Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tournament Recap -- 10k Win in Stars 50k Guaranteed

Like many tournaments which lead to nice scores for me, the 50k guaranteed, $109 buyin nlh tournament at 7pm ET on pokerstars on Tuesday night started off kinda slow. This was only maybe the 6th or 7th time I have ever played this event -- both due to buyin and timing constraints -- and my pattern of no real success continued early as from the 3000 starting stack, I slowly dwindled down, 25 here, 50 there, 120 here, another 50 there. By 30 minutes in, I was down to 2600, and as I remember saying in one of my earlier tournament recaps this year, things were not starting off well for this being one of the tournaments where I can make a deep run, as opposed to the many, many tournaments where I bust before the final 25th percentile of the field in these things. At some point I picked up A7o on the button and ended up making a hero call at the river with one pair against the aggromonkey in the cutoff to get back up to the 3000 starting stack, and then I looked down to find pocket Aces a few hands later in middle position, facing a raise ahead of me from early position. I reraised, the original raiser called -- and this was a guy I had seen raising and calling liberally all through the time I had sat with him -- and he then proceeded to call a bet of around 70% of the pot on the 628 rainbow flop, and then instacall another 70% potbet from me that put me allin after the 5 on the turn. He showed the solidly overplayed pocket 9s and I shot up to over 6300 chips. Not too long after was the first break, with me having ended up with a perfectly acceptable first round after an inauspicious beginning:

I got my first big stack near the beginning of Hour 2, when I reraised preflop against the same aggrofonk who paid my AA off in the first hour, this time with my AK, which the lagtard happily called. When the flop came 863 with two hearts, I opted not to c-bet and instead checked behind, and when the turn card brought a second 3 (not a card I could realistically be scared of), and my opponent led out for 600 into the 2700-chip pot:

I felt compelled to call, just from an odds perspective if nothing else -- I mean, what kind of a bet is that? The river then brought an offsuit King, and I led out for the rest of my stack and even Mr. Callsalot found a fold at that point, pushing my stack up to 10,000 for the first time on the night. Things got even better not too long afterwards when I called a preflop raise in a 5-way pot with pocket 5s, and then flopped my first set of the night, an awesome situation with so many people in there as long as you don't let them suck out on your flopset. So after one check on a potentially scary board where I'd flopped bottom set, the action was led into me:

I quickly considered my options and knew that with three people still in there to act behind me, and my confidence that I will freely lay this down if the wrong turn card falls and I get heavy action in front of me, I was going to slow play, hopefully get a couple of overcallers here and really try to make some money, if I can dodge a scare card on the turn. I just called:

and the guy right behind me called as well, with the last two players folding. A two fell on the turn, creating a second flush draw on the board but clearly not filling any draws out there on the flop, and when the original raiser checked to me this time around:

I figured I wanted to do the stealiest-looking thing I could. As I thought this through, one option just seemed to stand out from all the rest, so I went for it:

Normally, as was the case here, I will only do this kind of meta kind of move where I think there is a good chance from the play of the hand that my opponent is also on an overpair.

People have a lot of trouble laying down overpairs of any kind out there in the world, I find, any kind of overpair at all. I've seen more people than I can count stack off with 99 or TT on an all-rag board, even when their opponent had reraised them preflop and sometimes called or even led out with a good-size bet on the flop as well. That used to be me, to tell the truth, I always used to get eliminated from tournaments with TT vs AA or flopsets or some shit, and then I would spend the next two days bemoaning my bad luck. At some point though, you just have to face that you might be up against an overpair, or worse, even if you are holding a middle overpair yourself. KK vs AA is a setup hand, but that doesn't mean that 88 or 99 vs AA is too. It happens. That's not a trap I walk into much anymore, but I benefited big-time here from a guy who clearly overplayed a mediocre hand to the extreme, without ever taking one of the early streets to do what he had to do to find out conclusively whether his pair of 9s was ahead or behind. Instead, he kept betting and betting, and then made the cardinal sin of calling my large allin push with just the 9s, and just like that I was up over 21,000 in chips and way at the top of the leaderboard less than two hours in here:

4th place of 336 players remaining, of the 768 who had started just over an hour and a half earlier. I was way up where I wanted to end up in this thing, but it was farrrr too early to get real excited. Not much happened in the rest of Hour 2, and I went into the second break still in great position, in 5th of 262 runners remaining. With my massive stack, I started really bullying the table, always raising amounts that I knew would be uncomfortable for everyone else at the table but which I really didn't care much about either way given the pile of chips I was sitting on. Preflop raise repeatedly to 2400 when the average stack is just under 10k, stuff like that. I chipped up solidly doing this, but it's a slow plod for a guy like me because I end up having to fold to preflop reraises and to raises on the flop more than a more passive player, but I inched my way up through the 20,000's in chips through most of the rest of Hour 3 in this tournament. In doing so, I generally kept pace with my peers on the leaderboard, slipping to 14th out of 170 left, and then back up to 10th of 160 and 150 remaining, before I lost a race with AQ vs 99 to slip back down to around 21k shortly before the end of Hour 3. At the third break, I was still alive as we were approaching the ITM positions in the tournament, but smack in the middle of the pack:

My work would be cut out for me to get back into the thick of this thing in Hour 4. Early in the next hour, I picked up my second pocket Aces of the night, and I opted to limp with them as I do sometimes in tournaments (less so in cash) when the action hasn't been opened yet to me. Only the big blind stayed in anyways (I guess my preflop limp was kinda suspicious after all the raising I'd been doing for the past 90 minutes or so on a huge stack). When my opponent -- who had about half as many chips as I had to start the hand -- raised my c-bet allin on a connected but really not all that frightening board:

I again felt like I was probably ahead and had to make the call given the way I had slow-played my monster before the flop. Turns out my read was true, I was ahead, and I faded eight outs twice to climb over 30k for the first time on the night:

This was good for 19th place out of 98 remaining, so I was once again climbing my way back into position to make a solid run at the final table. I spent much of the rest of Hour 4 fighting to retain my stack against the ever-advancing blinds and the increasing aggression of those around me, stealing a number of pots when the opportunity presented itself, but then slipping back a step for every couple of steps I took forward as I repeatedly got caught raising with hands I was not willing to call a reraise with. As I mentioned earlier, when you play an aggressive game of no-limit holdem, you're always in there firing at pots, some you have it, and some of them you've got nothing but an impression of what your opponent's cards are. Halfway through Hour 4 I found myself still with 25k in chips, good for 38th place of 64 players remaining, and shortly afterwards I had to fold to another preflop reraise of my steal, dropping me to just over 20k and near the bottom of the remaining field. Eventually, after being reraised on what seemed like 10 or 15 consecutive preflop raises with very little good cards to speak of, I found myself facing yet another preflop reraise in this situation:

It was 16k to call 27k, meaning that I can call if I think my JTs will win 16/43 of the time, or 37%. Given that the Jack and the Ten are not nearly as often dominated as Kings and Aces, knowing that medium pocket pairs were within this super short-stacked opponent's shoving range here for sure, and knowing that I was holding the literal single best of the unpaired hands against even a monster, I figured for these odds I had to make the call. And I wanted to call, after all those times folding to reraises, I was ready to take the plunge, in around 40th of 50 players left, to either get the double I had been seeking for the past three hours or to go busto trying. So I called it, and the flop was naturally horrible, immediately evoking thoughts of yet another early-ITM elimination. But then the turn saved the day for me in a pot where it turned out it would have been a major mistake from an odds perspective if I had folded preflop:

And I had my double-up. I was up to 18th place of 58 remaining, we were well into the money positions at this point, and I would be looking to start amassing a big stack for a final table run. I couldn't get anything else going, and at the end of Hour 4, I was in 26th place of 43 left, back below the midway point of the players left in this thing, in much the same position as I was when entering the fourth round 60 minutes earlier:

I got down to 31st of 36 left early in the fifth hour, and was quickly to the point where I was open-pushing with any Ace, even A2o and A6o, with both of which I managed to survive and pick up the blinds and antes, which at that point amounted to about 30% of my total stack at the time. I then won my biggest pot of the tournament in a key race when the guy to my left called my allin preflop raise with the JackAce, and my pocket 4s held up somehow to lift me to 82k in chips and give me a new life in the tournament, back up to 11th place with 34 left. I frittered away some of those chips until I won a big one when a guy with 88 pushed the rest of his stack in to me on a 63KA board, and I called for most of my stack with my own JackAce which held for a 147k pot that vaulted me into 6th place, the highest I had been in hours. I tacked on another 30k or so in chips when I raised preflop with 98s and then turned a flush that I had bet with on the come on the flop, and then by calling a preflop raise with KQs and flopping top pair Queens, with which I raised a c-bettor on the flop to take down uncontested.

As we wended our way down through the final two tables, I maintained my stack in the 120k-150k range, good for somewhere between 8th and 10th place as we moved down from 20 remaining and into the teens. I eliminated a player in 15th place when I flopped my third set of the night -- with presto, no less -- and the short stack moved in on me with his overpair pocket 8s to the raggy board, getting me up just short of 200k and into 5th place with 15 runners left:

I got over 200k for the first time when I raised the tournament chip leader with my pocket 9s on a raggy flop -- this is generally the way to find out early in the hand if your middle overpair is really good or not -- and the chipleader folded. Then I had my biggest hand of the tournament to that point on a truly bad play by an opponent after I open-raised from the small blind with AK and then the big blind reraised me smallish here:

The odds of me being behind to AA or KK in the blinds here were extremely low, and the odds of him being on a lower Ace are better than him being on any pocket pair, so I went for the allin, and he called my preflop allin re-reraise with what is just about the absolute weakest I think anybody ever calls an allin re-reraise before the flop in a key spot with a nice stack late in an nlh tournament (at least he had the courtesy to instacall with it, the way the JackAce is supposed to be played):

I faded a few straight outs at the river to win this ginormous pot, giving me over 420,000 chips and my first chip lead of the entire tournament:

And when the final table started a few minutes later near the end of Hour 5, I entered in a close third place of nine, with just around 385k in chips, while the chipleaders were both in the low 400s. This enabled me to mostly lay low and take it easy in the earlygoing at the final table, knowing that first prize in this event paid over 14k, or nearly 14 times as much as 9th, and with sufficient chips to wait for the big hands to come to me, that's exactly what I did. A6o across the table took out the short stack's K9o allin preflop for our first final table elimination, and not too long later, I picked up pocket Jacks in the small blind, and faced a stealy-looking raise from the middle-stacked aggressive player on the button. I went for the obvious reraise:

and then my opponent pushed allin for his entire 281k stack, facing me with a significant decision:

As much as I did not want to call off my stack against some kind of higher pair -- and frankly, not wanting to face AK in a race either for all these chips given my position in the tournament -- I just couldn't get away from how aggressive this player had been stealing pots, and the fact that he might easily have put me on a weak holding after I restole from the button, a move he had surely watched me do several times himself over the past couple of hours. Plus, I only had to call 211k to win 367k, so the odds were way easily there for anything even resembling a race. In the end, I flicked my finger to the "call" button, and was shown this:

Boooom! First place of 7 players remaining, with a 14k+ first prize. Come to momma!

I eliminated #6 as well when I won a race with AK vs TT, allin pre:

and I remained in 1st of 6 left as we came to the sixth break, at five minutes to 1am New York time. Oh, and check out my tournament stats that I reviewed during that break:

12% of flops -- that is definitely low for me, but frankly not all that low compared to other deep mtt runs I have made in my day. But the most impressive part of those stats is my win percentage at showdown -- 17 of 19 showdowns won. That is a good 30-40% higher than my usual, and it just shows how often I was getting in ahead in this thing, and holding up when I needed to. And at least one of the two showdowns I lost was my AK losing to AQ allin pre, so in reality it was even better than that. Just one of those crazy nights where almost every read I laid was spot-on, and a few times I needed some good fortune, Lady Luck was right there to see me through.

A short while into Hour 6, a player across the table called the tourney short stack's allin pre with his QTs, and he turned a straight to beat the suited JackAce, and then there were 5, with each of us guaranteed a minimum payment of at least $4032. Good times. Although the winner of that pot took over the chip lead from me with that hand, a lead he only padded when he also eliminated the 5th place player with A6s vs 97s on an Ace-high flop a few minutes later. With four players left in the tournament, I was a solid 2nd, really with two big stacks and two small stacks left in the fray:

I was in a great spot to eliminate #4 here around the midway point of Hour 6:

But that was not meant to be:

Blech. This would have given me back a nice chiplead with three left and a 14k first prize, but as I said, it just wasn't meant to be, and I was back to fighting mode, determined not to let an annoying suckout like that ruin my chance at the big money in the top two spots in the tournament. This proved to be the most annoying part of the entire tournament, as the four of us spent a full hour playing it out 4-handed, seeing very few flops and a whole whole lot of folding to preflop reraises. I held my own, winning a shit-ton of flops with nothing, and raising preflop with every unopened Ace I saw, and most Kings and Queens too, staying ahead of the blinds and antes but just barely as I maintained my hold on second place pretty much for the entire hour straight. Eventually, however, my competitive position in the tournament continued to slide, as late in Hour 6, the chipleader took out #4 with this beauty, also allin preflop:

Sure, it's great that I literally made about $2000 in real cash from that elimination as I moved up to the next miniimum spot on the leaderboard, but when you really want to win the tournament and not just cash well, it can be frustrating when you have the chip lead but then have to watch the same player eliminate #6, #5, #4, and #3 to take over the lead and undo an entire evening's worth of hard work.

We played 3-handed for about 15 minutes, with the player to my left remaining in 3rd place -- although not that far off from my stack at times -- and never managing to pass me for even a brief stay out of the cellar. Eventually, just five hands into Hour 8, the chip leader got his chance to take out #3 as well, calling the shorty's allin preflop with his AQo, and once again the chip leader's favorite held up:

And then there were two:

Note the chipstacks here, after this guy had managed to take out each of the final four players on his way to heads-up play. After having held the chip lead an hour earlier, with my heads-up opponent doing all of these eliminations, I was now down 1.6 million to 570k in chips, more than a 3-to-1 chip deficit, and I figured I would be trying for the early double-up here to make us even and give myself a fighting chance at that 14k first prize. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, on the seventh hand of heads-up play, I opted to reraise allin preflop with K5o after my opponent's seventh straight preflop minraise. Unfortunately, because this time he had the biggest monster of them all:

And I was done. Out in second of 768 runners, and still picking up more than $10,300 for my efforts:

I'll have some more thoughts on this tournament later in the week I am sure, but hopefully this writeup gives a decent picture of how I turned 1 hundy into ten large over about seven hours of play, winning 21 of 24 showdowns along the way before that fateful last hand. As I wrote on Tuesday morning, finishing second is always a bittersweet way to end a deep tournament run, but the fat cash prize does a lot to make that better. And, I think something about the way I ended as the runner-up here made it not hurt nearly as bad as, say, if I had been the one with the 3-to-1 chip lead and then found a way to lose it. In all, it was another great run for me here early in 2011, as I strive to make good on my New Years' goals with respect to my poker game and my focus and rededication at the virtual tables.

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Blogger jamyhawk said...

Congrats on the score. Nice recap.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Good write-up. When you showed your stats, winning 40 hands without showing is huge.

1:54 AM  
Blogger John said...

good job

5:58 AM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

Nice score man

3:26 AM  

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