Friday, November 26, 2010

A calculated risk

Monthly tourney, 34 runners. End of the third level - blinds are 25/50, and the clock is turned off. We're playing the last hand because I posted my big blind before the clock went down to zero, as did the small blind to my right.

Jessica raises from middle position. Jessica is a good poker player. Mostly enters a pot with a raise. Stabs at orphaned pots that nobody has laid claim to. Not sure if she would be stealing blinds here - she's in a bit of too early position, and the table still has enough cally-callersons at the table trying to hit hands. So I give her some type of a real hand.

I'm down to 950 chips and the blinds will be 50/100 after this hand and the break. I was riding about even with 1500 chips until I raised up pocket tens and someone called behind me. Flop was AAQ. We both checked. Turn was another Ace. This time I bet for value. Villain called. He was a tight player and I was pretty sure I was behind now. River was a jack which didn't help anything. I checked, and he announced all in, and flipped a couple of red $5 chips and one $25 at the table. He had just bet his last 85 chips into an 800 chip pot. I made the mandatory call and saw AQ. Boat on the flop, quads on the turn, nice for him. I like the way I played the hand, but it munched up a third of my stack.

Back to the present - I've got 18 big blinds, about to be nine after this hand. A solid aggressive player has raised. One more important note about Jessica - she brought a six pack of beer to the poker game and put it into the fridge door. When someone opened the door, 4 of her remaining 5 beers fell out of the door, onto the floor, and shattered. She was out of beer, and was planning on flying to the store at the break to pick up some more as soon as this hand is over.

I've got all this in my head, thinking it might be a pretty good time to make a move on her. She's a good player who's raising fairly wide. Let's call it 66+, AJ+, KQ+. What happens if I push all in here? She'll fold a most of that stuff, content to start the break and fly out and get her beer. I'll bet I could easily push her off most of her hands.

These funny thoughts often appear in my head, but in a tourney I often don't do much about them. I feel I have an edge over many of the players at the table, and I can hit a pair that's better than theirs and chip up that way. Or I can steal blinds. Or I can start my push/fold game at the appropriate time and stay alive until I hit a real hand. So even when I get these crazy ideas, I usually don't feel it correct to act on them.

So the thought of making a move popped into my head, but I was pretty sure I was folding my big blind and heading for the first break with a smaller stack and ready to terrorize the table by announcing all in once an orbit or so. I was pretty sure, that is, until I checked my cards.


This changed everything. Now I was a coinflip or even slight favorite vs. her opening range, and had plenty of fold equity to boot. I ran through the 4 choices in my head one more time.

Fold AK to a raise with 18 big blinds left (about to be 9). Too weak, even for me. Ridiculous.
Call. Too fit-or-fold. Much of AK's value comes in fold equity, and I have plenty here.
Raise, not all in. Puts half my stack in. Nope. No good.
Raise all in. The correct play. Maximum fold equity vs. a player who wants to get out of here to buy beer before the break is over, and has enough hands in her raising range to fold most of them.

I announce all-in. She asks for a count, which I give her.. She shrugs and makes the call. Pocket kings for her. We run out the board and I do not improve. Third player out of the tourney this month.

It was still the correct play. All the way.

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