Monday, December 15, 2008

Close Call But Another Nice Score

This weekend I blew my best chance at a huge tournament payout in my entire career.

Lately I've been getting more into pokerstars, where my ROI blows away my ROI at full tilt for some reason, and because slowly but surely pokerstars has made some positive changes to keep them up with developments at full tilt IMO. For a nighttime guy like me, this is mostly evident in the 9 and 9:30pm nightly mtts, where the structure is some of the best available anywhere nowadays, and where there are some fun satellites to get in on the cheap if you know how to play the game.

Specifically, on the satellite front, I am talking about the nightly 100 grand at 9pm ET and the 70k guaranteed at 9:30pm ET every night on pokerstars. The 9:30pm tournament, the 70k (formerly what I used to call the 50-50) has a structure similar to full tilt's 50-50, although it is still a little faster as the rounds progress into the second or third hour. And lately, stars has begun running ongoing $22 hyper-turbo sitngos to get in to the $55 buyin 70k, including I think three or four larger mtt satellites starting around an hour prior to the 70k's 9:30pm ET start. Now, these are hyper-turbo (pokerstars' equivalent of super turbo on full tilt), but as with their full tilt counterparts, if you understand the strategy for these things, you can cash in well above your mathematical fair share of them. These $22 are the perfect size I think because they feature 6 players at one table, and the top two finishers win the seats.

The Nightly Hundred Grand on pokerstars is perhaps the best mtt anywhere on the internet at an accessible buyin for me. It is a $162 buyin, which I do not normally play on any site unless I am hugely rolled there, but again they have hyper-turbo sats with excellent setups to entice me to play. I like the $54 buyin 6-man sngs, whcih again pay out $162 seats to the top two finishers, where once again I have thus far averaged far more than my fair 33% share of wins to play in to the nightly 100k tournament. I also like that this event pays a minimum of more than double the buyin even for the first players to cash, which should sound attractive to those of you who have toiled in tournaments like full tilt's nightly $26 buyin 32k for over three hours, only to make a profit of $13.66 once all is said and done. And the event itself is awesome, starting at 9 instead of 9:30 which is always good for us east coasters, and this thing has 12-minute levels throughout, including a whole bunch of extra levels all the way through the end. I mean there are blind rounds I've never even seen before in any other online mtt in this thing -- $$1600/$3200, 1700/$3400, stuff like that -- that really make this thing a delight for someone with some poker skill who prefers not to have the extreme push and pray mentality of most online tournaments, especially as you get near the end and the big money starts to be on the line. Even at the start of the final table, the Ms are generally around 20 or more, which is a far cry from the usual sub-10 Ms found on most final tables at most online poker sites.

And the final table is where I was on Saturday night in this thing. Friday night I also ran deep, burning through 95% of the field of 900 runners or so before crashing and burning with a big sooted Ace against AK from late position, minutes after running JJ into QQ. Not much you can do once you get short in these things, and I made a nice score for my troubles thanks to the favorable payout structure. I know how to get deep in these things, so i definitely count myself among those who would prefer a small percentage of the runners to get paid in favor of paying out a bit more to those who do cash.

Anyways, I played some of the best poker in my career on Saturday night in this $162 buyin event, and after about five hours I made the final table, easily the biggest final table I have ever sat at, with first place paying out a whopping 21k and change. Frigging third place even paid over 11k as I recall. Naturally, after being the chip leader in this event for most of the way from 200 or so left down to the final two tables, I took my 5th and 6th suckouts of the tournament to drop to 7th of 9 players remaining as the final table began. I mean what I said there, too, I had a bunch of railers there to see it and dam if I did not take seven bad beats in this tournament overall -- and I'm defining bad beat here as getting the money in as at least a 2-to-1 favorite to win -- as compared to precisely zero bad beats I was able to lay on anyone else. All of Saturday night in fact saw me lose to probably 18 or 19 suckouts over 3 or 4 hours of play heading into this 100k final table, including two horrible suckouts of pair over pair and 99 losing to A2, both allin preflop, when down to two tables remaining to put the icing on the cake and leave me once again short-stacked heading into the biggest final table of my life.

With 5 New Yorkers at the final table out of 9 players, I played great at first with the big money on the line, chipping up from last place a couple of times to move back up near the top of what proved to be a very close leaderboard top-to-bottom, but eventually the player to my immediate left busted another player who called allin with ATo and this guy became the big chipleader at the table with seven of us remaining. This was when I made what I have come to think of as a slight mistake, as I usually do whenever I get over-active at a final table and it costs me.

The action folds around to me before the flop, and I have 77. But I look at the player to my left appears to have minraised UTG, so I'm thinking he is probably strong and I better not go crazy here, better to set mine and try to double up off the chip leader if at all possible. So I just call the big blind from my small blind, and that's when I realize that the chipleader to my left did not minraise at all -- he was in the big blind and thus hadn't even acted yet. I was thinking that I was in the big blind all along but was wrong. No big deal in and of itself, but when the chipleaderreacted to my small blind limp by raising it up the size of the pot, I decided he was probably putting a move on me and trying to bully as he had been doing quite a bit of since amassing the table big stack, taking advantage of everyone else wanting to move up a spot or two -- each spot worth more than a grand of cold hard cash at this point already. So I figured my 77 was likely to be ahead of whatever he was holding in our blind vs blind confrontation, and as a result I pot-reraised him back, getting about 75% of my chips into the pot in doing so. He immediately re-reraised me allin, and I obviously had to call with only about 5 big blinds left in my stack, and the chipleader flipped up AQo. It's an aggressive move that would (and has) surely cost me my tournament to push against a preflop reraise with a hand like AQ at a 7-handed table, but for other players its seemingly doable with a fair amount of success.

So there I am, a 52% favorite to become the prohibitive chip leader at a 7-handed table, with first place paying over 21k, and the flop comes down all rags. I am wetting my pants, but then the turn brings an Ace and just like that IGH in 7th place:

As I said, in retrospect I have come to think of this as a slight mistake on my part. I don't think pushing with the 77 was a huge mistake, although I did know that I was commiting myself to the pot with a smallish pocket pair against a preflop reraiser, which is not exactly hoyazo-style tight final table strategy for sure. I mean, unless he happens to have 22-66 or Ace-small sooted, I am in trouble if he does not fold, and being the chip leader, his likelihood of folding is not as great as it otherwise could be. I figured he wasn't that strong, as this was a blind vs. blind confrontation where I had limped from the small blind as it is and there was a ton of money from the blinds and antes already in every pot before even seeing a flop, and in the end I was right, and I got it in ever so slightly ahead with a better than even chance to be in great position to win the really big money. But dam that was an expensive gamble right there, with me sitting in 4th place of 7 at the time of my bustout.

As I said, I rank this play by me as a mistake, albeit not a big one given the blind vs. blind nature of the hand. And I thought there was a strong chance of him laying down whatever he had and choosing to retain his nice chiplead, as I surely would have (and did) at that final table with AQo. The biggest mistake of the whole thing to me was definitely losing focus at a final table of this magnitude to the point where I limped to a guy who I thought had minraised UTG, when in fact he hadn't even acted yet. That is just not excusable, and in that sense I got what I deserved in only winning some 15% of what the top payout in this tournament was. In the end that particular mistake would not have mattered much, as surely he would have reraised my small blind open-raise from his big blind with his AQ, and then I would have been looking at essentially the exact same situation I was in anyways, although who knows how it would have played out. The other big option I had with my pocket 7s was just to call his preflop raise, leave myself with enough chips to still play with if I lost, and then when the flop came down all raggy, push it in from the small blind, and who knows if he would have called or not with his AQo unimproved. My sense is that he might have, or he might not have, I would call it about 50-50. He was playing kinda aggrodonkish so it's hard to rule anything out given what I saw him doing, but suffice it to say, my misstep probably cost me a couple grand in pure Cash EV in what was like I said the biggest spot I had been in in a long time in my poker career.

Still, between Friday and Saturday night's cashes in this nightly 100k on stars, I made a very solid profit and enabled me to once again cash out a bunch of funds from online poker. I've been playing on a very small bankroll for some time on all the sites I play on, opting to keep the money in my bank account instead of in the online poker sites in most cases ever since the economy really hit the skids and now with all this talk of re-enforcement of the UIGEA and such. With what's going on in the world, I am just much more comfortable seeing the balance go up in my own savings rather than in my account at pokerstars or full tilt, and this weekend was another nice chance to pull out some cashish and store it away for a rainy day. And of course I had a blast running so deep these past couple of nights in addition to making some good coin. So although it always sucks to bust and miss out on a chance at making some Really Big Money in a spot where you find yourself second-guessing yourself afterwards, it was a big score and a great performance on back-to-back nights in a tournament that features a generally higher quality of play and certainly a more skill-biased structure than almost anything else out there in the world of online poker. Especially given that I suffered seven bad beats during this thing, I definitely feel great overall about making the final table and winning what I did, both from a pure chip perspective as well as from the perspective of being able to keep the right mentality from start to finish in this thing despite what kept happening to me.

Now I just need to catch up on my sleep from that night and I'll be all good.

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Blogger Chad C said...

God you suck, race better loser!

2:15 AM  
Blogger Fred aka TwoBlackAces said...

Nice hit Hoy....just curious, what were the stack sizes, and what were the blinds?

4:53 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...


Not 100% accurate (I can verify via my screenshots if necessary), but roughly speaking, I know I busted on the 6k/12k/1200 blinds and antes level. I probably had about 230k, and he probably had around 450k or so.

I just limped to 12,000 in the small, and he raised it up to around 55,000 or so I think. I then reraised him up to 140k or so, leaving me I remember with 70k and change. So when he pushed there, no way I'm folding for my last 70k with 77 (not that I felt good about it at that point). As I said, in retrospect I could have just called his preflop raise and then pushed allin on the raggy flop, not sure if he would have folded or not. Those railing me who had watched his play seemed to think he woulda called me anyways, but obv. I wish I could have the play back to find out.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

He woulda called, the flop was 2-3-5 or something. Everyone who plays on Stars knows the 4 or Ace hits the turn 99% of the time on that flop.....

2:23 PM  

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