I used to play a great deal of NL hold ’em, both ring games and tourneys. Lately, however, it’s been nothing but limit, usually 6-max. I decided that all of this short-handed limit experience might well have translated into some preparation for a limit tourney, so I joined a one-table, limit SNG over on Stars ($5.00+$0.50). I sat tight for the first two levels, as did most of the other eight players. At the start of level 3 (30/60) I got in middle position and raised it up and had a single caller. The flop brought an ace, scaring him off, and I won a smallish pot. Lost it back on a hand where I had to let my KQ go after a board with two jacks and two nines incited some worrisome action. Picked up big slick and 600 more chips and was up to 2,180 by the end of level 4.
The next couple of levels were uneventful for me. Meanwhile, three other players were sent to the rail. Then came a hand where I turned the nut flush and I was up to 2,830 in chips (2nd place). A dead-card stretch followed, and by the end of level 6 we were down to four players and I was down to 955 chips. I was dealt and had to go all-in; unfortunately, the chip leader was there with me holding . A seven hit, and I was still alive. I was crippled the next hand, however, when I was dealt another ace and flopped top pair-nut flush draw only to lose the hand to pocket rockets. I was down to 410 chips (barely two big blinds) and had resigned myself to bubble boy status when I saw the third place player (with 1,540) raise it up from the BB. I folded and watched the chip leader (with over 8,000) call him from the SB. The flop came . Check, bet, call. The turn was the . Again -- check, bet, call. The river brought the . Bet. The third place player paused and put in his last 340 chips. He had kings. The chip leader had an ace. I was in the money.
I was bumped in rapid fashion, happy to escape with $9.00 (a $3.50 profit) for my efforts. I wasn’t particularly proud of how I’d played, but the cash nevertheless gave me the confidence (and part of the buy-in) for another limit SNG, this time over on Party Poker. The structures there are slightly different ($5.00+$1.00; 10 players instead of 9; start with 2,000 chips instead of 1,500). The players were different as well, with a lot more loose (and downright erratic) play then I’d seen in the first tourney. Some of these guys clearly seemed like NL players who’d stumbled into a limit SNG by accident. (They may well have . . . it isn’t hard to do, the way Party arranges and displays their tourney list.)
Had a weird hand early on where I picked up kings in late position and had two players call. The flop came . The first player to act bet out and the second raised. I thought for a moment and gave it up, figuring one must have the ace (and the other possibly the seven). They battled to the end of the hand, building a largish pot for so early (about 1,700 chips by the end), only to show King-high and Queen-high. I’d been successfully bluffed out of the hand -- something that would’ve been a lot harder to pull off in a ring game. How was I gonna deal with these crazies?
It was simple, really. Patience. Indeed, both of those involved in that hand were gone by the end of Level 4, and by the end of level 5 we had already made it down to three (and the $$$). This time I had more of a fighting chance, with about 4,000 chips (my opponents each had around 8,000). Even though I was outchipped, I sensed both of my opponents to be on the tight side, and was able to steal blinds and pots with regularity. Once we got to heads-up, I had about a 2-to-1 chip lead. My opponent escaped a couple a times with fortunate rivers, but I finally took his last chip when my outlasted his . A nice $25 cash (minus the $6 buy-in) for a little over an hour’s work.
Felt pretty good to win the second time out, although I know better than to think too greatly of the accomplishment. I played the second SNG well, but also benefitted quite a bit from being up against some below-average players early on, then some timid ones at the end. I do believe all the short-handed ring games helped, though. Now that I think about it, playing the SNG really wasn’t that much of a change of pace. Since the blinds come around more frequently in the 6-max game than in full-table, one is generally forced to act with some frequency -- it simply isn’t profitable to sit and wait for premium hands. The ever-increasing blinds (and the threat posed by larger stacks) in the SNG forces action in a similar way. Also, both games reward well-timed aggression and tend to punish passivity.
There are probably other parallels, but I haven’t sorted them out. Will probably keep giving the SNG’s a go here, at least as long as they remain interesting and profitable. Don’t know yet if I’ll waste my FPPs on that WCOOP satellite or not. I’ve mostly preferred buying books with those, actually, over in the PokerStars FPP store. That’s the way it is with us short stacks. Always playing the angles. Always on the cheap.
Image: PartyPoker screenshot.