Monday, September 8, 2008

A game of two halves, Motty

Played the Fitz IPT thing and it really was a game of two halves. First day could not have gone any better, after initially drifting back to 9K I just steadily increased and thanks to three monster pots ended the day as one of the three big stacks on the FT.
Monster pot number one was a hero call against the Bomber Nolan, who sat beside me for most of the day and impressed me greatly both as a player and a human being. This was the first time I played extensively with him and I have to say I was somewhat surprised by how solid his game is: he played a lot less hands than I expected, he showed great aggression but only in the right spots, he made some big folds and reads, and was generally very tricky and trappy. He really didn't get the run of the deck though.
Anyway, the hand. Very loose guy playing most pots limps in mid to late position, Bomber completes from the SB and I check my option with K9. Flop is 9s7s2x, and the Bomber leads out for about pot I think. It's hard to put the Bomber on a hand or even a range at the best of times, it could be a draw, a made hand (two pairs most likely) or a bluff, and with the other guy to act behind me I decide to flatcall for now and see what happens. The other guy folds, and an Ax hits the turn, at which point to my surprise the Bomber ships. Against most normal players it's an easy fold since I only have second pair at this point, but the Bomber has been showing signs of impatience with his diminishing tank and talking about wanting to go babysitting so I decide to give myself some thinking time. I've seen players like Rob Taylor and Nicky Power, guys who can make huge folds I could never make like sets or kings preflop, make astounding calls with third pair or ace high and be right, so I've decided to gve up just folding marginal hands to overbets and try to think the hand through. I found it very hard to put the Bomber on a hand that was beating me: I was 99% sure he didn't have a set or an Ace as I'd seen him raise every ace and pair from the blinds to that point, so my read was he was either on a draw, or he had a worse pair but knew I didn't have an ace either and was betting the scare card (having seen me fold a lot). Eventually I called even though I was effectively crippling myself if I was wrong. Thankfully I wasn't wrong: he was on a draw, albeit the biggest one in town (10s8s). He missed on the river and that was that. When we chatted the next day he said he thought he misplayed the hand and should have check shoved the flop to get me off the hand. I probably would have folded to that action but in any case, hurray for calling stations. Everyone else at the table clearly thought it was a horrible call but you have to go with your read in these tournament situations.
By now the table had tightened up considerably and I worked my stack up from 20K to 40K simply by changing gears without having to show any bad cards.
Next monster pot, same loose player raises 3 BB's when I have aces in the BB. I'm trying to decide whether to flat or raise when to my surrise a tight Chinese guy who hasn't played a hand yet since he moved to the table shoves from the SB. After a bit of Hollywood I flatcall hoping to trap the other guy into the pot. A lot of players say you should alays shove here because the Aces have a better chance of standing up against one opponent. While that's true, the way I look at it is that the shove gives you typically 85-90% equity in a 2 tank pot, for a total of 1.7-1.8 tanks, if you get my drift. If you call and trap the other guy in, you have about 65% equity in a three tank pot, equivalent to 1.95 tanks. So I'm happy to take the bigger risk of getting sucked out on here.
Anyway, the other guy folded his A10 (he claimed), the Chinese guy flipped over AQ, there was a bit of a sweat on a queen high flop but the Aces held.
By now we were down to 3 tables and we were joined by a guy with even more chips than me. When he sat down I saw him carefully checking out all the stack sizes at the table, so I immediately pegged him as a guy who would try to bully with his stack. He looked at me and mine a lot more than the others so I figured he was trying to assess what type of player I would be as I was the only one at the table who could seriously damage him or put up resistance. He was quiet enough for the first couple of orbits, as was I, which seemed to encourage him to think I was just a tight rock who had caught some big hands. The table talk of the other players reenforced this. He therefore looened up and started playing most pots, but this is the Fitz where people love their low pairs and rag aces enough to reshove with them, so he took a few hits which put him back in his shell for a while. Then he loosened up again and started to target the tighter players, like me. He raised my blinds every opportunity until I picked up the hand of the day K9. I know orthodox theory contends that defending with K9 is horrible and by and large I agree but in this spcific spot I felt there were a few flops that could really get my opponent into trouble and by keeping the pot small I could move after the flop if I missed for the same cost if he really had a hand as raising preflop. Flop is 9xx with two clubs, and I check raise him. He intacalls with a strange petulant toss of the chips that I read as annoyance that the folding rock just played back at him, so I'm pretty certain I'm well ahead. Turn's a Q and I lead for just under half pot and he instashoves. Again, it looks like I'm beaten here but I decide to give myself thinking time. It looks to me like he either called with two overs and hit the queen, or he was trapping with a set or an overpair. The speed of the shove sows a bit of doubt in my mind though, as surely he'd need at least a little thinking time to decide whether to flat or shove. I work back through the hand and his bets make no real sense to me, so I smell a rat. There's also the question of pot odds. The call is just over 15K into a pot that already has 75K in there: getting odds of 5 to 1 you need to be pretty certain you're beaten. I think I am, but not 5 to 1 sure (more like 2 or 3 to 1 sure). The other thing is that even if I am beaten I probably have six outs so I'm almost getting the odds to suck out. As against that, if I fold I leave 25K behind which is still very playable, whereas if I call and lose I'm crippled. It's a big call but the more I thought about it the more bvious it seemed that I had to call, particularly since my opponents body lnguage got more and more frightened and defensive the longer I took to make my decision. So I eventually make the call thinking by God O'Kearney you're going to look like such a donkey when he shows you a set or a queen, but if you're worried about sometimes looking like a total donkey you probably shouldn't play tournament poker. As it happened, the guy says "I'm on a draw" and turns over K5s for a flush draw. He misses and I'm now chipleader.
This time everyone seemed to think it was a great call. I still wasn't so sure myself but thinking over it afterwards and talking it through with the brother I'm very happy with the call. It's one I'd have made instantly in my early days before I learned how to fold a hand, but one I couldn't have made until recently when I probably started folding too much. As I said, having observed guys like Rob and Nicky make big hero calls made me realise you sometimes have to go with your gut. The brother thought it was an amazing call in the circumstance and one he'd never have made but he said that getting decisions like that is what distinguishes the solid ABC players from the really great ones.
In between the two monsters pots I'd drifted back to 35K before winning a big pot on a total bluff. Early raiser, two callers including a very loose regular in the Fitz called Terry who nearly always plays his button, I jave J10s in the BB so I call. Flop is KQ4 with 2 clubs and it's checked around. Turn's a blank and it's checked around to Terry who bets 7K into the 12K pot. I strongly suspect a steal or a very marginal hand like an underpair here since he'd have bet a K or a Q on the flop because of the draws, so I flat call with the intention of betting the river no matter what comes. I miss and push more than half my stack in thinking this looks scarier than the shove and after some thought he folds. Phewski.
I'm now in great shape, although the table dynamic changes when Terry gets a bigger stack than me thanks to two sucks outs, a runner runner house against a flopped nut flush, and AQ v KK aipf. He goes into overdrive so I have to be more careful but at the same time I play back a bit just so he doesn't have it all his own way. I end the day with just under 120K: Terry has 130K as has Big Mick G who sucked out on Smurph's Aces with his AK.
I get a bad seat draw the next day with Big Mick G two to my left and Terry just behind him. Looking around with the average stack just 7M's and the chipleaders in the 10-15 range I knew it was virtually a turbo SNG and we were in Big Mick G territory, and so it proved. Absolutely nothing went right. I lost over 25% of my stack on the first two hands. First one I have A9 in the BB, call a raise from the SB, see a flop of QQJ, bet the flop, check the turn and fold the river (he shows Aces, ouch). Next one I raise AKs, get one caller behind, check fold an 864 flop and he shows a set of 6's. Then I lose the first of a few races: AK in the BB, shortie shoves on the button with Q's and holds. Same guy shoves same spot next time with 10's, I call with AQ, he holds again. Lose a few more races against short stacks only I catch my only break of the day. Shortie pushes, it costs me 10K to call in the BB into a 24K pot so I'm calling any two. He has 76, I have J9, I hold. Big Mick G compliments me on the call and says the guy seemed surprised I called with J9 but he had fold equity and I confirmed I'd have called with any two. Mick says the guy had no fold equity but really concepts like fold equity and pot odds are almost unknown in the Fitz so people do get surprised when you call with shit, especially if they think you're a rock. For example, a guy who had just been crippled shoved for 12K, the big blind getting 3 to 1 to call folded!
The last race I lost crippled me down to 30K, also known as 5 BBs, but from there I worked back up to 80K without showing a card by picking my shove spots well. When I was eventually called by the chipleader who was playing very tight (AA-QQ, AK, AQ basically), we had the same hand (AQ) and split. By now we were 6 handed, the blinds were racing around, average M was about 5, and I was about to be coolered. I shoved with jacks in the SB over a button raise, Big Mick G woke up with aces in the BB, and to rub it in hit an ace. No getting away from that, by now the structure dictated a fast resolution, Denise is commiserating with me when the next guy gets knocked out very next hand, and by the time I get home 40 minutes later, the whole thing is over. Well done to Mick G on another great result for him.
Obviously I was disappointed having come within 30 minutes of a chop and a ticket but in these situations most of the poker is gone by the time you hit the FT and it comes down to races and coolers, and on both those scores it just didn't happen for me. At least I ended my recent slump with another cash, albeit a minor one. As herself pointed out afterwards, you'd have made way more in two days in the old job. Or even playing online.
Still, happy with my consistency on the live tournament front. I've had a decent cash every month since April and if I can keep getting myself into these positions consistently, I have to think the next major score isn't too far off. I also enjoyed playing in the Fitz again, which I still regard as my spiritual poker home, had good crack with Rob and Kat on the first day (Rob's a pool hustler! Why wasn't I told this brilliant fact earlier?), and a nice chat with the Bomber one the second day. The Bomber gave me his card, and it's great to see someone like him getting sponsored. When you meet the English sponsored pros, more often than not you come away thinking I never want to play on that dick's site, so kudos to the Irish sites for selecting better ambassadors like the Bomber and Nicky Power and Rob.


three weeks without a big final table Dara i was getting a little worried :-) WD in the fitz game. I've been thinking about your ultra running a bit, not about taking it up mind you but I think there's a big prop bet to be won in Vegas one year through your ability.

The brother was saying the same thing about the prop bet in Vegas. He reckoned we could get a few non-believers willing to be I couldn't keep running in the heat for a few hours :)


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