Final Table at Artichoke Joes
I’m still a sucker for safely making it to the final table. The only problem with it is that you often don’t have enough chips to really go all the way once you are there.
My tournament at Artichoke Joes started out normal enough. I did my usual buy-in for $49 + $20 for an additional $500 in tournament chips for a total of $1000. I folded a couple of hands after seeing the flop and was down to about $700 when I was dealt 99. The flop came in all low cards so I put in a bet of $300 hoping that I was enough ahead that people would fold. Unfortunately, I got one caller then one all-in. It was clear people were playing loose to double up early so I called. We exposed and I had the best of it and they didn’t improve, so I nearly tripled up right away. A couple hands later I get dealt AJ unsuited. I make a decent bet at the pot and it get called. The flop comes 99A so I figure I am sitting pretty so I try and induce a bluff by checking. He checks and we go to the turn. The next card is a T so I am still doing pretty well, although that opens up the possibility of a straight draw. I check, he checks. At this point I am surprised that he hasn’t bet at the pot. Final card is a Q. I check, he bets $600, I’m getting about 2–1 for my money so I call. He shows that he had a 9 the whole time. He might have gotten more out of me by betting rather than checking. At the break I did the add-on and ended up with about $3200.
Couple hands later I get dealt AcKc on the button. There are 4 callers around to me which means the total in the pot is already about half my stack. I go all in. Everyone folds around and I get the pot. An friend to my left guesses my hand and suggests he wouldn’t have bet it that way, I disagree, meaning I the pot was enough and I didn’t want to get drawn out on. A few hands later I get AK unsuited. This time I take his advice and make a healthy $1000 bet at the pot (BB is $200). I get 2 callers. Flop comes 3 rags, someone makes a tiny bet at the pot, the next guy folds, and I go all in. The question is then put to my opponent. Now I know that he had JJ and should have called (he is a 3–1 favorite), although he was worried about AA, KK, QQ as JJ is notoriously dangerous. He folds it and I make a bunch of money on that pot. It was actually a bluff on my part, I was pretty sure he had me beat, but I also knew that he would fold a good hand if I could convince him I had a better one. In neither case was I covered though, so they weren’t really All-Ins.
Right here in the middle of tournament, with about half the field of 111 still in the game, I got a couple of nice breaks and won two hands that I should have lost. One runner-runner flush draw. And another all-in with three way action where I had A7 and my opponents had AJ and AQ. Thank god for the 7 that came on the flop! I think that if you make it to the final table you will have to have a couple of these or more. Sometimes people just have better cards than you and you need to win a couple of 80–20 cases. One of the guys that made it to the final 2 had this kind of luck all night long. He was just one river after another.
There were a couple of hands during the night that I misread once exposed — meaning I didn’t see right away what hand won when the river was dealt. I need to practice reading hands faster. It didn’t change the way I would bet at all though, because those decisions were all seemingly made with good information and analysis. Just misread the final pay out.
I coasted into the last 16 or so players with a median stack. One guy at our table went down to $200 when the ante was $500 and the blinds $1000/$2000. He scraped his way back to $7000 before finally being sent home. I did my best to stay out of hands where I could be knocked out and was successful, although I entered the final table with a fairly weak stack.
At the final table three people were quickly knocked out and I was left as the small stack. Eventually the $1000 ante, $3000-$6000 blinds caught up with me and I had to go all in for about $15k (I was BB). I had A6 suited which I thought was pretty good. I got two callers, one with A6 and another with AT. None of us improved and AT won the hand, giving me 7th place for $500. My best showing yet! I’m still learning a lot about betting just the right amount for the effect I want and I have learned to better control my impulse to go all in on a decent (instead of great) hand. Next week is a free roll limit hold-em tournament where my final table showings give me $700 in tournament chips for free.