Tuesday, March 06, 2007

10th out of 607

I played a 607 person tournament yesterday and finished in 10th place.

Not too much happened the first few levels.

Then with the blinds at 100/200, I had the good fortune to pick up pocket aces in early position after the guy under the gun limped in.

Back in the old days (which means like a week or month ago) I'd probably raise here. But I've noticed over and over and over again that when you have enough limpers someone usually raises. They'll do it with good cards. But they'll also do it with bad cards. Because they've read about it in a poker book.

And if no one raises and 5 or 6 of us end up seeing the flop, I'm now a good enough human being to muck my aces on the flop. That's right. I can fold aces.

Pocket aces come along so rarely that there becomes this insane urge to play for all your chips with them. But it's so rare that you get someone else to put their chips into the middle unless they have you beat.

But at least you get a good "bad beat" story right?

My plan works on this hand. Some guy in middle position pops it up to 600. Everyone folds back to the guy under the gun. He pushes all in for around 2500. Maybe he has aces too?

I push as well and so does the initial raiser to my left.

Under the gun shows pocket 6's. Guy to my left has pocket kings.

The aces hold up and I've been promoted to table chip leader with around 10k.

One big difference in my game these days versus lets say a year ago is that I'm getting a good feel for how to play with the larger stack. Back in the day I didn't want to do anything stupid so I'd just sort of hang out, wait for cards and eventually the remaining players would catch up in chips.

These days I'm playing alot of pots. I'm giving alot of action. I'm testing people with reraises. I'm putting them to decisions for all their chips. It's not blind aggression. I either have hit the board or at least have a draw. But I'm taking advantage of being able to survive their all in.

My stack grew and grew. I got it up to the 25k range and we were near the bubble when a new guy was brought to the table who had around 30. This slowed me down somewhat. We took turns battling the medium and small stacks. But I basically lost half my action.

It was somewhere around here that we got down to 63 players and all made the money.

With around 50 players left a monster stack (around 90k) came to the table. He sat down and started raising every single hand. It's fascinating to play with a guy like this. Like even when I'm in full bully mode I'm still folding half my hands. But not this guy. Every single hand was a raise. He was willing to double you up if you dared to play with him.

But even with this great opportunity it's still hard to pick a hand that you actually want to gamble your tournament life with. Like I'm probably ahead but do I really want flip a coin with him with my ace rag?

If I have ace 5 and he has a hand as bad as 2,7. he's still going to win the hand 35% of the time. So more than 1 out of 3 times I'm out of the tournament. If we bump him up to something like queen 6 he's winning 40% of the time. If our cards were faced up and I knew for certain he has these hands then I have to play with him. But there's also a chance he has something bad like ace 6 and I'm in huge trouble. And so without me being a desperate small stack it becomes tough to choose my spot to fight him with a medium stack.

I did play back at him a few times. One hand I reraised him with ace 9 from the button hoping he'd fold. Instead he called. At least this was better than him reraising me all in and putting me to that decision. We checked the flop. An ace came on the turn and he bet. I called. He checked the river. The pot was decent sized by now and I didn't want to get reraised if I bet.
I also figured he'd fold if I bet and he had nothing. So I checked too. He had 5 8 and I won the pot.

This maniac actually went out around 30th. Another big stack moved to our table. Maniac raised preflop. Other big stack called. Flop came king high. Maniac bets. Other big stack raises. Maniac goes all in with king 10. Other big stack calls with him with ace king and just like that. Poof. Maniac is gone.

When we were down to around 20 players I went card dead for awhile. As the blinds and antes start getting big there becomes this interesting acceptance over how often each player can raise and steal. It's almost like we're all in the jungle trying to eat. And most players will accept your eating once or even twice an orbit. But once you start taking more than that you're going to face resistance.

Since I wasn't getting cards I wasn't playing too many hands and the table would usually just fold whenever I put in a preflop raise. It's the reward I get for playing tight. For staying in line.

With the blinds at 1500/3000 and a 400 ante I came in from middle position with a raise to 11000. We were down to 14 players (two 7 handed tables) and I started the hand with around 55,000 in chips. I had ace jack. One of those hands I don't love playing. But it's also too strong to fold at this point. Since I've been selective I expect (hope) to get it folded around. I also don't mind calling a small stack going all in with it.

Unfortunately it's the big blind who moves all in. He has more chips than me so if I call I'd be playing for my tournament life. I think most players would insta-call here. But not me. He has shown strength. Pot odds aside, if he has a pocket pair I'm trailing. If he has ace king or ace queen I'm in even worse shape. And of course if he has a pocket pair jacks or larger it's real ugly.

He could be making a move with a hand like king queen. But to his credit, his table image is tight. He hasn't been reraising anyone. He's done nothing to make me think he isn't strong here. And it's also not like I was stealing from the button. I'm a tight player who raised from middle position so he knows I have something.

The irony here is that I have too many chips. If I had less it becomes an easy call. But I still have 44ish which puts me in the middle of the pack. I can still go around the table a couple of orbits. And I assume I can find a better spot to push in where I won't get called.

This is what I love so much about the endgame of tournament poker. You can raise and win the chips in the middle without ever having to showdown. You can only get knocked out if you showdown. So in this spot I chose to fold. So that I didn't have to showdown.

I've discussed this type of hand previously with many tournament players and it's interesting to hear both sides. So many players want to gamble. They need to be the big stack. They don't want to go to the final table with a small stack. I've had alot of success sticking around as one of the smaller stacks. The way I look at it, the chips are still going to be there. In this spot it comes down to the fact that I simply don't want to put my tournament life on the line with a hand like ace jack when my M is still over 5. But both strategies certainly have their merits.

We're not supposed to be results orientated but the other thing that cracks me up about this hand is that if we're on television and could see my our hole cards then I look like a freaking poker savant genius if he has ace queen.

And likewise I'm the weakest most pathetic player on the planet if I folded to ace 10.

Just wanted to mention that.

I survived a few more players and we eventually got down to 10. Two tables of 5. This is where the action gets real fierce. Once you get down to 9 players and form the final table things slow down again since you're getting a break and not paying the blinds 7 out of every 9 hands. But at these 5 handed tables you're in blinds 40% of the time. You have to play fast.

I was 9th in chips with 10 players left. I could have waited to see what happened to the 10th place guy but by this point my stack was in a serious danger zone. Actually this was true for most of us. The blinds had already passed the 2000/4000/500 structure and we were now on 2500/5000 with a 600 ante. That's 10,500 every 5 hands. At this point even the big stacks weren't that healthy in comparison to the blinds.

As for the end:

I got lucky to find a hand as strong as king 10 to push with on the button.

I got unlucky to run into an ace queen in the small blind.

I got lucky to hit a king on the flop.

I got unlucky to see 3 diamonds on the board with him holding the ace of diamonds.

I got lucky to see that my 10 of diamonds took away one of his outs and that I was still a 56% favorite.

I got unlucky when 44% happened and a diamond came on the turn.

I got lucky to have most of my hands hold up and go so far in this tournament.

I got unlucky not to be able to finish it.


Chas said...

how much did you make? for the fans at home...

EskimoQuinn said...

Got back 6x my buy in. Made 5x.