Monday, November 27, 2006

Some Lessons In NL Tournament Poker

I heard Paul Wasicka (2nd place at WSOP Main Event 2006) on Rounders, the Poker Show and he mentioned that he had blogged about his Main Event run. His blog is at I went and checked it out, and man do I have a lot to learn.

Here is an excerpt from his Day 1 post:

Day 1 - $10,000 Main Event
Ok, here is how my day went...After calling
a few raises with suited connectors and pocket pairs and missing all flops I was
down to around 8.5k. Then there was a pot where I called a raise with QJo and
the flop came 8,7,6. He bet 225 and I made it 600 in position. He called and the
turn came a 3 (board is rainbow) and he checks. I bet 1,200 and he quickly
called. River came an ace and he checked again, now I must win this pot as he
probably has J,J or T,T so I throw out a "value" bet of 2,500 and he folds.

That put me back on track to 11k or so. Then a pot came up where someone
raised to 150 in mid position and two callers. I look down at AKo and make it
700 and everyone folds except one of the callers. Flop comes T, 6, 4 rainbow and
he checks. I bet 1,000 and he makes it 3,000. I look at his remaining chips to
make sure he can still fold, sure enough he has 7k behind and I move all-in and
he folds J,J face up. This pot brought me up to around 16k.

Shortly after I call a raise in position with T9s and the flop came A,J,8.
I immediately knew I would raise him if he bet and check if he checked, knowing
he would bet a mediocre hand that would fold to a raise and would check a
monster. Well, he checked, and I checked. Turn came a 7 and now he bets 500. Can
you be any more obvious that you flopped a set buddy? I make it 1,500 and he
quickly makes it 2,000 more. Now here I had a couple different ways to play it -
I could go all-in, knowing he'll call an all-in and 80% of my chips will be at
risk as a 4:1 favorite or I could just flat call and see if he boats up before
committing all those chips. The only problem with the latter is if the board
gets scary I might not get his whole stack if he just check/calls or
check/folds. I decide to move it and he calls after a long think and turns over
the 8,8. The river pairs the board and leaves me out of breath....just kidding,
the river bricked and I took down the 22k pot, now up to 27k.

A few rounds later I call a raise with QJo and the flop came Ad, Td, 7. The
raiser made it 500 and I decided to call, either to take it away on the turn if
he doesn't have the ace, hit the gutshot if he does have the ace, or bluff the
diamonds if he has the ace. Turn came an offsuit 9, giving me the open ender and
now he bets 1,200, leaving himself with 5,500. Easy call to make, because now
I'm sure he has the ace, and if an 8, K or diamond come, the pot is mine. River
is the 6d and he fires out 1,500. I grab my big stack of yellows (1k chips) to
put him all-in, but then think for a second and decide to throw out 4k, for a
raise of only 2.5k, which would leave him with 1,500 if he called and he was
wrong. He gave out a big sigh and thought for a while, but ultimately couldn't
stand the heat and folded A,T face up for top two pair.

Then a pot came up where I raised to 700 with AcQc and got two callers from
the button and the BB. Flop came Jc, 7c, 6 and the first guy checked. I bet 700
and the button called. BB check-raises to 2,100 and I think for a bit and decide
he has a big hand, maybe two pair or a set and don't want to play a monster pot
until I'm there, so I flat call. Plus, flat calling here might get the button in
there with clubs of his own or a straight draw that might pay me off if his
straight and my flush get there. He ends up calling the 2,100 as well. The turn
came an offsuit queen and the raiser bets a mere 1,300. Call, right? Well, not
exactly... I mean, what does this guy have?! He doesn't want to protect against
the flush draw? He had two callers behind him and now he's underbetting the pot?
There is over 9k in the pot and both of them have less than 7k in front of them.
I'm all-in. Button folds and the BB thinks forever and decides to fold,
disgusted with himself.

Now I'm up to 46k. A tight player in early position makes it 700 and I look
down at K,K right behind him. I decide to flat call, not wanting to play an
all-in pot preflop, also trying to induce a squeeze play by some of the internet
players at the table. Button calls and the flop came A,7,6. He throws out only
600 and I call and the button folds. Turn is an 8 and he checks, I check. River
is a 5, he checks, I check. He shows A,A and I show off my K,K, only losing
1,300 when most players wouuld have played an all-in pot preflop and lost over

I raise with KJs in early position to 700, one caller. The BB moves all-in
for 1,000 more and I call, as does the caller. Flop came Kd, Jd, 7 and I bet 2k,
he calls. Turn is a 7 and I go all-in and he instantly calls with A,K and the
other dude shows A,Q. I take down the pot for an 8k profit and now I'm up to 54k
and CRUISING. Average was probably under 15k at this point.

Then a pot came up where a late position raiser looks at his cards for a
split second and immediately makes it 600. I don't even bother to look at my
cards, knowing I'm going to raise no matter what cards I have. I make it 2k and
the BB immediately calls and the raiser folded quickly. Here is where I made a
crucial mistake - I should have just given up, knowing that the BB isn't going
to call a raise and a re-raise without a huge hand, but I just got so frustrated
that I read the situation correctly and had a guy wake up with a hand behind me.
I look at my cards and see a K3o and the flop came K,T,9. I should have either
check/folded or bet out and given it up if I got called or raised, but instead I
check/pulled on him and he instantly called with A,K. The turn came an A and I
was drawing dead. I lost 12k this hand and now my table image was shot, right
before the rounds were going to 100/200 with 25 in antes (where stealing becomes
a must). The table then proceded to 'high five' the guy who won, as they were so
happy that someone had finally won a pot off me and the bullying would now slow
down. Though it was pretty poor ettiquite on their part, it somehow made me feel
like a true world class player when the table is releived to see my chips

This was a huge turning point in momentum, which is the weakest part of my
game, as discussed in the previous Pot Limit post, but I had to continue and put
this pot past me as best as I could. A round later I raise in middle position
with KQs and get called by the cutoff. Flop came J,T,7 and I bet 1,000 and he
makes it 3,000. Now, because of the K,3 incident, my bluff equity is shot and I
can't re-raise and take down the pot. So I just flat call. The turn came a rag
and I check and he bets 3k again and I call. River was another rag and it went
check/check. He shows A,J and takes it down. So many damn outs and I know it
would have been mine if I hadn't had to show that K,3 earlier. Now I have to
really tighten it up until the table breaks.

I fold most hands, then get moved to the softest table imaginable. I win a
few pots without any showdowns and then get moved shortly after to a new table
that has a few good, but unknown players at it. I steal a ton of pots the first
few rounds and I'm working my stack back to around 42k.

There was a pot where I called a raise in the SB with Q9s and the BB
called. I flopped a flush and the raiser bet 2k and I check-raised to 5k and he
called. I shoved all-in on the brick turn and he folded K,K no club face up, as
if it were a tough laydown for his whole tournament life. At this table it was
mostly preflop and flop poker, very few showdowns or bluffs, just continuation
bets and check/raises.

A pot came up where I raised in middle position and got called by the
button and the BB immediately moved all-in for 10k. I was pretty confident he
didn't have a huge hand, but had to fold, as I thought the initial caller still
to act had a huge hand and was trapping me. I had 9,9 and reluctantly mucked and
then he proudly shows off the T3o after the button folds.

I ended the day with 38k and now I'm at a table that I think will suit me
well. I have Phil Ivey across the table from me, but he has only 16k in chips at
the moment. I'm still agonizing about that K,3 blunder, but I have a good
support group here that is helping me pull through it. What I'm trying my best
to do right now is pretend that I'm starting a new tournament on Tuesday, in
which the starting chips are 25k (the average going into day 2 so far) and I'm
sitting on 38k. I'll post day 2 later in the week.

I guess I am really impressed with the way he puts his opponents on hands and his ability to think ahead about which cards can hit that he can bluff with. Sometimes these are labeled as bluff outs. His hand with KQ when he flops the inside straight draw is a great example.

I need to make sure to refer back to his posts from time to time, if I ever play a large tournament again.

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