Friday, September 27, 2013

Missed it byThat Much!

This would be a much better post, by a long shot, if only, if only….well, you’ll see.
This is about the only two tournaments I played in Vegas in August.  The first one was short and not even remotely sweet.  I decided to play in the big Friday night Orleans Tournament.  As I write this I’m surprised to see that it had been close to a year since I last played in it, and the story of that successful run is told here.  But sadly, my run this time was almost non-existent.
I was card dead in the extreme, and for the entire time I had a workable stack in front of me, I won exactly one pot.  I raised preflop with Ace-Jack, got two callers, flopped a gutshot, made a c-bet, and no one called.
And that was it.  I wasn’t getting too many hands to play, but whenever I did get a hand (mostly checking from the big blind), I had to abandon it on the flop.  By about the 4th or 5th level, I was in fold-or-shove mode.  I did indeed shove a few times and didn’t get called.
Then, with about 6,500-7,000 chips (which was a “tournament M” of about 7.5), I got pocket Queens.  A guy with a slightly bigger stack than mine raised pretty big, and a brand new player at the table called (he had moved there to balance tables).  Of course I shoved.  My raise wasn’t big enough for the guy to repop, so he just called.  The new player tanked.  “I just got here.  What have I gotten myself into?”  But he called.
The flop was low cards, and it looked good for me.  The original raiser shoved with his remaining stack.  The new player called reluctantly.  When they flipped over their cards, you could see why.  He had Ace-King, and nothing on the flop hit him.  The pot was just too big relative to the bet to fold (he had a pretty big stack).  The original raiser had pocket 10’s, and as there was no 10 on the flop, I was looking good.  Turn was a Jack.  Still looking good for me to triple up—until the river produced a King.  The new player had taken two of us out.  I had played less than three hours.

The next day I played at the Binion’s 2PM deepstack, always a favorite of mine.  I vowed to be aggressive if I got any kind of playable cards at all, or even if I didn’t.
First level, I raised with pocket 10’s and flopped a set. There were two clubs on the board.  I bet, and there was one caller (two had seen the flop).  Ace (not a club) on the turn, I bet double my flop bet, no call.
Same level, I limped in with 8-9 offsuit from middle position.  The flop was 10-7-5.  I led out with a $300 bet (blinds were 50-100), two callers.  Turn was an 8, I bet $1300, no callers.
Second level (100-200) I raise to $500 with A-K, two callers.  Low flop, I bet $1200, no callers.  Then I raised to $500 with pocket 8’s, got three callers.  The flop was A-K-Q, all hearts.  Yucch.  I did have the 8 of hearts though.  We all checked.  The turn was the Queen of diamonds.  It was getting worse.  We all checked again.  The river was the 9 of hearts.  I had the flush, but I really didn’t like my hand.  A tough female player—an older woman—bet out $1K.  I almost folded but thought more and more about it.  Her bet was half the pot and I had a flush.  I figured it was worth the risk there so I called.  Good call.  She had Jack-10 for a 6-card straight.  But no hearts.  My baby flush was good.  Everyone was praising my gutsy call while the dealer turned over my cards and started pushing the pot to the lady with a straight!  I caught him in time and got my rightfully earned chips.
Fourth level (200-400), I had Ace-3 of spades in middle position.  Two limped in front of me, I raised to $2k, two callers.  A-8-8 flop, I bet $4500, no one called.  Then I had Q-Q under the gun and raised to $1200, one player called.  Flop was King high, I bet $2k, no call.
The very next hand I had King-Queen off in the big blind.  I just checked behind two limpers.  K-5-4 flop, I bet $1k, and this older guy raised to $2K.  I called.  Second King on turn.  I checked, he bet $2k and I called.  I wasn’t sure where I stood.  Then a third heart hit the river and we both checked.  He mucked his hand when he saw mine.  Phew.
Same level, I bet $1200 in early position with Jack-10 off, two called.  Flop was 10 high, I bet $3k and no one called.  At the end of the level I had $35k in chips (starting stack is $20k). 
Last hand of level 6 (400-800), I had pocket Jacks and raised to $2200.  Two called. King-Jack-x flop, 2 diamonds.  I bet $4500 and they both called.  Third diamond on the turn.  My gut told me neither one of them had the flush, but I assumed at least one of them had a diamond (the Jack of diamonds was on the board).  I shoved.  I had them both covered.  The first guy insta-folded but the other guy tanked.  And talked.  “I don’t think you have a diamond.”  He repeated this several times and then finally folded.  Hours later, when he busted out, I told him I had a set and he said he folded a gut-shot.  But he was right that I didn’t have a diamond.
At the start of the 7th level, I had $41k in chips.  Blinds were now 500-1000.  A few limpers in front of me, so I made it $4500 with Ace-King of spades.  A guy behind me shoved for $13,600.  For an additional $9100 that’s an easy call there, right?  It wouldn’t have made sense to fold (all the limpers had folded).  So I called.  No I figured that with his stack he could have been shoving pretty light, but he flipped over two Aces.  Ouch.
Except that the flop was all spades.  Nice to flop the nut flush there.  The turned paired 4’s so that gave him some outs to boat up, but the river card was a blank and I won a nice pot.
But I got an interesting comment from the old guy who had raised my flop bet when I had K-Q.  “Did you think you were ahead there?”  I guess in hindsight I should have either said nothing or said something like, “I’m a bad player, sir.”  But I haven’t learned to do this yet.  I said I didn’t think I could fold there based on the bet I had made.  Plus he could have indeed been shoving light.  The guy just shrugged and said, “I guess I’m just too conservative.”
At the end of level 8 (100-600-1200) I had $56k.  Last hand of that level, I had pocket Queens in the big blind and everybody at that table, the next table, and across the street at Golden Nugget, limped in.  I thought the only move there was to shove; otherwise I was giving good pot odds to call.  And if one person called, they all might.  I didn’t want to play my Queens against half of downtown Vegas. So no one called but everyone seemed to think it was an odd move.  Really, I’m sure there at least three Aces amongst those limpers, and I sure didn’t want to see one on the flop.  With the antes and all the limpers in the pot, taking it down there was a pretty decent payday.
So now I had $62k at the start of level 9 (200-800-1600) and our table broke.  My very first hand at my new table I had Ace-7 hearts in late position.  I raised to $5500, no one called.  But the big stack at the table commented, “First hand at the table and you raise huh?”
By level 10 (300-1000-2000) I was at $60k.  By this time though, that was only an “M” of 10, so it really wasn’t that good.  As I’ve explained before, I really start thinking of shoving preflop whenever I get even a little bit below 10.  You’ve got a lot of fold equity there and by then, just taking the blinds and the antes is a nice pick-up.  And I was still a long way from cashing.  They were only going to pay 9 as they didn’t make their guarantee ($10K).
With one limper in front of me, I raised to $9k with Q-J.  One caller, the original limper.  The flop totally missed me, 6-4-6, and she led out with a shove.  I had her covered but losing there would have crippled me and since I had zilch, it was an easy fold.
So now I really was going to shove or fold.  I made a few shoves with weak hands, like Ace-3 suited, and didn’t get calls.  I was also able to raise/steal whenever it was folded to me in the small blind because the guy to my left never put up a fight.
On the last hand of the level I was in late position with pocket 7’s.  A few limpers to me and I shoved.  Several of the limpers thought long and hard about it but no one called.  After they folded, they all compared notes and all of them had high cards.  So they asked me if I had a pocket pair and how big it was.  I said nothing of course, but they were on to me.
That comment and others made me aware that for a change, I had a very aggro image.  I had found quite a few spots to shove and never been challenged.  Despite that, I wasn’t really gaining much in chips, the blinds and antes were eating away at the small pots I was picking up.  So the next time I raised, I didn’t shove. I felt I had to mix it up even though I felt shoving was the best strategy.  But I had Ace-7 offsuit and decided just to raise 3X the big blind.  After all the shoves, that might make it look like I had a much bigger hand than I did.  I guess it worked; no one called.
At level 12 (300-1500-3000) I still had around $60k.  I raised to $13k with pocket 8’s.  The big stack called and I wished I had shoved instead.  The flop was low, 6 high.  I shoved instantly and he tanked—and folded.
Level 13 (400-2000-4000) started with $82k.  In late position I limped in with Q-J spades.  I needed to vary my play, I thought.  Five of us saw the flop, which was Q-9-8, rainbow.  The big stack led out with a good sized bet and it folded to me.  I shoved.  I thought top pair and the gut-shot was plenty for the shove.  He thought about it for a bit and then folded.
I started level 14 (500-3000-6000) with a $102k.  I raised to $20k with K-7 of hearts.  The guy on my left was now the guy from the first table who had insisted I didn’t have a diamond.  He called.  The flop was 9-8-6, no hearts.  My notes say I made a c-bet, but I didn’t write down the amount and I can’t imagine what bet would have made sense there considering my stack.  Anyway, he called and we checked down the next two streets.  I had King high, which was good.  He had Jack-10 and flopped the open ender (as did I) which is why he called my c-bet, whatever it was.  He was so pissed he hadn’t bet!  “Damn, I knew I should have bet!”
The thing I didn’t like about that was that I had to show my hand. I had raised with K-7.  I knew that sooner or later someone was gonna call me when I bet light like that.
I raised to $23K with pocket 10’s.  Both the big stack and lady whose straight had lost to my flush many hours earlier called.  The flop was 8 high and I shoved.  Neither called.
This brought my stack to $192k and as there around 15 players left, I was feeling pretty good about my prospects for cashing. But that didn’t last long.  In late position I had King-Queen.  One limper, so I made it $21K.  The limper was the only caller.  Queen high flop, but all hearts.  My King was black.  He checked, I bet out $35k, and the limper check-raised all-in.  He had been short-stacked when I got to the table but had built his stack up nicely.   He seemed to be playing tight but I never saw his hand, he was taking pots without a showdown, much like me (except real early when he was short stacked and got lucky on a couple of all ins).  I put him on the flush.  “Do you have one heart or two?” I said as I folded.  That hurt, cost me $56k.  I spent the rest of the night wondering if I had made a good lay down there.  He might have only had one heart.  Maybe. 
I think I should have called.  I had him covered, but not by much.  I had played a long time—6-7 hours—but I was not quite at the point where it would have been positively excruciating to have played that long and come up empty.  And if I had won that hand, I almost certainly would have cashed in the tournament.  But I folded.  Shit.
Before I knew it I was back down to about $90k, and I was definitely back in shove-or-fold mode.  And by now, we were down to 11 players, and as I said, 9 got paid.  Bottom prize was $300—which would have been a $175 profit.  So I tightened up and hoped I could hang on to get into the prize pool.  I didn’t get anything to play and I was no longer of the mind to shove or raise light, hoping to cash.  It’s amazing how your mindset changes after playing 7-8 hours, suddenly you realize the $125 buy-in is long gone and that $300 sounds very nice.
I figured that after the 11th player busted, they would probably make a deal to pay the bubble.  Trouble was, I was now the short-stack and with our table being 6-handed, those damn blinds were just killing me.  Hell, at this point, even the antes were killing me.  I had to pray for someone to somehow bust out first, or for me to get a big hand.
So on the button it folded to me.  I had Jack-10 offsuit.  Without any limpers in front of me and only two players behind me, that looked like a monster.  I might have shoved there with a much worse hand, because the next big blind (8K) was gonna kill me.  So I shoved.  The small blind folded but the big blind—the lady whose straight lost to my flush a lifetime ago—called.  She turned over pocket Queens.  Damn.  I caught a Jack on the flop, but got no more help and I busted out 11th.
So I played something like 8 hours and got nothing, absolutely nothing.  I didn’t stick around to see if they paid the bubble.  I assumed they did. 
If only I could have played a little longer and cashed, it would have made this a much better blog post—at least for me.
As it was, I missed it by that much.


  1. that is the thing . i hate about tourneys all the time invested and then to get NADA. doh. gl next time

    1. Yes, it's very frustrating. And of course, I'll never how how much I would hae won--or lost--playing cash games during that time if I had done that instead.

    2. now i am playing on poker in there free MNF 500 dollar freeroll.207 places pay BUT if i got knockout now . i get 65 cents . WOW.i feel like TBC this is how a pro grinds . LMAO.

    3. Hey, 65 cents, here, 65 cents there. pretty soon you've got a bankroll.

  2. just finished 11th and they were paying 10th but I went all in KQ suited and a guy called me with A-rag no pair board. I still liked my play. I hate to bubble but it happens. If you play tournament poker you better be able to deal with it or you will go nuts. See you at the next tournament. Good luck Rob

    1. Thanks, Ed, sorry about your bubble.

      I'm looking at "go nuts" as my option.