I came to Niagara on Friday night for the second time in less than a week, after spending last weekend out here playing the cash games. It went pretty well. They were spreading $5/$10 PLO and apparently they just started playing it here. There were a couple of solid young players, but as for the rest, you know how that goes; calling pot bets with top pair on a draw heavy board, playing for their whole stack with dry Aces no matter what the board was, calling pot bets on the turn with a Q high flush draw on a paired board, etc etc. Good times.
Yesterday was the second of three starting days, and even though I was a bit tired from arriving here late the night before, I decided it would be better to play on the second day than the third. My reasoning for this is pretty simple; most of the big name pros play lots of events, so they don't have the time to travel to a tournament a few days in advance. They usually want to be in and out of there as soon as possible. Therefore most of them would want to play on the third starting day, that way they wouldn't have to waste any time with days off in between. Of course the first day would have been the best to play on.
I arrived at my table about five minutes late after some registration issues, and I was pleased to not recognize any of the faces at my table. A couple of guys seemed like online pros just from their demeanor, but nothing too crazy. The structure was great as always, the blinds started at $50/$100 with a $30,000 starting stack, and 90 minute levels.
I started off fast as usual, playing lots of small pots and establishing a loose table image. I was up to $40,000 after about half an hour after winning a few small pots. Then came my first big pot of the day, which probably ended up being one of the best calls I've made in a major tournament. Three people limped at $50/$100, and I bumped it up to $450 with KdQd on the button, two players called. Flop was Jc9c4d. First player checked, second led out for $600, which was weird because he normally check called with a piece of the board. I made it $1,900, first player folded, and the other called. Turn 7d, giving me a flush draw to go with my gutshot and two overs. He checks, I bet $3,500, and he calls. River is the 2h, and he instantly leads for $6,000. His line was odd, if he had a big hand it seemed like a check raise was in order with such a draw heavy board on the turn. It just smelled like a missed draw to me. I was almost sure of this, but then I thought, what if he missed with an Ace high flush draw? I can't beat that! I kept asking him if he had QT, and he didn't answer. Eventually I threw in the $6000, and he says "Good call." I'm still not that comfortable in case he has Ace high. After a few seconds he flips up QT! Phew! I say "King high baby!" in a miserably failed attempt to mimick Scotty Nguyen.
That put me at over $50,000 chips and in really good shape still in the first level. We had one really bad player at our table who was pretty much playing every pot. He would limp and then cold call a 3 bet regularly. Or 3 bet every time there was a raise in front of him. He was really unpredictable and his stack was fluctuating a lot. Of course I had to get in a big hand with him. Second level, blinds $100/$200, it folds to me in the cutoff and I look down at AcJc and bump it up to $550. Folds to previously mentioned player and he 3 bets to $1,500. I call. Flop comes JT3r. He bets $2,000, I call. Turn 8. He bets $4,000 with another $8,000 behind. I put him all in and he calls and shows AA. Ouch. Back down to ~$40,000 I go.
The next big pot I played was during the same level, against the toughest player at the table. He has read my blog before so I won't reveal my holecards in this hand until later on. I promised him I would tell him but only after one of us was eliminated from the tournament, and we're both still in so... He raised in MP to $600, I called on the button, and the BB called. Flop was KdQd3d. BB checked, he led out for $1,350, I made it $4,350, BB folds, he calls. Turn 4x, he checks, I bet $8,000, he calls. River 7x. He checks, I push all in. He tanks forever and after five minutes he folds. He goes, "I know you have the Ace of diamonds but what was your other card?" ;)
I stayed between $50,000 and $55,000 for the rest of the level and then I was dealt AsQd on the button with blinds $100/$200 with a $25 ante. Cutoff limps for $200, I make it $1,200, he is the only caller. Flop comes JT3. He checks, I bet $2,500, he calls. Turn K, bink! He leads out for $2,500, I make it $6,500, he tanks and then pushes for around $14,000 more. I insta call and he shows QJ. He gets up out of his seat, and the river is a 9, he sits back down and says, "Chop pot!" Umm, not quite, gg sir.
That put me at around $80,000 which would be my peak for the day. Then the worst thing happened, I got moved to a table full of solid young online players. There was one guy with over $140,000 when I sat down, and he was literally opening preflop every single hand. I was two to his right, so I was calling almost every single hand, and nobody was 3 betting very often, because big stack would never fold pre. At $100/$200/$25, he called a 3 bet to $5,400 preflop with Ah9h and won a $70,000 pot calling down every street on a T88AQ board.
The only time I got a hand against him was in the last level of the day with blinds at $300/$600/$75. I had AK on the button, and he opened to $1,600, I made it $7,000, he called. Flop was J64r. He checked, I bet $11,000 and he pushed all in. I just couldn't get him, but I have to admit, he played the big stack really well, pushing everyone around and being fearless. He finished with almost $200,000, insane! I grinded back up to ~$75,000, when I was dealt my least favourite hand in Niagara, JJ. I raised it up to $1,600 and a young French player pushed all in for ~$9,000. I called and he showed AK. Door card on the flop was a K, just like I went out last year. I should just fold it pre! I won the last two pots of the day to finish with $69,100 with the average around $45,000. Play resumes on Monday.
Thanks for reading!