Rising Star Day 1B: The Third Time Is Always Aces

On Tuesday, I played Day 1B of the $5200 Rising Star at my home casino Bay 101 in San Jose, CA that I satellited into last Thursday. I bagged 135,500 chips – good for a tie for 39th of the 89 remaining players returning today (Wednesday) at 9:15am PST for Day 2. Day 2 will play down to the money which appears to be 30 players based on the graphic above from Poker Atlas. Those 30 will return for Day 3 on Thursday to play down to the Final Table of 6 on Friday. 1st place is $282k. You can see the rest of the payout structure in the Poker Atlas graphic.

It was a pretty smooth day of poker for me and my stack mostly increased from break to break with a couple of hiccups during levels 8 and 9. We played 9 1-hour levels with a 15 minute break after every two. I picked up a lot of hands and so was able to mix it up quite a bit. At the end of the 1st break, I had 84,200 chips. At the end of the second, 90,400. At the end of the third, 182,700. At the end of the fourth, 127,100. While I had more than 240,000 chips after the first three hands of level 9, I only finished with 135,500. That was a little disappointing but we keep going.

Two of the best players in the world, Andrew Moreno and Bin Weng, were at my table and at one point I was right in between them. At the end of the day, I busted them both. Not because I outplayed them but because I picked up big hands at the right time. The best play I made all day was when Bin raised UTG and I 3-bet him UTG +1 with AQ off – my first 3-bet of the day. He called and the flop came QJX. He checked, I bet, he check raised and I made a big re-raise to which he folded. Calling there would have given him the lead in the hand and set me up to make some really tough decisions on the turn and river and folding top pair, top kicker is too weak. I figured I had the best hand though I would have been in a tough spot had Weng went All In.

During level 8, Moreno – who was two seats to my left all day – started to pick on me by relentlessly 3-betting my opening raises. I had 200,000 chips near the start of the level but after calling a bunch of 3-bets, mostly by him, and missing flops, I had dropped down to 127,000 by the end of the level. He picked up the fact that I was just calling his 3-bets and folding to his continuation bets when I missed the flop allowing him to easily take my chips. I regrouped over the break realizing that I needed to put a stop to it by 4-betting him lighter than I normally would.

It turned out that there was no need for that because I picked up three monster hands in a row to start level 9. On the first hand, I picked up KK in the big blind and 3-bet an initial raise of 4,000 to 14, 000 to which he folded. On the second hand, I picked up AKh in the big blind and again 3-bet the initial raise of 4,000 to 14,000. The flop came down AXXhhh and I pushed All In since the pot was about the size of my opponent’s stack. He folded. After the hand, Moreno said to me: “Did you just decide on the break to 3-bet every hand?” To which I replied – not untruthfully with respect to him: “Pretty much”.

On the third hand, a player in early position raised to 4,000 and I picked up Aces on the button. I raised to 12,000. Moreno was in the big blind and eventually shoved All In for about 80,000. I snap called and flipped over my hand. He had A10cc and my hand held up. While I didn’t have to implement my strategy of 4-betting him light, it was still a great feeling to take him out after he’d been bullying me. I am in no way disrespecting Andrew who picked up on what I was doing and correctly exploited me as the consummate professional he is. (For a terrific article on Moreno’s poker journey, check out “Andrew Moreno Made Good On A 15-Year Dream”, Tim Fiorvanti, WPT.com, November 9, 2022). As they say: The third time is always Aces.

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