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03/14/2005: i'm not dead yet; i want to go for a walk

played in the usual Sunday tourney at Northside. i did some pre-tourney prep by reading and re-reading the AK, big pairs, and small pairs sections of McEvoy & Cloutier's Championship No Limit & Pot Limit Hold 'Em. i wanted the simple ideas of how to play these hands fresh in my mind so as to keep me true to more solid play.

one of the big facets of playing the Northside tourney is that the blinds rise so quickly (a lot like online tourneys: every 10 minutes, starting with $1/$2) and your starting stack is so small ($40 in chips for $50 buy-in ($10 goes to the house for the dealers)) that you have to (a)wait for a quality hand, and then (b)get all of your money in, while (c)hoping to not be drawn out on; that is the nature of these small tourneys - luck is much more of a factor. but there is a rebuy! the first break comes at the one hour mark, at which point you can rebuy/addon or you must surrender your opportunity to do so. there is only one rebuy/addon, meaning the total cost of the tourney is a maximum of $100. for the past two weeks i have successfully spent $100 and gone out before the break and this week would be no different. yipppee!

in order of apperance, this week i had one semi-suckout and two semi-bad beats:

the semi-suckout
i was a 3 to 2 favorite with A J vs 8 9. with the blinds at 3/6, i lead out with a little over 3xBB, making it 20 to go. the 89 called and we saw a flop that brought the United Nations - A, 10, J, giving me top two pair! BUT, the 89 was a real noobie; he had a little less than $40 in chips left and he had already rebought...so of course he is going to call. i put him all in and he showed his straight draw versus my made two pair. i was already counting his chips in my mind! alas, what's that old saying about chickens and hatching? the turn brought a king and (ISYN) the river was a queen, meaning the board had the nut and we split the pot; i went from pretty much doubling through to making a $5 chip profit. harrumph!

semi-bad beat one
i was a 2 to 1 favorite with my JJ wired vs. A 10. i was all in on flop which brought a rainbow 8 9 2. the turn brought a jack, giving me trips but making the river queen an all but certainty; my opponent made his straight and topped my trips. luckily i had him covered by about 20 chips but had to immediately use my rebuy to have some chips to continue play.

semi-bad beat two
again a 2 to 1 favorite with again wired jacks (will i ever learn?) vs. A J. i was all in pre-flop and my opponent hit an ace on flop and that is all she wrote. this was the second time in 10 minutes that my wired jacks got crushed. i sulked off to sit in the "consolation" bracket.

freed of the $100 that was holding me back, i moseyed over to the $1/$2 PL table and waited for some more peeps to bust out of the tourney. round about 5PM we got a 9 handed game swinging. now you may often read that many of the top pros love the WSOP, not because of the tournament, but because of the juicy side games. well, last night lady luck was on my side in the side game and in a single hand i tripled my $200 buy-in. after tipout i ended up cashing out with $560 - $360 profit, erasing my tournament loses for the past three weeks and giving me beer money to boot - woot! so how do you take $200 buy-in and turn it into $560 in roughly two hours? pocket kings, of course.

at a nine handed table i was in the big blind when i looked down and found the Maloof brothers staring back at me. i look to my left and watch the players work it around the ring: the UTG player raised it to $5 and seven of the eight players called, making it $38 in the pot (the small blind folded, ending the hopes of a family pot.) when i anted i put $5 out, expecting change - instead of leaving it and calling, i raised and made it $50 straight to play. i figured i might get a caller or two; instead i got four! so headed to the flop, the pot was a cool $266. let's see some cards! the high card on the flop was a 10, with one other card being a heart. the flush possibility and the idea that someone had wired tens worried me, but despite this, i immediately went all in - hoping to shut out the flush draw and isolate someone heads-up. yet the $95 i had left was obviously not enough to stop people from gettting pot odds: the UTG went all in with her remaining $38, the two middle players called for the full $95 and the cutoff man went all-in for $22. pot = $611. now i am seriously worried. the SB (who was out from the beginning) and i begin to chat about what is out there and we're both thinking two pair has it, with tripped 10s being possible. at this point i have resigned myself that my money is gone and all i can hope is that the turn or river brings me a king. turn is a J and the only two guys still in go check-check. river is a brick and both players check-check. i meekly flip my kings and the UTG quickly punches me in the shoulder and reveals her wired queens. one player down! two to her left, the table big stack (he bought in for $500 when we all bought in for $100 or $200) flips A K - he was on the nut flush draw from the flop forward! rack him! the middle position guy mucks his hand without showing (we can assume he was on a lower flush draw or held and ace and smaller kicker), and the cutoff man reveals A10 offsuit. i stare dumbfound as the pile is pushed my way.

so for the remainder of the night i pondered: did i play this right? did i play it wrong? was i just lucky? did the laws of probability switch to my side?

looking back, i really don't think i would have played this any different, regardless of the outcome. i was not going to put $195 all in pre-flop, but once i saw that the flop brought ten high, i had to shut down the flush draw (which unfortunately/fortunately i did not have enough money to do.) ideally i would have put $250 into the pot on the flop, so i was pretty short. it begs the question if i had bought in for my usual $300 and pushed all in on the flop with $195, would i still have gotten callers? would the A K have folded to $195 or even $250 on the flop? it is pretty doubtful. he would have had $300 in the pot at that point and would have still had $200 in his stack to keep playing if he lost; i doubt i could have pushed him out, esp since he had roughly a 36% chance of hitting the nut (34.88% for all you math geeks.) still, with the kings and that flop, it was all or nothing for me and that is the beauty of cash games.

~~~until next time~~~

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