Seemed like I completely avoided the lunacy of last years World Series, and though I tasted bad beats and coolers this series it was nothing outside the ordinary. The final night though it just seemed destined for things to sting. In the 3 pm tournament after the first break I found myself needing to fold Queens on a 7 high flop. I 3bet and was 4bet pre. I played with this player in a mega earlier in the week (rated him as good), and though I knew he was capable of 4betting a wide range, I thought he wasn't picking a moment to mix it up. Considered folding pre but decided I'd play it like a small pair and try to make a set because we were both deep enough that I had the implied odds. I wiffed he fired again. I told him I laid down a big hand, he showed Aces and couldn't believe we didn't get it in pre when I told him I had queens.
The night before late in the main, when desperate for a hand I found Jacks and was intent on playing them, and opened the betting. A tight player on the button called and November Niner Rob Salaburu in the small blind three bet. Previously, he did that with A9 against my AQ and I took down a medium sized pot. This time just seemed different. Obviously, Salaburu has a wide 3bet range and here were two tightish players it seemed a great spot to squeeze.
My gut told me otherwise. He wasn't being an opportunist. I let Jacks go and as I did a day later to the other player said I was folding a big hand. He flashed Queens. He asked me what I mucked. I smiled fearing he wouldn't believe me and answered honestly. He said, "How can you do that I just showed you A9." I gave him reasoning half of it artificial, mostly the truth that I just didn't feel it (sorry, I'll return to the Main Event in a second but let me wrap-up Sunday first).
So, I had been making good folds the last couple of days
As so often is the case in tournaments, you have to keep making them. One of the struggles with poker, and I don't think I'm alone in this, is eventually you feel like you have to call... even when your gut says otherwise. At some point you question are you being exploited or just running really bad and they always have it. On Sunday, I tweeted that I was struggling with a fold that my head told me to always call. I said I was going to go with it being the right decision (which should always be the case) after I folded. Sure enough, I was fairly new to the that table, and that player who I had accorded young Internet light 3 and 4 bettor, then proceeded to nit it up for the next few levels. I just had the concept in my head, that despite my short stack that was a good fold and to keep listening to my gut. His later play seemed to indicate I made the correct decision.
I look at tens in the big blind. I like 'em. I needed a hand and they looked a good one. A competent player opened with a short stack. Then the guy I folded to 3 bet. My mind immediately said Aces. Ugh. He had Aces.
Later in the evening, I got a taste of what I had been missing this week. Let's call it a dumb dumb sandwich. This hand is pretty gross from two perspectives. Under the gun an older guy with the big stack at the table and in danger of nothing shoves all in. The same guy criticizing another player for open shoving when he didn't need to (with a far shorter stack). WTF...
I look at Kings. Okay. Not folding them here and if this guy is bad enough to play his aces this way he's going to get paid. And if so, I better hit a set, because the only time he'll get value for his aces are in those rare spots when somebody wakes up with Kings like this one. My image is relatively tight so my shove should have sent alarm bells off through the building.
This guy in the small blind, I guess I'd been picking on, and had kept struggling to find a hand to call me with stews. AK? I sit there for a little bit and kind of like this spot. QQ? JJ? What could he be thinking about. He calls for all his chips (less than mine). Alrighty, what we do we have. The big stack UTG says, "This is the only way I know how to play these" and shows Jacks.
WTF? My kings were already flipped and the small blind shakes his head and turns over A10--somehow surprised he's only got one over. In my head I'm thinking this is one of the better scenarios for you. Easily could have been as bad as 1010 and AA based on the action. I also got that rumble in my stomach that I knew I wasn't long for the tournament. The flop came out clean. An Ace on the turn or river crippled me as I only had a measly 800 more than the small blind. I got it in a couple of hands later and exited the room a couple seconds after that.
Some of you on here play only a little bit of poker, so let me give you some tips from that hand.
JJ open shoving as the big stack is not the way you play jacks. It's probably the worst strategy to employ, and though done out of fear, it actually is worse than any other way of playing Jacks. First off when you have the best hand you likely won't get any action and you lose value when your Jacks hold. Secondly, when you shove, the only hands that can call are better hands. Like my KK. Does it make sense to only put all your chips at risk when you are a huge underdog, or to not play the hand at all as a favorite (because the worst hands all fold). Terrible.
My King King play didn't have an options. Like I said there is only one hand that beats me, and if the guys is going to just open shove aces every time, this will be the one instance he gets max value.
The Ace 10 call, is arguably worse than the Jack Jack shove. In that spot, let's say you are aware the guy's shoving a hand he doesn't like to play. I find this to be most true of Ace Jack, Jack Jack, sometimes Queen Queen and Ten Ten. Ace ten is behind all of those hands. Then you factor in a reshove, I could have AA, KK, AK, QQ, JJ, maybe AQ,1010. So now Ace 10 has even fewer ways to win the hand. Most likely in that spot Ace Ten, will be hoping for two tens to hit the board. This is the kind of garbage I had to deal with in Vegas.
Had the hand been played properly JJ bets, I 3bet and Ace Ten either calls or folds. Jacks either calls or raise (mostly likely calls). Flop comes all rags. A10 checks, JJ probably bets. I raise, A10 folds. JJ calls or goes crazy and we get it in on the flop... or folds. If we don't maybe we both check the Ace on the turn. In position I likely bet the river after he checks and maybe he calls. Ace Ten should be nowhere near that hand at showdown or the turn. Yet, I get the ole idiot sandwich. So sorry, for our last gasp.
Alright, now let's rewind to the Main Event and it went well early.
To start I'm in the blinds, I three bet Tim Burt, and I hit the Q high flop with AQ. I opt to check call Tim Burt on every street. Bastard flopped a set and board was pretty dry, but my spidey sense told me he had a hand. If it wasn't him probably I lose more but now I'm down like 6k.
I recognized a tight player from the East Coast who I listened to an entire dinner break talk about hands in a Nitty fashion to a friend of his at a table next to me, up in AC during a tournament last year. By the way, he's a very good nit, but I was going to be relentless on his blinds as soon as I saw our positions. There were lots of good players in that field, so good or not, I was going to exploit him and be very careful when played back at.
Sure enough unopened to me in the hijack seat I see 3-5 o/s a couple of hands later. It didn't matter what it was I was betting. I bet he called from the bb. He's got something. I flop open ended. He checks I bet. He calls. Turn is a brick he checks I check. River is an ace giving me the wheel. He checks I bet and he just calls. He later told me he had a set. WHAT? Man, should have gotten 10x as many chips maybe even a full double there. Crazy. Instead a micro pot.
Next hand I spy AK suited. I open. Old guy, who would turn out to be my nemesis all day doesn't believe it especially after I just showed 35 and rasies me from the bb. I likey. I call to further hide the strength of my hand. Flop is king high. He bets big into me. This is getting serious. I can feel this pot is going to be huge and I just sat down. Can't fold here so I call. Turn is meaningless and he fires a huge bet.
I realize I call here likely I'm calling the river with just top pair... EARLY in the tournament. I don't like it, but my gut says I have the best hand. River makes things a little easier Ace ball. He essentially puts me all in. Think he left me with 1500 or so from a 20k starting stack. I call. He says one little pair. I flip over AK and I'm ginning. That guy is down to a couple of thousands (don't cry for him as he'd lose maybe one pot (to me) for the next 8 hours... on fire on day one).
I proceed to keep hitting flops and dragging little pots. It's going great early but this kind of run good is far better late when the pots are bigger and the impact more significant. I make a great call with fourth pair against a Internet kid who thought he barrel over the table three and four betting everything. I keep pipping him. Then he completely changed his strategy as far as I was concerned. He stopped three betting me entirely and just called behind. Pretty inventive and I have to say it unsettled me.
He kind of reversed fields. I like for my opponents to think I'm a bit of a station and not know where I am. Make big calls or hide big hands but let them set the price getting tons of a value from their bluffs and losing the minimum when I'm wrong. There is so much bluffing these days I'm finding that to be very effective against all these aggressive kids. As Antonio Esfandiari said in reference to Durrrr once, sometimes you just have to find a hand and just hold on. Usually, after calling them light, and floating a lot, they stop playing pots with me, but this guy kept playing... but played different.
I flopped a bottom set on a 1086 board two clubs. The internet kid had called my pf raise behind me and so had a limper. The pf limper bet, I smoothed called not wanting to get too crazy. I looked at the Internet kid's stack and he had about 8k after the flop. I decided if he outflopped me I was going to be willing to pay him off here. He also did something which made me think he hit the flop good. He raised (that wasn't it, but that told me the same thing too). Limper went away. I decided if he had a big draw like J9 or QJ or two clubs I'd put him to the test. I shove and he instacalled with 97 (ugh). Back into the 20s and there I stayed with my stack fluctuating between 24 and 40 most of the day. I just couldn't sustain momentum one way or the other. I went card dead before the dinner break. Actually was card dead almost the entire day not counting the opening levels but I picked my spots and sustained and grew my stack. Reason why I was so up and down was I didn't ever have it, sometimes I'd get called and sometimes I wouldn't.
Course when I did flop a hand it was always against my nemesis that tried to bluff off his tournament in the opening level. And he always just had me.
He won a couple of pots like that and I found myself short again. Right before dinner. Burt opened from late position. I saw Kings. I knew the big blind, the Internet kid was short, so I just called anticipating a shove. He did shove. Burt folded and I called. He had QJ suited. My Kings held.
I think I made a mistake after dinner when I had AK on a JJxJx board and didn't call my nemesis final barrel. My gut told me he didn't have it. Just so many times you can pay off a guy with second best that I ceded the pot to him on the river. The bet sizing was just like his other hands when he had it. Something was amiss though and it felt more like the early broken bluff then anything else. Only reason I called the flop and turn was I thought I was good. River didn't change anything I guess I just wimped out and thought he take that line with many pocket pairs. I didn't want to fire a raise into him as I thought he was savvy/aggressive or dumb enough to ship on me. Couldn't really figure out his play. Thought he was appropriately aggressive and probably very lucky. He also could have been skilled but considering the volume of big hands he had was really hard to tell.
After dinner despite that hand I went on a little run and chipped up again to a safety zone. Then when things seemed promising I went back to card dead the rest of the night. Little sparkles of interests, like when I had the JJ I folded to Salaburu and that was about it. Steady diet of J3 o/s. Couldn't even time my steals right and then just went into short stack poker. Late at night I was about to hit the blinds and decided I was shoving anything decent utg. I saw a 6 and then another. I don't like shoving little pocket pairs because generally you are never anything but 50/50 in your best case scenarios and many times dominated. Still, I went with my plan, I had found a hand and my image probably only warranted calls from monsters. My nemesis of course woke up to Queens and just like that with a couple of levels to the end of the day I hit the showers.