Monday, January 30, 2006

Come use my new time machine!!!

A little over a year ago, I played in a nicely run tournament for a $100 buy-in. A BIG game by my standards. I now go through my write up to see if I Eff’n learned anything in the last year! My comments are in italics.

Motown Poker Event #7, 167 players 2nd week in Jan, 2005

I arrived early to the Elks Club. I missed the two early Sit N Go satellite tables, but I was feeling lousy anyways. I took the time to relax and have some water. I watched a few players and recognized more faces this time (this is my 3rd tournament). Wow, only my THRID live tournament. I feel old? I was not playing onlive for money yet either, as I played my entire first year of poker at Poker School Online.

It is interesting to note that in the main event, the blinds start at 10/20, but you only start with about 2000 in chips. This is a big disadvantage in a large field, as one false step and its over. You have very little room to maneuver. I prefer to start with about 4000 with 10/20 blinds, that way you can make a mistake early and recover. With 2000, you really have to win the first big pot you are in. Losing 500-1000 on a big pot would force you to gamble the last half of your stack (and at a full table at that). No, you really need to win the first big pot you’re in and then hopefully 2 of your next 3. Hey, pretty observant of me!!

I was crushed by my 21st place finish last time and was hoping to do better. I played tight-aggressive to the hilt, but in the end, on the bubble, I got the other short stack all in with a dominated hand and he hit runner-runner straight to know me out. I am especially good at short handed tables I was fooling myself, but my “long game” needs work. Still does, but it is a matter of recent focus with me. I was determined to make a few choice moves in the first three rounds. My goal was to have about 4000 at the first break. I am smart enough now to know not to set these type of goals and instead concentrate on making good decisions.

I watch a couple of players at the SnG tables and see one guy who plays any two cards. Typically, this type of players does well early and may even chip lead at the break, but gets grinded down in the second half. They bet at every pot and fold when someone plays back at them. Not a bad strategy, mind you. Especially when you play 52o and flop a straight. Of course, when you do get called down and have to play a showdown, it’s easy to get out kicked. This time, his hand holds up when it hits the turn and he looks like a genius. Still, I hope to play against those players. In the long run, hands like 52o and J7o just won’t hit often enough to hurt me. Or so I tell myself. Some of the right ideas, albeit it a muddled mess. What I know now is that the bigger the field, the more volatility you are wiling to take on to “chip up”. Without chips, you are a lame duck. And you DON’T play J7 or 52o out of position, which was the real crime here. But he was getting away with it because the players were so tight-weak, they would never punish limpers pre-flop, and often just called post flop bets.

I start at table 1, with MV, a guy who ends up in the final 3, NP (previous winner) and the rest I don’t recognize. I review my “long game” rules in my head. Don’t raise with a middling hand pre-flop, no chasing without odds, and do not under bet the pot. That’s about what I knew too. Even after playing a year, further considerations were beyond me. I would have been better off just starting a mantra chant of “ooooom – position”.

Chapter 1: All thinking and no playing makes Notepad a dull boy.

Not getting premium cards at all. I watch as the UtG (under the gun) with J7d wins on a flopped flush. (I expect to see flushes when no one raises pre-flop, but J7?). I was not stupid, that is for sure. This could have gone very badly for the J7d at a full table, but no fireworks. I continue to wait for a good opportunity and fold Kc9c from early position (I usually don’t play suited 3 gaps without an Ace at a full table). Solid choice!! The flop was Qs9s6s in case you’re curious. Not that it matters from that position!

UtG now and I fold T9o (easy fold UtG). YUP! Many people would play this, especially early. Not bloody likely!! But I am concerned with the short starting stack and trying to get in UtG with a hand that does not want to see a raise. Smart. (I would have missed the flop and had no draw in case you’re curious.) no surprise there! Would you play T9o with a raise in front of you? Not unless you’re really tricky or know something I don’t. (Some of you would, I know) But if not, then you can’t play it UtG. Oooo, that is actually insightful. Wouldn’t play it for a raise, then don’t play it from EP. GOOD! Still, that is an awfully tight play by me. No, just SOLID. I hate being UtG. And I STILL DO.

Next, I have to dump Q4o in the BB to a raise (another easy fold, Big-little off suit vs. any raise at a full table). Again, smart play here. I get J7o in the SB and just dump it. I know I play tight, but you can’t make a living playing BL (Big-Little). Or what I now call BLOw (Big Little Offsuit). Funny though, I would have hit 2 pair on the turn with the J7o. Yeah, and one time my 83o would have flopped a boat, so what?

A player gets knocked out to my left (he had few chips left) and there is only a BB and I am on the button. I figure with only one player to act, and everyone folding around to me, I can put in a raise and take the BB. I bet out 3xBB and the BB folds. Steals for wussies! But hey, it worked!

I decide to play KT suited, but fold on a Axx flop with active betting. The turn was a King and the river a T. I did not want to chase on an ace flop. Smart. Wonder what position I was in. KT is a dangerous hand as it is really a draw hand. I might have played on with a AQ or AJ flop. Even if I hit the K or the T (at a full table) on the turn, I would be behind. Yes! This was a good decision, but all you can do is laugh at what would have been 2 pair runner-runner. But would I have won the hand?

I note that there is a player in a white collar shirt a few places to my right. He seems to try to win pots by re-raising. At first, I thought he was making calculated moves at pots, but now I notice that his moves seem more towards guessing if the other player will fold. I make a mental note of this. Good for me!

NP limps in with Ax and another player limps in with 33. not very good poker here. The flop is AAT. She makes a modest bet and is called. The TURN is a 3 and the player with a set of 3s goes all in. It’s and easy call for her with trip Aces and he’s out. I can tell you I don’t like his move here. Well, I do. He would have a BOAT. Obviously I wrote this down wrong. Let’s assume instead that the turn card is a TWO and that he moves all in. Even so, without a boat, any all-in move at the pot on a AA flop board is probable suicide. The rest of these notes are probably just obvious. First of all, the all-in is more than 5 times the pot size. This means you risked more than you had to for the size of the pot. The right cutoff is about 5x pot size. Good, I would say the reraise there of that size would be good AND tell you if you were beat or not! Secondly, with a paired board he could easily be against trips ESPECIALLY when that paired card is an ACE. Third, he gave up the opportunity to bet about 500-900 and see if he gets called. Then he has a second opportunity to decide what to do. The river is no real danger as either she has the Ace or she doesn’t. Any big bet (even if it’s not all in) should knock her off a belly buster straight draw, so you did not have to risk all your chips here. (But I think that was more of a decision based on thinking he was ahead.) Not bad analysis…

Two or so hands later, she gets KK and bets out and gets a caller. After the flop she bets out big, but the caller has a Queen and has flopped top pair with it. Needless to say, it did not go well for him. NP now has accumulated a nice stack of chips by playing basic, early round poker. She has only played “made hands” after the flop. And she has had done it playing good starting hands. Again, good observations here!

I get an AQo and put in a modest raise. What freakin’ position? After a flop of K64, I fold to a good sized bet (indicating a K). This is an easy fold and I know I escaped easy as the turn was also a K. I guess so?

Another strange hand where a couple of players limp in and we see an all-in from one of the limpers after a flop of Ad7h3d. Look here, if on an ACE flop, someone else goes all-in, then your Ax hand is dead (or KK for that matter). What is so hard to understand about that? Would YOU go all-in (ALL-IN I said!) on that flop with AJ? Would you? Would you put your entire tournament on the line with top pair and with two cards to come? No, that player hit with either A7, A3, 33 or 77. IF he went all in this early with AK, he’s crazy. That might be the right move in a cash game, but in a tournament, you can’t win if you don’t survive. No, your Ax is BEAT HERE. Still, AKo makes the call and gives away a big load of chips (almost all of them in fact). Ironically, on the TV Mark Bulger of the Rams gets sacked. Hilarious. I am watching the playoffs in the background. Mike Martz may work for the LIONS by now. Anyways, again the analysis is muddled but correct. In a non-rebuy tournament, these guys go all in when they are AHEAD, not when they are behind.

I make a rare blind steal attempt with A6o (lousy hand), but I don’t get away with it. I miss the flop and run to fight another day. What position? Why try a steal? It is obvious that knowing M and Q have helped this kind of thing.

Chapter 2: Where I firmly set the stage for the rest of my tournament…

I get KQo in the cut-off position. There have been 3 limpers, and you don’t raise with this hand (it does NOT want to have to call a pre-flop RE-raise) at a full table. Hmm, that I now know to be incorrect. I need to PUNISH the limpers here with a big raise, say 6xBB-8xBB. If I get re-raised I should be GLAD to let it go to a hand that dominates me. The flop is Qc9c7h. (I am sure about the Q and the two clubs, I am vague about the two under cards.) And I don’t know where I am at or what LAME hands I let into this limp-a-thon. There is about 200 in the pot. But what is my M and Q? It checks to me and I put in a bet of 200 (pot sized bet). Typical TP bet. I get one caller. It’s the guy in the white shirt. Excellent. I know that I am ahead and can almost guarantee he is on a flush draw. This looks like a dangerous read to me, but I bet I am right. He is “gambling” and this is the opportunity I need to get some chips. I decide that if the turn is not a club, I will again make a pot sized bet and give him horrendous odds to call. Ok, play the read. Fair enough. The turn is a 3h and he checks. I bet out 500 and he calls! OOPS. What sense does this make? Did he make 2 pair? I really don’t think so. Nope, I think he is taking his 4-1 shot at his lotto ticket. The river is a heart and he checks. I want to bet, but I remember Daniel Negraneau stating that “when someone makes a big call on the turn and checks the river, you’re either way ahead or badly beaten”. Even though I am sure I am good here, I heed the advice and check. White shirt turns over 2 hearts! WHAT?! I just lost half my stack to a back door flush. I don’t remember if he had middle pair or not. EVEN if he did, then he chases my top pair with only 5 outs (6 if you count a back door flush as an out). I am so shocked, I don’t even remember the cards. It’s like some strange shock denial. I can’t even remember what I said to him, although I am guessing there was just the sound of my jaw hitting the table. (If anyone can remember the exact flop or exact hand, help me out here). So, when the turn gives him the flush draw, he calls with only 2 to 1 pot odds on a 4 to 1 odds outcome (for half his stack). I could not ask for a better situation. Again, I am correct here. Note that even though I had him on the club draw and he took the backdoor heart draw, he is still 4-1 here to make it. Correct again. Sour grapes? Absolutely. And with a right to be, although I could have put MORE pressure on him on the turn and PREVENTED all of this, but I still think he misplayed the hand and I got a raw deal. But remember, we all limped... I knew this guy would play a draw, I just never expected the back door flush. Shame on me. I played a non-nut hand in the first 3 rounds. Ok, skipping the weak FLOP bet, I like the check on the river. (Phil Hellmuth says that in the very early rounds, get the nuts and take the money.) LOL. I now missed the big pot early I needed for a “long game” and it’s an uphill battle now. Yup. But, I am willing to bet another $100 right now that he doesn’t survive to the first break. . Wrong, he had way too many chips. But certainly not final table material. Ironically, if I had gone all-in on the top pair flop, he may have folded. Well, All-in is extreme, but a bigger bet would have been much better. Makes you crazy just thinking about it. Still, I think I did the right thing not going all-in on the flop. I just made an incorrect read on the hand. Incorrect diagnosis, doctor.

Chapter 3: A new beginning…

I am now forced to look for a hand to play. I get KcQd and limp in. OMG! ARGH!!!! When the flop comes 3 diamonds, one player bets 300 (over pot size) and white shirt raised to 600. I know he likes to re-raise to steal pots, but with the first player still to act, I can not take the chance that I am beat here even if I hit a fourth diamond. I fold my diamond draw. Um, yes! (Yes, I am tight, I know it! Stop bugging me! But what do I do if the first player then re-raises after my call?) When the 4h comes on the turn, he bets out and the other guy folds. I have to agree with this bet, even if he has not made the flush. He raised to 600 on the flop which is a strong play that knocks out draws for players with a single diamond (like me) and can try to push the other player off on the turn card. He now has about 4500 in chips (and so does NP, maybe a few less).

20/40 now and 4 players including myself limp in. When I hit top pair on the flop I bet out a pot sized bet. This time, all three fold and I take it down. Small, but without conflict. Without knowing my hand, my position or my M or Q, I am not sure I can even comment here. But I hate the LIMP.

I limped with a baby pair, but when it missed the flop I fold. Remember, this is a full table in a big field. You don’t mess with a baby pair if you miss the flop at a full table with limpers. Depends on position and M and Q. Not enough to go on here.

BIG HAND ALERT – Welcome to the late night mystery movie… Was I Columbo at this point?
I have ATo in middle position. From late position, NP raises to 200 to go (5xBB) and gets a caller. It’s white shirt! Now, I know what kind of hands NP plays and I think he’s in trouble. I fold right there. Well considering I limped with AT from MP, I should apologize to my future self, then fold. Tight to be sure (I know, shut up!), but she already has a caller and ATo is just not that great against this raise. In fact, its probably already behind. I HAVE To assume its behind! Note #1: it’s a 5xBB bet from a tight player. 5x. Curious, not 4x but 5x. For those of you that study the books, what does this indicate? A quiz to my future self? I would say… umm. JJ.

The flop is 995 and white shirt checks, she bets out 200, and he calls. Sound familiar? He is probably slow playing or drawing with a 5. Otherwise, his pattern would be to attack this pot. Note #2: It’s a repeated pattern. He has a 9 or a 5. There is no other draw here other than a pocket pair. Not bad.

The turn is a J and again the same thing. –Now here is the thing. Since NPe only bet 200 on the turn (into a pot of over 800), she priced him in to chase a draw! (Note: does she know this? She might. Even if she doesn’t, it’s a wonderfully cruel bet. When you see her hand, you will understand.) Again, he calls, following his pattern… He has a 5 or 9 for sure.

The river is a 5 which puts two pair on the board. Now if NP has a pocket pair bigger than 5s…
Which is what I put her on here. Why? Think about it. She bet 5xBB pre-flop, then she bet out big on the 995 flop to see if anyone held a 9 or a 5. When someone called she got worried that she might be behind. After all, she knows she has a good two pair and that the 5 doesn’t worry her. Just the 9. “Does he have the 9?”

When he checks the J turn, she slows down and instead of betting big, makes a more cautious bet. She underbets the pot! Why would she do that? Was she just scared? If she thinks she is behind, she can check here and get a free card. She can’t possible hope to bluff him off of an 800 pot with only a 200 bet, right? She could have the 5, which would explain the turn bet, but then what hand did she raise in with pre-flop? A5? Not likely. 55? No, not for 5xBB. 99? No. You always assume no quads. (If you ever are worried about quads, just accept you are going to pay them off and leave it at that. It’s healthier. Sound advice.) So she doesn’t have a 5 or a 9. She still has to have the big cards she bet pre-flop. So what could she… oh my god! I figured it out! Have you? (I feel like Ellery Queen here.) This IS the start of the Columbo stuff! Wow. Nostalgia.

When that turn bet is checked and then smooth called and not re-raised, it is the exact behavior we saw from him before. Again, I put him on the 5 or 9. Two pair or trips. Logical. He either had a 5 for a WORSE two pair, or the 9 for trips. If he has the 5, he must know he is chasing, so the 9 would be a better bet. But this guy was a chaser, so I say it’s a 5.

On the river with his 5 or a 9, he made a boat. And at that point NEVER considered what his opponent had. When he checks, it is really irrelevant. He did that before when he hit his heart flush. She knows he has the 5 or the 9. But she is betting with the nuts and decides that he’ll call a 500 bet. Imagine her pleasure when he re-raises all-in. He really believed he had the best hand with a 5. Still, what did he hope to gain with the re-raise? It must have been unbridled confidence that he had the best hand. It certainly WAS. Even though a 9 on the flop seems the easy guess. Maybe A9s? At least a reasonable guess. No, he just saw his cards and pushed his money in, after all he had a boat. But it was TWO PAIR on the board and he had the WORST possible boat. Did he think she was BLUFFING? I don’t get that. She was BETTING INTO HIM on a paired board and when he did not fold, she was still coming at him. My guess is that he thought she was only betting because he checked. But that isn’t going to work twice. And she’s not Devil Fish Elliot. LOL. She is not betting a measly 500 into a 1000 pot to get him to fold. Nope. And she’s shown the nuts in the previous 2 showdowns. Yes, I am observant. And if she’s timid, why bet at all? Just accept the check. Nope. She’s betting for a reason. Wow, nicely done pre-Columbo me.

Based on his playing style and what hands he has shown, I figure him to K5, Q5, or even dimestore (suited probably).

He flips over T5o!! What was he even DOING in this hand? He called a 5xBB raise with T5o? at a full table? against a tight player in a field of 167 players? Now that’s gambling. Hee-Haw Donkey! She then flips over JJ and takes 90% of his chips with Jacks over 9s. I nailed that one! That makes 3 hands in the first two rounds where she hit the nuts. Each time, someone made a major mistake in the hand and gave her all their chips.

Did you guess the hand? That’s right, the Jack on the turn gave her the bigger boat. She assumes no quads and knows she has the pot won. It may have still bothered her that he kept calling her, but I doubt it. Yeah, I CERTAINLY doubt that now. My guess is she bet 200 on the turn to keep him in. And in this case, it worked. The only thing that he could beat here was if he had a 9 AND it was also the river card. Most unlikely. Although he would have chased it!

My ATo fold looks brilliant, but it’s not. I did not get any read, I just know not to call 5xBBB early on at a full table with ATo. Smart. He called with T5o. Some people are risk adverse (me) and others are gamblers. Try to avoid the gamblers early on. They will give you their chips when you have the nuts, so why rush it? And for those of you who study the books, a 5xBB bet is used with a big but not monster pocket pair to give all other cards bad odds to call. You typically do it with QQ or JJ. I am not stoopid!

Now NP is on a rush and puts in a big bet with TT and gets a desperation call from white shirt with A6. Even though the 6 hit, the tens hold up. Again, I do not like his play here. If you are going to make a stand, you must be the better not the caller. Wow, I did learn a lot in that first year. You eliminate the chance of the opponent folding if you are a caller, especially all-in. Vigorish and folding equity are a must for the short stack.

I start looking for a big hand to play. The best I can come up with is KQo UtG. That is NOT a hand to go to war with, and if I was at a desperate M here, the right move is all-in. You can not limp UtG with KQo. Gez. I limp, but am re-raised to 3xBB. Cant see that coming genius? Now I am already in for 1 BB bet. I really should not have come in with KQo from UtGg, but was hoping I could get away with it. Not likely. At least I knew what my mistake was. Nevertheless, I am caught and call the raise and see a flop. Its Q57 rainbow and when I bet out, everyone folds. Good break there. The raiser probably had Ax, most likely AT or A9. Very good break there, except one thing. Is stupid. Why CALL the re-raise? Gez. All that aggression and folding equity caged up with no place to go. Man, what a wuss I was.

I get 74s in the big blind, but fold to a raise to 3xBB. What could I flop that would put me in the lead? If I have to gamble, I want a sporting chance. Depends on my M here.

30/60 now and I have worked up to about 1165. Still, this is awful. I will have to panic at about 50/100 blinds. Future check. My M is like 12. I am obviously panicking TOO soon. I am in the yellow zone and have time to still play smart.

MV is on an open straight draw and a flush draw (to the K) is up against a made sucker straight. They get all in on the flop, and MV hits the bigger straight on the river. Another player gone. I can’t really argue with either play here. MV called an all-in bet to a made straight, but he had 13-15 out depending on how you look at it. With 13 outs with two cards to go, you are about 50-50. Me? I would rather be the BETTER in the 50-50 situation, not a caller. But still, he took his change and won the hand. You have to win some close shaves to win a tournament, but you should try to avoid them early when stacks are close to equal. Solid commentary from the booth. Now get in there and play.

I limp with A6h from early position, hoping to get in cheap. Gez, can you spot the freaking hole in this guy’s game?? The later the stage, the more weak-tight I become!! Limp with A6s from EP. Don’t even PLAY that from EP you dolt. Then someone raised it to 2.5xBB (150). I did not want to play lotto, especially from early position. I fold. I did not want to put in all my chips on A6h. Normally I would fold A6 (prisoner as I call it) without hesitation, but for some reason the 2 hearts blinded me. Donkey punched me is more like it..

In the BB now and I am forced to fold to a SB raise with K6o. I shudder at that one. Talk about difficult. Should I just play back and see what happens? If I am wrong, I am out. I hate having no chips. Frustration is setting in. I think I got raised with Ax, but who knows? With an M of 10, this fold is fine. Depending on the raise of course. I bet I was being pushed around though. I would probably raise or call here now.

I watch players continue to underbet the pot after the flop. I figure this puts me in good position to take a pot down post flop anytime I flop top pair. So, I try to stick to premium starting hands for a little while longer. And try not to limp donkey!

MV lays down middle pair (he shows) on a bet of 500 into a pot of 2000. With a bet that cautious, I was suspicious that the better did not have top pair. Still, MV did not want to gamble with his chips this time. But a tough laydown. I am not sure I could have resisted a re-raise here. Easy to say, harder to do. My commentary was correct, but I was obviously too much of a weak-tight to do what I suggested. Lucky I was not in the hand.

I bleed down to 1015. I see 4 limpers and hope to look down at a suited connector. Instead it’s BLo again. As in this B-L-Ows. I can not stand Big-Little Offsuit! But I did fold it. Good.

Again, 4 limpers and I decide to gamble a little with Td7d. In LP it sounds like. Ok, why not? The flop is 8h6sKc which gives me a straight draw, albeit an inside one. So I check with everyone else. OMG. CHECK with 4 limpers. If I hit, I make little, and I get no folding equity and I don’t take control of the hand. Gez. Someone put this donkey out of his misery. The turn is a 2h and all check. When the turn is a 7s (two 7s on the board), I bet out and everyone folds. LOL. Entire Weak-Tight table? I figure no one had jack. Ya think?

Here’s a hand I am not in. The flop is J87 rainbow. Someone with a 7 bets out 500, he was re-raised to 1000. After the fold, they showed 9T (flopped a straight). Nice laydown by the 7. And smart too. But CERTAINLY a questionable BET in the first place with bottom pair on that board.

Tried to limp with 89o, but the button raised to 200 and I folded. The flop was 2s4s7h. Probably MP. Hee-Haw!

BREAK. I have 1105 in chips and have not seen a big hand. I watch the Seahawks blow a scoring chance with bad clock management and dropped passes before the half. They also miss the field goal. And now they are in the superbowl. Maybe there is hope for me yet. There are 142 still in, the avg. stack size is 2381. I am only one pot down, so I decide to stick to my game a little longer and see what develops. Ok, we know our M and Q now. M will be 6+ and our Q is .5- and its time to take ANY reasonable race.

50/100 and in the BB I turn up 62o. I am Doomed. But after a big flop I make a play at the pot, betting 200. I take it down. Good break there. Hey, some aggression. Based on my donkey-tight image, that bet should have scared Phil Ivey.

New hand. LOL. Just in case you didn’t know. Button raised to 100, I call from the SB with KQo. (Costs me 150 more). This hurts, but I have to play something. Then why not raise? You are going to miss 2 out of 3 flops, PLUS you are dominated in a few of those! He bet out 200 and I missed the flop and there are 2 hearts out there. Did he miss the flop? Did he have 2 hearts? Does it matter? I have neither and am forced out of the pot. I could have re-rasied all-in, but had no outs if he called. Plus, was my all-in big enough? Probably not. I needed to get in before the flop based on M and Q. Tired Donkey.

I get A9o (again?) but it is raised to 300, then re-raised to 1000. I fold. The 300 better calls. The flop is 4dQd8h. 1000 raiser goes all-in, the original better folds. (The raiser had played few hands to date, so I figure he had a good starting hand).

800 chips left and I fold 79o. The flop is 89T and the turn is a J. I would have hit a sucker straight. I don’t know what the others had, they all folded to a bet.

I watch a flop of 4d5dQc get bet 400 by MV and get re-raised to 1000. MV calls. The turn is the 2d. MV thinks about going all in for a while, counting his chips. He then checks. The other player then goes all-in without thinking. Why? Because he either:
1. had already made up his mind.
2. Even if he hadn’t made up his mind, M.’s hesitation was no act.
MV folds. Oh my. Don’t do this. Even if it’s a difficult choice, if there is ANY possibility you are going to CHECK, do it quickly. If you are counting chips, you had better put in a bet of some sort. I assume MV was on a draw and when he missed the turn he could not decide whether or not to make a play at the pot. I don’t think he should, as the other player obviously had something. But this time, MV gets punished for playing the draw. A little rabbit hunting showed MV with a K and a K on the river. I don’t know what that is all about, but if it was a straight draw to a big re-raise, I don’t like chasing there. I think he should have folded the draw instead of calling the re-raise. This seems so obvious…

I get A3o in the BB and check it. Should I have taken my stab here? I missed the flop and folded to a bet. Too late to play back now. I think I missed a chance here. But still, A3o? With an M of like 4? That was a spot for sure since there were NO RAISERS.

I gamble with J4o from the SB since there were no raises. The flop is an ugly 7s8s4c and I fold to a bet. What’s the point? It ends up AA vs. a SET of 8s. The AA limped and paid the price. Slow play AA? End up telling your story on the rail.

I have 575 left and get 82s. A lot. Like 4 out of 6 hands. I get to play the button twice because the SB gets knocked out. I get 82o and 84s. Gez. I am not putting up 100 on that. Funny though, 4 limping players saw the flop of 3s9dJc. They all check. Then the turn is 6c and they all check again. The river is a 2c and that gets a bet of 300! Everyone folds. It’s like watching a bad movie where you just want to scream, “stop dragging it out and get your money in there, ass”. It’s the “ass” part that makes it.

75/150 and I am already out of it. I am the walking dead. Now my only move with 4xBB in chips is all-in. I am looking for a chance to do this after a couple of folds in front of me, but I doubt I’ll be able to plan it that well. Everyone folds to me in late position and I look down at J2s. I fold it and let the blinds go at it. Again, I probably should have just gambled here. Ya think? Hee-Haw!

Still, I make a blind steal with pocket 3s by going all in. And they folded to me? With only 4xBB in chips FROM THE BB? Gez, how did I lose this thing?

I am in the BB and a short stack goes all-in (850) from UtG and I fold T2o. Do I really make that call? No, you need to be the first one in if you can. But them again, he only has 850 chips. He could have an Ace –Rag or 44 for all we know.

I am in the SB now and a guy raises. I know he is capable of blind steals here, so I am wanting to call. But then, someone calls all-in in front of me! I fold my K5o to TT vs. JJ. The TTs went all in and got busted by a call by JJ. I like the call from the JJ here because he had the all-in raiser covered. He could assume a pair or a big Ace. I like the call. And hate my fold. A chance to triple up from the respirator with 2 live cards.

I am on the button again and again fold A4o to a raise of 300 followed by a caller. The flop is 3hQc5c and the caller bets out 800. The other guy folds.

I am in the cutoff and there is only a limper. I figure him here for playing anything and trying to take down the pot from the blinds after the flop. I figure now is a good a time as any and I figure unless I have total garbage, I have to gamble here for a steal of about 425 chips. Even if I DO have garbage. ESPECIALLY if I have garbage. I am putting the limper on Kx suited or a baby pair. I look down at 8c7c and figure if he has K6s or K5s I am only a 2-1 dog at worst. I raise all-in for 575. Even though the blinds fold, the limper calls. I was close, he had a suited 3 gap J8d. The flop is A5K followed by QQ. A huge flop, with no hits and the J holds up. Ok, then. Finally. Over thinking a bit at the end here.

I am out and I feel bad. I would have loved to tell you what happened the rest of the way, but I did not play. Instead I went to the island of misfit cards. Oh, b-o-o h-o-o.

I know I am much better at the SnGs that I am anything else, so I wander off to play a couple of those and watch the game on TV. I think there is much less luck in a SnG where you are not worrying about surviving for 8 hours (or more). You are at the final table. Some people take this to extremes, however.

I am at a cheap $20 SnG game. The SECOND HAND, 3 players are ALL-in. How do you expect to win playing this way? Still, someone has to win and someone does, tripling up. Now they are the dominate chip leader (M-hat). Now M-hat makes a mistake that most SnG big stacks make. He plays loose. Combine that with a SLOW blind structure that has a short table of 7 and I am in heaven. I have enough chips to maneuver, everyone is concerned with the big stack, and the table is not raising too much pre-flop. Over the course of the next two levels, I double up twice. We have knocked the field down to 5, the previous chip leader has bled down playing too many pots, and I am the new chip leader. Nice job pre-Columbo me!

I pick up strategic pots, by playing aggressive post flop play. Then I play K6o (remember, that table is short handed. I would never play this against 10 players, but vs. 5 I sure will). The flop is 776. There is a 2 on the turn, and a 7 on the river. I bet out big with the boat and get a caller. With three 7s on the board I can’t figure out what one would call with in that situation that would lose. I guess they thought I was bluffing. Big pot for me. And the losers give away their chips to the tight. Like candy from a baby.

I call a person all-in for 500 and he hits his flush. Not my day for flushes. But the right call.

I play K7 something and the flop has two 7s. Everyone says I checked. What? I did? How? EVERYONE says I checked. I start to get upset, but I come to realize two things. One, regardless of how serious we take this, it is just a game. No one is going to die or have their lives changes over $20. Secondly, everyone says I did it. So, I let it go and accept the fact that I checked. I do notice that I am placing my hands over my cards and holding them while I play. Bad move. I stop doing that. I won the hand without a caller when I bet the turn. Insightful. I would place my hands over my cards and I bet I started tapping my fingers. Not so much of a check AS A TELL.

I take two hands by playing very aggressive with A9o and A8d. I actually hit one of the flops, but it did not matter. Everyone folded both hands. Grrr. Real aggression? Is this the same weak-tight guy?

I play A2o and the flop is 22J with 2 clubs and I smell blood. I wait for no club on the turn (sound familiar) and even wait for no club on the river. Someone raises 500 and I take him down. Played this like a weak-tight. That is to say, horribly. I should lose this hand out of sheer ignorance.

I get heads up with quite a chip lead and get the following hands in a row: 82, 82, 82 (two decks mind you). Then HE gets AA, but I could see it on his face. I folded my Kx and tossed my SB to him. I don’t think he recovered from that lost opportunity and I won first place. He tilted from wasting the AA. Awesome.

I played a second SnG and again, early on in a SnG people don’t play well. I get KK the third hand and on a flop of all under cards, I let M-Hat bet away his entire stack on top pair. When I called the first 20% of my stack, the alarm should have went off. He tried again on the turn, and again I called for 20% more. Then on the river, he bets more even though he did not improve. He either had 2 pair or he didn’t. But he looked concerned when I called the turn. When he bet 500 on the river, I just called and showed him the Kings. Note: I made a small mistake here as I left him with 30 chips instead of re-raising the last 30 he had. That is a HUGE mistake, and an amateurish one. But a good call-down.

Based on my earlier synopsis, you wonder how I could be so sure here. I mean, all I had was an overpair and he could have flopped two pair or a set. But the bet of 200 on the flop looked like top pair. Plus the board looked lousy. When he bet 200 on the turn, I figured he expected me to fold. When I did not, he looked worried. Again, the bet was consistent with a top pair bet. The 500 bet seemed like a bet of desperation. It came so fast. I mean, why not slow down? There was no draw out there. I could have a set or two pair. Maybe I was just blinded by the over pair. Probably that was it. Instinct. Nice.

Then I caught someone on a draw hand again and punished him. He let it go on the turn. Finding people on draws is very profitable. Well, 3 out of 4 times it is. No, it ALWAYS is.

I am playing flops, but folding many of them. Since the blinds are slower and players went out early, I can be as patient as I want. I watch as a TJ beats T9 on an all-in TTx flop. I had busted out of a SnG a few weeks prior on almost the same hand. I remember this rule: Never get all-in on a trips (not a set, but trips) until after you test with a big bet. If that big bet gets called, start to worry about your kicker. I had forgotten this rule recently and it cost me a bundle.

I play 88 to a raise, but fold when the player bets out on the flop and I don’t have a set. Normally, I would play this aggressively, but I started this hand as a caller, and that’s bad for applying pressure. I wish I had more information her, because this looks like a LAME way to play 88.

Now a player with QQ is betting on a flop of KJJ. Talk about dangerous. Despite a player that will not fold that is obviously holding either a K or a J, the QQ hand busts out. (This is what I call “wishful thinking”. “I wish my QQ was good.”)
There are four of us left, one guy who is playing at two tables, has played about 2 hands the entire game (no exaggeration) and folded his way to fourth. The rest of us “decide” to knock him out by raising everyone of his blinds. He hits once, but gets beat all the other times and we finally are down to three. Collusion. Hilarious.

I call an all-in from the other small stack because its midnight and I gain a momentary lapse of reason (I am tired) with A7o and he shows AQo. After no board hits, I realize that even though it’s a mistake, it’s a $20 difference between 2nd and 3rd and we have 5% and 10% of the chips vs. the chip leader with 85%. The chip leader is raising every pot pre-flop as he should and puts in a bet of 400 (4xBB). I have A4h and I go all-in. Now the other short stack and has 66. He decides that since if he calls and we both lose, he still finishes second. This to me is terrible logic. If I win, and remember, I AM THE BETTER HERE not the caller, he is out on a baby pair he had to play against 2 players making him a dog. He has to assume 3 over cards and he is already behind before the flop. He makes the call and the big stack wins the hand when he hits a Q (then goes on to hit a second Q for trips!). So, I take third. I think I was correct here.

Overall, I made a profit on the day, but I would give it all up to finish in the money in the main event. Being a good SnG player has its benefits, but I need to work on being a better “long game” player. Here it is a YEAR later and I finally have a set of strategies to work on to address this. (My ring game is up and down.) Hee-Haw is more like it. What’s most important is that I had fun and as long as I have fun, I’ll keep playing… and getting better…

Notepad (soon to be Columbo)

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