Monday, November 28, 2011

Thoughts From the Borgata Fall Poker Open Part III (Conclusion)

OK so props out to Astin and MorningThunder for coming the closest in guess what the two players had in the biggest fold I made on the day at the Borgata a couple of weeks back.

For those who did not yet read my last post, here is the recap on the hand in question, pasted from my prior post:

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.

I had asked for guesses as to what the two players involved were holding, and the actual answer is that the chipleader to my immediate left flopped the underboat with pocket 4s, and the #2 stack in the tournament across the table from us was sitting on Q9o. MorningThunder technically was closest with his guesses of 44 and K9, but Astin with 44 and A9 was basically right there, too. Although I think both of those guesses highlight my key point with this hand -- I obviously folded 97 because I just did not see how trips with a 7 kicker could be ahead given the two huge bets made and called ahead of me by the two prohibitive chip-leading stacks in the tournament with still some 60 runners remaining. And I did not see much in the comments to my last post to suggest much support for me continuing to play on with the hand that I had given that action, which I think makes sense since (obviously) I folded it, although it was the most painful fold I had made all day for sure.

The point I alluded to above, though, is that I think the big stack across the table made a big mistake in getting all his chips in in this spot, even sitting on Q9 on a 949 flop. I mean, once the chipleader -- and once again, the literal only player left in the tournament that could eliminate him from the event at that point, through more than 75% of the field at the time but still about 45 players away from the money positions -- slid out the 20k bet on the 949 flop, I would have given serious consideration to folding if I were the other big stack. Now, to be honest, that is not to say that I would have been confident that my Q9 was behind -- given the minraise from early position from the chipleader and his incredibly aggressive play since he had become the chipleader -- but rather, as a reflection of the fact that (1) I could be behind, (2) the huge bet requires me to commit a significant portion of the large stack I've built up thus far, and leaves me in terrible position facing potentially larger bets on later streets, and (3) even though I may likely be ahead, my stack is so large at this point that be folding here I can basically maintain my huge chiplead over almost every other player remaining and ensure that I live to fight another day, instead of taking what may even have amounted to only a 20% chance of being behind.

In any event, even if I had chosen to smooth call the chipleader's 20k bet on the 949 flop with my Q9 and the second-largest stack in the tournament at the time, I would almost certainly have folded the Q9 to the insta allin bet from the chipleader on the turn. I mean, what does the #2 stack put the chipleader on, to be making that kind of an allin push against this other huge stack that had the ability to cripple his chipleading stack if he is wrong? Why would the chipleader be pushing that hard, without some huge hand? Basically, in my view, by the #2 stack instacalling the instapush on the turn, the #2 stack is basically saying that he thinks the chipleader is an idiot. There's just no other way of saying it. I mean, to instacall that allin with a Q9 on the 949K board means that he thinks there is little to no chance that the chipleader has 44, KK, A9 or K9, the four possible hands that beat the #2 stack's Q9. But when you really look at the action, the chipleader -- unless he is, in fact, a poker idiot, which I can assure you he was not playing like on this day in any way, shape or form -- almost has to have exactly one of those four hands by the time he pushed allin on the turn. He is already the chipleader in the tournament, with around 150 big blinds in his stack even before this hand begins. Why on earth would be put that entire huge stack at risk against the #2 stack in the tournament, with a hand like AA, or J9 ot T9? I can only assume that the #2 guy put the chipleader on a hand like AA, but even that makes just no sense to me given the way he played the hand. The preflop early position minraise could definitely be AA, but when you see a 7-handed flop with a middling pair like 9s on the board, isn't almost all but certain that at least one other player in there flopped trips? Again, unless the chipleader is an idiot, he's not risking his entire massive stack with just a pocket pair against a mass of 7 players on a paired flop. No way. And is he really going to insta-push there on the turn with just trips and a middling kicker like J9 or T9? Come on, second stack. That was a terrible play, and while again I can accept the possibility of him calling the 20k on the flop and seeing what happened on the turn, the instapush on the turn that required the #2 stack to put in the rest of his chips with trips and a Queen kicker, should have been a very loud and clear signal that he was beat.

OK well there you have it. I had some more to say about my run at the Borgata, but as is usually the case with my deep runs, give it a week or two to sit around and it all just seems less important and less relevant than it did when it first happened. Will I get down to play some more poker again before this year is out, and maybe create some new live tournament stories to regale my readers with here at the blog? It's possible. I just found out today that I still have three vacation days left that I carried over from 2010 and which will expire per my employer's policy if I do not use them by the end of this year. And, while normally I would just throw those three days in in that week between Christmas and New Years and spend some more quality time with the Hammer Family, my group at work has a policy that any time off during that heavy-vacation-volume week must be pre-approved by the powers that be, and suffice it to say that all the lazybones already got in their requests months ago, leaving it impossible for me to get any time off myself during that week at this point in time.

So, will I use one of these three vacation days that I have to take in December to head back down to AC or up to Foxwoods for some more like poker action? Only time will tell.

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