Sunday, January 01, 2006

Game Report: Cincinnati Club Limited Rebuy 29/12/05

Before writing up a trip report proper for this night, it's worth covering some recent changes to the organisation of The Cincinnati Club.

I don't know the ins-and-outs in terms of the commercials, but the long-and-short of it is the poker side of the club is now being managed by poker pro Dave 'El Blondie' Colclough of Blonde Poker.

The changes which have been introduced to the regular game are:

- all tables dealt by professional dealers rather than self dealt
- a full-time tournament director
- 4000 starting chips for a £20 initial buy-in
- 50/50 blinds for 30 minutes then 50/100 for 30 minutes
- a max of two £20 rebuys in the 60 minute rebuy period
- a very gentle blind increment thereafter
- a very flat payout structure

All of which leads to a fantastic amount of play, in a very professional atmosphere. It's early days for the new regime, but they are off to a flier in my eyes.

Thursday was a long day for me, since Baby Div had been safely deposited with the doting grandparents while the Mrs and I did some shopping, before partaking of a very leisurely late lunch in a tapas bar, over several glasses of rioja (yes, we were in Glasgow, Scotland) to celebrate my birthday.

After collecting baby and returning home, there was no time for a nap before braving the snow and heading off to the club.

My live poker excursions (homegames excepted) are all too rare, and I was ready to play, particularly as we were relatively mob handed - myself, Dave, Teacake, and Pat all making the trip.

There were about forty runners which meant a final table of nine and top five paid.

After drawing for seats, I was disappointed to find Dave sitting two to my left. I'm sure there were easier blinds to steal in the room.

Initially I didn't get involved at all. With the blinds so low I didn't see any point committing chips unless there was a pot worth winning, and with a steady succession of 92, 83 hole cards being dealt, I didn't have much ammo to work with.

That all changed in the second half hour, with blinds at 50/100. In my BB I saw a raise from MP. Unusually it was a min raise to 200, when most raises were in the 3-5 BB range.

Unsurprisingly the guy found a couple of callers, including the SB, at which point I found myself staring at two lovely aces in the BB.

Hmmm. I hadn't played a hand all night, yet here I was in a raised pot, with several callers, looking at Aces. Out of position. What to do?

My immediate instinct was to reraise and thin the field. However, on my previous visit to CinCins, I felt I'd played my big hands a bit too hard, and not milked enough chips.

A reraise from me would just be screaming 'monster'. So, I decided to play it slow and take the risk of trying to gain the maximum chips. Call.

The flop was 334, and the SB - a spitting image of Albie Kinsella in Cracker - immediately bet out for 1000. Roughly a pot size bet, and a quarter of the starting stack.

My gut reaction was, no way does this guy have a 3. But there's a problem...Raising now would probably take the pot, and lose my customers, unless one of the callers has a 3. In which case my position is going to kill me later in the hand.

So, I decided to smooth call, and see how the rest of the table reacted. Everyone folded except the initial raiser, who is as likely to have a 3 as I am to have a 3some with Jessicas Simpson and Alba.

Now I'm eyeing his chips hungrily and praying he has KK or some similarly unputdownable hand.

The turn is a blank, and Albie bets out another 1000, which now starts to look pretty weak in the context of the pot size. He also - in my mind at least - seemed pretty uncomfortable, and I now made the determination that he didn't have a 3.

I started to think, medium pocket pair for Albie. Something like 88.

Since I was convinced I had the original raiser well beat, I smooth called again, hoping he would be thinking the same as me about Albie, and would move in to kill the action. He folded.

Crap! Now I wished I'd raised the turn.

When the river brought a second four, I got a horrible sinking feeling.

Albie again bet 1000. To call would leave me with 900, and no way was I passing, so I moved in. Hoping my initial read was correct.

He insta-called, showing 64 for the rivered full house. Double crap. Rebuy!

How I played the hand has been annoying me for two days, and I'm still veering between 'I played abysmally', and 'I played fine but got unlucky'. Veering more to the former than the latter.

I probably should have moved in on the turn, but still am not 100% sold on that.

That's the beauty of poker. If I can't agree with myself how I should have played, how can I possibly agree with anyone else?

Speaking to both players later, I discovered the initial raiser had TT, so not quite as monstrous a hand as I'd been hoping.

Albie, unlike his TV lookalike, turned out to be a very amiable guy, and I couldn't fault how he played. He busted out later in a vicious hand with Dave, where both made straights - Dave's being higher.

With several rebuys at the table, my replenished stack of 4000 was already comparatively short, so I knew I needed to make a few more moves.

The first opportunity came on my next BB when I saw a free flop with 34, and turned the idiot end of an OESD. Albie bet out on the six, but this time I raised.

He gave me a long hard look-up, and eventually folded. Much to my (hopefully undetectable) relief.

I declined the option of a final top-up, as it wouldn't have done much other than pull me back to an average stack, and I could feel the long day catching up on me.

Instead, I decided to look for a double through, or retire to the bar to enjoy the final hours of my birthday.

With the blinds now escalating, things were getting exciting, and I was looking for opportunities.

The first of which came when on my button, several limpers ran into a late position raiser, and I found myself looking down at 88 - not a monster, but playable.

Something about the manner of the raiser made me feel he wasn't exactly in love with his hand. My gut feel was something like AJ or AT. The raise seemed almost reluctant.

With a deeper stack, I'd have taken a flop, but I only had room for one decent raise. If the guy moved over the top, I'd have to call.

So, I made the raise. All folded back to the raiser, who gave it a long dwell, before passing JJ face up. I VERY carefully mucked my 88.

What a buzz. That's why I wish I played live more often.

My stack was still pretty weak but I had won time to pick another spot, which came when one of the bigger gamblers brought a hefty stack to the table, and within a few hands had open raised into my AKs.

Given our comparative stacks, there was only one move. All-in.

He quickly called and his A8 put me in great shape. No improvement for either of us, and suddenly I was back in the pack. Which is where it all went wrong...

As with AA, I found another big hand in the BB. This time TT. Sitting in the 1 seat, I'd seen a mid position limper, but failed to realise the SB - new to the table and sitting on the other side of the dealer - had completed. Stupid me.

So, my raise was not big enough to push out either limper. When the flop came down K high, and the SB bet out, I figured he'd caught part of it, but I couldn't be sure he'd hit a king, and even so, as the pre-flop raiser, I still had the initiative.

Just as important, giving up the hand now would leave me very short stacked, with the blinds climbing.

So, I decided to press on by representing AK or better, and raised. His reraise left me no option but to call all-in knowing I was behind, and he flipped K4s for a flopped two pair.

I had to laugh. There's me trying to represent AK to someone who is hoping that's exactly what I'm holding. No 2-outer for me, and time to hit the bar after a sporting handshake with my vanquisher.

We stuck around to railbird the final table, and were delighted to see Dave take third after almost seven hours play. There was no deal and the last two played to a rapid finish.

A long but very enjoyable night. The structure really is superb, with lots of play, and a very fair payout. Poker as it should be played.

I'd love to make it a weekly event, but realistically other demands mean I'm not going to make it that often.

However, as MacArthur said, 'I shall return', and, as he might have added, I'll be leaving with the money one of these days.

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