High to Low

by john on March 18, 2005

I played in the $200+25 No-Limit tournament at “Canterbury”:http://www.canterburypark.com/cardclub/pokerroom.htm Wednesday night. I haven’t played in a tournament for awhile and had an itch I needed to scratch. The last couple of tournaments I played in I feel like I played too conservatively, playing most of the tournament short-stacked and needing to play an all-in or fold game.

This time, I told myself, I was going to make some early gambles and look to build a nice chip-stack going into the middle rounds. The good news is that is exactly what I did. The bad is that I lost most of it in a flaming disaster of two hands in the 5th round.

The tournament started out pretty interesting. Sitting to my left as the tournament started was “Dennis Wager”:http://www.headsuppokerchamp.net/bios/wager.html an amateur who we’ll be seeing beating Eric Seidel in the first round of the “2005 National Heads-Up Poker Championship”:http://www.headsuppokerchamp.net/index.html on NBC later this spring. Dennis is a whale in Las Vegas who lives in Minnesota and was one of only a couple of non-professionals in that tournament. Dennis plays the 30-60 game at Canterbury.


I played pretty tight the first orbit when I limped with A::d7::d and saw a flop of J::dT::d5::s. The woman to my right bet out a half-pot sized bet, which was the first bet I had seen her make. I just called, and I think there may have been one other caller. The turn came a 3::c and the woman again made a medium sized bet. I decided that it was time to gamble with the nut flush draw and actually thought I could get her to lay down when I bet out a big bet of about half my stack. Damned if she didn’t go all in! Now I knew I was beat but I had 9 outs to take all her money so I pushed it all-in as well. I was rewarded when the beautiful diamond hit the river, and while the table chatter was that I made a terrible call I don’t think I did because my strategy going in was not to be short-stacked and if I had folded to her all-in I would have been crippled. I knew I had a good shot to win and I took it. She had top two.

By the second round I felt like I had a pretty good read on Dennis (we had been chatting quite a bit). I was one off the button with A::sJ::s with a couple of middle position limpers when I made a big raise in a semi-steal attempt. Dennis on the button just called and everyone else mucked. The flop came A::dK::sQ::d. I was pretty sure Dennis thought he could out-play me heads-up with any two cards (and his reputation in the 30-60 is just that, any two) so I figured my best chance was to just push with top pair, a gutshot straight draw and a runner-runner nut flush draw. Dennis called with K::hQ::h and I doubled him up when I didn’t improve. So now I was about back to where I started!

I don’t remember the hand at all but I doubled up again by knocking out the player to my right who had taken the seat from the woman I had knocked out previously, and I knocked another guy out with presto (5::d5::s) going up against two nines when I flopped a set. Boy was he steamed.

Finally right toward the end of the 3rd round and before the break I woke up with pocket rockets (A::sA::c) and found myself heads-up with Dennis again. I had made a healthy pre-flop raise that he once again called. The A::h came on the flop of an otherwise unscary board and I decided to lead out with a big bet, despite having the monster top set. Dennis just called. Another non-scary card came on the turn and I pushed in everything I had, including the racked greens I had just bought from everyone. Dennis thought a real long time before mucking and I was a nice guy and showed my cards. I was planning on stealing pots later with my big stack and wanted them to know I would make that play with good cards too. In hindsight I probably could have taken all of his chips if I had checked the turn.

Coming back from the break Dennis told me it looked like I was chip leader with about T15,000 (started with T4,000). I started using that muscle and moved my stack up to about T20,000 when our table broke and the disaster was about to begin.

I doubled-up one guy when my KK fell to his AA. Then I found myself in the single most stupidest hand I have ever been in. I limped from small-blind with K::h4::h (not a hand I normally would play) and decided pre-flop that I was going to bet out no matter what flopped. I wish I could remember exactly what was on the board or how the betting went but I can’t, but there were just rags on the board and I made a modest bet hoping to take it right down. I got one caller, a player I had already been able to peg as really bad and a chaser. I think there was a couple of spades on board. After the turn, another low card, I made another good sized bet and he called again. I convinced myself he was chasing. A Q fell on the river to give a board that looked something like 3599Q. I had absolutely nothing with K4 but felt really sure he also had nothing either. I had no business being in this pot at any time but here I was making a big bet at the end which in hindsight wasn’t big enough since he called it. Rather than look at how much was in the pot I focused on how much he had in front of him and I bluffed at him for 3/4s of his chips, which probably was only 1/4 of the pot or so. So when he called my bluff I knew I couldn’t beat anything and mucked without showing. The smug bastard then flipped up K::s4::s to show his bluff! The bluff he just called with! WTF? I was stunned, both for how poor his call was but also for me being so stupid as to lose half my chips when it should have been a chopped pot. I’m still stunned.

So I was steaming the next hand when I had 33 and went all-in and was rightly called by AJ – who flopped an A to cripple me down to less than original buy-in. Dennis came over shortly after and was as disappointed as I to see my short stack. Shortly after that I was out.

So I went into the tournament with a strategy that I executed to perfection and then I let it all slip away with a combination of my own poor play and just unfathomable bad play by someone else. Next time I play a tournament I have to remember to give myself the pep talk about all levels of the tournament, not just the beginning.

{ 1 comment }

industrial music March 24, 2005 at 12:25 pm

I’d be scared to play for that much 🙂

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