Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

I played in the Mondays at the Hoy tournament last night, marking only my third poker tournament in the last month. I had made a decision to distance myself from the game a bit, because when I was playing several MTTs a day I found that I was making poor calls in an attempt to make something out of nothing. The only reason I could come up with as to why I was doing it was that I was making the cardinal mistake in a card game: letting the results of previous hands influence my decision making on future hands. That is, my A-8 diamonds missed the flop completely last time, therefore if I play the A-8 diamonds again it is likely to catch a piece of it. I wasn’t actually thinking that, but as I look at the hand histories leading up to my hiatus, it was pretty obvious that such decisions were making it to the felt at least on a subconscious level.

The time away seems to have had the intended effect, as the last three tournaments have all yielded favorable results. Unfortunately, favorable and profitable are two completely different things. There was an 8th place out of 38 players in the Mookie, 9th out of 18 in the WWDN: Not, one which I made an extremely questionable call against a bluff by Hoyazo, where I correctly read the bluff, but alas didn’t have a higher crap card to take down the pot, and finally a 4th out of 22 in Hoy’s tournament.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these blogger events have the toughest competition you are likely to find in an online poker game. The level of play is so much better than your average sit and go that after a few blogger tourneys you can join a random sit and go and pretty much sleep your way to the money. The blogger competitions also have the same people in them; in any given event, you are likely to have played multiple times with about three quarters of them. That adds yet another dynamic to the game, since you know their playstyles, and they know yours, it is difficult to make straight bluffs, and when you do you have to be ready to get called on it.

The 4th place in the tournament last night really hurt. To play the game for 2.5 hours, 214 hands, only to finish one away from the money is just brutal. For me, this is by far the largest buy-in tournament I ever enter. I play in the blogger ten dollar buy-in ones, but only I have managed to win enough money at the low limit cash table to afford it. It was the same way with this one, and I think this was the second time I have played in it. With the higher buy-in, the bloggers really seem to bring their A game, and it is even more difficult than most of the other blogger tournies. I certainly didn’t expect to last as long as I did, which probably adds a lot to the sense of defeat.

I had to get lucky a couple of times to make it as far as I did. In one instance I had A-Jo and got into a hand with Kat. When the flop came up J-9-8, she bet 300 at it, I raised it to 900, then she pushed. I called that one pretty confident that I was going to eliminate her, but she flipped over a pair of 8s for the set. The turn card was a 7, meaning if the river was a 10 we would split the pot, if it was a jack, I would take it down, otherwise I would have lost about half my stack and been back down to below average on the chip stack. The river bailed me out with a ten. I think Kat must hate me at this point, as that is at least the third time I can think of that she got into a pot with me when she was significantly ahead, yet I have been bailed out each time. Sorry Kat.

Another hand came actually a bit before that one, where I got dealt Kings. I was first to act and raised it 3x. The only caller was the big blind. The flop came up raggy with a couple of diamonds in it, so I pushed hoping to end it right there. Unfortunately he called me and flipped over a 5-7o which happened to be two pair. I don’t know how you call a 450 bet pre-flop with a 5-7o, but call it he did. The board paired on the turn to give me a higher two pair. I really dodged a bullet on that one. That was also the highest pocket pair I would have all night. In fact, I only had two other pocket pairs with faces all night, both of them were jacks. Once it folded around to me, the other time I had to lay them down to pressure on a flop with an Ace and a Queen in it.

I won a race to knock out Jules a bit later. I had about 6000 in chips and called off about 2000 of it with an A-Qo when she pushed. She had Jacks, leaving me a bit further behind than I had hoped, but I hit a queen on the flop and she never improved. Sadly, that was the last race that I was going to win on the night.

The bubble in this one lasted for a long ass time. We were to the bubble before the second break, and it lasted about a half an hour after the break. Each of the four of us had the chip lead at some point during the 4 handed play, and it was pretty clear that no one wanted to be the one to fuck up and bubble out of it. I was in a pretty bad position since the guy to my right was raising damn near every time I was on the button, effectively killing any chance I had to make a steal. I called him on a couple of occasions and got him to lay the cards down, but only once did I have the balls to do it when I didn’t have a hand. I pushed all my chips in on a 3-9o, to a king high flop, when I had no pair, straight or flush possibilities. I was hoping that I had been playing tight enough to scare him out of it, and I must have been, he folded.

When the blinds got to 400/800 and the antes were 50, a blind steal was enough to change position from 4th to 2nd for a while. Unfortunately I wasn’t finding the opportunities I would have like to make that move and I eventually found myself with only 3000 in chips. I was on the button with an A-10 spades when the first guy pushed. I thought a lot about this one before I made the call. The guy who pushed was the next shortest stack and each of the other guys had him covered. I figured it was possible that I could lay down my hand and let one of them call it. If they eliminated him, I would be in the money and could lose on the next hand. No sooner had I run that scenario through my head, some part of me started kicking my ass for even thinking it. I signed up hoping to win, not hoping to make third place. If I layed it down here I might squeak into third, but I was certainly not going any further with less than 3000 chips and the blind hitting me on the next hand. I had to call this one, I had good cards for a shorthanded game and figured I was probably going to be a coinflip to a mid pair. Alas the pair was jacks, making me a huge dog, and the flop missed me in every conceivable way. In my anger and frustration at losing the hand, I subjected the table to the most vulgar, tilt-induced line I have ever uttered in chat. I said “well poo”, and I stand by that statement. After two and a half hours, busting out on the bubble made me think that very thing, and if you can’t handle such harsh words in the chat, you shouldn’t be playing the game.

The one thing that I can take away from this is that I played really well. With one key exception, I think I played the cards I was dealt as well as they could have been played. My reads were right in nearly every instance, and my bluffs got the desired result every time. In 214 hands, I was dealt exactly 16 pocket pairs, only three of which were face cards. I had to play a lot of crap hands because that was what I was getting dealt. The A-Jo that I normally stay away from was the hand I was playing the hardest last night, simply because that was the best that I was getting. In the last hour I didn’t get anything better than that. I really think if I could keep my play at the level I was playing last night, and caught a few hands along the way, I could realistically take one of these down.

A question for those of you better than me. The call that eliminated me from the tournament, how bad a call was that? A-10 spades on the button, 3000 in chips. First to act pushes, he is second shortest with 4800. Blinds are at 400/800, antes are 50. 4 handed play. I will blind out in six or seven hands. That is a call I have to make, isn’t it?

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