I just got back from a $50 tourney where I took 2nd of 33 players for a $400 prize after about seven hours of play. I donâ€™t feel like writing a full recap yet,
but I played very, very wellâ€¦ until we got heads-up when I goofed and got it all in with A5 vs. AK. Other than that hand, I played great poker all night in
spite of having crummy cards.
Here are the good hands I got: AA (2), 99 (2), 88, 66 (2), AJs, ATo, KQs, KQo. The first pair of Aces stole the blinds pretty early in the tourney. I folded one pair of nines after an all-in and a call in front of me, I folded a pair of sixes to an all-in and the ATo didnâ€™t hold up against 43o. I was only all-in twice in the tourney and I played a pretty solid small ball strategy.
I have a $45 tourney in 12 hours, so I should get some rest.
Early in the tourney, I played a lot of small ball. It worked out pretty well because my table was pretty solid all around. I didn’t really have any big hands, but there were three pretty interesting hands that really set the tone for this tournament.
First hand was a blind battle in the second level (25/50). I completed with K4o and the BB checked. I’ve played with the BB before and he made the FT in the $500 tournament I played in New Orleans earlier this year. He’s pretty aggressive, won’t be pushed around and plays solid poker. In this hand, his solid play actually helped me out a lot because it allowed me to deduce his hand (or at least deduce what wasn’t in his hand). Also, it allowed me to think on the third or fourth level. The flop came down something like Axx, I bet 3/4 the pot and he called. I didn’t put him on an Ace since he didn’t raise pre-flop or on the flop. The turn was a Ten and it went check, check. The river was a blank, I checked and he bet 2/3 pot. I had to think about it for a while because he could’ve paired one of his cards, but I figured he didn’t have an Ace because he didn’t raise pre-flop or on the flop. He didn’t have a Ten because he checked the turn. I figured he wouldn’t value bet anything less (if he’d paired a small card on the board), so we was likely bluffing. I called, my King-high beat his Queen-high and I took it down while the rest of the table laughed at us. I think we were both legitemately playing for high card here. He almost had to bet the river in case I had hit a pair by accident, but he knew I didn’t have a Ten or an Ace.
A few orbits later, we played a very similar hand and my Jack-high ended up beating his Ten-high to win the pot. This time, there was a pair on the board, but the betting was similar except I think he gave up after the turn.
Later in the 50/100 level, a middle position player, who I know to be pretty aggressive, raised to 3 BB on my BB. Everyone folded to me and I called with KTo. The flop was AQx and it went check, check. The turn was another Queen, I checked, he bet half the pot, I called. The river was a blank (I think the final board was AQ5Q2) and I checked to him. He bet about 3/4 of the pot and I took a while to think about it before calling. I figured he either had 88, 99 or a medium suited connector (78, 89, 9T, TJ). I decided my King-high might be good, so I called and took it down against his T9 of hearts. The best part about these hands was that I was building an image that I couldn’t be bluffed, so players would leave my blind alone and try to stay out of my way.
Next time I was in the BB, MP1 limped, a late position player limped, the SB completed and I checked with Q4o. The flop was 752r, the SB checked, I checked and was surprised when everyone else checked also. The turn was a Two, making the board 7522, the SB checked again, and I decided I would represent a weak Five, so I bet out. Only the MP1 limper called me. This sort of confused me since I figured he would’ve bet the flop if he’d been limping with a big pair, so he probably had a couple big cards. I thought maybe he had something like 99 and he was concerned I got lucky with that Two, so he was trying to keep the pot small. The river was a Five and, since I’d represented the Five on the turn, I figured I should continue my bluff. I bet about 3/4 the pot and he thought a long time before he called with AK. When he called, I looked back at the board and realized the river was a Six, not a Five, so I shouldn’t have bet. I was playing specifically to get him to lay down 88 or 99, so that Five looked like a good card for me… except it wasn’t a Five. At our next break, the guy told me he had a tell on me and that’s why he called. I am aware of this tell and it was kind of him to let me know he’d seen it. It’s something I need to work on and I think I may have a solution, but I’ll have to give it some time. Ultimately, he made a very good call with AK on a pretty scary board (considering I was in the BB and the board was all low cards).
During the 75/150 level, we were eight handed and I raised it MP1 with KJo. This was more or less a bluff as I felt I needed to raise because I hadn’t made many (maybe any) raises so far. I’d been playing tight, but mostly just hadn’t gotten any cards and I was afraid my table image would keep me from getting any action if I raised with a big hand. Only the BB called (which made me a little nervous) and the flop came down something like T9x with two diamonds (I didn’t have any diamonds). He checked and, against my better judgment, I threw out a half-pot c-bet. I actually almost checked, but I resisted my instincts and bet anyway. This was a mistake as he check-raised me and I had to throw my hand away. In fact, I folded my hand face up and mentioned that I should’ve checked because I missed the flop. I wanted the table to see that 1) I wasn’t raising with total junk and 2) I had decided that maybe I should check with big cards that miss the flop. The second point would allow me to slowplay or bluff scare cards later if I checked the flop.
The next level was the 100/200 level and I only remember one hand from that level. This hand ultimately got me to the final table. I think I started the hand with around 7K or so. It was folded around to the CO (same opponent who check-raised me in the previous hand) who made it 600 to go. I looked down at 88 and decided that 1) My hand was probably good and 2) If it wasn’t any good, I’d like to know before we go any further. I raised it up to 1600 hoping to take it down right there, but also ready to play after the flop. The CO just called, so I put him on a couple big cards or maybe 99, TT or JJ. The flop came down JT8 with two clubs. The good news was that I’d flopped a set, but the bad news was I didn’t think this hit his hand. If he had AK, AQ or KQ, he had missed and would probably fold if I bet (with the exception of KQ, but I didn’t think that hand very likely). I checked and he checked behind. I thought that was a little strange as there was quite a bit of money out there and I figured he’d take a stab at it if he missed. I thought it was possible he was slowplaying, or he just didn’t want to get trapped. If he was slowplaying, I’d just have to go broke unless a really scary card came off on the turn (9 of clubs, for instance). I was hoping an Ace would come off on the turn since that would likely make his hand. My plan was to check-raise if an Ace or King hit the turn, but to bet out if anything else hit. Sure enough, an Ace came off on the turn. I checked, he bet about 2500 and I check-raised all-in. He called very quickly, which made me think he could have a set. Turns out he had AJ and I doubled up to just over 15K.
Just as that hand was happening, there were two new guys moving to our table and several people were gathered around watching the hand. I thought that might gain me a little psychological edge. Right after the break, we played around and I got a walk the first time I had the BB. Both of the new guys (I’ve played with them both several times before) said, “Oh man, y’all are just folding around to this guy? We can’t have that. Get ready to play poker, fellas!” Ironically, they were the button and small blind, so they were technically the ones who should’ve been challenging my blind (of course they knew that). Anyway, I said, “Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you that we’re doing a new thing at this table. Basically, whenever it’s my blind, everyone just folds to me. And when I’m in the small blind, everyone folds so the two blinds can fight it out with King high and stuff. We’re playing high-card poker over here.”
Not too much later, I got AA UTG, raised to 3 BB and everyone folded. Oops. I worked a little too hard at building a “don’t mess with me” table image. Time to start raising more hands.
Unfortunately, my cards totally dried up for the next few levels. I made a “raise the limpers” move from the BB with 96s once to pick up a nice pot and occasionally stole the blinds, but I mostly just watched my stack dwindle. Then, all of a sudden, we were at the final table. I was one of the shorter stacks at the table, but I wasn’t desperate. Also, I’d played with all these guys before, so I didn’t need as much time to take a read on them.
I should note that there was an interesting factor that drastically affected play at this particular final table: This was the last tournament before a “Tournament of Champions” (TOC). The TOC is a one-table freeroll tournament that the league’s point-leaders get to play. The prize pool was to be about $2500, so it’s a pretty significant freeroll. There were several players (probably four) at the table who needed points to lock up a spot in the TOC. I was one of them, but I was also pretty sure I’d locked up my seat just by making this FT. Obviously, these players would be playing first to move up in the “money” to earn more points; they would be playing second to actually win this tourney. I quickly identified the players who needed points since I knew they’d be easier to push off of hands.
One of the first hands, I was in the BB with KJo. The CO (an aggressive, but cautious player) raised it to 3 BB and everyone folded to me. I knew that he could be making this raise with a lot of hands and he was trying to move up in the points. I looked down at KJo and moved in. I think it’s important to note that I did not think I had a better hand than he did. What I did think was that he wouldn’t call without a very, very big hand (AQ+, TT+) because he needed to move up to get points. I needed chips and this seemed like a good time to get them. He eventually folded KQs face-up saying, “I’m folding the same hand you have, but it’s just not worth it.”
I did a lot of folding for a long time. I folded some good hands that I normally wouldn’t have, but every decision I made ended up either being correct pre-flop (because I was dominated) or post-flop (because I would’ve lost a race). I think the biggest laydown I made was when MP1 moved in (for about half my chips), then MP2 called (for about 2/3 MP1’s bet) and I had 99. I knew that I could only lose half my chips here, and I knew that MP1 had a pretty wide range for moving in here. I also knew that MP2 probably had a pretty wide range. I decided that my best case scenario was to be “racing” against at least three and maybe four overcards, which meant I’d lose the pot between 60 and 70% of the time. Also, there were still five players left to act and I didn’t want to risk running into a big pair. I decided to fold and save my chips for a situation when I could at least have some first-in vigorish. Turns out my opponents had AQ and AJ and I would’ve lost as an Ace hit the turn. I’m not positive this was the right laydown, but I knew there would be opportunities to get some easy chips, so I figured I’d just wait for those.
As it turned out, I would need these “easy chips” to keep afloat while I waited for cards. I mostly just made moves to pick up dead money for a while. I did flop top two pair for a nice pot, but other than that I just stole blinds occasionally. Eventually, my stack shrunk to about six blinds, so I was looking for a place to double up. The player to my right was also short (though he had me covered) and moved in from the CO after everyone else folded. I looked down at 66 and moved in behind him. I figured we were racing, but odds were that I had the lead, so I needed to take the chance. Turns out he had 22 and I doubled up. I was till pretty short, but not as desperate as before.
I folded for a while until I picked up 99 in the BB. Everyone folded to the SB, who had been pretty aggressive and was often all-in. He moved in and I insta-called. He had AJ and I managed to win the race, so I had a decent chip stack. This was a nice result since many of his chips came from a previous race where his KJ beat my ATs.
By now, I had a pretty healthy stack and I could make the occasional move. As it turns out, I didn’t need to do anything fancy. I was dealt AA UTG, made a standard raise and had a late position player move in. Of course I called and his AK didn’t improve, so I was now one of the chip leaders with about four players left.
It seemed like nothing much happened and then we were heads-up. The other player had been catching cards and knocking people out. We basically had even stacks. First hand of heads-up he took it down with a pair. Second hand, he folded his SB to me. Third hand was pretty ugly:
I was in the SB and looked down at A5o. The blinds were 4K/8K with a 500 ante, so I raised to 20K. He moved in on me pretty quickly and I insta-called. As soon as I called, I knew I’d made a mistake because he was a very tight player. My main problem was that I had underestimated our stack sizes (we had just colored up) and I thought we each had about 60K. I insta-called because I figured I was getting about 2:1 on my money, and I’d be short-stacked if I folded. Turns out I was only getting 1.5 or 1.6:1 and I would’ve still had about 60K chips if I folded. I think that I was tired and just acted hastily, but I ended up getting my money in as a 3:1 dog and busting out. It was frustrating because I thought I had a reasonable chance at winning heads-up. Also, I think my opponent may have chopped if I’d suggested it.
So, I ended up taking 2nd of 33 players for $400. Also, I earned a seat in the TOC, so I’m freerolling for a portion of about $2500.