Every February the Los Angeles Poker Classic, The LAPC, comes to the Commerce Casino.
I had taken a few weeks off from poker and was getting the itch to play.
I was in Vegas at the time and rather than fly up to Vancouver to play online I decided to check out some live poker.
Over the previous six months I had mostly focused on Heads Up poker. I wanted to be prepared for my trip, so I spend a week constructing a comprehensive strategy.
I like to build my models for strategy away from the table. I find it fun and I feel it gives me an edge at the table.
I showed up Day 1 at a table with 8 people I have never met before. The first hour or so was vexing; everyone was playing in a way that I didn’t understand. I was really worried that the game had passed me by and that my opponents were on another level.
After another 30 minutes and some show downs it hit me “These guy’s aren’t on another level, they have no idea what is going on!!!”.
The last poker I had played was at a buyin of at least $10,000 and all the way up to a buyin of $60,000. It was mostly vs one player and it was played online.
The nosebleed cash scene is a very small niche of people in the know about very advanced poker strategy. Everyone is constantly working on their game, improving their play, and looking for an edge.
The toughest players you compete with are there because they started with nothing but a good head on their shoulders and a desire to succeed. That was my reality of poker for a very long time, which made it easy to forget that most people are not winning nosebleed cash game regulars and that the skill advantage in poker is enormous.
This realization inspired me and got me really excited. I was playing a $10,000 buy-in tournament with a ~$1 Million dollar first prize. My week of preparation combined with years of relentless commitment to playing in big games vs tough competition had made me easily one of the toughest players in the field.
Sadly I busted day two after losing AK<AQ and I was out. But I was hooked.
It was either later that day or the next day that the $25,000 6 handed LAPC high roller was starting.
Perfect! I thought, a short handed tournament where the skill edge will be even greater in a format that I am even more well versed. My first table included two tournament regulars, two recreational (fun) players, and Andrew Litchenberger (lucky chewy).
I ended up winning a lot of chewy’s chips this day because I was able to make big hands and have calls versus his bluffs.
It wasn’t until almost 8 months later that I realized that chewy is one of the better players on the tournament circuit due to his aggressive nature. I really like the way he plays, especially relative to the field, chewy is balanced in ways that most people are not. I ended day one with or close to the chip lead.
I played with several high stakes tournament regs and all I could say is that I wasn’t impressed. I thought I was able to play very loose and organize my ranges far more efficiently than they could. I was playing deceptively and winning a lot of pots.
It got down to two tables on day two and I was having high hopes of making the final table. Unfortunately I lost holding [QQ] to my opponents [KK] in a blind vs blind battle for ~30% of the chips in play.
I was now short stacked.
Despite this, my edge was apparent. I had about 100k to someone else’s 170k. I won’t say who, however he was so confident in my ability that he still offered me a 1% swap despite his chip advantage :).
Sadly, I soon thereafter lost a 20bb flip and like that my LAPC experience was over, but I wanted more.
Smartly the Bay 101 Casino Schedules their annual WPT Poker Tournament the weekend after. I decided I had to fly up to San Jose and continue to chase tournament glory.