Giving Money Away

On February 9, I travelled to Stockton to play in a charity poker tournament. I went to hang out with my good friend ET and we played the tournament together. The tournament was hosted by the Stockton Thunder hockey team.

The event was well run and raised around five thousand dollars for the Thunder and Lightning Charity foundation; the Lightning being the indoor football team that is owned by the same group. The charity foundation works primarily with children in the Stockton area.

The players were treated well with a pre-tournament meal and meet and greet with the Thunder players. Thunder players wore their jerseys and there was one player at every table. The player at my table, Riley, was a great ambassador and did a very good job of talking with all the players and telling good hockey stories.

The tournament was limited to 100 players and sold out fairly quickly. Promotion was mainly through the mailing list of the two teams and then word of mouth. My friend sent me an email and asked if I was interested and of course I am always interested in playing poker, seeing friends and helping charity. Did I sound sincere?

The play of the hands is always something people want to know more about and I intentionally leave them out or gloss them over. The hands can bog down the reader and it becomes a little mechanical. With that entire disclaimer here we go…

The first table I was at I had a tight solid image and was able to steal the blinds a couple times. The tournament was never deep stack poker and most play was pre-flop hand selection and most hands involved an all-in push on the flop. There were very few hands that involved a bet and call on the river without somebody all-in. This leaves me with very little strategy to share or analysis to provide. I stole blinds with AJs, AK, KQ and 99. The interesting hand was a hand that found me with a stack of 4000 in the small blind for 200 and the big blind having a total chip stack of 825 with 400 of it in the blind. The hand was folded around to me. My analysis was the big blind was forced to put all his chips into the pot no matter what I did. The question became what hand would I be willing to play against a random hand for and additional 625 chips. I would be getting about two to one on my money against a random hand making my choice almost automatic. I would take this play without looking at my cards. The key here is that I can look at my cards and if I am dealt a really horrible hand like 72 or 83 I could fold. Well maybe I have to call no matter what. Much to my surprise I looked at Q9s giving me at least an average hand and no real tough decision. I put the money in the pot and the big blind took quite a bit of time before calling his last 425. I am not sure he understood that his hand is a call no matter what he has. I was expecting to see some rags after he took all the time contemplating. He turned over KQ and I was dominated. I doubled him up.

My table broke and I was moved into the big blind at my new table and rightly so because I was facing the blind at my old table. A couple players limped for 800 and the small blind folded to my surprise. With 2800 in the pot and only needing to call $400 more this is a call if you have any chips at all. All of the stacks were decent and the second limper was a very loose old man with a mountain of chips meaning his limp was protected. I saw this as a mistake on the part of the small blind. I looked down to find J3 and checked the hand. The flop was A A J and I checked and so did my opponents. The turn brought a 3 and I made a bet of 1200 and the old man called. I was pot committed and sent the rest of my money (3200) on the river after a 9 hit the board. The old man made the call with pocket fours.

A bit later I raised a pot to $3000 pre-flop with AQ when the blinds were $500-1000. A player took a long time and made the call leaving him about 1800 in chips. I grabbed $1800 in chips and bet the flop. The queen on the flop gave me top pair and I was going to put him all-in. He went all-in and it was $500 more and I made the call. He showed pocket tens and was eliminated when He could not find any help on the turn or river. In my estimation he should have just shoved all-in pre-flop. However he may have been going with a stop and go move. He was probably planning to shove on the flop no matter what flopped. He was hoping I would miss the flop and check to him. I was betting no matter what so the hand was destined to put him all-in. The tournament followed this theme most of the night.

The rounds were 15 minutes and the blinds were escalating leaving very little real poker play. The end for me came at 28 players when I picked up KQ in middle position in an unopened pot. The blinds were $600-1200 and I raised to $3600 and was called by the big blind. A flop of A T 7 all spades had the blind moving all-in. The pot had $7800 pre-flop and I had $7200 chips left with the big blind having me covered. I had the nut flush draw and believed that the straight was good if a jack were to come. I thought I had 12 outs with two cards to come the pot was laying me more than two to one. I made the pot and now I was forced to play the hand out. I put my chips into the middle with a draw and I left the tournament graciously.

ET was still in the tournament and made it 13th place just outside the bubble with the top ten winning prizes. Eric played well all night and could have survived a little bit longer but was definitely short stacked after being card dead for a prolonged period. Eric took ace ten up against queens and was eliminated.

I had a really good time giving my money away. Great job guys and I will see you next year.

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