BY RUSS SCOTT
FEBRUARY 19, 2008
ONLINE TOURNEY A WILD (AND SHORT) RIDE FOR LUCKYDOG
Come with me now on a wild ride through a big online tournament. It’s a short trip (sadly), so this won’t take long.
Friday night’s $200 buy-in seven card stud event in the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) drew 565 players seeking the $26,204 first-place prize. I was pumped. Stud is my favorite game.
Each player started with 3,000 chips, and structured betting limits began at 30-60 with an ante of 5. Those limits and antes increased every 12 minutes.
Remember, in stud you start with two cards down and one up, then you get three more face up and the seventh card down. “Structured” means bets and raises on the first two up cards are fixed at the lower amount (30 chips for Level 1) and the higher amount (60) on the last two up cards and the river card.
I was barely settled into my recliner when I picked up A-K/10 (the ten being my up card). An opponent with an eight showing bet 30. I made an easy call with my three big cards. I caught another ace on the next card (fourth street), then let him bet on each remaining round while I just called. Neither of us hit anything else, so my aces beat his pair of eights.
The strategy: While I felt my aces were in the lead, my hand never got any better. I didn’t want to risk a lot of chips on my first hand with just one pair.
A few hands later I picked up 8-5/K, all spades. I bet 30 and got two callers. A five paired me on fourth street, so I bet again. Both opponents called. I hit a king on the fifth card for two pair, and took the pot when I bet 60.
The strategy: Betting out with the king on third street probably looked like a steal attempt to my opponents. If I had hit my concealed flush draw instead of two pair, I likely would have won a huge pot instead of a small one.
Next I was dealt A-3/5, all spades. Someone bet 30, which I called along with another player. The king of hearts on fourth street didn’t help me, but I called another 30 anyway. The seven of spades on the fifth card fit nicely, but no one bet on fifth or sixth street, which allowed me to catch the flush on the river for free. I bet out and one player called with two small pair.
The strategy: I called on fourth street because the flush draw still was live and I had two overcards to hit. Making the flush with a free card was cool.
Three hands played, three wins. I was in 22nd place and flying high. My euphoria was fleeting, however,
The downturn began in the next level, 40-80. My hand on fifth street was 10-9/10-J-9 with three diamonds. An opponent with a king and queen showing had been pushing the betting, but I raised him on fifth street with my two pair. He hesitated, then called. I caught a black eight on sixth street and he caught a blank, so I bet again after he checked.
At this point, since he didn’t raise me on fifth or sixth street, I was certain I had the better hand. I was right. He had A-J in the hole. Only a ten on the river could save him — and he caught it! He checked, hoping to entice me to bet so he could raise, but I wisely also checked.
The lesson: Despite my accurate read of his hand, limit stud requires you to play cautiously on the river. That last card can be a killer.
At the 50-100 level, I lost with a pair of aces when an opponent caught the last jack available to make trips.
Playing 60-120, I lost with pocket aces to an opponent who also made aces but with a bigger kicker (side card), and I lost a huge pot when I missed my draw to an open-ended straight flush.
At the 80-160 level, my chip stack had dwindled below 600 and I needed to find a hand to play. Finally I picked up 6-9/6 with two diamonds. No other sixes or nines were out, and the diamonds were live. This is it, I decided.
A player with an ace showing came out firing, but I knew that didn’t automatically mean he had a good hand. Alas, I never hit anything else and my sixes lost to his aces.
Finishing 542nd was a bummer. I never won another pot after those first three in Level 1, providing the best lesson of all: The poker gods are fickle!
FTOPS VII TIDBITS
* A player with the screen name metaphyzix won the stud event. Only one Full Tilt pro finished in the money (Chris Wolters, 53rd).
* Full Tilt pro Erick Lindgren pulled off the improbable the previous weekend. He “hosted” a no-limit hold’em tournament with 5,637 players — and won it for a cool $291,748!
* In its seventh year, FTOPS featured a record 20 events and $10 million in guaranteed money.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 2008 RUSS SCOTT
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