Friday, May 13, 2011

The World Series of Poker - A Seat to the Main Event

Not the tourney I played in
Last Saturday, I played in a large live MTT here in town. It was large in size and large in price, which I don't really want to tell you about because it isn't in my bankroll. But...there it is. Top prize was, of course, a seat into the ME. With the number of players, the prize pool was such that the entire final table (9-handed) would chop and each get a ME seat.

The structure was good, lots of chips to start and long levels. The catch that I wasn't aware of until I walked in the door was that it was a rebuy. I like rebuys, but my rule is that I can't rebuy (including the add-on) more than 5 times. And here, the initial buy-in was really outside my BR. So, I had to make a decision.

Looking around the room, I saw (a) lots of money and (b) lots of serious players. One player final tabled the ME the year Moneymaker won. Another has over $3M in online MTT cashes. Another was a guy I'd met in Vegas during the series last year. I remembered him because we'd played together in a Golden Nugget deepstacks event, which he went on to final table and chop for first.

Those were only the guys I knew a little something about. The rest, I think it's safe to assume, also knew their way around a poker table.

Armed with this knowledge, I probably should've just grabbed a drink and railed my friend David for awhile. This, however, did not happen.

Instead, I made a decision to play. I would buy-in, immediately do 1 re-buy, and then do the add on. If I couldn't last til the rebuy period ended, I'd walk away. And so that's what I did (bought in, got the rebuy, made it to rebuy break and added on).

If you've played in a rebuy tourney with people who have more money than God, then you likely know how things went. I played like a stone cold nit and most everyone around me was rebuying like maniacs. In fact, I would not be lying if I said that after the rebuy period ended, 60% of the chips in play in the entire tournament were sitting at my table. Not in front me, unfortunately, but after the add-on, I was sitting comfortably with 60bbs and felt really good, both with how I was playing and with how I felt I measured up with the opponents at my table. Sidenote, I think there were about 75-80 players and only two of us were women. (sad face)

Things settled down, somewhat, after the rebuy period ended, but not much. I didn't have too many entanglements of note and after a few orbits, I was in good shape with about 50 bbs.

I was surprised at the amount of limping and splashing around still occurring, but I just tried to bide my time. Two seats to my left, one man (apparently the Shah of Iran) had re-bought 11 times, not including the add-on. In other words, he spent three quarters of a Main Event buyin just playing this tournament. I will admit that he did get unlucky on two of his all-ins; however, he was mainly playing the loose aggro style that is common during the rebuy period in many of the $11 online ribeyes.

I fared well with AKs, Qs, and a few trash hands. I don't really think I'm a nit, but this day, I was pretty darn tight. Finally, sitting on ~45bbs, I'm sitting in CO. Blinds are 500/1000, still no antes. UTG former cL, who's decimated his stack in the previous hand by taking on the only other cL at the table, is obviously steaming. He limps in, his nemesis (now true cL of the entire tournament sitting immediately on his left) calls behind...and so it goes, limp, limp, I limp with Ts, BU folds, and Shah of Iran raises.

When it gets back to me, there is 11,500 in the pot and I'm getting about 2-1 to call. As soon as it folds back to me I say "all-in" and move my stack toward the dealer. Based on his play during the previous few hours, I felt that his raise from SB was likely a squeeze with two overs, but I didn't think he had even a pair, much less Js or better. Plus I was really trying to apply pressure - if he called and lost, he was out of the tournament.

He grimaced, but thought for less than 30 seconds and called with AJo - the mortal nuts, you know. At this point, I'm a 57% favorite. (do you guys think 57-42 is a coinflip? What constitutes a coinflip? Maybe this was a classic, I don't know).

At any rate, I had a momentary sense of calm as I saw a T in the window as the dealer fanned out the cards, but it was soon dashed when the K and Q came along for the ride.

Dude was ecstatic and not shy about sharing his opinion about the "coinflip."

Crippled, I was out a short time later and had a lot of time to think about my play that day and that hand in particular. I was sure sorry not to have taken down that pot, but I really think I'd play it the same way against that opponent in those circumstances, in a heartbeat. I'd also welcome your thoughts about the hand/play, as well. You've got to win those to run deep, and I was playing for a seat. So...that's poker.

There were a lot of great things to come out of that day for me. I got to see some old poker buddies I hadn't seen in awhile. That in turn opened up some doors to some games in town I was previously unaware of. It also gave me a boost of confidence. I felt good about my play and I believe I held my own against some really good (and some not so good) players. I outlasted my friend David and my friend who'd won the GN event last year. I did not, however, trade any hands with the former ME final table-r. He was running good that day, 4 people all in during rebuy period: As, Ks, Qs, 7c5c. His As held.

Last, but not least, I met a fella who's interested in helping me with some of that deliberate practice I've been going on and on about here in the blog. We're meeting next week and I'm beyond excited.

So, all total, I put a dent in my bankroll. Maybe I'm kidding myself about my play that day and about some of the rewards I felt I got in return for playing this particular tournament, but I don't really feel bad about the dent. I feel excited and positive and as though I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

I'm so excited about the Vegas trip in June. Yes, I want to win. But what I want to do more than a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. is play great poker. Because sooner or later, I'm going to win.

I'll keep you posted about the training. Have a great weekend and keep doing your best.

[Edit - not real sure why I sound like such an ass in this post, when describing my poker play. Overcompensation, I guess....]


  1. Why not raise TT there? There's T3500 in the pot, which is 8% of your stack, you almost always have the best hand right now, but there are not a lot of flops you're going to feel great about 4-way post, even in position.

    May or may not have made a difference in the result, depending on what the Shah does with AJ facing a raise, but against everyone's range it seems to me raising would have been better.

  2. I'm grimacing and rethinking how I played the hand.

    So...what do I raise to? And then, if I raise and he shoves, do I call or fold? If it's folded back to me after he raises, I don't know if I'd still have called...and if I don't call HIS all in shove, maybe I shouldn't have call/shoved in the first place. Dammit.

    Now laying head on desk...because I think you're right wrt the raise.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Have you read Tommy Angelo's book, "Elements of Poker?" If not it is worthy. He kind of approaches poker from a Buddhist perspective.

  5. Sounds like you had fun. You are learning some good things and you will win a tournament. Stay positive and aim for that goal.

  6. There's a lot of layers here, so let me say first that in this particular instance, there's a better than even chance the hand would have played out exactly the same no matter what you did. Second, once you limp, I think your shove was fine. Based on what we know about this player, his raise/call range includes at least 99 and probably AT, and maybe even KQs, 88 etc, a lot of which you crush, and if he raise/folds some of those hands, you don't mind that either.

    Like I said, I personally like a raise (to about 4500) because sometimes I take down T3500 with nobody having a chance to hit the flop, sometimes (a lot, actually) I'm playing a heads up pot with initiative and a 5/1 SPR in position, which is decent place to be with TT, sometimes I get it in versus a steaming UTG who decides to take a stand with 77 or A rag...there's a lot ways you can put yourself in a +EV spot with a raise.

    It also helps define the Shah's hand when he does what he does, but of course you have to have a decent read. What has he been 3 betting with (and especially what has he been 3 betting with post-rebuy, although all 3 betting data has some relevance here)? What is his perception of you and do the two of you have a history and any dynamic? How comfortable is he?

    Absent any other information other than what you've told us, I happily get TT in here versus even his 3 betting range, given the stack sizes.

    Oh, which reminds me of one last thing. I like a limp a lot more earlier in the tournament with deeper stacks.

  7. Laoch, yes, great suggestion. I've read Elements of Poker by Tommy Angelo & really like the book. Actually, I think I got it at Larry's (the initial commenter here) suggestion. T Angelo has a great series on DeucesCracked that you can download to an iPod, too. I recommend it. (ps - what, if any, meaning is there to the name 'Laoch' btw?)

    Hi Steve, yes, the games was fun and I'm trying to stay positive about my game. I sure understand now what you were going through w/o online poker. =(

    Larry, thanks for the follow up. I really appreciate it. Could you remind me what SPR is? With hindsight, I like the raise, too, and wish I'd done it. I don't think he would've raised me based on the only other hand I played against him. I raised with AKs and took the pot down 3 barreling the turn w/ nothing. He flat called that raise with position and came along on the flop cbet but folded to the turn bet. At least he said he had AK, who knows. That's the only hand I played with him. Maybe he would've folded to a PFR, but I doubt it and I'm not sure I could've laid down my set post flop, so...oh well.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts about why you like the limp earlier in the tourney but not there? What's your thought process on that strategy? I think I was still in conservative mode, looking to set mine, but certainly am mulling the variables you've raised.

    Thanks again, guys.

  8. I've listened to the Angelo deuces cracked series and enjoyed it. I find it to be mostly pretty sensible.

    Laoch means warrior or soldier in gaelic. It was a nickname that one of my Irish grandmothers gave to me when I was little.

  9. SPR = stack to pot ratio. Generally speaking the lower the ratio, the less position matters and the less value implied odds hands have.

    With deeper stacks the potential reward for flopping a set is much greater, and taking down the dead money already in the pot has less value.


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