After missing out of the money in the last PPT event at the Commerce (last three tables finish), I again looked forward to the next one in San Jose.
During the three week gap between the two events, I decided against playing tournaments. I therefore spent most of my time playing live action at the Commerce. Like many other pros, I have had to re-evaluate how to spend my poker time. In the past, with fields of around 100-150 players, tournaments offered a consistent form of revenue. However, with the increasing number of players taking part, that is no longer the case. In fact, you can be the best player in the world and play great poker - and still miss out on the big returns. It has therefore become paramount that players look at other means to sustain, what has become a very expensive lifestyle.
It was my first visit to San Jose and to the Bay 101 casino. I found the staff to be extremely competent and friendly. In fact, some of the dealers were superb at their job - I shall definitely be coming back here again.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, the PPT offers an opportunity to play poker against the best pros in the world - there was not an Internet qualifier in sight.
Like most other recent events I have played, I seemed to struggle early on. With a starting stack of 10K to play with, I somehow keep managing to get down to 3K within the first 3-4 hours. With blinds of 100-200, I was beginning to feel a little disappointed at the lack of opportunities that came my way. But suddenly, I had a chance to double up.
Having raised in late position with A-9 and getting called by the button, I was pleased with a flop of 6-6-9. I check-raised all-in as my opponent bet 1500 on the flop. I was delighted with the call by 8-9. However, I had to smile as the river brought another 6 for a split pot. I was happy to see that our table was one of the early ones to break. I needed a change of luck - and soon!
It seems funny that you can try every trick in the book to survive, and yet, all it takes is a simple table change to change your luck.
Having doubled-up, and with a stack of 8K, I was about to face a very tough decision. Holding QQ (the hand that busted me in the previous PPT event when I ran into AA), I was looking at a raise from the player UTG. To be honest, I felt that I was up against it. The player in question, Brad Daugherty is as tight as they come. There was never an option of re-raising with my QQ. My one saving grace was that the raise of 600 was affordable. But I knew I needed to flop another Q.
Well, I didn't flop a Q, but the flop of T-J-A brought other options. Having position, it was a matter of waiting to see what Brad did.
It was simple really, was he holding KK or AA? Brad's tentative bet of 1500 was not a clear indication. Was he scared of the flop? Or had he flopped a set of Aces? At that stage, I was leaning towards Brad holding KK. I therefore decided to call the 1500 and wait to see what he did after the turn. An 8 brought with it a further gutshot for the straight. I waited for the check from Brad. I had hoped to have the option of trying to get him to lay down his KK if he did check. However, it became clear that Brad had the set when bet a further 2500. It was now a matter of, did I feel lucky?
The double gutsot gave me 8 outs and some chance to get lucky. It would have meant that I would be down to 3500 if I missed. I decided on the call and the chance to double up to 16K. The river 9 gave me the straight, and I quickly called Brad's all-in bet. I was back in the game. At this stage, we were down to around 120 from the starting field of 160. I was in good shape for the first time in the event.
Four or five hours later, my stack had not moved at all. We were due to break at 45 players and come back for day two. We just needed to lose a few more players when firework broke out at my table for what turned out to be the last three hands. AA wins against QQ. AA wins against KK. We are down to 45 but our last hand had been dealt.
After not playing a hand for almost half a day, the last hand given me the Aces. It felt sweet to be set al-in by the KK of Cecile Mortensen. I had to smile as the flop came 4-5-6, followed by a 7 and then an 8 for a split pot. I was coming back to day two with a lot of work to do. With the chip leaders at well over 100K my 15K was looking a little fragile. But at least I was still there!
Day two to follow.
Until then, play well, get lucky and enjoy life!
Peter "The Poet" Costa