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No Limit ligaz11 Fridays

I have recently moved to Las Vegas from the Chicagoland area, and have become involved in the weekly poker tournament scene here. One of my favorites, is the no-limit tournament held every Friday night, at the Orleans.

They get good turnouts, usually with fields in excess of 100+ players. The mix of players include beginners, tourists, locals, and even some famous tournament players. Susie Isaacs, Oklahoma Johnny Hale and John Strzemp, who finished second to Stu Ungar in the 1997 World Series of Poker, were playing on this night.

The buy-in is $60, for which you receive 400 in tournament chips. There is one optional re-buy for $40, anytime within the first hour. This re-buy gets you an additional 800 worth of chips. For $3, you can purchase a dealers bonus card, worth 100 tournament chips. The monies from these cards go exclusively to the dealers, and are not included in the prize pool. If you exercise all your options, total cost will be $103. The Orleans gives out bounties in this tournament, $10 for each player you eliminate from the field. On this night, there were exactly 100 players who bought in, with 92 re-buys. 10 places were paid with $2,375 for 1st, 1,380 for 2nd and $845 for third.

I am not a professional player, nor am I a so-called “expert”. Right or wrong, these are the hands I played, and some of my thoughts behind why I made certain moves. So, I bought in, took my seat, and was ready to play.

The blinds started out at 10-15, with 15 minute rounds the first hour. The first hand I got involved in, I held Ad, 9d in middle position. Six of us limped in for $15, and saw the flop. It came 5,6,8 rainbow. Three players to my right check, I checked, and the remaining 2 ligaz11 players checked behind me. The turn card was an Ah. It was once again check to me. I decided to bet out $50 into a $90 pot. The first player to my left folded, a tight player in the big blind called, and the remaining two players folded. At this point, I wasn’t sure if the remaining player had an Ace or was on a draw. The river brought a 10h, for a board 5c,6s,8h,Ah,10h. That wasn’t the card I was hoping for on the river. I checked and the other player bets out $200. I don’t figure him for trying to steal at this point, so I toss my cards into the muck.

The blinds have now increased to 10-20. A middle position player limps in for $20. I look at my cards and find pocket 88’s. I raise, making it $120 to go. The other players fold, and the limper calls the additional $100 raise. The flop comes 3h,2c,6c. Without hesitation, he bets $300 all-in. I’m not sure where he is at, and I figure I am either a slight favorite or a huge underdog. Then again, if I make the wrong decision here, I can always exercise my re-buy option. So I decide to call. To my dismay, he turns over pocket AA’s, and I realize that I have been trapped. The turn card is a 9, no help for either of us. The river is a beautiful 8. I got lucky, and I have doubled my stack to 850.

We are at the next level with the blinds of 15-30. I post the small blind and all fold to me. I glance at my cards, and have been dealt QQ’s. I make it $130. The big blind, thinks for a moment, and calls. The flop comes J,6,5, all hearts. I don’t want to give the other player a free card here, because an over card could come on the turn. I also don’t want to bet out too much, incase the player flopped a flush, and pushes all-in on me. I decide to bet out $150 and see what happens. I don’t get called. I end at this level with a chip count of 1,040.

This is the last level before the re-buy period is over. The blinds are at 20-40. I can’t find any cards to play and never have position to make a steal. After the first hour of play my chip count total has dropped to 940. I exercise my re-buy option, which increases my stack to 1,740.

After a 15 minutes break, play resumes with blinds of 30-60. I am immediately in the big blind. Everyone folds to the player on the button, whom I consider to be a weak player. He limps in for $60. The little blind folds and, I am faced with a decision here. I have A,K off suit. I put the button on two picture cards or an ace rag. Should I make a small raise and try to win the pot right now? Or, should I check and hope to set a trap on the flop? I decide to check and try to set a trap. The flop comes 2,3,4 rainbow. I check, and the button checks. The turn card is a Q. I once again check, and the button makes an over bet of $300 into a $150 pot. I figure he made a pair and I fold. My ending chip count at this level, 1650.

Blinds increase to 50-100, and I am under the gun with pocket tens. I don’t want to bet too little here and let someone see the flop cheaply, so I raise to $400 and hold my breath. All fold and I pick up the blinds. I now post the big blind. All fold, and the small blind folds too. I don’t even bother looking at my cards, afraid of what I might find. I have survived this level, but don’t increase my stack. I am at 1,600.

Next, the blinds move up to 75-150. After we play a couple hands, the table I am at breaks down. I am relocated to a table with John Strzemp. For a minute, I picture myself and John Strzemp playing heads up for first prize. But those thoughts quickly fade away as I can’t find any cards to play. I end up folding hand after hand. I don’t play a single hand at this level, and now have been reduced to a chip count of 1,175.

With the blinds moving up to 100-200 and not many chips left, I need to find some cards to play. A player under the gun, raises to $900. I look down to find pocket KK’s. I only have $975. So I say “raise” and throw all my chips into the pot. Naturally, the player calls the additional $75 raise. At the Orleans, when a person is all-in, he doesn’t have to turn his hand face up. So, I ask the player if he has an ACE? He says no he doesn’t. The board comes Qd,8h,4d,2s,As. My hand holds up, and I double through. This level ends, and my stack is now at 2,150.

The next level takes the blinds to 150-300. A player with a big stack, raises 900 under the gun. The remaining players fold. I am on the button with the hand I have been looking for all night. Pocket AA’s. I count out 900 in chips, look at my remaining chips, count them out, take another 30 seconds to think, and say “All in for $1,875.” I don’t want to call to fast, because the others in the blinds could have some kind of pocket pair and might decide to call. The blinds fold and the initial raiser, calls. I turn over my hand proudly. The other player turns over Ad,Qd, I am feeling pretty good, until I see the flop – all diamonds. I don’t even bother trying to imagine how the turn and river card could possible help me at this point. Just like that, I’m out of the tournament. I went out in 46th place.

Even though I had hoped for a better outcome, and was a little down when my pocket AA’s got cracked late in the tournament, I really enjoy the thrill of playing no-limit poker. The Orleans does a great job of running these tournaments, and I intend to play in the no-limit tournament there again. Hopefully next time, with a little luck, I will place higher or maybe even make it into the money.