Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thoughts From the Borgata Fall Poker Open (Part II) -- The Big Hand

Yesterday I wrote about my fairly deep run in the Borgata Fall Poker Open black-chip bounty event, where I ended up busting just short of the final table at the hands of a vicious suckout. I was fortunate enough to have played in the tournament with two fellow fun poker bloggers, Edgie and the beautiful Josie. Although I had read his blog before and seen some comments on my own and others' blogs, this was my first time meeting Edgie (Jeff), which I managed to do over a quick bite during dinner break at the Borgata's food court just below the poker room. Jeff was a super nice guy, and more than that, a very solid poker player as well as he followed up a $9100 score earlier this month on bodog by final tabling the very same tournament that I played in. Despite us both outlasting more than 98% of the field in this event, Jeff and I never got to play at the same table, but Josie was kind enough to give me updates on Jeff's progress throughout the afternoon, and it sounded like Jeff was off to a nice big stack early, and that within minutes after the dinner break, his stack multiplied several times and set him up nicely for a final table run.

I should mention as well that Josie, who busted shortly before the first break in this tournament, came into the event flush in the pocketbook as she had managed to win not, not two but three buyins at the 2-5 nl cash tables the night before at the Borgata's always-active cash tables. I can honestly say that I have never won anything close to $1500 in cash poker of any level at any one sitting, and Josie having been able to pull that feat off is a testament to her abilities as a cash player in addition to her known tournament prowess which includes her own final table the last time I played at a live tournament with her, at Foxwoods a few months back. There is definitely something awesome about a woman who can kill you in both cash and tournament poker, and even though Josie was done in early by pocket Kings in the Borgata black-chip bounty tournament this time around, she cleared well into the four figures overall for her three-day trip to Atlantic City last week thanks largely to the cash tables, a result any of us would envy, and I have to say Josie was a great resource for me last week to discuss hands, to listen to my many complaints from bad cards to bad seat position through the tournament, and generally just to take a break from the stress of hand after hand of increasingly crucial situations.

Anyways, a belated congratulations to Edgie for his Borgata final table in what I can personally attest was a grueling field, and to Josie for destroying the cash tables at a level higher than her normal 1-2 cash play also at the Borgata last week.

OK, so back to the tournament. When I left you yesterday, I had referenced that, although my poker instincts were fairly far from sharp in the tournament, I did make a couple of big folds that, like mostly ever deep mtt run I have ever had, did more to keep me in the tournament than basically any hand I did play throughout the day. Despite not getting many strong hands for several hours to begin the tournament, I did have to fold AQs about four hours in, in the only time I saw this hand on the day, to a raise and a reraise in front of me before the flop. I have simply found that I have done well folding AQ -- sooted or otherwise -- to almost any preflop reraise, which generally speaking indicates either AK or a pair of Queens through Aces in the pocket probably a good 75% of the time or more in my experience.

An even bigger preflop fold, albeit also something which I have learned over the years the discipline to do with some regularity, was when I also laid down JJ preflop, about which happened several hours in, about 2/3 of the way through the field. In that hand, I was getting fairly short, back down to around 15 big blinds (where frankly I spent most of the day's action), and I hadn't played a hand in about an hour, so I was getting antsy to make some kind of play. You can imagine my excitement when I looked down to find pocket Jacks in the big blind, and even moreso when the action folded halfway around before the flop, and then a fairly aggressive stealer open-raised it up a few seats to my right. I had already decided I was going to reraise allin any preflop raiser from any position with my shortish stack and pocket Jacks, and when half the players folded and then the pot was opened by a guy with a weak image already, that all but sealed it. But then to my dismay and disappointment, a very tight player who was also sitting on a big stack reraised on the button, after also not playing a hand in the past hour or so, and that really changed the whole calculus for me. I mean, I needed the chips bad, but as much as I wanted to get some action with my pocket Jacks, I was not about to call for 2/3 of my stack or push allin against a tight preflop reraiser with pocket Jacks. Especially given the reraiser's large stack, my perception was that he would not risk all of those chips with a few players still to act behind him without a very strong holding, and so, after a minute or so of thought, I grudgingly but confidently laid the JJ down. The guy to my right went on to show AA when the original stealer also folded to his preflop reraise. Much later, the guy to my right would go on to win the entire tournament.

But my biggest fold on the day was not before the flop, but on the flop, and it also happened to be the biggest pot I saw in the entire 13 hours I played in the tournament. Here's how the action went:

For starters, the guy to my immediate right (a different guy from the hand above) had just lost an allin pot from his big blind to a guy across the table who had only about 400 chips fewer than he had, leaving the guy next to me with just that many chips at a time when the blinds were I think 400-800 with a 75 ante. Being that he was also the small blind in the hand in question, this guy was thus allin blind with his last chips in the middle to start the hand. Which meant that his $100 elimination bounty was totally up for grabs. Which meant that everyone around the table would be playing like complete and utter maniacs to try to get his bounty, as always seems to happen whenever a cash bounty is on the line in one of these bounty tournaments. And that's the setup for the biggest pot I saw on the day. Oh, and did I mention that, as this hand began, we had the two largest chip stacks left in the tournament both at my table? One, the actual chip leader at the time, was on my immediate left (I spent pretty much the entire last 8 hours of this tournament with the chip leader on my immediate left, through two different tables in fact), and was sitting on approximately 125,000 in chips, at a time when my paltry stack (as it was most of the day) was around 14,000 (which was really fun for me, in case you're wondering). And another guy across the way had about 120,000 in chips in his stack, good for #2 at the time in the tournament, also seated at our table even though we had about 60 runners left in the event.

So, with the setup out of the way, the small blind was allin with the last of his chips, and his bounty chip in the middle in front of him, and I was the big blind in the hand. The UTG player and tournament chipleader with 125,000 chips started off the action by min-raising, in a weakass, half-hearted attempt to take the guy head-on for his bounty, but the weak minraise to just 1600 chips did nothing of the sort and instead led the UTG+1 player to call, then the guy next to him folded, and then the next 4 players also called the 1600-chip raise. I looked down in the big blind to find 97s, a hand which I would have open-raised with myself and which I would have probably called most small raises with even in a heads-up pot (certainly against the chipleader), so I of course called the raise as well for another 800 chips out of my stack with 97s, and we saw a 7-way flop -- with the small blind and his bounty already allin and up for grabs -- by far the most players to any hand I saw in my entire 13-hour run on the day.

And the flop came down...949 rainbow. My heart jumped to my throat. I mean, of course a nut straight or a flush would be even better flops for me, but in general I had nailed this flop -- far and away the best flop hit over made in the entire day, mind you -- and I was in the big blind to boot, in a hand with two ginormously-stacked players who had been very aggressively pushing people around already to get those huge stacks.

I checked, as I had checked almost every flop I had seen throughout the day and I just didn't see the point of betraying any strength in my hand and possibly chasing anyone out with all these chips available on the table. My thought was that someone would surely bet this flop out of the 7 players in the hand (6 with chips behind), and then I would most likely reraise allin almost any bet from any player and take my chances. The chipleader opened the betting to my immediate left, but with a shocking bet of 20,000 chips. This was about a fifth of his entire monster stack, and more than that, it was enough right out of the gate to basically cover the entire stack or nearly the entire stack of every single other player in the hand at the time, except for the #2 stack across the table. That did not please me to have to call an allin instead of having some fold equity into what was a pot with under 10k in chips in it at the time, but at the same time, this guy was an aggro monster and the size of the bet made him seem more weak than strong to me, so my plan was still to call his allin when the action got around to me.

There was a fold, then another fold, and another, and my plan was really crystallizing in my head. But then a crazy thing happened. The other ginormous stack in the tournament called the 20k bet. He didn't even raise it, mind you, but he just smooth called the bet for 20k, now putting a silly amount of chips into the pot, and then the action folded around to me. As I stared at the obscene action going on in this hand, my plan to get it allin started to crumble right before my eyes. I mean, one guy pushing in a huge bet as an aggro steal play when he had the chips to lose was one thing, but for both of the big stacks to be committing tournament-altering amounts of chips here -- and in particular with the guy across the way only calling and not reraising allin to even try to get the big stack to lay down -- those alarm bells I often write about started going off in my head. Something just did not feel right here. I thought. I analyzed. I agonized. Suddenly, my trips with the 7 kicker were feeling pretty well outkicked. Again, if either one of these guys had alone made a big move at this pot, I'm probably sliding 'em all in there and taking my chances, especially given that I was below average like I was the entire day long in the tournament, and if my 97 is beat, then it's beat. But once the enormity of the pot I was looking at really sunk in, I just sat in disbelief as the fingers on my right hand slid my cards face-down towards the muck in the center of the table. I was behind, I had to be.

The turn card brought an offsuit King, making the board 949K rainbow, and the big stack to my left insta-pushed allin for a gillion chips. And the guy across the way beat him into the pot calling the bet. For his entire 2nd place stack. Against the one and only player in the entire room who had the power to eliminate him. This of course left me all the more sure that I was in fact behind.

Anybody care to guess what the two players had? I can post the results on Wednesday but will give some time for people to get in their guesses if they want to.

Suffice it to say, the winner of this pot went on to be such a massive chipleader and hold more than 300 big blinds at this point in the tournament, which is something I have never even seen before in my entire life of live or online tournament play.

Let me know your guesses, and I will post the results tomorrow. Also, I would like to understand if anyone thinks I should have called the action here and taken my chances with my 97s, and if so, based on what reasoning.

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Blogger Josie said...

I remember that big hand! :)

2:52 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

Pocket 4s and A9o.

3:17 AM  
Blogger John said...

agree with astin

6:19 AM  
Blogger John said...

although AA and 44 is also possible.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

I think pocket pair over pocket pair, with the winning hand being KK. I'd say, 9's full of J's lost to K's full of 9's.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Sorry, brain-dead today. Not nines full, two pair was the loser. Or not. Who knows, remember I'm brain-dead.

8:01 AM  
Blogger JT88Keys said...

I'll guess UTG had K9 (not sure about suited or not, but it doesn't really matter in this situation) and second biggest stack had pocket 4s which is why the King on the turn triggered the quick shove and call.

7:57 PM  
Blogger edgie212 said...

Thanks for your kind words, sir. A pleasure meeting you as well!

I had to fold KK twice in the tournament to get where I got, unbelievable I know, but when you are beat, you are beat. When you're this close to bigger money you sometimes have to take some shots. I can understand mucking JJ completely, but I don't know that I would have had the discipline to muck trips on the flop. The smooth call by the big stack would have been a deterrent, but I can't say for sure. I'd agree with any combination of what these folks mentioned here.

9:52 PM  
Blogger MorningThunder said...

K9 44

11:32 PM  
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