Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bad Play Bookends

I'm driving home from work last night. A CPMG tourney is in 90 minutes, and I've got about 80 minutes of stuff to do before I get there. The last 10 minutes are reserved for the catnap that will stave off the sleepiness caused by my late night cash game antics last night.

As I mentally prepare for the tourney during the drive home, I think to myself "wouldn't it be great for once to get dealt some cards early in the tourney instead of folding the first three levels"?

90 minutes later, I pay my $40 entrance fee and sit down at the black table as seat #4, which puts me under the gun. First to act in the whole tourney. I check my holecards when the dealer completes his gig.

Ace of diamonds.
Ace of spades.

Not a bad start. I open the betting for 200, four times the starting 50 chip blind. Two callers. A fairly ragged board - ten, eight, three. Let's see, pot is 600, I'll bet 400. One caller. Turn is a four. The three and four are both diamonds. I'm not scared of the board much at all.

What to bet? What to bet? I want to look weak, so my bet needs to "peter out", like I don't want to put much more money in the pot. It's 1400 now, so I make it 600, just a bit more than the flop bet.

The caller calls the 400 and makes it 1800 more, A bet I really shouldn't call. I either have to fold or stick all my chips in the middle.

On the first muther-luvin hand of a 200 big blind, slow-structure, deep stack tourney.

So, what's he got? Who the frick knows? I have never played a single hand with this player. He might be the tightest player in the known universe, called a raise with pocket tens and flopped his 8-1 against set. Or he could be loosy-looserson and played Freddie's 3-4. Either way I'm toast. Or he could be a 100,000 hand a month online guy and is simply putting the screws to me on the first hand, knowing there isn't much I can comfortably get all in with this early.

What to do? What to do? I zero in on something called the Baluga theorem, which states "strongly reevaluate one-pair hands facing a turn raise". It's a great rule of thumb, and it's probably the right overall play given the information I have to this point (which ain't much).

I fold my pocket aces, on a straight-less, flush-less board, with 12% of my stack in the middle, and long for the good old days when I simply folded the first three levels.

Of course, you get more information as the tourney goes on. I see the same player call a raise in position (initial raiser is Julie, our host - solid TAG) - then raise her on the turn. Just like he did to me. When she folds, he lets out a wry smile and mutters something about having ten high. I see him punish limpers. I see him squeeze a raiser +1 caller, then show ten-six as he drags the pot preflop.


You show me those plays before my aces, maybe even two of those three plays, and I'm all in with the aces and high-fiving the strangers on either side of me. But the absence of information, and perhaps the slight embarrassment of not wanting to bust out on the first hand of my Friday night tourney, caused me to fold the best hand.

After I bust out, I go upstairs to the "loser's lounge", where my opponent is playing online. Julie tells me he plays professionally in Atlantic City. More information. "Why couldn't I have known that before the tourney started?" I think to myself. If Phil-flippin-Ivey comes at you hard and you've got aces - you stick your chips in the middle. The chances of him making a play on you go up 1000% once you know he's a pro player. He's testing the neighborhood donkeys, and I had to goods to pass the test.

Back to the action - my aces were the only early shot I got. Much, much later - I three bet with ace-king and 20 blinds, ready to go the wall. Got a fold. I got a free flop with with 56o and hit top-pair-open-ender on the 345 rainbow board. I checkraised all-in and got a fold, from A4. This got my stack respectable. Then I made 2 preflop raises in the middle of the tourney, got called both times, and lost them both. (once in showdown, pocket nines to KT, and once on a whiffed flop and someone donkbetting into me). Back to a non-respectable stack.

No good opportunities to play the shoving game. Raises in front of me, or multiple limps. I probably should have tried an all-in squeeze or something- my best opportunity to try it was queen-eight. Not much of a hand. I passed, hoping for one more solid hand that didn't come.

The blinds doubled again right before they reached me, leaving me only 6 blinds. I paid my big and knew my five blinds couldn't generate folds anymore, so I was going to have to try something else. Linda, a squeaky-tight player, raised in early position. The action folded around to me and I found king-nine. Good enough. I couldn't get a fold by shoving all-in, so I tried the old stop-n-go - call the raise, shove any flop and hope she missed it. I got the nice-uncoordinated board I was looking for, and the bonus of a king for myself, so I stuck it in.

stop-n-go isn't about what I have, though, it's about what my opponent has. She had king-queen, and it was buh-bye time for me.

Folding the best hand early, and getting it in dominated late. I don't hate either play given the situation and the known information at the time, but both awful mistakes from a "fundamental theorem" standpoint, and plenty enough cause for an early exit.

1 comment:

diverjoules said...

Hey Matt, Sorry you did not know about Tommy (my almost adopted son). I write in blog about him and thought since you read it, you would have known about his profession. He is a great kid. I am so glad you got to play with us again. I always learn something new everytime I play with you. Verfication word was surnitis LOL