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Poker News | Online Poker | News

Play This Tournament with Me – PokerStars $2+.20

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While most of my time in regards to poker is spent teaching and writing about the game, I still make the time to play in 3-4 tournaments a day several days a week. For the month of February, I am going to invite you to play along with me through some of these tournaments. I will be writing a series of articles going over the hands I played and my thought process and hope that you can learn something from it. I'll try to play different buy-ins so that you can see some of the adjustments that need to be made.

Today's tournament was a $2+.20 tournament
PokerStars. Just under 2,000 players started and the top 270 get paid. I just made the money finishing in 250th place. Follow along as I show you the key hands I played and did not play.

We started with 1500 in chips and blinds of 10/20... only 75 big bets which meant this was going to be a shallow money tournament sooner rather than later. This ultimately has an effect on the strategy I generally employ. I am usually looking to either accumulate a lot of chips early or be out so I can go on to the next tournament. As with most tournaments, the prize money is top heavy so it is important to put yourself in a position to have a chance at winning rather than just having a chance to make the money. However, as you will see from this tournament, sometimes you can not control the hand you are dealt and making the money ultimately becomes an important enough goal.

Hand #2 - I was dealt K-Q offsuit in early position. I chose to fold the hand as I did not know how people were playing yet and did not want to face a raise or re-raise out of position with a marginal hand. Sure enough the pot was raised and there was heavy action on an 8-4-4 flop so I saved myself some chips by making this decision.

Hand #4 - K-6 of hearts from the big blind. A short stack that had been crippled moved all in for 30 which was only an additional 10 for me to call. With 3 limpers already in the pot I had to call 10 with a pot size of 120. Easy call. the flop came A-10-4 and it was checked around. The turn was another 10 and I check folded.

Hand #7 - I limp with 9-7 of hearts after an early position limper. The player one to my left raises 80 to 100. The small blind and the initial limper calls. The pot size is now 340 and it is 80 to me. I call for several reasons. The first is the more obvious one... the price I am being given at over 4:1 on my money. The second one is the implied value I have with a speculative hand in a multi-way raised pot. My hand is easy to play post-flop... if I flop something big I play it aggressively and go for a big pot... if I flop nothing I'm done with it. In a raised pot the likelihood that I am going to get paid off if I flop something big is much higher than it would be in an unraised pot. This is because people have a hand that they value and thus are going to be less likely to want to get rid of it post-flop. The flop comes 6-3-3 rainbow. The small blind checks, the original limper bets 120 and I make the easy fold. I am down to 1380 in chips after the hand.

Hand #9 - I fold Q-10 off first to act in early middle position. Many players would limp in here or raise, but there are still five players left to act and I don't want to risk valuable chips (and every chip in a shallow money tournament has value... the more chips you save for your doubling up opportunities, the more chips you will accumulate when you do double up).

Hand #10 - I limp in with 6's under the gun (UTG) +1. A player in middle position raises 40 to 60. Two others call and I call the 40. Four players see the flop; fairly standard play for me with small pairs. I don't mind calling small raises out of position with this hand because like with the suited connectors my hand is easy to play post-flop and the implied value is high. The flop comes A-Q-3 and I check fold. I am down to 1310 in chips after the hand.

Hand #13 - I complete from the small blind with Q-10 off. Four players see the K-J-6 all spade flop. I have the queen of spades. I decide to check to see what the other three players do before deciding how I will proceed. They all check and the turn is the ace of diamonds. I know have the nut straight and the 2nd nut flush draw so I decide to lead out to see where everyone else is at. I bet 40 into the 80 pot. This bet is a little smaller than normal for me. Typically, I would bet 60 here... but I am looking for action (because I think my hand is good) and feel that the smaller bet will be more likely to induce a call or raise than my normal bet. Besides, none of the players at this table have seen me make a bet post-flop so they do not know that this is not a normal bet for me.

Hand #21 - Blinds are now 15/30. I complete out of the small blind with Q-10 off. 4 players see the flop. The flop is 8-5-8. Everyone checks. The turn is a 10 of spades putting two spades on the boards. I could bet here but if someone had slow played an 8 than I'd end up having to fold to their raise. My goal here is to see a cheap showdown and maybe win a small pot. It is checked around. The river is a 2nd 5. I check again and the big blind bets the size of the pot (120). Everyone folds back to me. I don't think the big blind has a 5 as a person with a 5 likely would have led out on the flop. It's either a 10 like myself, an ace, or a slow played 8. I make the call. They have the slow played 10 and I am down to 1170 after the hand.

Hand #25 - I have A-J of hearts and raise 60 to 90 first to act from middle position. The small blind moves all in for 805 total. Normally this is an easy fold for me but as I start thinking of the range of hands that someone would be doing with this, I think that I am ahead of many of them. It seems like a push with a smaller ace like A-10 or A-9 or a medium pair like 9's or 8's. A-K and A-Q are also big possibilities as this is the type of bet those hands would make. In hindsight, definitely a fold is in order here but I make a mistake and call (one factor was that they could not bust me). My opponent has A-Q. The flop comes K-J-7 all clubs. My opponent has the ace of clubs so he has plenty of outs and hits one of them on the turn... the queen of clubs. I am down to 365 after the hand. My girlfriend leans over and sees how many chips I have and says "you're not doing so good." There's a reason I call her MOTO (master of the obvious).

Hand #28 -
I have pocket 2's under the gun and limp. This one is close for me. Given my stack size, I could easily fold 2's here but I am looking to accumulate some chips since I am so low and decide to see what develops. One other player limps, the small blind completes, and four of us see the flop. The flop is a dream flop for me... Q-3-2 with two diamonds. The blinds check and I bet 80 into the 120 pot and am called by two players. Exactly what I wanted and a reason why fast play is often the best slow play. I figure the probable hands my opponents hold are hands with flush draws and/or queens. The turn pairs the board with another 3, giving me a full house. I'm certainly not going to fold but what do I want to bet here? I have 255 left after my turn call and the pot is 360. I could check and hope someone else bets but because they called me on the flop I have a feeling that they will not fold for a measly 255. I move all in and sure enough both players call me. The river is the ace of hearts. One player bets 330 into the 1125 pot and is called by the other player. Player #1 has A-6 of diamonds for a busted flush draw that hit top pair on the river. Player #2 has Q-4 for two pair that was no good on the river. I win the main pot of 1,125 and am back in the thick of things.

Hand #32 - The blinds are now 25/50. I limp with pocket 5's from the cutoff after two limpers. The small blind completes and five players see the flop. The flop is 8-8-4 and everyone checks to me. This is one of the advantages of playing hands in position. If I was in early position, I very likely would have checked the hand and we would have seen a turn card. Because I have position, however, I am able to make a 150 bet into the 250 pot and everyone folds.

Hand #33 - I open for 150 with A-10 off first to act from middle position. The small blind calls. The flop comes A-K-6 rainbow. The small blind checks and I check. Many players would bet here and often I will, but I believed I had the best hand here as I think a hand like A-K, A-Q, or A-J would have re-raised me pre-flop so I want to give my opponent an opportunity to bluff the turn. There's a small risk as I might let him hit a card that would put him ahead of me but it is a risk I am willing to take. The turn is the 7 of clubs putting two clubs on the board. The small blind again checks but this time I bet 250 into the 350 pot. My opponent folds and I am up to 1450 after the hand.

Hand #36 - Under the gun player opens for six times the big blind. I have pocket aces one seat to his left. His raise is abnormally high and from my experience a raise like this is a hand that is trying to protect... something like jacks or tens or a big ace. Because I am in such early position, I decide to flat call in case someone behind me wakes up with a hand or some crafty player decides to go for the "squeeze" play. The player to my immediate left calls as well. Hmmmm, this is shaping up to be quite the pot. Everyone else unfortunately folds. The flop comes K-J-7 all hearts. I have the ace of hearts. Not the greatest flop for me, but with only 1150 in chips left in this kind of tournament, I'm not going anywhere. The initial pre-flop raiser bets 300 into the 975 pot. That's a fishy "please raise me, I have a monster" bet... especially considering the size of his raise pre-flop. I decide to call to see what the other player does and what the turn might bring. The other player moves all in for an additional 610 and the initial bettor insta-calls. There is now 3K in the pot, 600 for me to call but doing that would only leave me with 240 more. As I said, I wasn't going anywhere... I move all in and the other player quickly calls the 240 extra. Player #1 (initial pre-flop raiser) has J-J. Ugh. Player #2 (short stack all in) has K-7 of spades (what the f*** was he doing calling pre-flop) for two pair. Double Ugh. It's not as bad as it looks though. I still have nearly a 40% chance of winning the hand as any ace or heart as well as some miraculous runner, runner straights would give me the win. The turn is a 6 of spades. No help. The river is the card I needed though... the 4 of hearts... and I triple up to 4185. A risky play but it was one I was willing to make in order to put me in position to win the tournament.

Hand #42 - I have queens in middle position. Under the gun player limps and I limp after him. The reason I only limp is because the player on the button has been routinely raising limped pots... on at least 3 separate occasions they have made big raises where multiple people have limped in. I'm hoping they will do it again. One other player limps in... the limp punisher folds... and 4 of us see the flop which is 7-4-2 with two spades. The first two players check. I bet 150 into the 250 pot and everyone folds.

Hand #53 - The blinds are now 50/100. It has been 11 hands since I've played a hand. It is folded to the button who completes. I have A-J off in the small blind. The button is the only player at the table with more chips than me. I think about raising but I really don't want to get into a big pot out of position against the one player who can bust me. I complete and we see the flop of 7-7-6. It's checked around. The turn is a queen. Checked around again. River is a 3 and I check fold to the big blinds all in (for 490) bet.

Hand #54 - Folded to me on the button and I raise first to act to 300 total with 10-4 of spades. I'm using the fact that I had not played a hand out of the blinds in over an orbit. The small blind is short (790) and cannot get me to fold pre-flop even if they move all in. The big blind would have to move all in to re-raise me as any re-raise they make would commit them. Perfect stealing scenario and it works.

Hand #56 - I am first to act from late middle position with aces. I raise 200 to 300 and am hoping that because I had raised just two hands prior that someone will think I am stealing. No such luck as everyone folds.

Hand #62 -
Blinds are now 75/150. Three limpers and I complete with 7-6 off out of the small blind. Five of us see the flop. The flop is Q-5-4 rainbow. Checked around. The turn is a 4. I was planning on leading on the turn but the paired board changes my mind. I check, as does everyone else. At least I get to see the river for free. The river is another queen and I check fold.

Hand #63 - Short stack from early position moves all in for 565. I flat call from the button with A-J off. Many times I would re-raise to isolate but the blinds both have around 2K in chips and I know that they will only move all in over the top of my flat call with a hand that can beat me and if I re-raise isolate and one of them wakes up with a hand, I end up costing myself an additional 1500 in chips. The blinds both fold. The short stack has 10-9 of diamonds and does not improve. I am up to 4750 after the hand.

Hand #69 - folded to the small blind who completes. I check my option with A-3 of clubs. Again I would often raise here but the small blind has me covered by nearly 2:1. The flop comes K-10-3 with two clubs. The small blind checks. This is a flop I'm willing to gamble with (pair plus nut flush draw). I bet 150 into the 300 pot and my opponent folds.

Hand #78 - The blinds are now 100/200. I go card dead for an orbit and the table makeup now makes it tough to steal as there are 4 players with more chips than me now playing at my table. One of those big stacks limps in from the button and I check my option with J-8 off. The flop comes 10-9-8. I check with the intent of calling any bet the button makes. They check as well. The turn is a queen giving me the 2nd nut straight. I check with the intent of check raising but my opponent checks. The river is the 4 of clubs. I lead out for 200 into the 500 pot. At the time I'm hoping for a call but my opponent surprises me by raising me 600 to 800. This throws me off a bit. They had not show any aggressiveness or interest in the hand at all up to this point. The only hand that can beat me is K-J and while I am typically not scared of the nuts when I have the 2nd nuts, the bet has me thinking he might have just that. I'm not going to fold though so I make the call. He has K-6 of hearts for a busted flush draw (2nd heart came on turn). Result is the same as if I would have re-raised because they would not have called. I am up to 5925 after the hand.

Hand #81 - I am first to act from middle position and raise 300 to 500 with 9-8 suited. The big blind calls. The flop is Q-7-3 with two diamonds. The big blind checks and I bet 600 into the 1100 pot and the big blind folds. I hadn't been raising much first to act and thought this was a good opportunity to steal the blinds. Only one player left to act after me had more chips than me and the big blind only had 2,000 (which made their pre-flop flat call somewhat surprising). Once they call and check I have to make an attempt to pick up the pot so I make a continuation bet.

Hand #99 - The blinds are not 150/300 with a 25 ante. Two limpers and I complete from the small blind with 10-8 off. The flop comes K-9-7. I check and the button limper bets 900 into the 1375 pot. A bit of a decision here but this player had shown a propensity for making big bets on the next card if he was called. I think I can double up if I hit the straight so I make the call. The turn is a 4. I check and my opponent goes all in (told you). I fold. I am down to 3975 after the hand. We are not quite in the money yet but I'm not going to let that affect my play.

Hand #108 - a player limps in middle position and I move all in from the button for 3450 total with A-J off. The blinds and limper fold. I am up to 4425 after the hand. Pretty standard play and I was planning on pushing all in if any player would have raised from any position other than early position (I would have had to make my decision based on the player in that instance).

Hand #111 - I move all in for 4200 total with the blinds at 200/400 from UTG+1 with A-Q off. I don't like doing this from early position because I know that there are still so many players left to act and one of them might wake up with a bigger hand. With only a little more than 10 big blinds though I don't think I can sit back and wait even though we aren't in the money. I might get called by a smaller ace (A-J/A-10) or a medium pair (I'm willing to race at this stage). Another medium stack player (6200 in chips) thinks for some time before making the call. He has A-Q as well and we chop the pot. I'm fine with this. I add 400 to my stack and am at 4613.

Hand #113 - Proof positive that I'm not playing to just make the money. Folded to the small blind who completes. The small blind has 8875 in chips to start the hand. I move all in from the big blind for 4563 total. I have... 7-3 off. The small blind folds and I add 625 to my stack. My feeling was if the small blind had any type of hand they would have raised. They aren't going to call for 1/2 their stack with a marginal hand so it's an easy 625 addition to my stack.

Hand #114 - UTG limps in as does the button. I have 8's in the small blind and opt to just call because I am a little wary of the early position limper. The flop comes A-J-6 and I am done with the hand. It is checked around. The turn is a 7 and I check fold.

Hand #121 - I move all in with kings for 4588 total from under the gun with the blinds at 200/400. Because I am so likely to move all in with a wide range of hands (i.e. the A-Q hand above) I love making this play with bigger pairs. You would be amazed how many times a hand like 10's or A-K/A-Q will call (in fact, I'd say they almost never fold). Unfortunately for me no one wakes up with a hand and everyone folds.

Hand #133 - we have finally made the money and the blinds are now at 300/600 with a 50 ante. It is folded to me on the cutoff and I have pocket 5's and 4463 in chips. I decide to apply maximum pressure and move all in. The big blind calls me with A-K of diamonds. I am fine with this... win the race and I'm in good position to make it deep. An ace on the flop leaves me drawing thin and I don't hit the two outer and am eliminated.

All in all not a great tournament for me. I made several mistakes and got lucky in a couple of key hands. I bounced back from the mistakes well though and was able to eke my way into the money. Win a race at the end and I might have even made $4 profit rather than $2.

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