Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tournament Torture

Wanted, first off, to say thanks so much to folks who railed/encouraged me this weekend: @rosietexecano, @_TXAG98_, @BigBlindAces, @suzysbad, @MN_Tiny, @willhwk, @tadmrichards, @matmoeb,@txcardslinger, @tripsteur, @Psx120, @Candipartypoker, @willaramirez, @CheeseYQueso, @ricdoherty, @pokerhag, @HeartforGaming, @wndywitch, @LuckyStein - you guys rock and I appreciate the rail. For an amateur, being able to tweet updates is so cool.

My poker schedule, like everyone's, changed after Black Friday.  Since that day, the only place I've been playing online is Lock Poker and Bodog and I mainly feel like I'm doing it just to keep in practice. Whereas, before, I was able to play 20+ tournaments a day, I'm lucky now if I can get in three.  And honestly, like @thegroupie wrote about in a post, I've been worried because it seemed I could not final table anything in the wake of Black Friday.

The other things I've been doing is playing in local live games, and that's what the tournament this weekend was about. I've played in it once before, with some success, and so I was excited when I got the email giving details: $350 buy-in, fairly good structure (at least until late, just like last year), good food and interesting people.

The tourney drew enough to fill four tables and first prize was a little more than $4500. The most interesting thing about the tournament, to me, was not so much the hands, but the players.  Lots of internet pro action going on, ranging from jeffbeesdat, ranmachan, ChipRick, and others.  As the tourney began, I was sandwiched between jeffbeesdat and ranmachan, and told myself if I could hold my own at the table, I might have a shot. Turns out, I held my own.

I chipped up pretty early with AKo. The interesting thing to me about the hand was the river and my thought process before making the decision.  I want to back up and say - I'm reading Tendler's The Mental Game of Poker.  I highly recommend it, if for nothing else - the warm-up, preparation components.  Pre-tourney, I utilized what I'm reading and wrote out my goals for the game and one of those goals dealt with my decision-making.  I didn't consciously think about my written goals during the hand, but maybe subconsciously it helped me because I really thought through it before making my decision.

Blinds are 50/100 and we are all quite deep with 15k avg stacks.  Folds to me in LP. I raise 3x PFR and ranmachan flat calls.  Flop comes Txx rainbow, all low cards.  Turn brings x, I barrel again, he calls.    At this point, I'm done with the hand but I'm wondering, if he has a set, why not raise? If he has AT, why not raise?  River brings A. I bet again and now he raises quite a lot.  Because of his play to this point, the only hand I'm really worried about is AT. I figure, if he has a set, why wouldn't he raise me on the turn? Sure, my turn barrel is questionable, but knowing he's an internet pro, I figure it's possible he's floating me.  So, I tried to maintain initiative while also trying to pot control with my bet sizing. Why didn't he raise me there, I wonder...I'm a little sick because I don't really want to call off any chips with a losing hand this early in the tourney and all I've got is TPTK, which is just gross.  After thinking through the hand, I just didn't believe he had a set and if he played AT like that and got there on the river, well, God bless him.  Fortunately, he turned over 7s and I took a nice pot. Maybe that was a dumb play, but I felt like I was thinking and I went with my read and it felt great being right.  It also felt great when jeffbeesdat said, "great call."  I think he meant it.  ;-)

I took some hits but was able to stay around 25ish bbs when we broke to three tables. At that point, it was pretty much either chip up or go home time as antes had kicked in. A good player (R) immediately two seats to my right was playing great position poker, which meant that nearly every time I was BB or SB, I was getting raised.  The great thing about that kind of play is that, while you don't have a hand every time, the one time you do have a hand, you've pissed off the player enough that *that's* when they shove and that's what happened here. R woke up with AJo and raised my BB. I had made the decision to ship my ~22bbs and, having me covered, he snap-called.  He flopped a J and I rivered a K and that was all she wrote, brother.

Once at the final table, I finally started getting real hands (As, Ks, AK) and chipped up quite nicely. The structure was such, though, that you really couldn't be lackadaisical or unnecessarily leak chips. Plus, it is *so* important to be able to calculate odds and do poker math at the table, without the benefit of a calculator (which my lazy butt/brain uses at home).  I leaked some chips in two critical hands not realizing that a player was committed once they called my raise and I was getting odds to call their flop shoves, but instead folded. 

Those two plays pretty much put us all fairly even 6-handed, with jeffbeesdat (immediately on my right) the cL.  Once again, an aggressive player (C) was raising every button on my BB.  Instead of just min-raising, though, he'd raise 3.5 or 4 times the BB, effectively putting himself AI if anyone called and checked back to him.  Finally, after the fourth time, he was short and his only raise was an actual AI.  I look down at A2o. Not Harrington's A8 cut-off limit, but the guy can't have a hand every time.  I snap call and immediately hear "great call!' from jeffbeesdat and some of the other players, which made me feel good...but...I did ask, "what's so great about it?!" jeffbeesdat said - "you're here to win, not coast." And he's right.  C was *pissed* and berating my play, asking how I can call so lightly, as he turns over 4-6o.

Sure enough, flop brings a 4. Turn brings a 6 and, just for good measure, the river brings another 6.  While I had him covered, I was left with about 3bbs and so I shoved my SB when a MP player limped and couldn't triple up.

I easily could've been out of the tournament on the K2 hand, but that time I got to inflict a little tournament torture on someone else.  And, of course, mine came 6-handed.  That's ok, I really felt great about my play and have so much to work with and work on.  The great thing about playing live is meeting people like jeffbeesdat, ranmachan, and ChipRick; and, learning from them. 

I know the WSOP is going on and I wish you guys luck if you're playing - do your best and take your time.  Hopefully we'll be seeing each other across the felt, at a final table, soon.

Thanks again for the rail - and for reading my blog.  Now.  I suddenly have a hankering for waffles, syrup, bacon and a bikini... ;-)


  1. You did great at this tournament. What a fantastic experience playing against these 3 pros at your final table. I looked up their stats, and the are quite impressive. We will have similar stats some day too my friend!


  2. Nice.

    No doubt you will have a great trip.

  3. T, I love that we are single minded in this pursuit! It's really fun to have someone like you to walk this road with and I can hardly wait til we go to Vegas

    L, thank you! Really looking forward to it.

  4. Sounds like you had fun. Keep up the good work. I am reloading my BR soon and will be coming up with a plan again to keep playing. Not sure where or what structure. You need to look at he is a friend of mine who is working on his bankroll and hoping to go pro at some point. We have worked and played poker together for some time. He just got back from Las Vegas. Have fun.


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