VentureAce - Professional Poker Player

LA Poker Classic 2006

The first hand of the $500 No Limit Hold’em shoot-out went off with a bang! Aces versus Aces, all-in pre-flop. Split pot, right? No chance! 4 card flush on board and the man with out a diamond is left scratching his head and out of $500.

The action was fast, check raises and bluffs left, right and center. Probably had a lot to do with the tournament structure - 2,500 starting chips and 40 minute blind levels. My stack quickly dipped down to about 1,500, due to missing about every flop and check folding or folding to players coming over the top of my tentative continuation bets.

Sometimes, you need a little luck, though as poker players, we tend to forget about the good slices of fortune. After an hour, I raised in middle position with AJ, and an old gentleman sporting bulky brown shades made the call. The flop came Queen high with 2 hearts, continuation bet, he called. The turn came 10 of hearts, and I pushed all-in with the gutshot and J of hearts flush draw. He thought for a while and eventually called with Ace Queen. River - Heartttttttttt!!! Back in business.

The main aggressor at the table was very talkative, which happens when they get a hot streak of cards. After this hand he became quiet like a church mouse. Family pot with 5 limpers, including myself with deuces in mid-position, 6-handed to the flop. The flop came 2, 3, 6 with 2 hearts. Talkative chip leader leads for 150, folded around and I bump it up to 450. Back round to him, instant-push, no hesitation whatsoever. I can’t recall what he said afterwards, but the tone in his voice sounded weak, I called. My Robert De Niro / Meet the Fockers intuition was slightly off. He flipped over 35 of hearts, for the gutshot straight flush draw. Turn, blank. River… blank! I have a sizeable chip lead after scuttling through the mine field. After that hand players started dropping like flies, meanwhile I sat back and observed them fight over the scraps.

3-handed, it was an shaved head Asian guy and a camper guy, he had a huge backpack with hiking boots strung up behind his seat, reminded me of the mass-murdering hitchhiker from Something about Mary (6 minute abs guy). He had only played a few hands all tournament, and was playing scared. I raised it up on the button with Ace Queen unsuited, 6 minute abs folds and the Asian guy calls. Flop 872 rainbow. He checked and I checked. Turn, another 8. He checked and I fired out half the pot. After 10 seconds of staring at me, he pushed. It looked like a bluff, it felt like a bluff, so it’s probably a bluff. The guy had his arms on the table, in a position like he was ready to be handcuffed. Maybe I imagined it, but I thought I could see an increase in the amount of blood flowing through his arms. I called. I was partially right, he turned over Jack Ten off suit. I’m sitting there like the King of the World, then the river fell a ten and I wasn’t even table king any more.

The Asian guy took the chip lead and KO’d the shortstack soon afterwards. Heads up the game became fast, both raising from the button and taking down the 200/400 blinds and 25 antes. The first flop came after I raised on the button with Jack Ten of hearts, he called. The flop came 923 with 2 diamonds. Check, continuation bet, he called. Turn was 2 of hearts, giving me the flush draw. He lead out for half the pot, which was a horrible and very transparent bet, trying to freeze the action. I semi-bluffed all-in, certain that he would fold, which he did after a shake of the head.

The killer hand happened a few hands afterwards. I raised the standard 1200 holding AJ unsuited from the button, he called the extra 800 chips from the big blind. The flop produced J64 rainbow. He check called 2000. The atmosphere dropped and the surrounding sounds dulled as if we had entered a tunnel. The turn came a 3. I pushed hoping he would perceive it weakness. Straight away, he announces call, and I sat thinking, I can’t believe I’ve played for 3 hours for him to hit 2 pair. He gleefully turns over KJ! I blow a huge sigh of relief and turn over the Jack with the ace kicker. His expression went from a child waiting for his Christmas present to a child who unwrapped an empty box. To the river and the dealer turned over a safe 7. He was crippled with around 1000 chips, while I had had a mountain of around 23-24,000. 3 hands later, it was all over as we both missed the board but my Ace high was better than his Jack high.

I was in shock later when I found out the Asian guy who I beat heads up, was Tuan Le, the all-time top money winner in WPT tournaments.

Continued: LA Poker Classic $500 Shoot-Out - Round 2

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