$50 tourney recap

This was only my second live tourney since October and I felt I played well until (of course) the last hand. We started with 5K chips, 10/20 blinds and 30 minute levels. It was a pretty good structure and I really liked my chances. I was sitting to the left of a couple guys who were sort of tricky, so I had a pretty good seat.

I caught a couple hands early (AA, KK), but didn’t get too many chips with them. I didn’t mind too much because I was picking up information on my opponents, so I really didn’t want to be in too many hands anyway. Here are the significant hands I can remember:

I think we were at the 15/30 level and I picked up KQs in the CO. MP2 limped (he’d been limping a lot), I raised to 130, he called. Flop was ATx rainbow. He checked, I c-bet something like 175 and he called. Turn was a blank. He checked, I checked. River was a Queen, he bet 400. I thought this was a suspicious bet since he was basically representing an Ace. But if he was representing an Ace, then he thought I didn’t have one and I couldn’t understand why he’d bet 3/4 the pot in that situation. I called, I think he mucked something like 77 and I took it down.

50/100 level, it’s folded to the CO (same guy from previous hand) who raises to 275. BU folds, I wake up with AA and re-raise to 1000 straight. I wasn’t sure what to do there because I knew he was probably raising light, but I felt we were too deep to get cute and just call. He folded.

75/150 level, I get AQs UTG (we’re now 8-handed, I think). I raise to 450, everyone folds to SB who calls (same dude from previous two hands). Flop wasQQ2 rainbow. SB checked to me and I decided to make a larger c-bet than normal since I figured he’d interpret that as weakness. I bet 600, he c/r-ed to 1700 and I just called. I figured if I just called, he might put me on TT or 99 and try to steal it if the turn was a good bluffing card for him. I called. Turn was a Two, giving me Queens full. He checked, I checked. River was a blank, he checked, I bet 2K, he folded saying, “I know you didn’t have a Queen. Smells like Ten Ten to me.”

A couple times in there, I’d made top pair from the BB, bet out and had to fold to a raise. I also chopped a pot with AQ vs. AQ (same guy).

100/200 level, I misplayed AK against the guy mentioned in the sentence above and went home. Here’s how I screwed it up: I was UTG with AKo and accidentally raised to 450 (I’d forgotten the blinds had gone up). A tight player in MP1 (we’re still 8-handed) re-raises to 1650 total. Everyone folds to me. I have about 5600 left, which is a good number to shove with AK in this spot. I think about his raise and realize it seems a little scared. I put him on AK, JJ, TT, maybe QQ. I figured I had just enough left that he might fold JJ or TT (and probably AK), and I’d be racing against QQ if he called. Before the hand, my M was about 20, but we’d be adding an ante in about 15 minutes, which meant my M was about to drop to 10. I decided to shove and I felt pretty good about it when he didn’t insta-call. But he ended up calling with KK, and I didn’t improve.

My mistake was not in the way I played the hand, but in who I played the hand against (I will not use “whom” in a poker post!). Dude had a lot of chips, but only because he’d been a card rack for a while. He had gotten KK against AK earlier, I’m pretty sure he flopped a straight against me when I had top pair, he also flopped a better top pair against me when I flopped top pair another time. He hadn’t shown any junk and he’d been playing very tight. Against a player like this, a re-raise to 4x my bet means, “I have a big hand! Let’s get as many chips in there as we can, ok?!” What’s worse is that I had a great read on everyone at my table, so I could’ve played small ball and continued to chip up. I guess my excuse is that I hadn’t played a live, deep stack tourney in about five months.

So, I played for about 3.5 hours and finished something like 15/19. I’m pretty disappointed that I busted misplaying AK that badly. That’s pretty out of character for me.

$50 tourney recap

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 don’t feel like writing a full recap yet,

but I played very, very well… 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 didn’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.

$75 tourney recap

$75 tourney recap

I played in an oddly structured tourney tonight. Initially, it was billed as a $50 tourney with a single $25 rebuy, available if a player went broke. We started with 6K in chips and the rebuy was for 6K and was available for the first hour (three levels). It didn’t take too long before a few people were allowed to rebuy a second time, although no one went crazy or anything. After the first hour was up and the rebuy period had ended, we decided to do an optional $25 add-on for 6K more chips.

We started with 20 guys and the final prize pool was about $1650. The top four spots were to pay something like $700, $500, $300, $150.

At the end of the first hour, I had almost exactly my 6K starting stack, so I took the rebuy, which bumped me up to 12K. I knew I had to buckle down since there were a lot of chips in play and this was likely to be a long tourney. Tightening up wasn’t too difficult since I was totally card dead for the first couple hours.

I’ll do a more detailed recap soon, but it basically came down to five people and I was the chip leader with about 1/3 of the chips in play. The blinds were escalating quickly, so we all decided to chop. I proposed that all five of us take fourth place money and then divide the remainder according to chip stack. After about 6.5 hours, I ended up getting $450 of which $20 went to the dealer.

My best hands were as follows: AA, KK, 99, 77, 44, 33(2), AKs, AQ(2), AJ, KQ, KJ, KT. My best made hand a straight at my first table.

First or second hand of the tournament, I was in the BB with 54o. A middle position player, who I know to be pretty loose/aggressive pre-flop, raised it to 3 BB. A couple players called, I called and the flop was 67J. I checked, the pre-flop raiser bet half the pot and only I called. The turn was a 2. I checked, the pre-flop, checked. I had decided he was on a couple big cards and I was going to bet the river if a card Ten or lower came off. The river was an Ace, so I checked and he checked. He showed KQ and took it down with King high. In retrospect, I played this hand a little passively. I really think the correct play is to check-raise him on the flop here since I figured he missed the board. I was in the BB and he knows I’m a tricky player, so I’m pretty sure he would fold without a pair there. As it was, I decided to play it to keep the pot small.

I was getting pretty short-stacked when I picked up AQo UTG+1. I made a raise to 3 BB and the SB called. Flop came down Q93 with two diamonds and the SB checked. I bet out half the pot, he check-raised to three times my bet and I moved all-in. He quickly folded. Another guy at the table made the sounds of a fishing line that just got a bit and he began reeling in his (my) fish. I think I probably moved in a little quickly. I might’ve gotten a call if I thought for a little while before moving in. I think I was just trying to discourage any straight or flush draws from coming along because the pot was already pretty big (relative to my stack) and I just wanted to take it down right there. Anyway, this hand got me a few chips.

A bit later, I got 77 in middle position and raised it to 3 BB. (I should note that I went with 3 BB because the table was playing pretty fast and loose and I knew 2.5 BB wasn’t going to ever steal the blinds. Also, these guys were a little crazy, so I didn’t want to play multi-way pots with them since I had trouble reading their hands. Finally, since we were never going to have antes, the bubble benefit wouldn’t be there for 2.5 BB.) The guy to my immediate left called (he calls a lot and is generally pretty passive) and everyone else folded. The flop came down AKx with two diamonds (I had the seven of diamonds, so at least both of my sevens were live). I hated this flop, especially against this opponent, but I threw out a c-bet anyway. He called pretty quickly and I knew 1) I shouldn’t have c-bet and 2) I was done with the hand unless I made a set. The turn was an offsuite Queen and we both checked. The river was a six of diamonds. I checked, he moved in (for about the size of the pot) and I folded. I was mostly unhappy with myself for c-betting, but I felt I played the rest of the hand ok.

A few hours into the tourney, I was pretty low on chips (as I had been all night) and I got 78 in the BB. Two or three players limped and I checked my option. The flop came down 569r giving me the nut straight and no flush draw onboard. I checked it, an LP, aggro player bet, I called and everyone else folded. The turn paired the board with a 5 (not a scary card for me at all) and I checked it, but the aggro player checked behind. The river was a Ten, I moved in for about the size of the pot and he folded. I normally would’ve value bet, but I figured he either had something like A9o or absolutely nothing. I figured a regular value bet was about as likely to get called as an all-in, so why not maximize value by moving in.

My best hand at my first table was 99 and I just took the blinds with a standard raise.

By the time we got down to the final table, I was pretty short on chips. I think I had around 11K chips and the blinds were 500/1000. That being said, the blind structure was moving slowly (next level would be 600/1200, then 700/1400, then 800/1600), and there were no antes, so I wasn’t feeling too desparate. Also, we had just moved from five-handed to ten-handed, so I had some room to breathe and didn’t feel any pressure to make any crazy moves yet.

Second hand of the final table, I was in the BB. CO and button limped and the SB completed. These are three of the looser players I’ve played with and I knew they could literally have almost anything. I looked down to see AQo and moved all-in. Immediately, they all started hemming and hawing about how automatic that move was and how they saw it coming, sort of implying they thought I could make that move with almost any two cards (which is certainly true). I realized this was a good opportunity to do a little advertising, but not the kind I would normally do. I mucked my hand and, as I raked in the pot, said, “Man, you guys are just makin’ it too easy. I just about doubled-up there!” I wanted them to think I made that move with nothing so I could get action on my big hands if I got them. Because the table was a relatively loose, aggressive table, I knew I’d probably have to catch some cards to get chips, and I wanted to make sure they called me if I hit big. This hand would prove to be pretty important later.

In reality, I had added about 3K to my stack and I was now at about 14K. Two hands later, I was on the button with KQo. Two or three people limped before me and I decided to just call and take a flop. If my stack had been bigger or shorter, I probably would’ve raised, but with an M of about 10, I felt like calling was right. If I missed the flop, I could just fold. If I hit it, there would likely be a bet in front of me and I could move in and get some chips. The SB completed, the BB checked and the flop came down JTx. I decided immediately that my chips were going in the middle, and I hoped someone would bet in front of me to sweeten the pot. Sure enough, The hijack bet out a little more than half the pot. I thought for a second, said, “I raise…”, counted out my chips, threw in his bet amount and then declared all-in. Everyone folded to the original bettor who griped a little before folding. By now, people were starting to joke about how I was moving in a lot. I was thinking about how I had more than doubled-up in four hands at the final table and I hadn’t shown a hand yet.

Next time I was in the BB, I picked up T2s. The button limped, the SB completed and I checked my option. The flop was something like Q54 with two of my suit. I checked, the button bet out, the SB folded and I moved in. The button folded showing K5 (for middle pair). This is pretty standard for me given the situation and the stack sizes. My thinking is as follows: the board is pretty dry (except for the flush draw, which I have), my stack is small, but not tiny

A few orbits later, I was UTG, and picked up Aces, by far my biggest hand of the night (next best was 99 a few hours earlier). I raised it to 3 BB (I’m at a pretty loose table, so I’m not worried about everyone folding and I want as much value as possible from my hand), and got a call from a late position player and the BB. The flop came down A95 with two clubs. Against some players, I’d slowplay this, but I bet out 3 BB instead. Here’s why:

I’ve played with the late position player a lot, and I specifically remember a very similar hand where I raised in early position with AA, flopped a set and slowplayed it. The late position caller in this hand had seen that hand and had even commented on it after it was over. I knew that by betting out, he would at least think it was possible I was weak, whereas he might’ve been cautious if I checked it. I also had a read on the BB and I know that 1) he over-values weak Aces, 2) he will check-raise bluff with nothing or sometimes bottom pair and 3) he doesn’t seem to put enough emphasis on position, so I thought it likely he would not give me credit for Aces or even a big hand. In short, I thought there was a great chance I’d get action (especially from the BB) if I bet out, so why not build the pot?

So anyway, I bet out 3 BB (intentionally under-betting the pot to look weak), the late position player folded and the BB started talking: “Six thousand, huh? That’s a little small… Do you have an Ace? I don’t think you have an Ace.” He asked me how much I had left and I did a little acting (you know, sad and pensive) as I counted my chips and reported that I had 18K total. He thought for about 30 more seconds before he said, “I’ll put you all-in.” Of course, I beat him in the pot and flipped over the nuts. He immediately mucked and said, “I’m dead.” meaning he had a weaker Ace. I now had about 50K chips and could play some poker.

As it turned out, I wouldn’t be playing all that much poker. I reverted to mediocre cards for quite a while. I tried to steal once with A7s, but got two callers and gave up on the flop (flop was QJTr, not a good flop for that hand). I made a few successful steal attempts, one with AKs. Basically, my chip stack sort of dwindled for about 90 minutes as I played few pots and mostly got blinded down and missed flops.

We were down to seven players and I was a medium stack. There was one big stack, one very, very short stack and the other five of us were medium stacks. I proposed that we chop because the blinds and antes were very large and we were just about to start gambling instead of playing poker. I’m very comfortable with short-stacked poker, but I don’t like leaving the prize pool distribution up to the poker gods. Also, we’d been playing for six hours and only four spots were going to pay. I proposed that we split the money evenly except the short stack just got his buy-in back and the big stack got the remainder of his portion. The five medium stacks would get the same average amount. The big stack declined and I said, “Ok, we’ll just play it out then.” We decided we would play out the next level (2K/4K and there were only 280K chips in play, making the average M less than 7) and then chop it up.

Two hands later, I was in the BB. The CO raised it to 10K, the button called and the SB folded. I looked down at two Kings. I thought for a few seconds and finally moved all-in. The initial raiser didn’t take too long to fold, but the button didn’t seem to want to go away. He asked what I had left, so I counted it all out and put it in the middle. I think it’s important to note that this is very similar to that first hand at the final table where I moved in with AQ after a few limpers. I didn’t show my cards, but I said, “You guys are makin’ it too easy!” as I raked in the chips. The button in this hand was also in that hand and I know he was thinking about that hand as he made his decision. Also, he’s the player I check-raised all-in with my ten-high flush draw earlier (I didn’t show the hand, but I’m sure that he thinks I might be pushing him around by now). He said, “Well, you’ve probably got something, but I know you could be making a move here.” Basically, I got the idea that he wasn’t sure if I was bluffing and he was tired of playing. He called and showed QJo and I busted him. I now had about 75K in chips and was pretty close to the chip lead.

Immediately after the hand, I proposed a chop again. Same as before, but everyone wanted to play out the level.

Next hand, I was in the SB with 73s. Everyone folded to me and I looked at my crummy cards and almost mucked ’em till I realized who was in the BB. He’s probably the tightest player I know and he was extremely short stacked (he started the hand with about 2 BB in front of him). He had just been hanging in there for a couple hours. I literally had almost mucked my cards when I pulled them back, asked what he had left and then put a stack of chips in the middle to set him all-in. He showed 43o and mucked. I showed my 73 and made some joke about having him dominated. I shouldn’t have done that and I wouldn’t have showed my cards, but the guy to my right had seen them when I picked them up to muck them and I felt like I had to show the table. I was mostly interested in stealing the blinds and not in making a fancy move. I just knew that the BB wouldn’t call unless he had a monster, so I realized it didn’t matter what I had.

A couple hands later, the ultra-short stack busted, leaving us with five players. Again, I proposed a chop. This time, my proposal was a little different than before: we all take fourth place money ($150) and chop the rest of it according to chip stacks. Still, everyone wanted to play the level out. By the end of the level, I was chip leader with 94K (of 280K chips in play) because it was obvious people were just hanging out and waiting for the level to end so we could quit. Why not steal some blinds? I asked if anyone had any other proposals and no one did, so we chopped by chip stack. The reason I changed my proposal was that the super short-stack had busted and there were two of us with most of the chips on the table (second place had about 75K).

Snap back to reality: $55 tourney recap

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.

Just busted out of $215 super sat to WSOP ME

Just busted out of $215 super sat to WSOP ME

Yesterday, I played a Party Poker $5 re-buy satellite to a $215 super sat to the WSOP Main Event. I just busted out of the $215 super satellite. 439 people were entered, top eight spots got a seat to the Main Event. By the first break, I had turned my 3K starting stack into over 11K through very solid play. I was mixing it up and getting my opponents to put their whole stacks at risk when they were often drawing dead or nearly dead. After the first break, I went totally card dead and didn’t win a pot for over 25 minutes. My 11K dwindled to about 4.5K and the blinds were 200/400, so I was in trouble. I caught some cards and made some good pre-flop moves to re-build my stack to over 11K. The blinds and antes went up to 300/600, so I was getting short stacked again when this hand came up.

READS: Really, the two significant reads are on the CO and BB. CO had been constantly open-raising for 5-8x the BB. BB had been regularly calling his (and everyone else’s) raises. CO and BB had been involved in many, many pots and had essentially been moving chips back and forth acrosss the table. The reason my stack dwindled to 4500 earlier was that I simply never had a chance to enter a pot. I didn’t catch any cards, CO opened almost every unopened pot and, if I was lucky enough to have it folded around to me, then BB would usually call my raise. This forced me to tighten up quite a bit.

That being said, the table would often walk to the BB on his blind (either because they didn’t want to play a maniac or because they simply didn’t have cards). Every time it had been folded to me, I had completed the SB or folded and he had yet to raise from the BB. Unfortunately, I hadn’t won any of these confrontations because he wouldn’t fold post-flop and I never connected. Lately, though, BB had been tightening up a bit (either because he was card dead–and it’s hard to imagine which cards he would deem unplayable–or because he had accumulated enough chips and he was ready to buckle down and play poker). I decided that if the table walked to us in the blinds again, I would raise his BB to 3x BB with any two cards. I needed chips and breaking even in the blinds for an orbit would buy me some time.

As for my post-flop read on BB, I noticed that he would bet small or call when he had nothing or a draw (depending on whether he was out of position or not). He would bet big or raise when he had connected with the flop. He would often call the flop and always bet the turn if checked to. I don’t think I had seen him check behind on the turn yet. He had folded once on the flop to a standard continuation bet I made after he called my pre-flop raise in middle position. This was a few orbits ago and, as I said, he seemed to be playing a little tighter since then.

Party Poker No-Limit Hold’em Tourney, Big Blind is t600 (9 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)

saw flop|saw showdown

BB (villain) (t13802)
UTG (t10614)
UTG+1 (t6872)
MP1 (t7393)
MP2 (t360)
MP3 (t240)
CO (t17261)
Button (t5670)
SB (Hero) (t10359)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Jd, 7h.
7 folds, SB (Hero) raises to t1800, BB (villain) calls t1200.

Flop: (t3600) Ts, 2d, 5c (2 players)
SB (Hero) bets t2000, villain calls t2000.

Turn: (t7600) 7s (2 players)
SB (Hero) checks, villain bets t2838, SB (Hero) raises to 6559 and is all-in , villain calls t3721.

River: (t14159) Kc (2 players)

Final Pot: t14159


villain has Ah 7c (one pair, sevens).
Hero has Jd 7h (one pair, sevens).
Outcome: villain wins t14159.

Although I busted from the tournament, I’m very pleased with how I played this hand. I think my pair of sevens is good here about 75% of the time or more. I made a good read and just got unlucky that 1) He connected with the board at the same time I did and 2) he called an all-in check-raise with second pair after I’d raised (for the first time) from the SB pre-flop, led the flop for just over 1/2 pot and then check-raised all-in on the turn.

Here are my thoughts, street by street:

Pre-flop: I covered this pretty well above. I decided to raise with any two if the table walked to our blinds. His call told me very little except maybe that he didn’t have 72o. I had been hoping that he was tightening up and I wanted to see what he’d do if I raised his BB.

Flop: I consider this a very good flop considering 1) His calling range pre-flop was very, very wide and 2) this is a very dry board. I’m hoping he called with a weak Ace, two broadway, maybe some medium suited connectors or one-gappers pre-flop and it’s very likely this flop totally missed his hand. I typically make a continuation bet of about 1/2 pot here, so I bet 2000. When I made the bet, I was obviously hoping he’d fold. I decided that if he raised I was done with the hand and if he called and I didn’t improve on the turn, I was done with the hand. Sure enough, he called.

I decided that he did not have a Ten since he was pretty aggro and would’ve likely min-raised with top pair here. Since there’s no obvious draw on board, I figure he either has a 2, 5, 34 (very unlikely) or air. I also allowed for the tiny possibililty that he had 22 or 55 and was slowplaying a set.

Turn: Viola! I made second pair on a dry board and I’m convinced second pair is good here. If he had 88+, he would’ve raised me by now. If he had a Ten, he would’ve raised the flop. If he had a 5 or 2, I’m ahead. If he called the flop with 34 (or any other “draw”), he just missed. If he had some kind of suited connectors (56, 67, 78, 89), I’m way ahead. If he has a set of twos or fives, well, then he has a set of twos or fives. If he had absolutely nothing, he likely still has absolutely nothing. I know that he’ll always bet the turn if I check to him and I know a small bet typically means he’s weak. My plan is to check-raise him all-in Unless he makes a pot-size bet, in which case I’ll have to re-evaluate.

I check, he makes a weak bet of about 1/3 pot, which is my cue to move in. My stack is a little more than 1/2 the pot and I want to get the money in now in case he has two overs or some kind of draw to two-pair or a straight. This is a value-bet and I don’t really care if he folds or calls.

Of course he insta-calls and turns over A7o and I’m drawing to three outs. That’s poker.

For grins, I gave my opponent a reasonable range of hands (for him) on the turn to see what my equity against his range of hands was. Basically, I gave him any Ace, all connectors, any two broadway and small pairs 22-66. I think I was pretty generous with this range since it includes several unlikely hands that have me crushed (AT, KT, QT, JT, T9). According to PokerStove, I had 70% equity against this range of hands:

Text results appended to pokerstove.txt

142,956 games 0.090 secs 1,588,400 games/sec

Board: Ts 2c 5c 7s

equity (%) win (%) tie (%)
Hand 1: 29.4713 % 29.47% 00.00% { 66-22, A2s+, KTs+, QTs+, JTs, T9s, 98s, 87s, 76s, 65s, 54s, 43s, 32s, A2o+, KTo+, QTo+, JTo, T9o, 98o, 87o, 76o, 65o, 54o, 43o, 32o }
Hand 2: 70.5287 % 70.53% 00.00% { J7o }

I don’t know if any poker players read this thing, but if you do and you have any thoughts on this hand, let’s hear ’em!

EDIT: The guy that busted me ended up winning one of the seats to the $10K WSOP ME. I watched a bit of the final table and I literally couldn’t believe what I saw. This was one of several “interesting” hands that I saw in the 10 minutes I observed the final table:

They were down to 9 players and 8 players win a $10K seat to the WSOP ME. There is no other prize. The only goal is to finish in the top eight. On the last hand, the short-stack called all-in UTG for about 1/4 the BB. A few players folded, two players called, another player folded, another player called, the SB completed and the BB checked. The flop came down Q92 with two clubs. Everyone checked. The turn was a Ten of spades. Everyone checked. The river was a blank. A couple players checked, a player min-bet, a player folded, two more players called. The min-bettor turned up JJ, one of the callers showed KK and won both the side- and main-pots.

Unbelievable! These people just won a $10,000 seat into the Main Event at the World Series of Poker. I’m not sure I really understood the term “dead money” until now.

$50 re-cap from tourney on June 3

$50 re-cap from tourney on June 3

  • 1st hand is AKo, I raise, get one caller. Flop is rags, I bet he calls. He bets turn, I fold.
  • 64o, limp in late position. Flop is K6x. All check to me, I bet, get one caller. Turn is blank, goes check check (I put my opponent on a stronger 6 than mine at this point). River is 4. He bets 3/4 pot, I call and win with two pair.
  • AQo in SB. Two limpers, I raise to 5x BB, only button calls. Flop is K-high, I c-bet, he calls. Turn is a T, I check, he bets, I fold, he shows T8o (nothing on the flop… no draws or anything else). Button was a very, very loose calling station.
  • TT UTG+1. UTG (loose calling station) calls, I raise to 4x BB, everyone folds to UTG who calls. Flop is King-high. UTG checks, I c-bet, he folds after much “thought”.
  • I’m in SB with 95o, there are two limpers. Flop is T65 with two spades. I bet 1/3 the pot, two people call. Turn is 9 (not great, not awful). I bet 2/3 pot, BB min-raises me, everyone else folds, I call. River is a blank, we both check, he takes the hand with T6o for a bigger two pair.
  • I’m BB with ATo. Everyone folds to SB who completes. Normally, I raise to try to win this right now (this same hand comes up later), but against a calling station, I’d rather see a flop. I check. Flop is three rags, we both check. Turn is a King. SB bets out for 1/2 pot. By now, I have a good read and a few tells on him. I watch his bet, watch his mannerisms, listen to him for a second and raise to 3.5x his bet. He thinks for a long time and folds AQo face up. Normally, I don’t bet against a calling station like this, but I knew he was bluffing and I’d seen him make laydowns when he had absolutely nothing on the turn.
  • Nothing happens for a while and I get moved to another table.
  • I fold about five hands and then get Q2s in BB. Everyone folds to SB who completes. I raise to 3x BB, he calls. Flop is JT6 rainbow. He checks, I c-bet 1/2 pot, he raises to a about 2.5x my bet. I “think” for a minute and fold. He shows 66 for a flopped set. Against this player, this play will win the pot (either pre- or post-flop) about 75% of the time.
  • I get moved back to my original table. First hand, I get TT in MP1. I raise to 3x BB, both blinds call (this is for about 20% or so of my chips). Flop is A3x. Blinds check, I c-bet 1/2 pot, SB calls, BB raises to 2.5x my bet, I fold, SB folds. BB shows 33 for a flopped set (I have to assume was playing for implied odds against the calling station loose guy because I didn’t have enough chips for him to try to hit a set. SB showed A7o for a pair of Aces on the flop. I’m officially short-stacked.
  • Next time I’m UTG (about 10 hands later), I get AA and move in for about 5x the BB. Everyone folds and I take the blinds. Sometimes, I’d get cute here and min-raise or limp, but with a couple guys still to act who I knew would call with Axs, two broadway (especially if suited) or any pair, I like the all-in.
  • A couple orbits later, I get Q6s in the BB. Calling station limps, everyone else folds, I check my option. flop is J29 with two of my suit. I move in, he folds. I would’ve made the flush and doubled-up if he called. Oh well.
  • Next time I’m in BB, my M is about 5, and I have T8s. After much ado, calling station min-raises, everyone folds to me. I make a big mistake and call. He obviously has a very big hand here (I put him on AA, KK, QQ) and I simply didn’t have enough chips to call even a min-raise here. I knew if I hit the flop hard, I’d double up for sure, but I still shouldn’t have called. Flop was AJx all hearts, he puts me all in out of turn and I fold.
  • Next orbit, I’m in SB with 57o. Two players (calling station and button) limp, I complete (getting 7:1 even though I’m very short on chips) and BB moves in. Everyone else folds, I count it down and realize I’m getting 2.5:1 to call. I figured I had to call if I had two live cards. I decided that before I put my chips in, I should try to get a read on BB. He’d been playing VERY tight since I sat down and I knew he wasn’t just making a move. He had a hand and I had to figure out how strong he was. I decided that if I took a read that he had a bigger pocket pair than my 7, I’d fold. I looked at him and immediately knew he was very strong. I decided to keep my few chips and see if I could get them in before the next BB. I folded 57o face-up and he showed QQ. This is NOT normally a laydown I will make. The only reason I completed the SB instead of moving in was that I knew I’d get called by at least the calling station and I just didn’t like my hand that much. I was getting 7:1 before BB’s raise, but only 2.5:1 after BB’s raise and I put him on an overpair. I like the fold, but I know a lot of players would really hate it. It wasn’t an easy laydown.
  • Next hand, I get 67o on the button, UTG limps, I move in (for less than 2x BB), BB calls and limper (calling station) calls. I miss the board, BB pairs Jacks on the river, I’m out.

All that took almost 3 hours and 8 levels of play. I was shocked at how much time had gone by. It just wasn’t my night. I also played a $40 buy-in tourney the next day, but I forgot to re-cap it. 



Another $40 live tourney

This week, there were 20 people and I took third. Turned $40 into $85. I played very well and I’m looking forward to getting everything down in the re-cap. For now, I’ll say that I don’t think my recent string of success is due to luck.

This is a pretty crummy re-cap. It’s all over the place, but I guess that’s the nature of the beast. I’m trying to think of a way to be more concise in these re-caps, but I don’t want to lose any information. I occasionally read back over the hands to see if maybe I missed something, or if I can tweak something to improve my game. Anyway, here goes…

We started with 10K in chips and the blinds were 25/50. There were 20 people at two tables. I’d probably played with half the guys on my table in previous events, so I felt pretty comfortable from the get-go. This would affect my strategy by allowing me to open up my game a little earlier and spend less time getting a feel for the table. We were playing for almost seven hours before I busted, so my memory may be a little spotty on some of the details.

Before I get into specific hands, I’ll say that I really felt like my radar was working very well during this tournament. Although I wasn’t focusing much on physical tells, I seemed to be able to sense weakness and go after it. I did this several times and had very good results. There were several instances where I forced opponents to fold hands that were far superior to mine. I think this was due to a combination of respect and intimidation. I felt like the table respected my play and at least two of my opponents knew I’d made a couple of final table recently. I also wasn’t afraid to make a re-raise and I think that intimidated some players. I felt like their line of thinking was often, “Well, I don’t know if I’m ahead right now or not… I like my hand, but there are a lot of scare-cards that could come off and I know I’ll have to call big bets on the later streets if I call this raise.” In general, I don’t think it was a good day to have me sitting on your left.

The blinds were 50/100 and I limped with 66 in late-middle position. There was already a limper in front of me. The big blind, a pretty mediocre player who likes to chase, raised it to 400. EP limper called and I called. The flop came down 234 rainbow. I considered this a very good flop. The BB checked (I now put him on two overs as he liked to gamble it up and I couldn’t see him checking an over-pair here), and the EP limper bet 600 into a 1200 pot. I thought for a minute decided my 66 was probably good and announced a rise to 1600. I chose the size of my raise for several reasons: 1) I thought my 66 was probably best here and I felt like I need to raise enough to represent a good hand 2) Although I put the BB on overcards and the EP limper on medium-to-large suited connectors (I was thinking like 78 up to QJ suited) it was possible someone had flopped a set or even a straight and I didn’t want to throw too many chips into a trap 3) I wanted to represent a very strong hand and a moderate raise would do that very well. I felt like that raise was big enough to say, “I’ve got something”, but small enough that it could confuse my opponents into thinking I was just massaging the pot. Anyway, the BB folded and the EP limper thought for a while before saying, “Man, that smells like Ace-Five to me. And that’s a good raise.” He then folded TT face up! I was shocked. My bet was NOT designed to get any better hands to fold. It was an informational bet designed to run overcards out of the pot and take it down right then. This guy had been playing pretty solid poker and I couldn’t believe he folded there. I was very surprised that he had limped and then called a raise with TT. If anything, I would expect him to limp-re-raise in that spot.

Late in the 50/100 level, an interesting hand came up that I didn’t even play. UTG (a guy I know to be ultra-tight) raised it to 500 (I immediately thought he had AK, JJ or TT) and UTG+1 smooth-called. Everyone else folded and the flop came down something like J95. UTG checked and I thought, “He just flopped a set of Jacks.” Sure enough, UTG+1 bet about half the pot, UTG check-raised all-in and UTG+1 folded. UTG then flipped up his pocket Jacks.

I’m pretty sure the blinds were 200/400 and I was in the BB with A7s in clubs. An early-middle position player limped, the button limped, the SB completed and I checked my option. The flop came down J98 with two spades. The SB checked, I checked, the first limper bet 600 (into a 1600 chip pot), the button folded, the SB folded and it was back on me. I’ve played with this guy a lot and his bet seemed really, really weak to me. I decided to check-raise* “with air”, as they say, and take the pot away. I popped it up to 1800 total and he called pretty quickly. I put him on a flush draw because he called so quickly. The turn was an offsuit 6, giving me an open-ended straight draw that was really just a gutshot (if a Ten came off, a Queen would beat me). Since it wasn’t a spade, I bet out 2200 chips. This was about half my opponent’s stack and he called. I still put him on a flush draw, but I thought maybe he had a pair also (I was thinking A9, A6, AT, Q9, K9 and hands like that). I had pretty much decided I was done with the hand when he called here. I couldn’t think of many hands I could beat (I could beat KQ of spades and that was about it). The river was an offsuit 7, making a board of 6789J with two spades. Although I now had a pair, I didn’t like it much and decided to check and hope he checked it down with a busted Ace-high flush draw or something. Instead of checking, he bet his remaining 2400 in chips. There was approximately 12500 in the pot and it cost me about 2500 to call. I was getting 5:1 on my money and I thought that was a decent price. I started trying to figure out what hands I could beat, and there weren’t many: any hand with an 8, 9, T or J beat me. He’d called off a big portion of his stack and I just couldn’t give him credit for a flush draw without something else going for it (a pair, straight draw, etc.). At this point, I had about 14K in chips and I decided I was beat more than 15% of the time here. The only hands I could be ahead of were Ace-rag of spades. I folded and he triumphantly turned up his K2 of spades to show his awesome bluff. I kept my composure, said “Nice hand.” and watched him call off all his chips on draws to bust 8th of 20. I’m obviously questioning my play on the river. Honestly, I was very pleased that I had a good enough read to check-raise the flop with nothing, then bet out on the turn with nothing. I was right that he was weak, I just didn’t know how weak he was. I wish I had the heart to fire the final bullet on the river… or at least call his bluff. I’ll be re-thinking this hand for a while. The more I think about it, given how few chips he had left, the right play was to check/call any bet.

A few hands later, I got KK UTG+1. UTG raised it to 3x the BB

At the end of the 200/400 level, I was in the BB w/ 66 again. There was one limper and the SB completed. The flop came down something like K42 rainbow. The SB checked, I bet about half the pot, the limper called and the SB folded. By this hand, I had a few tells on the limper, and those tells (or lack thereof) indicated to me that he didn’t love this flop and that his call was reluctant. The turn was another King. This time, I bet about 3/4 of the pot and the limper thought for a long time before he folded JJ face up. Again, I couldn’t believe it. This was the second time someone had folded (and shown) a big pair on a relatively non-scary board. After this hand, I realized that the table was basically playing scared and I couldn’t wait to get back from the break and collect some chips.

After the first break, things were pretty uneventful until we combined for the final table. Even then, nothing much was happening. That was ok with me because I was using the time to get a read on my new opponents. There were three or four guys that I’d never played before, so I had some catching up to do. It didn’t take me long to peg a couple guys and it was smooth sailing from there.

I only busted one player in the tourney and it was with KQs. A pretty loose player to my right limped (I think he was UTG+2), I looked down at my KQs and raised to 4x the BB. The player to my left moved in for something like 2x BB more, everyone else folded and I called. He showed A7o, but I spiked a Q on the flop to bust him.

Ironically, my first big hand at the final table was against a guy whom I’ve played with several times. He knows a lot of my tricks, which was unfortunate for him on a few hands. Earlier in the Final Table, I had made a “button move”, which is where I’ll raise in late position to steal the blinds and a couple limpers’ chips. I think two people had limped, I popped it up and everyone folded. On that hand, I had Q2o. A few orbits later, the same two people limped in and I was on the button. I raised it to 5x BB and the SB (the guy I know) re-raised to about 15x BB. I thought for a few seconds, then scooted my chips in and said, “I’m all-in.” He reluctantly called (he was getting almost 7:1 on his call) and wasn’t pleased to see that I had AKs and his AQ was in bad shape. He was the chip leader before that hand, so it didn’t hurt him much, but I was down to about 14K and the blinds and antes were 400/800, so I wasn’t very comfortable. After this hand, I had almost 30K so my M went up to about 25 and I was in good shape to make the money. The interesting thing about this hand is that my opponent later told me that if he didn’t know I was capable of making a button move in that situation, he would’ve just let the AQo go.

After that, people started busting left and right. I didn’t bust any of them, but I was glad to see them go. I didn’t have all that many chips and I wasn’t getting many cards. Before long, we were down to three-handed. I don’t even remember who busted fourth.

About half way through the first level after we were three-handed, I picked up 97s in the BB. The button folded, the SB completed and the flop came down 954 rainbow. The SB bet out about half the pot and I raised to 3x his bet. He called. The turn was a 6, making the board 9654 and giving me an open-ended straight draw to go with my to pair, medium kicker. He bet out again about half the pot and I moved in. He thought for a couple minutes and finally called with 9To. I was pretty shocked because I’d represented a hand that could beat his. I spiked a 3 on the river for a straight and doubled up.

Later, when we were down to three-handed, the “button play” scenario came up again. The guy I knew pretty well was on my left and an unknown was on my right. This time, I was on the button and I had AQs. I had a pretty good chip lead (I had 110K and my opponents both had around 55K and 35K) and I had been pushing them around since I took over the chip lead. I made a standard raise to 3x BB on the button, he moved in for about 9x BB and I called. He had AJo and spiked a Jack on the river. This was the beginning of the end for me.

I continued to grind down the other player and he was down to about 18K at one point. He had told us he was on “all-in alert” and had been moving in almost every hand. He had stolen blinds and worked up to around 45K with the blinds at 2K/4K. I was on the button with AQo and limped, intending to trap. The SB folded and Mr. All-in raised it to 14K total, leaving himself with about 27K (he had 45K less 4K for the BB before this hand). I thought for a second (mostly about how I was about to steal his chips) and then moved in. He called instantly and turned over AKo. Of course, his AK held up and I was down to about 55K chips. We only had about 7 minutes till the blinds would go up to 3K/6K.

I folded a few hands and then got 53o in the BB. The button folded, the SB completed and I checked. The flop was TT5 rainbow. He bet out about 10K and I thought for a while… I decided my pair of fives was probably good and decided to move in. He thought for a little bit**, said, “You don’t have a ten do you?”, and eventually called. He turned over K5o and I was drawing to 8 outs. That was it.

The thing I enjoyed most about this tournament was that the blind structure allowed a lot of room for play, especially once we made the money. With three people left, the average chip-stack was about 65K, but the blinds were only 1K/2K. I think this was the first time I’d ever played short-handed when there was room for making moves and such. It was really fun and we played three-handed for over an hour.

*On a related note, this is a play I occasionally use to isolate against a player I think is weak or bluffing. Basically, I check the flop because I’m out of position and there are still two (or more) players left to act. In this case, I knew the SB had likely whiffed the flop because he checked. The limper’s bet seemed weak to me, but the button still had to act. Since the button and the SB both folded, I no longer had to worry about them. I now had it heads-up against a player who I knew was weak, and bluffing heads-up with information about my opponent’s hand is much more +EV than open-bluffing into two opponents on a coordinated board. I will also make this play when I have a small pair in the BB against multiple opponents. Specifically, if one of those opponents has made a play that I think could indicate that he either 1) has a monster or 2) has a drawing hand, I’ll check to see what happens. Here’s an example of when I might use this play:

I’m in the BB w/ 77. UTG+1 makes a min-raise, the button calls, the SB folds.
[What I’m looking for are two things: 1) the opponent that min-raised should be straight-forward (ie, he’ll bet the flop if he has AA and the board is all under-cards, but he’ll check the flop if he has AK, KQ, QJ and misses) and 2) the player on the button is aggressive and likes to steal pots.]
The flop comes down TT8 rainbow. I check, the min-raiser checks (indicating he had a drawing hand and missed), the button bets 1/3 to 1/2 the pot.
[Now, both players have done what I expect them to do when they miss: the predictable player checked and the aggressive player took a stab at the pot when two people checked to him.]
Here, I spring my trap and check-raise to about three to four times the button’s bet.
[This will force the initial min-raiser to go away if he has a hand like AK or KQ. It will also likely get the button to go away if he was just taking a swing at the pot. He may even fold an 8 as I am representing a Ten. Obviously, if someone has a Ten here, I’m in trouble and I’ll shut down if they re-raise or if I don’t catch a 7 on the turn.]

**Later, I realized (too late) that this guy always called big bets. This was the same guy who called my raise and then all-in with 9To on a board of 9654 earlier. I don’t think I saw him make a big laydown all night. Earlier, a very, very tight player raised UTG, this guy re-raised from early-middle position, it was folded around to the UTG player who moved in and this guy called… with 33. His 33 held up to knock out the UTG player who held AKo. A little before that, a UTG player raised, this guy re-raised from UTG+1, everyone folded to the UTG player who moved in for a significant amount of chips and this guy insta-called with AQo. His AQo held up against UTG’s JTo (I was shocked at the play on both sides of this one). The tourney ended when the guy I knew flopped a pair on a 2-flush board. He moved in and this guy called his all-in (without proper odds) with a Q2 flush draw. He hit the flush on the river and it was over. To my knowledge, this guy didn’t have any reads on these people and he’d never played them before.


$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.


Another $50 tourney: My first MTT win

I just got back, so I’m pretty beat. I’ll be posting a re-cap tomorrow or later this weekend. There were 32 people, I took first and won $450. I got very lucky at the Final Table. I think I ultimately won it with aggression. Ironically, I’m thinking more about hands that I misplayed than anything else.

This is going to be a long re-cap. Right when I got home from the tourney, I wrote a one-line description of all the hands I thought were significant. There are something like 30 lines. Here we go:

Early on in the first level (25/25), I got AA. I raised to 100 and everyone folded. I was bummed, but it was good to see the bullets. I hadn’t seen them in a while.

Not much else happened at my first table. I stole the blinds one other time, but mostly just sat back and enjoyed the show. We had three people eliminated in the first two levels. That’s pretty crazy considering we all started with 160 Big Blinds. I guess these people were in a hurry to get somewhere.

At my second table, I was lucky enough to have some very tight players on my left. Typically, I prefer tight on my left, loose on my right. That way, I’m less worried about someone coming over the top of a raise, or even calling it. I can also steal blinds pretty liberally. Also, I get position on loose players and that means I get to collect their chips by isolating them and making them pay for playing crummy hands.

After I’d been at the second table for about 45 minutes, I picked up AA UTG+1. The blinds were 150/300 and I raised it to 800 because it just felt right. A guy in late position moved in for about 3000 more (I knew he had a hand because he is ultra-tight) and the small blind started debating whether to call his all-in. I should’ve done some acting to get him to call, but I kind of thought he’d call on his own. Unfortunately, he folded and my AA beat the all-in player’s AK… the other guy folded AK also.

A bit later, I had KJo in late-middle position. I looked down at my cards, figured they were good enough to raise (because I’d been raising and taking it with Q2o, J5o, and junk like that for a while) and started counting out chips. The BB said, “Hey! Wait a minute! This is my blind here!” Unfortunately, I didn’t realize he’d look at his cards. I said, “I know, but I gotta’ do it.” and raised to 3x the BB. It got to him, he said some more stuff about it being his blind, then he moved in. Unfortunately, I basically had to call his all-in, but I wasn’t happy about it. I knew he had AA. If I’d realized he had looked at his cards before his initial speech, I would’ve just mucked. This hand cost me quite a few chips. C’iest la vie.

A few hands later, I had QQ in the BB. UTG raised it to 2.5x BB, everyone folded to me, I did my best to sound peeved (I was acting like I was still steaming from the KJo vs. AA hand) and said, “Alright, I’m all-in.” He called quickly and showed AQo. My QQ held up and I was right back in it.

About four hands later, I was on the button with TT and made a standard raise. The guy who previously had AA and made the speech called. The flop came down A8x and he checked to me. Now, this is the guy from a previous tournament who’d told me that he had a tell on me that indicated when I had a strong hand. What he didn’t know was that he’d gotten that tell on a hand where I was bluffing with Ace-high on a flop of KQx. I’m pretty sure this “tell” happens regardless of the strength of my hand, just because I’m playing a pot. Anyway, he checked to me and I could tell he was “getting a read” on me. I realized that the “tell” was happening, so I bet half the pot with my TT and made sure that his read would lead him to think I flopped a monster (I wanted him to put me on AK). He said he new what I had and folded. I think he even said I had an Ace. I told him I’d tell him later. Later, I did tell him I had TT and that I thought his tell on me didn’t actually tell him anything. That’s ok because he’s the type of player who will look for other reasons to fold big hands against me.

The blinds went up to 1K/2K-100. I was on the button with the mighty Q2o and decided to steal the blinds. Unfortunately, I was still stuck on the previous level (400/800) where my standard raise from the button had been 2000. I announced a raise to 2000 and immediately realized that was only a min-raise. Oops. The SB called, the BB folded. The flop came down KTx. The SB bet out, I thought for a while and folded. I told him I had AQ, but hated that flop. He said he had a weak King. I don’t know if he was lying, but I’m pretty sure he could beat Ace high and I didn’t want to pay a lot to find out how much he really liked his hand.

It wasn’t much longer and we combined for the final table. I had been card dead for a while and didn’t have too many chips. I didn’t play any hands before the end of the 1K/2K-100 level. The next level was 700/1400-100. Everyone folded to me and I moved in on the button with K7o. I think I had something like 4000 chips. The SB called, then the BB called and I knew I was in trouble. The SB had KTo, the BB had 54o. The SB won the hand and I stood up to leave, only to be told I still had chips. How many? 1400 chips, or exactly the BB. I folded two hands, but had to pay the 100 ante, so I was down to 1200.

Next hand, I posted the 100 ante, leaving me with 1100 chips. I looked down to see 74s, which was pretty close to the ideal crummy hand for me. I figured it was suited, and semi-connected, so I called all-in for my last 1100 chips. I then began goading everyone into calling: “Come on guys! Everyone get in there and quintuple me up! I need some chips!” I got two callers. The flop came down something like K4x. The BB checked, the button moved in and everyone else folded. Turns out the button only had Ace high and my pair of fours, seven kicker held up. I now had about 3600 chips. Next hand, I got KJo and moved in. I gave the same speech and got two callers. I also did a little acting and made my hand shake as I put the chips in. I figured maybe someone would be perceptive and make a crack about it, possibly inducing everyone else to fold for fear that I had AA. As it turns out, I had no such luck and I got two callers. This time, I made Kings up and tripled up. All of a sudden, I had about 12.5K chips and I was right back in it. That’s when the carnage began.

Two hands later, I was in the SB. MP1 made a standard raise and it was folded to me. I looked down to see QQ and moved in. He thought for a long time and eventually folded, saying he had AK. I think this was a terrible fold considering 1) I’d been moving in with junk and 2) It only cost him something like 8K more to call into something like a 18K pot. Against my range of hands, his AK was certainly getting odds to call. Nevertheless, I was glad he folded. The dealer ran the cards and he would’ve flopped a King, but lost on the river when I hit a set of Queens. I said, “I’m still glad you folded. I’d rather win 20K one-hundred percent of the time than get knocked out 50% of the time.” I was up to almost 20K and closing on the chip lead. This was the same guy who’d doubled me up at the previous table when I had QQ in the BB and he had AQ UTG. I think maybe that hand was on his mind when he folded. If I’m in his situation with AK, it’s an insta-call.

From here on out, I won’t talk much about bet sizes relative to the blinds and such. It just didn’t matter because everyone was basically short-stacked or extremely short-stacked. It was going to come down to catching cards and playing aggressively.

Now that I had some chips, it was time to start stealing blinds. We’d been at the final table for a few orbits and I had a pretty good idea who was just trying to survive and eke into the money and who was unlikely to play a pot if he wasn’t first in. I went after these people virtually every orbit. I was raising mostly with junk, but I occasionally caught a hand like KJo, although it didn’t matter because people rarely even called my raise, much less made a play at me. One of those blinds steals was with AA, unfortunately. The table was so tight, I just never got action on my raises. That was bad for AA, but good for my overall final table experience.

I busted the guy on my left when I made a standard raise from the button with KTs. He moved in with 99, I called and spiked a King to knock him out.

It turns out the guys to my right were really in to messing with my blinds. The guy on my right made a standard raise one time and I laid down A7o (I thought that was a big mistake after I did it). I figured I’d give him one pass, but I was moving in if he tried it again. Next orbit, he completed the SB, I raised with junk, he folded. Next orbit, he made his raise again, I moved in and he folded. A few orbits later, he limped from the SB, I moved in, he called and he showed 85o. My Ace high took it down and I busted him.

A few hands later, the new guy to my right (formerly two to my right) completed the SB and I moved in. He immediately folded. I was determined to make sure they knew that my BB wasn’t just there for the taking. You were going to have to beat me out of a pot to get it. A few hands later, the same guy made a standard raise from the SB into my BB and I called with KJo. I thought about moving in, but didn’t see any reason to go crazy. I’d already shown I don’t mess around in the blinds and since I knew he knew that, I thought he might actually have a hand. The flop came down T95, giving me a gutshot straight draw and two overs, but he moved in and I thought about it and folded my KJo face-up. He showed 53s for bottom pair, crummy kicker. I had a really hard time figuring out why he would play this hand against my blind like that. I hadn’t been giving up my blind, so he had to knew we’d be seeing a flop. There were a lot of hands I could’ve had that crushed him there (I definitely would’ve called with A9, AT, KT, JT, T9 and hands like that).

We were now four-handed and I got 66 UTG. I made a standard raise and got called by the button. Flop came down 996 and I fainted. Actually, I remained calm and bet out about half the pot. He quickly mucked. I was immediately disgusted with my line. Why bet out? This guy hadn’t been showing much aggression anyway. I should’ve checked to let him catch something on the turn. Big mistake.

About six or seven hands later, I was in the SB. The button, who’d become short-stacked, but not extremely short-stacked, moved in for about 20K. I peeked down to find AA and started thinking about how I could extract maximum value. I decided to play it nice and slowly, so I asked how much the raise was (even though I already knew), counted out the chips from my stack and eventually said, “I call.” I was hoping to induce the guy to my left to call or move in, but it didn’t work. Regardless, I busted the guy with QTo and we were now 3-handed. I had the chip lead and no fear whatsoever.

Next hand, I was on the button and the BB was extremely short-stacked. I’d been picking on him for a while as it was obvious he was folding his way up the money ladder. I asked him how much he had, he counted it out and I made a raise to about that amount. In retrospect, this was a poor play because I wasn’t paying attention to the not-so-small stack in the SB. If I was in the SB, I would’ve realized the button was picking on the BB, but wasn’t all that strong. Indeed, I only had K4s. The SB called my raise and the BB folded. The flop came down T94 w/ two diamonds. The SB checked and I moved in for about twice the pot with my bottom pair, King kicker. He shrugged and said, “I guess I call.” He had KQ of diamonds. That left him with a gutshot straight flush draw and an overcard (Queen). He was a slight favorite. I couldn’t figure out why he’d check/call all-in there, but that’s how he played it (I would’ve just moved in with it in his position). The board didn’t help him and my fours won and knocked him out.

We were down to heads-up and I had a monster chip lead (something like 9:1 or 10:1). I basically just went completely aggro until I busted him. I offered him a chop based on chip count (we each take second place money and divide the remainder of the prize pool proportionally by chip count), but he didn’t take it. Actually, when I first offered it, he said, “I dunno’. Let’s play one more hand.” The dealer dealt, I moved in, he folded and I said, “Ok, you wanna’ chop?” He decided, “Nah, I just wanna’ play it out.” I said ok and busted him two hands later. Actually, I doubled him up first. Then, the next hand, I had 84o, moved in from the button and he called with Q9o. I spiked an 8 on the flop to end the tourney.

So, that’s a re-cap of my first MTT win. It’s strange how little I really remember about the final table. I don’t remember many actual bet sizes, I don’t remember a lot of the hands I stole with. It just happened very quickly. I think the entire final table took less than an hour. It was crazy to come back from being short-stacked with less than the BB to running over the table on my way to a win. It’s also crazy that the hand that turned it around was 74s. The jury is still out, but that might be my new favorite trash hand.


$40 live tourney re-cap

My run of crummy cards continues. I’m sure it seems like I’m making excuses, but I can objectively say I’m just running very badly in live tournaments. Anyway, here are the significant hands from today:

Early on, there was a lot of action at my table. The blind structure moved pretty slowly, but it seemed like a lot of the guys wanted to gamble. I just sat back and tried to learn about my opponents (I’d only played with two of them before) for about the first hour. We started with 10K chips and 25/50 blinds, and we played 30-minute levels. There were 21 or 22 guys total and we had 10 at our table. I could see early that there were several LAGs (Loose/Aggressive players) who probably learned most of their poker from TV. They were from the school of poker that says any Ace is good enough to play from any position, hands go WAY up in value if their suited, etc.

Once the blinds reached the third level, I had a good feel for most of the guys at my table. The first “big” hand I played was a blind-defending hand when I was in the BB. It was folded to the CO who min-raised. He’d been playing tight-aggressive poker so far and had picked off a small bluff of mine earlier with a check-raise. I would’ve put him on a very wide range of hands, but his min-raise indicated strength to me (I see people do that a lot when they have a big hand in late position and they don’t want to discourage action with too large a raise). I figured him for a couple big cards or a medium-to-big pocket pair. It was folded to me and I called with Q8s. The flop came down K86 with two of my suit. I checked, he bet half the pot, I moved in, he folded and wasn’t very happy about it. I also noticed that he would try and get me to show my cards by mumbling about my hand (“Of course you catch a King there…”, that kind of thing). I didn’t oblige and mucked as I took down the pot.

Next level, he min-raised my BB again and I called, this time with AQs. In retrospect, I should’ve popped him for a big re-raise right there because I was giving his late-position min-raises too much credit at this point. Anyway, I called and the flop came AAx with two spades (I had hearts). I checked, he bet, I called. Turn was a blank. I checked, he bet, I raised to a little over three times his bet, he folded and mumbled something about “Why do you have to keep getting Aces there.” Of course, I mucked my cards face-down.

A little later, I got AA in Early MP. UTG was new to the table, sort of short-stacked and limped. I briefly considered limping also because the guys behind me liked to raise, but I realized they were probably thinking what I was thinking: UTG is short-stacked and limped UTG, he probably has a hand. Knowing there was only a tiny chance of a raise behind me, I popped it up to 3x the BB. I got one caller behind me and everyone else, including UTG, folded. (As an aside, it turns out UTG is pretty new to poker and was limping just because he had pretty cards. His EP limp meant absolutely nothing as he essentially limped himself right out of the game within a couple orbits). Flop came down pretty ragged, I bet half the pot, and the late position caller basically said he had a medium pocket pair and that he hadn’t flopped his set, so he’d fold. He also said something like, “I missed my set, but I had to call because I knew I’d bust him if I hit it.” Of course, he was wrong because I knew he had a medium pocket pair and was prepared to dump if he started going nuts with raises and such. He probably tried about 20 times to flop a set before he busted out.

By this time, our table is down to 7-handed and I finally start catching some cards–AQs, AJs, AKs–and raising every other pot. I basically doubled my stack and never had to show a hand. I got called a couple times, but they dumped their hands to a continuation bet after the flop. I had raised so much that I started actually folding hands that are typically raise-worthy because I was afraid I’d get action I didn’t want. (For instance, normally 7-handed at a tight table, KJo is good enough to raise with from EP, but because I’d been so active and hadn’t shown any hands, I had to fold it to give my later raises more credibility. There were some pretty big stacks at the table and I didn’t want people to start itching to look me up.)

A few hands after my little rush, I got AQs in the BB. The SB was short-stacked and I’d been picking on him (you can pretty much pick on any player you want at a short-handed table), so I knew it wouldn’t take much of a hand for him to put all his chips in. At this point, the blinds were 400/800 and I had close to 20K chips. He completed in the SB and I raised it up to 2800 (I couldn’t see his stack, but I estimated that was probably about half his stack or a little less; i wanted him to think I was trying to steal and that maybe if he moved in, I would go away). He thought for a second and moved in for 2800 more than my raise (5600 total). I quickly called and he showed A3s. The board came 39933 and he took it down with his quad threes. I think this was a pretty big hand because it meant the difference between me having a stack of about 25K and having a stack of about 15K.

Next hand, I got KJo in the SB, everyone folded to me and I moved in. The BB only had something like 3K chips left. He was frustrated, but eventually folded. I showed my KJo to let the table know I wasn’t just going nuts and raising every hand with junk.

I think I folded every hand until the next time I had the BB. Before this hand, I had about 15K. Everyone folds to the button (previously the CO) who, of course, min-raises me. The SB folds and I decide that I’m willing to make a move with two good cards–any pair 77 or higher, AT or better, KQ, KJ, maybe QJs–but I had a wimpy little J9o. I figured he wasn’t too strong and I was getting good odds, so I went ahead and took a flop. Blinds were 400/800, so there’s now 3600 in the pot. The flop was T94 with two hearts. I flopped middle pair, Jack kicker. I decided to throw out a probe bet and see where I was at. I get 2K, he raised to 5K, I thought and called. I figured I only had 5 outs, but my implied odds were pretty solid if I hit. I figured him for maybe AT, KT, AQ, AJ. I also considered making a move if a heart hit the board because I was sure that it looked like I was drawing. The turn was an 8, giving me an open-ended straight draw. I checked it, he bet 4K. Basically, I figured I was behind here, so I started counting outs: two 9s, three Jacks, four 7s, 4 Queens. I counted them all as full outs because i couldn’t put him on a hand that would take any of those outs from me. So, I have 13 outs, there was 17.6K in the pot and it cost me 4K to see the river. With odds like that, and about 5 or 6K in implied odds, I really only needed 8 or 9 outs to call. It was a tough decision, but I decided to just call. One reason I didn’t make a move was that I was pretty sure I was behind AND I’d made moves (check-raises) on the flop and turn already against this guy in similar situations. I didn’t feel I had any fold equity if I was behind, so I didn’t want to do anything stupid. The river was a 6, making the board T9864. I checked, he moved in, I folded. He told me later that he had T8 for 2-pair. He also told me he had no idea what I had and he was “terrified” of me throughout the hand. What I don’t get is why he kept min-raising my BB even though I’d taken two pots off him when he tried that earlier. I especially don’t get why he would do it with Ten high. I guess he got about 10K of my chips, so more power to him.

So now I’m basically crippled. Five hands later, we move to the final table and we’re back to ten-handed. I fold for the first orbit (I started in the BB) and then, the next time I was UTG, I got dealt A5o. At this point, the blinds were 500/1000, but going up to 700/1400 either the next hand or the one after that. I had about 6300 left, so I was in pretty bad shape. A5o was good enough for a move, so I pushed. It was folded to the SB who called with ATo, which held up and I was out.

An interesting side note: During my rush of cards, when I was stealing pots like made, I played one hand out of position against a bigger stack. I had AJs, made a standard raise and everyone folded to him on the button. He smooth-called, the blinds folded and the flop was KTx, giving me an overcard and a gutshot straight draw. I made a continuation bet of about half the pot, the button studied me for a while and said something like, “I fold to the set.” Later, as we were all heading to the final table, he mentioned the hand. He said that when I bet, he could see something that he interpreted as a tell, and that’s what told him I was really strong. He said he figured I flopped a set because of this tell, so he got out of the way. Of course, I didn’t have a set, or even a pair, so his radar was a little off. I told him I didn’t remember what I had, but I did know that I hadn’t flopped a set all day. I told him I’d had a lot of AQ, AJ type hands, but I didn’t remember that one specifically. I began to realize that this guy is just one of those poker players who constantly expects his opponents to turn over the nuts. That being said, I will pay more attention to the tell he mentioned, just to make sure it isn’t somehow a bluffing tell. I have a feeling that it means nothing since I am pretty much doing the same things every time I’m in a hand.