Off to San Jose, Costa Rica I went for the May 22-24, 2008 LAPT (Latin American Poker Tour) event. The second one ever held, it had almost 400 runners and a first prize of $274,103. Victor Ramdin, Daniel Negreanu, Brian Green, Andre Akkari, Isabelle Mercier, and the ever-present Humberto Brenes were among those attending — and none of those got close to the money. The only people I recognized in the drive for the money were Dr. Max Stern and his wife, Maria. Coincidentally or not, they are residents of Costa Rica, a host country here that acquitted itself quite well.
So with all old-school players gone, the way was clear for the new generation of fearless competitors. Valdemar Kwaysser of Hungary won amid a few belly-felt screams when he eliminated the previous chip-leader Max Silver, with two all-ins that make a lot of sense… to somebody, but not to me. In both cases he was bailed out by runner-runner flushes. You do have to get a bit lucky to win any tournament, but he had plenty of warning to get away from these beauties, and chose not to, marking himself as a possible one-time wonder. In Texas the oldtimers' saying is "Can't say whoa in a mudhole…" Straight ahead…and the engines be damned! I am a huge believer in situational play and don't think that was the guideline for not only the two plays I list below, but for other plays Valdemar made on his way to his first title. If he wins another event I will be happy to take what I say back and congratulate him… but I believe it can only happen if he changes his style dramatically. He is young and that is certainly possible.
In the first example, Steven Silverman raised from the button three-handed with the big blind being 30,000 and Valdemar re-raised with 10-5 of spades (okay with me…so far), and now Silverman re-re-raised 175,000 more with K-K, and what must have been masterful acting, because now the 10-5 moved all-in for something like 800,000 more! Talk about a bad read! Called and they turned the hands up. The flop came which looked okay…but the preliminary information was corrected by on the turn and on the river! No problem, the runner-runner flush has appeared to bail Valdemar out! The second act followed when Steven limped from the button and Valdemar held in the little blind and raised, when it came back to Silverman he moved all-in with 5-5, Valdemar thought for some while with a hand that can only be a thin favorite or a large dog and called; the flop came and the turn and river brought him one more bail-out flush.
We all started with 10,000 in chips, which seemed like the correct amount to allow some play, although the tables were stacked with players that had never played live and that I had no clue about. I thought I must be playing a senior's event as players are showing cards and giving all imaginable tells and falling out of their wheelchairs! A girl at my starting table played 95% of the hands at level one, 90% of the hands at level two, and 85% of the hands at level three — the problem I had was that she showed up with hands that beat me in two critical showdowns. In the first I raised to 200 from the cut-off over a big-blind of 50 and she had limped yet again under-the-gun and was the only player in the pot. The blinds passed and she called. It came K-9-3 and she checked and I checked behind, believing that she would only bet on the turn with a king, or better. The turn was a four and she checked again, I bet 400, believing that I had the best hand and not caring if she called… or not. She did call and it came an eight on the river. She checked and I bet 650. She called and turned up Q-Q! Whoops! Bad read!
Later I had 14,000 to start a hand and raised to 300 over a big-blind of 100 as the first one to enter the pot, holding . She called from the button and the chip leader called from the blind, it came 9-8-4 with one diamond and I checked behind the blind, as did she. The turn brought the and after it was checked to me I bet 850 into a pot of 1,000, obviously representing an ace. She called and the chip leader mucked. It came a deuce on the river and I thought her call on the turn was real tentative and I bet again, this time firing 2,100 into a pot of 2,700… she called instantly and turned up 3d3h before I could even acknowledge getting caught. Hmmm, good read, but lousy execution, and back toward starting chips at the second level. Stubbornness confirmed; representing a hand against her was clearly foolish.
In another hand, I limped behind four players for 100 with and it came 8-6-5 rainbow. It was checked to me and I bet 450 into a pot of 700. I think checking is a decent alternative as I don't rate to have the best hand, but most cards that can appear will leave me needing another hit on the river and I hoped to cut the field down to size. But I got four callers, about two more than I really expected and four more than I wanted. The turn came the perfect rainbow seven and now I had the stupid end of the straight and after three checks to me I wasn't at all sure that my hand wasn't the best hand—I bet 650 and after the button mucked the little blind raised to 1800 and the player in the two hole re-raised to 4,200. Well I have wasted another bet, and muck. The small blind toys with his chips for a bit and then moves all-in for 4600 more with EP2 calling excitedly — LB has 10-9 off and EP2 has A-9 off.
The very next hand the previous chip leader raises to 400 from under-the-gun. The same girl that has beat up on me calls yet again, and the button (the big winner of the previous hand with 10-9 off) re-raises to 1,400 and UTG calls, and so does the girl. It comes A-J-8 and UTG bets all-in for about 5,000 and the girl calls. The button agonizes and squirms and at last mucks K-K. A-Q off for UTG and a set of eights for the girl. The door for the earphones of the under-the-gun player, meaning no more unplugging and asking how much it is to him and how much he can make it and generally being a nuisance that slowed the game down, although he was real impatient. I understand allowing iPods or other music producing devices at the table…but not when they hold the game up time after time.
At the third level (75-150 blind), I held J-J in the little blind and 18,000 in chips when a new player raised to 500 under the gun and it was passed to me. I don't really like asking how many chips he is holding at this moment although it looks like 11,000 to me and I decide to call. It comes and I check and he bets 1,000 into the 1,150 pot and I move all-in. I know he will almost surely call with hands that have me beat (A-A, K-K, or a set) but he will also likely call me with 8-8, 9-9, 10-10 and possibly even A-K. Meanwhile I will have worked on his fears as well as his folding-option questions. As time passes I learn that he is unlikely to hold a set, A-A, or even K-K… Q-Q is still a possibility. At last he groans surrender and calls with 10-10. Off comes a ten on the turn and I have only 5,000 left to struggle on with. May it never happen to you!
Until next time, play good… and get lucky!