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Muckleshoot Summer Classic 2017 – Poker Blog

September 19, 2017

I always look forward to Muckleshoot’s big poker series that happens twice a year, but I have to say my results in that casino have been pretty poor. I’ve cashed the $750 Main Event three times, but I’ve never final tabled an event in this series. My plan is usually to play all the events, but if I whiff the first three events I skip the $500 tournament if I don’t have any points for Player of the Series. I just don’t think it’s very good value for a $500 buy in and I’d rather take the day off and relax before the Main Event so I’m as fresh as I can possibly be for the best tournament Washington state has to offer.

Event #1: $250 No Limit Hold Em Shootout

The first event was the $250 NL Shootout – a tournament I have never cashed. I have probably only been a regular in this series since maybe 2015, so when I say I’ve never cashed it, I’m like 0-4 or 0-5, which sucks, but isn’t too crazy considering my fair share of cashes is 10%. I could win two of my next four tries and be running way above average overall. Small samples! For those that don’t know, a Shootout format plays like a one table tournament. You start with 10 players and play down to 1 winner and there is no balancing amongst other tables. All tables play down to one winner and those winners all cash and advance to the next round, which in this case combines all 17 winners and plays out like a normal tournament the rest of the way.

I was at a very favorable table, but it’s hard to accumulate chips when your good hands don’t win. Before the first break I had lost with 99 twice, TT, and AJ. I stole the blinds with QQ in the first level. I was sitting at 6600 after starting with an 8000 stack and I hadn’t won any notable hands.

I didn’t write specific notes about this hand but I’m going to do my best to remember it because it was an important one. I believe the blinds were 100-200 with a 25 ante and I had AJ and probably made it 450 or 500 and I got one caller. The flop was 222 and I bet 500, which was probably about 40% of the pot. My opponent made it 1500. This is really weird. I have his range capped somewhere around 99, meaning I think he three bets TT+ preflop most of the time. I think he raises smaller pairs some of the time also, but I think it’s pretty clear that his hand is a small-to-medium pair the vast majority of the time here. After betting 500, I have somewhere around 7k left in my stack, so if I jam it would be 5500 more for him to call in a pot that will be about 9500. I don’t think he should be folding in that spot, which is why his flop raise doesn’t make any sense to me. When I have an overpair he just doubles me up over 90% of the time. Not only do I think raising the flop with his hand is a mistake, I also think he might be capable of folding to a jam. I gave some serious thought to stuffing it. When people make plays that don’t make much sense, they are usually capable of compounding their errors. Part of me thought he made this flop raise because he thought/hoped I had unpaired big cards, but if I go all in, I am now telling him I have a big pair and I really thought he might let it go. I wasn’t certain though and it wouldn’t surprise me if he called it off, so I didn’t pull the trigger. Instead, I flatted. There was now about 3400 in the pot and it cost me 1000 to continue. I thought if I called he was very likely to check back the turn so I figured myself for six outs twice, which makes this play borderline okay as I pick up a Jack or an Ace about 24% of the time. Obviously, in order to make this play profitable, I’m going to have to jam if a King or Queen hits as well. This gives me ~14 scare cards, one of which will appear by the river over half the time, and makes this flop peel very reasonable. Unfortunately, the board came out clean for him and he was able to table his 44 for the win. But he did check back the turn and river so I think my flop call is plenty defensible. This was a pretty frustrating hand because I realized that if I had an overpair he was just going to punt his stack to me so often and it felt like such a wasted opportunity.

That hand left me with 17 big blinds, which I 3-bet jammed over an open with AQ shortly afterwards and lost a flip to TT. Good game.

Bonus Event: $200 Limit Omaha 8 or Better

I didn’t keep any notes for this tournament and my first update on Facebook was 4.5 hours in saying I had five bigs with 22 players left and 10 of us cashing. While I can’t recall any notable hands up to this point, my ride from here was pretty wild and included an all-time great bad beat. Limit formats can create some interesting spots that don’t come up in No Limit tournaments. For instance, I was left with less than two big blinds TWICE. In NL, you just get all the chips in and if you lose you’re out; but in limit, especially in a split pot game, you don’t have to get all the chips in and you frequently get portions of the pot back. I tried to get all in on the flop in one hand, but my opponent just flatted my raise and when I picked up no additional equity on the turn, I checked back, and ended up saving my last bet instead of busting because I was “priced in.” So they had me down to less than two big blinds, not once but twice, and I managed to run that up to a 10 big blind stack when this catastrophe happened:

I opened to 12000 at 3000/6000 with A753 plus a suited ace and only the big blind defended. The flop came down a beautiful AQ2 rainbow, giving me top pair, a wheel draw, and a back door nut flush draw. My opponent check-called and then led into me when a 4 hit on the turn. What a dream spot! I had the mortal nuts. I started the hand with 45000 and after raising the turn here, I had managed to get 42,000 of it in the pot holding the nut high and the nut low. My opponent called and then disaster struck: the river was a 3. This is a terrible card because now he’s chopping the pot with me if he has A5, 25, and 45, giving him a wheel he didn’t have before. I wish that’s what he had. What he actually had was 654X, giving him a wheel AND a six high straight and 75% of the pot. I went from scooping a 90K pot to losing half my stack instead. There were 14 players left in the tournament at this point and scooping that hand would have put me second in chips. First place was $3500. Needless to say, that one hurt a little. I ended up folding my big blind and got my last 3 or 4 bigs in from the small blind and I was out of miracles and out of the tournament in 14th place.

It was 1 AM and I had been playing poker since noon with nothing to show for it and I was reeling from that brutal pot. Even though I was already bought in for the next day, I realized I absolutely did not want to come back and play at noon. I sold my seat and took the next day off.

Event #3: $300 No Limit Hold Em

I wrote some scattered notes for this tournament so I’ll do my best to piece it together. I had 20k from 12k starting after the first three levels and I was loving my table. I was controlling the action pretty well and didn’t have any massive confrontations early. Here are some notable hands from the first few levels (they may or may not take place in sequence):

I open AQ and button and big blind call. Flop is A32 all clubs and I have no club. I size a little larger than normal since I’m out of position against one player and my hand is very vulnerable. Only the big blind calls. The turn is a ten that is not a club. My opponent check-calls again. When the dealer is bringing the river I am watching my opponent and not the board so I am quite displeased when I see him reaching for chips and tossing a 3200 bet out. The river is not a club though and pairs the 3, so I am quite perplexed. His bet is pretty polarizing: he either has a flush or a full house or he’s bluffing his missed draws. I don’t know this player very well, but I would guess he’s probably not bluffing often enough here. Still, since I don’t have any great reads at this point, folding is pretty weak and I pay off his king high flush.

I completed 76 from the small blind and saw a flop of T76 in a 3-way pot. My hand is pretty vulnerable to free cards here but the pot is small, so I decide to check and the limper bets 600. I make it 1650 to go and he snap calls. The turn is an Ace and I lead 2000 and he folds, exposing a ten.

This hand takes place in level six and by this point the action at my table has slowed substantially and I’ve gone card dead, so I get frisky – hoping to exploit the current trend of tight play and my nitty image – by opening Q8hh from UTG+1 and make it 900 at 200/400 with a 50 ante. Only the big blind defends and then he leads out a hefty 1600 on the 984 flop with two spades and one heart. This is the same player that check-called twice with the nut flush earlier, so I think it’s reasonable to rule out very strong holdings from his range. I don’t love calling this bet size but considering I have a pair and a back door flush draw, as well as knowing his history of slow playing strong hands, I have to continue. The turn is a 5 and he bets 3200. The only draw that completed was 76 and I think it’s very unlikely that he will fire another bullet with 9x on the river, so my plan is to call again and probably fold the river if I don’t improve and he bombs it. The river was a 6 and now he checked it to me. I was never considering the possibility of turning my hand into a bluff, but now the opportunity was presenting itself. He had a little less than 6000 behind and there was around 12k in the middle. I obviously have a hand with plenty of showdown value, so checking back is reasonable, but what I really want to do is fold out his 9x hands. He’s never calling with his missed draws and I already ruled out his stronger holdings (sets), but I think he can fold his 9x and possibly his two pair hands here. Granted, I don’t have many 7x hands in my range (97s, 87s, 76s, A7ss, 77) and I probably wouldn’t try bluffing here against a better player, but I think he’s scared of the four card straight more than he’s thinking about my actual range and I only need this bluff to get through 33% of the time to break even, so it’s a pretty easy shove for me. He folds.

Two rounds later, I’m sitting on about a 22 big blind stack when it folds to me on the button and I look down at AJ. The small blind has me covered and the big blind has about 19 bigs to start the hand. I believe the player in the big blind is a thinking player and will realize I’m opening wide on the button and possibly try to exploit that by playing back at me with less than premium holdings. The small blind appears to be straight forward. Blinds are 400/800 and my plan is to open to 2000 and fold to a 3-bet from the small blind but get it in against the big blind. The small blind folds and the big blind does raise me, to about 7500, which is odd considering she has a reshove stack. Still, I didn’t waste time thinking about her sizing and got it in quickly and she snap-called with AK and I found myself crippled after the hand. I’ve been thinking about this one, wondering if she’s really ever 3-betting me light. I think it’s pretty standard to get it in with the AJ here, but I might be able to make exploitive folds against this player. While I’m sure she knows I’m capable of raising light on the button here, I’m not convinced she’s willing to exploit me by jamming hands like A8 or 33. I’m okay with the play, but I may be overestimating her capabilities here.

I doubled my remaining three bigs by winning with 44 vs KQ and then my 8 bigs jam with AQ lost to AK even though I turned plenty of equity with the nut flush draw and chop outs to a straight.

Event #5: $750 No Limit Hold Em Main Event

I kept some solid notes for this one and I actually felt like I played very well and had a strong read on all my opponents, but things did not go my way at all.

With the blinds at 25/50, there was a limper or two and the player to my right made it 250 to go. I had pocket tens. This is a hand that I like to flat this early in the tournament, but I do need to 3-bet it some of the time in order to keep my reraising range balanced. I think this is actually a good spot to make the raise, but in this instance I elected to call and six players ended up seeing the flop. On an 873 rainbow flop it checks to the preflop raiser who bets 500 into a 1500 pot, which is actually a pretty weak bet in this situation. With four players left to speak behind me though, I think calling and seeing what happens is best here. Five of us end up seeing the turn, which is a Jack. Now the preflop aggressor bets 1700 into a pot of 4000. I could have the best hand here and calling is probably standard, but since no one showed any real strength on the flop and because I had two tens in my hand, I decided to represent the T9 straight and made it 4100 to go. It’s really hard for anyone else to have the nuts and I thought there was some chance that my opponent would fold an overpair and if he called, I could make some decisions on the river, whether I wanted to continue the bluff or just show my hand down. While the other four players did fold, I was rather shocked when the aggressor reraised me to 9500. That is something I did not expect. Holding two blockers to the nuts, I felt pretty confident that if he did continue, it would be with a call. Instead, I ended up having to fold and he made a classy comment of “nice try.”

With the blinds still at 25/50 the cutoff opened to 250 and I defended 99 from the big blind. This is another potential 3-bet hand, but facing this raise size (which is huge), I went with a call. The flop was J43 and my opponent quickly checked behind. I lead out 350 when I turned a set and he called. The river was an 8 and I had already established my opponent as a calling station so even though it seemed like he was on the weaker side of his range, I decided to bet 1500 into 1225, as I thought he wouldn’t fold any pair and could very well call me with ace high. He did not oblige – he made it 3500 instead. This is not a fist pump and call situation. In fact, it very well might be a fold. Still, there is some chance he rivered a set of 8s and it’s not like I have so much history with this player that I can reliably start folding sets to him. So after giving it the “wow, how unlucky am I” head nod for about 10 seconds, I realized I’m never folding this hand and should stop wasting everyone’s time. Plus, the longer I wait, the more of an asshole I’m going to look like when my set of 9s are good. So I called and lost to his QT straight.

For some reason, our table was really limpy at the 75/150 level and I found myself limping along with 77 in a 5-way pot and getting the 764 with two spades flop. Everyone checked to me and I bet 500 into 750 and only one of the blinds called. The turn gave me quads and I bet 850 into 1750 and was called again. The river was a Ten and my opponent checked again. As I was thinking about my bet sizing with 3450 in the pot, I saw that she was shuffling her cards around in front of her and generally looking like she was going to fold. But this isn’t a player that I think is unaware of her body language, so I actually thought this meant she was trying to induce a bluff and was very likely to call, so I sized up at 2200 and she didn’t take very long to put the call out.

In the very next hand, I was able to limp along again with 66 and flopped another set on a very similar board, this time the 765 with two clubs. One of the limpers led out 350 into 750 and was called by another limper. I elected to make it 1450 on such a draw heavy board and both those players called. The turn was an 8 and I was pretty sad to see a 16.5k shove and a 21k shove before the action got to me. Obviously, I no longer have the best hand, but we were still in the re-entry period and it’s worth taking some time to try and figure out the math of the situation. I had around 20k behind and it was going to cost me all of it to see the river. So with 41.6K in the pot, I had to call 20K and I had ~10 outs once, or roughly 20%. So I had to put up 33% of the pot and I’m only going to get there 20% of the time. Mathematically, it’s a clear fold, especially since I still had a starting stack behind. I think if this was a smaller tournament still in the re-entry period, I would gamble with the worst of it for a chance to have a 60k stack in level 3, but I didn’t love the idea of busting out 80% of the time and paying another $750 for the stack I had sitting in front of me already. So I folded and the A9cc missed its freeroll versus the 96hh when a Jack hit the river.

My next critical hand at the 75/150 level saw someone opening from early position to 350 and I picked up AA and made it 1125. She called that raise and we saw a flop of QJ8 with two clubs and one spade. This is a poor flop for my hand – especially since both my aces were red – and it smacks her calling range pretty hard, so when she checked to me, I decided to check it back and let a card roll off. The turn was an ugly 9 of spades and she led out 1500. I’m losing to a lot of hands. The better question is, what hands would she raise/call with preflop that I’m still beating? AK, KQ, AQ? Maybe AJ suited? With two aces in my hand, I’m blocking the hands I want her to have pretty hard, plus AQ and KQ aren’t really hands it makes sense for her to bet here. At this point, it’s a pretty trivial fold, but it feels a bit bizarre to put zero chips in the pot after the flop heads up holding AA in position. I think it’s reasonable to bet the flop here, but I hate it if I get check-raised and even if she just calls there are going to be a lot of bad run outs for my hand. This is not the kind of board I want to play a big pot with. I think I get the best value out of my hand by checking back the flop and betting good turn cards when checked to or calling if she bets and then deciding on the river. She later told me she had TT and while I’m not saying that’s the gospel truth it’s certainly a hand that makes sense.

Here’s another hand I thought I botched. With the blinds at 100/200 and a 25 ante two players with wide ranges limped in from mid and late position and I made it 700 to go with K8 of clubs on the button. I think this play picks up the pot a decent portion of the time preflop and when I get called, I’m positive they fold often enough on the flop to make this play profitable – and that’s ignoring the times I actually make the best hand. They did both call, as did one of the blinds – not my dream scenario – and we ended up seeing a flop of AK2 rainbow, but with the 2 of clubs. Everyone checked to me and while this is a great hand to check behind, I think betting is perfectly reasonable. I’m not really worried about either of the limpers having an ace when they decide to call from later positions, so I frequently have the best hand and I should just bet it for value and try to win this pot right now. A check would make a lot more sense in a heads up pot, but I went with a check here. The turn card brought the 3 of spades, which opened up a spade draw and it checked to the player to my right and he bet 1000. Easy call for me and everyone else folded. The river was a ten and now he bet 2200 into what was about a 5100 pot. I actually hated this bet sizing because it screamed value. I had seen this player bluff the river and get picked off a couple of times now and I was really picking up the vibe that he had a hand this time. I even said “I don’t think you’re bluffing this time” aloud, but I was having a hard time coming up with hands that made sense because I didn’t think he had an ace and I didn’t think it made much sense to bet any other one pair hand, so his value range is super narrow – sets and straights, that’s about it. I went against my instincts and called and he showed me a hand that made perfect sense: the QJ of spades. Going back to my flop line on this hand, I’m not saying I made a mistake because of how the hand turned out, but in retrospect, I think a bet is my best play there. With about 2800 in the pot and a good flop for my range that isn’t susceptible to many draws, I would have sized small, probably 1200 at most, and the player with the QJ of spades would have almost certainly peeled the turn and I would have lost anyway… but still, I like to make the right plays, regardless of results.

At this point, I had lost with pocket aces and two sets and was having a really hard time accumulating any chips. I seemed to be losing most of the pots I played and I had ran my 20k starting stack down to 6k, so when the under the gun player made it 800 with the blinds at 150-300 and I looked down at AK in the big blind, I had a very easy reshove and she snapped with JJ and I lost the race.

I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty frustrating how I haven’t been able to have any breakthrough success at Muckleshoot. The data on my phone goes back to August of 2014 and I’ve lost more money at Muckleshoot than ANY casino and it’s one of only two casinos that I’ve played 70+ hours at during that span and have not won money overall. Granted, I don’t grind cash games there (53 hours in 3+ years) but I’ve played 30 tournaments and only cashed 4 of them (13.3%) and I have zero final tables. It’s still a pretty small sample size and I’m confident things will turn around eventually – especially if I increase my volume – but I have to say I’m tired of this stigma I have with Muckleshoot Casino!

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