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Poker :: Sunday Night Blogger Big Game
  submitted on October 23, 2006, 9:47 AM

I participated last night in the Sunday Night Blogger Big Game over at Full Tilt. It was one of the "bigger" tournaments for me, not because of the size (There were 38 entrants), but because of the prize pool. With a $70 buy-in, there was around $2,700 in prize money to be had, including $1,000+ for the winner. Now, I don't have $70 sitting around to buy-in to a tournament that I'm probably not going to cash in, but Full Tilt has these awesome satellite tournaments that reward you with "tokens", which allowed me to buy-in to the tournmanent for all of $6 ($6 tourney leads to a $26 token, which you can use for another tourney which leads to a $75 token). Now I certainly have $6 to spare in a tournament I probably won't cash in, but if I do, I pick up at least $200. In addition to the cheap buy-in, the satellites are loaded with hideously bad players, so cashing is not difficult at all.

So, the tournament started last night at 8:30, and it was very different from any other tournament I've played in. Usually a tournament is filled with a lot of bad players. At the Big Game, however, since it was a private tourney, I was playing against guys who do a lot more poker playing and blogging than I do, and a lot of them are probably better than I am. I noticed the change in play almost immediately, as there weren't 4 and 5 people to the flop on any hand, and many hands went uncontested with a preflop raise. I realized later this was a blessing as much as a curse, as it allowed me to steal a few pots with hands like 10 2o from LP; however, I got aces twice early on, and my raises drew no action and all I won were the blinds (This will come back to bite me in the ass later on).

The first hour went by with little fanfare. We started with 3000 in chips, and the levels were up from 6 minutes to 10 minutes (The level increments are smaller at FTP, so it's really like having 20 minute levels), so there was no hurry to play a lot of cards. The field dropped from 38 to 31, and my chip count hovered around 4000. I won some chips fairly early when my pocket 8s in the BB turned into a set on the flop (Although looking back I probably could have won some more chips from the hand if I hadn't been so aggressive).

I made it through most of the second hour before being knocked out in 16th (or was it 17th?) place 5 minutes before the break. Looking back, I played well for the most part, but there were definitely a few key mistakes I made that ended up costing me the tournament.

1. I had actually just taken the chip lead on the previous hand. I had A9o 2 off from the button, and opened with a standard 3x raise (Blinds were 100/200 at the time). Button called, and we went heads up to the flop. Flop came 8s9s2d, giving me TPTK. I bet the pot, and get re-raised all-in by the button. I thought about it, thought he might have a set of 8s, but decided he probably wouldn't push all-in with those, he'd probably re-raise and try and get more money from me first. I didn't think he could have a higher PP, because he probably would have re-raised preflop, and again, not sure that he wouldn't have just re-raised. I interpreted the all-in as a scare tactic, and that he wanted me to fold. So I called, and he flipped over 68c. So he made a loose call on the button, hit middle pair, and thought my post-flop bet was a bluff due to my preflop raise and the low cards on the board. I ended up knocking him out of the tournament and took the chip lead with a little over 13,000 chips.

Unfortunately, as is often the case with me when I get the chip lead, it was short-lived, as a few hands later, I hit Aces UTG. I hate getting hands UTG so much, as I tend to play them poorly. This was no exception, as I decided to be an idiot and just called the BB. Remember when I said my aces the first two times in the tourney didn't get any action? Yeah, well that was the logic behind my call here. I wanted action, and I thought a raise would scare everyone off. Stupid. The button called, and the blinds both stayed in. Flop came Q 10 8. I bet big, and the button either called or re-raised. Turn came and it was a 9. I checked, and the button pushed all-in with a little over 4,000. Instead of doing something logical like analyzing the situation and realizing she was pushing to avoid a straight/flush, both of which were drawing on the board, or maybe realizing that my representing a strong hand was not lost on her, and she was pushing despite the fact that I could possibly have TPTK, meaning my aces are probably beat. But no, I completely ignore these things because I can't see past my fucking aces and make the call, and she flips over pocket 8s for a set and takes the hand. I quickly drop to 7,500 in chips, and feel like an idiot. It was stupid for me to smooth call UTG with aces, whether or not I had been getting action on them previously. You have to raise there. On the flip side, with pocket 8s on the button, I'm not so sure she doesn't call even with the raise, in which case I would have lost money either way. However, I was stupid for not folding after that all-in bet. These aren't morons I'm playing with, they get how to play poker, and a push like that means my hand is beat.

2. Despite losing 40% of my stack, I was still in the top 10 in chips. A little while later I got pocket 10s, and the short stack at the table pushed all-in for about 2,000 chips. I decided to make the call, only to have the BB re-raise all-in (He had me covered). So, I folded, and he showed aces. I'm glad I folded, but I realized later that I shouldn't have even been involved in that hand. Chances are that the small stack had two overcards, and do I really want to risk a third of my chips for a coin flip? Probably not. That was a hand I could have opened with, or re-raised someone else, but unless I have a sizable stack and can afford a coin flip, that's not a good place to play tens, and it cost me a third of my stack to figure that out.

3. I got knocked out with KQo in MP. Someone in EP had opened with a 3x raise, which I didn't take to mean too much since he had been doing it all night with marginal hands. Therefore I pushed, with about 4,000 in chips, and the blinds at about 150/300 and the antes at 50. The guy had me covered by a small bit, and he ended up calling with A5o. I paired my queen, but he hit an ace on the river and that was that. I probably shouldn't have pushed since he led out, even though I knew he wasn't doing it with too much of a hand. I guess I was hoping he would fold in the face of a big re-raise. In hindsight I should have held back and waited for a better hand to move on.

So, that's mostly what I took from the tournament. It was a great learning experience in regards to playing with a bunch of other good players, and I managed to survive over half the field despite my large blunders, so I'm happy about that. The top 5 made the money, so I obviously still have some work to do, but I certainly don't think it's that far-fetched for me to finish in the money at one of these. I look forward to playing in one again.

After getting knocked out I hopped on PokerStars and won a S&G to end my night on a high note. I swear, the last two S&Gs I've played on there have had some of the worst players I've ever seen. I had someone call my all-in bluff post-turn AK hand with a Queen-high hand. So, even if she knew I was bluffing, she still called with a Queen high. Wow. Why don't you just give me your chips when we start and save me the trouble.

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