Friday, May 23, 2008

The meltdown

Last year, Memorial Day and the two weekends that bracket it were when I had my biggest poker winnings of the year. I won or chopped five of the six tournaments I played in and I ran hot in the cash games.

The tourists come to the casinos with baseball caps turned around backwards, an appetite for beer and liquor, and plenty of cash. It's hard not to drool on your chips. Sometimes I turn my baseball cap around backwards as well, but I don't ever drink.

To get in the mood, I went to the 6 p.m. tournament at the Goldstrike Casino last night (Thursday). There is a $125 buyin (no rebuys). After about three hours, I was at the final table with nine other players. My stack was T12,600 which was average. I've found that when the final table is first formed, players are tight. They don't want to be the first one to bust out. They are settling in. Often the play goes like this: someone raises and everyone else folds. We don't see many flops for a while, or the flop comes down, someone bets and takes the pot.

The blinds were T300/T600 with a T75 ante. Each pot has T1650 chips before the betting. One of the reasons for my success is that I realize that the T1650 is worth 13% of my stack!! and I have an average stack. This is worth fighting for, especially if they are going to let you take it.

The second hand, I am in middle position and look down to see K Q. I raise to T2400, expecting to scoop the pot, but a short stack moves all in. He had T5400, and it costs me T3000 more. I didn't like it, but I pretty much had to call. Besides the math, I would lose a lot of table image if I fold here. I called and he turned over one of the nightmare hands (against my holding): K K. Yuck.

I flopped a queen, turned a fourth heart, but his hand held up and I was down to T7200; this was not a good beginning.

It's interesting that K Q was the exact hand that busted me out in the tournament I played last Friday, reported on here. Maybe I'm overplaying that hand, or maybe a sample size of two is too small.

On the next hand, I held A 10 and again raised to T2400. A solid player with a ton of chips reraised all in. I folded. Do you agree? The difference between this and the previous hand is that:
1. this guy's most likely holding is a bigger ace,
2. He has enough chips to knock you out and
3. If you fold, you still have enough (barely) chips to work with.

Yuck, I was down to T4600 (T75 each hand for the antes).

The very next hand I held 8 8, so I moved all in. Would you? My M is about 3, so I have to shove with just about anything and hope to take the blinds/antes or suck out if anyone called. I am lucky, however, to actually have a hand. Now I hoped to either take the blinds and antes, or, if someone called with A/K type hand, to double up. T10,800 or whatever puts me back in play. A good player also pushed all in -- good, I have some protection. In a spot like this, You don't want to play against more than one other player; surviving is more important than the extra chips. But the good player (he's won WSOP circuit events when they come around here each year) showed Q Q and they held up. My meltdown was complete. Good hand, good luck everybody (and don't I look foolish?).

Do you think I did anything dumb? I know the results are putrid, but aggressive play (if they let you get away with it) is how you win tournaments. Sitting around and finally coming in fourth or fifth is -EV considering the money is skewed towards 1st and 2nd place (I think 1st was around $1500 while 5th paid ~$300). It's worth going for the big prize, but it didn't work this time.

The good news? Hey, I'm going back tonight. I'm putting on my baseball cap backwards too; I intend to win some serious money in the cash games.

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