Saturday, January 29, 2005

Night of Stars

I had gotten the distinct impression from various online sources that the players at Poker Stars were superior to those on Party. That the tournament structures favored the more learned over the maniacal play that is de riguer at the smaller buy-in Party tournaments. And while the extra chips and blind structures at Stars do theoretically give an advantage, my experience last night (small sample size alert) flew in the face of conventional wisdom.

I figured I'd stick with my little stack on Stars, Party Poker not treating me well at all. Played some $25 NL, again with a bankroll disadvantage. Didn't have any trouble doubling up. Had one big hand that gave me most of it. And some stone bluffs on my loose-passive table. It was getting late, but there was an $11 buy-in MTT starting at midnight, so I bought in with part of my evening's profit.

The stat tab on Stars is pretty cool. I could monitor how many flops I didn't see. Not even in the blinds. My table was a raise festival. Not minimum raises or 5x raises, but 30x raises and all-ins. At level 1. We were not in Kansas any more. I had two playable hands in the first 30, AQo and 77. I folded both to multiple raises in front of me. You weren't going to be first in the pot unless you were UTG.

Soon, we had the tournament chip leader at out table. He got that way by being terrible. He called a pre-flop all-in with 105s. He made his flush to win. He called a pre-flop all-in with K9o against AA. He made a boat to win. He called TWO pre-flop all-ins with A5o. He made a wheel. I didn't know whether to rejoice, knowing I'd have a chance at all those chips if I got a hand, or terrified that no matter what I played, he'd out-draw me.

Anyway, with the higher chip counts, there is less urgency to do anything silly in the first hour. I could fold all the way and more than half the field would be thinned. No hurry.

I finally get AK on the button and--SURPRISE!--no raises in front. Just a couple-three limpers. I raise 5x, knowing I won't get any folds, but I'd like to build a pot if I can. Again, the extra chips at Stars aid in my decision. I get 3 other callers, including--SURPRISE!--Mr. Chip Leader.

The flop comes K96, all hearts. It's checked to me and I bet 300. Folded around to Mr. Chip Leader who calls. Now, I have NO IDEA what he could be holding. But I'm sure I'm ahead. If he flopped the flush, he'd have gone all-in. This is not a player who, to this point, has exhibited even the slightest bit of subtlety. So I put a check-smooth call beyond him.

The turn is a harmless 3 of clubs and he checks. I go all-in. Oops. Did I say harmless? Mr. Chip Leader shows 93 of diamonds for two pair. The river offers no help.

So, sit back and ponder the the brain-power that allows someone to call a 5x pre-flop raise with 93s and a 300 bet with bottom pair and three hearts on the board. It didn't even tilt me. It just made me shake my head in wonder.

I'll be happy to give you his handle if you like. I know I'm gonna be looking for him every time I fire up Stars. He was also from around here. I invited him to join me at Commerce tonight. He demured.


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