Sunday, February 05, 2006

End game

The Group ran a deep-stack, re-buy tournament last night that resulted in eight hours of poker, lingering heartburn and not much else. We started with 600 chips and 1/2 blinds. First four rounds (rebuy period) ran 30 minutes and subsequent rounds ran 45 minutes. I never dipped below the rebuy threshold, took the 600-chip add-on and waited for cards. Played aggressive and chipped up a bit over the next couple of hours, sometimes with cards, sometimes without.

By the time we got consolidated to a 10-person table, I had a decent stack -- somewhere around 4K -- maybe 14 percent of the chips -- but well below the big stack. I then went into Major Tom mode for numerous orbits -- "Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do." Down to around 3,400 with blinds at 100/200, I raised from MP with A-J suited. The inscrutable Laz, sitting to my immediate left, called. Flop came Q-10-8, which gave me a mildly attractive double belly buster. I bet out another 600 and Laz pushed, sending me deep into the tank. A call leaves me 850 behind. Laz's range? As big as the great outdoors. But my guess is that flop hit him in some fashion. I ask for a count of the pot, fiddle with my chips, do some rudimentary calculations, consult the Oiuja Board and ... fold. Not much else to do. Sheeit.

My slide begins with Q-Jo from the BB. A short-stacked Frank Sumatra pushes, everyone folds and I have to call about one-third of my stack (around 780 chips) to win 1,800. I considered folding and preserving my remaining stack, but I needed chips and the pot odds were singing a Siren song I could not ignore. He has A-4o and makes a wheel on the turn. Sheeit.

Some of this might be slightly out of order, but this is my best recollection of the events leading to the train wreck that didn't quite do me in. The dangerous Diablo, to my immediate right, min-raises from the small blind and I call. The exact details are a bit fuzzy, but he pushes on a board of J-8-x -10 and I call. He flips over J-10. What do I have? Jack-ten, of course. Sheeit.

I get blinded/anted down, survive but remain on drip after winning with pocket jacks against Diablo and then push UTG with A-10. Diablo calls. What's he got? Ace-ten. Sheeit.

Blinded/anted off some more and with about 1,200 chips UTG and blinds at 200/400, I get them in the middle to Diablo's min-raise from the BB. I'm holding a powerhouse -- K-6o. But Diablo is likely to steal with just about anything and with the blinds about to hit me, I'm in desperation mode. He flips over K-2o. No 6 (and no 2) appear and, once again, it's chip-chop ham time. Sheeit.

Finally, in the small blind at 200/400 with about 1,200 behind, there are 2 all-ins in front of me. The first pusher's stack is only slightly larger than mine. The second pusher was chip leader at the start of the final table but now was around par. I've got A-Jo. Hmmmm. My all-in would put 5,400 in the middle. It's the last hand before blinds rise to 300/500/25. So I get greedy and gambooool, even though I figure I'm probably behind. I am indeed. First pusher has A-Q. Pusher No. 2 has .... A-J suited. My chances of winning have been reduced to virtually nil, especially when we hear someone has folded a jack. Thus, I'm gone after eight hours in seventh place, out of the money. Double sheeit.

In retrospect (okay, as soon as I saw their cards), I knew my push was wrong. Actually, it's a donk play, regardless. I know I'm behind and A-Jo is the kind of hand you might consider calling one all-in, but certainly not two. With the button headed my way and the blinds going up, I obviously should have waited and hoped for a little luck (and some live cards) in the next few hands.

Managing the end game, when blinds are big and stacks are likely to be small, remains a big learning curve. Yes, you need luck in that crapshoot environment, but given how slim the margins are at that point, it's quite evident how even the small mistakes are magnified greatly.


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