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$60 tourney re-cap

This tourney actually happened on April 15 and I just never got around to posting the re-cap because I’m lazy.

I finally made the money… sort of. We played for about six hours before I busted, so this is going to be long, but might be more vague because I’ll skip over large clumps of hands because they weren’t very interesting.. We started with 15K chips and blinds of 25/50 with 30-minute levels. The structure was basically really slow early and ramped up very quickly near the end. Also, we started off with 12 people (seven people cancelled), so we were 6-handed on two tables. Six-handed with deep stacks is pretty unusual, but it gave me some really good opportunities to get reliable reads on my opponents.

I can skip a lot of the early hands because the ones I played for in very small pots and I was doing a lot of ducking and dodging. I wasn’t so interested in winning pots as I was figuring out my opponents. I did some unorthodox things specifically to see how my opponents would react. The first time it was folded to me in the SB, I limped to see how the BB would respond. He raised and I threw m J3o away. Next time it was folded to me in the SB, I raised and the BB folded. Now I knew he probably wasn’t going to let me limp in behind him (without protection), but I could raise and take it from time to time.

I’d played with the guy two to my left before and I was glad he was on my left. He’s the type of player who’s annoying to have in late position when you’re in the blinds. He does a lot of min-raising with weak cards. But, he doesn’t like to enter pots unless he’s the first one in. He will very rarely come in behind a raiser. This was good for me because I didn’t have to worry too much about him coming back over the top without a really big hand. Three to my left was very aggressive and was constantly over-betting pots. He would sometimes check-raise for twice the pot and I knew he was overvaluing pairs and such. Early on, I decided he was a guy I wanted to get big hand against. Four to my left was basically just a rock. He only played with great cards and he always played them for a raise. Immediately to my right was a guy I’d played with several times and he’s also very, very tight. I think he also might give me a little more credit than he should because we played a big pot in a cash game last week and I got him to put all his money in the pot as an 88% underdog… he hit a 3-outter on the river to win it, but he didn’t forget that pot. He even apologized when I first saw him today.

So, those are the reads, now on to the hands. Blinds are 50/100, I’m second to act and I limp with 77. The aggressive guy three to my left min-raises to 200. Everyone else folds and I call. I put him on a big hand. He’s been overbetting a lot and I suspected he didn’t have much when he overbet (he hadn’t shown cards, but I had a hunch). His min-raise felt like a “tricky” play to me, so I was wary that he might have a monster. The flop came down 78x with two spades. Basically, I know he’s not going away on the flop and we’ll be doing some betting on the turn. I decided to start trying to build a pot to justify some big bets on later streets. I also thought if I bet right out, he might make one of his huge overbets (although since I put him on a big hand, I suspected he might continue to play it tricky). I bet out 100, he raised to 200, I re-raised to 700, he called. This was the perfect result for me. I knew he had a big hand and I had already managed to build the pot to around 2000 chips and he still has to make it through two more streets. The turn was an 8, pairing the board and giving me sevens full. This is good news and bad news. It’s good because I’ve got a mortal lock on the hand, it’s bad because that could be an action killer for me. He might put me on top pair and slow down because he thinks I made trips. I decided to throw him some rope with a check. He bet 1000, I raised to 2500, he called. The river was a T, which I considered a great card. By now, I’ve got him on a big pair, AA-QQ, and that card couldn’t have helped. I decided to go for a small value bet hoping to get paid off, or maybe he’d try to blow me off the hand with a big all-in or something. He just called and showed AA. In retrospect, I probably could’ve gotten at least 1000 more chips out of him on the river, but I was happy with the result. In fact, I think if I’d played the hand differently, I could’ve made a lot more money, but I guess that’s just something I need to work on. I don’t get big hands that often (this was my first full house in my last eight live tourneys or something like that).

A bit later, I got 22 on the button. Everyone folded to me and I limped. I didn’t feel there was much danger that the blinds would raise and I had position if they did. The SB completed, the BB checked and the flop came down 447. I considered that a good flop and was planning on betting or raising. The SB checked, the BB made a little bet that I felt was weak, I tripled his bet and both blinds quickly folded.

Everyone folded to me in the SB and I thought I might try to steal the BB. I looked down at J5o and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the BB do something he hadn’t done yet. I won’t go into it, but I felt it was a reliable tell that he had a big hand. I decided to abort the steal attempt and fold. He immediately let out a “shoot! I had good cards that time!” groan and raked in my small blind.

This was sort of a theme today. I had reliable tells on a few of my opponents and I felt I exploited them well. There were several pots that I won because of weakness tells and I was able to avoid throwing away chips because of some strength tells. I caught the “glance at your chips” tell a couple times, and I was able to use that tell both to get out of the way against strong hands and to steal pots with weak hands. There were a few guys who would check their hole cards before it was their turn to act (usually when they were in the blinds) and they would virtually announce when they had weak hands.

I basically just maintained my 25K stack until we combined for the “final table” (quotes because we started with 12, so making the final table didn’t actually mean anything). First big hand I played at the final table was an interesting one. A short-stack (the ultra-tight guy from my previous table) moved in when I was in the BB. At the time, the blinds were 300/600 and short-stack’s all-in was only 800 total. A big stack called, another player called, the SB folded and I looked down to see QTs. There’s no way I fold here because it only costs me 200 to call. But, I took a look around and realized there were 3300 chips out there and nobody seemed to want them too badly. So, I bumped it up to 4000 total. Everyone folded, I pulled back my raise (less the 200 to call the all-in) and he showed AKo. He flopped and Ace, but I made a flush on the river to knock him out. There were still nine or 10 people left, so we weren’t on the bubble and I liked getting 16:1 on my money, heads-up. An interesting side note is that I’m not sure I should’ve been allowed to raise in that situation. Short-stack’s raise wasn’t actually a full, legitimate raise and I’m not sure the betting should’ve been re-opened. I wasn’t angle-shooting, but I think I got away with one there.

Even at the final table, I didn’t play much after the flop. Most of my chips came from “raising the limpers” pre-flop and the occasional continuation bet in position. There was a big stack who I’d played before. He would constantly limp with weak hands and would fold to a raise. Last time we played, he was directly to my left, so even though I noticed his tendencies, it was tough to take his chips. This time, I had position and made the best of it. He would also get tied onto hands like top pair with a weak kicker. He basically replaced the overbetter from my previous table as the “guy whose chips I’m after”. Here are a few of the interesting hands where we at least saw a flop:

First hand involves the big-stack constant limper. The blinds were 700/1400, and everyone folded to the big stack who raised it to 3000 (basically a min-raise) when I was in the BB. He was three to my right at this point, so he was raising from the Cut-off. His min-raise told me he had a big hand and wanted action. Everyone folded to me and I looked down at 57s. This is the perfect hand to play against a guy who will overvalue single-pair hands after the flop. I called and we took a flop. The flop came down 689 w/ two clubs. Fireworks started going off in my head and I decided to slowplay. The blinds were creeping up and I figured it was worth the risk of him catching up to maybe double up and have a shot at winning. Also, the only hand I was really scared of was AK of clubs and I figured he would’ve raised more with that hand. I basically figured he was drawing dead, or close to it. I checked, he made a smallish bet and I called. The turn was a Nine, pairing the board, but not really scaring me, and I check-raised him for about half my chips. He thought for a while and called. The river was a Ten and I moved in for the rest of my chips. He thought for a while and called. “Straight”, I said, and he showed me AA as I raked in the pot. Second time I cracked Aces in the same tournament, and both times the guy with Aces basically min-raised before the flop.

This hand put me in the chip lead and I felt I had a good shot at winning. I had about 45K chips and I was playing great poker. What I didn’t anticipate was that the blinds would start going crazy. The next four levels were 1000/2000, 1500/3000, 2000/4000, 3000/6000. At the 1000/2000 level, I misplayed back-to-back hands and cost myself a bunch of chips. Here’s how they went:

The first hand, I was UTG with TT. I made a standard raise to 6000 and everyone folded to the BB, who looked at his cards, agonized for a minute, then announced he was raising all-in. His raise was about 26K more on top of my 6000, so I was looking at calling 26K to win 39K, exactly 1.5:1. I put his range of hands on JJ or AK and tried hard to stretch the range, but I just couldn’t. He sees me as a very tight, solid player and I knew he wouldn’t make a move like that with junk after I raised UTG. I knew he probably wouldn’t make that big a re-raise with AA or KK because I wouldn’t give him action. I also didn’t think he’d go all-in with QQ, but I guess that was a possibility. The odds of him having TT were terrible and I didn’t think he’d make an all-in move with 99 against my likely range of hands. I knew I needed 40% equity to make the call and I wasn’t sure what the numbers were, but I knew it was close. It turns out I was 45% to win (against a range of AK or JJ), so even if I didn’t give him any credit for a bluff, I should’ve made the call. He showed AK, the dealer ran the cards for kicks and I would’ve won. If I won that pot, I would’ve had 65K chips and there were only 180K chips in play. I think there would’ve been five people left and I would’ve had about 35% of the chips. I would’ve run over the table. This is the second consecutive live tourney where I’ve laid down a medium pocket pair to an all-in raise from a player holding AK. I’ve got to stop doing that, or I won’t be winning any tournaments any time soon. This hand cost me the tournament, plain and simple.

Next hand, I was in the BB and I picked up KK. The table just had a big discussion about the previous hand where I said, “I didn’t think he’d move all-in with AA, KK or QQ. I figured him for AK or JJ there.” The player UTG+1 made a min-raise and everyone folded to me. I had him covered and I decided that, based on our recent discussion, an all-in from me would look weaker than it should. I figured I might get a call with AQ, AK, JJ or something like that. He had about 25K chips left and he folded pretty quickly to my all-in. In retrospect, I was tilting a little from my bad fold on the previous hand. My all-in was a huge overbet that wasn’t getting called by anything but QQ, which would’ve gone to war with me anyway. All I did was chase out hands I had totally dominated and that was stupid. At this point, I was pretty upset with myself for basically blowing a chance to bust two players on consecutive hands. The bad news was we could’ve been 4-handed and I could’ve been sitting on about 80K chips. The good news was I still had about 45K chips and I was playing well other than those two hands.

Unfortunately, I went totally card dead from there on out. There were only two more significant hands and I lost both of them. First, I got A8 in the BB, there was one limper, who was the big stack. I checked because I didn’t have a read on the guy and I didn’t know if he was limping to trap or not. Also, I felt like I could outplay him after the flop. The flop came down 789, so I flopped middle pair, top kicker. I felt like it was good, so I bet out 2000 (about half the pot). He called. The turn was a rag, I bet out 3000 (1/3 the pot) and he called again. River was a K, which was a card I didn’t like at all. I checked, he bet 4500, I thought for a while and folded. He showed me a KT for an open-ended straight draw and two overs. I showed my A8 and he said, “Well, I figured I’d take one off on the flop and fold if you bet big on the turn.” I definitely under-bet the pot on the turn, especially considering I thought I was ahead.

Later, against the same guy, I made a standard raise on a bluff. He called. The flop came down 8-high and he bet out. I put him on a pair, thought for a long time and folded. I didn’t see any reason to make a move because I was confident he had me and would probably call an all-in because of his stack size.

That’s it. I ended up busting in 4th place and getting my money back. It was bitter-sweet because I played very well, but ultimately messed up on two hands that took me out of it. After this tournament, I realized that I needed to take more calculated risks with medium-to-big pairs. This was two tourneys in a row that I’d folded JJ and TT to all-in raisers who held AK. This is a serious leak and I need to make sure I plug it. I have to take a 10% advantage whenever it’s offered to me, especially if it won’t bust me if I lose.

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