Wednesday, January 27, 2010

$1K+Rebuys TR

The next day after golfing was the $1K+rebuys NL event. In the rebuy period I splashed around a ton and managed to nail some some flops and get paid off to build a decent stack. I took the triple add-on even though I'm not entirely sure it's mathematically correct (I guess it probably depends on how big I think my edge is) so I was in for $5k. I kept winning a lot of pots and building my stack but there were two German players at my table who I could not beat all-in no matter what I had who took turns doubling through me. Eventually I got moved to another table and some stuff happened and I build my stack up a little out of the danger zone, likely through cardracking because that's mostly what I did this tournament. Then I got moved to another table and in quick succession started running good against the Germans there (a lot of the German guys came to Australia this year).

First I 3-bet an UTG raise from an aggressive German player with AKo. He 4-bets me and folds to my shove. Right after that I open KK and get 2 calls. He squeezes from the BB, I ship, and he calls JJ. I finally hold all-in against a German. Shortly after that I open QQ in the HJ, another German in the BB crams his 20BB with JTs and doesn't get there. Now I have a lot of chips. I kind of chip up more to close to 100K in chips but bleed off 20K or so to make the final table of 10 with 78k. That put me 3/10 but my friend James Obst has like 190k and Florian Langmann, a German Team Pokerstars pro who was at my first table doubling through me has ~120k. Last year's Aussie Million champion and all-around good bloke Stewart Scott was 4th in chips.

At the final table they were all lined up on my left. It was a nightmare seat draw. Florian, then James, then Stew. But I just cardracked so it didn't matter.

Hand 1: French player with Bwin patch on opens HJ. I flat button with AJo and one of the blinds calls. Flop AJx rainbow he c-bets, I call, blind folds. Turn J, he check/shoves KJ drawing dead.

Hand 2: I open 66 in the HJ, Florian calls, James calls button. Flop K64r, I bet 15.6k (1/2 pot) James calls. Turn A I bet 30k he calls. River 4 I bet 55k he tank/folds.

Hand 3: James minraises button to 8k with ~110K I call. Flop Qs9s6c c/c. Turn Tc I bet 12.6k he calls. River 2c I value bet 27.5k and get called by worse. I think this value bet was likely too thin and I was lucky to have the best hand and actually get called.

Hand 4: Florian open CO, James shoves button, I shove KK in BB and hold vs 22.

Hand 5: Florian opens button with like 100k at 3k/6k, I cram A4dd in the BB and beat AJo.

Hand 6: I'm heads up with Gary Benson, some people would recognize him as the guy who does all the Aussie cash for online money transfers. I have a huge chip lead HU and double him once with 89o against QJ. He's playing very passively so the plan is just to grind him down, but then I get it in pre with 88 against AJ instead for 20bb and win the flip to ship the tournament. First paid ~130k AUD.

Since then I've busted the main and the $5K HU event. I'm trying to decide between playing online tourneys today (UBOC is a $1k and 2x guarantee week on FTP) and the 10k PLO event. Leaning towards playing live again at the moment.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Part 2: United Strikes Back

OK picking up where we left off. I arrive in LAX on time and have to find my way across from terminal 2 to 6. Changing terminals in LA is pretty annoying as you have to go outside and cross streets and stuff but I eventually figured out where I was going. Unfortunately, I was flying United because they were quite significantly cheaper than the other airlines at the time I got around to booking. I learned my lesson about this two years ago and vowed never to fly United to Australia again, but like I said I figured the difference wasn't worth paying more than twice as much money. The main problem with United is that economy seats do not have their own entertainment system, there is just one TV at the front of each section of the cabin and you have to watch whatever they put on like it's the mid-90s or something. On a 14 hour flight or whatever this is extremely annoying. Luckily I knew to bring a book to read.

So we board the flight and as usual we are delayed taking off. Nothing out of the ordinary. Eventually the captain announces there is a problem fueling the plane and they are trying to fix it. The longer this goes on the more clear it begins to seem that they are not going to find a way to fix it. After about 3 hours or maybe more we have to disembark the plane and wait in line with a million other people for a hotel voucher. Our flight is rescheduled for 11am. I got to the hotel around 3 or 3:30 and slept for maybe 4 hours since I wanted to get a shuttle to the airport before everyone else on my flight got up. Upon arrival at the airport I learn the flight has now been delayed another 11 hours so I am officially a full day behind schedule after all. They offer hotel vouchers again but I decide to just stay at the airport and play online and watch sports, one of the advantages of being on pacific time is that evening games on the east coast start at 4. I proceeded to lose $50K playing 1k/2k 8-game and 200/400 cap PLO. I've billed United for this and threatened to sue, but either they didn't get my e-mail or they are calling my bluff.

Eventually it's time to board and everything goes smoothly this time. The flight sucks with them playing crappy movies that I try to force myself to watch. I fail, but luckily they put me to sleep for a little bit. No idea how much I actually slept but it wasn't heaps by any stretch. We eventually land in Sydney and I get to wait two hours there for my connection. At this point I obviously regret not paying the extra money for a direct flight on Qantas or some other reasonable airline. Anyways, the flight is uneventful and I arrive 11:30am, with plans to play the bounty event at 12:30 if I can.

Customs in Australia was hilarious. I forgot to declare sporting equipment (I brought my golf clubs) but they were super friendly about it and much more interested in talking about my playing poker for a living and telling me how awesome that is! Oh and you have to fill out this form for the money it'll only take a few minutes. In retrospect, I was lucky that I got female customs agents as they were clearly taken by my Canadian accent and natural charm (and the tick in the >10K currency box). Wearing the same clothes for two days and being jet-lagged as shit I no doubt had an irresistible glow (read: smell) about me. At first I thought it was just that Aussies are more chill and laid back in general, but in hindsight it was clearly my good looks and charisma that got me through customs with so little hassle.

I ended up making Tony 40 minutes late for the tournament so he could let me in to drop off my bags and get cleaned up, but that's about 37 minutes longer than he lasted in the last one he played so I figure I was doing him a favour. I eventually crossed the street to the casino and got the last seat in the bounty event. I could already tell I was destined to win it to make up for all the bad luck I had on the trip there. I was envisioning the smug, cocky look on my face as I would tell the story, "But then I shipped the bounty event for $150k, so I guess it was all worth it after all." I busted two hours later.

Basically all my friends busted around the same time though, so we started drinking, ate dinner, and then I passed out at 8 from the jet lag and alcohol combination. The next day I went golfing with Stevo and Chris on a glorious summer day in Melbourne, and couldn't help but think; "Well, I guess the trip was all worth it in the end".


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Toronto to Melbourne: Part 1

The itineary was long but pretty straightforward. Leave Toronto 5:45pm EST Jan 17, arrive LAX 8:15pm PST. Depart LAX 10:20pm, arrive Sydney 7:30am Aussie time Jan 19. Leave Sydney 9:40am arrive Melbourne 11:20am. No close connections, and I got to Toronto airport early at 4pm. What could go wrong?

The only possible issue was that due to a set of strange circumstances from last year I had more than 10K in AUD cash on me. Normally I avoid traveling with cash whenver possible (and carrying cash on my person at all for that matter) and just wire money ahead, but getting raped on exchanging the money into CAD or USD and then back into AUD is stupid when I can just carry the cash at no cost. For those of you who have never carried large amounts of cash across the border the whole thing is pretty easy. You tick the box to declare it on your customs card. They take you to secondary inspection and ask you some questions which you answer truthfully and you fill out some extra paperwork for the money. Maybe if you're unlucky they search your bags. The whole thing should never really take more than an extra 30 minutes worst case scenario.

So I stroll into US customs 90 minutes before my flight knowing even with all the silly new US flight regulations I have heaps of time. The first sign of something weird is when the customs agent sees I've ticked yes to the currency question, she asks if I've already declared it with Canadian customs. I'm confused by the question and answer that I have not since I'm starting my trip here. I proceed to the secondary inspection room and there are way more people than I've ever seen in there. I hand them my card then have to sit for 5 minutes before they call my name. I roll my bags up to the desk with a male agent this time and again the first thing they ask is if I have declared my money with Canadian customs already? Again confused, I reply that I have not. He informs me that I was supposed to file the paperwork with them before I got to US customs. I ask how recently this change in procedure was implemented. He informs me that it's always been that way.
It has not always been that way. It's *possible* that it was always technically supposed to have been enforced that way, but it certainly never has been in the past. After a couple more questions he passes me the standard US currency form and says he's going to call Canadian customs and explain the situation, try to get someone to come up from there. He informs me further that I will have to fill out the paperwork again in LA saying I'm taking the money out of the country this time. The absurdity of this rule is somewhat mind-blowing. He says I will have to find US customs in LA and fill out the paper work. First of all, I have no idea how to find US customs in LA. Would they even let me back there since I'm already legally in their fucking country? I'm certain that if I ask someone this in LA they will look at me like I'm retarded. Obviously the same thing applies to finding Canadian customs in Toronto like I was "supposed to". And what happens when driving across the border? Is this a flying-only regulation? It really doesn't make sense, maybe US and Canadian customs could just try communicating the information with each other instead?

I fill out the paperwork and he is able to get a Canadian agent to come with their paperwork. He informs me that technically Canadian customs is allowed to seize the money since I came to US customs first but that there shouldn't be a problem. He was actually very friendly the whole time and he and the agent next to him made a bunch of remarks about how ridiculous so many of the policies they have to follow are, but as they are merely "peons" they just follow the rules. The funniest part was when converting the AUD into USD he got a number greater than the number in AUD. Obviously he immediately recognized this could not be right, but after double checking regulations he just left it that way saying it's obviously wrong but that's how he was told to do it and what does he care really. It's fairly likely this was still his mistake actually but either way I got a good laugh out of it.

Two Canadian customs agents arrive, I fill out their paperwork and they want to see/count the money for some reason. They leave, the US guy does the quickest, least thorough "search of my bags" in history and waves me along finally. This whole procedure took quite a while however and I am in big time trouble and there is a decent chance I may miss my flight. Luckily there is basically no line at security. There is one guy in front of me and one guy who already went through and is having his carry-on checked. This proceeds to last several minutes though as I am sitting there enraged about the possibility of missing my flight. I know it will likely move back my itinerary an entire day if I do unless I can catch another flight to LA in the next hour or so, which may not even exist. I finally get through security with no hiccups and start running for my gate. I stop running about 5 seconds later when I see the secondary search point, now standard for any flight to the US since the events over the holidays, and the lengthy queue waiting there. I am so fucked. My flight is scheduled to takeoff in less than 15 minutes so boarding may be almost over already, and it will take at least that long to get through this line. I'm just praying my flight is delayed at this point, though this seems a very reasonable hope knowing Air Canada.

Salvation: A lady with a walkie-talkie calls my name. "Is there a Mr.Watson traveling to LA in this line?". I raise my hand and go to her and now I am in the front of the queue. Now they know I am here and won't leave without me. That was too close. In their thorough search at the security checkpoint they obviously find my cash (and would have even if I'd tried to hide it so don't bother). I tell them I've declared it. They ask for proof and I tell them that's not how it works, I don't have any. Your job is security for the flight not customs I already went through those and that's why I'm late you idiot (obviously I only actually said the that's why I'm late part). Though I can't blame them for wanting to be sure. Now I stand there another 5 minutes at least as someone runs to customs to double check on me. Fan-fucking-tastic. Also, they had the cash out in plain view for some of this. Clearly no one else in the line was on my flight at this point but show some fucking discretion buddy. I mean the airport is a pretty safe place obviously but seriously use some common sense.

Finally the runner comes back and confirms it's all good, the nice lady with the walkie-talkie points me to my gate and I run there even though they are clearly waiting for me and it's only like the 3rd gate down. I get on the plane, and everyone is already in their seats looking annoyed with me. OK maybe I imagined that part. But I made my flight, and due to favbourable winds we arrived on time in LA anyways. I was still going to be off to Australia that night. Or so I thought.

Check back soon for Part 2: United Strikes Back.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

PCA, Niagara and Stuff

Hey guys! If you've been following my tweets you'll know I was able to min-cash the main event at PCA for $15K. I also played the Half NLHE half PLO event and $1600 side event there but had no luck. Then I flew back to Toronto and drove down to play the $5k event at Niagara Falls instead of staying to play the either the $5k event or high roller event in the Bahamas. I felt really good about that decision when the field consisted of 155 players of which there were probably less than 10 I would consider good. For such a big buy-in it was great value but unfortunately I played a little sloppy and didn't catch many hands in the fast structure to bust early. I leave for the Aussie Millions on Sunday and I'm pumped to get down there to enjoy the weather and try to win some tournaments.

One interesting hand from PCA main on Day 2: I rarely pick up solid reads live but this was one case I should have trusted one.

I open 5h5 in the HJ and the BB, who is a middle aged guy who has shown he's capable of being spewy aggro, calls. The flop comes KT6hh and I check behind. I'd raised his blind several times and he'd always folded to my continuation bets, but he'd shown he's capable of checkraising with air and I felt like I might get played back at a lot this time. The turn is the 3h and he bets like half pot, I call. River 2s, He insta-shoves for like 1.5 times the pot. Whenever I'd seen him act so quickly before he'd always been bluffing, plus the overbet from this type of player can often be a bluff. I didn't end up feeling sure enough of my read at that point and folded, and he showed A9dd =/ I saw the tell once or twice more after that before he busted and it was rock solid, oh well.

I managed to run my stack back up after that hand and after we got in the money I got AA all-in against Jon Aguiar's A9 and lost. I don't think I've taken any other bad beats like that deepish in big live tourneys so I guess I was due for one, oh well. I actually never got out to the beach and water park once the entire trip. The weather was mostly bad though, there were only 1 or 2 days that were nice enough but I felt more in the mood to play poker anyways. Timex ended up winning the $1600 side event for ~$150K.

I played online the last couple nights but had no luck despite making several deep runs. If I keep going deep though I like my chances to hit a big score soon.