2 Christmas Tournaments

Over Christmas break I decided I want to make my semi-annual trip to Foxwoods to play some poker. I picked a $100 tournament on 12/30 as it started at a good time, 11:00, and had a mostly nice deep-stack structure, 20,000 starting stack. The only downside was that the levels were only 15 minutes long.

Early on I call a small raise from the Big Blind with 45s and check raise when I flop an open ender. Unexpectedly he re-raises me a significant amount. I fold and he shows A/A.

A few hands later it’s my turn to have A/A. It’s 50/100 so I raise from middle position to 300 and the dream becomes a reality; I get 3-bet by the button to 1,000. Not wanting to waste a good opportunity, I 4-bet raise to 5,000 and he smooth calls me. At this point I have him on a VERY narrow range: K/K, Q/Q or very improbably the other A/A. The flop is all low and I bet, he calls. The turn completes a flush draw. I decide to check and he shoves. I check my A/A and do have the nut flush draw and call. He shows Q/Q, doesn’t improve and I’m now sitting on ~35,000.

Limp in with A/Qo and just play back at the other player. See a tell for weakness and bomb the river to take it down with nothing.

Late position raise with A/J and get 2 callers. Completely miss the flop but push 1 player out with a c-bet. Hit the Ace on the turn and check/call. A big bet on a blank river by me and I take the pot down.

Potentially the most important hand of the tournament:

I raise from middle position with 9/9 and get 1 caller. The flop is 9/x/x. I bet 1/2 pot and get a fold. I say good fold and show my set…only to discover that there was another player still in the hand… The BB had called and from the looks of him at that point was going to call my c-bet. The dealer calls the floor over who rewards me with a 1-round penalty. So much for paying attention!

So not only was this a big bruise to my ego, but potentially a big loss to my chip stack. If he had called I potentially could have gotten a lot more chips off of him. I won enough on the hand to get me through my 1 round penalty and be basically back where I was before that hand. However, I lost the most important thing in a tournament: Time. Who knows what could have happened during those 15 minutes? It could have been terrible sure, but it could have been amazing too. Alas!

At this point I’m sitting on around 50,000. Not bad and definitely a little above average.

I call a small raise with 6/6. I miss the Ace high flop completely, but the original raiser checks to me. I of course want to just take the pot down right there so put out a normal sized bet. My opponent immediately goes all-in. Yuck.

I can accept that this is a completely valid strategy. Raise pre-flop and then check-raise the flop. However, it’s just one of those moves that I REALLY hate. It just feels like such an A-Hole thing to do.

As the blinds continue to increase, the players become more and more erratic.

There are 2 limpers and I look down at A/K and raise. One of the limpers shoves. I fold, the other limper folds and he shows A/A.

I raise again with A/K and again someone shoves on me. I fold. Have I mentioned lately that I HATE A/K?

I raise a 3rd time with A/K and sure enough, someone shoves on me. I violate one of my cardinal rules here and call. I was SO frustrated at this point. He of course turns over K/K and crushes me. ~20,000 remaining with the blinds moving up fast.

I go into short stack mode and start stealing wherever I can. However, I can’t seem to win much. I finally blind shove from the button and am called by the small blind. He turns over A/4 and I turn over… wait for it… 7/2o. Wonderful. Good game. 25/80.

I ended up playing for a good 4 hours, so that was a lot of fun for just a $100 tournament.

Later that day, my friend Cobra joined me and we bought into the 6:00 $120 tournament. 20 minute levels and I think a 15,000 starting stack.

A few people started out the tournament pretty rough and there were a few short stacks immediately. I thought I could capitalize on that by calling an all-in with A/K (I’m retarded). I figured I was good when the board had and Ace on it, but my opponent showed A/A. Yuck.

This table ended up being quite the crazy table. Someone else at one point mentioned that it was a circus. Definitely better players than my first tournament and many of them were making crazy plays and then hitting the board. That always seems unfair to me. Poker Gods: Make it right!

I raise from late position with 8/8. Don’t make a set on the flop, my c-bet doesn’t take it down. I’ve got him squarely on over cards. When the river is a 10, I figure I’m good. Nope, he calls my bet and shows A/10. I’m always surprised when players don’t give up, at least on the turn, against aggression.

So like I said, very crazy table and I go into a short stack management game. Patience!

Get a nice triple up with Q/Jo and think I might be able to play again.

A few hands later I’m in the big blind with J/5o and get to see the flop for free. K/J/8. It checks around. I figure my Jack is potentially good so I bet on the 9 turn and get 1 caller. I figure he must have a 9 in his range which is good for me as long as the river is kind. It isn’t. A 10 on the river gives anyone with a Q a straight. Q/9 is definitely in his range. I play with heart and bet, but he shoves on me. I fold. He shows Q/9o. That one hurt.

I’ve probably done it plenty of times, but I do feel like I’ve been losing a lot lately to gut-shot straight draws.

With a little below my starting stack, probably around 11,000, which is probably 5ish big blinds, I find myself with A/2s. It limps around to me and I figure this is a great spot to steal and shove. The big blind considers and then calls. This of course creates a domino effect and the other two limpers call. I do NOT want to be in a 4-way pot with A/2, not even when it’s sooted!

The flop is very kind to me: 2/6/x, 2 spades. The turn and river do not help and I end up losing to the button who called with A/6o. Brilliant. Out 31/60.

Key learnings:

Patience – I can always work on this. I’ve been playing in the WRGPT and hopefully that will give me the ultimate lesson in patience.

Trapping – Watch out for people trying to trap me. I’ve definitely gotten into a more aggressive play style and that can fall prey to a good trap.

Focus – If I can maintain a constant focus on the game, I’ve found that I have a good read on what’s happening. Then I can put all the rest of my poker skills to use for how to shift the odds into my favor.

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