute a ninth player joined in and we played step 3. I finished in 2nd place and advanced to step 4. I registered for step 4 and the table filled up in 15 minutes and step 4 was under way. I finished 1st and sometime this weekend I hope to play step 5 and perhaps higher.

Do the sites you play on have a lot of players? Are there enough players interested in the same games as you? Do you have long wait times for the games that you like to play?

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Thank you Mitchell Cogert for the "Full Rush Poker" Trick or Tweet freeroll

Poker ghost?
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Last night I played in a freeroll on FullRushPoker.Com that was a gift from @Mitchell1969.  Mitchell Cogert is the author of some great poker books and blogger of  The Razz Challenge. His freeroll was a thank you to those that signed up with “Full Rush Poker” using his bonus and rakeback code.

Mitchell called this a “Trick or Tweet” tourney and right from the start, the Tricks were first. He had planned and scheduled this tourney for 9pm ET but FullRushPoker actually scheduled it for 10pm ET. I almost wasn’t going to play in it and then decided to play a little. I was going to take some risks and maybe bust out early and go to bed. But I had a good run of cards and stayed up until 12:02 am.

There were 31 entrants to the event. The game was No Limit Hold ‘Em. Each player was given 3,000 in chips. The top five winners would split up $50 and anyone that knocked Mitchell out of the game would win a bounty of $10.00 as well.

The game lasted over two and half hours. I was able to chip up, as they say, early and was in the top five most of the evening. I even had the chip lead late in the event.  I gave that up to Acesup7 when my AK ran into his pocket sixes. He hit a set and I never caught up to him. I was able to finish fourth due to the current third and fourth place players going all in with one of them being eliminated in 5th place, moving me up one place.

There was lots of action, excitement and thrills. I had a couple of the worse hands suck out and beat better hands a couple of times. The following is a summary of the top five finishers and their prizes.

1 BearcatJ $ 20.00
2 AcesUp7 $ 12.00
3 Spectre1 $ 8.00
4 stevebrogan $ 6.00
5 koky_pr $ 4.00

The Trick was knocking out @Mitchell1969 (myway1969) and it won koky_pr a $10 bounty as well as his forth place prize of $4.00

Do you ever play private freerolls? What has your experience been?

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Charity Tournament to benefit "Bad Beat on Cancer"

Bad Beat on Cancer Pin
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The following paragraph is from my friends at the “Twitter Poker Tour”. They are joining scores of other poker related sites to help raise awareness and money to fight cancer and support research. Please take the time to read this and do what you can. If you can not play in the tourney, please consider contributing to the fight against cancer. Thank you.


On November 15th, the Twitter Poker Tour will be conducting its Second Charity Tournament to benefit Bad Beat on Cancer. The tournament will again be hosted online at Full Tilt Poker. This time around the tournament will again headline Full Tilt Poker Professional Andy Bloch, and for the first time, Full Tilt Poker Co-Creator and Bad Beat on Cancer Co-Founder, Phil Gordon. Many other Professional poker players and celebrities are expected to also join the event. Read more

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Noob is an alternate spelling of “newbie,” and I am still a "Noob"

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Long story short. I busted out of Step 6 last night in eighth place with pocket Aces. I bused out because I am still a “newbie” on No Limit Poker.

The scenario: I had won three large pots during the evening to move me into first place. Both were with pocket Kings. I folded over 93 percent of my hands preflop even in the big and small blinds.

My next to last hand of the evening was dealt to me under the gun, the first to act. I was dealt pocket Aces, pocket rockets, the best starting hand in poker. I raised a pot sized bet which was 675 and I got one caller, the small blind. He was an aggressive player and while that gave me some concern, I had pocket Aces.

The flop was 10 8 3, rainbow, meaning no flush draw.  I lead out with another pot sized bet of 1,500 in chips and my opponent shoved all of his chips in, going all in. I briefly thought for a second that he might have two pair but I have pocket Aces, the strongest pre-flop hand possible.  I had him covered, meaning I had more chips than he did, although it was only 41 more chips.  I thought about it for less than five seconds and called. He turned over pocket tens to go with the ten on the board giving him the best hand. The turn and river were no help and I was out in 8th place after the next hand.

Being a newbie, I made a rookie mistake. It is important to develop a skill known as hand reading so that I would know what to do after the flop. Based on the betting post flop, I should have figured out that my opponent had either two pairs or three of a kind. I should have thought it over and decided that it was not worth jeopardizing my remaining chips to call when I could easily have been beaten. This is the difference between a noob and a pro. It is just like the song lyrics, “Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”.

The most important thing that you can do in this circumstance is to take the time to think. Give yourself a chance to go over the betting and how the hand played out. Think about what the opponent calling your large raise meant. Think about what his re-raise meant. Give yourself a chance to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and you will have advanced from being a newbie to being a pro.

I will be starting back at Step 4 soon.

Do you know when to fold pocket Aces? Do you have the experience and discipline to make a big lay down? What would you have done?

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The chance factor – not everyone wins all the time

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I have been playing a lot of single table tourney events of late as part of a series of steps in a  attempt to win a seat at a WPT event.

These steps are fairly liberal in that you have at least five chances to win out of nine players. So even a good player that does not get any cards might still get a chance to try again. Either at the same step level or one just below.

I like to think of myself as a good player, but then so does everyone else I think. It took me five attempts at step five before advancing to step six. I have already played one step six and have won another entry into another step six.

I have noticed some interesting play at the table. People being people, sometimes they cannot resist the impulse to try putting on a play. When ever I notice a player that always enters the pot for a specific raise almost every hand, I am suspicious that he always has a good hand. I know that this is one way to play that will confuse an opponent but in a tourney this might be a mistake if overused. At the time, he was the chip leader with over 5.600 in chips.

I was the short stack with less than 2,000. We started with 3,000. I was in eighth place, one player was already eliminated. I planned to call the big blind but move all in if the aggressive player raised his usual 5 times the big blind bet. At the time I had a pair of eights, pocket eights. I called the blind which was 125. The aggressive player raised to 625 and I moved all-in with my remaining 1,600. Without even a second delay, my opponent called and turned over a pair of twos against my eights. My hand held up and with the blinds and antes and the pot, I moved from 8th place to 3rd and the chip leader moved to 4th place. Even now I am puzzled by his play, unable to figure out why he would go all in with a pair of two’s even though he was the chip leader. But I accepted the gift and moved on.

For a while I moved up down in position and was in 1st or 2nd place, winning and losing small pots. There were five players left at one point where I was in second place. The third and fifth place players went all in against each other. As a result the fifth place player was eliminated and I moved down to third place. In a short while the forth place player was done when the chip leader won his chips. Whenever I say he or him, it could either be a male or a female. The avatars of the remaining two players indicated that they might be female but these days no one really knows what an online player looks like or their gender.

It did not take me long to figure out that I was the target. Because the top two would move to the next step, they each took turns at trying to get my chips.  I finally got down to about 2,000 chips and had to just about go all in each time I had the chance. It was not long before I was eliminated. My last hand was A 10 against J 9. It was against the chip leader and she hit both the jack and the nine for two pair.

I have seen this happen a lot. Usually a short stacked player with a better hand will lose to the large stack player. It seems that the short stack player is doomed regardless of his hand. I am sure that the reverse is true as well. You just notice what happens more when it happens to you.

Do you lose out when you are the short stack even though you have good starting cards? Does random chance work against you when you are short stacked? Is this a case of might over right?

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It is time to start being more disciplined or at least learn how to be.

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Thursday night, I had tentatively made plans to myself to play in the Step 6 WPT tourney at if a table opened up. Prior to playing we went over to my younger son’s home to wish his wife a happy birthday and to say hello to our youngest granddaughter. We had good time visiting, left later then we planned, did some grocery shopping and went home.

I logged onto DoylesRoom and went to the Step tourneys and found no one waiting. I registered and while waiting I sat down at a cash table. It was No Limit Hold ‘Em with blinds of .10/.20 and I bought in for $12.00.

My goal was to play extremely tight and in position. I would take an occasional shot at the pot with good drawing hands. I would limp in with small pocket pairs in the hopes of getting in cheaply and hitting a set. In many circles, this is called set mining. With the right flop, small pairs turning into sets can make for winning good size pots. Of course you need to be careful. Someone else might make a larger set if the flop have cards higher than yours. It’s a risk versus reward kind of play.

In any case, unless I had AA, KK, QQ,JJ, TT or AK, I was planning on folding to a raise or a re-raise. It seemed every time that I was in the small blind and I called, the big blind would raise me and I would fold with my drawing hand. If I was in the big blind with a hand of any kind, every one would fold to me and I would win half a bet. I was not seeing a lot of action on the good hands that I caught and would be raised out of the pot with the poorer hands.

After an hour of folding hands, I caught an A 10 in the small blind. The big blind raised a minimum bet and I called instead of folding this poor starting hand. The flop was A 8 3. I raised the size of the pot, the big blind raised again. He only had $1.13 left and I was bound and determined that he was not going to push me out of the pot. Besides, what could he possibly have. At the turn, which was a 7, he bet the pot again which put him all-in. I still had him covered so I called. He turned over pocket Aces for three of a kind. The short answer is “Yes” he could have a hand every time he raised me from the big blind. Oh well.

Going back to playing tight, it took over 2 1/2 hours but I won back the 8.00 I had lost with poor decision making and $1,75 more than I started with. By allowing myself to stray from my plan, I had cost myself some time and profit. It was good that this happened now instead of at a Steps tourney or major event. I need to keep more focused and disciplined in my playing.

When you don’t get good hands, do you start to lose focus? Do you start to think that A 10 looks good in the small blind? How patient or disciplined should you be? Or perhaps the better question is, how disciplined should I be?

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A Diamond ended up costing me a third of my buy-in!

Four Suits
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I was playing No Limit Hold ‘Em at Full Rush Poker. I bought into a low level table where the blinds were .05/.10 and my buy-in was $5.00. The table play was a little wild. There was one high stacked player with over $20.00 so he must have been hitting good hands as the maximum buy-in is $10.00.

When ever I enter a table cold, not having observed it, I like to wait until I am the big blind to play. While waiting, I noticed a lot of raises and re-rasises from the large stack opponent. He would get a few callers, hit his flop and rake in more money. Some of the other players had stack sizes of less than $2.00 and in some cases, less than $1.00.

I realized right then if I was going to stay at the table I needed to wait for either AA, KK or perhaps AK before playing as it appeared that an all-in moment could occur any time.  I wanted to have a hand to battle with.

On one hand, I caught AK and I was in early position. The under-the-gun player folded as did the next player. I raised by betting a pot size bet of .70c. There were five callers including the large stack and the big blind. The flop was 3 5 6 rainbow, no matching suits.

Everyone checked and the turn card was a 10. No help to me either. The big blind checked, I checked, the next player bet .70c. The large stack player folded. The big blind raised, going all in for his remaining $1.83.

My hand was poised over the mouse, waiting to click the “fold” button, when it happened.  Out of nowhere came a Diamond flying over the back of the couch, and hit my shoulder. I immediately hit the mouse button  but now it was positioned over the call button. The other player folded and I watched the river card bring me no help.

I lost over a third of my stack when Diamond, one of our pair of young kittens, leaped over the couch and hit my shoulder in an attempt to get into my lap to cuddle. Both he and his brother, Spade, vie for the top position on my lap, each one trying to move the other away in order to claim me for their sole possession.

So now the cat is out of the bag. Most of the time I play online, sitting on the couch in front of the large screen TV. I have my notebook hooked up to it and enjoy watching the action on a 47 inch screen. These kittens are quite a challenge while I play online poker. They enjoy stepping on the keyboard, batting the mouse or watching the screen while the cards are being dealt.

Do you ever play online poker with distractions? How does that effect your game? Have your distractions caused you to play in a less than optimal way?

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Refreshing to play at a civil table. Makes poker more fun to play.

Flopped Quads
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While playing at my never ending Steps tourneys at, something unusual happened. While for the most part, there was no chatting going on, when there was, it was civil in nature.

In one hand that I played,  I had AQ suited on the button. I was short stacked with less than 2,300 of my original starting 3,000 in chips. The average stack at that point was 6,000 and the blinds were 200/400.

I went all in and was called by a larger stack player who turned over AJ off suit. Neither of us were helped by the flop, turn or river and I won the pot and doubled up with my AQ. I can imagine my opponent smiling as he typed his chat message to me. He said “NICE HAND”.  “YOU KNOW DON’T YOU THAT DOYLE DOES NOT LIKE AQ?” I replied “lol” to which he said “WHAT DOES LOL MEAN?”.

I think that he was new to online play or he would have known that it is bad online etiquette to use caps when chatting. Caps usually means that the person is SCREAMING at you. His not knowing what lol meant seemed genuine as well.

The next to last hand that I played with him was another all in confrontation. I was still short stacked and went all in with A5 of spades. He instantly called with AK off suit. The flop was no help but I hit a 5 on the turn that held up and I won the hand. That left him extremely short stacked with less than 600 in chips.  I typed  “sry” for sorry and he said “THAT’S ALL RIGHT – I ALREADY HAVE AN ENTRY TICKET FOR STEP 6”.

By the next hand he was gone. I finished in 3rd place and have to repeat Step 5 for the third time. I hope I see that opponent again. Just not at a final table. He was good, but just got unlucky.

Have you ever had a pleasant playing experience where you enjoyed the poker session even if you did not accomplish the goal of winning? Isn’t it more fun to play with friends even if you are playing to win?

In spite of my best laid plans, I busted out of Step 5 in last place – Duh!

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In my last post, I described that I was playing in a Steps series on DoylesRoom.Com in the hopes of securing a seat at a WPT event being played this December.

I said how I would only play great starting hands in position and would be careful not to get busted out. My goal was to finish Step 5 in no less than 5th place. Places one and two would advance me to the next level. Places three and four would keep me at Step 5. Fifth place would send me back to Step 4. Anything lower and I would have to start over again either at Step 1 or buy-in at a higher level.

However, I did not follow my own carefully thought out plans. I was going to fold all but premium hands unless I had position or could limp in. I was only going to play monster hands aggressively.

We started with nine players, each with 3,000 in chips. There were still nine at the table with the average stack being 3,400. I was in last place with 2,600 in chips. I was trying to be careful with what hands I wanted to play.

I was in the small blind and I had K8 off suit. There were five who called the flop including myself. The big blind checked. The flop was K78 – rainbow. I made a pot sized bet. The big blind raised it again pot size. I was thinking perhaps AA or AK or a similar high pair.

I shoved with my top two pairs only to be called by the big blind with pocket 7’s for a set. The set held up and I was out in ninth or last place.

So much for planing and playing according to the plan. Now this brings me up to my next question and answer.

Do I go back to “Step 1” and work my way back? Do I jump back into Step 5 and pay the $17.00 fee? Do I take a small step back (no pun intended) and start over at Step 4 with a buy-in of $5.85.

I don’t feel the need to punish myself for bad judgment this time. Heaven knows even the top pros do not follow their own advice. How many times has Doyle Brunson played AQ, a hand he totally hates and says should be folded. But even he has played hands he says are real trouble and he has lost with those hands.

In any case, yesterday I bought in at Step 4 and won. So now I look forward to replaying Step 5 and moving forward.

Have you ever made plans prior to entering a tourney and then lost focus and not followed them? Have you ever busted out early when there was no real reason to? What has been your experience with Step type tourneys?

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My strategy for playing a "Steps" tournament

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I am currently playing a series of  “Steps” single table tournaments at DoylesRoom. com in the hopes of winning an entry to the “Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic” being held December 14th – 19th at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

I have already survived playing in five steps but am replaying step five as I came in fourth place. The way the steps work is that you win entry to the next step if  you win in first or second place. You win an entry to the current step if you win in third or fourth place. Fifth place wins you an entry into the prior step. This is true for all but the first and the last step. In step one, if you do not advance, you have to rebuy. In step ten, first prize is an entry to the WPT tournament in Las Vegas. Second place is an entry back to step 10. Third place is a $250 cash prize.

I almost always play extremely tight, only pushing with  hands such as AA and KK. In position, I also will play QQ, JJ TT, AK. If I can limp in without fear of being raised, I will also play suited connectors and small pairs hoping to hit sets and good flops to win large pots. My hope is that by playing that way, I will finish in the top five and not have to start over at “Step 1”.

Do you play in “Step Satellites”? What are your plans when you do so? Would you consider buying into a higher step to avoid having to start at the bottom?

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