Persistence and rationality in Poker
After some errors and some brutal beats over the last few tournaments, my persistence finally pays off.
Over the last 2 months since the free roll tournament I have played in 5 tournaments at Artichoke Joes. The very first one after the free roll, my wife and her sister came to watch me make one of the biggest mistakes of my short poker career. It all started when there were about 16 players left and I had the short stack. Through some act of the ever charitable poker gods I went all-in twice and put myself a bit above the median chip stack. Now you might say, why didn’t I just calmly slide into the final table as I am wont to do? Well, in retrospect, I think that what happened is that I did not respect the chips that I won because of the ease at which they came and the closeness to elimination I had been. Sitting there with 11 people left, you remember of course that the final table and the rewards are for those that last till there are 10 people, I got my now hated hand, the KJ. It looked pretty good, and I was up against the guy i had smashed in the head to get to this position. I am in the big blind and he raises it up to twice the big blind. Surely I could have just thrown it away, or even called, but no, for some reason I say “All in”. He doesn’t beat me into the pot, instead he ponders for a long time. By this point, I am thinking I want him to fold. They were even calling time on him. The judge was rushing over to finish the hand and fold his cards, but at the last second, he says it… “Call!” Well, he had, A9, nothing on the board changed, and I got my Karmic retort. I never thought I would go out 11th. Now I know how it can happen.
The next 3 tournaments were a series of have-to moments that threw me out on my ass. First I am short stacked with half the field left, there are some calls around the table, I get AK and go all in. The chip leader at the table sees a good value for his 99 and calls. Nothing happens, I go home. I can write that off as a small mistake, in that I overplayed my hand with the chip leader still in the pot. The next tournament was a little nastier. I have medium stacks and get dealt TT in the small blind. There are about 4 callers in the ring, I raise all-in, intending to take the pot. The big blind calls my all-in, but I have him covered, everyone else folds. We turn over our cards and he reveals his 99. This is 4–1 in my favor. A 9 comes on the flop to give him trips, and I am crippled, but not out. Next hand I am on the button and get dealt JJ. There are about 4 calls around the ring, I go all in, and everyone folds except the chip leader. He takes his time, hems and haws, finally says that he is tired of me stealing his limp-in, and calls me down. He shows his 8T unsuited. For a moment, I am joyous, I have him with almost 6–1 odds. Then the unthinkable happens and a pair of 8s comes on the flop, giving him trips. Nothing else comes and I go home. There was about a 2.5% chance of losing both those hands. The next tournament ended in classic poker style. First some back story, let’s call one of the guys Bob. Bob gets QQ and goes all-in against AA. A Q comes on the flop and he doubles up. A few hands later I get KK. Bob raises, someone else goes all in whom I have covered, then I go all in, Bob covers me. As soon as Bob calls, I realize that my first decent hand since the break is about to get busted by something terrible. I couldn’t believe it, we reveal to find that Bob has AA and the other guy has QQ. Nothing is more typical in no-limit than AA vs. KK vs. QQ, etc. Nothing happens on the board and KK/QQ go home. Pretty frustrating, but I feel like I have been playing well, just getting some terrible beats.
Last night I played solid. I made a lot of hard folds that turned out to be correct. I made some big bets and pushed winners out of the hands. I got decent cards, but never got into a position where I was sucker punched. Probably the most annoying hand of the night was my AK vs. AT vs. A3. The AT hit his T and nearly tripled up. I was persistent and thoughtful but still aggressive, I have long since decided that I am going to swing for the fences to put myself in a position to win, if I make it to the final table. Up until this point I had forgotten about the side bet 9 of us made. We each put in $20 for the person that lasts the longest. The final 3 of that mini-tourney were all at the same table. One of them dropped and the other guy offered to split it with me. He had fewer chips so I agreed, but I would take $100 vs. his $80, because I had the higher chip count. Another notch for Karma. The last hand before the final table, I was dealt AQ. A small stack went all in, I called. He had KJ. An imminently bustable hand and low, it did bust. He got knocked out at the same time as another guy so they split 10th place and we went to the final table with 9. I was about a median stack at the final table with about 16k in chips. The antes were $200 with a $500/$1000 blind structure for the first 4 minutes, as we completed the previous round of play. I think we dropped one more person during this round. There were a few short stacks, so people were basically waiting them out.
The next round antes were $500 with blinds of $700/$1500. I was getting down around $10k at this point and get dealt KK. No one took me up on my reraise all in, and I took a little more than the blinds and antes — which was quite considerable. That gave me some breathing room and I watched the number of players drop to 5. The blinds increased again to $1k/2k as we were going into a game of inches with high stakes. I was sitting around the $30k mark, which was comfortable, but there were a couple of huge stacks. The last woman in the tournament, an incredibly silent Asian with dark glasses and a stone stare, finally took out #5 with some decent cards, probably Kx. She was by far the chip leader. So we had 4 people left. There was me, `laiing tight aggressive (I think), her playing just aggressive, another playing a tight game, and the fourth getting lucky. The lucky guy beats her all in twice in a row and is now the new chip leader and she is on the short stack. She goes all in and I call with Ax. She show Kx and I knock her out. This makes me the chip leader.
Now my favorite play of the game. I’m big blind and lucky guy calls. I have T6. The flop comes 8T6. Two pair, how should I play it. I decide to go for broke and check his check. A Q falls on the turn, he bets like 4x BB. I raise him all in, he calls and shows his Q7, I show my two pair. A 3 comes on the river and he goes home. Ah, sweet justice. So its down to me and this other guy whom I later find out is named Fred. Fred’s a nice young asian guy, totally likable. We go back and forth awhile, thu chi` l