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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Never joke about desaster

As always the Casino Schenefels made everything to make the players feel welcome. There was a little pre-christmas present on every seat and everything was well organized. As in the last deep-stack tournament I started on table 6. So I knew that this table would most probably break as first or second. All the people I knew very well had been on other tables but I recognized almost all players at my table in some way from past tournaments.

In general the table was o.k. except for one player who raised almost every hand. We all knew he couldn't have a hand everytime but it was hard to play back. I had to muck some marginal hands that I had just called and minimized the play of calling hands. There was some weired play, like going all-in with pocket-aces pre-flop on a quite small-pot at the first level (20/40). Or a guy who showed a stone-cold bluff that succeeded. I got some good hands (e.g. QQ) in the beginning and increased my stack to 5,500. Quite soon my cards went dry or the playable once refused to connect on the flop
A tough hand I got was A9 on the button. I raised it and the SB called my raise as he did several times before. Another player called my raise and all others folded. Flop was AJ7. The SB checked as did the other player. I knew my kicker was weak but decided to play my Ace here with a bet of half the pot. SB folded and the other player check-raised to three times my bet. Wow! The pot now had about 3,700 and I had to call another 1,300. I got 3:1 pot-odds here and under normal circumstances I would have called. The problem was: Although this player is definately capable of fancy plays the check raise can't be underestimated. At this time I had about 3,700 left. So the bet would have dwarfed my stack to 2,400 (at 60/120) ... and I was sure there would have been more betting on the turn and/or the river. So if I continued with the hand I most probably would have been willing to bet it all due to the pot size. I was beat by any Ace with a decent kicker (especially AJ). Another Ace most probably wouldn't improve my hand and even with a 9 my hand could be still dominated. I never found out what he had as I mucked my cards here. Later I was able to rebuild my stack to 5,500 with aggressive play of AK and 99.
The "every hand raiser" hand built an impressive chip lead but dumped it off quite soon with some very bad plays.

With blinds of 100/200 our table was broken and I was moved to an interesting table: Katja on seat 9 with a short stack, Sebastian (miamivice) next to me on my right and the table chipleader directly on my left. Received some good cards early and picked up some nice pots on the flop. With a stack of little over 6,000 I got Q8 in the SB. With two callers in front I decided that it was worth investing 100 chips to see the flop. BB checked. Pot was now 800. The flop came 789. Being aggressive before I decided for a 500 bet to define my position. One player folded but the BB had called, as well as did a player in middle position. That wasn't to good. I was prepared to check the turn and fold to any bet as another 8 appeared. Well, time to think again. Now I had trips with a Q kicker. No flush on the board but a flush draw was still possible. Due to the betting I didn't expect a made straight (but maybe a straight draw). And I had a good number of outs for a full house. To kill possible draws I bet 1,500 into a 2,300 pot. The BB folded as expected but the other player called. What the hell...? The river was a Jack! Ouch! But could he play QT that way? Should I check and see what happens? If he checks fine, but if he bets and tries to represent the straight do I belive him? I decided I won't belive him so I can bet anyway. If he pays for two pairs, good for me. If he had pocket 99's for a bigger set I'm doomed but he was to passive for that kind of a hand. Anyway, I bet 3,000 into a 5,300 pot and he went all in for about 1,600 more (he had me covererd by about 200 or so). Now I knew I was beaten. But with a pot containing over 12,000 chips there was no way I fold here and preserve those last 1,600. He had indeed played QT. I was out on 48th of 63 in the middle of the next to last level of day one. What a desaster.

I never had a bustout hand that made me think about my decisions so much than this one. Did I play it right? Was I to aggressive? Sould I have played it different? After analyzing the betting in the hotel room I came to the conclusion that we both made mistakes. But my opponent made the bigger mistake and got rewarded. The turning point was the third 8 on the turn. With any other card (except a Q) it would have been easy for me to let this pot go. It was o.k. for him to chase his draw here as he was last to act and the BB calling my bet gave him sufficient pot-odds. I could have bet more but I think I would have overbet the strength of my hand if I did so. But on the turn I was an 81% favorite and due to my betting I could have had two pair or a made straight. Remember I was SB, so a great range of playable hands was possible pre-flop. I don't think he had enough outs to justify chasing his draw here. But with the Jack on the river I was in trouble now. With blinds of 100/200 and a stack of 4,600 left I should have checked here. The pot had 5,300 and there was absolutely no reason to risk my tournament life on it. On the other hand it would have been annyoing to fold to a bet without knowing if I got bluffed or if he had rivered his straight. Bluff Magazines odds-calculater tells me that I was a 3:1 favorite against any two random cards. So even if he went all-in I had to invest only 4,600 into a 9,900 pot ... giving me sufficient pot-odds except I was sure he was holding QT of course. But in this case it would have been neccessary to think beyond pot-odds. With 4,600 chips left I would have been short stacked but still not on life-support. I was always proud on my short stack play so there was still hope even with changing gears to "all-in or fold" mode. There's definately a difference between a 2-4 hour tournament and a 2-day tournament. How could I forget...?

Tough decision either way. And that's the main problem: It was definately not the smartest decision to bet the river but beeing faced with a bet wouldn't helped much more. The mistake I made was much earlier: Don't build big pots out of position (remember I was small blind). Not betting (and increasing the pot) I most probably would have folded the hand earlier (e.g. to another players flop bet) and avoided desaster.

Sometimes you just have to go broke ... but this wasn't the hand for it.

After feeling very devastated for the rest of the evening I feel much better now. Poker is a game of mistakes. Those who make the least mistakes will be most successfull. No player, not even the best play without mistakes. But you can always learn from your mistakes. Just don't do them again ... there are so much other mistakes you can try ;-))


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