Saturday, January 21, 2006

Chop sooooooey

My tournament traumas continue, including a finish 10 spots from the money in a 1,226-person $11 on Stars. Once again, I could have wimped below the bubble, but didn't. Pocket 9s in early position did me in this time. I raised 3x the big blind and a big stack calls. Flop comes K-Q-x. Big stack checks, I bet, he check-raises, I fold. I don't see any decent cards for a couple of orbits and I push A-5 with death-ray blinds looming. There are 40 callers and A-5 loses. Shocking.

I'm not sure what I should be doing here. There was a time when I routinely cowered in the bubble bunker when I got close to the money with small, but guaranteed-to-cash stacks, narrowing the range of hands I'd play to aces, kings and lucky limps from the blinds. Every once in awhile, I'd even manage to get respectably deep into a tournament post-bubble. At the very least, I'd cover my buy-in.

But the new (and improved?) me has decided to not tighten up and to keep playing as aggressively at or near the bubble in the hope of stealing blinds, stacking up and making final tables. Admirable? Yes. Successful? Ummm ... no yet.

Not sure what the experts have to say about this, but I'm guessing I need to find a happy medium between the old and new styles. I think it's mostly a matter of just playing smarter, knowing that you can't reach final tables if you donk off your chips. At the very least I've found the enemy ... and it is me. (Side note: I have managed to win the last two SNGs I've entered, which has provided some consolation and has helped to bolster my failing confidence.)

Played a $20 tournament with the Poker Crazies last night, figuring I'd smoke a good cigar, drink a couple of Great Lakes Dortmunders and kibitz with my fellow asylum dwellers. (Some of the best microbrew in the land is produced by Great Lakes Brewery here in Cleveland. "It's in the water.")

And wouldn't you know, I played goot. Stayed patient, got some cards, made good reads and generally played my "A" game. (Side note: Good read, Jason, folding A-Q to my raise on the A-9-x flop.) There are 26 starters and I get heads up with Brian Wilson, whose name isn't Brian Wilson, but everyone calls him that just the same. I've got a 2.5-1 chip lead and he quickly proposes a deal that would give him an extra $20. I reject, hoping to end it in a hurry.

The blinds are 2,000/4,000 with what I now realize were 104,000 total chips in play. I push a couple of times with some so-so hands that are above the Q-7 median and take his blinds. We spar a bit, seeing few flops. He finally calls my K-10 push with A-8 and hits his ace. Then I try to get cute with a 3x BB raise with Q-6 off (blinds at 3,000/6,000). Brian Wilson re-raises all in, which to my surprise, leaves me with only a couple thousand behind if I lose. I fold (he shows K-J) and it's now Brian Wilson with nearly a 2-1 chip lead. Blinds hit 4,000/8,000 and he proposes a 50-50 chop. I wait one hand and take the deal.

Should I have played it out? Should I have taken the first deal (or a second, slightly less favorable one)? I agonized over this afterward, wondering if I had mishandled the dealmaking or had taken the wimp way out by not playing to the end. The Always Pious and Abstemious Monsignor, who was sweating me, probably disagrees. But, in the sober light of day, I think I played it fine. My biggest mistake was not getting an accurate chip count at the start of heads-up play and keeping a running total throughout, a must given the small M factors at work.

The final deal was a good one for me, given the chip situation, the shifting momentum and Brian Wilson's improved tournament play. And, considering the way I've been running lately, I wasn't in the mood to absorb another last-minute loss. So we will book this one for now, and hope that even a shallow victory will set us back on the right course.


Anonymous Jase1 said...

I made a great read but when I got to the final table I threw it all away! Great blog man keep it up!

4:13 AM  
Anonymous Billy said...

I don't think there's any rule of thumb at local games. Maybe you chop to end the tourney and open the table. I would have taken his offer, though I haven't cashed in so long I don't remember what money feels like.

Dude, stop trying to play super-tight or agressive around bubble time. Stick to the game that got ya there.

1:34 PM  

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