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Tournament Review #2: Seminole Hard Rock June Big Stack Special $100,000 Guaranteed (Background + Hand Reviews Included).

Tournament Review #2: Seminole Hard Rock June Big Stack Special $100,000 Guaranteed (Background + Hand Reviews Included).
Hello everyone, I'd like to add some content to the poker community in the written form on an ongoing basis. I'm not a Vlogger and have no idea how Brad Owen, Doug Polk, or Dnegs do their videos with background music, graphics, and such (however, I am a huge fan of all of them), so for me, the best way to share content is in the written form with potentially a couple of pictures sprinkled within. Please let me know how I can improve my posts (and my game, lol!) for the future, and I hope you enjoy the read!
This tournament review will essentially be my second one, as I sort of reviewed the Seminole Hard Rock Deep Stack Series Event #1 last month.
Background / Details:
Seemingly, every poker player and their mother is out in Las Vegas for the WSOP and having a great time. However, the "working man" like myself can't make it out there this year - fortunately, living in West Palm Beach, FL provides me the opportunity to compete in many well-structured and large-fielded tournaments throughout the year. For example, the Seminole Hard Rock series runs four times a year, whose Main Events have become legitimate "stops" in the professional poker circuit.
However, I'll have to wait until August to review one of those tournaments. Today's tournament review covers the Seminole Hard Rock June Big Stack Special.
Buy-in / Structure:
This NLHE tournament is a two-day, multi-flight event with a buy-in of $130. There are unlimited re-entries up until the start of Level 9. Players start with 15,000 in chips with blinds at 100/100 (Structure Sheet). Day 1 ends at Level 14 and the Day 2 restart is on Sunday.
There are 7 starting flight total - I played in Flight E.
Pre-Tournament:
I drop off my kids at Summer Camp and head down the Florida Turnpike. I'm a hard rock / heavy metal kind of guy, so today's playlist is all Metallica. The very first song that comes on via shuffle is "Master of Puppets" - that's got to be a good sign of things to come, right?
I arrive at the SHR and for those of you whom have played at the property before, I predict that you'll have a hard time recognizing it after the guitar-shaped hotel is 100% built. The property is being completely revamped, inside and out. Even the Hard Rock Store is now relegated to a temporary, uncomfortable corner of the hotel as this massive construction project continues. Nevertheless, everyone is very excited about the project, and I for one can't wait to see the end of the rebuilding phase of one of my favorite properties for playing poker.
When I get to an event early, I like to play a little cash, to further put me in a poker-like mindset and, hey, who knows, you can get lucky and hit a high hand or double-up. There aren't many tables running at this time as it's early, so I get seated at a $1/$2 NL table and buy-in for $300. There's only one hand in 90 minutes that's worth mentioning:
I have about $275 and I pick up two red Aces in UTG+2 and raise to $15 (there was a $5 Straddle on the button). The SB calls and has roughly $100 behind, and we're heads up to the flop. The flop comes A23, with two spades. I continue for $25 and he again calls. The turn is the 8s, and see that he has a little over $50 left that he's playing with in his hands. I put him all-in and he snap calls with Ks9s for a turned flush. The river bricks out for me, and he wins a nice pot. I take it on the chin, as this is about the fourth or fifth cash game session where I lose 1/2 a buy-in and then work the whole session to either even up or at least not go broke (I will detail this in another post sometime in the future).
It's now 20 minutes before the start of Day 1E, so I pick up my chips and cash out for about $200, which is salvageable. I buy-in for the tournament, and after taking a break, I make my way over to table 35, seat 3.
Levels 1 and 2:
The tournament starts and in seat 6 is a familiar face that I've played with a few times before. He's an older gentleman who is very friendly and has run hot in a few tournaments that I've also competed in. He immediately says hello to me, and we chat it up a little bit. I then begin to recall some hands that we played together and wonder if we'll get involved in some crazy situation at some point today (Spoiler Alert: It happens).
Only one hand of particular interest to report: In Level 2, blinds are 100/100/100 (That's the Small Blind, Big Blind, and the Big Blind Ante), and I'm in the SB with T8o. I check, and there are 4 of us to the flop. The flop comes J96 rainbow, and I decide to lead out for 300. I get called in two spots, and the pot is now ~1,300. The turn brings the Ks, so I have a double gut-shot straight draw. I bet again, this time I believe I bet 1,100, hoping to just take the pot down right here without having to sweat out a river card, and in the hopes that this board really connects with a hand that a player in the Small Blind (namely, myself) could have. I get called by the player in the CO, and there's now ~3,500 in the pot. The river is a big giant brick for me, but I continue with my story that this flop hit me and that I did fill my straight. I bet 2,800, and the CO immediately calls with QJo, but tells me "very nice bet". It's a small consolation, but does put the table on notice that I am not weak/tight and am willing to put my opponents to the test. Honestly, at this point, I am already thinking about firing bullet #2 as I'm down to about ~8,000 from my starting stack of 15,000.
Levels 3 and 4:
This is where the tournament really gets interesting for me. Remember the older, nicer gentleman that I said hello to earlier? Well, we're about to have one hell of a hour in these next two levels. The blinds are now 100/200/200, and my elderly friend raises to 500. The HJ and D both call, and I look down at Ah5d. I consider a 3-bet for a split second, but the table has been very loose/passive and I can't recall a 3-bet before the flop as of yet. So I pay the extra 400 chips and make the call, as does the BB. There are 5 players to the flop with 2,500 in the pot. The flop comes 2h3h3d. I really like this flop, but check to see what my friend will do. The BB checks and my friend bets something in the neighborhood of 1,200. Action folds around to me and I consider my options. Folding here is not an option for me for a couple of reasons. For one, it's very early in the tournament and if I do bust, I can go re-buy and start fresh (and at a $130 buy-in, it's not a big deal). Second, even though I'm most likely behind, I have a a backdoor flush draw and any 4 will do just fine for a wheel. After 20-30 seconds of deliberation, I move all in for ~6,500 more. I get snap-called by my friend whose name I should really know by now. He flips over KK. I say "That's a nice hand", and the dealer whose name is Brittney starts to burn & turn. The turn card is a 5d, to which I say "That's not that bad", or something to that effect. The river is the magical, miracle, improbable 4c, giving me the straight and boosting my short stack back up to ~18,000. The older gentleman and I laugh a bit about it, and we move on.
During Level 4 now, I win a few small hands and then, with about 15 minutes left to go in the level, I start to run super red hot. All of the following action happens within the last 15 minutes of Level 4, where blinds are 200/300/300:
i. I pick up 66 in mid-position and make it 700 to go. I get two callers and the flop comes K65, with two diamonds. A player (I think the BB in this hand) makes it 2,500. A bit scared of the flush and to protect my hand, I raise to 6,500. I showed a very small bluff to the table a few hands ago where I had complete air, but bet into 2 players on the button, so I am convinced this player in the BB is thinking about making a move. He ultimately sigh-folds, and I show my hand to the table.
ii. On the very next hand, I pick up KK. I raise again to 700. My friendly nemesis whom I doubled-up through calls, and it's heads up to the flop, which is 7-high with two hearts. I bet 1,200, he snap calls. The turn is an 8h, so we're looking at a super-connected board with three hearts now. I bet again to 2,200, and he instantly raises it up to ~8,000. Even though I have a big over-pair, this player knows what he's doing and would not be raising light in many spots. There is so much that can beat me, and I had just ran up my stack to a decent level again. I start to count my remaining chips behind after my 2,200 turn bet and I have about 22,000. I tell him "I just feel like this hand [as I show the table] is not good here", and muck it. My friend says "whoa!" and says "that's a really good fold - we were about 50/50 going to the river!". He didn't tell me exactly what I had, but by his statement he must have had 15+ outs (any heart, any straight-card, and possibly whatever lower-paired card he was also holding for 3 additional outs). We start discussing the hand and chat back and forth a bit about probabilities and if he could have made that lay down, when all of a sudden....
iii. ... I look down at 7c7s UTG. I again raise to 700, the player immediately to my left calls (he has a stack around 18k-20k). The CO calls and both the SB and BB complete, so we're five ways to the flop. To my amazement, the flop comes T97 with two diamonds, so I flopped bottom set and am loving life. The SB and BB both check and I decide to get cute and set the trap, with a plan of check-raising anyone who dared throw any chips in the middle of the table. That's exactly what winds up happening - the player to my immediate left throws out a bet of ~3,000. Action folds to me and I get a feeling that I may not want to play coy for too much longer, as the table, like I mention previously, has been very limpy and "call-ey". I look at the player, look at his remaining chips, and I move all-in. I can sense that the table is getting annoyed with my constant aggression, so all eyes are now on me and the player to my left. He asks me "Show if I fold?", to which I don't respond. He tanks for over a minute and finally grabs his stack, picks it up off the felt with one hand and drops it forward. I flip over my bottom set and he shows JJ. The board run-out is clean and honestly I don't even know what my chip count is, but I eliminated the player and I think I'm around 40,000. The dealer begins to shuffle the deck and the tournament clock is almost at zero for the first 15-minute break of the day. Players start to get up and fold and I'm in the BB on the next hand...
iv. ...My older friend makes it 800 from UTG+2, and action folds all the way back around to me in the BB and I look down at KsJs. I make the call and we're heads up to the flop. The dealer tells other players that if they're not in the hand, to please leave for the break, so there's a lot of commotion and movement around me, but I'm in a hand so none of this matters to me. The flop comes T95 - ALL SPADES. My eyes must have been as big as watermelons popping out of my skull at this point. I check and my buddy in seat 6 leads out for 3,500. He started the hand with around 30,000, and for some reason I'm thinking I'm drawing to one out, the Qs, because I somehow convince myself that he's had enough of me and has AsXs for the Ace-high flush. I think about it for a little while and I call. The turn is some brick and I ask him how many of the grey & yellow 5,000 chips he has behind. He sort of mumbles something unclear, and I don't know what possessed me to do this but I say "OK - I'm all in". I think I was running so hot and I was still all jazzed up about the previous hand that I just let it rip. He exclaims "Are you serious?!?!?", and makes the call. He flips over pocket 5's for a flopped set, and I turn over my hand to reveal my flopped King-high flush. He says "pair the board", and I say "no, please don't pair the board". The dealer burns and flips over a 8, which doesn't pair the board, winning me a monster pot and busting my older friend from the tournament. We get up, shake hands and shake our heads at my crazy run and wild turn of events. We kind of just stand there for a minute chatting about the last 10-15 minutes - he reveals to me that he saw me running so well that he thought there was no way I could have had it every time, otherwise he might have folded his bottom set.
I then sit back down and take a minute to get organized and count my chips. I took a picture of my stack, shown below - the count after level 4 was 78,200, with blinds in Level 5 going up to 200/400/400. In other words, 195 Big Blinds!
78,200 (195BB) after a wild Level 4.
Levels 5 through 8:
My remaining table-mates are shocked to find out I've busted another player during the break, and I'm obviously having a great time with the table talk. In the second hand of Level 5, I pick up TT from late position and raise to 1,200. The player on the button shoves for ~10k, and action folds back around to me. I call, and he flips over AJo. The board runs out without an Ace or a Jack, so I bust yet another player and run the stack up to nearly 90,000. The players are bursting out in laughter as this is a pretty insane run.
However, as many of you know, there can be large swings in poker, specifically in tournament poker and even more specifically at the lower buy-in tournaments like this one. So this moment winds up being the high point of the event for me, even though at the time I wasn't thinking about anything else other than the fucking Mirage (bad Rounders reference there) :)
Other than one spot where I called an all-in with my A4 vs. an AJ (the AJ held, so I lost about 11,000), nothing too consequential or significant really happens to me until the break, so we head into the break and through the end of the registration / re-buy period with 80,500. Although, the last hand of level 8 had a 4-way all in that many players of our table and about 10 players from other tables stopped to watch. Because of the crazy action, it took a few minutes to get all of the counts and side-pots going. After it was all said and done, a pair of pocket Kings held against a lower pocket pair and two other Broadway cards that I can't remember, and off we went to break.
Level 9:
Table #35, in the back row of the poker room, breaks. The dealer runs out an unnecessary high-card (I'm actually not sure why this is done as we're randomly given seat cards...but whatever), and I get moved to Table #28, seat #3. A player whom had bought in later and was at my original table was also moved to this table - I had raised pre-flop in level 8 with a KJo and he called with a raggy-Ace, hitting his Ace on the turn, to which I joked with him that he'll "play any Ace". This does become important later on.
In Level 9, blinds are 500/1,000/1,000 and about halfway into the level, I get into a hand that is my favorite of the tournament and I'm very proud of how I played it. I have about ~80,000, and the action folds around to me in the CO. I look down at Jh8d, and decide to raise it up to 2,500. At this point, I haven't been very active since my meteoric rise to nearly 200BB a few hours prior, and haven't opened a pot yet since being moved to this table, so I specifically went into this hand with a plan of applying pressure to my opponent if I thought that they were not very strong and if the board + player(s) involved favored such a strategy. The BB calls, and the flop comes T76 with two spades with 5,500 in the pot. The BB checks and I lead out 3,000. The BB thinks about it for a bit and calls, so the pot is now 11,500. The turn is a off-suit 5, giving me some additional outs. The BB checks again and I think he is in check-call mode with something like a pair of tens, some Broadway cards (over cards), or some suited-connector hand like 87 (but I do block some combos of 87, 98, or T8 with my J8 holding, and also take away some of what he could call a raise in the BB with - hands like KJ, QJ, or even JT). I think about what bet-sizing I want to use, knowing full well that, at this point, I am going to be triple-barreling no matter the river. I bet 5,500, and again he tank-calls. There is now 22,500 in the pot and the river is the 3s. So now, there is a flush on board and hands like 64 get there as well. The BB once again checks and I lead out for four grey & yellow 5k chips. This was a big, nearly pot-sized bet at this point in the tournament. The BB goes deep into the tank and I can see the pain on his face. I honestly thought he would eventually fold, but after well over 2 minutes of deliberation, he does pull the trigger and tosses out 20,000. I immediately say "Good call, you got it", and he turns over AT for top pair.
He lets out a huge sigh and complements my play, telling me how "polarized" my river bet was and he got very lucky in how we played the hand, that he almost nearly folded, etc.. While his compliments on my play were nice as the other players were hearing his comments, his hero call cuts my stack in roughly half, lower than the tournament average.
I definitely give the player a lot of credit for making the call - a call I did not think he was capable of making under the circumstances. Winning that pot would have put me up to over 100,000, which would have been very nice and on a good pace to make it to Day 2 with a nice stack. Unfortunately, I am now below average and the blinds are once again going up soon. However, I am very proud of the way I played this hand. In the past, I would have never considered anything other than a check/fold or possibly checking it down to see a cheap run-out. But I've been working on my game and am continuing to improve, finding spots just like these to put opponents to high levels of stress and decision-making. In the long run, I should continue to find these bluff spots as I do believe that they will work more times than not, in key situations against players likely to fold to high-pressure spots.
Level 10:
Blinds are now 500/1,500/1,500 and I'm roughly at ~35,000 chips at this point, when the player that "Plays any Ace" from my previous table raises it to 3,000 from UTG, with about ~10,000 left behind. The LJ (Low-Jack) calls and the action folds to me in the SB. I look down at AKo, and with my 25BB-ish stack, I have one and only one viable option - I shove. The player snap calls and almost flips his hand over, until he realizes that the LJ is still in the hand. He thinks about coming along for the ride, but ultimately decides to let it go. The Any-Ace aficionado flips up AJ, and is dominated. The board run out is very nice for me, as the dealer reveals the other two aces left in the deck and I knock out the player and build my stack back up to over 50,000. I start talking to the player on my left who is a nice younger guy with noise-cancelling headphones on, and we start talking about the tournament structure, that we're both going to make a comeback in this event, and other poker-related hopes and dreams.
The remaining tables are being broken, player stacks are getting much larger than mine, and we're now down to 4 tables in this flight. I'm once again in the SB, and the player in the CO who was recently moved to our table makes it 4,500 to go. I don't have any specific reads on this player and have never seen him before. The action folds around to me and I look down at AQ. I really want to play this hand and am not really in the mood to fold it at this point, given that I was once a monster stack in this tournament and I'm now trying to hang on and survive. I definitely don't want to call, even if I do decide to lay it down, so I'm left with two viable options: Fold, or Raise. In regards to a raise here, I also think my options are quite limited to a shove. I have exactly 52,500, so if I do three-bet, I can't really make a min-raise to something like 9,000 as I'll be out of position for the entire hand. So I start thinking about what amount to three-bet with in this spot, and I'm thinking that a bet of 16,000-17,000 might be good. The problem is then that I'll have like 35,000 left, which will really put me in a tough spot the rest of the way if I don't connect with this upcoming flop. I ultimately decide that if I shove, I can double-up if I get called and win, or I can take the pot down right here and be up to ~60,000. So I do decide to shove with about 35BB and the player in the CO does make the call with KK. The flop isn't very helpful, and neither is the turn. I'm down to a 3-outer...an Ace from Space as Tony G says...the river card had other plans, though, and it bricks off and I don't win the pot. We count up the chips and amazingly, we had the exact same chip stack at exactly 52,500. That actually made me laugh. I wished the table "GL", and that was that.
Due to family commitments and the fact that I do want to spend time with my wife and kids whenever possible, I am not able to play in any of other two Day 1 flights, so my Seminole Hard Rock June Big Stack Special is over and I'm off to the next one.
Final Thoughts / Up Next:
Obviously, I'm disappointed that I was not able to survive to Day 2. Looking back, I think I could have folded that AQ hand that I busted with and found a better spot - hopefully in a later position - to reclaim some lost chips. So for future tournaments I'll definitely want to try to avoid playing for stacks and out-of-position with hands exactly like AQ or lower pocket pairs, given that my opponent could have woken up with a big hand, which happened exactly as described.
However, I do think I played well overall, met a lot of nice people and had a great time. I'm also looking forward to having all of the regular tournament grinders back in town after the summer, as I'll be able to do some good name-dropping in future posts :)
Looking at the upcoming schedule, there's a really interesting Seminole Turnpike Series event, a $250 buy-in, $250,000 guaranteed, multi-day tournament where players can qualify at either the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood or the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino, as Day 1 flights will run simultaneously at both properties. Day 2 of this event will be at the Hard Rock (probably due to logistics - Coconut Creek's Poker Room can't handle the volume, unless they were to bring in tables and use the pavilion like they did for the WSOP-C series back in February.
There's also the Florida State Poker Championship event at the end of July at the Isle, in Pompano Beach, FL. I really hope to be able to play in the Main Event of that tournament, with a $300,000 guarantee and, I believe, a Day 3 final table (I've made Day 2's in tournaments but never a Day 3 - so that alone would be really cool).
Final Results:
Entered For: $130 (1 Bullet)Position: ~35th of 153 on Day 1ENet: -$130
TL;DR: Played in the event described above where, after running like Robert Varkonyi in the 2002 WSOP ME Final Table, I ultimately busted in Level 10 of Day 1E.
Edit: Fixed a couple of things.
submitted by jtex316 to poker [link] [comments]

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