Suitably chastened, I tried again and played much better the second time around. Started off more patiently, then took a nice pot (1,230) in level 2 when I turned a straight. Took another (2,440) in level 4 when I pushed with and was called all the way by a short stack as the board came . Didn’t pick up much for the next level or two and by the time we got down to four players I had 3,300 chips, placing me just ahead of the other short stack who had 3,120. The blinds were 400/800, so I didn’t have a lot of room to manuever. Still, I felt confident if I could get heads-up with the chip leader I could take him. He’d made several passive (though luckily-timed) plays that made his big stack less threatening to me.
Then came hand no. 58. Not sure what to think of my play here. (Anyone with ideas, please chime in.)
I was the BB (with 3,300). The chip leader (7,220) was UTG and the other short stack (3,120) was on the button. The SB had 6,360. I was dealt and was a little surprised to see the entire table call it around to me. (I don’t believe we’d had a single family pot since we’d gotten to four-handed.) I checked my option. Looking back, I can say that at the time I didn’t even consider raising here from early position. Perhaps I should have. The flop came and the SB bet.
The SB -- I’ll call him WilyWilly -- was actually the only player left about whom I had much concern. For about ten hands Willy had been showing a lot of aggression, successfully building his stack thanks to others’ growing tentativeness in the face of the bubble. My read here was he’d hit the flop in some way, but not as well as I had, so I raised. It folded around and Willy reraised. Here’s where I had to decide whether to commit fully to this hand or give it up. There was 4,000 in the pot. I had 2,100 left in my stack and it was 400 more to call. If I do call, it is very unlikely I’m giving up the hand unless the turn and river are particularly scary. And, of course, calling down the rest of the way (at 800 chips a pop) would mean exhausting my entire stack. What to do, what to do . . . ?
"We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop seeing it." So says Pascal, anyway. I capped it. The turn was the , pairing the board. I actually liked the look of that card. Didn't seem like WilyWilly would have reraised me before with just bottom pair. So we got it all in. The river was a blank, and Willy turned over for a boat. I was out in 4th, which pays the same as 10th. Zip.
Given how WilyWilly had been pushing us around, I felt I couldn’t have gotten away there. If I had not raised and then capped the flop, I might have escaped with at least a few chips left. Whether I’d have survived for long with the blinds where they were is another story. We only had a hand or so to go in level 5, and the blinds would’ve risen to 600/1,200 the next time around. Indeed, I was pretty far past what Harrington calls an “inflection point.” Not a good place to be.
Live and (hopefully) learn. I know better than to think I’m going to cash every time out in these, especially being so out-of-practice. I’ll probably keep at it, though, even if the SNG’s aren’t ultimately as lucrative for me as the ring games tend to be. Meanwhile, the jury’s still out on whether I’m trying an FPP satellite to the WCOOP. The satellites are set up as Turbo-style crapshoots, so I ain't got much in the way of expectations if I were to try one. Other than to flop sets every other hand, that is . . . .
Photo: Tom Neal from the 1945 film Detour (adapted), public domain.