Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Getting the game back in order

I didn't know if I wanted to play the WWdN last night. After the HORSE fiasco on Sunday, I was willing to just lay low for a bit. But because there is crap on TV on Tuesday nights and I had little on the DVR, I decided to be somewhat social and hop into the fray with about 4 minutes left in the registration period.

Not much action for me in the beginning. I did get to drop the Hammer with a re-raise, but not much beyond that. Fact is, I was just happy to get through the first session and to the break. With the way I have been playing lately (or not playing is probably the explanation), that felt like a bit of an accomplishment. I was also happy that Biggestron didn't pummel me from the right in hopes of extracting revenge for other tournaments this year.

The only other thing of note was moving between 4 table in the first two rounds. Beyond that I picked up a couple small pots here and there and treaded water. I was generally a small stack looking for a spot to double up. I got that when my KK held up against A 10. Now I had some chips to work with and possibly make some moves. I was still in the lower third (barely) but wasn't on life support. Because of that, I tried something I have rarely done. Fact is, I cannot recall that last time I have made this play.

I limped with A A.

Some of you do this all the time. I have seen it too many times early in tournaments where someone tries to be fancy and loses to a the flopped set or two pair because they let the BB get in for a free look. That is why I rarely do it. I want that hand to pay me a little something or at least the BB. I don't want to see the asshat with 10 7 off in the BB get the miracle flop and complete his straight.

But with the way the table action was going, I felt the time was right. Down to two tables, with raises on pretty much every hand, I was willing to try and lay the trap and get some action. But that didn't happen. It folded around to the BB who checked. I got an A on the flop but two spades to go with it. Uh oh. It checked around. The turn is another spade. Crap. I bet pot and thankfully I haven't let the BB get lucky.

Little did I know, but the deck was about to hit me silly. K K, A A, Q Q all within the next orbit or so.

With the K K hand, I re-raised to 1500 from 400. I wonder if maybe I over bet it? I wanted to put some pressure on him to commit his remaining chips but instead got a quick fold. Maybe a raise to 1000-1200 would have been better.

I was able to help us get down to two table when I had 10 10 in the BB and a small stack pushed with 4 4. I end up 4 flushing to knock him out. Unfortunately, it brings the two big stacks to the table. One of them raises in MP and is called in two places. I fold my A Q (like that Hoy?) because I am in the blinds and way out of position if I don't hit that flop.

At this point, the big stacks were beginning to annoy me. I had a good handle on how each of them plays, having experience with one at other tourneys and playing with the other earlier in the game. They were playing big stack poker and figured they could bully the table with their raises. Having a smaller stack, I didn't like it so I knew I had to fight back at some point. Thus when the action got past one, with the other in the BB and I on the button, I decided to make a move and limped. With Q 3 suited. I wasn't surprised to see the raise to 600. But I guess he was when I popped it 1600. He folded. I breathed sigh of relief. Putting your balls on the chopping block with a bluff is one thing. Pulling them out of the way when the ax is coming down (a re-raise) like a coward is another. Part of me wanted to show the bluff, but I knew it wasn't necessary. My message was sent. At least for the time being

I did take a couple pots off of a weak button player. They kept trying to steal so I kept calling with connectors knowing I could bet the flop (as long as it was loaded with aces and faces) and take down the pot. That worked nicely for a couple of rounds. Otherwise I was just folding a lot as the big stacks kept raising away.

It felt good to make the final table again. Even if it was with only 43 runners. The table was pretty even too. Low stack had about 2800 so with blinds at just 100/200, there could be some play.

I should have been out in 8th place. With blinds at 200/400, I called 900 more with 7 8 suited. I called because it was one of the big stacks who I thought was stealing and raising on anything. I felt at best he may be raising with any ace. Thus I check-raised him all in on a flop of K 7 6. But when he quickly called, I knew he had A K. Yep, it was bleak. Until I spiked the 7 on the river. One needs a little luck to survive sometimes. And that was lucky.

But I would give a chunk back when I raised with K Q suited UTG and got re-raised for just 1325 more. Then I was up against A A. Though I flopped the flush draw, it didn't hit.

I folded my way into the second break. Now this is the time of the game where I usually get impatient and make a bad move. I need to be up early for work and when the game looks like it is going to be a late one, I usually take unnecessary chances. Kinda like that 7 8 suited play. That is one reason why I was happy I had gotten deep in a tourney once again.

Until the big stack on my right started raising every hand once again. Sonofabitch! I don't fault the player for the way they were playing. It was working pretty well for them. He kept putting the pressure on everyone else. I could either go to battle again with say, Q 3, or wait for a good hand and bring in the Howitzers. All the while I kept telling myself: Remember, don't make the stupid move. It may have worked earlier but that doesn't mean it will work again.

Luckily I wouldn't have to. I got dealt A Q and pushed. It was barely twice his bet. He called with Q 10. I had a dominating hand and it would hold up. Better yet, I had him outchipped now and could really push back. But that didn't last long when I tried to steal out of the SB with Q 10 and folded to the push. It would have dropped me to just 10xs the BB and I didn't want that. Should have just called. I hate playing Q 10. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I stole a blind off of Pauly with 9 10. He booed me for the raise. I guess he had A x and wanted to play but didn't want to take any risk. Next hand, I doubled through on the annoying raiser to my right when I won a race with 77 vs A K. Suddenly I was in 2nd behind Pauly. But my hands were beginning to stink. Soon the aggro on my right would be out and I would be in the money. A whopping $34 went to 5th place!

I moved into 1st with a raise of A 10 and a caller. With a flop of Q 10 x, I went with the continuation bet and took it down.

No action on the Cowboys when I raised it up. Darn. But then I run my 8 8 into a push that has A J. Guess my luck has run out as he flops the A and I get no help. But the Hiltons come around and I get to re-raise someone to get some of those chips back.

In the end, I finished 3rd. Ran A 10 against 8 8. I felt committed to calling the re-raise, even though I was sure I was behind. Though I hit a 10 on the turn, he spiked the two outer on the river. That is how it goes some times. You hit the magic card on one hand and it haunts you later.

Whenever I finish a tournament, whether I make the money or not, I like to reflect on how I played. I don't focus on suckouts or bad beats. Instead I look back on whether I played too tight, too loose, aggressive, or not aggressive enough. I am more upset with going out on a stupid play of my own than suffering a beat by a better hand or suckout.

To get deep once again was good. It is just like sex. If feels good to get in their, pumping up the pots and performing like a stud. When it is done, you can sit back, relax, enjoy your win and think, I want to do this more often.

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