A blog of sorts, a story to be told, the true depth of poker is about to unfold:
Well all I can say guys is that it’s been a rough two weeks. Getting unlucky in poker is inevitable and we have to learn to accept that so that we can control our emotions and continue to play optimally. However, nothing is more tilting then running poorly in those key spots that end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars in equity. Such was the case with me the past two Sundays in a row when I somehow I managed to stone cold bubble the final tables of both the Poker Stars 2nd Chance and the 200 rebuy, which is said to have one of the toughest fields in all of online poker.
I will try to tone down the bad beat stories, as I know you guys need to hear another bad beat story about as badly as you want someone to staple your genitals to the wall. Instead I will focus more on the strategy that lead to my decisions in each of the hands. In this entry I will focus on the first tournament since there are some very interesting hands I would like to go more in depth with.
Two Sundays ago I found myself in a spot I haven‘t been in in quite some time, deep in a Sunday major tournament with a commanding chip stack. This time it was the Sunday 2nd Chance on Poker Stars with approximately 50k going to first place. There were 18 players, and I had managed to amass a large stack winning races, stealing blinds, and getting maximum value for my made hands. This next hand came up with blinds at 4k-8k with a 800 ante, and propelled me into the chip lead. I was sitting pretty comfortably at 240k in chips, and the villain in the hand was the chip leader of the tournament with 320k in chips. The table was playing tight for the most part, which is not uncommon this deep in a Sunday major where a good portion of the field has qualified through satellites and is somewhat scared money. The villain however had already shown the ability to mix it up and play aggressive, and I definitely had this in mind during the hand.
So the action folds around to this player in the small blind, and he decides to limp in. I see Q-9o in the big blind and check behind. Sometimes I will raise in this position because I will have the positional advantage throughout the hand which makes it much easier to outplay him, and also because a lot of players limp in the small blind with weak holdings with the idea of firing a bet at any flop and if I put in the raise pre they will just fold a lot of these hands since they know they are playing out of position without control in the hand.
We see a flop of Q-8-4 with two diamonds.
He leads into the pot for close to half a pot sized bet, I have top pair here which is almost always good heads up so I decide to put in a raise for value. I reraise 2.5x his raise, and he time banks. After 30 seconds go by he decides to reraise once more, basically committing both of us to the pot if I decide to continue in the hand. Knowing this player is capable of making a play here with a lot of draws and even hands I have crushed, and also the fact that I’m playing to win the tournament I decide to go with my gut and get all my chips in. He calls because he is committed to the pot now, and turns over . Somehow I fade those dirty diamonds and become the chip leader of the tournament.
It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies from here though. I quickly found myself in another situation where I had a decision to make in a marginal spot. This hand involves the same villain from before who has been relentlessly shoving in his stack in an effort to build back up. The blinds have increased to 5k-10k with a 1k ante. What makes this hand very interesting is the fact that the player in the small blind was sitting out, which changes the table dynamics all together.
The action folds around to our villain on the button, who now has 120k in chips. I’m expecting him to shove basically any two cards here, since it is far and away the most optimal play given that he only has to get through me with the other blind sitting out. I have a very comfortable 500k, and am dealt . Sure enough as soon as the action gets to our villain he gives me the pile. If I were to run some Poker Stove calculations I’m sure they would show that is definitely ahead of his range here, but I have to admit I’m not too Poker Stove savvy so maybe someone from the Two Plus Two poker forums can do those calculations for me. They love that stuff.
Anyways getting back to the hand, most people would pass up calling here thinking that it is too much of a risk but you have to understand that in a tournament of this nature you have to take all the edges you can get. I felt that calling was the optimal play so I made the call, he turned over Q-5o making him a huge favorite (Note the PokerStars related sarcasm.) I don’t suck out and he ships the 260k pot. Let’s not be results oriented, I made the right call and when it’s all said and done that’s all you can hope for in donkaments these days.
The final hand takes place five handed on the final table bubble. I’m not happy to see that a solid player known as Arbianight has moved to the table with a good sized chip stack. Knowing that he is the best player at the table besides me I decide a smart thing to do would be to immediately play a big pot with him out of position (more sarcasm.)
I now have around 340k with blinds at 6k-12k with a 1200 ante. Arbianight is one of the only players at the table who has me covered with 440k. He opens from the cutoff for a standard 2.5x raise and I look down at A-Jo in the big blind. There are a lot of ways to play this hand, my standard way would be to put in a good sized reraise hoping he folds since I’m out of position and I know he’s a good player who could be opening with quite a wide range of hands being that we are on the final table bubble. The problem with this is that he also knows me, and if I do decide to reraise here he could interpret this as me trying to resteal from him and could just easily put in a fourth raise with slim holdings putting me at a decision for all my chips since it is the final table bubble. That would put me in a very tough spot, which could ultimately end up in me turning a hand with a lot of value into a bluff if I decide to fold to his shove.
After weighing my options I decide to just flat call. The flop comes out A-6-8 rainbow. I’m happy to see an A on the flop and decide to check with the plan of check raising, as I know he’s going to fire a continuation bet at this flop almost always.
After I check he bets about 2/3rds the pot, which seems like a standard continuation bet to me. I go through with my plan to check raise, and he begins to think. Before I know it all his chips are in the pot. Well here’s the thing, I have top pair with a good kicker and if I decide to fold I have successfully turned my hand into bluff, I mean I might as well have had 7-2o. I do beat a lot of A’s that he could have, and I can’t really dismiss the fact that he could have some kind of straight draw or weird bluff as well.
These are all things that I consider, and also the fact that we are playing on the final table bubble makes it even more possible that he could make this play with lesser holdings. I ultimately decide to make the call given the amount of money in the pot and all the other factors in play. Unfortunately I got rather unlucky and he has a set of 6s, and that’s gg ladies and gentleman. Sigh…
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