BY RUSS SCOTT
MAY 20, 2008
POKER PATIENCE TESTED AS MONEY BUBBLE LOOMED
Patience is important in poker, but did I overdo it Friday in a big online tournament?
The $200 buy-in event of the Full Tilt Online Poker Series drew 1,994 no-limit hold’em players, all seeking a piece of the $398,800 purse. With a double stack of 3,000 chips and low starting blinds, there was no need to rush.
Through the first five levels, playing cautiously wasn’t a problem because of lousy starting cards. I mucked almost every hand, most of which seemed to be jack-rag offsuit. I didn’t see an ace until the fifth level when I had A-2 suited in the big blind and everybody folded.
I did win two small pots with pre-flop raises holding 9-9 and Q-Q, plus a nice one with 6-6 on the button against a pre-flop raiser when the board came 4-J-6-8-9. That pot of 2,580 chips boosted my stack to 4,355, which was better than the field’s average at the time. So far, so good.
Levels six through 10 really tried my patience, however. I saw just five flops and lost four hands. My stack dwindled to 1,445, but then doubled to 2,990 when my pocket kings held up all-in against a player with pocket tens.
I was mired in 726th place out of 865 remaining players at the end of Level 10. Only the top 306 players would get paid, but I wasn’t giving up just yet.
In the 11th level I won one pot with A-10 when the flop came K-Q-J for the straight and another with 5-6 suited in the small blind when I flopped two pair. I held 6,145 chips at the level’s end, but that was well below average and I still needed to outlast about 300 players to get into the money.
Then my patience got its most severe test. For the next four levels I caught zero playable hands. It was the worst possible time to go card-dead. My stack fizzled to 3,300, next to last among 353 remaining players.
Level 16 loomed with blinds of 300-600 and a 75-chip ante, meaning each orbit of the table would cost 1,575 chips even if I folded every time. Pressure on my stack would be huge.
Still, the money bubble was approaching! Just one winning hand likely would be enough to reach last-place money of $279. It also was possible I could fold my way into the money if enough other players busted out before me.
With the field down to 325 and the blinds approaching, I picked up K-J offsuit. It was by far the best hand I’d seen in a long time. I was planning to raise all-in with my last 1,875 chips when it was my turn to bet.
Then, boom, the under-the-gun player open-raised to 2,400. She had raised a lot in the past hour, often with marginal cards, so I thought my hand possibly was better than hers.
I used my allotted 90-second time bank to consider my predicament. As the clock ticked, I kept checking the field status. With 10 seconds left to act, the player count tantalizingly dropped to 318.
Should I call, which would either send me packing or into the money? Or should I patiently fold again, hoping 12 players would bust out before I ran out of chips?
I decided to call. The rest of the table folded and my opponent showed A-A! Although I picked up a straight draw on the turn, no miracle ten came and I was out in 318th place, 12 spots from the money.
What would you have done?
LUCKYDOG ON THE RADIO
Everything from the World Series of Poker to “tells” at the table was covered in a fun chat Saturday when I was a guest on Bill Yohnka’s talk radio show on WKAN in Kankakee, Ill.
Yohnka and show co-host Allison Beasley, head of adult services at the Kankakee Public Library, asked questions ranging from the cause of the poker boom (Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP win in 2003 and the hole-card camera) to whether I wear dark glasses when I play (I don’t). Yohnka even asked if menacing facial hair intimidates opponents (no way, Bill!).
At least one listener called with a question during the segment, but didn’t get on the air. She and others who see LuckyDog Poker Thursdays in The Daily Journal sports section are always welcome to send questions and comments to email@example.com for use in the column.
The recorded interview was to be posted online at www.daily-journal.com.
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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