Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Terrific Tuesday, and Another Solid Mtt Score

Tuesday was just one of those nights at the virtual poker tables. You know, those nights. Those rare times when you just seem not to be able to do much wrong. And when you run like I normally do, believe you me, these times are quite few and quite far between. But Tuesday was one of those nights. And as an mtt guy, one of those nights has an especially fun significance, meaning that I was up late once again making several deep runs in mtts I was focusing on. I've written about this many times, but you simply cannot mimic the incredible excitement and euphoria of running deep in an mtt in any way via playing sitngos or even by playing cash. Sure I've had those phenomenal "up 5 buyins" nights at the cash tables, and of course those are fun as fuck too. But it's just not the same. Nothing is quite the equal of the thrill and excitement and anticipation and tension involved in making a good deep run in one of the biggies. Something with hundreds if not thousands of runners vying for the top spot and trying to knock your ass out of the tournament. For an mtt guy such as myself, it's a feeling that just cannot be topped anywhere else in the poker universe.

Things started earlyish for me poker-wise on Tuesday, with me managing to get home and logged in at just before 8pm which features the start of a couple of large nightly mtt's on full tilt, but ones that I barely ever play either due to timing, buyin, or both. But there was the 32k, which is sort of like the 8pm ET version of the nightly 28k at 10pm -- a $26 buyin, way over a thousand donkeys every night, nlh fonkfest -- and then there is the 65k, which sports a loftier $165 buyin, and which features many of the known online poker pros on a nightly basis. Normally I am just home from work, but I am either in the middle of the maelstrom known as Putting My Kids To Bed, or I am just completed with that mountainous task and am looking to take a relaxation break before I figure out what else the night has in store. But with Hammer Wife and the Hammer Girls still away at the beach, remember this is my week to go nuts with the mtts. I've detailed my I would say very successful progress so far this week in what has truly been one of the great mtt benders of my entire onine playing career, one which has included several first-time or rarely-played tournaments, in addition to already one nice score of over $3400 from a 4th place finsh in the 50-50 tournament on this past Sunday night. So I was home early, ready to play and flush with cash in the roll. What to do?

So, having logged on just before 8pm ET, I ended up registering for both the 32k and the 65k, using some of my newfound winnings to buy in direct to both and take a shot at the 65k which I have only ever played two other times in my life. The 65k, the smaller of the tournaments given the $165 buyin, had 683 runners and would pay the top 63 players. Meanwhile, the 32k was gargantuan, with 1511 flonkeys suiting up and throwing in their $26 penance for a shot at the big time and over 7k in cash to first place. Of course I also registered for the Skills tournament, which was scheduled for HOSE at 9:30pm ET on full tilt. Bring 'em on. In fact I was so sure of myself heading into the night of poker that I also registered for the 50-50 tournaments on both full tilt and pokerstars. This is significant for me in that it would require me having five windows open and active starting at 9:30pm ET if I was still alive 90 minutes in to both THE 32k and THE 65k on full tilt. But, I figured odds were I would be out of something by then and so I could play just my normal maximum of four windows on my tiny little laptop screen.

Little did I know I would be playing five windows for over two hours before all was said and done.

In the 65k, there was not a whole lot interesting to report early on, as my big hands were basically all steals either preflop, on the flop or on the turn. I guess I thought this hand was interesting and wanted to get your thoughts, in particular about what to do at the end. This was early in the tournament -- the 15-30 blind round -- and I open-raised from middle position with AJs. Just the small blind called. When the flop came QJ9, giving me 2nd pair top kicker and no reason to believe I was behind, I c-bet it:

which my opponent smooth called. The call scared me a bit for sure. So much so that when a harmless offsuit 4 fell on the turn, I decided to check and see what he does before I make my decision:

He surprised me by checking behind here. Then the river brought an Ace, giving me top and 3rd pair, and once again my opponent checked to me:

Now here I figured was a good spot for a value bet. Now I've got him on some kind of middling to high Queen, and not much more. He called me on the flop so if I bet small enough I bet he'll call me here as well:

480 into 630. There it is. But then:

So we're very early on in the 65k, and this guy calls my preflop raise, then check-calls me on the flop, and check-check on the turn. Then suddenly on the Ace river, the check-raise out of nowhere, when I am actually holding a fairly strong hand. What gives? What do you think he has? Do you call him here, holding first and third pair early in a big nlh tournament?

For those of you interested, I simply could not piece this story together and so I called. I could easily buy the river checkraise as part of a concerted strategy or line on this hand that is designed to get the most chips from me with a monster like a flopped set. But that simply was not how he played it. The preflop call with any pocket pair is believable, as is the check-call which is most peoples' first reaction when they flop a set. Check it, and then just smooth call. It's standard flopset stuff. But then on the turn, why would he check, and then check again on the river even after missing his chance to checkraise on the turn? No, I think he would have to bet at least one if not both of those streets. I hadn't been playing particularly aggro or anything in this -- if anything, perhaps a bit tighter than usual due to poor starting cards -- and I just could not see how he went for the checkraise on the turn but I did not bite, so then when ostensibly a scary Ace comes out on the river, he is going to check it again and risk missing another checkraise opportunity? I just couldn't see it, so I called. Think that one over, and then you can click here to see what he held once you've made your guesses.

Otherwise, there really were not any huge hands to report on from the 65k. I managed to win a nice pot early, and then I basically coasted from there, surviving purely on steals and resteals, until near the bubble at 63 players remaining out of the 683 who had started. At the time I remember feeling frustrated basically all the way throughout this particular tournament, because I never really had much to work with in the way of starting cards. I also remember once again sucking out when allin at least once on the way to the money, but eventually after a longer-than-comfortable bubble, somebody was ridden out and we had made the cash. I still failed to get anything great to play with, but I managed to survive a little while longer and watch about another third or so of the field bust before losing a race and ending my run in the final 50:

Yes, the money sucks, don't I know it. But I'll still take it. For my third time ever in this tournament and now my second cash. I wish I had run deeper, but it was a jolly good time nonetheless and I even got to suck out a bit on my way there. Considering that I was always in constant scraping-by mode from just about the beginning of the second hour on in this thing, this was a solid result and I am pleased with the way I played it.

Meanwhile, of course, the blogger HOSE game had started up at 9:30, just 90 minutes in to the 65k and 32k, and I was playing that on my fifth window for a good long while until I managed to bust from both 5050s short of the money positions for the second straight night. I was paying attention, but truth be told the Skillz was probably the last thing on my mind especially early on when I had those four other games going in four other windows for so long. And my game showed it, as I fold fold folded my way through most of the first hour, only pausing to win a big pot near the end with a hidden boat in Stud. But of course, folding and playing tightass poker early is the single greatest key to winning any HORSE-themed or really any limit poker tournament anyways, so this strategy actually served me well. As the blogger HOSE tournament wore on, my stack grew as my focus on so many other tournament tables in increasingly key spots left me exactly capable of the kind of tight play that really works in these limit events, and which I am usually so spectacularly unable of keeping going. Well last night my friends, in the quiet solitude of the Hammer house, I was able to do just that, and it paid off:

In general as I mentioned I played the perfect tighter-than-my-usual game for a HOSE event through the first couple hours of this thing, and then from there as my other games ended that coincided nicely with the HOSE final table, so I was able to focus a little more and open things up a bit as the table grew shorter and shorter. By the end, out of 16 entrants, I literally must have gotten 7 or 8 elimination bounties. I knocked everybody out of this thing, and the amazing thing especially for a limit event is that I don't think I recall sucking out in this one in particular more than maybe one time all the way through. So different from my usual Skills Series performance. Heads-up with MattyMoves was fun, as we each had a roughly 3 to 1 chip deficit and came back at least one time apiece, and then finaly I took advantage of a number of big hands in a row to punish Matty and take the insurmountable lead. A late race win effectively sealed it, and I had taken down my second Skillz event of the year. You all remember the first one I won I'm sure, it was during the BBT3, remember? Fun times.

So along with the nice run in the 65k and winning the Skills Series HOSE tournament, I also ran in that $26 buyin 32k guaranteed tournament that also started way back at 8pm ET. This thing was always there going on in the background, but it did not get much attention from me for the first couple hours or so because, frankly, I got nothing going early. I think I got my first double-up way near the end of the second hour, and even by that time I wasn't all that high up on the leaderboard as compared to where I would have liked to be. In fact, it wasn't until the end of the third hour, when we were already down into the money positions (162 would pay out of 1511 runners), that I had my first huge hand of the tournament, where I nearly tripled up against an overaggro jackmonkey with a medium stack and a huge stack who could not lay down pocket Tens to my pocket Jacks. This hand left me completely flush with chips, suddenly a top 10 stack with about 100 players remaining, and from there I did my thing, stole around a bit and bullied some people off some large pots to keep it going and keep it growing. Eventually about five hours in we reached the final table:

Yep, that's me with the final table chip lead, which I had just recently retaken from the big stack guy across the table from me. I was able to use my stack effectively early on at the final table, focusing most on retaining my pile of chips while the shorties pushed their perceived edges and eventually started dropping off. Unlike some of the larger-buyin tournaments, with these $26 buyin jobs, even at 1500+ entrants like this one, the real big payouts (like, well into four digits for example) really don't start until the top half of the final table, in this case with the top 6 players each receiving more than $1600. So I made sure not to do anything rash until we reached that point, which took only maybe 20 minutes or so of final table time to get us down to the final 5. At that point the following hand came up.

I was dealt A6s in the big blind, and the aggressive utg player had bumped it up 3x:

I decided with the sooted Ace working and given this player's aggression, a call was in order. Of course I was hoping to flop a flush draw more than anything else, given my poor kicker to go along with my Ace. I got my wish with the flush draw, which I figured I would check and see if my opponent wanted to c-bet, rather than donk bet into his preflop raise without a very strong hand:

He put in a curiously small c-bet:

And, maybe moved by that smallness of his bet on the flop, I opted to go for the big raise right there and try to buy the pot or at least buy a free card to get two shots to draw to my flush and potential overcard:

Unfortunately, my read that he would fold was off, and he put me allin on the flop reraise here:

Now at this point, what would you do? This was my dilemma. I figure I've got the nine solid flush outs, and I figured my overcard Ace was probably worth another out or two since he might not have an Ace, having simply raised before the flop in this shorthanded pot. So I'm thinking I have about 10-11 outs, and at this point in the hand, I have to call off my last 546k in chips into a pot that was then worth 1.7 million chips. It's way better than 3 to 1 in a situation where I'm expecting I have something like 40% odds of winning. If I could take the whole hand back I might like to not put in that raise on the flop to begin with, but given where I was at this point, I thought this one over and tried my hardest to find a reason to fold and preserve some chips for a deeper final table run, but after agonizing I simply could not find a fold given the pot odds involved at the time. Knowing especially that I would be in last place of the five remaining stacks if I did fold out here, I eventually made the crying call, just hoping my 10 outs were live. They actually were:

In fact, I actually had 12 outs twice here, nine for the flush and three more aces for the overpair, making me about what, a 42 or 43% dog, but again I think really justifying -- in fact, requiring -- my call of that last raise on the flop.

Unfortunately, I missed my underdog hand:

and IGH in 5th place overall:

Obviously, this is not the way I want to go out at a final table when I had been 2nd in chips with 5 runners left. I can't stand going out on a draw at the final table of a big mtt where the payouts increase so much with every additional person who busts, and at least in general, with every additional hand you can survive. It's not like me to push a draw like this, but I had to go with my read and I figured the guy would fold in this spot given his betting action. Little did I know I was facing a monster like KK in a shorthanded pot at the final table of a large tournament. But again, I cannot complain too much after having sucked out myself a good three or four times when allin along the way in this thing. So, it was another big mtt final table on Tuesday and another $2175 and change to go along with the $3400+ I won from the 5050 on Sunday night, my nice run in the 65k on Tuesday as well as winning the blogger Skills series HOSE tournament.

Man, I should send me wife and kids away more often, huh?

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Blogger PokerFool said...

Good Job Hoy. Why aren't you playing any PokerStars Tournies this week? 2x guarentees all week. That measn the 50/50 at 9:30 EST is a guarenteed $110,000. Same with the 10 PM $10 Rebuy; guarenteed $110,000

10:25 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I've been playing some pokerstars, Fool. Just not cashing anything major in them (yet). I'm hoping I have one solid pokerstars mtt score in me coming later this week though, make no mistake.

And yeah, I do love the 2x guarantees.

10:57 PM  
Blogger HughDuffy said...

You are my hero. Seriously.

10:59 PM  
Blogger CEMfromMD said...

Great night for you all around Hoy. Keep the good week going!

11:04 PM  
Blogger Poker Brian said...

Good job man, some nice cashes this week thus far!

11:18 PM  
Blogger NYRambler said...

Nice Runs. I finished 35th in the 32K, I should've made the Final Table, I had a Ton of Chips from 200 left until Busto, because of a 5-2 UTG Shove I called with 9-9, flop is 2-2-3 obv. Then I lost a key flip (10-10 < K-J sooted PrF), then my final hand I ran into Aces (Standard).

11:41 PM  

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