For those of you wondering why there were no posts all last month, I looked at my records and it turns out, I actually only played three sessions of ring game action and four sit-n-go tourneys in September. So not much to write about there.
Now back to my FIHUPT6 update. Tournament director Matt Matros found me in the Foxwoods poker room, having just locked up a seat in the 5/10 limit hold’em game. Live action would have to wait, however, as Jerrod and the other semi-finalist were about to square off up in the FARGO suite and I wanted to sweat the match. I was whisked away to Suite 825, where the tourney would come to its dramatic conclusion.
The atmosphere in the suite was relaxed, and I enjoyed the company of one Russell Rosenbloom and other FARGOers as the semi-final match began. I’d thought I would feel nervous, but since I knew Jerrod was a very strong player and most likely to be my opponent in the finals, I didn’t give myself much of a shot to win I just felt happy to be there. I was briefly distracted from the poker action by a discussion of backgammon, the most frustrating game on this planet. A subject for another blog. I don’t want to talk about it.
Jerrod did end up winning the semi-final, and we were into our match soon after. We got 250 in starting chips with blinds of 1 and 2 to start. Right away the match had a different feel than any of my previous matches. For example, in the first round I had WPT finalist ActionBob Hwang shuffling the cards for me. In this match, I had WPT finalist Matt Matros doing the shuffling and also dealing. Only at FARGO.
But seriously, although we continued to chat and joke with the others in the room, the poker was different. In my first matches, I never felt like I had any difficult decisions, and I took a very aggressive strategy and won most chips by raising opponents out. In this match, I was meeting an opponent who raised as much or more pre-flop than I did. Jerrod reraised several times pre-flop, which I don’t think any of my opponents in the first round did. This felt much more like a real poker game.
One pivotal hand occurred when the blinds were at 3 and 6. I held 33 and raised to 18. Jerrod reraised to 40 and I called. The flop came 886. He again bet 40. I considered folding, but though a raise might make him fold, so I raised to 80. Unfortunately he then moved all-in and I had a decision to make. I had him covered but barely, and I finally decided I had to give him credit for a bigger pair than my threes. I mucked and he later told me he had pocket nines. One thing I thought I did well in all my matches was lay down hands even after putting a lot of my chips into the pot. I think that when I’m playing online tournies, I sometimes shove the rest of my chips in simply because I know another tourney starts in five minutes and “the pot is too big to fold.” Well, if you have the worst hand it doesn’t matter how big the pot is!
So now Jerrod had the chip lead. I was dealt 97 and called a pre-flop raise. The flop fit me just fine – 977. Jerrod led out for about half the pot and I called. The turn was a jack, and he moved all in. I called and he showed JT. Lucky turn card for me (the flop wasn’t so bad either) and I now had a substantial chip lead.
Now we were in everyone’s favorite phase of a tourney, the one where someone shoves in on every hand. I was dealt 8d6d on the button and raised to 18. Jerrod moved in and I called for about 40 more. He turned over Ad7d – certainly not what I was hoping for. But the flop brough me another six, and no ace or seven on the turn or river meant that I was the winner of FIHUPT6!
Of course the money is nice, but I was most excited about the trophy – a faux-velvet crown which now resides on our living room shelf next to our Greg Raymer bobble-head doll. I had a great time playing this tournament, and I can’t wait to return to Foxwoods and defend my title next year. Overall, a terrific trip to FARGO. Great people, great poker, great food – if you’re not attending these events, you are missing one of the best aspects of playing poker in this country.