I played at two great new venues in Sydney last week.
The first was the Monday night comp at the Albert Tavern in North Sydney. They run $50 and $20 buy in tournaments, although both times I have been there, there have only been one or two sign up for the $20 game, and I have played in the $50 game. It is a pretty good venue, roomy, nice Tapas from the bar, and comfortable seating.
The second is at the Kirribilli Club which now has an APL $22 tourney on Tuesday nights. It is a fantastic venue, reminding me of some of the nicer hotels in Las Vegas - not quite, but pretty close. The venue is very up market after its recent refurbishment, the staff are very friendly, it is spacious, comfortable, clean, has great food, great bars and a totally fantastic view of the Harbour Bridge and the city.
APL hadn't advertised the game, as it was the first week they had run it at that venue. So there were only 11 or 12 starters. I did make it to the final table :) But finished out of the cash in sixth place. What a fantastic venue though. It has to be the best APL venue in Australia.
Ok, back to the Albert Tavern game. $50 buy in gets you 2,500 chips for blinds starting at 25/50. The blinds go up every 20 minutes and you can rebuy once for $25 before the break at the end of level 4. If you haven't rebought, then you can also take an addon of 2,500 chips at the start of level 5 for $25. The people who play are mostly regulars, with one or two new or casual players like me each week. The group, and the organizers, are pretty friendly and there is a good buzz about the game.
I played there once a couple of months ago with only six starters, crashed out early and didn't take the rebuy. This time with 11 starters I was doing pretty well by the break, but not that well I thought I could ignore the addon.
Getting to Sydney on Saturday, I had had plenty of catch-up sleep on Sunday, and, even though it was a long day on Monday, still felt fairly fresh when the game started at 7:30.
I had definitely brought my A game to the table. I was concentrating really well and picket up a heap of tells from various players at the table. I was able to take down a big pot against a tight aggressive player who bet every street and made what looked like a value bet on the river. He was representing at least trips, with a straight and a flush possible. I had 8 4 in the BB. There were three callers and I decided to defend the BB with a good raise before the flop (I would have folded to a pre-flop raise, but as Amarillo Slim would say 'if their a limp'n, I'm a raise'n - thought what being a dried grape has to do with it I have no idea). All folded except the SB. Well, the good thing was I had position.
I hit a 4 on the flop for bottom pair, and the board was 9 4 J. Plausible hands for the SB were a small or mid pair, a '20' hand or a low blackjack hand I thought. It seemed unlikely that he would a have just called pre flop with any pair down to eights, or something like AK or AQ. A J or A 10, or even A 9, A 8 would fit though.
He bets about a third of the pot. A reasonable feeler bet if he had paired the jack or the nine I feel. I had watched him as the flop came down, and was examining him as he bet. He was a solid player, and I had only seen him show down with strong hands. However. I saw his lips purse as he was betting. I was sure he was weak and bluffing. I had been aggressive in defending my blinds, but had folded in the past when I thought I was beat. Even if he hadn't connected to the flop, in his mind he must have considered that there was a good chance I hadn't either.
I called his bet. He didn't seem very happy about that, so I figured I was on the right track.
The turn was a 10, and there are now two spades on the board. He makes a half pot size bet. Just as I am sure he had nothing on the flop, I am now equally sure the 10 didn't help him. I call. Maybe I should have raised there, but I figured he had maybe two over cards to me, or I am totally beat and drawing dead. But my read on him tells me the former is more likely the case. In any event, if I raise him and he pushes, I will have to fold. Calling is a risk of him making his hand, but keeps the pot manageable. I don't lose any more and still have ways to improve.
The river is a six of hearts. He looks back at his hand but doesn't seem to like that card at all. I don't think he knows I am observing him, so I don't think it is a deliberate false tell. He makes a small, possible value bet, of a few hundred into a pot of about 1,500.
Keeping my eyes down, I softly announce 'all in', but don't make any move to push my chips (why would I, I have the nut hand, the chips are all going to come back to me anyway, right?).
The guy shakes his head and looks disgusted. With little hesitation he mucks his cards face up showing K 9. 'Good bet' he says 'what did you have, the 7 8 or the flush?'. So he actually had me beat all the way.
'Something like that' I say and muck my cards face down as I rake in the sizable pot.
Thinking about it later, I wondered if my all-in push was a stupid risk to take. Calling his river bet would have cost little, only about 20% of my stack was in the pot. Even though I had him well covered, I was risking over 60% with the push if I was wrong. BUT, I was sure I was right, and I DID NOT want to show my weak bottom pair by just calling. I didn't read him exactly right, since he had paired the 9, and did have me beat. But I did read he was week correctly, and the raise on the river was the only way I could have won the hand. Looking back on the hand, even if I had seen his hole cards, I think putting him to a decision for all his chips when he had only third best pair was the right move to make.
As it was, I was able to dominate the table for most of the night and went on to win the tournament. Pocketing a very handy $280 for the win.