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WCOOP 2005: Event #1
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Author:Yoda
IP:adsl-378XXXX
Date: 09/05/05 01:09
Game Type: Other
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WCOOP 2005: 15 Days of High Stakes Poker



After some pretty solid successes in the past year of online poker, my roll is big enough to tackle the WCOOP. The WCOOP (World Championship of Online Poker) is a series of 15 tournaments hosted by Pokerstars. The buyins range from $200 to $2500, and the (guarenteed) prizepools start at 150k and go all the way to 2.5 million. I plan to play every event, an undertaking that will "cost" me about $10.6k in real money. I plan to win a lot more than that. I decided to write up at least a few of the tournaments, detailing my key hands and my thought process behind them. Hopefully it'll be somewhat educational for those of you who are trying to get better at tournament poker. If you are new to poker, some of the jargon might be (ok, will be) confusing to you. I suggest you check out a poker glossary such as this. You can read more about the WCOOP here

WCOOP Event #1:
$500 + 30 No Limit Hold'em



Buy-in:$500 ($30 entry fee)
Entries: 3062
Prizepool:$1,531,000
1st pays:$306,200

It seems like everyone wanted some WCOOP action with event 1. The guarenteed prizepool of $800,000 was nearly doubled. As far as I know, this was the second largest online poker tournament, ever. (The main event last year had a prizepool of 2.1 million). With 2500 starting chips and 30 minute blind levels, WCOOP tourneys have plenty of play to them. I was itching to get started.

Hand 1: As Qd
Position: UTG
Stack: 2420
Blinds: 10/20

Preflop: AQo UTG is not a fun hand to play. A case can be made for raising, calling, or even just folding it. I will usually raise with it early in a tourney but in this case I decide to just call. Two more players limp behind me, and the big blind checks.

Flop: Ad Qs 6h
The flop hits me hard. Top two with no flush or straight possibilities is about the best you can hope for with a hand like AQ. I make a decent bet of 60, hoping that another player with an ace will call or even better, raise me. I could try to slowplay instead, since there aren't many likely draws and a free card is unlikely to hurt me. But since an ace is already on the board, it's unlikely that someone will improve enough to give me much action (unless of course they catch a straight, and that kind of action I don't want). The button calls and the other two players fold. I've played against the button before, and he is a fairly good, if predictable, player.

Turn: Tc
The ten is a decent card for me. Unless my opponent holds JK or TT, it couldn't have hurt me, and I think thats pretty unlikely since he called a near pot size bet on the flop. At this point I'm fairly sure he has an ace so I make another bet, hoping he'll pay me off with it. The pot is 220, so I bet 140, about 2/3rds. If I can get him to call another 2/3rds pot bet on the river with something like AK or AJ I'll have made a pretty good profit on the hand. But he raises me! He makes a fairly small raise of 200 more, or about 2/5ths of the pot. At this point I am almost certain he has one of two hands: AT or 66. I know he is too tight to raise me on the turn with only a pair, so he must have either improved to two pair or slowplayed a set on the flop (I rule out AA or QQ since he almost certainly would've raised preflop.) I have the option to reraise here but I elect to just call. I give my opponent enough credit to be able to lay down AT after heavy action, and if he has 66 I want to end the hand as cheaply as possible. My plan for the river is to lead out with a large bet and fold if I'm raised.

River: Js
The jack is a pretty lousy card for my hand. Not because I think it helped him, but because the 4 straight makes him a lot less likely to call a big bet from me. I lead out for 200, less than 1/4th of the pot. He calls and mucks his AT. I probably could've gotten a few more chips on the river with a slightly larger bet, but I don't know. Looking at it from his perspective, he almost had to put me on AK/AQ/AJ, and after that river card all 3 of those hands beat him. All in all I think I played the hand well, though in hindsight I probably would've made more from it with a re-raise on the turn.


Hand 2: Qs Td
Position: CO
Stack: 2830
Blinds: 10/20

Preflop: QTo is mediocre at best, but I'm in the cutoff and it's folded to me. All 3 players yet to act are pretty weak, so I'm not going to pass up the opportunity to win some chips from them. I make a standard raise to 60. The button folds, and both blinds call.

Flop: Th 5s 8s
I have top pair with a decent kicker. Probably the best hand, but both the blinds could have just about anything. The small blind leads out with a weak bet of 60, about 1/3 the pot. The BB calls. It's entirely possible that I'm beat, but if so I plan to find out right now. I raise to 320. Both blinds fold. This was a pretty straightforward hand but I included just to show that being aggressive makes your decisions much easier. I could've easily told myself "Wow, theres been a bet and a call. My hand is pretty mediocre. I'll just call here." But then on the turn I would've had no idea where I was at.


Hand 3: 6s 4s
Position: SB
Stack: 3070
Blinds: 10/20

Preflop: A loose aggressive player limps in late position. I complete the SB. The BB checks.

Flop: Td Tc 9s
Obviously this flop missed me completely. I check. The BB checks. The aggressive player bets 40. Most players would through their hand away instantly. Instead I raise to 120. Both players fold. This was a tiny pot, but it's important to keep your eye open for opportunities like this to pick up chips early on in a tournament. There were a couple factors that made this an ideal spot for a bluff-raise:
1) An aggressive player is betting after two blinds checked to him. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that he would bet here 100% of the time. A lot less than 100% of his hands can call a raise, so it's likely you can take the pot away.
2) The flop missed most hands, but the hands it hit, it hit hard. This move is much better on boards where the better doesn't have a wide range of hands he can call with. For example, if the flop came 7c 8c Td, the button might call my raise with a straight draw, a flush draw, a pair, etc. But if he calls here he almost certainly has a 9 or 10. This makes the hand much easier to get away from if the move doesn't work. He is also more likely to give you credit for a real hand, as opposed to a semi-bluff.


Hand 4: Kd Ks
Position: Button
Stack: 3030
Blinds: 10/20

Preflop: I pick up two kings, the second best starting hand in hold'em. I'm hoping for some major action here. UTG makes a standard raise to 60, a player in middle position calls, and I reraise to 260. I feel a little nervous when UTG makes a small reraise back at me, but he's not nearly tight enough for me to be sure he has aces. He may just be trying to feel me out with something like queens or AK. He raised to 540, and has about 1400 chips left. Rather than reraise I just call because I think I am more likely to get his chips that way if I'm ahead (and if he has aces, I've pretty much resigned to my fate).

Flop: 4s 2c 2h
He bets half his chips and I raise him the rest. He calls and shows me the dreaded As Ah. I don't improve. Luckily I had him covered by about 1000 chips, so I wasn't finished yet. Getting kings against aces is one of the worst things that can happen in tournament poker. It's almost impossible to fold kings preflop in a tournament situation, so things end badly for the KK player about 81% of the time. Could I have possibly gotten away from my hand here? The answer is yes, but if I did I would be giving up value every time someone played QQ, JJ, or AK the same way. The fact is there was simply too big a chance he was overplaying a weaker hand for me to fold at any point. Sometimes the second best starting hand isn't good enough, but if you think aces every time someone re-raises you, you're giving up way too much value.


Hand 5: 3d 4s
Position: BB
Stack: 1030
Blinds: 10/20

Preflop: Three people limp in, and the SB completes. I have no reason to think raising would be a good idea.

Flop: Qd 2h 5c
I flopped an open-ended straight draw. A 5 way unraised pot is a horrible spot for a semi bluff, so I check. One of the limpers bets 40, and another calls. I gladly call, getting over 4:1 immediate pot odds and much better implied odds.

Turn: 8c
I missed my straight, and have no reason to think that a bet here would win the pot, so I check. The flop bettor bets again, this time 60. The other limper folds and I call, still easily getting the implied odds I need.

River: 5h
I check, the other player bets 60, and I immediately raise to 260. While this isn't a necessarily a bad spot to bluff a busted straight draw, I shouldn't have. The other player in the pot was way too loose and called immediately with QT. I knew he was a loose player and shouldn't have tried to bluff him out of a pot. If I did want to bluff him, leading out on the river would've been a much better way to represent the trip 5s than my desperate-smelling check raise. While I didn't loose a huge amount of chips on this hand, I was already short and it cost me over 1/4 of my stack. I think I played this poorly in part because I was still upset about the KK hand, but after this pot I realized I needed to get my shit together.


Hand 6: Ah Kh
Position: BB
Stack: 805
Blinds: 25/50

Preflop: You may have noticed that the blinds jumped from 10/20 straight to 25/50. I didn't really miss the 15/30 round, it's just I didn't really wind up in any situations where I could play a hand. When you get short stacked like that early on in a tourney, you really need to watch out. Everyone else has plenty of chips compared to the blinds, and you can't put much of a dent in their stack, so you really don't have much leverage when it comes to bluffing. As a result you basically need to just sit back and hope you pick up some cards. I'm not saying you can't play anything but premium hands, just that you really need to be aware of your situation every time you put chips in the pot. Anyways, back to the hand. A poor player raises the minimum to 100 from mid position. I could call here, waiting to see if I hit a pair, or I could reraise. If I reraise I'm committing myself to the hand and will not fold after the flop no matter what. I elect to reraise here for a couple reasons: my hand is probably a lot better than his is, and theres a good chance he won't put more chips in postflop if I hit an ace or a king. I reraise to 350 and he calls without much hesitation.

Flop: 5h Jc Ac
I hit an ace on the flop and almost certainly have the best hand. Had I missed the flop completely, I would've pushed my chips in without any hesitation. Instead, I pause a few seconds and check, giving him an opportunity to bluff more chips off with something like 88. This play is really obvious to good players and if I use it on you it means I have no respect for you at all :) But it continues to work on donkeys so I continue to use it. He puts me all-in and I beat him to the pot. He shows ATo so I'm in good shape, only a ten can hurt me. The turn and river brick off and I double up.


Hand 7: Js Jc
Position:CO+2
Stack:1360
Blinds:50/100

Preflop: I'm the first in the pot and raise to 300. It folds to the BB who calls. He's not a very good player, and a little on the loose side.
Flop: Qs 5d 4d
When you have pocket jacks, overcards on the flop are never a welcome sight. That said, all in all it's not a horrible flop for me. It doesn't connect with many of his possible hands so I'm probably ahead. He checks and I bet 400. He folds. This is a straightforward hand and I only included it because it's the only hand I played past the flop in the entire 50/100 level. The blinds went up to 75/150 soon after, and a lack of cards made it difficult to not get blinded off.


Hand 8: 9d 9c
Position: UTG+1
Stack: 1335
Blinds:75/150

Preflop: I had already pushed in a few times on the 75/150 level with mediocre hands and won uncontested. But the blinds are relentless and my stack size wasn't increasing. 99 is much too good to fold when you only have about 9x the BB, and any raise will leave you pot committed. So I did the only reasonable play and pushed in. I groaned when the SB, a very tight player, called my raise. Sure enough, he had pocket jacks. But a 9 on the flop gave me a second life and brought my chip stack out of the "desperately short" range.


Hand 9: Ad 7h
Position: SB
Stack: 2870
Blinds: 75/150

Preflop: It folded to me in the SB. While A7o isn't a great hand by any means, its certainly on average better than the random hand the BB has. I raised to 450. A very reasonable arguement can be made for just limping here, since the BB probably won't give you credit for an ace if you flop one and you might win some chips off him. If an aggressive player raises after you limp, A7 is probably strong enough to move in on him with. But I chose to raise, mostly because the BB was a fairly tight player and would probably just give up his blind. But I had no such luck. He called my raise.

Flop: Kd Qh Td
This is about as bad a flop as I could've gotten. It hit just about any hand he would call with. I'm not putting in another chip. I check, he bets 600, I fold. I think a lot of players would make a continuation bet here, even on this scary flop. But it's a bad idea. You're so short that he's likely to play any king or queen, as well as a straight or flush draw. And if he does play, your continuation bet just wasted a good portion of your stack.


Hand 10: Jh Ac
Position: UTG+1
Stack: 2645
Blinds: 75/150

Preflop: AJo UTG+1 is very very marginal and it wouldn't be a huge mistake to just fold it. But the blinds are putting enough pressure on me that I don't have that luxury here. I make a standard raise to 450 (I had made the same raise on the previous hand, and won uncontested). A weak player who had been seeing a lot of flops and had, with some luck, built a big stack called me from the cutoff. The blinds folded.
Flop: 3s 5d Ad
When I saw the flop, I had decided with 2 seconds that I would checkraise. Heres the thought process I went through: 1. I flopped top pair mediocre kicker, a hand that is often 2nd best. 2. My stack is too short to get away from this hand. I want to get the chips in the middle. 3. The most effective way to get the chips in the middle here is a check raise. So thats what I did. This time I got lucky and it worked out perfectly. The CO had ATo and my hand held up.


Hand 11: Qd Ac
Position: UTG
Stack: 5515
Blinds: 75/150

Preflop: What is with this? I keep getting good but not great hands in early position, something that leads to some very tough decisions. Since I had raised the past two hands I think I probably should've just tossed the AQ here; my raises weren't getting any respect. But I elected to raise and put in the standard 450. The player in the cutoff, another fairly loose, bad player calls me.

Flop: Tc 5s Js
Not a very good flop for me but I elect to throw out a continuation bet in hopes that it missed him too. I bet 600 and he calls. Unless I improve I'm not spending another cent on this hand.

Turn: 4s
I check, he bets 1k, I fold.


Hand 12: Qs Qh
Position: BB
Stack: 4465
Blinds: 75/150

Preflop: Now we're talking. Theres nothing marginal about a couple queens. Or is there? UTG, a poor but not overly loose player raises the minimum. A bad, loose player calls. The minraise from early position has me a little suspicious, but I can't just just call here and risk giving a cheap flop to a couple hands I probably have crushed. I make a good sized raise to 1050. Then all hell breaks loose. UTG pushes in and the player in middle position goes in over the top. My queens were looking like the nuts a second ago but now I'd just as well have seven deuce. I have a pretty easy fold here and toss them without much thought. UTG shows AKo and MP shows the aces that I knew where out there. On a side note, both of them played their hand piss-poorly.


Hand 13: Ah Qd
Position: UTG+1
Stack: 3040
Blinds: 100/200

Preflop: I had been looking pretty good for a second there, but those folds I had to make took a pretty big piece out of my stack. AQ from early position yet again - not ideal, but it'll have to do. I raise to 600. The player to my immediate left, a guy who had just been moved to the table, called. The rest of the table folded and we took a flop.

Flop: 4s Qc Jc
Top pair top kicker. I'm feeling pretty good about my hand at this point. The board is draw heavy so I can't risk a free card. I lead out for 1000, or 2/3 the pot. I'm hoping he reads it as a continuation bet and tries to bluff. In hindsight, betting slightly less would've probably been better; I only had 1500 behind and not many people are going to want to risk bluffing me off there. He did raise though, and the speed with which he did it made me feel more than a little bit nervous about my hand. After all there are all sorts of hands he could have that beat me, AA-JJ, QJ, etc. But I was much too short for folding to be an option. I called and he showed me exactly what I wanted to see: KQ. I dodged a king on the turn and river and managed to double up yet again.


Hand 14: Ah Qc
Position: UTG+2
Stack: 6380
Blinds: 100/200

Preflop: The very next hand I'm dealt AQ once again. I start to wonder about star's shuffler while I'm raising to 600. I'm called from CO+1 by one of the loose-bad players.
Flop: 3c Td Js
I missed the flop, obviously. I felt there was a good chance a continuation bet would take it down, so I bet 1k. Deciding when to and when to not make continuation bets is one of the most important skills in tournament poker. Some of the things you should think about while you're deciding: What would my opponent have called me with preflop? Did those types of hands hit the flop? What are the chances I'm ahead now? If I am, is my hand strong enough to trap with or would risking a free card hurt me? If I'm unsure whether I'm ahead, can I get away from the hand or am I pot committed to it? If I'm pot committed, what play will maximize his chance of folding? In this hand, I felt that he probably did not have a very strong hand, since he was a loose player and could've called with a wide range. It's impossible to know whether that flop hit him, but I thought it more likely didn't than did. A major factor was that he would probably give me respect for a good hand if I bet, since on the last hand I had done so and shown down top pair top kicker. And if he raised me I had a super easy fold that left me with plenty of chips. He folded.


Hand 15: Jh 7h
Position: BB
Stack: 6980
Blinds: 100/200

Preflop: It folds to the SB who raises to 600. He just got moved to this table, so I don't know anything about him other than he has a fairly large stack of 13k. J7s, while mediocre at best, is sufficient to defend yourself against the SB. Since you have position for the rest of the hand, you should call a small raise in the BB when you are heads up against the SB with all sorts of hands.

Flop: 5c 9c 7s
The flop didn't exactly hit me hard, but I have second pair which is usually enough in SB vs BB confrontations. He leads out for 600, which could mean he has a hand but is probably just a continuation bet. Lots of overcards can hurt me, so I make a decent sized raise to 1800. He calls quickly.

Turn: 2d
Thats a great turn card for me, but the fact that he called my raise quickly on the flop has me a little nervous. There are all sorts of hands that beat me. My goal becomes to get to showdown as cheaply as possible. He checks and I check behind. Giving him a free card is a risk, no doubt. But I don't think it's as risky as facing a big check raise and having to fold. I intend to call any reasonable sized bet on the river, unless an ace hits.

River: 8h
The 8 is a decent river for me. While it puts a 4 straight on the board, I have no reason to think he has a 6. When he checks, I'm almost positive I'm ahead but I decide to check it down. While I think I have the best hand, it's unlikely that he would call a bet on the end with a hand worse than mine. And if he check raised me on the end it would make me SICK. Sure enough, he has two overcards, KT. It was a really loose call by him on the flop, but it wound up throwing me off enough to give him 2 free cards.


Hand 16: Ad 3s
Position: CO+2
Stack: 9280
Blinds: 100/200, 25 ante

Preflop: It folds to me and I open with a fairly weak hand, A3o. Really, I'm just hoping to pick up the blinds here. Now that I have a fairly large stack I'm going to be doing more raising with marginal hands - things like A3, JT, 66, etc. That doesn't mean I'm indescriminately throwing money around, I'll only open with these hands when I'm first in, and I prefer to play them when tight players are in the blinds. My plan doesn't work as intended though. To my suprise, THREE people call. The KQ vs AQ guy on my left calls, as do both the blinds (a weak/loose player and someone who is new to the table). I have no intention of putting money in on the flop unless I hit something good.

Flop: Ts Ah 2s
Chances are at least one other player has an ace. And no matter what that ace is, it has mine beat. Both the blinds check, and after a little contemplation, I throw out a half-pot bet. Even though someone will have an ace more often than not, I only need to win 1 in 3 times for my half pot bet to have positive expectation. Since I raised preflop, someone with a hand like A7 might give me credit for a better ace and fold. The KQ player and the SB fold, but the BB calls.

Turn: 7d
I'm not positive I'm behind at this point, since the BB is a pretty loose player and could potentially be defending with something like QT. But he probably has a bigger ace. He checks and I check behind, hoping the river counterfeits his kicker.

River: 3c
Perfect! I'm almost positive he had a bigger ace. And now I'm almost positive I have him beat. The question is, how big a bet will he call? I wind up betting 2400 into a 5k pot. He calls pretty quickly with A4. I might have been able to win a little more on the end but I'm still happy with the result. Note that any river card other than a 3 or 4 would have resulted in a split pot.


Hand 17: Qh Ad
Position: SB
Stack: 13955
Blinds: 100/200, 25 ante

It folds to a fairly short stack with 2600 in middle position. He makes a unusually large raise to 1000. I feel that means he probably doesn't want a call. When a short stack picks up a hand like aces, he's usually going to try to double up with it and making a huge preflop raise isn't the best way to do it. While I don't have a great hand with AQ, the chance that he has a weaker ace combined with the dead money in the pot make it worth playing. I raise enough to put him all-in and he calls with 66. The board doesn't improve me and I double him up.


Hand 18: Tc Qd
Position: SB
Stack: 10025
Blinds: 200/400, 25 ante

Preflop: Loose aggressive player in early position raised to 1200. A fairly tight, straightforward player called. I reraised to 4000. My cards are completely irrelevent here. I don't make plays like this often, but if you watch for the right situation you can get some serious value with gutsy raises like this. The aggressive player had been raising a lot so I didn't give him respect for a real hand. The tighter player would've almost certainly reraised if he had a premium hand. It was much more likely he was calling with something like a small pocket pair, hoping to flop a set. That left 3000 chips in the pot and no one with a strong enough hand to defend it. Sure enough, both of them folded and I picked up a decent sized pot.


At this point I was feeling pretty good about my chances in the tournament. I had an above average stack, and we were only a few hundred people away from being in the money. I planned to continue to be selectively aggressive, picking up pots when I found little resistance, but trying not to put all my chips at risk without a solid edge. Unfortunately the deck didn't feel like cooperating. For the entire 200/400 and 300/600 level, I went completely card dead. Some tournament players will say you don't really need cards, you can maintain or even increase your stack just by stealing blinds. Well that can be true, IF your table is tight. Mine however wasn't. A couple extremely aggressive players were moved to my table and all of a sudden it was rare for a pot not to be raised and reraised at least once before the flop. Normally over-aggressive players can be a good thing: they can be easy to trap and double through. For that to work though, you need to pick up at least some sort of hand to do it with. And I didn't. I managed to maintain my stack for a while at the 200/400 level, but I was reraised twice in a row after trying to steal at 300/600. I had to fold both times and it wound up being pretty costly. I was getting desperate when this hand came up:


Hand 19: Ac Js
Position: Button
Stack: 6299
Blinds:300/600, 50 ante

Preflop: After folding junk for an hour, AJ looks like the nuts. Whats more, I'm on the button and it folded to me. I raise to 1800, almost hoping that one of the blinds decides to play. Sure enough, the SB raises me. Then the BB raises HIM. They both have very large stacks, and we are getting close to the money (380 left, top 324 pay). I call instantly, which in hindsight, was probably a mistake. There is almost no chance I'm not dominated with a bigger ace or a bigger pair. Though the pot odds are very good, they aren't anywhere close to good enough when the blinds flip up aces and kings. I don't catch a miracle and I'm out in 381st place. My problem with this hand was that I was mentally committed without being pot committed. If I had taken more time to think about it, I probably would've seen that it was a (fairly marginal) fold. But the combination of boredom from waiting for a hand and the excitement from finally getting it can really mess with your judgement.


Oh well, overall I'm pretty happy with how I played in this tourney, even though I made a few minor mistakes and it didn't turn out well. Theres 14 events to go and I'm hoping to make at least one big time cash. I'll write up at least a couple more of these reports probably.

Thanks for reading, hope it was educational. Sorry if my writing sucked, I've been pretty tired while writing so whatever.

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