Sunday, January 11, 2009

Swimming with sharks

I played in the Sunday Millions on Poker Stars. The entry fee was $215 and the prize pool was guaranteed to be $1.5 million. I usually play in cheap $5 and $10 MTT online, so this was a step up. I've forked over more than that quite a few times in live tournaments, but online I'm conservative. I won this seat in the WBCOOP qualifying, so it's a free-roll for me.

When I registered, there was a notice that said all hole cards will be shown for players who reach the final table. Oh no! I can't bear the thought of blog readers everywhere laughing at my nitty play. I reluctantly checked the box that said ok. Um, wait, there's this little detail about reaching the final table first, right?

Blinds started at 25/50 and the stacks were 10,000. At game time, there were 7,908 players, um, some weren't really players runners.

3:34 p.m. - There were two empty seats at my table. The first orbit I played 10 9 and flopped a straight (Q-J-8) and won a small pot. My stack was 10,550.

3:37 p.m. - I had A A on the button. Everyone folded to me, so I got tricky and limped. I made a minimum bet on a flop of low cards and the BB folded. Too bad I had that hand and got no action. I knew I would need good hands like that one later when the blinds and antes get to be sky-high.

3:46 p.m. - Blinds were 50/100 and I had A-10 in BB. The button raised to 200 and I called for 100 more. The flop was K-9-x. I checked and the villain CB to 200. I called. The turn was a 9 and I checked as did he. Now I was pretty sure he's full of it -- perhaps A-Q, A-Js, an underpair or air. The river was a rag and I bet 444 and he folded. I successfully floated from out of position! Kids, don't try this at home. My stack was 10,950. At this time, there were 8,134 players enrolled and late registration was still open. There were still only seven players at the table and the blinds were coming around lightning-fast.

3:57 p.m. - It was folded to me on the button and I chose to play 9 6. I bet on the flop and was called. I folded on the turn when a player made a good-sized bet. Yuck, first misstep.

3:58 p.m. - It was folded to me and I raised to 300 with A-J off and won the blinds.

3:59 p.m. - Late registration was closed. There were 8,268 runners. To win in a field this large, you have to take chances. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

4:00: p.m. - The blinds were 100/200 I raised to 555 with A J and get one caller. Flop was 10-x-x and I CB to win the pot. My stack was now at 11,283.

4:04 p.m. - I was moved to a different table. My stack was at 10,883. Blinds were still 100/200. J-10 off in the BB and it is min-raised with two other players. I call for 200 additional. Flop was 8-7-7 with two diamonds. One player made big bet and another called -- I folded.

4:10 p.m. - The cutoff raised. I called on button with Q J. They say you should raise or fold. Heck, it was early in the tournament, so decided not go crazy. Flop was Q-J-10 and raiser checked. I bet a little more than half the pot and he folded. Stack was now 11,183. Easy game, call with crap, hit two pair, no problem -- I'm a great player, no?

4:18 p.m. - Picked up J J and raised three times the big blind. It folded to the Big Blind who moved all in! His stack was 31K, so I inferred he was an active player. My first instinct was to fold, but wait, not so fast. I tried to put him on a hand. Why move all in? I ruled out aces and kings. The villain might raise, but not all in -- no reason to run me away. I went into my time bank and finally decided he had a hand that he didn't want to play out of position, most likely A-K. He could also have J-J, a hard hand to play when high cards hit the flop, but that was unlikely because I had two of them. He could also have Q-Q or 10-10, but big slick was the most likely.

Next, I had to decide whether to play with him or not. Often I'm nitty and hate to play for my tournament life in a coin flip situation. I always think I can outplay them later, so why take a chance. This tournament was different, however, because of the huge field. When I was first learning to play, I often entered the free rolls that had 5,000 players. To go deep, you absolutely had to embrace the coin flips. The strategy of just chipping up little by little didn't work -- there were too many players.

This may sound like after-the-fact rationalization, but in any event, it was what I was thinking. I took a deep breath and called. Take a look:

O-o-o-ps! Well, that certainly wasn't my best effort. I thought about not posting it because I look like a dope -- a shark took a bite out of me, so big deal. I have one more free entry and several big cans of high-grade shark repellent -- bring 'em on!


  1. Wow, really surprised to see QQ there. Crazy overbet on his part; I feel like when I've seen this play before, the villain's range also includes 66-TT, trying to force any Ax hands out preflop. FWIW, I probably call there too.

  2. The math says this: he was risking 10,000 to win 1,000 (roughly) and therefore he needs to be right 9 times out of 10 to break even.

    But it goes deeper than that. He might just be a donkey. But, he might be someone who has played enough of these that he knows he has to be frisky to build the stack to go deep. Also, don't forget he had 30K in front of him, so could lose 10K and still have a good-sized stack.