Monday, December 8, 2008

The One That Got Away

As I depart for Las Vegas this afternoon, I thought I'd briefly update all on the recent poker tournament I played in at Running Aces. There's not much to say, other than I again made my biggest mistake in poker--I assumed my opponent was bluffing or clueless. More on that some other time. This time with AK and a flop of A, 9, 2 rainbow, I disbelieved that the Big Blind, who made a pot-sized bet, had hit a set. His call of a preflop raise had me pretty sure he didn't have two pair, and I just couldn't put him on pocked deuces or nines. I went all in, and he insta-called with deuces.

To provide you all with the number one rule in all of poker: If you assume your opponent is bluffing or just trying to steal with a medium hand, you had better be able to rule out the hands that can beat you. In this case, I could rule out AA and 92 pretty easily, but what if the BB had stayed rather foolishly with A2 or A9 suited? It was possible, as were 22 and to a lesser extent 99, which he would more likely re-rasie with. My bad.

On Wednesday, I got away with one mistake in the $100 noon tourney at Running Aces and proceeded to make it to the final two, heads up. I played very well overall with good cards, a combination that has unfortunately been lacking in my game. My opponent had a 3:2 chip lead, and I went all-in with K5o. He had A8, called, and it held up.

Upon reflection, I became furious at my decision. I had about 110,000 chips with the blinds 6k/12k. I was on the small blind. While a king looked good, afterward I tried to imagine the scenarios, given the various hands he might have had:

Any pair: he calls, and I'm behind.
Ace mid or better, such as he had: he calls, and I'm behind
K9-KQ: he calls, and I'm dominated
Q9 or worse: he folds, and I pick up 12k, or about 4% of the total chips

That leaves QJ, Q10, J10, Ace low, and King mid or low as the only hands where he has to think. Given his conservative play and nice chip lead, he probably folds all the hands here where I'm in the lead, knowing I have those beat. The only positive impact of my going all in was to possibly push him off Ace low or King mid, meaning I'd pick up a few chips I shouldn't have.

To sum, he would fold all hands where I had him beat, and there were only a few hands he would fold where he had me beat. I was in a Big Lose, tiny win situation. Very stupid play on my part. Most times, he won't have a hand, so I'd get away with it, and truthfully, I'd probably already gotten away with one or two of those.

Tonight I play the Venetian tournament. Assuming I can get online, expect an update in the morning. If I can keep pumping out the blog material, my plan is to keep a running summary of tournaments I play in, starting today. Mind you, for 2008, I would have to win a big tournament to get into positive $$$, so a tax man need only be concerned with my 2009 running tally.

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