Saturday, January 24, 2009

patience is a virtue, and is sometimes even rewarded

Monthly live tourney last night - with a double-the-normal-amount $100 buy-in. I get there 15 minutes before start time and there's only 12 people so far. Looks to be a low turnout. We wait an extra fifteen minutes and end up with 34 players on 4 tables.

I recognize several players at my table. To my immediate left is Terry - a rough looking and sounding biker dude, but always joking and polite. Terry took me out of this tourney in November by limping with Queens and then calling my AQ shortstack shove. Gotta remember that move.

On the opposite end is Rob, who won the tourney in November. Rob will play lots of hands early looking for a big score. I also think I have a read on him from last time - he calls lots of flop and turn bets only to wake up with a big bet on the river when an apparent draw comes in. I witnessed this three times - once against me, I folded an unimproved AK but thought I still might be ahead.

Other players I knew by face and not by name. The table was overall solid, to be sure.

I soon learned my early patience would be put to the test. The player to my right limped into many hands, and Terry to my left did the same. If they were raised, they often called the raise, too. My cards were bad and I folded every one of them the first three orbits of the table. I got an interesting insight into Terry, who would hold his cards way out to the center of the table to take one last look at them before folding. He was making no attempt to conceal his cards, and all I had to do was shift my eyes left to see what he was holding. And boy what junk he was playing! Arnold Snyder would call him a "flush master" - playing any two suited cards, then calling a flop bet if he hit any pair or flush draw, otherwise folding. His stack petered out soon and was out in the bottom 25% of players.

Rob built up some chips with aggression - once raising limpers (and showing) with KQ, and another time trying his patented "call-call-raise the draw" trick. I was almost sure the draw that came in wasn't in his hand (it would have represented a garbage holding like 58 or something similar). He also won a nice pot with a crappy two pair from the big blind.

His stack didn't last though - he decided to call an all-in with a pair and a gutshot draw. The other player also had a pair and a (flush) draw, but his pair was higher and neither draw came in. Rob was down to 1100 in a heartbeat, and the limper to my right doubled up (making him even looser, by the way). Rob lost another hand or two and then put his last 500 chips in on the river of another scary board, but the villain had top pair and called. Rob calmly said "you win" and didn't even show his cards. He was first out this month (after winning the thing in November), and my read on him was confirmed - a valuable read on a future opponent.

Just before the first break, with blinds of 50-100, I got my first playable hand of the night - a pair of tens, on the button. A decent player in early position minraised to 200 before me. My radar went up. I had only 1100 chips - calling for set/overpair hopes didn't seem right, but shoving into a minraise from a decent player wasn't right either - this is a common move for someone wanting action with a monster. Folding was out of the question.

Then I checked his stack - he was low, like I was - maybe 1100-1200. Maybe his minraise was really just a standard raise from someone trying to conserve chips, not trying to commit too much with a good-but-not-premium hand.

This last read made me decide on a different course of action - I reraised to 500. This was about half my stack, so I was hoping this looked even stronger than an overshove. Plus, if he shoved over
me immediately, I could then decide to fold or call based on a read - and if I folded I would still have 6 BB and kick it into immediate shove-or-die mode. I didn't have to die on the hill with TT if I didn't want to.

The player thought for a long time, making me think he had a AQ/AJ/AT type of hand, or maybe an 88/99. He also looked at my stack, which told me he knew half my stack was in and I was ready to go to the wall with whatever I had. He finally folded, exclaiming "nice bet". Yes it was, if I do say so myself.

Right after this I won the blinds with a raise from AKs, and I was back to dead even, and we went to break.

The middle rounds of the tourney were nondescript. I had a few big starting hands (QQ is one I remember) and won the blinds without seeing the flop. I stayed tight and patient - folding Ace-rag in early position, folding my small blind no matter how many limpers, conserving chips as best I could. People fell around me and our table was broken up - I moved over to a table with Tony's nephew Nathaniel and kept plugging away. No great cards, just enough to stay out of desperation mode.

At 100-200, the tables were broken again down to 2, and I was moved to one of the 2 felt tables. I had about 1800 chips. The cards continued to not come, and continued my vigil over the table - watching the action. A woman named Evelyn was seated to my right now. Evelyn was the opposite of a by-the-book player - she played strange hands in strange ways. I couldn't go as far as calling her a bad player, though - because she was often found at the end of this monthly tourney. I had never personally gotten into a hand with her, but I've heard stories of bizarre Jack-five two pairs and rivered flushes. Maybe she was a bad but lucky player, I didn't know.

Evelyn was still limping into pots even though her chips didn't allow for limping. At one point, she limped from the small blind with me in the big. I looked down and found JJ. I considered calling for deception, but then wondered what I would do when the flop came AQ4. I raised her all-in instead. I was thinking she might call with God-knows-what but she folded - knowing her tourney life was at stake.

I made it through to the final table - 10 players. We were paying 5 tonight so there was still work to do, and not much time to do it. I was at about 6 big blinds when someone shoved on my big - I had 88. Was it time to race? At 6 big blinds, and the blinds going up in about 7 minutes, I decided it was indeed. I called. The other shorty had JTs and we raced to the river, with me coming out on top.

I was able to shove over an Evelyn limp two more times. Once I had K9 suited - not a great hand but my stack wasn't big enough to care, and one more time as well (don't even remember the cards). Evelyn apparently didn't like her hand enough either time and folded - giving me the blinds plus hers as well. The table apparently thought my stack was a bit large to be in push-or-fold mode (I didn't agree at all), and were giving my blinds respect. My bullying won me a free pass or two from the big as well.

The next orbit, someone shoved into my small blind, and this time I found a better hand - QQ. I shoved over him myself to make sure the big blind didn't come in. His first words to me were "do you have a pair?". When I confirmed that I did, he didnt' look too happy - so I was pretty sure I knew what I was going to see - and was right when he flipped over 66. I dodged the 2-outer and got back to around 12 BB again.

The most dramatic hand of the night came on the bubble - 6 players left. The player to my left, under the gun, put his last 3200 chips in, with blinds of 400-800. Someone called, and I looked down to find 55 in the big blind. I called as well, hoping to help break the bubble. The flop missed my five and I exclaimed "check, check, a thousand times check" - loudly and obviously - hoping to send the message that I wasn't betting no matter what. The other caller checked as well. Thank you.

The river came an Ace - a card I wasn't happy to see. I checked - again with a bit of extra emphasis - but the other caller exclaimed "I'm all in". Uh-oh. I folded and Mr. All-in flipped over Ace-Ten. I had mixed emotions about seeing his not-stellar kicker, until I saw Mr. Shortie's hand - Ace-Queen offsuit. It looks like the bubble would probably go on a bit longer - unless the river brought a miracle....

The river
did bring a miracle, but too late. It came a 5. I would have broken the bubble with my three-of-a-kind and put myself and everyone else into the money. I fished my fives out of the muck and showed the table. "I would have knocked him out" I said. I could see in his eyes that he knew he had made a mistake. He replied "you should have called", jokingly, knowing there's no way I'm calling an all-in with a pair of fives. I replied, loudly (probably a bit too loud) - "no, you should have checked". We then took a 5 minute break as the blind level ended. I cooled down from a mini-tilt in the bathroom, then came out and talked it over with him and some others. Someone said that I would have probably done the same thing on the river after hitting my set. That's a fair point, but I'm honestly not sure I would have bet my set. We are on the bubble, here, after all - and baby sets aren't invulnerable. I can't say for sure that I would have checked there, but I can't say I would have bet either. In the end, I let him know it wasn't a bad play and patted him on the back. I didn't fully agree with this sentiment, though.

I came back the table in a horrible state - 4 big blinds left and on the bubble - 6 players left. What a predicament. The one thing I had going for me was my image - I was the all-in maniac and people weren't coming after me without a big hand. I also had the benefit that there wasn't a giant stack at the table trying to gobble up the shorties. I felt I still had some fold equity.

First hand after the break, I peeked at my cards and saw an Ace. I knew I was open-shoving (if I could) before I even saw the kicker (which happened to be a six). It folded around to me and I stuck it all in. Everyone folded except the big blind - a terrific player named Jason who eyed me intently, wondering if he should call. He smiled, looking for information. I was calm, with no nervousness - I knew I had made the right play. If he had a better hand or called and sucked out, I was fine with my decision (though I would have been supremely irritated later about bubbling). He then flashed an Ace of diamonds, looking for more information. I smiled, I didn't care. I felt that a big ace would have called without all these theatrics - there was a chance I was even dominating this hand if he called. In the end, he folded, saying "I didn't like my kicker". He then mentioned it was a six, and I replied "we would have chopped" which I immediately regretted. I just gave the best player a the table an insight into my shoving range. Nice.

The bubble broke on the other side of the table - I wasn't involved in the hand at all. The one cadgey codger (another Arnold Synder nickname) had held on long enough and shoved his last 2 BB in - with a powerhouse J7. Sadly, he had no fold equity and Jason was able to call him (with some connectors, I believe) and knock him out. I was in the money!

On we went. Number 5 went down - AT raiser who should have checked - serves him right!. He won back his $100 buy-in, nothing more. I was guaranteed a profit on the night at this point. At four players, Jason offered a 4 way chop. I had no problem with this, but Nathaniel - still cranking away and second in chips - was not ready to chop yet. We played on. It was a pushfest at this point - blinds were 1000-2000, I had between 8K-11K. I pushed with AQ and won the blinds. I folded to everyone else's push, even with a broadway JQ. Then number 4 went out (the AQ who got the gift when I folded my fives). We were three handed, and I was down to 4 BB again. I shoved into Nathaniel's BB with the powerhouse T7o - he called to try and knock me out - with 96o! I flopped a ten and doubled up again.

At this point Nathaniel and I had identical stacks of 15000, and Jason had 22000. Jason offered a chop again - this time a 3 way chop of $700, and we finish the tourney with the winner taking the remaining $700. Since the 3rd place prize was $400, this was a guaranteed $300 profit for the person who got knocked out third. I looked over at Nathaniel and urged him to take the deal - he's a young kid and that $300 extra is no small change. I felt extra strong about this since the blinds were so high and it was down to luck at this point - every hand was all-in, there wasn't any more skillful poker to be played.

He agreed. We took a break and split up the money envelopes, each taking $700.

About 2 hands later, Nathaniel shoved into Jason's big blind. Jason called and flipped over Aces. Nathaniel was out in third, making himself the $300 extra bucks by agreeing to chop. I was glad for him. I was even more glad for myself - I was in second with a shot at the title.

In the first heads up hand - I'm in the small with Q9o. Good enough to shove. Jason calls and turns over Ace-9. Not good. I tell him "I
really hate your kicker" as it knocks me down to one live card. But the poker gods smile and grant me a queen on the board. I now have a dominant chip lead over Jason and a great shot at the title.

Jason shoves the next hand. I call with T9 - he shows AJ and hits 2 jacks on the board to stay in contention. I'm still well ahead, though.

Jason makes one more offer. "Last $700, we split 500-200".

I look at the chip stacks. My first impression is that the fair split would be more like 550-150, but two things prevented me from making a counteroffer:

1) Jason originally offered a fair 3-way chop when
he was chipleader, something he didn't have to do.
2) I had just sucked out a 3-outer on him.

He had had given away some equity while chipleader by chopping, and was now asking for some of it back. I agreed to the chop, giving me a $1200 night, and more importantly,
first place in the tourney.


Memphis MOJO said...

"Last $700, we split 500-200".

I look at the chip stacks. My first impression is that the fair split would be more like 550-150,"

You made a good choice. Yes, you're ahead,but it can turn around quickly. But besides the money, you took the title.

Good job and great recap.

bastinptc said...

Congrats, Matt. I always enjoy reading your recaps.

El Forrest Gumpo said...

Congrats Matt. I also find it interesting reading about the other side of the fence. (donkaments that is. ;)