Friday, July 22, 2005

Donkey Is As Donkey Does

Bluff Poker Tour Event #8. If you want to know how to win a tournament look elsewhere. If you want to know how to lose one, read on.

"You may only see my whole cards, but you'll read my every thought as I make losing decisions at the poker table."

Thirty four minutes, five flops. It's not the quickest I've ever been busted out, but its awfully damn close. The key to losing a tournament is in the preparation.
First you must go straight from work to your daughter's T-Ball game. Then rush home for the tournament, but make sure that you read your email and catch up on some internet reading while playing the early rounds. This way you will have no idea how the other players are playing. This in turn leads to best guess scenario's and those are always 100% correct.

Flop #1: I'm dealt a middle pocket pair in late position and I call a raise. The flop misses me and brings an over card. An early position bet and I fold.

Flop #2: It's folded around to the small blind who makes a standard 3x raise. I find pocket 5's in the big blind and decide that since the small blind is short stacked for the table, that he is trying to just steal here. If he had any pair I think he'd just push all-in and force me out that way. With this read I reraise forcing him to call off all of his chips. He takes a while to decide and I know I'm ahead before he makes the call. He shows A 10 off and I win the coin flip. I'm now well over the average stack size and I'm about to go back to reading when...

Flop #3: From my small blind I have Q3 spades. A hand I would never play but I outthink myself. There are about 4 or 5 limpers and it's only going to cost me 1/2 a bet. If I flop big I may get a nice pot out of it so I call. The flop comes king high but with 2 spades. I check to see what the table does. It goes check, pot sized bet, then folds around to me. My inner voice says fold, heads up this is not worth it. My outer voice says, I've got a decent stack lets gamble a little.

I call, turn, no spade. I check, he makes same bet. Again my outer voice overrides the inner and I decide to see the river. Again, no spade. This time it goes check, check and my opponent has been on a complete bluff. He managed to pair the river though so I'm still a schmuck.

Flop #4: After chasing a stupid draw I'm left with an average size stack. Two hands later and now in the cutoff I find AA. Two callers to me, I make my standard raise. Big blind calls, original limper calls, others fold. Flop comes down J 7 6 with two spades.

First well cover what really happened, then we'll cover what should have happened.

Blind bets out with a pot size bet. Limper raises the minimum amount and now I have a decision to make. I have no idea how these guys play so I make a guess and put them on top pair and a straight draw. I know a flush draw is out there but for my decision I go with a straight draw. Now I don't want that draw to stick around. I have to make this an unprofitable situation mathematically so I make a pot size bet. I have both of these players covered although just barely. My raise is such a large amount that in order to call me, the players will be forced to go ahead and push all-in.

Sadly the big blind instantly pushes all-in the limper instantly pushes as well. Now I know I'm screwed. Problem is that I'm committed to this now so I have to call the little bit more. As it turns out the hands I chose were correct. Unfortunately one of these players had both hands. The blind had pocket sevens for the flopped set. The limper had J 10 clubs for the top pair and a gutshot draw. I played this hand badly, but what the hell was this guy thinking. Maybe he was psychic because his 9 came on the river for the straight, and the win.

What did I do wrong? Aside from not paying attention, this is how I should have played it. Everything looks good until my decision on the flop. I put them on top pair and a straight draw. The top pair is a feasible read but the straight draw was not. Turns out it was a correct read but it shouldn't have been. Since the blind bet out a pot size bet I can't put him on the draw. He was willing to call a raise knowing he has to act first so unless he likes to gamble it up he's not likely to call with connectors. Suited connectors maybe, but then I don't see him betting into the pot. He'll want others to do the betting for him.

The limper then raised the pot. Not something a drawing hand will want to do. He has to know that given the way most people play he is going to be called by the blind. He may be going for the free card on the turn but he still has to contend with me. I may have an over pair for all he knows so a raise makes no sense. A call would be his best bet if he wants to pursue the draw.

Since after doing some minor thought I could have eliminated the drawing hands I now have to reconsider what I'm up against. With hindsight I know this would be wrong, but looking at the betting pattern I would put the blind on top pair. Now with the raise from limper I have to assume he can beat that top pair. He didn't raise preflop and then called the raise. This screams middle pair so I should have put him on a set of sixes or sevens.

With the big over pair I can't just lay this down though. Instead of the huge bet I should have put out a feeler and just raised the limpers raise by 3x's. This still would have allowed one of them to push and would have allowed me to gather more solid information without putting myself in dire jeopardy. My analysis would have had the hands backwards but at least I would have been able to get away from it with some chips to fight with.

Flop #5: Again it's two hands later(a recurring theme). I only have 2x the big blind left after my big blunder. There are 2 limpers before me and I decide to push with 98 of hearts. A good multiway hand and I have the opportunity to quadruple up. The dealer keeps the board as far away from connecting with my cards as possible and within 38 minutes I'm gone.

I was left to watch those with enough points to catch me and one of them pulled it off. I've gone from a 60 point lead to what should now be a 40 point deficit. I'll still be in second but Quackpot has proven himself to be a good player. This marks his second win in a row and he has moneyed in all but one of the other events he played in. Looks like I'm going to have an uphill battle from here.