Phil's Favorite Part Of The Show: I Report, You Decide
Hand #1: (KK vs. ??, QJx flop with two clubs; pot is T12300, you have T20K, BB covers) Everyone is obviously in favor of betting here. I chose the hand mainly because it's one I remember and it was a point at which a marginal decision can have a great impact, when you're in that never-neverland where you have to make an arbitrary decision between moving to take down the already extremely valuable pot, and getting full value for your hand - where the size of your stack makes it difficult to make a reasonable bet that both protects your hand and doesn't smell like week-old halibut. When the BB checked, I started building myself a little mental chip abacus. I knew how much was in the pot and how much I had left, but I couldn't decide how much to bet. On a less-coordinated flop I would probably bet about half the pot or a little more (my continuation bets are usually a little more than 1/2 pot, though the time for continuation bets was pretty much over at this point in the tourney). A half-pot bet gives him 2:1 to call and pretty near commits me (pot of T24K, I have 14K remaining). If he has a drawing hand I'd really rather he didn't play it, all things considered. I probably can't get away from my hand so I want to get the most money I can in on the flop. Full-pot bet seems a little silly/fishy to me. I'd see through it - you're going to bet 12K and leave just 8K behind? You have to love your hand to do that. It wrecks the drawing odds, sure, but it also makes it easier to get away from second pair. Top pair probably isn't going anywhere anyway. I'd seen this opponent checkraise on more than one occasion, but I'd also seen him smooth-call with a set and draws. Solid player, aggressive, not a big fan of being pushed around. So I narrowed down my decision to two possible bet sizes: tiny and all-in. If I bet out 3K or 4K, and he has any piece of the flop, he's likely to raise me. The raise is preferable, to me, as if he smooth-calls I'm forced to shut down. If he has QJ or a set I'm going to go broke here; I'm not good enough to get away from KK in this situation just yet. If I shove all-in, he may put me on AK or TT and call with any piece of the flop. I finally decided that the pot was valuable to me already, that I didn't want to give a cheap card (with AK I might just call a 1/4 pot bet there, too) and that there were a number of hands he could call me with that I could beat. I shoved. He debated - he definitely wanted to call me - but finally he said "We're not there yet," and mucked. He seemed fairly confident that he'd folded the best hand, which to my mind just reconfirms that he didn't. Hand #2: (T2o vs. limper (??) and SB (??), 89T flop with two spades, pot is T5400, you are BB with 18K behind, SB checks) This is, to my mind, a let's-separate-the-men-from-the-boys kind of hand. You have very little information, a very vulnerable hand, and a huge stack that has position on you. The limp from the big stack is very suspicious to me. (In a poker tournament it's not paranoia - they really are out to get you.) This player is reasonably observant and has a big enough stack that he could limp with a monster and hope one of the blinds catches enough of the flop to make a kamikaze run at the pot. It took me a little while to check behind the SB, but check I did. I don't like to lead into an unknown hand with a hand that can't stand a reraise, and though it's hard to put the limper on a particular hand, I don't think it's 23o. I'm crushed by a large number of limp-worthy holdings even if he doesn't have a monster. My equity isn't that great against something like 78 (or even 77), 88 and 99 have me all but dead, T9, JT, QT, AT, and let's not forget QJ for the straight. I already went up against that one and I'd rather not do it again so soon. I checked hoping for a free card. Didn't get one. The limper led out for 3500. SB folded immediately. I did the math. 3500 now makes the pot 12.4K, I'll have less than 15K left. Do I want to come that close to committing myself when I think I may be drawing to a three-to-five outer? My read on the limper is that he has something, but I become less trustful of my reads as a tourney progresses and decisions become more consequential. If this were level one and I still had chips to play with I'd call him here - my value calls work amazingly well for me early on. But it's not level one. If I'm wrong I'm out. Folding here just costs me a marginal hand where my edge is thin at best and direly negative at worst. So I gave it up. As a player, I do very well both preflop and postflop when stacks are still deep. I'm awesome with a short stack. It's in the middle ground, the grey areas where all calls and bets are marginal, that I need to do better. It's also in these grey areas that most of the main event takes place. But, you know. If you wanna learn to swim you're going to have to get in the water sometime. And I very badly want to learn to swim.