BY RUSS SCOTT
OCTOBER 23, 2007
TOURNAMENT HAND LEAVES LUCKYDOG SECOND-GUESSING
This is a tale of three tournaments. Each bears a lesson, and one poses a tricky strategy question.
All three events — held last week at Canterbury Park’s Fall Classic in Shakopee, Minn. — were no-limit hold’em with a $230 buy-in and 30-minute betting levels.
A crowd of 561 players overflowed the tournament area, all eyeing the $30,000 first-place prize.
An odd thing happened at my table: Halfway through level 4, there had been just one showdown! That was in level 2 when my pocket queens lost to a short-stacked all-in player’s pocket aces.
Weird. I’ve never seen so few showdowns for so long. The lesson: Be ready for anything at the table.
This was a good event for me. I was chip leader at our table for a long time. A key hand came in level 7 when a short-stacked played moved all-in with J-8 offsuit, I re-raised all-in for $8,400 with pocket kings, and the big blind called with Q-Q. A jack came on the flop (no problem), a queen on the turn (big trouble), and a beautiful king on the river (a winner!).
Things flattened out after that, however. I went into conservative mode, protecting my stack and trying to at least finish in the money.
The end came in level 12. With $2,000-$4,000 blinds and a $1,000 ante, I raised all-in for my last $9,000 with A-4 offsuit in middle position, but was dominated by the small blind’s A-K. I finished 25th, good for $816.
An evening event drew a full field of 360, but I wasn’t around long enough to get to know any of them very well.
I had decided to be more aggressive this time rather than just ease into the money. I never got the chance.
A player at the far end of the table took charge early with huge overbets and raises. Several times after everyone folded, he showed his weak hole cards and delivered a little speech about being “the best player in the room.”
By level 2, I was frustrated and impatient — not the best mindset for a big tournament. The bully pushed his big stack all-in from early position. Everyone folded to me on the button. I looked down at K-J suited and thought: Is this where I draw the line?
I know, I know. King-jack can be trouble. But such a big bet with small blinds was suspicious. I put him on a medium pair and figured I had about a 50-50 chance to win. Besides, I’d had enough of him. I shoved all-in.
His Q-Q sent me to the rail, proving bullies aren’t bluffing EVERY time they bet big.
Although I felt OK about the K-J hand from the night before, this tournament ended for me on a hand I played either smartly aggressive or decidedly stupid. You be the judge.
The evening event maxed out at 360 again. I built up a decent stack, with the key hand being Q-Q on the button in level 6 with blinds at $500-$1,000. It was folded to me. I raised to $5,000, hoping the bigger-than-standard amount would look like a steal attempt to the players in the blinds.
It worked! The small blind, who had me out-chipped, called with 9-9. He bet out $3,000 on a flop of Q-J-8, and I was only too happy to raise all-in for another $1,900, which I knew he would call. The trip queens held up and I had $20,800.
My final hand came in level 9. With blinds at $3,000-$6,000 and 38 players left (two eliminations away from the money), I’ve posted the small blind and have $6,000 left. A short-stacked player in middle position moved all-in for $12,000 and it’s folded around to me. I’m holding A-Q of spades.
I had two choices: Fold, and hope two players bust out before the blinds come back around, or call with my last chips and try to win a $24,000 pot. I believed I was ahead and decided to call. The big blind folded, and the raiser showed two red sixes.
A flop of A-4-3, with one spade, made me a 90 percent favorite. The seven of spades on the turn made it 91 percent. The five of diamonds on the river completed his straight and I was out.
I’ve second-guessed my decision to call a thousand times. What would you have done, and why? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2007 RUSS SCOTT
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