Thursday, September 8, 2016

"I Have No Outs"

The Aria WPT 500 2016
(Part 3 of 3)

This is the final chapter, please check out part 1 (here) and part 2 (here) first if you haven’t read them.

Continuing where we left off, we now come to the last hand of level 10, a hand so incredible I originally thought I’d just do an entire post devoted entirely to it.  A player in front of me raised.  I didn’t note the amount but it was a reasonable raise.  I looked down at Ace-Jack.  With the blinds increasing next hand, I really felt like my best play was to go all-in.  So I did.

Bastard on my immediate left shoved as well.  He had me covered but was no longer the chip-leader at the table.  It folded to the new chip leader who also shoved!  The original raiser folded.  The three of us tabled our cards.

Since he was right next to me, I saw Bastard’s hand first.  It was pocket Jacks.  Shit.  Pretty much the worse hand he could have there.  So much for three of my outs.  Then I saw the big stack’s hand: Ace-King offsuit.  Oh my god, was I screwed.  The case Jack gives my neighbor a set.  Either of the last two Aces gives big stack top pair with a better kicker than mine.

I was dead, dead, dead.  I said, aloud, “I have no outs.” 

As the dealer put out the flop, I started gathering up my things, ready to call it a day. The window card was a King, I didn’t even pay attention to the other two cards. I was still done and the bastard was now on life support, down to one out.  It didn’t matter who I lost to anyway.  I’m sure I didn’t even pay any attention to the turn card, which was a 10.  By the time the dealer put out the river card, I’m sure there was plenty of space between my butt and the chair I had been sitting on all day.

Surprisingly, I didn’t hear anyone gasp or say anything when that river card, a Queen, was first exposed. Since I had long since given up on the hand (and the tournament), it was actually surprising that I noticed that I had Broadway before anyone said anything. But I swear I did.

“I’ve got a straight,” I stammered, in disbelief.

There was no flush possible, and the board hadn’t paired.  I had the nuts.  I had just won a pot when I had no outs.

The dealer was busy counting all the stacks, since there was a side pot, won by the big stack.  It was the bastard whose tournament life was over.  Lacey, if you’re out there, it took awhile, but I finally got some revenge for you!

The fellow on my right said, “You had no outs.  You said you had no outs.  You just won a hand where you had no outs.”

I was still in shock.  “I know. I won a hand where I had no outs.”

When I checked an odds calculator later, it turned out I had about a 3% chance of winning that hand, preflop.

I starting thinking, “Wow, this is a miracle.  There’s no way I can squander this opportunity.  You win a miracle hand like that, you have to cash.  Hell, you have to final table.  Well, you have to cash at least.”

Two thoughts alternated in my head. One was that this was now pre-ordained.  The poker gods were obviously smiling on me, and it was inevitable that I’d have a long deep run.

The other thought was that all I’d been given was the opportunity, and damn it, I sure as hell better not blow it.  There’s just no way you can win a hand like that and not score in the tournament.  It would be a slap in the face of the poker gods.

That got me to level 11 (the very next hand) with $39K.  Blinds were 200/600/1200.

It folded to me in the small blind with garbage.  The big blind was now a player who had just come to the table with a decent sized stack.  I put $2K on top of my small blind and he folded.

I open raised to $3K with Queen-9 and didn’t get call.

Then I raised to $3K in early position with 7-6 of hearts.  A player shoved $24K and I folded.

Level 12 (200/800/1600), down to $30K.  I raised to $4K with Ace-Queen and took it.

I was in the big blind with 7-5 offsuit and it folded to the small blind.  He just completed, so I made it $4K and got the fold I was looking for.

I opened to $4K with Ace-King and took it without a fight.

Late in the level I had pocket 6’s in the big blind.  It folded to the small blind, who made it $4K. 

This player had come to the table as a new player late in the registration period after the original player there (the one who told me everyone at the table was a TV pro) had busted.  It was clear to me from the conversations he was having with some of the staff that this guy was a pro.  Not just a local tournament grinder but someone used to playing (and cashing) in bigger buy-in tournaments than this one.  I could also tell by his play that he was a really good player.  By this time, despite the late start, he had accumulated a big pile of chips, and had me covered by quite a bit.

In fact, I thought I may have figured out who he was.  I looked up a player on my phone (and later, when I got back to my room) and was 75% he was the guy I thought he was—a very successful pro at this level.  Not exactly a household name, but someone well known in the poker community for cashing in mid-level tournaments.  Someone with a lot of entries on Herndon Mob.  The only reason I am not mentioning his name is that I’m not 100% sure it is the guy I think it is, so I prefer keeping my suspicions to myself.

Let’s just call him seat 1.  He was also the guy who had reminded me that I won that hand where I said I no outs I when I went runner-runner straight two levels before.

His raise there smelled of a rather basic play that any decent player would try under the circumstances.  Down to heads up with the big blind, his raising range is rather wide.  That said, there was that earlier hand when it folded to him in the small blind and he just completed (and I raised with 7-5 and took it). So it wasn’t like he would raise $100% of the time in that situation.

My thought was, I had a hand and he probably didn’t.  I strongly considered re-raising.  I either should have done that, or just folded.  I wasn’t desperate enough at that point to have to force things with a low pair.

But somehow, I ended up just calling.  It was only $2,400 more to see a flop and try to get lucky.  Hitting my set there would get me a nice pot, although I knew this guy was too good to get a lot of chips from, in all likelihood. 

So I just called.  The flop came King-10-5.  And he bet $3,500, which seemed kind of small for the size of the pot.

And then I got way, way too cute.  My first thought was that he would make a standard continuation bet in that spot 100% of the time.  Did he really have s King?  Or a 10?  Or a pocket pair better than my 6’s?  Or yikes—a set of 5’s?  Honestly, I thought all those were unlikely and there was a good chance I had the best hand.

And then I figured—well this guy has been playing with me for several hours.  He probably has a whole book on me in his mind, because he’s a really good player. He probably sees me as a nit, a guy not likely to take a lot of risks when I have chips to play with.  He’s betting with air, and if I come over the top, he’ll know I have something, something that beats his garbage or maybe even his pair of 10’s.  Maybe he might even put me on a set of 5’s and fold a King?

So, I decided to raise to $10K.  Surely he would not expect me to do that with anything less than King, if not a much bigger hand.  He’s got to read it that way, right? He’s really, really good.  I made my move based on the fact that he’s really good.  I mean, it’s tough to bluff a bad player (depending on how they are bad, of course).  But you can bluff a good player, right?  Besides, I might be have been bluffing with the best hand.

What I failed to take into account is that, if he’s really, really good, he’s capable of making a counter move to my move.  So he announced, “all-in.”

Damn.  Of course, I considered an all-in raise myself (instead of the $10K bet), but I just couldn’t pull the trigger on that one.

I considered calling because I seriously thought that I still might have the best hand.  And that he was bluffing the bluffer.  He had the chips to do it.  Note: although he had me covered, I had a big enough stack so that losing to me would have put a big hurt on him.

I suppose with the chips I’d put in and what I had left, it may have made sense to call anyway.  But I didn’t do it.  I folded.  Afterwards, as I was ruminating over this one (for weeks, that is), it occurred to me that it was possible the flop actually hit him hard and he bet so relatively small so he could get a call from me.  Maybe he did have a set of 5’s?  I’ll never know what he had, I was in a lot of mental anguish.  

Next hand, I limped into level 13 (300/1000/2000) with $19K.  I got some chips when I open-shoved with 10-9 off and didn’t get a call.

We were down to about 65 players, out of 335 for this flight.  Thirty-seven would get paid, and I think 17 would go on to day 2.  But I needed another miracle or two. 

Seat 1 made a standard raise and I shoved with King-Jack. A woman with a big stack shoved.  Seat 1 folded (he almost definitely would have called me if it had folded to him).  The lady showed Ace-Queen.  She didn’t need to, but she caught a Queen.  And my tournament was over.

I was quite displeased.  I knew I had not played well at all.  I decided my early feeling was correct: I was in over my head.  I got cute at the wrong time with the wrong player.  I had won a miracle hand, was given a second life, and squandered it.

Very frustrating.


  1. Sorry Rob I have had suck outs in tournaments not quite as dramatic as yours. I am talking about my pocket 55's winning against AK. Then you get the feeling this is going to be your turn at bat sir. Going to go deep and make the final table. Pardon me but it seems you got a little overconfident at this point. Sometimes you have to tighten up and play good hand poker. It looks like you got a little fancy play syndrome going in your mind and you wanted to out play someone who you knew was a good player. If I get knocked out of a tournament at least I want to make sure I was heads up with a decent hand. All poker tournaments come down to heads up play. What can you do?? Keep at it Rob I know you have had some decent cashes this year.

    1. Thanks, Ed. Not sure I'd say I was overconfident. I mean, I wasn't playing like I had anything guaranteed, that was more of idea flashing in my mind. I knew I had a chance of blowing my second life--and proved it.