Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MPCC - Blew Up in Massivity

Hi guys, I've been tilting pretty hard for the past couple of days after my exit in the MPCC Main Event. But still I should allow myself to look back and recap what exactly went on. Let's start with the more pleasant part of the trip.....

Friday night

I went to the View Lounge at the Sands for the launch party of World Gaming Magazine. Honestly, the lounge itself wasn't bad, the view is nice, and the place is at least slightly on the glam side. However, given the "VIP lounge" status, I would say it kinda missed my expectations. The party wasn't bad too, just a bit too business-y. For the first time ever, I ran out of name cards (of my day job) on a poker trip. No kidding. The party obviously needed to accommodate the non-gambler-guests who mostly came in suits and smoked cigars. It felt exactly like a business drink and I was not too eager to stay.

I think I got out of Sands after an hour or so, and I went to this very good hotpot place. I have no idea what the name was or where it was as friends took me but they served crabs in a pot. Anyways, would wanna recommend but don't know how.

After hotpot my plan was to go back to the hotel and have an early night. Before I knew it I was dragged to Lion's Bar at the MGM for "a quick drink". A quick drink that turned into a six hours drinkathon. Thanks Celina and Fred and Daren for giving me a sleep-deprived Main Event. We eventually left MGM at around 4am and I was finally in bed by 4:30. Life is good.

Main Event - The build up to the big crash

I got up way earlier than planned (thanks to alcohol) so I woke Terrence Chan up for brunch. We ate and we headed down to the poker floor. When I sat down at my table I saw Player of the Year favorite Kitty Kuo two seats to my right.

Notable Hand #1: I limped with two red eights in early position for $50. A guy behind me raised it up to $250 and another guy called. I called to see a flop of 9h 6h 2c. I checked and the raiser continued for $500. The third person called and I saw a squeezing opportunity. (What's the chance of them having a 9 right?) I raised to $1600 and the original raiser called. The turn was a 5h giving me a straight-flush draw together with my 2nd pair. I check-called $3000. The river was a black 8 and the raiser checked. I checked behind with my rivered set and he showed pocket sixes for a flopped set. Wow, ugly suckout All Skills.

Notable Hand #2: Kitty raised to $300 from late position and I looked down at 9To on the button. 9To is my absolute favorite hand so I decided to re-raise poor Kitty to $900. She called and we saw a flop of As Qs 8x. She checked to me so I had to continuation-bet my gutshot straight draw for $1500. She called. The turn was a blank and she checked again! This time I checked behind and silently thanked her for letting me see a free card. The river was a Jack and BINGO! She checked for the third time so I'm convinced she hadn't got a higher straight. I bet out $5000, she asked "Phil did you river me?" and I called. I said "yeah" and showed her. OMG I SUCKED OUT AGAIN Again, all skills.

Notable Hand #3: I checked my A8o in big blind after Button limped in for $200 and Small Blind called. The flop was 853 rainbow and I bet $375 after SB checked. Button folded but SB called. The turn was an Ace giving me top two pairs. I bet $600 and SB called again. The river was a 7 and SB bet $1200. I spoke out and asked "deuce-four?" and he instant-replied "yeah". I obviously took that as a big NO and announced all-in. He snap-called and showed 24o right in my face. Boy, did that put me on mad monkey tilt. I not only donked nearly half my stack away, I also got myself all the way down to the 20k starting stack, and I gave the guy exactly what he wanted after he told me the truth! (I asked the Tournament Director if a penalty was due since the guy told me the truth which is not allowed in table talks related to one's own hand. TD Danny gave him a warning instead. *eyerollz*)

Notable Hand #4: I've built my stack back up to around 40k when I raised to $600 under-the-gun with AhQh and two guys called. The flop was T83 rainbow but no heart. I continuation-bet for $1200 and it folded to the button who was also the big stack. He had about 45k and he had been bullying the table pretty hard. He raised to $3600. I looked at him and couldn't see his stack because his arm was in the way. I asked "How much are you playing?" but he refused to lift his arm. I sensed weakness in him so I announced a re-raise to $7200. He snap-folded.

Notable Hand #5 & #6: These were back-to-back hands and one led to another so I'll talk about them together. The blinds were 600/1200 and ante was 100. On the first hand, I raised to $2800 preflop with Ad9d. The same Big Stack from Hand#4 called and we saw a flop of KJx with two diamonds. He bet out for $4000. I raised it to $12000 with my nut-flush draw and he paused and called. The turn was a non-diamond-non-Ace and he put me all-in. That was probably the worst news for me. If he had shoved it in on the flop, I would gamble. But now, I counted down my stack carefully and found that I had $27k and the pot was a bit over $32k. The odds was against me. I folded. The hand right after, the same Big Stack raised to $4000 from middle position and another guy with a $24k stack called. I looked down at 56o. It was a junk hand but then there was $10200 in the pot. I had $27k left and given the chance that they would both fold, the urge to squeeze was too huge to resist. I announced all-in. Big Stack tanked for about three minutes, he stared at me and the short stack, and finally called with AKo. Short stack got out of the way and I paired up my 5 to win the hand. All of a sudden I was the biggest donkey in the house and my stack was a sizable $60k.

Notable Hand #7: It's dinner time and the clock had stopped. Three players limped to me on the last hand before the break and I look down at KJo on the button. I limped for $1200. Small Blind (let's call him The Swede) raised to $8000 and everyone folded around to me. I kept close count on everyone's stack and I knew he had a stack of about 28k. I took his raise as a standard pre-break steal attempt (as everyone else had got up from their seats and left the table) so I announced all-in. To my surprised he snap-called with KQo! I pilled a Jack off the river and stacked the guy. My stack catapulted to 92k.

The blow up - An expensive dinner and a questionable call

Everything seemed nice and sweet at dinner and I was drooling at the fact of making Day 2 with a respectable stack. However, everything fell apart right after I got back to the table.

Fallout Hand #1: This was the first hand dealt after dinner and I looked down at KK. Small stack with 20k shipped it in and obviously I snap-called. He showed K9o and happened to make an improbable straight. Stack down to 72k.

Fallout Hand #2: I was not involved in this hand but it played a part in my fallout. A guy stacked another with 55 versus AA after he flopped a set.

Fallout Hand #3: This was the very next hand and I had TT on the button and the same guy who flopped a set limped from early position. I raised it to $6000 (blinds were 800/1600, ante was 200). He flat-called. The flop was 2c 4h 6h. He checked to me and I bet $10000 trying to take the pot down. He re-raised me all-in almost instantly. This was another 56k to call and the pot was $36400. Given that he limp-called preflop, I couldn't put him on an over-pair. I've narrowed his range down to 22-99 and AQ+. Given his image, I would give a not-small probability on semi-bluffing a gutshot with 33 or 55. I would also give a non-zero probability that he's riding on his just-flopped-set image and doing a stone-cold bluff. If he had 22, 44, 66, I was behind by about 8 to 1. If he had 77, 88 or 99, I was ahead by about 9 to 1. If he had 33 or 55, I was ahead by about 3 to 1. I had to call 56k to win $92400 which was exactly 3 to 2. More precisely, I had to risk 56k plus my tournament life to win $92400 plus the chip-lead (148k was 5% of the chips in play with 70 players left and would safely ride me to Day 2). If I folded I would be able to see slightly less than 10 orbits as blinds/ante were moving up to 1000/2000/300 within two minutes. In addition, this same guy had shown a 6-high bluff earlier in the game when he open-shoved the flop. (I know, white noise is bad for the brain.) I opted to gamble and I called. (Very questionable, I know.) The guy showed me pocket fours for back-to-back flopped set. I blanked out and exited the tournament in spectacular fashion. Life is good.

As I said, everything fell apart after dinner, but I didn't build my stack without much suckouts so I guess it's karma (thanks Celina for reminding me). Overall, I had a great time this weekend and I would hope to do better next time.

At the mean time, Merry Christmas and good luck!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

MPCC - Main Event Weekend

Hi guys, I'll be in Macau this weekend for the Macau Poker Cup Championship Main Event. The event has a $20k buy-in and a guaranteed pot of $2m. I'm guessing there'll be over 150 players or so. I'm traveling to Macau tomorrow (Friday) on the 5pm ferry and I should get to Grand Lisboa Hotel by 6:30pm. I have a room there for two nights, hopefully I can be checked into my room before 7pm. After that I'll be headed to the View Lounge over at Sands Casino where the World Gaming Magazine will be having its launch party. The View Lounge is supposed to be reserved for VIP and highrollers only, and it's supposed to be pretty sick. I'll write about it after the party.

Depending how late the night gets, I might sleep in on Saturday before the Main Event. I like to have a room service brunch before a tournament so I could stay clear of people and keep a clear head. The game starts at 12:30pm and it has a starting stack of 20k which is 400BB. The structure looks super deep (at least at the beginning levels) so I'm definitely gonna start very slow. I write more after Day 1 and I'll be tweeting throughout the day. Please check!

I'll probably write a short one tomorrow night after the party. Latez!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Got 2nd in MPCC Heads-Up!

If you've been following me on Twitter you should know that I won 2nd place in the Macau Poker Cup Championship Heads-Up tournament. It was the most fun I've had in a long time in a tournament.

Terrence and I took the 10:45am ferry to Macau, and we managed to get thru the Macau immigration by 12pm. We ended up being only 10 minutes late to the game, which is still way earlier than most of the other registered players. On the way to Macau we decided to do a $1k last longer bet (side bet #1). The game got going at about 12:30pm after waiting for people to show up and doing the seating draws etc. (Side event: my first opponent didn't show up. It turns out that Stars posted the wrong start time on the online registration so I was given another player to play with. All good.)

First and second round went pass pretty smoothly with me taking 2-0 in both. Terrence's Round 2 opponent was Raymond Wu, making it a very interesting match up. (Side bet #2: I took Terrence to win versus Celina taking Ray for $1k.) By the time I won Round 2 it was 5:30pm, and that's also when Terrence won his game 2-1 (Side bet #2 won!). Celina, Terrence, and I decided to go for a short walk for bubble tea before Round 3. It's great to actually get out of the casino once in a while and the weather was fantastic. The bubble tea was awesome as well. Fun.

Notable hand: In Round 2, the blinds 50/100, I had 6500 chips and the other guy 3500. He raised to 300 preflop and I called with 35o (very typical of my any-2-cards style). The flop comes Ac Tc 2d and we checked. The turned was a Qc and he bet out for 450. I made the call because I didn't think he hit the flop and I doubt he had a Queen so he's likely to be betting a flush draw. The river came another Ten, and I open-shoved for his remaining 2750. Knowing that I was leading 1-0 in sets he would be calling for his tournament life. He tanked for 8 minutes. Yes, eight whole minutes while I tried to keep focus and not give out a tell on my 5 high bluff. He ended up folding. *smiles*

My Round 3 opponent was a very unpredictable Hong Kong businessman. He claims this was his first ever heads-up tournament and I believed him. (Side bet #3: Celina wanted odds for this guy and I gave her 1.4 since I'm stupid confident. She took it for $500 to win $700.) He turned out to be more trouble than I thought as I honestly couldn't figure him out post-flop. He played a very limpy-reraisey style and he never bet with air. When he bet he at least had a pair but not necessarily the top pair. I adjusted to his style by playing a very limpy-cally game. I got very lucky to have won the first set. The second set ended with me losing a flip. The final set was long and I was behind in chips most of the time until I got very lucky to suckout twice and win. (Side bet #3 won!)

The final match is played best-of-5, and my opponent is none other than Terrence. It's quite funny as we traveled to Macau together and we ended up shipping the top two prizes. It couldn't have been more perfect. We decided to call off our last longer bet since there's already enough money to play for. (Side bet #1 cancelled.) The first set lasted only 7 minutes as Terrence's AA held up against my straight draw on a A79 board. (Note that this entire set is shorter than the tank time from the hand in round 2 lol.) The 2nd set got to the fifth level of 200/400, and it turned into a jam fest. I ended up winning with AJ vs AT. The 3rd set was quick with Terrence going a bit out of line trying to make a stand. He shoved with QJs for 5500 with blinds 50/100 and I called with KQ. He got down to very short and I finished him off quickly. The 4th set I played bad was carddead. I dwindled my stack down without much of a fight. Oh well. So much for trying to be aggressive with a 2-1 lead. Before the fifth and final set, we decided that since it's down to one game we should play for a little bit less. We moved $5k from top prize to second, making it a flatter payout. (YES I got a deal out of no-deal-Terrence.) This set was very similar to the last one, I just plain sucked. I went all-in being the 2-1 chip underdog with J9o on a 8Tx flop. Terrence snap called with TJo so I needed to hit the straight. The turn was a 9 so I gained the remaining two 9 as outs but downgraded the straight draw from win to chop. The river was a blank Ace and it's all over. Terrence Chan is our Heads-Up champ and I take 2nd.

In general, I was very happy about the result as despite being a loser mentality going five games against someone as good as Terrence almost felt like winning. The match ended at 12:30am and we were all starving. Celina suggested a Japanese place that's still open so off we went. And omg did this place exceed expectations. The food was SO good and the sashimi was SO fresh. We had a gigantic sashimi platter, California rolls, fried cod, tempura, foie gras, and much more. The damage was very reasonable and Terrence ended up taking the bill cuz he won so thanks Terrence.

Overall a very fun day and I would love to do it again!

Friday, December 11, 2009

MPCC - Heads-up Challenge (32 max)

Hi all, I'm taking the 10:45am ferry to Macau tomorrow to play the $5000 Heads-up tournament. The game starts at 12pm and it'll play 5 rounds down to one winner. Each round plays best-of-3 and the final is best-of-5. Notables who will also be playing: Terrence Chan (who will be traveling with me to Macau), and Team Asia Pro Raymond Wu. I'll be tweeting throughout the day so make sure you check for updates! (If you don't have a Twitter account you can use the Twitter box on this page.)

GL me and let's ship it one time!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pokerstars Mobile?

A week ago I got an email from Pokerstars asking me to fill a survey. The survey was asking about my opinions of Pokerstars potentially being accessible on mobile devices. That's one weird topic to be conducting a survey on and this is why: only two months ago i had this exchange on Twitter with Stars:
@PokerStars_com suggestion: make an iphone app with sign-up feature so we won't miss those late regs again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Poker Room at Venetian Macau

I heard Venetian Macau opened a poker room. Has anyone been? I'll be in Macau on Dec 12 (and Dec 18-20) but I don't go to the Cotai Strip unless it's absolutely necessary so it'll be great if someone can post a quick room review.

At the mean time, I'm looking forward to some serious poker dosage during the Macau Poker Cup Championship (MPCC) on Dec 12-20. Looks like I'm about 80% in playing the $5k Head-Up (32max) tourny. I'm a bit held back because it's best-of-3 per round (and best-of-5 for the final). It looks like it'll play thru the day (and the night) into the next morning. A bit overkill for a $5k buy-in imo. (The top prize assuming 32 players will only be about $55-70k, depending if they pay top 4 or 8.) I'm hoping this game gets good reception so they can up the buy-in next time.

I'm also debating if I wanna play the $5k NLH KO tourny. That's on Thursday December 17. A KO tourny is always fun and action packed, and the pot should be sizable as well (assuming around 100 players, making it a ~$400k pot). However, my original plan is to get to Macau on the night of the 18th, rail my buddies in the Tourny of Champs, then play in the Main Event on the 19th. If I go on the 17th I'll have one less night at home with family. Not ideal. I think I'm at about 20% on playing this right now.

The Main Event I'll play for sure, as I'm lucky enough to have Pokerstars sponsor my buy-in and accommodation. (Here's a big thanks to Pokerstars!) The prize pool is guaranteed to be HK$2m but I think that's easily beatable. In fact, I expect about 200 players, making the prize pool ~$4m and the top prize almost $1m. Oh, and I hope to win some. Look for me on the floor!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pain in the NECK!!!

Guys, I'm having this really bad neck pain and it's pretty much limited my head movement to nil. I'm stuck at home except going to the Chinese doctor for acupuncture (yes guys, the needles). It's actually pretty weird how it all started. Two Fridays ago I took out my wisdom tooth because it was causing headaches. Obviously I got my fair share of mouth pain but that went away after about five days. After that, last weekend my neck and right shoulder started hurting and it got worse and worse, giving me more headaches, especially when I turn my head in quick movements. I decided I needed some professional help and this time I wanted to go the Chinese way since they're pretty good at fixing up bodies instead of just easing the pain. I only started seeing this Chinese doctor yesterday and she's supposed to be very good. (Many local movie stars are her patients.) She's definitely not cheap but she looks like she's real good at what she does. I'll post her details after I fully recover so anyone with similar problems can have one more option. (I know how much it suck to have the GP as the only option and all he does is give more painkillers.)

(For more info on acupuncture, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acupuncture)

Meanwhile, many buddies of mine are playing in Sydney in the APPT Grand Final. Many (or all) are playing the Main Event but Terrence Chan and Andrew Scott are also playing the Highroller. GL to them. (Steicke played too but got busted before I could blink so gglol to him.) Special congrats to Tony "Bond18" Dunst for taking the chip lead after Day1a. Hold onto it Tony! One time!