Thursday, July 16, 2015

"I Don't Want to Do Something That Feels Good for 12 Hours"

Golden Nugget $150 Tournament, Part 2 

So in part 1 (here) I ranted about tournaments and pay scales and structures.  It took me a whole post to rant.  Now I finally get to the tournament report.

First level (25/50) with a starting stack of $15K, the very first hand I played was pocket Kings!  The nice lady from Wyoming to my right raised to $150 and I repopped it to $450.  She called, we were heads up.  The flop was Ace-Jack-x, all clubs.  My Kings were both red.  She checked and I bet $600, and she called.  The board ran out Jack, Jack.  There was no more betting and she didn’t show when I showed my hand.  Dodged my very first bullet with the dreaded hand.

Level 2, (50/100K), $13K.  I called $225 from the big blind with 9-8 offsuit because there were already five players in for that and I closed the action.  The flop was 9-8-4, I led out for $1K, no call.

I raised to $225 on the button with Ace-10 offsuit.  It was four ways.  The flop was all bricks, but it checked to me and I bet $600.  The table’s nittiest player checked raised me to $2K and I had to fold.

Level 3 (75/100), $13,250.  I woke up with pocket Aces in the small blind.  The same lady who had raised when I had the Kings raised from the button to $450 and I made it $1200.  She called.  The flop was Ace-Queen-Jack, two spades.  Pretty scary board for my set of Aces. I bet $2,500.  She tanked for a long time and then folded.  And probably wondered why I had it in for her.

Level 4 (100/200), $14,400. After one limper, I raised to $650 from the cut-off with Queen-Jack off. One caller, I missed on a King-high flop but a $1K c-bet took it down.

Very late in the 4th level, I called $550 from the small blind with Ace-King off, it was four-way.  The flop was King-high and I led out for $1,500.  The short stack to my left, the big blind, shoved for about $4,500 more. It folded to me. Losing there would have really hurt, and I considered folding.  But I called and he flipped over King-Queen.  My kicker held and he was gone and I had my first nice pot of the day.

That got me to level 5 (25/100/200) with $21,300.  My very first hand of the level was pocket Kings again.           This time I opened the pot, for $525, and didn’t get a call.

I limped in with pocket 8’s, then called $1K.  Let it go when I didn’t hit my set.

Level 6 (50/150/300), $20,200.  From middle position, I open to $800 with 9-8 spades. There was one caller.  The flop was Ace-8-x, I led out for $1,300, no call.

I opened for $800 with Queen-Jack clubs, no call.

Then I opened for $800 with Ace-Jack off.   Short stack shoved for over $5K. After tanking for some time, I decided it was too early to risk that much with such a marginal hand, so I folded.

After one limper, I made it $1,100 with King-10 hearts. No call.

Level 7 (50/200/400), $23K.  From the cut-off I opened to $1,300 with Jack-9 off.  Both the blinds called.  The flop was all bricks but the small blind seemed to like it, he shoved and of course I folded.

I opened to $1,400 with pocket deuces.  But the big blind shoved for $8k and I had to fold.

Level 8 (75/300/600) $16,500.  That’s an “M” of around 10, so I was in trouble.

I raised to $1,600 with Queen-9 offsuit and the lady on my right (who had limped in) called.  She was the one I had three-bet with Kings, then Aces, earlier.  It was heads up. The flop was Ace-high and I couldn’t bring myself to bet.  We ended up checking it down, and she took the pot with Queen-Jack (no pair, just Queen high with a better kicker).  I dunno why I didn’t bet.  She even said, after pointing out that this was the first time she beat me, that she would have folded to any bet.  I guess I put her on a weak Ace and felt she’d call me even if she wasn’t strong enough to bet.  Dumb.

Then the same woman raised to $2K and I shoved with Ace-Queen off.  She had me covered and I believe this was the first time I’d put my tournament at risk.  She folded.

Then, last hand of the level, I open shoved with Ace-King of hearts and no one called.

That took us to the second break, also the end of registration.  I could see that there were over 200 players but I was eager to see the price pool distribution.  At this point, I was fairly short stacked and was at the point of thinking I needed to take some big chances to really increase my stack or be fine with calling it a tournament and still have the evening to play some cash.  I didn’t have enough time invested in the tournament at this point to think it “owed” me anything, in other words.  And since I was quite short stacked, with an “M” of around 8, I didn’t like my chances of having a deep run.

That’s why I was so interested in seeing the payouts.  Was there any chance a min-cash would be worth fighting for?  Or should I just throw caution to the wind and shove with anything, prepared to bust out but hoping to pull off a near-miracle?

It took awhile for them to post the figures, and I’ve already described my disappointment in part 1.  That gave me another consideration.  We were now at 45-minute levels, with breaks every 3 levels.  And the next break would be the hour dinner break.  Did I really want to be stuck downtown for dinner, with a really short stack and about a gazillion-to-one chance of even getting the min cash, let alone some significant money?  Not really.  So….time to become a maniac.

Except…there’s one thing that prevents me from being a real maniac in these situations.  Embarrassment.  I mean realistically, I should just shove any two cards when it’s folded to me, no matter what.  Maybe even three-bet with really questionable cards.  After all, I want to bust out, right?  Well, I mean, I don’t want to bust out but I kind of do (again, tournaments make me crazy).  And if I get called with my 7-deuce and catch a miracle board and double up, that’s fine too, right?  But I can’t bring myself to do that.  I don’t want to get called when I shove with some total garbage hand and have to show and then look like a complete idiot.  I’m ok with looking like a partial idiot.  But not a total one.

So I shove light, but not ridiculously so. 

I began level 9 (100/400/800) with $18K.   I open shoved with pocket 7’s and took it down.

By the time I got this next hand, I had seen the payouts.  Otherwise, I might not have open shoved with Jack-10 offsuit. At least not in early position.  Late position, maybe.  But there were a lot of people behind me.  They all folded until it got to the big blind, a guy who had just gotten to the table a few hands before with a really big stack.  He called and showed pocket 9’s.  It could have been Queens or higher. OK, I was only a slight dog. 

Until I saw a 9 in the window.  I stood up, ready to take my leave.  I was ok with that, I could be on the Strip in 30 minutes, having dinner at the place of my choosing.  I didn’t even really pay attention to the rest of the cards.  After the dealer put out the river card, I said “nice hand” to the guy with the set of 9’s and continued the process of exiting the tournament. 

Except, the player with the set of 9’s pointed out that I had won the pot.  “You’ve got a straight.”  Ooops….I did indeed.  There was an 8 and a Queen on the board.  I honestly didn’t see it, I never even noticed I had the draw.  I was in “let’s get out of here” mode as soon as I saw the 9 in the window, and not all that upset by it.

Oh well….maybe now I had enough chips to play poker again.  Still over 90 minutes before the dinner break.

I’ll pause to tell a couple of stories about the players.  After I busted the first player to my immediate left, a rather attractive, middle-aged woman took his seat.  She kind of reminded me of someone from my past.  She was a very nice woman too.  When the guy who lost to me with a set of 9’s came to the table, the lady said, “Oh you found me, and you bought my chips with you.  Thank you, I need them back now.”

Later, there was another guy joining our table whom she had obviously played with at another table as well.  She said to him, “Are you on your second bullet, like me?”  The guy was a total jerk.  He said, “No, I would never re-enter a tournament.  That’s just stupid.”  Nice of him to in essence tell this nice lady she was stupid.  Of course, he was the stupid one, and he was about to prove it.

He raised and the nice lady from Wyoming to my right just called.  On a low flop, the guy shoved.  The lady snap-called and showed pocket Aces which she had obviously slow-played.  The guy groaned and angrily showed King-Queen, which, for this board, was absolutely nothing.  Two cards later he was gone and muttered something about how badly the lady had played the hand.  But she picked the perfect time to slow-play those Aces!

After the nice lady to my left busted, she was replaced by a rather eccentric older woman. From her talk, she had a lot of weird interests (like wondering where the words “moola” and “lollygagging” came from).  She also had obviously been playing poker for a long time, and knew her stuff.  Anyway, at one point, a dealer pushed in and somehow indicated that he was very tired and said that he had worked 12 hours so far this day.  And the lady said, “I don’t even want to do anything that feels good for 12 hours non-stop!”  We all got a laugh out of that.

Hmmm….maybe she was referring to playing this very tournament?

I got a walk from the big blind with Jack-8 off, but other than that, the rest of the level had nothing going on.  I didn’t note when, but sometime a bit earlier in the tournament I had gotten a much less welcome walk when I had pocket Aces.  Damn.

Level 10 (100/500/1000), $34K.  I lost $5K with pocket 10’s.  I called $2K pre. The flop was Ace-King-Jack, and there was no bet on the flop or the turn.  I should have bet the turn right?  Well, instead I called $3K on the river and the player showed me Ace-Jack.  He played that rather oddly, slow-playing two pair on a dangerous board.  But I never got the Queen and I thought checking the flop and turn was a sign of weakness, not strength, and that my 10’s might be better than his pocket pair.  Ooops.

I raised to $3K with pocket Aces.  One player called, and I shoved on the flop, which was a rather dangerous Queen-Queen-X.  But my bet was not called.

Level 11 (200/600/1200) $28K.  In the big blind, I called a min-raise of $2,400 from the button with King-Jack of hearts.  It was three-ways and I thought it was cheap enough to see if I could catch a flop. I did, it was King-high.  I shoved and didn’t get a call.

It was getting towards the dinner break.  I didn’t have a healthy stack, so even though there was a raise to $3K in front of me, I shoved with Ace-6 of diamonds.  But no one called.  I couldn’t find another hand to shove with and there I was, on the dinner break.  So much for busting before dinner. 

Back from dinner, level 12 (200/800/1600), $39K.  Still under an “M” of 10 ($44K) but not completely hopeless.  After a raise to $6K, I shoved with pocket Queens; no call.

I open raised to $6K with Ace-6 diamonds.  No call,

Level 13 (300/1000/2000) $39K. In early position, I open shoved Queen-Jack offsuit.  No call.

King-9 offsuit, this time I didn’t shove, I opened to $6,500.  One caller from the blinds.  The flop was Ace-10-10.  He shoved, first to act.  Obviously, I folded.

It folded to me in the small blind with King-Jack offsuit.  I shoved and the big blind folded.

I open shoved with Queen-9 off and didn’t get a call.

Level 14 (400/1200/2400) $31.5K.  I open shoved with pocket 8’s, and was called by a bigger stack with Ace-King.  I caught an 8 and that was my first real double up in a long time.

It folded to me in the small blind and I raised to $6,500 with Ace-8 off.  The big blind folded.

In early position, I shoved with Ace-King off and didn’t get a call.

Now, I had amazingly been at the same table the entire time.  But soon after this hand, we got down to 27 players and as per the structure, we did a redraw.  The very first hand after the redraw, I woke up with pocket Aces and raised to $6,500, but no one called. 

Down to 27 at three tables, we were getting real close to the bubble and play tightened up.  Again, they were paying 24.

Level 15 (500/1500/3000) $71,500.  Open shoved with Ace-Queen offsuit, no call.  A hand or two later, same hand, same play, same result.

Getting close to the money, you might be wondering if there was talk about paying the bubble.  Of course, and you’ll read about the fun we had with that in part 3, which you can now find here.


  1. Ho do you feel about paying the bubble boy? I have mixed feelings. Sure, it's nice to get something, but when I'm in that position, they don't seem to do it for me so probably -EV. On the other hand, it does speed up play.

    1. MOJO, there'll be discussion about paying the bubble--interesting story, I think--in the next chapter. Personally, I'm always ok with it, usually I'm the short stack anyway, and as you say it speeds things up. I suppose if I ever was the chip leader I might feel differently.

  2. Sounds like you lose a lot of value with your shoves...

    1. Hmm...perhaps in some cases, but since I'm usually shoving with hands that I don't really want calls with, I'm not sure about that. I shove when I get a little below an M of 8 or so, and it seems better than losing chips to a shove where I can't call.

  3. "Very late in the 4th level, I called $550 from the small blind with Ace-King off, it was four-way. The flop was King-high and I led out for $1,500. The short stack to my left, the big blind, shoved for about $4,500 more. It folded to me. Losing there would have really hurt, and I considered folding. But I called and he flipped over King-Queen."

    With AK, and seeing a K high flop, why are you scared? In a tournament you should get your chips in the middle as often as possible in that situation. If you can't do that with top pair top kicker you should just fold AK preflop IMO. Actually, I would 3-bet AK preflop, especially from the SB. Just my opinion.

    1. I think you're right about 3-bettng there, Nick.

      As for my reluctance, my first thought was how much losing those chips would hurt at that point in the tournament....and my gut was telling me he had a set or two pair. Fortunately my brain was smarter than my gut and I did call.

  4. Ok, putting him on a specific range that beats you is better than just thinking you're beat. The fact that he was short stacked does make it even more likely that you're ahead of his range there, especially with your hand being somewhat disguised. Aside from a specific tell, I would personally find it hard to lay that hand down in that situation.

    1. Well, I thought it thru and came up with the right play, just didn't make a snap decision.

  5. Rob I'm curious what position are you in when you are raising with A6s and Q9o and A8o. Are these all late position blind steals?

    1. Not necessarily, but I didn't note my position in my notes. Could be anywhere at that point. But always opening (unless I state otherwise).