Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why I Seldom Play Tournaments

This is hot off the presses, this tale of woe just happened today as I write and post this.

First time ever I played at Hollywood Park Casino.  I’d been there once before and didn’t like the vibe, but today I felt like playing in a tournament and the $40 noon tournament they have at The Bike that I would have preferred, is cancelled for awhile due to some other special tournament event going on there.

So I gave the 11:30 AM “deepstack” tournament at HPC a try.  For $70 you get $4,000 in chips, with alternating 20 & 25 minutes levels (yeah, weird).  I figured I could get some play for my money.  I figured wrong.

During the very first level ($25/$50) I had already lost some chips by being too timid.  A couple of times I had pretty good hands but thought the raises I needed to call (or re-raise) were too big to risk.  So late in that level, I was under the gun (immediately to the left of the Big Blind) and saw pocket deuces.  At that low blind level, I figured it was worth $50 to limp in and try to get a set, which could get me some chips.

I limped.  A few others called.  A guy who had been the most aggressive player thus far raised to $200.  A couple of others called his raise and I figured at least one or two of the other limpers would likely call.  So when it came back to me I felt I could afford to call.  No deuce on the flop and I’m done.  If I hit my set, I could really help my chip stack with a nice pot.

Sure enough, I get my set.  In addition to my deuce, the flop had Jack and 10 of Diamonds, which was scary.  I bet $450.  In hindsight, probably too low, but in this case I don’t think it mattered.  I would have been happy to have seen no callers—I would have gotten a decent amount of chips.  Everyone folded to the raiser, who raised to $1,000.  It folded back to me. 

I didn’t figure him for a bigger set than mine.  My thought was that if he had pocket 10’s or Jacks, he would have made a bigger pre-flop raise.  So I put him on a medium pocket pair or a pair of Jacks or 10’s, or maybe a pair of each.  Maybe he had a straight or flush draw but that was a pretty big raise for just a draw. 

Still, I couldn’t dismiss the possibility he had the straight or flush draw, and I also couldn’t ignore the chance he had Jacks and 10’s and could fill up with a bigger boat than mine would then be.  So I desperately wanted this guy to go away.  He had me covered but I didn’t think he’d risk being crippled at this early stage.  And he had to have noticed that I hadn’t played many hands at that point.  It wasn’t like I had the image of a wild player, or a guy who would risk all his chips on a bluff at this point in the tournament.

So although before the start of this tournament, I would have told you that there is no way I would ever go all in during the first level of a tournament, I did exactly that.  I wasn’t going to lose another pot by being a wus.  I was pretty sure the guy would fold and I’d get some chips. 

But that’s not what happened.  He thought for awhile and then called.  I gulped and we flipped over our cards.  I liked what I saw—he didn’t.  He had an Ace (diamonds) and a Jack (hearts).  Top pair, top kicker.  I didn’t like the fact that the Ace was a diamond—he could go runner and runner and beat my set with the nut flush, but I liked everything else.  I thought I was in pretty good shape.

The turn was a black 10, filling me up.  I no longer had to worry about a straight or a flush (any non diamond would have killed the flush chance).  I was mentally counting my chips and then the river card showed up.  It was the other black 10.

So now I no longer had deuces full of 10’s.  I had 10’s full of deuces.  Unfortunately the trips on the board gave my opponent 10’s full of Jacks, making my boat totally worthless.  I meekly uttered “Nice hand” as I got up from the table.  “Lucky river” he said, somewhat apologetically.  I agreed with him.  “Yeah, very lucky.”

And that ended my tournament experience at Hollywood Park Casino. 


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