Saturday, December 23, 2006

Feast or Famine

Since the local big game I took down about a month ago, it’s been feast of famine. (It also told me I am still a lousy cash game player.) Then I took down the Luxor nightly tournament, the Hoy on Monday, and last night took down the big game again. But in the WWdN, the Mookie and the $25k, went out very early.

The $25k was very disappointing as there were 1500 players and at the end of level 1 I had yet to really play a hand. You can’t play solid tight in these giant fields. So when I flopped top two with KQ on a board of KQJ, I figured I was going to the wall. When I made a pot size bet on the turn when a 2 fell, I was committed. Someone called and I figured I was against AK or JT. But it was the nuts with AT. If the stacks were bigger, I might escape. But not here… I just cant fathom playing passive when after 1 rotation, the chip leader already has double up twice and you have not played a hand. You can quickly become irrelevant in these big fields without chips.

But the big game is my favorite kind of game, live and 5 tables or less.
Start with a 10k stack, and after 2 hours I have… 10k ugh. I am the king of hands with a 4 in them. When I finally get 44, I figure it’s an omen. Yeah, that 44 is going to lose.

The AK hand. UtG limper, Raise from UtG+1 to 4xBB. I can’t decide from LP to call or fold. I SHOULD raise to drive out the limper and blinds and isolate, but something is bothering me about this. It will cost me 30% of my stack to call… I decide to call. The limper goes all in and the raiser calls. I yell at myself and fold. JJ for the raiser, AQ for the limper. JJ leads the whole way and sets on the river.

Stealing short handed. I have to “get to work” now and as the players dwindle, I make a nice living stealing and making big bets. I work back to 9k, then take down a hand and I have 14k. I wanted it to stay short handed, but alas it was final table time… I bleed and I go to the final table with only a starting stack size of 10k. The average is like 35k.

I make a couple of steals to keep up with the blinds. Just keep plugging away. Don’t give up. Never say die, never surrender…

Then, the turning point. I am moving all in whenever I have anything and can be first to act. But this hand plays out differently. The UtG limps. The button raises to 4xBB or half my stack. I look down in the Big Blind at 88. Well, I already have 10% of my stack in the blind, so I pause to think. I figure the Original Gangster (what I call an UtG raiser) for Ax and the button for AK. I figure if I move in here, the Ax folds and I race with AK. Since I am the short stack, this seems like a good time to get my money in… IF I AM CORRECT. Well, I was correct on the holdings… But strangely the limper had been quite a charmed man all night. Twice he had come from WAY BEHIND to win big pots and seemed like he played “level 1” cards. (He never really knew when he was behind and just played his holdings). So, I should NOT have been surprised when he called me. The button calls and they both still have chips.
The flop is like AKT. I don’t even know what they have, but I know with that flop my 40/30/30 edge went down to 5%. I get up and grab my coat as all their money goes in. As I pick up my drink and push in my chair, the river is an 8. AK rakes the side pot, but I TRIPLE up to 30k. And everyone looks at me like I am a luckbox. It was really hard for me to feel bad here though. The AT should NOT have been in the hand, and I was a favorite going in vs. and Ax hand.

A few hands later, an LP player picks up the 88 and tries to do the same thing. But I wake up with my only premium hand of the entire night, QQ. It holds up and suddenly, for the first time ALL NIGHT, I cross into positive Q territory.

Then came my Hellmuthian moment. (I invented a word!). With 5 left (and in the money), Scott raises it up from EP. It’s folded around to me and I look at ATo. I think about it for a while, wanting to fold. But it’s Scott and I know his range of hands is the biggest at the table. For that reason, and having position, I call.

The flop is Axx with 2 spades and Scott says all in. In a split second, I say loudly and firmly “I CALL” and flip over the Top Pair. Scott is a big shocked that I make such a quick call with only TP vs. an all-in. The flush draw I KNOW he is on does not get there and I double up (he had me covered). -When you are the short stack ALL night, and a player notorious for playing suited cards tries to push you off a Top Pair, and you just KNOW it’s a semi-bluff, you call before you can talk yourself out of it. It’s 2-1 for you and the best odds/flop you have gotten all night. Emotion takes control and I could not even conceive that there was another move for me here. In retrospect, I wish I would have had the control to think before this act, but I still would have made the call. Scott continued to question my call here, but I was so sure I was ahead.

Now, the table is Tight Aggressive and I change gears. I am looking to see flops and pick people off. I slow play KQ when I King hits and pop a better. I take down the pot. The player on my left is constantly re-raising me and I am biding my time… I sneak in with Ax suited and the flop is ATx. I know he can’t put me on an Ace, so I check. I expect him to push me out, but he surprises me with an all-in. But he did this to me so many times, I only gave him credit for a lesser pair. I call and he shows middle pair. My hand holds up and he is out. He is mad at himself, but I set this up so well AND he flopped middle pair when he could not put me on an ace, with only 4 left and he was the shortest stack at the table. I don’t think he should beat himself up here. BUT he could have made a smaller bet that would have gotten he job done (pot size) without putting his tournament at risk.

I am very aggressive now, but I don’t knock out 3rd. The player on my right does. We make a deal for $ then decide to play it out. It took 2 hands. I decide I am going to raise every hand and out Aggression him. He folds the first one and calls the second one, where I have AT. I win the hand and the tournament.

I really played up the luck factor at the final table, but I think I played pretty good.
* Despite being short stacked all night, I did not do anything stupid. Never paniced
* I may have gotten “lucky” on the 88 hand, but I was the favorite.
* I may have been “lucky” that Scott did not hit his flush draw, but I was a 2-1 favorite.
* I may have gotten “lucky” that I woke up with QQ when 88 went all in, but it was my only premium hand all night (with the exception of a couple of AK hands).

Put yourself in a position to win, and let the mistress variance have her way with you…


ScottBroker said...

It was a HORRIBLE CALL Ray. I had you covered, and you only had TP. You did not think at all even for a second. You put your tourney on the line for at best 50/50 . You had no spades, and only TP. You got lucky, thats all. Even if it were a stone cold bluff, I would never call my whole stack on only TP.

columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

I think I can safely state the following:
1. If this was earlier in the tournament, I might fold this.
2. With 5 left, I was looking for hands to break someone, not just play for a pot. This hand fit the bill nicely.
3. I cant for the life of me see how I was 50/50 at best. If you had a pocket pair or hit middle or bottom pair, I am a HUGE favorite. If you do have the draw, I am 2-1 not 50/50.
4. I dont see how not having a spade here has any relevance. If you are on the spade draw, having a spade only tells me I am an extra 5% to win.

I am not big on calling my entire stack off, but against a player who I know to be aggressive and a fan of the semi-bluff, I am dissapointed that you give my play zero credit here.

But you are correct, I am lucky my hand held up when I was only a marginal favorite.

columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

I think you are making my point. By raising pre-flop, a tight player is saying "I have a big pair". But not only is your range of hand larger, but this late in the tournament, the blinds are worth stealing. So, I can't credit you with Aces.

So now a flop comes, and you go all in. Not after thinking about it for a while, but right away like you are trying to bully me. If you have Aces or Kings, I think you delay slightly.

Yes, this is a fantasy flop for QQ or JJ and I was willing to go broke if you have one of those 2 hands. But I suspected you were going to do that move no matter what the flop was, as I am a more conservative player who can lay down hands on a missed flop. Knowing this, you can make this move and I will have missed the flop a good 2/3 of the time. But this time I hit it, hard. I dont think you expected that. And I wanted to establish firmly with the table that now that the bubble was over, if you tangle with me its going to be for all the chips.

I am enjoying the debate, but I still think that "HORRIBLE CALL" is unjustified. Especially since I was the favorite.

bodie25 said...

Scott, what did you put Columbo after calling you preflop with position? How large a bet was the all in?

Sounds like Columbo knew his man better then Scott would like to admit...