The Buddy and the BBT -- Again
Wow is it ever fun playing in the BBT when you are lucky enough to nab a ToC seat early! In exchange for all the incredible free money and prizes available from Full Tilt via the BBT5 tournament series, we definitely have our nerves ratcheted up quite a bit for each of these weekly private tournaments, and it's just awesome not to really care if I bust on a given hand or not because I know I've already done what needs to be done to play for the big money in the end. Of course, my own competitive spirit still basically requires me to try hard to win and to be disappointed when I bust, but come on these are not only no-limit poker tournaments, but ones with 10-minute blind levels, and with only a $10 buyin open to anybody with internet access. It just takes a bunch of run-good to win one of these things, there is no doubt about it. Like I said earlier this week, the trick I think is just to come out for these 24 tournaments and try to play well in all of them, in the hopes that the one or two times the math runs your way, you can be in position to grab the seat.
I mentioned this as well earlier in the week, but I will say it again after playing in the Buddy last night -- a lot of people out there whose game I have come to know and understand very well are simply not playing their game so far through several BBT5 events. Guys I have sat and watched play a generally very tight style of poker for years -- the style they still play in that $8 token sng they run in during the Buddy each week -- seem to be repeatedly busting out early, stacking off for many many big blinds with just top pair mediocre kicker against obvious strength, etc. People who have proven over time in the private blogger tournaments as well as in prior BBT series that they have the patience to stick around and wait for the good spots are instead pushing way too hard with marginal hands and taking huge hits early.
I was thinking maybe it's due to the BBT5 being far shorter than our previous tournament series, and as a result people quite rightly feel the pressure to get their win as quickly as possible or something, but obviously pushing marginal hands too hard against a crowd like this -- especially in the Buddy of all the BBT5 tournaments -- is not the way to do it. I know all about what I speak of here because as my longtime readers know, I have typically started off these BBT tournament series very slow, often playing too aggressively early, even for weeks on end before finally finding my groove. Let this post be a lesson to all of you out there who are struggling with that same feeling now -- and I've played all the events, I've seen it everywhere -- don't take 4 or 5 weeks figuring out that you have to play a tight-aggressive game and that you have to respect the fact that bloggers will call with many hands that might not warrant a call outside of a tournament like the Buddy. In the BBT5, 4 or 5 weeks of goofing is too long to give yourself a chance. Like I said above, everyone is tied to the same rule ultimately -- you have to play every single tournament smart and just hope you are around for the one or two times in the entire series when fortune will smile on you enough to give you a chance to win.
And speaking of bloggers calling, I value bet like a monster on Wednesday night and played my way right into a tournament-leading stack for most of the second hour of the Buddy on the night. I'm not sure I've ever consistently made and succeeded in getting paid with such thin value bets, which of course all comes down to making the right reads on your opponents' hands. Multiple times I had guys call me down at the river for 70% of the pot with just one pip lower than my kicker. I got 2nd pair top kicker to call down my top pair crap kicker on a couple of occasions, and I even got a few players to call at the river when I had turned or rivered monsters like when I turned a set (muhahahahahah!) in the second hour or when I rivered an inside straight with pocket 8s in the first. I didn't win any big pots with big pairs or AK on the night, but I amassed over 13k in chips at one point during Hour 2 just by winning a lot of hands without showdowns, and getting people to call me at the river with slightly worse hands than my own, even when nowhere near the nuts. It was awesome, and I was just beginning to think I might be able to crack out another final table run.
Then late in Hour 2 I got moved to one of the sickest, silliest tables I've ever sat at in a blonkament, one featuring myself, Chad, Lucko and LJ all within the span of five or six seats at the table. As we all had pretty large stacks in front of us, it was only a matter of time before somebody was gonna tussle. I went first when my read failed me on Lucko, as I open-raised from the button with pocket 4s, Lucko quickly reraised me from the big blind, and my read told me he acted too quick to really want action, so I pushed for another 4x his raise or so. He called quickly, at which point I was actually happy to see he had AK (as opposed to any pair) when we flipped our cards, but although I flopped good he hit a King on the turn and I quickly went from a nice stack with around half the field left to out of the tournament, and Lucko's stack swelled to frightening proportions.
Right before deciding to push in on the preflop reraise there, I specifically thought to myself "I should fold here. I did fold in this spot several times the other day when I won. If I did not have my ToC seat wrapped up already I would fold here." So I called, went with the aggressive play, and it turned out to be one that was the correct move given Lucko's holding, but I can't complain about the result when I knowingly, willingly took on that race and knew it was a more volatile move than necessary in that spot and still with a nice chip stack behind. Basically, with a ToC seat already in my back pocket, I took a gamble here on a 50-50 shot (52-48 in my favor, to be exact) that if I won, I would have a massive stack and a very good chance of smashing through this field, but that if I lost, my big stack would be gone and I would be done. Frankly, it's a bad move in a tournament like this as I can surely wait for a better spot than with the 4s where any hand Lucko calls with (and I figured he would call with overs) is basically racing against me, but I chose to do it and I almost held on for the big win. Instead I was out and as I mentioned, the specter of Big Stack Lucko really started to emerge.
Lucko's stack got even stoopider when Chad ended up reraising a preflop raiser and a caller with Chad's hammer, and ended up pushing that into both pocket Jacks and Lucko's pocket Queens, all allin preflop. Chad could not hold up despite flopping five outs to win, and before anyone knew it, Lucko had 50k in chips -- way too early in the Buddy for that kind of a stack -- when second place had just over 12k. And if you're like me, you were ready to call it for Lucko right then and there, with still like 30 runners left. Nobody plays that big stack in a blonkament like Lucko does, that has been demonstrated time and time again.
Although I was gone for most of the next hour, I did manage to log in to the final table and see that Lucko was gone and that Poker Meister (I think that's who KeepFloppin is or whateverhisnameis) had amassed the prohibitively large stack near the beginning, and in the end it looks like he's the guy who took it down and nabbed the last BBT5 ToC seat for this week. That has got to be the most significant blogger tournament win Meister has ever had, so congratulations to him for apparently playing very well and pretty much dominating the entire final table from beginning to end.
Six of the 24 seats in the BBT5 Tournament of Champions have now been awarded. This coming Sunday night, two more lucky run-gooders will claim their spot at the table in the Invitational freeroll. I'll be there, once again with my aggression hat on, waiting to make you call me light on the river by picking just the right amount that you simply cannot resist.