I played in both the The Mookie & second chance tournaments yesterday. Meh, I have done worse. I finished 16th of the 40something in the regular event, on a hand that I knew I shouldn’t be playing, and honestly only did play to finish myself off before the second event started. I was sitting on a very short stack anyway, and with the blinds at their current levels I was not long for the tournament. Although I had been managing to steal the blinds, even from the short stack, so maybe I could have picked a better spot. I ended up pushing from EP with an A-7o, and the next two guys immediately pushed their stacks in as well. Woo-Hoo, over 4:1 on my money, if no one has anything better than an A-7o, which everyone did.
The second chance event is only a 5 dollar buy-in, and with only 16 players, I was far more in my element. I don’t do all that well in large MTTs, particularly when the blinds get above 1000/2000 as I am just to scared to try to make pure steals when the stakes are so high. I really seem to play my best when the field is two or three tables, so I approached this one with high hopes, even though the field consisted of the very same people. Now there is some faulty logic!
Early in the tournament I had an A-Ko in early position and limped into it. Gary raised it a bit more than 4x from the button which the big blind and I both called. The flop came out K-J-9 with two hearts. I checked it with TPTK, wanting to see where I stood. Gary immediately bet 2/3 the pot and jeciimd raised his bet a bit over 3x. I haven’t played with jeciimd enough to really know what his/her bet meant, however I have been at the table with Gary quite a bit. In my experience, he is not the type to make that kind of a bet if the flop hasn’t hit him. True, people do things when they are on the button that they don’t normally do, but the 2/3 pot bet looks like he wants a couple of people in it with him. Certainly not something I would expect to see if he was playing on top pair with a weak kicker, and definitely not something he would do if he had worse. I don’t even speculate about what Jeciimd might be holding, but laid down the TPTK because I think Gary has to have either JJ or KJ to be making that bet (99 is a possibility too, I suppose, but that never really came into my thinking). Would Gary have made the 4x pf raise with K-J? I don’t think he would have with a limper already in it (this all in speculation, of course). Gary reraised all-in and Jeciimd called it. Gary did indeed have pocket jacks, and Jeciimd was playing it on a nut flush draw. The turn and river were both aces, giving Gary a boat of Jacks over Aces and Jeciimd 3 aces. I would have won that hand if I would have stayed in it, but that is irrelevant. I made a good read there and was able to lay down the TPTK (which I am usually married to), which in itself shows a huge improvement in my game over the last couple of months.
A short while later, I was in a hand with an A-5 spades. The flop came out 4-6-7 diamonds and Waffles led out with a bet that was about 2/3 the pot (he had raised 4x pf). I have a bit of a reputation as a flush donkey (hell I was in this hand with an A-5 for that very reason, just not in the right suit), and decided to see if I could use that to my advantage. I waited for a few seconds before putting in a min-raise. Hoy loves to do that when he is trying to look weak, I did that hoping that the weak=strong logic would make Waffles lay down what was surely a better hand. Hoy said in the chat “min raise alert!!”, and after some thinking, Waffles laid them down. This wasn’t a pure bluff, since I was sitting on an OESD, but with him potentially holding the Ace of diamonds, I sure didn’t want him to call there.
After the hand, I found that Hoy at least had bought my ruse (too bad it was Waffles that was in the hand). The chat looked like this:
shadowtwin: yeah, I am incapable of raising without the nuts.
hoyazo: that minraise smelled fishy man.
shadowtwin: no really. would I lie?
I wouldn’t last long in the tournament though, because I did something pretty damn stupid. I have spent a lot of time thinking about my play since then, even chatted with Waffles, Hoy and Iak about it. This is a hand where I really should have known that I was beat, but I went ahead and donked myself out of it anyway. The thing is, I should never have been in the position I was in the first place.
A thing about me that you will learn if you sit at my table for any amount of time at all is that I like to see a flop with A-x suited. A-4, A-7, I don’t care, I like to see a flop. I am certainly not going to raise with that crap (possibly short-handed I would, but that is different), usually don’t even call a raise with it, but I like to see the flop with it if I can do so on the cheap. I have played enough to know that this is just about the most dangerous hand to be seeing flops with, at least for me. If I happen to hit top pair, I have to lay it down more often than not. If someone bets at an ace high flop, they probably have an ace also, and when I am taking a cheap flop to see if the flush hits, I usually don’t have a kicker that I should be calling with. I play this hand quite a bit, and I have rules about what I will stay in the post flop with. One of two conditions has to be met, or I will fold to any bet. Either 1) there have to be two cards in the same suit as my A-x, or 2) I have to pair the Ace and the kicker, and even if I pair the kicker it is probably going to get folded to any significant bet since it is likely to be bottom pair.
That was exactly what my intention was last night when I had an A-3 diamonds in middle position. I wanted to limp in with it, then fold if I didn’t hit; as always with that hand, my number one priority is to not go broke. Waffles raised it up to 4x from the button, and I thought about it for a bit before making the call. As I say, I don’t usually call a raise with this hand, but I do take a stab on occasion. In this particular case, I was respecting his raise and putting him on a range of exactly ten hands. I figured he had either A-K, A-Q, or a pair from 7s up. My reasoning on putting him on a good hand in a steal position is that I hope think that most of the bloggers have played with me enough to know that I will usually limp with anything short of pocket queens, kings or aces. So going into this flop, I actually thought to myself “fold if the diamonds don’t hit”.
The flop came down A-A-7. I checked it over to him fully expecting him to put in a bet, which I really was planning to fold to. Instead, he checked it as well. The turn brought a king, again I checked it to him, again expecting him to bet at me. Again he checked it as well. The river was a five, and I had somehow convinced myself that his lack of a bet on the turn meant that he wasn’t holding an ace. I bet just over half my stack into it, he immediately re-raised all-in and I called. He flipped over A-7 sending my lowly 3 aces home with his boat. Now that was a well played hand. Not many people are going to be able to check to the river with a flopped boat.
So, why is it that I decided on the river to completely ignore the rules I set for myself when playing this hand? Obviously, Waffles just outplayed me on this one. When I actually busted, I just stared at the screen in disbelief for a second, then I started looking at it logically. I had made the mistake of pot-committing myself when I made the bet on the river, so really I was going to have to call his push anyway, but the question is, what hand did I think I was trying to beat? By my own read, I had put him on a range of only 10 hands (of course he didn’t have one of the ten, but that hardly matters). Of those ten, the AA wasn’t possible, the KK and 77 beat me, as do the A-K and A-Q. By my own read, I have only a 50/50 shot at winning this hand after all the cards are down. But when I put in the bet on the river, I put him in a position where the only way he could call me is if he had me beat. He can’t call it unless he has a pocket pair of kings, fives or sevens, all of which make a boat, or an Ace, in which case the only way I win is if his kicker is lower than a 3 (well I guess we would split if he has a 2,3,4 or 6). See that? I made a big bet and pot-committed myself on a hand that I can only win if he folds.
I would like to think that if I had made a small bet and he re-raised me, I would have laid it down, but the truth is I wouldn’t have. The fact is that my bet there shows that I really didn’t think it through. I put him on a range of hands before the flop, then his play convinced me to absolutely disregard my read (which was wrong, but I still should have stuck to). As strange as it is, I really enjoyed losing that way. Too many times I lose to coin flips or plays that I know are marginal at best, when this one went down, I had managed to convince myself that I really had the best hand, and I just didn’t. It forced me to actually look at the way it was played, and realize that what I did was foolish. As if I had been hypnotized by the pair of aces on the flop, forcing me to completely disregard the hard rules that I always stick to when I play my A-x suited hands.
I am sure that most people would say I shouldn’t have been in this hand at all, and you would probably be right. But even by my own rules I shouldn’t have been in it. There weren’t two diamonds on the flop and I didn’t pair my kicker, the fact that there happened to be not one but two aces on the flop shouldn’t have any difference at all. I should have checked every street and folded to any bet, just as I would have done if the flop had come up A-K-Q, regardless of how many aces there are, a three is not a playable kicker. I hope that losing this hand, and being forced to look at the way I played it, will make me think about it then next time I end up in this situation playing A-x suited (which I will do, it’s just one of my things). If I can learn from this, and lay it down the next time I am in this situation, I will look back at this as one of the best hands I ever played. Winning hands is great, but it rarely improves my play. I would rather improve my game by losing a hand any day of the week