Tournament is down from 44 to 9. Five spots paid. Chip average is around $90,000. Blinds are $1,000/$4,000/$8,000. Hero is sitting on $70,000. The hand folds around to Old Man, who has approximately $50,000 chips. Old man opens for $20,000. It folds around to hero, who is in position with A(s)K(s). Hero has only played a few hands with Old Man since the tables merged and has no read (other than the fact that he's an Old Man). What is your play? Comments most welcome!
I rolled into AC early Saturday afternoon and played a few uneventful hours of cash at Harrah's. My real goal for the weekend was to cash the Sunday noon tournament at The Nugget the following day. The Sunday tournament has a $50 buy-in for $10,000 chips. An extra $20 gets you the $5,000 add-on. 20 minute levels. $2,020 guaranteed. I paid the $70 up front and took the 6th seat at table 20. There were only 44 runners, and 5 spots paid. I was determined to make it two final tables in a row.
I was tested with a strange hand the very first level:
Blinds are $25/$50. UTG limps, Middle Position calls, and the action reaches P.P.P. I look down at A(c) Q(c) and raise to $125. UTG and MP both call.
Flop comes down 7 QQ rainbow. UTG (a 55- to 60-ish gentleman) donk bets $500. MP folds. I smooth call.
Turn is a 4. UTG bets $1,500. I flat.
River is a blank. UTG SHOVES ALL IN! What the holy fuck?!? I'm totally confused by this bet. I have no idea if this guy knows what he's doing or if he's a complete idiot. I mean, we've been playing for less than 10 minutes. What type of hand is strong enough to shove for your tournament life halfway through the first level. And, if you had such a hand, why would not value bet it? Also, if Villain flopped the boat, why donk bet? I've read that leading out is often a sign of weakness. Is Villain a genius who's trying to level me by donking two streets and overbetting the river with a monster?
Ultimately, it's the first hand I've played in what I hoped to be a long tournament. I've also been burned many times with trips (yes, it's "trips," not a goddamn "set" . . . if you want to sprinkle the table with poker lingo, at least get it right . . .). I put myself in Villain's shoes: I raised pre-flop and just smooth called two rather large bets. Isn't AQ or KQ or QJ smack in the middle of my range? Doesn't he HAVE TO strongly consider giving me credit for a Q in this spot? What can he be shoving here that is NOT the nuts?
If this is 5 or 6 levels later, I might make this call. But, it's not. I fold. Face up. Villain gives me that "Holy shit . . . You folded THAT" look . . . and I instantly feel sick. He then announces "two pair" and tables pocket kings. Well played, sir. Well played. From the limp-call UTG to the river shove for your tournament life with KK on a paired board. Simply well played... [Notably, more than one person at the table offered their unsolicited comment that there was "no way [they'd] have folded that hand." Really? Am I the idiot here?]
What's more, Villain proceeded to talk about his hand as if he had taken the line straight from Tom Dwan's playbook. I wanted to punch him in his face. I actually got up and went for a walk. I had to, or else I was gonna be "that guy" who trashes another player's play at the table. And, I hate "that guy." I still had $12,000+ chips. And, I'd fold that hand again if it were played again tomorrow. And . . . and . . . AND . . . most importantly, I doubled up against said Villain the very next level:
This time, Villain again limps in. I raise to $250 with AJ (blinds up to $50/$100). Villain calls. Flop comes out A, 8, 6 (two spades). Villain leads for $500. Sound familiar? I raise to $1,750. Villain calls. Turn is a beautiful red Jack. Villain, undeterred, donks $2,000. I shove . . . Villain calls and tables A(s) T(s). I fade the spade, double up, and cripple him. He's gone 10 minutes later. I only wish I got to finish him off myself . . .
As is necessary with every deep tournament run, I had a bit of luck during the middle stages. One hand, I raised pre-flop with 99, got two calls, and saw a flop of 8(d) 9(h) 6(d). A less than an ideal board for top set. A player bet out, and a very capable local, who was a bit short stacked due to poor luck, raised. I shoved in case local was raising his draw. Local calls with A(d) 5(d). Turn is the 4(d). Fuck. River is the 8(c) and my boat knocks him from the tournament.
I made one mistake in the mid-rounds which almost (should have) cost me a bunch of chips. I limped with AT (first limp of the tournament) and three of us saw a T 7 2 flop. The big blind led out. MP called. I raised. Big Blind, who was short stacked, shoved. MP folds. A call costs about 1/3 my stack. I make it, since I figure BB could be shoving here with nearly any piece of the board given his stack size. Unfortunately, he had the 7 2 "big blind special." His victory party was short lived, however, when a T hit the turn. Clean living!
Fast forward to the final table and the hand described at the open -- my A(s) K (s) against Old Man's $20,000 open. Here was my thought process: (1) play had been very tight since all 9 of us were sitting on similar stacks and no one had room for error. A $20,000 open is basically committing Old Man to the hand ($30,000 behind). I'm putting Old Man on a big hand in this spot. A BIG pair. If he had a hand like AK or AQ, why not shove to try and take the hand down without a flop; (2) I have to assume that, if I call, he's getting his money in on the flop. So, a call seems horrible. If I miss the flop, I'm down to $50,000 and in real bad shape; (3) Given my read of a made hand, I'm likely racing, at best. Do I want to race this close to the money where, If I don't win, I'm crippled and will likely not last through the bubble?
In the end, I fold. During the break, I spoke with Old Man, who told me he had KK. Good fold . . . in retrospect. I am, however, curious if many people look beyond just cracking the bubble and call in this spot in hopes of winning the race and building a dominating stack to take to the end. Is a fold in this spot sensible play, or just plain weak?
Ultimately, we got down to 6, and took the $20 "bubble boy collection" to pay $120 to the last man out. 5th place was only $210, so there was not much difference between bubbling and cashing (pride aside . . .). I ended up letting my stack dwindle to $45,000 (card dead at the wrong time). I shoved light a few times and, based on my table rep, was able to take down the blinds and antes. But, at $2,000 / $8,000 / $16,000, I really needed a double-up, which never came. We hit the seventh break, and I was big blind when play resumed. I was shoving dark no matter what. Hand folded around to the small blind, and I thought I might actually get a walk. But, small blind raised to put me all in. Dick. I shove dark. He flips 4 2 off. What a DICK! [no harm intended to Poker Grump or his disciples . . .). I table . . . A(c) J(c). Fuck you, sir !!! Of course, small blind turns the straight and rivers a 4 for good measure . . . Out at 6th . . . second tournament in a row. Far less satisfying this time with only 5 spots paid. While I collect the bubble money, in my mind, I still fell one spot short.