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$50 poker tourney

I played in a $50 poker tournament tonight. There weren’t many memorable hands, but the one that busted me was very memorable. No, it wasn’t a bad beat. I simply donked off my last chips. Here’s what happened:

There are 13 players left of 40 entrants. We’re 7-handed and I’m in the cutoff (CO). Blinds are 500/1000 with a 100 ante. I have right at 7000 chips. The table is playing pretty tight. Both the button and the Small Blind (SB) have been playing very tight. The Big Blind (BB) is one of the chip leaders, but I think it’s mostly because he’d been catching cards (the players at the table were talking about that). My table image is pretty tight.

I’m going to raise to 2500 with a decent Ace, any pair, any two big cards, any two suited connectors from 87s on up. Everyone folds to me and I look down at A2s (two spades) and make my raise to 2500. Everyone folds to the BB who looks at me, counts my chips, then calls. Pot is now 6200.

The flop is J85 with two spades. The BB bets out 2000. I have 4500 left, I figure the best he can have is a Jack, which leaves me with 9 outs to the flush and 3 outs for an Ace (assuming he doesn’t have AJ, in which case I assume he would’ve moved in on me before the flop). 12 outs means I’m about 48% to catch a winner by the river. Right now, there’s 8200 in the pot, so I’m definitely getting odds to call here getting 4.1:1 on my money. Of course, calling will leave me with a measly 2500 chips and I’d be pot committed. I decide to raise all-in, which means I’m betting 4500 to win 8800 plus his call of 2500 more. I’m betting 4500 to win 11300, which is almost 3:1 (assuming he calls). He calls.

He turns over 89o (9 of spades), which means I’m actually 42.5% to win because he has one of my outs. I flip over my A2… And realize I’m not suited after all. I actually had the Ace of spades and the 2 of clubs. I was actually 16.9% to win and his hand held up. I’m not entirely sure why he called with 9-high getting no implied odds, but like I said, he was catching cards.

So, I totally misplayed the hand and busted out after playing 4.5 hours of very solid poker. Here are the mistakes I made on the hand:

  • If I’m going to play A2s in this spot, I need to raise all-in pre-flop.
  • I misread my hand (I’ve never done that before)*

*I think I misread my hand in part because we were using cards with the “jumbo” index. I should’ve made sure to get a good look at the suit on both cards before I played. That’s no excuse, but it’s a lesson learned.

So, I was stupid and I busted 13th. Other than that, made a nice bluff early by playing position. It was a small pot, but I had Jack high and won the pot. I made a good laydown with AK in the SB early when UTG+1 open-raised 2x BB, the button re-raised to 24x BB; button later told me he had KK. I won a race (AK vs. 44). Made a nice button steal when 3 people limped and I raised to 5x BB with KTo. I had AA and KK, both in early position and neither got any action when I put in small raises. My best hand all night was a pair of Aces (that includes any hand where I saw the flop, turn and/or river).

I played well until that last hand. I should not have busted with A2o. My live tourney performance has been terrible lately. I’m definitely starting to doubt myself.

Afterthought: It’s been two days since the tournament. I was thinking about this hand again today at lunch and I realize why it was such a big mistake to raise to only 2500 rather than moving all-in (for about 7000) before the flop: My raise to 2500 made the pot 4700 (1500 blinds, 700 antes, 2500 for my bet) and the BB only had to call 1500. That means he was getting over 3:1 odds on his call and he was one of the chipleaders at that point in the tournament. 1500 chips was nothing relative to his stack, and calling with 89o wasn’t a mistake according to Sklansky’s Fundamental Theorem of Poker.

Against any other player at the table, I think my 2500 raise would’ve been the proper play. Everyone else was playing tight, solid poker and not gambling it up. My raise would’ve been about the standard raise at the table and most players had been respecting that raise amount unless they really had a hand. I was prepared to let the hand go for a big re-raise (the pot would’ve been 8700 and I would’ve had to call 4500, so I would’ve been getting less than 2:1 facing a re-raise from a hand which would certainly have my hand dominated) and to re-evaluate the hand after the flop if I got called.

I didn’t take enough into account before I made my play. I should’ve seen who was in the BB and adjusted my play accordingly.

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