Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ups and Downs

I won a Mansion $50 tourney with $5k added a few weeks back and really played well throughout. With only 15 players left, I was actually the short stack after losing a large pot. From there I moved all in on about 5 of the next 15 hands and built my stack up to just under average.

When we got to the final table I had an average stack, but on the second hand at the final table I picked up AA in the small blind. It folded to the button who raised to 3x the bb. I smooth called from the small blind and the big blind folded. I wanted to slowplay my As here because if I won it could be a huge pot so the risk was worth it. The flop brought an AK3, so I had a big hand and was hoping the button hand the other A and maybe a K. I checked to the raiser and he bet out about 2/3 the pot, again I smooth called. Fourth was a blank and I checked he moved all in and I quickly called and won a very big pot.

About 5 hands later I picked up Ks and came over the top of an early position raiser to take it down preflop. With that hand I became the chipleader. From there I played fairly conservative until we were down to 5 handed where I turned up my intensity. I ended up winning it after an up and down heads up battle. It was my biggest win to date so very satisfying...

But I tell you that story to then follow it up with tonight's action. I went deep in the $25k guaranteed tourney on FTP tonight. And unfortunately, I lost my mind briefly and really made a bonehead play that knocked me out in 50th place. With a starting field of 1488, I was deep in this tourney. However, what sets the really good tourney players apart from stiffs like me is that they don't make stupid plays like this one.

With the blinds at 1k/2k and a 250 ante. I have 19958 chips. However I am in the bb and after postingthe blind and ante, I only have 17708 remaining. A player two off the cutoff min raises to 4k -- he has me covered with about 27k in chips.

Mistake #1, I have Qh6h and call the min raise. This hand sucks and I normally would never call from the blind with this trash. Yes I might hit the flush on the flop, but if so then I probably won't get action. So, my brain is screaming fold the hand, buy my fast and loose finger says -- eh its only another 2k and something good might happen. The pot is now about 11k.

The flop comes 4s, Js, As -- and I have nothing. However, that board is very scary and our villian probably does not like that board. Given the min raise, I figure he either has a monster or a marginal hand, probably not AK, AQ or AJ as those hands are vulnerable to multi-handed pots, so one should raise at least to 3x bb from mid to late position.

Our villian min bets 2k on this nasty flop. Boy does that feel weak. He is either trying to sucker me in or he is really weak. With his bet the pot is about 13k and I have 17k, so if I push it is about a pot sized bet back to the villian. I think for a while and just feel like he would check or maybe push (to feign weakness) if he had the flush. I also think that if he has an A he is going to bet more to try to figure out where he is in the hand.

The 2k bet just seemed weak to me and in the end my read was right. So I pushed. Unfortunately, my villian made a very bad call with 88 and no spade. He was beat by any A or any J, any flush and he was not a big favorite against a flush draw and other big cards. But he called which maybe he is brilliant and knew I had absolutely nothing -- but I doubt it. It was more likely a mistake.

However, lets look at my fancy pants post-flop play. Yes I had a good read, yes it was a good play to make against a good player ----- but in hindsight, my Mansion win should have showed me that there would be better spots down the road.

Yes, I was getting short on chips but it would be much better to push preflop with my stack to take down blinds and grow in that manner than to try this fancy play against an unknown competitor. I also should not be calling from the bb with this small stack. I have two preflop moves with only 8 bbs remaining --- push or fold.

A reraise all in preflop is an okay move in this spot. After all he is in fairly late position so his raising standard should be lower. However, I think the best play was to fold preflop and look for a better spot to push all in over the next 6-8 hands. I was not in desperate shape at this point and did not need to fire off the chips this way.

As it was, I ended up winning a mere $50, instead of having the potential for a much bigger win by hanging around.

To me that is the key point to take from this article. The best players hang around. They pick good spots to accumulate chips and do not donk off their chips when they get late in a tourney. They may go out with AQ against 77, or TT against AA, but they have picked good spots to get their money in. To win a tourney, you have to make the FT. To make the FT you have to make the final 3 tables. To make the final 3 tables, you have to make the money.

There is something to be said for hanging around. Don't make stupid plays like mine tonight.

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