Friday, June 15, 2007

2007 WSOP, Day 15: First or Forget It

First or Forget ItGonna move back over “on the street” today and share a quick story about my own travails at the tables. Haven’t played a heck of lot over the past two weeks. As I look back through my little black record book, I see I’ve only logged a few hands here and there. Mostly still sticking with pot limit Omaha, although partly inspired by some of the mixed events at the WSOP I have sat down at a couple of H.O.R.S.E. tables as well.

Recently I had a few hours’ respite and decided to jump into a 6-max PLO MTT on Stars, one of those $5.00+$0.50 tourneys with rebuys. Almost 200 other runners joined me, and with all of the rebuys (over 400) and add-ons (nearly 100), we ended up with a nice-sized prize pool of over $3,500.

I don’t play a lot of rebuy tourneys. Hell, I don’t play a lot of tourneys, period, these days. So I decided to set myself a limit of a single rebuy, and knuckled down to watch for good opportunities during that first hour.

I’d been doing a lot of folding, picking up a couple of small pots by accident on checked-down hands, when somewhere in the middle of Level 2 (blinds 15/30) I was on the button and was dealt 7sKh7hAs. A couple of players limped in, I bumped it up to 110, and both called. The flop came 7c8h4s. The first to act was a short-stacked player who rapidly bet pot -- 550 -- leaving himself only 150 behind. The second player, who had over 2,000 in chips, made the call. I knew one -- probably the short-stack -- had to have the straight here. I decided this to be a decent enough opportunity to gamble with my first buy-in, and so pushed. Both players called, making a total pot of over 4,000.

We flipped our hands over, and I saw that both of my opponents held 6-5-x-x for the flopped the straight. Neither had any other draws, though, so I was in decent shape. Was even better when the turn brought the 6h, giving me (and me only) a flush draw as well. The river was the 9c, however, busting me. I rebought, knowing these were going to be my last 1,500 chips for the tourney.

About ten hands later I was dealt 2dQh8sKh in the big blind and was allowed to see a flop for free. And a beauty of a flop it was -- 9hJsTh -- giving me the nut straight and a redraw to the second-nut flush. I led out with a 100-chip bet (two-thirds the pot), and HyperBully raised pot. I reraised, of course, and we had it all in before the turn. He showed 7cAd9dQd, essentially requiring one of the three kings to steal this one from me. None came, and I’d doubled up to 2,900.

I was still at around 3,000 in chips when the rebuy period ended. Sticking to my original plan, I didn’t purchase the add-on, and so was sitting on a below-average stack when play resumed. Didn’t really mix it up until Level 5 when I got into another confrontation with HyperBully. Dealt 9d9cQdJs on the button, I limped in with a few others to see a flop of 9h4sAs. HyperBully led out with a pot-sized bet of 600 and I just smooth-called. The 4c on the turn filled me up, and I let HyperBully do my betting for me. I was up to 6,050.

I continued to sit tight. Glanced at the PokerStars stat box at one point and saw I was seeing only about a third of the flops -- very tight, really, considering we were six-handed. By the next break I was up over 10,000 in chips. Still below average, but healthy.

As the third hour began, I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before in a tourney -- I purposely ignored looking at the leaderboard and payout structure. I had no idea how many players were left, nor how many places paid. I decided instead just to concentrate on the five players at my table and try to gather as many of their chips as I could.

The strategy seemed to be working. Doubled up in Level 9 when I turned another full house from the small blind. Picked up a few more smallish pots, then a big one when my A-A-x-x held up against a medium-sized stack who’d pushed. Had accumulated over 60,000 by the time we reached the 3-hour break.

Somewhere in there we had gone hand-for-hand, so I was aware we had made the money. Still, I continued with the tunnel-vision act, deciding not to worry about the cabbage and simply play to win.

On the first hand of Level 13, I called a button raise from the small blind with 5dKcKhQh. The flop came 2s8h2d and I led out with an aggressive bet only to see the button player push his remaining chips. To be more specific, there was nearly 50,000 in the pot, and I only had to put in a little over 10,000 to see two more cards. And I’d still have nearly 40,000 even if I lost the hand. Knew I was probably behind -- even way behind -- but I made the sketchy call anyway. My opponent flipped over Jh8d8sAs for the flopped boat, so I was in sad shape. Spiked one of the two kings on the river, though, and suddenly found myself just under 100K in chips. (Poor guy offered a few choice observations from the rail, all well-earned by yours truly.)

Not longer after that hand, I ended up in a huge confrontation with SirApes who also had nearly 100K in chips. SirApes and I had been at this same table for at least 100 hands, and he’d been routinely taking advantage of my (mostly) tight play by repeatedly stealing my blinds whenever the opportunity arose. I had taken a few chips off of him in one hand where I’d called his preflop raise, called his flop bet, then picked off a river bluff when I held low trips. But mostly he’d gotten the better of it, and I might have been a little antsy to put him in his place.

So a little history here when I find myself in the big blind with 6s8s6d5c and facing another preflop raise from SirApes. The blinds were 1,000/2,000, and he’d pumped it to 6,000. I debated a moment, then called, deciding if I hit something nice he’d be receiving a nice little sucker punch.

The flop appeared to fit with my plan -- 6c9c5s -- giving me middle set. I bet 11,000 (just under the pot), and SirApes just called. I was virtually certain that he hadn’t flopped the straight or higher set, as I understood from his past play that he’d be raising either of those with the flush draw out there. The turn brought the Th, which to me didn’t change a thing. I checked, intending to push if he tried anything. And he did, overbetting 34,000. I raised all-in (a whopping 82K) and he called instantly, turning over Kc2cAd9h.

I was right. A flush draw . . . and really nothing else. And he’s just called off his entire stack here, hoping to catch that club. And two of them -- the 5 and 10 -- are no good to him, of course, so he’s only got seven possible outs. The CardPlayer Omaha calculator tells me I’m 82% to win.

But the Ac on the river made me a 100% loser, and in dramatic fashion I was suddenly down to just a couple of big blinds. Two hands later I was done.

My first reaction was to be very satisfied with my play. I’d made a good read on the hand that crippled me, and I felt as though I’d played (mostly) a smart game throughout. And I’d played to win the sucker, not just limp into the cash, which added to my satisfaction.

That’s when I finally permitted myself a look at the payouts. Oh, crap.

I’d landed in 15th place, netting me $53.25 for my efforts. Not bad, I thought. I’ll take that for a ten-buck investment. Then I looked up the chart. First paid over $900, and any final table seat paid over $100. I had probably been in the top six going into that fatal hand, and might well have cruised into at least another fifty bucks, if not more. I immediately began to wonder if I should have taken my foot off of the gas there at some point. Even though I did manage to get my money in very good in the big hand with SirApes, I could’ve probably waited for an even better opportunity. What do you think?

I’m convinced that my play was certainly influenced by all of the bracelet-chasing I’ve been watching so closely over the past two weeks -- where for so many of the players the approach is “First or Forget It.” I’m sure that’s what Johnny Chan is going to be thinking when going for his 11th bracelet tonight as they play out Event No. 23, the $1,500 pot limit Omaha event. He’s in 4th place with 23 players remaining -- right about where I was in my tourney when I decided to go for it against SirApes.

Might be a good idea to watch how Chan plays it early on tonight. Do the pros push like I did when they get down close to the big money? Are they willing to risk going up against the only other big stack in that situation?

At least some do, as an Event No. 23 hand from late last night demonstrates. The hand involves Scott Clements and Justin Scott. There were 31 players left. Clements had about 135,000 and Scott about 120,000, making them first and second in chips when the hand went down. Here’s how Mean Gene described it for PokerNews:
Clash of the Titans
This is one of those hands you circle in red so you don’t forget it. Our two chip leaders, Scott Clements and Justin Scott, saw a flop of 9dTd5c. Justin Scott led out for 23,000 and Clements raised enough to set Justin all-in. Justin called and showed Ad3dJs4c for the nut flush draw, while Clements had 9h9sAh8h for the set of Nines. The Jd on the turn gave Justin the nut flush . . . and then the Jc spiked on the river to give Clements the boat and the biggest pot of the tournament. He’s now the big chip leader with 255,000, while Justin Scott goes out in 31st place.

Sounds pretty familiar, actually, with the flopped set and flush draw both demonstrating a willingness to go for it. I suppose I might look at a hand like this and take solace. Would’ve been damned nice to have outraced the flush draw like Clements did, though!

See how Event No. 23 -- and all of the other action -- plays out by heading over to PokerNews for live reports.



Blogger Erwin Blonk said...

Great post Shamus, I hung on every sentence, I´m not kidding. Of course I love pot limit Omaha, so that´s part of it :D
I decided to turn to tourneys for a while but besides SNG´s, there are too little of them for my taste, also because the schedules cater to EST.
Still, enough fun to be had.
I love MTT´s, I can really get into the mood of a tournament. I´m aiming for pulling a Moneymaker for either an Omaha event in PokerStars WCOOP or the WSOP Europe. We´ll see.

6/15/2007 6:41 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Hey thanks, Erwin.

Continuing with the second-guesswork . . . now I'm thinking that in that big hand with SirApes I might've done well to have bet the pot on the turn (rather than check-raised). That would've forced him to call w/2-to-1 odds (rather than the 3+-to-1 he had after I'd check-raised).

I suspect, though, he might've raised me anyway & we were gonna get it all in right there, regardless.

6/15/2007 10:48 PM  
Blogger MacAnthony said...

All leading out on the turn gives you as far as advantages go, is the ability to get away from your hand if you suspect he hits his draw on the river. You are gonna have to either be all in or put other people all in in a tournament. If I'm gonna get my chips in, I sure as hell am not gonna second guess being an 82% favorite. That being said, either line is acceptable but don't waste your time worrying how you played that hand.

6/17/2007 12:55 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I don't think your play shows a bracelet-inspired first or forget it attitude. I think it was the right play, it was the right time, and you just got sucked out on. If he doesn't hit, which will happen almost 4 out of 5 times, you double up and are close to the top in chips. You knew your opponent, you correctly called his hand and you got all your money in with the best of it, with only one card left to break you. Sure, if you fold then you have the chance to squeak by, hold on to make the final table. But winning on that push would've practically guaranteed you the final table, as well as put you in very good position to finish 3rd or better.

Thanks as always for the detailed hand description.


6/19/2007 9:57 AM  

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