Monday, August 29, 2005

7th Place

The big tournament sponsored by Jeff was last Saturday. The turnout was not as big as expected as we only had 22 players. The garage that we had the tables set up in was awesome. The owner of the house buys/sells cars and trucks after fixing them up so he had a great garage with refrigerators, bathroom, and heavy duty air conditioning as it was 112 degrees outside.

We started with 1000 in chips and the blinds were 5-10 at the start. They were supposed to go up every 1/2 hour but that was a best case scenario as we would have to depend on Jeff to remember to tell everyone.

My strategy was to play tight for a couple of rounds and get a feel for the players at my table and then try to be aggressive and acquire a big stack. We had unlimited rebuys for the first 2 hours and I was prepared to buy in 2 more times if necessary.

Basically there were a lot of loose players at my table limping in. They also would call down with bad kickers so this was a good table. The problem was that I was getting horrible cards for the first hour and saw a flop maybe twice. Eventually the blinds were getting a little higher and I was down to about 700. I got AQ on the button and raised to 150. Jeff called me. The flop was something like 7-5-2. He checked and I moved all in. My thinking was that the flop probably did not hit him. If I bet 300 he is likely to call anyway since he had the chips. If I bet 300, I have nothing left on the later streets. Plus it was getting about to the time that I needed chips or to bust out and rebuy. Jeff folded reluctantly.

The very next hand I was dealt KK. I raised again and a short stack came over the top all in. I called and took his chips and suddenly I was up to about 2000. I got lucky once when I was dealt K-3 in the big blind. I flopped a King and bet on the flop and the turn. On the turn, I was raised all in. The board was K-5-2-4. So had top pair and the open end straight draw. If I lose, I am pretty short stacked again. Because I had the draw, I decided to call. I expected my opponent to have a King, but he also had a 5 for two pair. Of course I got my 6 on the river and hit the straight to bust him out.

Once we hit the break, I added on and had about 4,000. I think the blinds were up to 100-200. We consolidated to two tables and I confirmed that the top 8 would pay. I basically held steady and people busted out left and right. We made it to the final table and then quickly into the money with 8 people left. The blinds were now 200-400 and I only had about 3200 left. I just was not getting any cards, and the big stack held by a guy named Frank was doing a good job of being aggressive and making people define their hands.

Now because of my rebuy I was only going to make money if I finished in 6th or better. I made it to the final 7 with about the same amount of chips, when my unlucky break occurred. Comically I was not even in the hand. One of the shorter stacks at the table got involved with the chip leader. The chip leader had top pair and strong kicker. When the money went all in after the turn, the short stack turned over an inside straight draw. If he is eliminated, I move up to 6th and make money. Also one of the other players mentions that he folded one of the 4 remaining outs. Sure enough, he hit the straight on the river and doubled up.

A couple more rotations went by and I was still at about 7 x the big blind. I was dealt KJ offsuit on the big blind. The 2nd chip leader raised to 1000. The chip leader called. It was folded to me. They didn't feel that strong so I thought it was time to make a move and I raised all in. Now I did not specifically think to myself that I should make the "squeeze play" I like to think that I made it on instinct instead of impatience. I don't know for sure. Anyways, the initial raiser folded, but the big stack called me with KQ suited. There were no more Jacks in the deck and I flamed out in 7th. I spent $250 and received $180 back.

Overall I played well. There is one hand that I am still questioning. At the final table I was dealt J7 in the big blind. The big stack called and the small blind completed. The flop was J-J-3 with two clubs. It was checked to me. I think there was 300 in the pot. I bet 200 because I wanted to charge any flush draws. In retrospect, the chances of the big stack having a flush draw were pretty slim. The chances were pretty good that he would have bet at the pot if it was checked to him since he had been pretty aggressive. I guess I should have let him catch up or only bet 100 to make it look like I was trying to steal it. I really wanted to make that a big pot because I saw it as the chance to double up, but I got too excited. Not a horrible play, but not the most effective.

As for my online play, I was subjected to some bad beats again in the 50's. I find it fascinating to play when one player goes on a huge lucky roll and gets to 5,000 in chips with 5 or 6 players left. I usually have close to what I started with and there are usually a couple of players with only 500 left. I think the best strategy is to try and play a pot with the big stack with a strong hand and trap him. If I have seen him make bad plays I think that will be the easiest money to win.

The first situation occurred when I had about 1000 chips with 5 left. I was dealt 33 in late position. The big stack was under the gun and just doubled the blind. My original thinking was I can push him around and if he does call me, he probably just has over cards and I'll be a slight favorite. Of course he woke up with QQ and I was gone. My strategy was sound, except I probably should have only done that with 99 or better. 33 is just too weak.

The second situation really pissed me off. I had close to 2000 in chips and was in great shape with 4 left. The chip leader had over 5000 and was horrible. He was in the small blind and I was in the big blind with AJ of spades. I think the blinds were 75-150. He just called the blind. I raised to 450. He called. The flop came A-10-7 rainbow. He minimum bet the flop and I went all in. He called quickly with Ace-5. The turn was a blank, but the river hit his 5 and I was out again.

I remember Phil Hellmuth interviewing Greg Raymer after the WSOP main event this year. Phil was lamenting the fact that Greg had totally outplayed his opponent on a hand, but his opponent had hit a runner, runner flush to beat him. "You work so hard the entire tournament to set up a player like that, and just when you have him right where you want him, he sucks out on you. Doesn't that drive you crazy?!" Greg gave some gracious answer that sometimes you just have to get lucky and that all he can control is the decisions he makes, blah, blah, blah. I agree with Phil, it sucks!

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