I am finally at the end of a long up and down day in my little poker world. I'm going to give a quick snapshot and for you complete poker geeks at the end will be a critical hand break down.
I didn't play very well but didn't come out badly. The first event was a $5oo buy in event. Previous days had around 250 players. Today there were only 211. Later, I heard the reason for the low turnout was they had several refunds due to the starting chips stacks.
Normally in a tournament this size you would start with 4000. This one started with 2000. I thought it was odd but just adjusted my play. Smaller chip stacks mean more action and aggressive play.
I quickly built my stack up to almost 5000 by slowing playing a set of tens and then taking out another player with my KK over his QQ. For the next hour, I bled a little but nothing critical. When they finally broke our table, I was down to about 3800 with the average stack sitting at about 2300.
My new table was much less friendly and on the second hand I picked up QQ. That's a dangerous hand at a new table where you have practically no information on the other players. It turned out to be a critical hand in my tournament life and by the end of it, my stack was more than cut in half. For a detailed breakdown of the hand, read all the way to the bottom.
After that I floated around like a wraith for almost two hours but couldn't make any progress. Eventually I went all in with A-8 and a kid in a Texas Longhorns hat who also was pretty short called. He had A-10. His held up and I was out.
I felt like I didn't play very good poker. I was far too tentative and far too ready to be pushed around. I let others put me to the decision and that is a recipe for failure.
I drank a few beers and decided I needed one more taste. I played a $125 single table tourney and won, raking in $500. I was virtually even again and felt I was back on my game.
I played another of single table tourney and was doing well again. With only six players left I had 4000. Well above the table average. But after some dead cards and some bad beats I was out in fourth. But I didn't care because this table was the most fun of the day. Skilled players but people that mostly wanted to enjoy playing poker. Despite the loss it was a pleasant, stress free end of the day.
So the final tally for day one is a net loss of $250. Not good but not disastrous. Tomorrow, I will play in the next $500 main event. It should be with the regular amount of starting chips and a larger field.
Critical Hand: What follows is my critical hand of the day. I made two disastrous mistakes. See if you can spot them. I'll reveal what I think they are at the end.
Situation: 9 Person table. You've just been moved to it about 10 minutes previously and have very little information. The blinds are 25/50. You have 3800 and the average chip stack in the tourney is 2300. You are fourth position or two after the big blind.
Third position folded and I look down to see QQ. This is a dangerous hand in early position and I don't know anything about anybody so I want to discourage action. I raise to 200.
Position 5 calls. Everyone else folds. Pot is now 550. Position 5 has me covered. He's second big stack at the table.
Flop coms 5-6-9. Two spades. I bet out 300. Positon 5 raises to 600. I re-raise to 1200. Position 5 goes all in.
Uh-oh. At this point, I go into analysis mode. He has a large stack so he can afford to speculate pre-flop. Based on that I believe he would call a 4x big blind raise with one of three hands: 78 suited, some sort of middle pair like 66 or a couple of high suited cards which is now giving him the flush draw. This is a bad spot. My best case scenario is a pair of high cards which have him on the spade draw. That's actually in his favor. Anything else has me crushed. My read was he hit the set on the 55 or the 66. So after much consternation, I folded after losing over half my stack.
Although he did not show his cards, based on table chatter afterward my guess is my read was wrong. I believe he probably had something like A9 of spades. Still not a great opposing hand with your life on the line, but if I had called I would have had the best hand at the moment.
So where did I go wrong? Did you guess? Here are my thoughts.
This is a classic example of what some call going down a dark tunnel. You keep stepping forward never realizing the darkness is closing around until it's too late.
My pre-flop action was absolutely correct. And my read that most likely the flop didn't help was actually also correct. My mistake came on my bet. I was out of position with straight and flush draws all over the place. You do not want action in this position. I bet 3/5 the pot. That's an action bet. Not a discouragement bet. I should have bet about 500, almost the size of the pot.
My bad first bet led to his inevitable raise. Now I make the more critical mistake. At this point I should realize I have stepped into the dark tunnel and decide to either rush forward or get the hell out. The only move forward here is all in. If he has hit his straight you are dead, but if he has anything else, you have put him to a decision. No limit poker is about putting a man to a decision.
Instead, I made a stupid double bet. Not nearly enough to scare him off and more importantly giving him the momentum back. He immediately goes all in, so suddenly I am put to a decision. Did you see how quickly it went from me forcing him to make a decision to his forcing me to make a decision?
So the end result of my two bad decisions in one hand was losing half my stack. The result of this loss of chip leverage resulted in me being crippled for the rest of the tournament. With my options limited, eventually I ran out of room to maneuver and then ran out of chips.
All because of the seemingly small mistake of betting 300 instead of 500 into a 550 pot. Butterfly wings that become hurricanes.