Thursday, March 01, 2007

Winning versus Surviving

In tournaments there are two schools of thought. Some players are trying to survive. They watch other players get eliminated and feel good as they get closer and closer to the money. Other players are there to accumulate chips. They have no interest going to the final table with a small chip stack. They don't even really seem to care about barely finishing in the money. They are there to win it. And top heavy payout structures reward this philosophy.

I made a World Series of Poker final table playing survival mode. I waited patiently for good hands. I didn't always take advantage of position. I played very few hands. I usually got in there with the best hand and luckily for me it usually held up. I did so because I felt outmatched by alot of the players at my table. For example I had Men the Master next to me for most of day 1 and so I didn't bother trying to outplay him.

Now that I have more experience my game has opened up. I try alot more moves. I like to mix up my play. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I like to purposely misplay hands. It's the only way to play with better players. Sometimes I'm tight surviving guy. Other times I'm crazy loose guy. Now, if they're bothering to pay attention, they have to figure out who I am on each hand.

I'm mentioning all this because I played in a small tournament last night and my two worlds collided. 23 players entered. We're down to 14. 3 get paid. I'm 2nd in chips. The chip leader is one seat to my right.

Blinds are 75/150. I have around 5000. He has 7000. Next largest stack maybe has around 3000. But there are plenty of small ones to pick on. We don't have to get involved with each other. Other than the fact that we're sitting near each other.

On my big blind I pick up 3 4 suited. It gets folded around to chip leader who mini raises to 300 from the button. I was about to throw it away but I love this hand and I don't really mind donating an extra 150 chips to him. I tell myself that the good thing is that I can easily throw it away if I miss on the flop. But if I can hit a straight or flush I can win a big pot from him.

Of course I flop a flush. I check. He makes a small bet of only 150. At this point I put him on a hand like ace of hearts . I think he's trying to buy a turn card hoping to hit a 4 card flush. Sure I can reraise him here to protect my small flush but I also don't want to go broke on this hand.

I call and tell myself that if another heart comes on the turn I can easily still get away from this hand.

Turn is a rag. He bets again. This time 300. I raise to 1200. He reraises to 3000.

It's the moment of truth.

He can still have a hand with the ace of hearts like I originally thought and maybe his reraise is putting me to the test. His reraise here either lets him take down the pot now and if I call he still has outs on the river.

Of course he could also have a flush bigger than mine. But to his credit he's been playing alot of hands loosely so it's not like he only puts his money in with the nuts.

This is that Winning versus Surviving moment really put to the test. I can fold and still have plenty (over 3000) of chips.

Four things make me call.

-If I'm gonna play a hand like 3,4 suited I can't then fold it when I actually hit my flush. If I'm scared of losing to a higher flush then I shouldn't be playing it in the first place.

-If I double up here and win this pot I'm a complete monster.

-If he had a higher flush than me he might have just called my turn reraise and then sat back and let me bet out on the river again.

-My original read was that he was on a draw. I've heard many pros say that once you put someone on a hand you must stick to it and that you get yourself in more trouble changing your mind.

It's also fair to note that this hand occurred on the internet so there were no physical tells to observe that may have swayed me one way or the other.

So I reraise all in. He waits perhaps 10 seconds and then calls.

He shows a king high flush.

So of course afterwards as I'm logging off, my survival conscience called me up to ask me what the hell I was doing giving away all my chips like that with plenty of opportunity left. My winning conscience however was unavailable and not taking phone calls.

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