I went up to the Bike tonight to play in the Stars and Stripes Pot Limit Hold'em tournament. I would have liked to play more of this tourney series because the buyins are pretty low and they arent that bad structure wise. $120 buyin got me 1500 in tournament chips with levels going at 30 minutes and starting on 25 25 blinds. The escalation wasn't too bad either. It went 25 25, 25 50, 50 100, 75 150, 100 200, 150 300, etc... I busted on level 6 but after that it was still fairly good.
Pot Limit Structure is most commonly associated with Omaha High but Hold'em played Pot Limit structure is preferred by lots of technically sound high limit players. Players like Bob Ciaffone are fans of Pot Limit because it allows the same type of chasing and mathematically incorrect calsl that are associated with the loose betting structure of No Limit but without as many big overbets and tough situations. Also, slowplaying is less common in Pot Limit (but it still exists) because in order to win that big pot on the river you have to build it a bit before you can get it all in. Although before today I had never played this betting structure I had read a bit about it and was looking forward to playing it.
My starting table was ridiculously tight. For the first level and a half (45 minutes!) no hand went to a river showdown. I don't think this was do to a large skill level at the table, in fact, if someone didn't have a big hand they didn't bet. I stole a few pots here but I didn't really make any huge headway. By the third level I had about 1600 when I hit a set of 6s. I didn't get doubled up but I was able to take about 500 or so off the initial raiser. A few hands later with the blinds at 25 50 I get AcAs in the BB. 2nd position, an aggressive player opens for the pot 175. The button calls the 175 and the SB folds. Now I put 2nd position on a decent hand and since this was a fairly tight table post flop i didnt want to risk not making money if he had AK or JJ and the flop came unfortunate for him. So I repotted. In order to raise the pot you have to first call whatever the bet to you is, so after I call the 125 more over my BB 50 there is 175X3 + 25 SB in the pot. Thats 550 in the pot so I put in my 50 + 125 for the call + 550 more for a total of 725. 2nd position calls and surprisingly the button calls as well. It is surprising because he leaves him self with only 475. The board comes Ks Jh 6s. The pot has ballooned to 2175 and I only had about 1200 left ( which had both of them covered) so I potted all in. 2nd position kept asking me if I had AK and I kept asking him if it was good. He finally folded his QQ face up not knowing the button was still in the hand. Stupid K killed my action. The button says "I'm sure you have me beat but I only have 475 left so you can't rob from me." He called his 475 into the 2650 pot and turned over J 10off. I turned over my Aces relieved I wasnt up against a flush draw and the turn drops the 10c right off the bat. The 4h on the river did not save me and I was down to about 600. A few hands later the only short stack lower than me, min-raised to 200 when we were at 50 100 blinds. I decided to try and isolate him and maybe pick up some loose chips or try to race. I had a moderate KJoff but based on the tightness of the table and his tightness I might have had a very live hand. I repotted for 600 allin and everyone folded back to him and he called for 500. He turned over the worst hand for me. KQ. The board came all numbers and I was down to one $100 chip which would be 1 BB. Thankfully I was in mid to late position so I had about 5 hands to find something to "call" all in with . I folded three trash hands in a row until i was in 2nd position. I looked at the clock and there was about 15 seconds left so I had to make a move before i couldnt even cover a blind. Thankfully I found the 9s7s which is a very live hand in most situations. So i pushed my mountain of chips all in got called by 4 people. The 5 way pot came down A 9 6 with 2 diamonds and the board ran out 4 5 with no more diamonds. I liked the fact that it got checked all the way down with 4 active plaeyrs. No one had an A and my 9 won the $500 pot. I quintipled up and then our table broke after that hand ended.
I go to a new table and I sit down and have to take the BB. Two people limp and the SB calls and i see the Kh 5h and check. The board comes yahtzee 557 rainbow. I check as I am talking to my neighbor, the table chip leader leads out by potting for 400. The button after him calls the 400 and I call my last 400 and am all in. The turn comes a 4 diamonds and the original bettor pots again for a 1600 and the button folds saying he had a 7. The bettor turns over the Ks6s for an absolute move that turned into an open straight. My 5 held as the 9h on the river didn't improve his K high. So I more than doubled up to 1600. A little later I was feeling frisky and raised in late position to to 250 on 50 100 blinds with the 9c6c. I got 3 callers and we saw the $1000 flop come down 997 rainbow with two spades. It got checked to me and I bet out 550 or so trying to get called by a draw. I then got raised allin by the table maniac in which case I called saying "I only have a 9". He turned over two red 3s and my trips held again. That was a huge boost and I was up to about 3600. For the next level I really didn't play many hands, I bluffed once and lost. I raised with AQ the board came QQ325 and I split another AQ as we both got it all in on the river. From there I tried to pick off a few pots and had mixed success. I stole a few and lost a few. The blinds raised again to 150 300. I got 99 on the button and potted for 900 after one player limped. He called and the board came K 10 3 and he put me all in by potting before it even got to me. He was the same guy who potted with K6 earlier and botted on an A high board going into a the original raiser with just a gutshot. So i thought for about 2 minutes as to whether or not I could call off all my chips here. He hadn't played a hand for about a level after getting the overall tournament chip lead. The opposite of what you are supposed to do with the chip lead. Based on his lack of recent play I decided he was probably not making one of his reckless moves and folded. This put me down to about 1600. I potted after that with AK and picked up the blinds. I blinded off a round or two and limped once with 22 only to fold . I shouldn't have limped with 22 because i couldn't spare the chips to try to win a pot. Anyway I got down to about 1500 and after two limpers at 150 300 I saw the BB of 10c 5c and checked. The 1050 flop came down AA10. Based on the two limpers and their previous propensity to raise with big Aces I didn't think either had an A. So I potted for 1050. One folded and the other one repotted putting me all in for my last 450 or so. I called because I still didnt think he had an A and maybe I could chop against a 10. He did turn over Q10 so we chop with an A, K, or running pair. He hit the Q on the turn and I was done.
I was happy with my play in this tournament although I could have been a bit more aggressive in some points as there were a lot of limped pots or blind vs blind pots that could have been picked up. But overall i enjoyed it and I liked the structure of pot limit.
i went and played cash in the 300-500 $5-5 NLHE game at the Bike. I sat for 1 hour and 45 minutes, made a few sets, and stole a bunch of pots and left up $960. Not bad at an hourly rate of about $540 an hour :).