$55 tournament recap
There's really not a whole lot to report, but I'll try to put up a recap some time tomorrow. There were 36 people and I finished 6th, just after the bubble burst. I was very happy with my play and I made some very good reads tonight.
Here's my long, rambling recap:
This tournament seemed to be less about particular hands and more about surviving and taking advantage of situations. That being said, there were a few significant hands:
This time, we started with 6K chips, the first level of blinds was 25/50 and we played 20-minute levels. As it turns out, the 6K starting point would be significant.
First hand of the tourney, I picked up KTo in late position. There were two or three limpers in front of me, so I limped right along. The pot was 275, and I think five of us saw the flop of KT5 rainbow. I felt very good about this flop since the only hand that really scared me was a set of fives. The BB bet out 100 (pretty small bet that made me think he was drawing or had a weak King and wanted to know where he stood), two people called and I bumped it to 500. The BB and one other player called, and I had position for the rest of the hand. The pot was now about 1875 and the turn was a Queen, but I was only moderately concerned. At this point, I'm thinking I'm against a King and some kind of draw. The Queen did fill a draw, but it would've been to a gutshot straight and I know both players in the hand well enough to know they probably wouldn't try to draw to a gutshot against me (they'd know their implied odds were low and that they're not seeing a cheap river card). Both opponents checked to me and I bet out 800 (in retrospect, this bet was a little small, but I was mildly concerned that KQ may've just outdrawn me and I wanted to leave myself some options if someone came over the top for a big raise) and only the BB called. Now, I put the BB on either KJ or QJ as both hands would explain the betting so far. Many opponents will make a little bet out of position on the flop with flush and open-ended straight draws, but they will also make that little bet with something like top-pair, medium kicker. Also, if he had QJ or KJ, I could see him calling my raise on the flop, so he could re-evaluate after the turn. Both hands would also explain a call on the turn since he would have a pair and an open-ended straight draw. The pot is now 3475 and the river was a 9, making the board KT5Q9. The two cards I did NOT want to see were a Nine or an Ace. The BB checked and I quickly checked behind and said something like, "Let's see it." He showed QJ and his straight took it down.*
So, after the first hand, I was down to about 4500 chips. The good news was that we started with 6K chips, so I had some room to operate and try to get back in it. Unfortunately, the next few hands I played didn't help me too much. Twice, I flopped the nut flush draw (once with a gutshot straight-flush draw), I flopped an open-ended straight draw, top pair and a few of other good hands, but I didn't win any of them. I found myself down to about 3750 near the end of the first level. I was also realizing that I had a calling station to my left, which was going to make it difficult for me to make many moves using position. He liked to cold-call raises and he liked to min-raise regardless of his position (he min-raised several times out of the blinds with mediocre hands). The up-side was that I felt I had a good read on him, so I thought I could outplay him after the flop.
I was hanging in there, picking up the occasional small pot when I picked up 44 in early-middle position. The blinds were 100/200 and I limped because the table hadn't been raising a lot, but there had been a lot of calling, so I thought I might encourage several limpers behind me to increase my potential set value. My plan back-fired when the guy to my left min-raised it to 400. I wasn't too thrilled about the raise, but at least it was a min-raise, so I could see a relatively cheap flop. Everyone else folded, so I was heads-up with 44 out of position against the min-raiser. The flop came down KJx with two clubs. I checked and he checked. Initially, I checked just because I hated that flop and I didn't want to go putting chips into a pot against a calling station when I knew he'd call with all kinds of hands (gut-shot, flush draw, any pair, etc.). Basically, the chances of my bet causing him to fold were extremely low (in fact, he would be correct to call any bet with many of his drawing hands, although he couldn't necessarily know that) and I was prepared to give up on the hand if he bet... but he didn't, which made me think I was ahead. Before this hand, he had always bet and raised with hands like top-pair, but he'd called with call kinds of draws. I figured my 44 was good, so I was hoping to see a safe card on the turn. The turn was another King and a club, making the board KKJx with three clubs. I considered this a very good card since I knew he would've bet with top pair on the flop and I figured it very unlikely that he had two clubs in his hand. Sure enough, he did the ol', "Let me check and see if I have a club in my hand" routine, which told me he wasn't suited and did not have two clubs. I decided to bet out. I figured if he folded, that was a good result since there could be a lot of scary cards to hit the river, but I figured if he called, I was still ahead and could re-evaluate the river. Sure enough, he called (I bet about 500, which was close to half the pot). When he called, I put him on AQ with one club. That hand would explain all the betting in the hand and I'd seen him call bets with nothing more than a gutshot several times already. The river was a non-club blank, but I decided I couldn't bet for value because even a crazy calling station isn't going to call bets on the turn and river with air. I decided to check and call a reasonable bet if he took a shot at it. He checked behind and showed AQ (no club), so I took the pot. Not only did I get a few chips in this hand, but my confidence level increased significantly. I guess to more experienced players, putting this guy on AQ would've been no big deal, but it seemed like a very good read to me. Also, my read on the BB in the first hand had given me some confidence.
The rest of the night was pretty straightforward, short-stack poker. I made some moves, got lucky, (mostly) got unlucky and found myself at the final table. Once we hit the final table, my cards dried up. I eventually lost count, but I had Q2, Q3 and J2 something like seven or eight times before I busted. I got lucky to outdraw 88 with A6o (straight on the river), AJ with KQ, and I busted with KT vs. AJ.
This tournament was more about psychology than technique. I was short-stacked early and seemed to be missing every draw, but I kept telling myself that I had plenty of room to work and I just had to keep my head. I don't think I made a bad decision for a significant number of chips, and I made some difficult (but good) laydowns and crucial times. I also made some very good moves to keep afloat, and I was reading hands very, very well. There were also a few hands that, had they gone my way, would've given me a legitimate shot at winning the tourney (specifically, I lost an all-in against a shorter-stack with AK vs. AQ, and at the final table, it seemed like the short-stack always doubled-up regardless of how big a dog he was).
So, I bought in for $55 and won $70. I also got some points in our "TOC" race, so I'm currently at number 11, and the top 10 get a seat to the TOC. Basically, if I make another final table in the next two events, I should get a seat at the TOC.
*Later, this same opponent lost a pile of chips when another player hit his open-ended straight draw on the river. What was interesting was how upset this guy was that the other dude had outdrawn him. The betting was very similar to the betting in our first hand, but he didn't seem to think it was such a great play now that he was the one losing chips. After the hand, the guy to my right said, "Ouch. That was a big pot." I replied, "Yeah, but that's exactly how he got most of his chips, so I guess it goes both ways." Oh, and there was one big difference in the two hands: I didn't put any more chips in the pot after he'd outdrawn me, but he put quite a few chips in the pot when he paid off a value bet on the river.