by | Monday, January 23, 2012 | 0 comment(s)

Just back from the Borgata winter open and thrilled to report I have added two more cashes to my resume with a 29th place finish in event 4 ($560 freezeout) and a 10th place finish in event 35 ($230+100 bounty). Here I share my huge mistake, a general mistake made by my opponents, and my poker epiphany. All of this learned in the course of the 7 hour bounty tournament.

My huge mistake – I am a proponent of always being aware of everything going on at your table. If you lose sight of even one critical factor, you will be doomed to failure. Well, I did lose sight of one such factor and it almost cost me a bounty and the ability to receive value from AA.

With the blinds at $400-$800 I find AA UTG +1. I have about a 15k stack, and I limp in. I don’t ordinarily condone such a play, but I had two very aggressive players in late position. One was aggressive but weak in the cutoff. The other was a solid aggressive regular in the sb who would punish limpers if given the chance. I had hoped my limp would induce a limp fest, which it did…right past the weak aggressive player, and right past the aggressive regular to the BB who only had $1,475 left, a fact I let slip past me.

She put her remaining chips in. Since her bet wasn’t a full raise, all I could do was call, and get sick as five more people called behind me. I ended up taking AA against 6 other players, my worst nightmare. I had already decided I was going to check, and if there was action from multiple players, I would just fold. The flop came 7 3 4 rainbow. I checked, The next player shoved 17k. Thankfully everyone else folded. I called and saw I was up against 7 8. I survived, got the bounty, and chipped up huge, however my bad play did not warrant the positive result.

Another’s bad play – midway through this tournament I was moved to table 1. I had been fortunate to chip up to over 45k when I moved and was one of the tourney chip leaders. From the moment I moved I put on a clinic of solid play and expected some of the players to begin emulating my play. I was able to raise with reckless abandon, and stole many pots.

The strongest part of my game was bet sizing pre-flop. Every raise preflop (except 3 bets) was 2.2 to 2.4 times the BB. It used to be the standard to raise 3x the BB, but people began to realize that a smaller opening raise would get the job done, and protect valuable chips in the event of being 3 bet when you have opened a pot lightly. By raising smaller, I had more options on how to proceed in the hand if someone decided to reraise me. I could 4 bet and still not have to commit as many chips as I would have to had I raised bigger. I could fold without suffering a huge hit to my stack. I could call and again, not have invested as much as I would have had I raised bigger.

Late in the tournament, with the blinds at 1,000-2,000, the player to my right opened to 7,000, leaving himself 24,000 chips. He opened 3.5x the BB and for more than 20% of his stack leaving himself 12 BBs. He was 3 bet by a player that had him covered and ended up folding. His overall play was atrocious. If he had raised to 4,400, 2.2x the BB, he’d have saved more than a full BB when he folded. Chips become so important in later stages of tournaments, and he threw away a full BB plus without seeing a flop. He lamented his play, and commented that he should have raised smaller, I silently nodded my agreement and continued my solid play on to the money bubble where I had…

My Poker Epiphany – I admit I can be a sore loser, especially when a player makes a bad play and finds some miracle to beat me, but I realized people make calls or raises for many reasons, not all of them necessarily motivated by winning the tournament. This hand brought that lesson home to me.

Our money bubble arose around 1 a.m. The day before I had grinded to 29th place, and played until 3 a.m. in event 4. I was exhausted. Because of this I was responsible for sending two players packing on the bubble, sending us into the money.

I was at 75,000. The blinds were 5,000-10,000 with a 1,000 ante. 19 were left. 18 were getting paid. The short stack, with 6,000 in chips was at my table. After posting the ante, she moved all in for 5,000. Two players called the 10,000. It folded to me in the sb and I called the 5,000 with 2 4 offsuit. The BB checked. The unwritten rule is that if a player is all in, the players will check it down, unless someone makes a hand. This gives us the best chance to knock out the all in.

The flop comes 3 5 K. We check around to the last player who has the exact same chip count as me. He bets 30,000. I know he has a hand, and he can beat the all in. I also know that I started the hand with more chips then the all in so if we both bust out, I finish in the money. With all this in mind, I comment that my choices are I can shove and win a big pot, $200 in bounties, and have a shot at winning the event, or I can get knocked out, win 18th place and go to sleep. Either way, I win. With that I shoved all in. The bettor called with his set of 5s. I found an Ace on the river for my straight, knocking out both players and sending me towards the top of the chip counts.

The player with the set of 5s was so mad, but I pointed out that I made the call because I did not care. I was happy whether I won the pot or went to sleep. I had already collected enough bounties that the tournament was paid for, and I was guaranteed 18th place money so I gambled. It was then I realized that when a player calls me, that player isn’t necessarily calling because it’s the smart play.

I will keep that in mind the next time you say call when I see you on the felt.

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