Wednesday, April 23, 2008

humbling, as usual

Well, I played a great tourney last night. A real battle - lots of great players, and I was playing well. Made a few really memorable plays:

Raised with JJ, got reraised by a medium/loose player. Called. Flop comes all unders - I bet, he goes all in. Ugh. Could he really have QQ/KK/AA? Seems like every time I get run over it's because of pair over pair. I call but can barely look. He's got AK and the hand holds up. Whew! Lucky donkey move, or savvy read? You make the call....

I won another small pot b/c the aggressive player to my left was telegraphing his bets - he would bet pot with what had to be marginal hands, but whenever he had a decent hand he was interested in, he would bet less than pot. He always always bet something, though. In one hand, I flop top pair, check, he bets pot, I checkraise, he folds. I don't win much here, but the powers of observation help me win a pot I probably would not have won had I lead out.

The third hand I was really proud of was actually a loss. We are 5 handed, I've got 8-6o in the small blind. One person calls, I take a shot with my marginal hand (I do this maybe 30% of the time lately, don't want to play too many pots out of the small blind, but in this case the big blind wasn't too aggressive and I was pretty confident he wouldn't raise me up.

Flop comes 6-T-Q rainbow. I check my bottom pair, it gets checked around.

Turn comes 8c, giving my two pair, and putting 2 clubs on the board. I like my hand a little, not a lot, but decide I need to bet and hope the big blind has crap and the other guy folds weak overs or Ace-x. I bet 135 into 180 - big blind minraises to 270, other guy folds. Ok, what's he got? Flopped 2 pair (better than mine). Did he check a pair of 8s and has a set? (I don't think so, I think he would have raised up a pair of 8s, but maybe not. Does he have J9 for a straight? Maybe he has 2 hearts and is semibluffing? Not sure, but I've got outs to a boat and it's not a big raise, so I call.

River comes 3h, putting the flush on the board. I have no idea if I'm ahead or not (leaning toward not), but I figure maybe I can scare him off and represent the flush. I don't want to bet big in case I'm behind, and I want something he'll call if I'm ahead. I bet 250 into 720. He calls with J9 for the straight and takes the pot. He types into the chat "I was afraid of the flush", which makes me realize that my1/3 pot bet acted as the perfect blocking bet.

The bubble was one of those crazy back and forth affairs that last forever. Everyone was shortstack and bigstack at one time or another at the table. I survive that and end up winning the tourney - a relative marathon for a SNG at 177 hands. After that, I played the capped cash game and my cards finally turned enough in that game to show a profit, so all-in-all a nice night.

Tonight I play one tourney, take third place. Still quite happy with the way I played, though, becuase I managed to knock myself down to 185 chips with 88 vs. KK (oops), when blinds were
30-60. Ok, my M is TWO, not good. But I'm able to double up a couple times and hold on while 2 other guys knock themselves out with donk plays, and I end up in the money. Nice.

So I'm feeling pretty good - 1 tourney win, one 3rd place, and a net positive result in the cash game. On top of that, my second $20 rakeback bonus gets released, so I'm up nicely for the 2 days.

I decide to try something new - Full Tilt has a 4 man tourney which is 2 vs. 2 heads up, then the two winners go at it for the whole prize pool. I consider myself pretty good heads up, but I still (fortunately) decide to play only for $10 since I've never played this one before. My opponent seems competent and never makes a mistake - he always folds when I've got a good hand, despite my efforts to disguise and vary my play. He's fairly far ahead of me when this hand comes up:

I have A5. Flop comes 33A. He checks, I bet $70 into $80, he waits until the end of the time and then calls. The classic "pretend I'm thinking but I've got a hand and I'm trying to fool you into thinking I'm considering folding" move. Ok, so I put him on either an ace or a 3. Either way he's probably ahead right now (better kicker than my 5). Turn comes another Ace, so now we're either tied with a boat or I'm winning if he's got a 3 (also gets rid of the possibility that he's slowplaying AA since I can see three of them now). I bet $100 into $220, I'm ahead or tied and want to get my money in. He calls. So now I figure he's got an Ace as well and we're chopping - he seems savvy enough to fold the 3 here.

River comes the King of spades, putting three spades on the board. He's not waiting for a flush in the face of a 33AA board, is he? Nah. He ends up betting half pot. Either he figures we're tied or he's got the 3 and is afraid I've got the Ace, right? I raise, not too big (I want a call, of course) He goes all in.

I look at the board one more time, am I missing something here? What can beat me? Oh wait, there's one hand out there that can beat me. One hand. Is there any way he's got it? Nah. I call. He turns over 33 for the flopped quads. WOW.

Nothing I can do there. No way I'm not going broke on that hand.

So all that good play ends with a nice cooler, showing you that no matter how good you're playing, the poker gods will give your opponent quads every now and then.

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