The theory of poker is boiled down into a fundamental theorem. Every time a poker player plays their hand as if they could see the other players hand, they gain. Its quite simply stated, but the mathematics behind it is quite interesting and the book goes into great detail on calculating the odds you will win, how much money you will win over time, and how much you should bluff. I don’t expect I’ll ever be able to do the calculations required in my head, but the background gives me a good basis for understanding hands and how I should play them optimally. Ideally I’d like to figure out a lot of common situations and extrapolate from them rather than calculating everything exactly. I may change my mind about that over time and decide that I have to do the math.
As usual the tournament at Artichoke Joes was overflowing and there were many alternates that didn’t make it. I think the final number was 106 people. Like before, I bought in for $60 to start with $1000 in chips, since at that point they were selling for quite a discount ($20 for an additional $500). I sat down at table 10 with a group of latecomers, it turned out that they had screwed up the table placements and everyone that got there around 6:15 got table 10. The guy to my left I knew to be a tight-aggressive player who had made the final table with me the last time. He’s a good player and I was a bit worried about him following me. I don’t remember much before the break except that as usual there was some guy who busted like 5 times and another that busted 4 times. I think I made my stacks mostly off a single hand, I was big blind, there was no raise and I had Q3o. The flop came Q94, someone bet and two of us called. The next card was a 5. Again a bet around, again 3 callers. The last card was my other 3. That looked pretty good to me, so I check-raised the guy all-in, one guy called, the other had called the bet, but folded under my pressure. I showed my hand, he mucked his. I thought he might have had a Q, but I’m not sure. I won a few other hands to keep steady, I don’t think I showed down and lost at the first table. Now comes the break and basically everyone buys the add-on for $40 to get an additional $1000 in chips. It’s not a discount, but you are at a pretty deep disadvantage if you have a middling stack and don’t buy it. My stack, with the add-on, was $3500.
The trip from 106 people down to 30 people took almost 2 hours. My stacks hadn’t moved at all between the first and second break. I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to make the final table if I didn’t do something rash. I decided to significantly loosen my starting hand restrictions and also go all-in a few times on decent, but not spectacular, hole cards. It worked quite well, I even got called once when I had the goods. I quickly went from a short stack to almost $15000. When it got down to 15 people or so, people start to get a little nervous. Short stacks try and go all in to avoid the blinds knocking them out. I was able to take advantage of a few of them and take them out when they were short and got up to $25000 before the 11th person fell. The one hand that got away was an AA hand (I got one the whole night). The chip leader to my right was holding $5k in chips getting ready to throw it in. I don’t know if I somehow tipped him off that I had good cards, but he didn’t call and folded saying he had a feeling that I was tough. That one would have been a good one.
The third break came and I was going into the final table with the 2nd biggest stack. Pretty good from where I had come from. A shorter stack at the table tried to convince everyone to split the $9800 purse evenly. There was only one dissenter and he wasn’t even the chip leader. That guy owes me some money. Why I didn’t just sit quietly and wait for an amazing hand, I don’t know. I got sucked in by a dream I suppose. I was big blind with two callers, I had 3d5d. Not a great hand at all, so I checked and saw the flop. The flop came Ah4d6d. It looked so beautiful. I had a straight-flush draw, a flush draw, and a straight draw. My opponents I was sure both had aces. I was moderately worried about a higher flush draw, but what can I do. It went around and by the end of the betting my two opponents were all-in and I still had about $6000 left in chips. We exposed our cards. The Pro had Ad7d and the other guy had A7o. DAMN! They both had aces as suspected, but what I didn’t know is that the Pro had a better flush draw and that both of them had two of my outs for my straight (and one of my straight-flush outs). A four came on the turn and the river and my stack was smashed.
Somehow people went all-in about 5 times and were called but they won, surviving against my wishes. This was extraordinarily bad for me. As a pretty short stack at that point and with the blinds going up to $2000-$4000 and the ante’s $1000, I was not long for this world. I went out 10th with a J5o and even money. Oh well. If I had just folded that critical hand I would have been fine and might have made a few bucks. I would have almost tripled up and would have been the overwhelming favorite to win if only a 2 had come. I would probably played it similarly if I had a chance, although perhaps a little more cautiously. A 10th place finish doesn’t do much for my bank roll, but it does give me another $100 in chips for the free roll tournament in August. With two wins, that gives me $600 in starting chips.