Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where are all the bad players?

20 man live tourney, hosted by the CPMG. This is my second foray into the this game. This time I brought Tony as an add-on, he ended up sitting to my immediate left to start the $40 buy-in game.

Poker is easy when you get decent cards, which is what I did early. Raised up pocket nines, got multiple callers, and hit a set. The board was all clubs, though, so there was plenty of danger lurking out there. Fortunately, nobody had a club they were willing to go to the wall with. Pocket kings turned into a set as well, but the board was so dry that nobody had enough to come along for the ride there.

I also hit pocket aces early, under the gun. I got one caller on my 3.5x raise - an extremely aggressive player who was building up chips betting and raising whenever it was his turn. The board was semi-dangerous for an early, deep-stacked tourney - 4-7-8 gave 5-6 a straight, there were 2 spades, and of course those hidden sets are always possible. I peeked at my 2 aces one more time - I did have the ace of spades, so I didn't have to worry about the ace-rag flush draws as much. I checked, knowing he would bet, and he didn't fail me. My checkraise got his attention and, after some thought, he folded. I later learned from other hands that this player loved to play ace-anything, so my guess is he had something like ace-seven and was trying to find a way to call a checkraise. Good thing for him he didn't (and possibly for me, avoiding a 5-out suckout).

I played my own medium ace and won a small pot - Ace-nine, for a limp. I hit the ace and bet out, a decent player called me. I didn't like my hand very much then, and things didn't improve with a third club on the turn. We both checked. The river brought me two-pair and a sticky situation. I hadn't played with this player before, but he seemed good enough to raise me off a bet and represent the flush. I could check-call, but that would give him license to make a big river bet and put me in no-man's land, trying to figure out if he had the flush or not. I decided on a blocking bet of half the pot - enough to look like a value bet to a made flush, or to scare a small flush in his hand from only calling and not raising. I ended up getting paid off with a smaller two-pair, I had taken the lead on him only on the river.

Life was good - I was up around 2000 from a 10000 starting stack. I tightened up a bit since I felt maybe my aggressive play would have people gunning for me. Actually, I
tightened up more than a bit. I folded an AQo to a raise from under the gun. I was in middle position myself, and didn't want to cold call and set up a squeeze behind me. To think about it now, though - there weren't any short desperate stacks, and the big 3 bet simply isn't that common in a tourney without aces or kings. I also folded pocket fives to a raise, declining to even setmine.

A bit later, Tony raised in from under the gun and got two callers. My big blind hand was KQo. Not a monster, but good pot odds and too strong to fold, even though my recent too-tight play was hinting maybe I should. I would have to watch out for a big hand from Tony under the gun, out of position. I came along. I hit the king with no ace on board, but was still of course worried about aces, kings, and ace-king. I decided to lead out, and pretty strong, too. Tony would tell me right away if he could beat the a pair of kings with a queen kicker. He folded, though, and I figured something like pocket jacks or tens disappointed him. One of the callers behind him, though, called my bet and reraised all-in, but his raise was only a few chips more. I made the mandatory call and found myself up against king-jack, and I outkicked a good player to the rail.

After that decent pot, my cards dried up for awhile and I resorted to making a few position plays and tried some speculative holdings that didn't work out. This got me to the final table with 9 left.

My favorite play of the night - I made a position raise with A4o, and the big blind called me. This player, nicknamed "River Pete" obviously knew what he was doing. The flop whiffed me but didn't look too dangerous, so I made a continuation bet after he checked. River Pete floated my c-bet, and I figured I was in trouble.

The turn brought me an ace. River Pete checked. I figured now he either had the ace and had me outkicked (maybe even had two pair since he called my c-bet with something), or he didn't have the ace and couldn't call a bet here. Since my kicker was crap, I didn't want to play a big pot, so I checked behind him. This prevented me from getting checkraised (where I would have to fold with top pair/no kicker), and would disguise my hand of course. I had the intention of calling a normal river value bet (not an overbet, though). My thinking was that he would bet the river no matter what, with an ace or without one.

The river improved me even more by bringing a four, for two pair. There was a chance this moved me ahead of AK/AQ type hands, but I could still just as easily behind a bigger two pair. However, my plan was the same, I would call a normal bet, knowing River Pete couldn't have me on an ace here. He bet 3000 and I called right away, and he showed pocket threes! Mighty aggressive play by him to try and take that pot. As I stacked the chips, I looked over and he had a puzzled look on his face, possibly going over the action and trying to figure out why I played the hand in this odd way. Odd or not, my check induced a bluff from him, and won me a pretty good pot.

When we got to 6 left, an aggressive female player raised from under the gun to 4.5x. I had been watching her game and had noticed that her bigger bets were often weaker hands that she was trying to protect. We had also seen her three-bet medium pocket pairs in very aggressive style. I found the two black nines in my own hand. My read told me that some smaller pocket pairs were in her range, and probably AJ/AQ-type hands that maybe I could move her off. Her large bet happened to be about a third of her stack, but I still thought I could push her out of some of her range. I put her all in. Her anguished face told me that I had indeed forced her into a tough decision, but she ended up calling and flipping over... pocket tens!

A disaster of a hand for me, but I felt strangely comfortable, perhaps satisfied that my read was pretty much right-on. This hand was probably going to cripple me, though...

The board was all black with two spades, she was still well ahead - but the turn brought a third spade and gave me enough outs to get an audible "uh-oh" from the table. The river spade completed the suckout. I apologized and shook her hand as she got up - getting knocked out after getting your money in as a 4-1 favorite is never fun. She was another tough player and I was very lucky to still be in the game.

Tony ended up busting out in 5th, as the bubble boy. He hit two strong hands (especially for 5 handed play) and got buzz-sawed by pocket aces and another strong hand by the guy with position on him each time to knock him short, then he overplayed pocket fours all-in to the chip leader and ran into pocket eights. We agreed that his endgame was all bad luck except maybe for that last hand - he could have probably found a fold with the pocket fours, but might have been a bit tilty and tired. Other than that, though, he played a great game, getting short early, then climbing back to second in chips with five left.

The last four players went a long time. I had over 20 blinds, and the short stack had around 14, so nobody was too desperate. The chip leader hovered way over everyone and was doing his job stealing the rest of our chips. He was to my left, making it hard to steal. I did try a couple times, but nothing came of my hands. The shortest stack to start 4-handed play was to my right, and he started his all-ins pretty early, like 12 big blinds, and I had nothing to call him with.

I was kind of stuck in the middle, and the cards weren't helping. When the blinds went up to 1500/3000, I had trickled down to only 12,000 chips left. I couldn't let the blinds hit me again. When it folded around to me in the small blind, I pretended to look at my cards, but didn't actually look at them for fear of chickening out. I announced "all-in", and the big stack, big blind said to me "wow, you said that really fast. Ok, I call you". He revealed
ace-five. I replied "I said it really fast because I didn't look at my cards. Let's see what I have". I turned over... five-deuce offsuit. Oooof. This brought a laugh from the opponents and the few left watching the action. I had to hit a deuce to continue on, but that didn't happen. I walked away with fourth place money, doubling my buy-in.

I was extremely pleased with this result, all-in-all. This new group of players are all pretty damn good. I still find myself making mechanical mistakes, such as splashing the pot with bets instead of keeping my bet separate from the pot, and missing putting my blind in occasionally - this will assuredly improve with more live play. I wish I could find some of the local fish-food that spew off money like a busted ATM machine, but that hasn't happened yet.


diverjoules said...

Great write up Matt. Glad you and Tony could come. Hope you come to play with us again.

diverjoules said...

BTW there were 20 players incase you are keeping track like I do.