Monday, July 28, 2008

4 betting with air and other advanced pro strategies

Finished up 4th in JP's 250 game. Played pretty well overall I thought, although I got two marginal decisions wrong and ultimately the tournament probably hinged on them.
First one: I'm playing 87s on the button against Paul Ward (in the small blind) and Paul Coyle. Flop of 987, Paul Coyle leads out for 20K. Paul bets every scary flop like that and keeps betting if he's not raised so after a bit of thought I decide to just call. Unfortunately the other Paul calls too and now I have no idea where I am when an Ace hits the turn. Paul Ward plays a lot of medium aces so I figure there's a strong chance he's just hit two pairs. He checks, Paul Coyle bets 40K. Any raise now pot commits me so I decide to just call and see what the other Paul does. Really I'm more worried abouh him as I'm 80-90% confident in my read that Paul Coyle is bluffing. Paul Ward calls behind. The board gets even more horrible when a Jack hits the river making a straight for anyone playing a ten. Paul Ward checked, Paul Coyle bets 60K and I hate the spot I'm in. I'm still reasonably certain I'm ahead of Paul Coyle, at least enough to make the call, but have no idea what Paul Ward has. I stare at him a while trying to get a read, he looks calm and disinterested, and I can't decide whether he's weak or strong. Eventually I decide there are too many hands he could be playing that I'm behind (any two pairs, a straight with the ten) and really only one I'm beating (a 6, which seems unlikely) so I fold. To my dismay, he instafolds and Paul Coyle triumphantly turns over pocket 2's to prove he was bluffing all along as I suspected.
From that point on, Paul's stack just grew and grew. He was a bit ropey early on but once he got his stack he played it very well. I kept hoping to pick up a hand against him I could go with but it just didn't happen by and large. I took a few pots off him with air to keep in reasonable shape but apart from that it was pretty much one way traffic from everybody else's stack to Paul's. Once Paul Quinn and Dave Masters (who I had a great chat with before: lovely guy and awesome player) were gone, nobody else at the table seemed willing to play back against Paul with the honourable exception of Damian Kavanagh.
Second one: we're 4 handed, I've been card dead for a stretch, I button raise to 60K with K10s, Derek calls in the BB. Flop is KJ6 with two diamonds, he checks, I bet 60K, he shoves. After a dwell, I'm reasonably certain I'm behind, but not certain enough to fold and even if I have I almost have the odds to suck out if he has the hand I suspect (aces). While Aces is the most obvious candidate there, he could be doing the same move with Queens, a worse king, Ax of diamonds, Q10 etc, so I called. He did indeed have a very cleverly played pair of aces and I didn't suck out and now I've doubled up a dangerous player.
Funnily enough, I'd be talking to my PH and mentor Nicky Power the previous day, and that hand mirrored his exit. Unlike my rather weak crying call though, Nicky played it right when he shove/4 betted for several thousand big blinds with his K10 and the other guy unfortunately wasn't good enough to get away from his aces pre-flop. Advanced strategies like 4 betting with air are why Nicky's sponsored. Hopefully he'll let us in on a few more of those advanced pro secrets in his regular columns for BrucePoker :)
After that, I was short. I jimmied my stack up to 12 BB. Paul Coyle was pretty much running over the table and the new dynamic seemed to be that the other two shorties were just trying to outlast each other. As the shortest of all, I had the least to lose so I decided first hand I got against Paul I was shoving. That hand was KQs when he button raised. I shoved from the SB, he called with A5o, I hit a monster draw flop (J97 with two of my suit) but missed my 18 outs twice.
Obviously I was disappointed not to take it down but apart from those two marginal decisions I was happy overall I gave it my best shot. I made some good laydowns which kept me in it at different points.
Really great tournament, great venue and atmosphere and the structure was so brilliant that it was really only at the end after 14 hours play that it got crapshooty. As I've said before, we're really fortunate in this country to have the likes of JP and Neill Kelly organising great tournaments with great structures for reasonable buyins. Compared to the crapshoots you get in the UK or the US for those buyins, we're truly blessed. Also, JP seems to have taken on a lot of Cool Hand Luke's staff so the dealers were very good too.



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