Wasn’t going to; however I played yesterday (same tournament, two ‘Day 1’s) and was upset enough by my poor play that I figured I pretty much owed it to myself to put things right. You see, yesterday I made the amateur mistake of over-playing a posh A-J in diamonds on an A-5-7 flop (rainbow, one diamond). Guy under the gun bet it rather large and I min-raised it. He quickly pushed all-in and I, like a special-needs student, quickly called. Granted, that was stupid – basically the only hand I beat there was A-10. My opponent proceeded to show his hole cards – A-5. Suffice it to say that I missed my 3-outer on both the turn and river. To add insult to injury, the turn – although not the J I was looking for – was in fact a diamond. This actually brought my number of outs for the river up from 3 to 12 as any diamond would have flushed me. The river was one of the other 32 cards that made my hand a loser. You see that’s what happens to me when I play poorly – I lose! Unfortunately, if the roles had been reversed there, something tells me I still would have lost. Don’t know if it would have been the runner-runner diamonds or a J showing up, but the poker gods would have done one or the other. That’s just the way the “luck” aspect of the game works for me. It’s this damn curse I appear to be carrying around with me.
Now granted, the above hand wasn’t the hand that knocked me out of the tournament yesterday; however it was the hand that crippled me beyond repair. Don’t rightly recall whether this was during level 1 or 2 but I do rightly recall that I was eliminated prior to level 2 completing. There’s really not much worse than getting crippled so early in a tournament. Granted, the blinds are still relatively small, but the path ahead to success is so long that you’re going to have to do something to re-build your stack quickly else blinding-out becomes an issue as the blinds steadily increase. For you see, everyone else sitting at your table notices your situation and they’re most definitely going to make you pay to see anything. You’re forced to rely on pure luck in this situation; and luck and I don’t seem to be getting along these days…
So I headed back this morning (well, noon, actually) to see if I could redeem myself. I was not going to make any bone-head, amateur mistakes today. I was going to play smart and let my skills overcome the issue I’m having with luck. That was the plan… If you continue reading, you’ll discover how well it worked for me. Spoiler alert: it didn’t!
As seems to be standard with me, the hand that crippled me today came early as well. It was in level 2 where the blinds were a mere 100/200. That’s quite small in these “deep stack” tournaments as each player starts the game with 15,000 in chips. As it was only level 2, both me and my nemesis where approximately hovering around that starting stack-size. I was dealt a K-J, posh – both hearts. I was also sitting on the button which, of course, gave me final play for any action post-flop. Everyone else folded around to me so I decided to put a bit of pressure on the blinds and made a standard raise to 600. This, of course, steals the blinds (granted, a mere 300) if neither call; however it also gives me information if either chooses to make the call. Granted, this early, and with the blinds being as small as they are, the information obtained isn’t very meaningful; however you’re pretty certain that your complete garbage hands won’t be making the call. It’s just not worth risking 6 times or 3 times your already forced bet for a chance to win such a small pot. The small blind folded. The big blind called.
So now there’s 1,300 in the pot. I’m sitting with a K-J of hearts and my opponent is sitting with an A-10 of diamonds. Of course I did not know that he was sitting with that hand but, to help clarify the story for you, the reader, I’m going to let you know early what I was up against. It was an A-10 of diamonds.
This, of course, gives my opponent second pair with three diamonds to the nut flush. It also gives me an open-ended straight draw with four hearts to the second nut flush. Those are both pretty decent hands. My hand, although behind to the second pair, is actually much better as a drawing hand. There are eight cards that fill my straight (four 9’s and four A’s). The observant reader will see that this number is actually seven being that one of the A’s is in my opponents hand; however, I did not know that and my calculations are being written as I was calculating them during the game. Besides the eight for my straight, there are seven cards that make my flush. There’s actually nine, but the 9 of hearts and A of hearts are already accounted for in the outs for the straight. That gets me to 15 cards that make my hand a winner. Now, if I want to be a bit optimistic, I could also include the three K’s that would give me an over-pair to the board which would increase my number of outs to 18. With and without the K’s I’m looking at a winning draw percentage of 60-72% – better than a coin-toss either way.
My opponent, however, does not know what I am holding and needs to make his decisions based on “his” hand alone. As I said, his hand is also pretty decent. He’s already got a made hand of second pair with the 10’s. He most likely also believes that he’s got outs with the two 10’s that would make him a set as well as the three A’s that would give him 2-pair. Of course we already know that the A’s are bad for him as they fill my straight; however he is not aware of this. He also might be able to see that he’s got a slim chance (approximately 1-in-25) of drawing the runner-runner diamonds to complete his nut flush. As a matter of fact, many players over-value this rarity and play it as if it were destined to happen. These players are correctly designated as the “donkeys.” They can be dangerous at times… He does, however, have the pair of 10’s and decides to bet 1,100 – basically a pot-sized bet.
Now, since I pretty much know where I stand here – even if he flopped a set, I’m still a 3-to-2 advantage at drawing a hand that beats him – I min-raise the bet to 2,200. This should give him some pause with his second pair. I just raised his pot-sized bet on a flop with a Q and two hearts. He thinks about this raise for a minute or so and then calls.
So now the pot’s at 5,700. The turn is then dealt – a 9 of diamonds. Interestingly enough, my opponent decides to check his bet here. Most likely it was because of my raise on the flop. Perhaps he was concerned that I might have hit a straight with that 9 (which, of course, I did – the nut straight) and didn’t want to risk betting his pair of 10’s again even though he was also now looking at a river-draw to the nut flush. Or, as it probably actually was, he was trying to set a trap for me. It’s only a 20% chance to draw the flush; however donkeys are donkeys – why worry about probabilities…?
I’m currently holding the nuts. It is impossible for my opponent to be holding a made hand that beats me. I’m concerned by the two diamonds on the board but really can’t fathom anyone calling my flop raise with the intention of drawing a runner-runner flush. I mean that would be just stupid, right…? Besides, even if I am up against a donkey here he’s still a 4-to-1 underdog at hitting a diamond on the river. And heck, to justify a call like that, the pot would need to be 15,000 as opposed to the 8,700 I’ve just made it. Granted, a K on the river could be trouble as well. That would give anyone holding an A-J a “Broadway” which, of course, would actually beat my K-high straight. Either way I’m pretty sure he’s not calling…
Without any thought, whatsoever, he calls my 3,000 chip bet. So the pot has now grown to 11,700 and the river is dealt – a fucking K of diamonds! I mean sweet Jesus, no worse card could have been played. Now I get to worry about both the flush and the “Broadway” beating what was, prior to the river, my nut straight. It’s here that my opponent bets 6,600.
I find this bet interesting as it is the perfect bet to justify his call of my 3,000 on the turn if he were drawing for the flush. It basically gives him his needed 5-to-1 payout on his 1-in-5 odds. It’s also an excellent bluff for the exact same reason. After contemplating this for a bit and concluding that an A-J would not have thrown a pot-sized bet on the flop and that my flop raise and turn bet would have gotten rid of any non-donkey runner-runner draws, I incorrectly make the call. Boom! Just like that, I’m crippled … sitting with less than 1/3 my starting stack as those around me are steadily chipping up.
I was able to survive a bit into level 5; even managed to grow my stack back to near 18,000 for a bit. In the end though, it wasn’t enough. The tilt the above hand put me on was too much for me to get over. I don’t know … seems to me that I’m playing a constant tilt. It’s this damn curse, I tell ya!