I played a $55 tournament last night and it was pretty frustrating. We started with 6K chips and 31 people. I finished 22nd after a little more than three hours. I never got my stack up to more than 9500. What was wierd was that nobody ever had a big stack. We were all sitting around short-stacked, trying to get chips, but really just moving them around the table in equal proportion.
I’ll write up a recap of the significant hands later, but for now I’m going to play a $50 + 5 freeze-out online. My first goal today will be to get my chip stack above 150% of the starting chip stack.
I finally wrote the recap, so here it is:
This tournament’s structure is very fast. We start with 6K chips (up from 4K earlier this year) and blinds of 25/50. Blinds increase every 20 minutes according to the following schedule: 25/50, 50/100, 75/150, 100/200, 150/300, 200/400, 300/600, 400/800, 500/1000-100, 700/1400-100, etc. So, the blinds don’t make big jumps between levels, but the levels go by very quickly. To put this in perspective, the starting stack is 120 BB, but if I were to break even for the first 60 minutes, I’d be down to 30 BB, which is borderline short-stacked. I believe the proper strategy for this structure is to come out firing and try to amass a large pile of chips early, so I have a lot of ammunition when the stacks start getting short and people start tightening up.
So, the first hand of the tournament, I was UTG with 54s and brought it in for a raise to 125. Only the SB called and the flop came down 43x rainbow. I felt very good about this flop since I had paired and it was very unlikely that the flop hit his hand (although the SB is a pretty tricky, solid opponent). He checked, I bet out 100, he called. The turn was an Ace, making the board A43x rainbow. I didn’t like this card very much, but he checked to me, so I bet 250 and he check-raised to 500. Since I had a pair and a gutshot straight draw, I called figuring I had good implied odds if I made two pair or a straight on the river. The river was a Deuce, making the board A234x and giving me the second nuts. He bet out 700 (by now I’ve got him on an Ace or possibly two pair with something like A4 or A5) and I raised him to 2000. He called and I triumphantly turned over my straight as he showed his 52o, which had made a straight on the turn. We chopped the pot and the whole table had a good laugh at the two of us putting in half our chips with five high. The interesting thing about this hand as that we have played against each other many times before, so we were both “playing the player”. I think we both had the other guy on a couple big cards (probably an Ace) and we both thought we had trapped the other guy.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the most excitement I would see during the tourney. There really aren’t any other good hands to recap, actually. I bluffed off a quarter of my stack with 9-high on an A46 board with two clubs. I got little to no action on my few big hands (I couldn’t really figure this out since I’d shown that I was crazy enough to play 54s UTG for half my chips). I never got about 9500 chips and most of my table was around or initial 6K chips when I busted at the 300/600 level.
My last hand was a bad one as I made the right play at the worst time. A middle position player raised it to 2200 (a little more than 3.5 BB) and everyone folded to me in the SB. I looked down at AJo and moved in for about 4800 more. He thought for a long time and finally called with QQ, which held up and I was done. The reason this was such a bad play was that I made it against the tightest player in the tournament. This guy simply doesn’t play crummy cards. For him to open in middle position with me in the blind, I’d say he had at least AQs+ and pairs 99+ (I think he would limp with pairs 66 to 88). Because of the size of his raise, I put him on 99, TT, AQs or AK. It just seemed like he had a good hand, but not one that he wanted action on. In this situation, I think he would’ve folded AQs, maybe AK, 99, TT and maybe JJ to my re-raise. Unfortunately, at this stage in the tournament, I think I gave him too wide a range. I think his opening range for that bet is more like TT+, AK, which means there are less hands he would fold here (I can no longer get him to fold 99 or AQ since he’s not raising with them there). The bottom line is I made a bad play against a really tight player and I got my chips in as a 7-to-3 dog.
That about sums up the whole tournament. I never really had a big hand, but I ran into plenty of big hands (at least one set, top pair and a flush draw) and I chopped my best hand of the night (the wheel from the first hand). It seemed like my cards didn’t matter as I missed virtually every flop I saw (again, except the first hand). It just wasn’t my night. I think I might have one more chance to get enough points to win a seat to the TOC, but I’m not sure. Last I checked, 10 people get a seat and I was number 11 or 12.