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Good night for poker

Well, the tourney was tonight. There were 17 people, each of whom bought in for $50. The top 4 spots paid out: 1. $425 (50%), 2. $255 (30%), 3. $130 (~15%), 4. $40 (~5%). I finished 2nd, which was fine by me.

Here are some of the highlights (at least from my perspective):

  • First person I knocked out (pretty early on): I had pocket Aces and put in a large raise. Guy to my left declares he’s all-in. Obviously, I call. He has pocket Q’s. My A’s hold up and I move up to about second largest stack
  • First big hand: I flop bottom 2-pair and put my opponent in for about 75% of his chips. He goes all-in and I call. He has top pair with a K kicker. He catches a K on the turn and a 9 on the river for a boat to beat my 2-pair. Tough beat, but it left me with about 2/3 of chips.
  • I’d been hovering around the starting amount for a while and needed to make something happen because my stack was getting smaller and smaller. Person to my right makes a raise about half the size of my stack; I go all-in with AK. He calls with 99 and I catch a lucky K to win it.
  • Later, I’m against the guy who busted my 2-pair. I flop bottom 2-pair, he makes a reasonable bet and I push all-in. He thinks and calls. He missed his straight draw and I knocked him out.
  • We’re down to 3 guys and I’m in a situation where I could basically triple up my money. I matched a K on the flop for a K with a weak kicker. The guy to my left immediately goes all-in. The guy to my right is clearly debating a flush draw and a call. I decide I’m not calling and muck out of turn. This was a good play because I think it saved me $130. I have a feeling I would’ve been way behind to a K with a better kicker if I’d called. The flush draw ended up folding to the bettor.
  • We’re down to heads-up. I briefly held the chip lead, but am now down about $3500 to $5000. I’ve been playing ultra-aggressively calling all-in about every other hand (the blinds are $150/$300 and raising to 200/$400 in 5 minutes). I’m staying in the game by stealing blinds and otherwise playing pretty tightly. I sense weakness on my opponent (he’s Big Blind), so I move all-in with K5. He thinks for about five minutes and calls with A5. He catches A5 and beats my 5’s with a K kicker with Aces up. Game over, I’m in 2nd.

So, I guess the question is this: Would I have done anything differently, especially at the end? I think probably not. He was playing moderately aggressively and I simply wasn’t catching cards. I was moving in when I detected weakness, just waiting to detect strength when I had a superior hand, so I could move in and maybe get a call. I actually thought I had him with K5, but he just made a great call with A5. I had probably moved in on him 15 times by now and we were both ready to see some fireworks. I haven’t figured out if he outplayed me, or if I just lost. Maybe there isn’t a difference.

All that being said, I can attribute most of my success tonight to one book–Tournament Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky. I picked it up a week ago, finished it about an hour before the tournament and was constantly surprised by how much useful information I gained from reading it. I won’t go into details, but I can confidently say that $255 is a fantastic ROI for a $30 book purchase.

So, I’ve played three tournaments now and finished 3/8, 2/8, 2/17. I feel that’s a pretty good record, but I still haven’t got a win. Hopefully, these guys will continue playing tournaments and I’ll find some other tourneys around to play in. After tonight, I feel that poker is something I can actually be pretty good at. I also realize I have a lot to learn. I think I’m going to re-read all my poker books. I think there’s a lot of information I missed the first time through and I can now see that book-learning is a powerful weapon at the poker table.

End rambling about poker.

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