No guarantee in FTP guaranteed tournaments

After my recent (relative) success in the FTP 17k, I figured I would try to get into it again on Friday. The tokens are easy to come by, so it is really no big investment, and it is pretty good MTT practice. This time, I decided to do a bit of preparation before the event. I used another of the tokens to buy into a 6,000 guaranteed double stack tournament. I figured it would get into bigger stacks a lot faster that way so I could try to get used to having to actively make/call bets in excess of 1000 chips when my cards were far from premium. Of course the stack size relative to the blinds in the double stack is way different, but the betting doesn’t quite go like it would in a normal MTT either. I came out of it just out of the money, but I was hanging around with a 20,000 stack for a while, and was getting used to making calls of 2,500 when I had no better than second pair and a decent kicker, but often the hands would improve, which is why I need to be able to make such calls.

I started out the 20K in the big blind, which I absolutely love. My cards were absolute crap (2-3o) so I got out of it, and folded the small blind as well. For some reason if I start out on the button, by the time the blinds get around to me, I am feeling a sense of urgency that I really shouldn’t be so early in the tournament. Why the same doesn’t happen to me when I start out in the blinds, I gots no idea, I guess I am just weird like that.

I got aces about 15 hands into the event, but only raised 2x since there was only 1 guy and the blinds ahead of me and Aces don’t do you much good if no one calls them. The flop was a Jack high rainbow that I got someone to call a bet of 250 with, but when the turn gave me the set, I couldn’t get him to call even a measly 120 chips. I then went on to fold every single hand for the next half hour at least. I was just that card dead. I had only been in one hand in the whole tournament, so I didn’t think I had much of an image to try to be bluffing with, I just needed to wait for my spots.

I managed to pick up a couple of sets of blinds before the break, but not much more. I guess if you are going to be card dead in one of these things it is better for it to happen in the beginning, as long as you are able to fight through it. Again, I had to feel pretty good about my position, considering what I had been working with so far. I was going to have to start making some moves to give myself a chance to get to the money, but there is a fine line between “making moves” and outright donkish play -alas, I don’t know where that line is drawn- . I charged out after the break and stole a couple more pots, managed to make a good lay down (which feels a lot better to me than winning with the nuts – at least the lay down was something I had personal control over, so when I make the right decision, it does feel good), which hurt me for chips, but kept me alive.

Here I was able to teach an elephant why you should never bet pre-flop and check on the turn. I like to see free cards when I have an underpair, had he bet on the flop it would have been a tough decision for me to call this one, since he had raised preflop, I was putting him on high cards: A-K or A-Q. I took the check on the flop to mean that either he made his set or it missed him completely. Not to mention that I was a bit worried about the possible flush. All of which was moot when he gifted me the boat by not putting in a continuation bet:

Here I am trying to sucker strongbadd. He has raised on almost every hand for the last couple of orbits and no one has called him. I got some decent cards here, limped in, and was hoping he would try that crap again:

Alas, it was not to be. He folded preflop this time, so the blinds got to see the flop for cheap. I hate it when such carefully orchestrated baiting doesn’t work out. Oh well. The big blind checked on the flop, next guy bet 200, and I raised 500. It’s a pretty big pot when the turn gives me top and third pair, the straight is a possibility, but I don’t think this guy calls off that much of his small stack on a straight draw. I am pretty sure he has a King, but figure if he had an ace kicker he would have pushed on the flop. Time to put my read to the test:

Just as an aside, the reason I only bet 1,000 instead of pulling him all in is because of my perception when I am on the reverse side of this hand. If I am in his shoes and see the other guy put in a big bet that is just less than either my stack or his own, I think it looks like a bluff bet to scare me out of it. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t, but either way, I like to feel like the decision to put my tournament life on the line was mine, not the big bully’s. So with the bet of 1,000, he can tell his friends that he called me all in, and it would be technically accurate, since he did push his last 24 chips and I had to call them. Just one of my things. It eventually looked like this:

I am not quite sure how he could have made that call when I pushed big when the Ace hit the board. Did he really think I was going to fold when he raised his last 24 chips? Did he really think that he was ahead since I only limped into the pot preflop? I don’t know, but I was sure happy to see that my read was right. I didn’t really expect to see the jack, and on Pokerstars he would have surely sucked it out, but at least I was right about his high card and weak kicker.

A while later, I found myself in a fight that I really didn’t want to be in with an A-Qo. The preflop betting got out of hand, and the pot was huge. The button pushes, I have TPTK, but I am really afraid that I am behind to either a flopped set or two pair. 4,500 in the pot, I have 6,000 in chips, and it will cost me 1,100 to see if TPTK is good, and it is:

And I actually got my chips in ahead and managed to hold on to the lead to pull down quite the stack:

Not in bad position going into the second break, but certainly a long way to go. I had been chatting with Guin for about the last half hour, and had been pretty much keeping pace with him in chips, until he added to his stack, while I subtracted from mine just before the break. I opined to him that I was in a pretty good position to go out of this one on the bubble, since the top 117 places would pay. God I hoped I didn’t, I would rather lose early than bubble. Anyway, I went to see who was still in it, and found that Surflexus was still in it, and in really good position. WillyWonka was still in it too, although I never found the time to visit his table before he busted. Not that I was destined to last much longer either.

I called a fairly large bet from one of the shorter stacks preflop, and just couldn’t lay it down when he pushed his last 1,500 or whatever to the center on the flop. You would think that since I was on a two outer I would be golden, but no such luck:

Sadly, I could feel what little air was left in my bubble starting to seep…It wanted out. I still had 7k in chips, and should have been able to do something with them, but the cards just weren’t falling in my favor. I got pocket 8s a short while after and did a standard 3x raise, got two callers. When the flop came up A-K-Q, I knew that one or the other of the guys that just called 1,500 to see the flop absolutely had to have one of them. I folded that, and got to watch as the guy that had the ace lost to the guy who had the king when he got the set on the river. Ouch.

I told myself that I wasn’t going to bitch about the hand that took me out, but some circumstances came up that made it absolutely necessary. I told Guin after I busted that it was on a two-outer, but when I think back on it, it was actually a five-outer, so I guess I shouldn’t really be bitching. Anyway, there were 124 left in the tourney, top 117 pay. I had contented myself to fold my way into the money and then go out on a hammer or something. Unfortunately, I found myself in the big blind and no one raised it. I checked it with a 3-6o, fully expecting to immediately fold. But the flop came 3-Q-6. So I had to ask myself, what would Mungo do? Come on, I flopped two pair, this one was mine, right? All-in. He flips up Q-x (don’t remember the other card, but it certainly wasn’t a 3 or a 6), so I just need to miss five cards to take this thing down. Rivered a fucking Queen and IGH.

Now, the same guy gets moved over to Guin’s table, and after some time (since Guin was doing way better than me) he ended up in a situation with him. Guin pushes with 5’s into a flop of 4-4-x, dude calls it with A-K. And the river is? I forget if it was the ace or the king, but it was one of them. This guy was just having some sick luck tonight. Hell, if I could hit those 5 or 6 outers on the river every damn time, I might make it a lot further in these things myself.

I stayed on to watch and root for Surflexus, as he fought his way through the obligatory card death to bust out in 11th. I even played another token game with Guin, but for the way I played, I would have been better off to just transfer a few bucks to that lucky son of a bitch who busted out Guin and Myself.

It seems hard to rationalize this, but I played way better in this tournament than I did in the last one. While I finished 54th, and well into the money, in the last one, I played my hands way better in this one, and wasn’t afraid to make the calls that I needed to (well most of them). I hate to use the bad luck excuse, but when there is one guy that busts me out when I am way ahead (a 75% favorite on the flop) then goes on to bust out Guin when he is way ahead (also over 70% favorite on the flop), I do start to believe a bit in that particular superstition. I hope I don’t have to get tired of saying that I am going to make that call as a 75% favorite every damn time (I honestly thought I was a bigger favorite, I thought the other guy likely just had two high cards). One of these damn times, I am going to hold up the 75% part of it when it actually matters -provided the 25% doesn’t suck me out of my bankroll first.

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