Sunday, January 29, 2006

Another MTT Milestone

Tonight started off much like most of the last two weeks' worth of poker for me on pokerstars. I played a 6x$12 sng to warm up, and went out in 3rd, missing the money by one place, when my A9 lost to KQ on the river. I recognize that I didn't have a huge lead heading into the flop in that hand, but the fact remains that I was ahead 60% to 39%, and the consistency with which I seem to lose these "close" favorites is really striking. In any event, I only tell this story to paint the picture of things starting off much like usual last night.

In keeping with the "usual" theme, my next move was to go and donate my $20 to the 180 person sng on pokerstars. This would be my sixteenth 180 sng on ps, with me not finishing higher than the mid-30s in any of them. In keeping with various bloggers' statements about the fishiness of this particular tournament, I have found it very easy to make the top half in these 180 sngs, fairly easy to make the top third (60 or so remaining), but have had a lot of trouble surviving from the 70 or so range at the first break until the next 30 or 40 players have been eliminated. So, things started off fairly actiony for me yesterday, in that I saw 27% of flops during the first hour of the tournament, managing to double up just one time near the end of the round when my KK survived against my opponent's AJ (somehow!). Heading into the first break, I was in 48th out of 77 remaining players, feeling happy with my play (especially given how many pots I was in), but not overly so since I usually manage to enter the first intermission right around this level in these sngs.

The second session also started with a bang for me, as I limped with KJ suited, and saw a flop of K94 rainbow. I checked that flop, and an opponent who I had noted as a flop bluffer put in a relatively light bet for the flop round of just twice the big blind. I read this as weakness, but just called to keep my slow-play going of my top pair, knowing I was taking a risk of the guy sucking something out on the turn and ruining my play. Nonetheless, the turn came a complete rag, and I checked, thinking I still had to have the best hand. My opponent put in a bet of about 8x the BB. Still not a huge bet, but enough to make the pot worth winning at this point, so I thought for a few and then pushed. My opponent folded fairly fast, and I could tell he was pissed to get caught losing that many chips in the bluff. That play set me up for the next 20 or 30 hands, leaving me in the 20-40th range throughout round 2, and elevating me as close to "the zone" as I've gotten in my last 20 or so tournaments. In the remaining hands of the round, I must have picked players off of bluffs at LEAST seven or eight times. I mean, I could just TELL when they were bluffing, or semi-bluffing with second pair and would fold to a big bet, and I let my intuition take over and acted on it with absolute conviction. The Zone is wonderful like that. I not only knew people were bluffing me, but I was predicting with total accuracy the SIZE of the bluffbets they were putting out in vain attempts to deceive me. I remember at one point calling a small raise preflop with 76 suited, having me and two other callers see a flop of QJ4, checking it around, and then when the flop came a 10, I just *decided* I was going to MAKE these zobos believe I had AK. So when the first player bet small and the second guy called, I quickly moved in all my chips. By most rights a foolish play, but I'm telling you I was simply in The Zone. I KNEW these guys would fold. They WANTED to fold to me. Every pot was for me in Round 2 last night, and I went out and got them, big time. I ended round 2 in 13th out of around 30 remaining, but having won literally 21% of the total hands I had played thus far in the tournament. I was getting mucho respect at the table, and was reading people like Stephen King books. It was awesome.

My first-ever second break in a 180 sng flew by, and I got to experience for the first time the tightfest that is the 180 sng round 3. Almost no one wanted to make any moves so close to the cash, and it became much more a blind stealing contest than anything else. Although I soon realized my time in the Zone had already faded significantly thanks to the round break, I was still able to execute several blind steals in good positions. Enough to keep me in the top 18 throughought the round, and after around 140 minutes of solid playing, I reached my first ever cash in one of these 180 sngs. I ented the money positions, the top 18, in 10th place. I made a lot of nice moves once things loosened up again after we got to #18, managing to sneak into the top 10 in chips as some of the smaller stacks made their last stabs and dropped out to pick up their $43 and change for time well spent. Tired of the supertight play, near the end of the round I also played two hands overaggressively, betting large into them when I *thought* I read weakness -- hoping beyond hope to bring at least a temporary resurgence of The Zone -- but my intuition cost me much of my chippage, resulting in me being in 12th place out of 12 remaining with about 30 minutes left in round 3. I managed to hold on, picked up some good cards and stole some good blinds, enough to last to 10th out of 10 remaining, where things completely stalled for the last 25 minutes or so of the round. I mean, I did what I usually do in the final 2 tables of the big tourneys -- I opened up the other table just to watch to see if someone was allin. As is very common one spot away from the money in any multi-table event, play became extratight with no one but the small stacks really willing to push. Six different times, someone in a short stack went all in on one of our two tables and won, and we ended up reaching break #3 still knotted in tightsville at 10 players remaining.

As this post is dragging on, I will get to the point. I continued to make smart, well-timed moves as Round 4 began, and FINALLY, mercifully, someone on the other table moved in with K9s against A9o, and the short stack was knocked out. I had made my first final table in the ps 180 sng!

Things went decently well from there, and the best I did was 4th place out of 7 players remaining. I didn't see a single good hand while at the final table (I guess you could call A-10 a good hand, but it was 8-handed at the time after an EP raise AND a call, so I wouldn't write home about that), but lived off of blinds and bluffs, blinds and bluffs. Then a few short stacks went out back to back, and I was in 5th place out of 5 remaining. Then I managed to cripple 4th place when he made a terrible call (I am Hoyazo), and that guy went out shortly after, moving me into 4th place, but I was literally 25,000 chips less than anyone else remaining, and about 120,000 below the chip leader. I wasn't able to do much to any of these larger stacks, especially with no hands, and when I looked down to see 77 and a raise in front of me, I moved in with it. And lost to the chip leader's 88.

As with my final table in the large $10 tourney last week, I could not be happier overall with my performance. That makes two top 20's in sizeable MTTs in the last two weeks, both of which I managed to turn into final tables, and decent runs at the final table at that. I didn't get many good cards after the first round in this tourney but still played a very calm, cool and collected game. And although this is still January, I inched ever closer to my 2006 yearly goal of winning an MTT online. After no final tableage in all of 2005, my first year of playing online, I have already made TWO in just January of 2006, including a 6th place and now a 4th place, and for that I am absolutely thrilled.


Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

Congrats! That's awesome. I have the same goal for this year. Hopefully at least one of us will win an MTT.

1:28 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home