Day 7 – an impressive result

Posted: September 24, 2007 in Las Vegas 2007, Tournaments

Impressive indeed. Managed to go out on the first hand!!! Quite a feat for such a deep stacked tournament. It’s a really good structure, $150 freeze-out, with 4000 chips to start and 40 minute levels, giving some great opportunity for complex drawn-out poker, rather than the usual luck fest that these cheap buy-in events tend to be.

So how did this marvel occur? I guess in a nearby Sushi bar, where Hing, Alb and I elected to grab a quick bite of pre-game brain food. We were late sitting into the game, but given the 40 minute levels a little time lost at the start was considered no big deal.

As I was approaching the table, I could see my empty seat (among the 90 something occupied) and the dealer about to scoop-up the cards I’d already paid for. I dashed in and dropped my Borgata chip marker onto the cards to claim them while I made myself comfortable. Nice, a pair of black 4’s, mid-position and an unraised pot, a good spot to limp in for 50 and try to make a set (a 7:1 shot). Unfortunately get a raise to 150 from the seat immediately to my left. Folded around, including the blinds, but heads-up with 100 to call into a 325 pot there’s still value.

Flop comes 459 rainbow. Sweet. I can’t put the raiser on any kind of straight draw with his mid position raise, he most likely just has big cards that have completely missed the flop so I decide is a safe spot to slowplay my set. He makes it 400 to go, indicating either an overpair or a continuation bet, and I call.

Turn comes a black Ten, putting two clubs and another straight draw on board. Definitely time to bet. I pop-out 600 for a half-pot bet that should deny him the odds to draw at his straight or flush. He raises to 1200. I deliberate for a moment or two then move all-in, figuring he’s probably semi-bluffing with the draw.

We both flip up our hands, me to show bottom set, and him to show his rather overplayed over-pair of Jacks.

Inevitably he hits his two outer Jack on the river to send me packing on the first hand. Hey, that’s the breaks. You’ll never hear me complain about getting it all in good.

Left Hing and Alb to it and took my game over to Harrah’s to jump slightly late into the 7.30pm $100 buy-in event alongside Duns and Taij. Only two tables in play, so rather less to play for, however had a reasonable run of cards and made the final table with a decent stack to show. Taij had been knocked out earlier, but Duniya was making a good show on my table.

Having watched her play, I’m starting to think that she’s got a real blossoming talent for tournament poker. She’s aggressive in her early and mid-game play, and is just lacking some of the basic end-game theory to improve her results. A good illustration is the hand that she took me out on (!!!).

I had been playing slightly loose, to take advantage of our table of rather too tight opponents. Duns has played with me many times before, and knows that I’m able to make a move with any two cards when the time is right. I know she knows this, as with blinds of 100/200 I open for a raise to 600 from mid-position with 97s. There are two callers behind me, and then from the button Duniya raises to 1200. It’s folded to me, and with another 600 to call with a suited one-gapper I hang-in. The two players caught between us both fold, indicating once again their weak playing style – as if they can legitimately call my original raise they really should be able to call the final 600 getting almost 5:1 from the pot, especially the last guy who doesn’t need to fear a re-raise (if they put me on nothing they really should be re-raising themselves rather than limping).

The flop comes a rather delightful 58A with two clubs, giving me the flush draw and a gutshot straight draw. I check my big draw, Duns bets 1500, and I move all-in for a final 700. Duns calls (as she has to with almost any cards given the odds), and shows A8o for top two pair.

The turn comes the 9 of hearts, giving me an open-ended straight draw to go with the flush-draw, but unfortunately the river isn’t one of the 15 cards remaining in the deck that I need to win the hand, and Duns takes down a big pot and the chip lead.

I’ll leave Duns to write-up her thoughts on the end-game of the tournament, as from some close observation of her hole cards over her shoulder I was able to point out two major improvements that would help her results no-end.

One that I will highlight in this posting though was my comment to her on the pre-flop minimum raise that led to my demise in the tournament. There are really only seven fundamental reasons to raise in poker:

  1. To get more money in the pot when you have the best hand.
  2. To drive out opponents when you have the best hand.
  3. To bluff or semi-bluff.
  4. To get a free card.
  5. To gain information.
  6. To drive out worse hands when your own hand may be second best.
  7. To drive out better hands when a come hand bets.

[copywrite David Sklansky, The Theory of Poker]

With a rather mediocre hand like A8o and three players already in a raised pot, I think the right play is either to fold, or to try to win the pot right there with a decent sized re-raise (as Duniya intended). However her small raise of 600 into a pot of 3300 just isn’t sufficent to achieve this end. The appropriate sized raise would be more like 1500 to 2000, but this much would pretty much commit her to calling if I re-re-raised with a premium hand.

In my view, this is really the defining problem with playing these cheap short-stacked poker tournaments. Beyond level 2 (which is after 30 minutes in this 15 minute/level shoot-out structure), the ratio of stack size to blinds (what Harrington refers to as as players ‘m’) puts everyone at the table in the yellow or orange zone. It’s just not possible to play small ball poker, as any pre-flop re-raise usually needs to be an all-in to be at all effective. In this format, you really just lose the ability to play long range tournament moves, which is part of the challenge of the game, and what separates the average from the good or great player. After all, any fool can move all-in pre-flop with any two cards (and frequently does), but it takes experience to read and out-play your opponents once the flop is out.

So, all in all a rather sad effort taking me into the red on my tournament play for the first time in the trip.

Tournaments: -$25 in 8 hours and 1 minute
Cash games: +$42 in 21 hours

  1. Albert says:

    This is a side note on the Caesar’s tourney that I, Luke and Hing played in. After Luke lasting all of 5 minutes, myself and Hing ploughed on playing on the same table. It was a bit of a roller coaster, with a couple of run-ins with Hing despite agreeing to stay out of each other’s way. My final hand was AKs on the button. I raised, and it had to him, Hing pushed me all-in from the small blind. I called and he flips over AA, which stand up and I’m out. He claims he did try to warn me. He said he tried to tell me he had aces, but there were 2 problems – he said it in Chinese (which I don’t know very well) and at a volume so low that he barely heard it himself. After I thought about his re-raise and said “I have to call”, to his credit, he tried to warn me again by saying sheepishly, “No, you really don’t have to”. Unfortunately, I took as a sign of weakness and would have re-raised him had I had more chips! Hing went on to finish 6th.

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