Busting Draws

Apparently my mobile blogging apparatus has seized up once again. So some (very brief) action updates will appear out of the ether some time in the next 24 hours, probably. I'll save you the time: I busted. No exact player count but by eyeballing the room I estimate I went out in 115th place (669 players). Not a terrible showing considering how short I got. I blow off chips in the early going by raising to protect pocket pairs - JJ once and QQ once. Two callers each time. AKx flop each time. Once I fold to a bet, the other I'm in the blind and nearly make a continuation bet but I catch something from the button. I fold. He value-bets his bigger ace to the river and gets paid off by the caller in middle position. I make most of the chips back back flopping a set on a bee-yootiful T72 rainbow board (I'd called a preflop raise from the big blind with 77, as had 3 other people). I checked the flop looking for action but nobody bet. Shit. The turn put an ace out there and I know it hit somebody. But I think the preflop raiser is playing cautiously enough to smell a rat, and I've already stupidly given one free card. So I bet about 2/3 of the pot. Preflop raiser calls me. River is another ten and I know I'm good. How much to value bet with a lock hand against a player that probably has to pay me off is one of my weaknesses. I ran through my options (overbet, suspiciously small steal bet, plain ol' value bet) and decided not to get too fancy. I put 400 in chips into the 700 chip pot and get a crying call. Sweet. I lose more chips as the levels go up. Some by callling when position and odds dictate, some by laying down reasonable opening hands like ATo when a tight player moves all-in. I flop a pair and a couple of backdoor draws when I call an EP raiser's bet on the button with 56s, and both backdoor draws turn into real draws on the turn, giving me close to twenty outs against the preflop raiser's top pair or overpair (which I absolutely know is what he's got) - but I know he's not laying it down whatever I do so I call and hope. Never a good plan, I know, but I think the value of the runner-runner draws is substantial with position there. Except when they don't come in. Which they don't. By the first break I'm running low. When I get back I start opening any pot I can; nobody wants to play with me, which is just fine. Unfortunately that's the time the table breaks. I play my cards for a few hands while I evaluate the table, then steal a few blinds. I get my M up to 7 (T2200, 100-200 blinds), get 66 on the button and raise to T600, shortstack in the small blind moves in for 400 more. For T400 to win a T1800 pot I have odds to call even an overpair. I'm up against ATo. I lose. I sigh and resolve to begin rebuilding my stack. Somehow I do it. By the dinner break I chip up to T5200 (200/400/50). A9o takes down KJo on an all-blank board and doubles me up; AQo in the small blind against a limper and a raiser lets me push and get some fold equity. ("I didn't want to see a flop," I tell the table. "Jacks?" someone asks. I nod, stacking the chips. Yes sir, the jack of aces and the jack of queens.) I steal-raise with Ad7d from middle position and get a flat caller in the big blind. Flop comes queen high with two diamonds. He checks. I interpret it as weakness. Also, I don't care - I need the chips in the pot and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get them. I've come to realize that my real choice at this point in the tourney is whether or not I can afford to lose the pot, and if not, I'm moving in with anything approaching a reasonable chance to win. At dinner I have a BLT at the deli. It's surprisingly good. The tomatoes don't suck. The bacon is crispy. The lettuce is not limp and appears to have been washed at least once on its trip from the ground to my plastic plate. The toast is toasty. When I get back from the dinner break things start happening rather quickly. The blind hits me before I can catch a reasonable hand so I lose a few chips. Then with not much time left in the level I raise to T1500 in relatively early position with AJo. The button moves all-in. Fuck. We are pretty much dead-even in chips. I ask for a count. I'll have almost nothing if I call and lose, a chip and a chair. Am I really about to call off my stack with AJo? I'm in the tank. I look at the pot. T1500 from me. T1100 in blinds and antes. T4500 from the raise. So it's T3000 for me to call to win T7100. I guess I am calling off my stack with AJo after all. If he has aces that's how it is. I'm a big dog to AK and AQ as well but those aren't the only hands he could have, and even if he showed KK, QQ or JJ by accident it'd still be a borderline call. And I need the pot. I silently push my chips in. "Good call," he says, flipping up A4o. It's early to celebrate but I pat myself on the back for making the right call. When the flop comes AJ9 I get pretty comfortable. Turn J makes me feel even better. Case ace doesn't come out on the river and suddenly I'm over 10K in chips. Then a very bad thing happens: I get dealt a slow-motion coinflip. It happens like this: Q7o in the big blind. One limper, small blind completes. I check. Flop comes Qd 4d Js. Small blind checks. With no raise preflop I'm pretty sure top pair is good here so I bet T1000. I'm doing my usual stonefaced routine and expect to see the pot shipped to me. I'm about a half-second away from mucking my cards and raking in the pot when I realize that while the limper has folded, the small blind has called me. Curious. Pot is now T3500. Small blind has about T5000 behind. I don't understand what's happening here; if I'm beat I expect him to be raising. With a decent draw I expect him to be raising. The flat call might make sense if he has a set but the board is just scary enough that if he's any good he could be trapping himself. I decide he's got either a jack or a draw. Turn comes 3c. Again with the check from the small blind. I look at the pot. I look what he's got. I start considering possibilities. I rule out Kd Td because with the open-ended straight flush draw even the tightest, weakest player left in the tourney jams the flop. I don't know the exact odds but I know I'm enough of a favorite over any draw that I can wreck the odds if I want to. If he has a jack and he thinks it's good I want a call. I don't think he's just calling me on that flop with top pair and if he has a set he's going to win some money. "All-in," I say. I don't even bother to push my chips in. Three seconds later I know he doesn't have a set because he hasn't called yet. He's got to call T5000 to win T8500. I've priced him out. I start sending telepathic messages: Your jack is good. Your draw is no good. I realize I don't care whether or not he calls because I know I have him beat. If he folds I get the pot; if he calls it's a bad call. He agonizes. I start daydreaming. Suddenly he says "I call." I'm a little surprised, but okay. I flip up my queen. He flips up Ad2d. I nod and shrug and steel myself for a flush card. River comes a red five... of hearts. I exhale in relief at having dodged the flush but then look at the board again and realize that A-2-3-4-5 is, in fact, a straight. I match his stacks, my face reddening. I know I'm heating up but I'm staying calm. I made the right play, he made a bad call (if only barely), I'm still in the tourney. Barely. While he was taking forever the blinds went up to 300/600/75; I have a little under T2000 after posting the small blind. I fold the rags I get in the small blind to a short-stack's all-in raise and start looking around the table. And then I do something I've never done before: For the next orbit I look at my cards only for show. Seriously. I didn't care what they were. Honestly. I eye all the stacks at the table and pick out the four that I could still cripple and decide to attack their blinds no matter what I'm holding. If the table folds to me I'm shoving at their stacks and that's it. If I actually pick up a decent hand I'm going after anyone's blind but those four, if I have a chance, I'm taking them. I get three of them, shoving with 96o, J3o, Ace-mystery card (I never looked at the second one). No callers. Suddenly I have T6200 and an M of 4 - still critical but a decent comeback. If I can double up once I'm back in this thing. A few hands later I'm no longer in this thing. A short stack pushes for what looks like only T1700; the small blind, who outdrew me to take most of my stack not so long before, reraises all-in. I look down and find AdQd. I ask what the shortstack has, drawing the ire of some of the other players since the small blind obviously has me covered. For some reason I felt compelled to know the numbers. The pot's laying me not quite two to one. I don't think much of the small blind's play. The isolation raise is weird to me since if he had a really big hand he could just call here. I start running through the hands he could have. A medium pair, maybe 88-JJ. A big ace. But there are two big aces smaller than mine and only one that's bigger. Even a chop has a lot of value for me if he happens to have AQ. I'm not afraid of aces or kings. If I call and win I have T15K or so, and that's what finally pushes me off the cliff. I'm still in shortstack mode if I fold and sooner rather than later someone's going to pick me off, possibly when I'm a huge dog. At 15K I can start stealing - I've seen enough of this table to know it's doable, since I did it with almost nothing. At 15K I have a shot. So that's how I called off all my chips with AQ vs. AK. Yeah. He didn't want to see a flop with AK, which makes sense. Preflop raiser had 22. Flop came ace high. I turned a flush draw and a gutshot but didn't get there (river queen would have made broadway for AK), rapped the table, got up and walked away. And that, my friends, is poker.


Blogger StudioGlyphic said...

Good write-up. Better cards next time?

1/27/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Garthmeister J. said...

Classic! "Yes sir, the Jack of Aces and the Jack of Queens."

Please continue with these write-ups, they're fantastic.

1/27/2006 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger FatBaldGuy said...

Nice post. One thing I really like about these tournament posts you have been doing is the "in play" analysis you do. It shows me how much more study I need to do about the numbers.

1/27/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger sellthekids said...

are you living blogging from the table? via blackberry?

if so, what are the TD's takes on this?

tough break, but great write up. and you do seem to be making it deep!

1/27/2006 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Absinthe said...

The TDs are pretty copacetic about it. There's a no-phones-at-the-table rule, which is sometimes enforced and sometimes not. If I want to take a quick note on something or bust out a fast email update I'll step away from the table for a few seconds (SideKick typing is surprisingly fast) - so long as I'm a few feet from the table nobody says anything.

1/27/2006 02:02:00 PM  

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