Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wynn Classic

I played the $540 opening event of the Wynn Classic.

668 players. I finished 30th. I had a good tourney but it always stings to get knocked out.

Especially when first place is $110k.

I got off too a slow start on Day 1. After 3 levels my starting chip stack (4000) was down to 2850. They added the ante in the 4th level and my game finally took off. I've noticed lately that tournaments don't really seem to begin for me until the antes kick in. I think this is part of why I'm not more successful yet at cash games. I need more money in the pot to have something worth fighting over. It's almost like whatever strategic advantage I've developed doesn't exist without a nice chunk of change in the middle. I basically have no idea how hard to play a hand like pocket queens when the blinds are 25/50. And I only seem to get myself into trouble. Maybe that's why some players show up late to these bigger stack tournaments.

So back to level 4, I bump my stack all the way up to 10,000 without ever having to show down cards. I find a couple of great spots to steal pots with reraises. Amazingly everyone is playing really passively. In this day and age the problem is usually the opposite. But not in this tournament. Once I got chips I started to run over the table. No one wanted to get involved with me. I ran my stack up to 17,000 when the following hand came up. I'm sitting on the button with ace queen. Guy to my right was down to around 5000 and the blinds were 300/600 with 50 ante at this point. He pushes all in. I call him and he turns over ace 10.

Flop and turn miss us both and it looks like I'm gonna have close to 30k in chips which would turn me into a monster. As it was I was already table chip leader with 17k. But of course a 10 hits on the river and knocks me back down to 12k. I took the beat well and obviously felt fine about the play. But I mention this hand because looking back on the tournament who knows what I could have down with 30k at that point. Or to look at it another way, when the day ended a few hours later with the blinds at 1000/2000 and 200 ante, my total chip count was only 26,500. With everyone playing passively I think I could have built it up to 60ish instead of having to play more carefully and grind it up to the 26,500.

When I returned on day 2 there were 72 players remaining and I was in 49th place overall. The Wynn was only paying 63 spots so I was excited to see how the whole payout bubble went down. Players are so desperate to finish in the money that I can often build up my stack at this point. A few guys started asking if the Wynn would agree to pay out 72 spots. A couple of the big stacks objected but then the Wynn used their "Management reserves the right to change tournaments" rule and decided to pay out 72 spots. Even though I wasn't a big stack (I think average chip count was 37k) I still wanted to see only 63 get paid so that players would play tighter. With everyone suddenly in the money players were looser.

I picked up pocket kings in the first orbit and doubled up to over 50k which allowed me to play poker again instead of just having one move (push all in) preflop. Then the following hand came up with blinds still at 1000/2000/200.

A gentleman under the gun raises to 7000. A very tight player from Texas calls. I'm sitting on the button and look down to see pocket 9's. It was very tempting to reraise all in here but I also have two big stacks sitting to my left in the blinds. I'm happy to have just doubled up. I also feel like I can out play most of the players at this table. So I don't necessarily want to take a coinflip here. In a WSOP tournament if I was sitting with great players I might like the chance to steal the pot or else double up to 100,000 chips in this spot. But for once I really did think I could build up my stack through smaller pots. I liked having position from the button. And I wanted to see a flop. So I called the 7000.

Small blinds folds. But then the big blind puts his card protector over his cards and starts thinking. This went on for a few minutes. I could tell he was eyeing the original raisers stack. He needed to know how much he would lose if he went all in and original raiser has aces. The original raiser had around 30k. A player not in the hand eventually called the clock on the big blind who then immediately declared himself all in.

Much to my dismay the original raiser folded. So did the the tight Texan to my right. It came back to me on the button. This was a tough one for me. I was familiar with the big blind player. He's a tournament guy who knows that he can steal pots from the big blind with a reraise. So it's very possible he's making this move with a hand worse than mine. He also knows that if the Texan guy or me had a hand like aces, we would have already reraised. He just needed to make it through the original raiser.

I so much wanted to call him here. If I knew for certain that he had a hand like ace king I would make the call. These are the kinds of races you need to win to win these tournaments. But there was also a decent shot that he has a hand like pocket jacks or pocket queens. A hand that doesn't want to see a flop against 3 other players since he's probably losing if an ace or king flops.

I also decided that I'm too good a player to go out with pocket 9's. If he turns over jacks I'd be muttering to myself that I know better than this all the way home. If I fold I still have 43k in chips, plenty for this blind level. And so I folded.

This is one of those hands that I wish was televised so I could see his cards. After the hand was over the original raiser said he folded ace king. (Hard to believe). And big blind said he had big pair. (I'd like to believe). But either way it was a good play by him. In theory it was the same play I was gonna make if I raised from the button after the Texan called. But part of the reason I didn't raise from the button was I didn't want either blind to wake up with a hand and knock me out. So if he indeed had a hand, then my 7000 call got me the exact information I wanted.

As I hoped, I was able to cruise along and build my stack back up to over 60k without ever really getting any cards. We were playing 40 minute levels and the blinds soon went up to 1500/3000 with 300 ante and then 2000/4000 with 400 ante. At a nine handed table each orbit gets pretty expensive. With the 2000/4000 blinds with 400 ante it was costing 9600 chips every 9 hands. I stayed in that 50 to 60 range by basically stealing one pot per round. There was no one at my table with more than 100k so everyone was pretty short stacked. At this point there's much less poker being played and much more pushing all in preflop. Hands that I love like suited connectors go way down in value.

We went on break after level 12 and when we returned to the table the blinds were now 3000/6000 with a 500 ante. 13,500 an orbit. Absurd. I was down to 50k in chips which meant I had to find a hand to push with. It was tough to find a spot. Especially when you're not the first one into the pot. Like if someone bets 25k from early position there's not too much you can do with your two rags.

I eventually got my money in and was grateful to simply have two live cards against my opponent. But nothing hit and I went out 30th. I sort of feel like this tournament just ran out on me. Like I don't even have a bad beat story to tell. The blinds just got too big and my cards just went too cold. I gave myself plenty of time and alot of chances to get lucky. But it just didn't come together. That's sort of the funny part. Like for that whole final level I never saw a pocket pair, suited connectors, two face cards, any ace, or anything that I'd be remotely interested in showing down. I also couldn't find a spot where no one entered the pot before me.

Until the last hand.

Overall this was a good experience. I'm getting much better at reading players live. Picking up on tells. Guessing their cards. Keeping track of chip stacks. Knowing how much is in the pot.

The players keep seeming worse and worse to me. But maybe I'm getting better too.

1 comment:

Darren said...

i am learning so much from you master.