Every night at 9pm ET, UltimateBet runs a great mtt called the Sniper tournament, which is a fancy word for knockout or bounty tournament. Most nights of the week, the buyin is $120, and the tournament carries a smallish field of usually in the 200-300 range, which is one of the things that makes this (and most other large UB mtts) so great to play as compared to the mtt's available on just about any other site out there. Along with the small fields, there is also the very favorable structure that I have mentioned several times in the blog and that is present for basically all the big mtts on UB these days, and of course there are the bounties, which in this tournament are $10 apiece but which can really tend to add up for me given my style of play. On days when I run deep in the sniper tournaments on UB, I will generally take down 10-15 bounties which itself breaks me even for my buyin and leaves whatever I can drain out of the prize pool as pure profit for me on what has been by far the most profitable online site for my poker play anywhere.
So this past Friday night, I made a late gym run and returned to my house right around 9:30pm ET, which meant I was already half an hour late for the mini FTOPS as well as the sniper tourney on UB, but for whatever reason I figured I would go ahead and register anyways. 30 minutes late is about as late as I will ever sign up for any online tournament, but I checked out the leaderboard and the average was literally just over 3200 chips, or less than a 10% gain from the starting stacks, and I would be able to start right smack in the middle of the field with almost no loss to my starting position other than the 20 or 30 hands I missed where I might have picked up pocket Aces and got the quick double-up (or the quick exit).
Right off the bat I tried quickly to make up for lost time by open-raising a few hands, one of which (A8o) I had to fold to a reraise from the button, and the other of which (KQo) I folded after my c-bet on the flop got raised by a guy who had called me preflop and then saw an Ace hit the board. Down to around 2600 chips early, I called a preflop reraise from the big blind with my pocket Tens from middle position, and then when a raggy all-undercard flop fell and my opponent bet 800 into the 1400-chip pot, something about that small bet size and the 2500 chips it left him behind suddenly made me feel certain he was holding AK and was hoping to c-bet me off this pot cheap. With the board also being coordinated, I figured I could get this guy to fold if he held the AK I expected, so I went with my read and pushed 'em all in:
He folded, and I jumped to over 4300 chips just minutes before the first break, where I ended the hour in 49th place out of 154 runners left of the 194 who had started 55 minutes earlier. A short while into Hour 2, I jumped to over 5000 chips when I was allowed to check down my pocket Queens all the way to the river despite there coming both an Ace and a King on the flop (my opponent it turns out had pocket 6s and hated that flop even more than I did). I climbed to just over 6000 about halfway through Hour Two when I smooth called a raise preflop from the small blind with AKs (although I usually reraise with this hand, sometimes in the blinds I like to just call as it provides some deception and makes me look like an indiscriminate blinds defender) and flopped the flush draw plus two overcards, and I allowed my opponent to c-bet before check-raising him with my fifteen outs (plus I might have been ahead anyways). Late in Hour Two I was faced with this scenario:
I had a note that the guy who raised allin was an aggressive raiser from a previous time I had played with him on UB (another advantage of the generally smaller fields on this site as well), and in the end this just looked like the quintessential squeeze play, with me holding a hand that really only feared AK, so I made the call and I won the race on the turn (and the river):
This one brought me up over 8000 in chips and in great chip position with nearly 60 big blinds, and it was also my second $10 bounty on the night which is always fun. I did lose about half my stack in a blind vs blind confrontation late in Hour Two when my pocket Jacks fell to pocket Aces (could anybody run into Aces more often than I do?), which frustratingly took me back down to 4300 chips, but then I won a 2k pot on the last hand of the hour when I rivered top pair with KJs after my opponent had not bet me out of the hand on the previous two streets, finishing up Hour 2 in 39th place of 103 remaining:
I grabbed another 3000 chips and my third bustout of the night early in Hour 3 when I reraised allin preflop with AKs and was instacalled by a guy with JJ, where I flopped ok I guess:
And then I had my first really big hand of the tournament, where I called a preflop raise from middle position with pocket 9s and flopped top set on a rainbow board. My opponent to my immediate right led out for half the pot:
which I opted to just call, since this board was so raggy that a raise at this point would scare away almost any reasonable bluffing or high-card hand. The turn paired the middle card on the board, giving me the best boat, and my opponent led out again for 2400 into a 6050-chip pot. The bet was small, less than half the pot, and it just seemed kinda weak to me, not a bet he would call a raise with, so I just called again. On the river I hoped he would call this bet, which by this time was for just 40% of the pot:
But alas he did not. Nonetheless, I had extracted a large pot with my first big hand of the tournament, vaulting me up over 15k and up among the top stacks in the event at the time with more than half the field gone. Unfortunately, I would lose two or three pots in a row to drop back down to around 8k, one where I called a shorty allin with AQo and lost to JJ, one where I managed to minimize my losses to just around 2000 chips with A9 on a 9-high board to a guy who flopped two pairs. As the blinds ate away my stack through a couple of orbits of no playable cards and no good stealing situations, I ended up raising allin preflop with KQs from one in front of the cutoff, as I was sitting on just over 10 big blinds at the time, and the cutoff called me with his big stack and showed pocket 7s. I flopped a Queen, preserving my tournament life for the first time this far in the event, and I was back up over 12k and with 20+ big blinds midway through Hour 3. With a little more room to breathe, I was able to steal pots with open-raises from late position a little more readily, and I was able to chip up to 16k without being contested until late in the hour when I opened from the cutoff with a raise-worthy hand and got reraised allin for just 2300 more chips into an 8700-chip pot:
Obviously I had to call here, I was ahead and I flopped good:
But it wasn't meant to be, and back down to 11k in chips I went:
Just before the end of Hour 3, I had another big hand when I pushed allin with top pair third kicker plus a flush draw after I had raised preflop under the gun with QJs. My opponent, who could have folded and still kept 6k to play with and have only lost a third of his stack, instead more or less instacalled with just two overs on a scary board:
Somehow, a King did not come on the river, and I had myself my fourth knockout bounty of the evening, lifting my stack to over 24k and bringing me into 11th place out of 25 remaining, with the final 18 finishers slated to get paid. A couple of steals later (JTo and 85s), and I went into the fourth break in 5th place of 23 left:
At this point I took my first look at the payouts for this tournament:
With a nice big stack, and knowing that as usual many players would be tightening up with the payout positions approaching, I just kept right on stealing to start Hour 4, starting in the first orbit with 64s:
And a few minutes later with QTo:
Unfortunately my next few steal attempts ran into reraises, all of which I folded to, including this one where I felt like I had to lay down AQo, the first actual good hand I had stolen with all night:
I made probably one of my worst plays of the tournament in retrospect after this string of raise-folds, where I cold-called a suspected stealer from my small blind with a sooted semi-connectors hand:
I mean, here I am, having lost about 8k in chips from what was recently a 26k stack, and we are right on the money bubble in the event (exactly 19 players were left at this time), and now I am cold-calling with T7s for about 15% of my starting stack? WTF! I gues it was the beginnings of tilt starting to eat away at my decisionmaking, but for that many chips, and against a guy who I've observed stealing pots from position already earlier at this table, I think it's perfectly find to make a play with two live cards, sooted and semi-connected like this. But I should be reraising allin then! To just smooth call here, it puts me in the worst position in the world for the flop, as I am out of position, and unless I flop a ridick monster here, I won't know where I stand or what to do with it. Of course I missed the flop, did not want to lead out without knowing how serious my opponent was, and I ended up folding the hand for an acceptable loss. Fortunately we also eliminated the 19th and 18th players from the tournament at another table, and we were all in the money:
Notice me way down in 15th of 17 left. At this point, I've made a mini cash -- in which I have absolutely no interest -- and now that the bubble has burst, I will definitely be looking for a good spot to double up or go home trying. If I can' get into good position heading into the final table, there's just no point in my mind to roaching my way to win an extra hundred bucks or something. As with every mtt I ever enter, I want to end up in the top few spots where the big money is, and every play I make from the time I sit down until the time I get donked is designed with that one singular goal in mind. To start building my stack quickly, first I raised from early position with AKo, taking down the pot without a fight, and shortly after that I took a sizable risk with this allin reraise:
This is basically my favorite spot in the world to try the squeeze. It's one thing to do it against an early or middle position open-raiser, who might actually have a legitimate raising hand, but I really love when I think the original raiser might be stealing. Then I know he's already thinking about folding his hand even before I run the squeeze play. And the second guy, who just called the steal-raise, he usually would have reraised to isolate with a hand like 88-QQ or with AK or AQ, so in most cases he's not super strong here either, especially since the first guy looks so much like he doesn't have a strong hand himself. Fortunately both players behind me folded, and this one hand jumped me back into 10th place of 16 remaining.
With some chip room to spare once again, I stole a pot with K8o:
I won another before the flop with ATs:
And another with a raise with A8o, even from under the gun as people could already start to hear those final-table drums beating:
I won my new biggest pot of the tournament with a few minutes left in Hour 5, as I picked up KK in late position, an awesome thing to happen to a guy like me after I have open-raised in this spot so actively over the past hour or two, and the big blind defended by calling my 3x preflop raise to 1500 chips. The flop came J96 rainbow, and I had to c-bet since I had been raising and c-betting so frequently with air that I need to be sure to also bet my good hands along the way for image purposes:
My opponent called, and when the turn card came a Queen, I decided to go for a weakish-looking second barrel bet in the hopes that the guy would maybe have a hand like AJ (anything but QJ please!) and be willing to push on me:
He smooth called again, which I liked given that I knew he would not be putting me on a big hand after my 25th preflop raise of the past hour, but then the river really kind of ruined my chance of stacking him by making a very obvious-looking straight out there:
As you can see, I tried to get him to call a large river bet in the hopes that he maybe had a set or the lower piece of the straight, but alas he did not call with the straight so obviously staring right back at him. That pissed me off, but of course, taking down a 51k pot to climb solidly into 3rd place of 15 remaining:
And I entered the fifth break in that same spot, 3rd place with 13 players left, with the final table bubble really starting to loom large. Early on in Hour 6, #13 busted from my table, and then I got called allin by the wondrous hand KJo preflop by a shorty, who promptly proceeded to flop a Jack to stay alive and wound my stack a little bit and drop me back down to the middle of the pack with 12 left. With fewer chips than I had had recently, and with the final table bubble growing ever closer, I forced myself to steal as much as I could when the action had not been opened when it reached me, stealing pots with Q8o, J9s and K9s before I managed to eliminate #12 for my sixth bounty of the night on this hand, allin preflop:
Not too long later, I won another nice pot thanks I am sure to the reckless aggression I had been exhibiting from late position at this table, as I raised once again on what looked like another steal and bumped the 2500-chip blind up to 7500 from the small blind. The big blind had had enough of my crap and reraised me, but not huge:
The raise was not tiny, but not so huge that he couldn't fold, which was key for me. Although of course he could have picked up a big hand like Aces or Kings, this is a blind vs blind confrontation and I know my opponent has sat and watched me open-raise like it's my job all night long, so I know he has me on a wide range. I considered the situation, and I just didn't think he had the goods, so I figured I would risk my tournment life and put him to the test, knowing especially that if I make him fold, my legend of aggression and his anger would only grow exponentially as a result of my play:
He folded. And then he did just about my favorite thing in all of online poker: he tried to intimdate me from raising him anymore in the chatbox:
Best. Night. Ever. That right there is already like me winning this entire tournament as far as I'm concerned, and you could do nothing more to validate my game plan here than that if you sat around for weeks and tried to design the worst possible response to my play. While the guy kept jawing at me in the chatbox, I called an allin reraise from a shorty preflop with my pocket 9s, was up against AK, and I managed to hold on to eliminate #11, my 7th knockout bounty of the tournament:
A few minutes later, the final table started, with me holding a dominating chip lead:
I specifically reminded myself as the final table began of my stated goal for 2010 of turning more of my final table appearances into outright wins. Especially in this tournament, getting top 3 is good, but the gap in payouts between 1st and 2nd place in this event was something like $3500, and too often over the past several months I have found myself ending in the top few spots -- which is great -- but also feeling like I've left thousands upon thousands of dollars on the table when I am finally eliminated in other than the top spot. Of course, this did not mean I was about to clam up and try to tight my way to a few higher spots payout position. No, I was going to go with what got me here -- relentless aggression -- but at the same time try to be smart about it. So I stole the first orbit with K7o, setting the tone for my play at the final table right then and there. During the next orbit, the shortest stack insta-pushed allin from early position -- a move I normally associate with two high cards more than a high pair with which the shorty is desperate to get a caller, and I decided to call with what I knew was likely just a small favorite in pocket 3s, to try to take a race and again set the tone for the final table against a player that I knew could not hurt me much even if I lost:
I managed to flop a meaningless set, and just like that I had my 8th bustout of the night. AK took out KK on a rivered broadway just a short while later to eliminate the 8th place guy in despicable fashion, dropping me into 2nd place in the process, and about 10 minutes later 77 eliminated T9s by flopping a set of its own to bring us down to 6 players left, with me 2nd just barely ahead of the guy who had just busted #8:
The chipleader busted the 6th place guy next, giving him a larger chip lead over me and the rest of the field with 5 runners remaining:
And then I managed to wrestle back the chip lead in a hand where we actually saw a flop, turn and a river at the final table (!!). The chipleader raised from the cutoff before the flop, and I smooth called the raise from my small blind with KQs. I flopped an awesome KQ6, and I opted to donk bet the guy and lead out in the hopes that he might have some knowledge and know what a weak move a donk bet usually is and maybe reraise me and I could get involved in a big pot here against the biggest stack left in this thing:
When the turn brought a raggy 3, one that did complete a flush on the board, this time I figured I would further confuse by checking, pulling out all the stops to extract a big chunk of this guy's stack by donking betting first and then checking out following a raggy turn card:
When he checked behind, I knew I was in good shape and I figured this full-pot river bet would elicit a fold, but I wanted to charge maximum dollar if my opponent wanted to see my hand:
Amazingly, the guy called my large river bet, and the chips slid over to my side of the table. Wanna guess what he had, based on how the hand played out? Take your guesses and I will skip some space before posting the hand replay screenshot:
Now that is a bad, bad call right there, but to give myself a little credit it was my flop bet and then turn check that made this guy call. He had top pair decent kicker, and when I checked the overcard on the turn he thought that meant his top pair nice kicker was likely best. Not a call I would have made in his spot -- again, recall that he had a comfortable chip lead with five players remaining prior to this hand being dealt -- but I can see where he came from with it at least. And his loss was my gain, as I was up over 225k and back solidly in the chip lead, right where I wanted to be. At the 6th break a few minutes later, I sat still nicely in front, down to 5 with a little under 20 grand to be spread among those of us lucky enough to still be alive:
Early in Hour 7, I managed to win my first pot with the Hammer all day long:
It's a little known fact that final table Hammer has about a five times strong effect than an early-tournamet Hammer. Just in case you didn't know. But with the chip lead, I want these effers to think I am getting in there with nothing sometimes. I have faith in myself to avoid bad situations better than anyone else at the table so anything that helps stir up some action outside of what my opponents would otherwise have done is a win for me in my view.
At this point, I am proud to say I picked up pocket Aces at the final table. It doesn't happen often to me, but being the extractor that I am, I knew just how to play it. After noticed that the aggressive short stack at the table was seated in the small blind, I opted to just limp utg with the Aces, and the guy did exactly what I thought he might and pushed allin behind me:
Yessssssss! Obviously I called, feeling smug as all getout. Then I saw this happen:
Poker is so fair, huh?
While I steamed over losing my hard-fought and very well-deserved chip lead, AJ eliminated TT thanks to a river Ace, and then there were four, with me somehow still in second place thanks to all the big pots I had won before this point on the night. Then I was given a gift by that same chip leader when he failed to bet out with his top pair on the flop, allowing me to nail trips on the turn and get him allin for nearly his entire stack:
And two hands later, I nabbed my ninth bounty of the night when I called his now short-stacked allin with my KQo and it held up for me:
I now had the chip lead 295k-254k-42k with three players remaining, and I was more determined than ever not to get busted in 3rd or 2nd place, not to be satisfied leaving thousands of dollars on the table again, and not to leave without finishing what I had started here some seven+ hours earlier. I lost that chiplead two hands later when I got rivered after getting allin preflop vs. the shorty with my A9o vs his K7o, but what can you do. I won some key races on the night, but my 60-40 shots did not fare so well, and in that sense I was lucky to still be alive here and still to have around three times the third place guy's stack.
Two hands later, I raised preflop with K7o, and the shorty called to see a very nice flop for me with both a King and a 7. I checked my top two pair (a great checking hand in no-limit, far superior to top and bottom or bottom two pairs from a slow-playing perspective). The shorty pushed after I checked to him on the flop, I called him down, made a boat on the turn, and I retook a slight chip lead heading into heads-up play:
This would be my 10th knockout bounty won, giving me an even $100 in bounties on the night. And still counting. And I had the chip lead back as we started heads up, which was key since on the very first hand of heads-up play I looked down to find AJo:
I briefly thought about slow-playing it, but after playing as stoopid aggressive as I had for the entire night, I once again felt like I had to raise my good hand here in the hopes that he might have a lower Ace, KQ or something he was willing to apply some pressure with. So I bumped it up to 36k, and out of nowhere -- remember, on the very first hand of heads-up play this is -- I faced this:
I thought for a few seconds, and all the tournaments I have final tabled but lost in by calling down with a good Ace against a better one flashed before my eyes. But after just a few seconds, I figured that this huge allin reraise just did not smell like Aces, Kings, or really any hand I should be particularly scared about with my AJ. Maybe a smaller pair, but just as likely I figured any smaller Ace would push in this spot. I had to cross my fingers and call, for all the marbles. Basically, $6600 if I win, and just $4000 if I lose:
As you can see, the flop left almost no doubt for a change that I would be the winner. And the turn and river were just fucking sweeeeet
DQB baybeeeeee! And Dems $6600 cash money too!
Oh, and I almost forgot, my 11th bounty of the night as well, plus I get to keep my own as the winner of the tournament. So in total, it was a $120 buyin, I won $120 in bounties to eat that whole buyin up, and the $6625 is pure profit for a job well done. This is my first big tournament hit in a couple of months and it feels great heading into my upcoming trip to Foxwoods this coming Saturday to knock heads with some live poker donks in more or less the biggest buyin event I have ever participated in as a poker player. The funny this about this particular run is that it was ultimately pretty much my "standard" mtt score, in that I was ahead most of the times I got it all in, I got dealt some good cards and nailed a couple of really good flops in key spots, I had to win a couple of key races to survive, and I had to survive a couple of shit-kicking suckouts along the way to still be alive in the end. But I did not have extraordinarily good starting cards or get extraordinarily lucky, nor did I have to withstand the 85 bad beats that have also been the case on occasion in some of my deepest runs. But as long as UltimateBet continues to make this kind of decent buyin, small-field and excellent structure mtt available, I will continue to be around to try to make deep runs and pick up some hard-earned cash as a result.
Labels: Big Score, Sniper, Tournament Cash, Tournament Recap, Ultimate Bet, Victory