When play started on Day 2, there were 40 of us left. Players were from 15 different states. I would have guessed that Louisiana was the most highly represented, but I would have been wrong. Texas had 11, Florida had seven and Louisiana had six. The average chip stack was around 110,000, but 24 of us had less than 100,000 (I had 57,000). Time to go for it, right? Wrong. Because of the structure there was still plenty of play, but players looked around trying to figure out how to double up. The tournament blind levels, however, favor patience. Making moves is a mistake.
Here's a deal for you: A player raises from middle position to 2.4 times the big blind. You are in the small blind and see ♥K ♦Q. What would you do? You call. The flop is K-7-2 rainbow. You check and the other guy, a nitty old man, bets about 40% of the pot, and it's back to you. The guy who held this hand must have decided I had made a weak continuation bet, so he shoved. I was happy to call with A-K to double up. The guy made three mistakes. He called a raise with a trouble hand, he called a raise out of position and he called a raise after a lot of thought (I could tell he was never thinking of raising, just whether to call or not), so I was almost positive he had something similar to what he held. Thanks for the double-up, bro.
A guy who had the huge stack (~650,000) raised to 32,000 from early position with ♦Q ♦J. It folded to me and I wanted to raise, but that would pot-committed me so I re-raised all in. Wouldn't you fold without even thinking? The
I showed him ♠J ♣J, and he was in big trouble. No queen came and I now had a big stack myself. Aggression is fine, but sometimes you have to find the fold button. My all-in didn't have to mean I was desperate -- it may mean I had a good hand.
I also saw (on Day 2) several instances where players were just not paying attention. This was the worst: It folded to the button who is an accomplished player (this guy). He asked the small blind how many chips he had, got the answer, then said, "All in." The blinds folded, but remember I said it folded to the button? Actually, the UTG player had raised. He now snap-called and turned over Q-Q. The button, who hadn't noticed that anyone else was in the pot, turned over ♥Q ♥10. He didn't get lucky and was soon headed for the rail, whining "I didn't see him, I didn't see him."
Another hand: There was a raise from the cut-off to 12,500 when the blinds were 5000/2500/500. The small blind said call and tossed out another 2500, oops. He hadn't noticed the raise, but was forced to put in 12.5 because of his verbal declaration. He soon kissed those chips good bye. Folks, pay attention. We're playing for some serious money (first place was $28,000).
Soon after this, a guy meant to raise, but made a string bet. Not only that, but he didn't keep a poker face and tried to argue about it. Yes, he won the pot on the flop and showed his aces, but could have likely gotten another bet out of the other guy. Shocking.
The strangest play was when we were seven- or eight-handed. The button raised to 34,000 (the blinds were 16,000/8,000/3,000). This guy is no chump -- he finished 21st in the 2009 WSOP Main Event. A player (who finished sixth in the WSOP 2010 Main Event) with 1.2 million in chips three bet him from the big blind to 115,000. He had three bet him several times and each time the button had laid his hand down. This time the button (who had 770,000) moved all in. The three-better snap-called and turned over 9-9. I have to admit my jaw dropped. The button turned over A-A. The aces held.
I admit I'll never make the final table of the ME, too cautious. But if I ever make a call like this (absent a super read on the other guy), go ahead and call me a donkey.
Photos taken with my P&S.