Thursday, November 10

When In Rome, Part Two

The 2005 World Series Of Poker Circuit SuperSatellite

(This entry crossposted to Steal The Blinds.)

I've kicked around the idea of writing my own little treatise of no-limit Hold'em tournament play, and in the WSOPC satellite at Caesars Indiana I managed to violate the first two rules of my forthcoming bestseller. Rule #1 is to always know what the buy-in is. This I knew: $200 + $25 (meaning $200 went to the money pool, $25 as the house fee). But I didn't discover until later that the tournament had re-buys and add-ons. I'd never played in a tournament that had re-buys and add-ons, and had never even heard of a satellite with them — I thought it defeated the whole purpose of a satellite (allowing players with smaller bankrolls to make bigger tournaments) to make it so that players who had higher ambitions needed to spend more money.

For those of you who've never heard these terms, they're basically exactly what they say. A re-buy is to poker what a mulligan is to golf; if you bust out, you can buy back in by matching the original buy-in amount and receiving the same amount of chips. An add-on allows you to tack on more chips at a certain point in the tournament. The $225 supersatellite allowed unlimited rebuys for the first three levels (90 minutes) for any player at or below $200 in tournament chips (meaning it was perfectly legal to re-buy before the tournament even started — three people did just that at my table alone). At the 90-minute mark, all players were allowed either a single or double add-on: dropping $200 would purchase $200 more in tournament chips; $400 would get you $400 in chips.

Rule #2 is to factor in the blind structure — both length of the level and steepness of the blind increases — when making decisions. The levels were thirty minutes and started reasonably at 5/10, then 10/20 and 15/30. But after the add-on period, they got stiff: 25/50, then 50/100 and 100/200. This isn't too terrible — if you brought enough money to re-buy and then purchase a double add-on — but I only brought about another $200 for side games, plus blackjack and craps. This meant that I couldn't play as conservatively as I normally would in the early stages of a regular ("freeze-out") tournament. Well, I shouldn't have played as conservatively, anyway. I did, and it cost me.

Here's two examples. After taking down the first pot I entered with pocket kings, I found myself in the small blind with Kª/5ª. Two players limped in, I chucked in another fiver to call, and the big blind checked to see a flop of 10©/5©/5¨.

I bet out 25, and after two folds, the button raised to 50. A min-raise. In a regular tournament, I wouldn't want to let someone outdraw me, so I'd raise enough to telegraph that I was holding trips. And I did, raising to 150. He folded.

After the fact, though, I thought about it. My opponent didn't seem like the kind of player who was savvy enough to raise with just a flush draw. I was crushing almost any other hands he might have been holding; given his preflop limp and his small raise, he probably had a 10 with a weak kicker. I probably should have just called, in the hopes to extract another bet, if not all his chips. A dangerous play if I allowed him to outdraw me, but with a hand that strong I should have been thinking about how to win more than a grand total of 80 chips with it.

Later on, in the second round, I held Aª/10ª in middle position, and raised to 75 after action was folded to me. The big blind, who re-bought before the tournament started, called.

The flop came A©/9§/6§, and he immediately fired out a bet of 125. This represented less than half his chips but more than half of mine. I could have been ahead at that point, but a lot of hands crushed me (ace with a better kicker, two pair) and some had good draws (ace plus a flush draw). Faced with such a large bet, I gave it up. I probably should have been a little more aggressive in that situation; doubling up would have been very important, and if he did have me beat, I could always re-buy.

Most of the rest of the hands I played were straightforward. Here's a fun one: when the blinds were 15/30, action folded all the way around to the small blind, who went all-in for his final 55 chips. I'm in the big blind for 30, and am facing a bet of 25 into a pot of 85. I can call with virtually any hand, and I look down and see 5ª/3©. I called.

With cards that awful, it was almost certain that I was "drawing live" — that is to say, my cards weren't in common with his, making it so that I was an underdog, but only a 2-1 underdog as opposed to being a 3-1 or 4-1 dog if I were being dominated. My pot odds were better than 3-1, so it was an easy call. He turned over Aª/9©, and though I wasn't proud of it, I busted him with my trashy cards when fourth street paired my 5. (I still should have busted him with my trip-5's earlier; at least that way I would have spared him the ignominy of breaking him with 5/3 offsuit.)

My unluckiest moment came a few hands later. On the button with A§/J©, I raised to 100, and the big blind and the under-the-gun limper, a nice-looking but fierce-playing Asian lady, called. The flop came Aª/10©/Q§, and she put me all-in. It was a trivially easy call at that point, and the big blind called as well. I thought that if I wasn't already beat by A/K or A/Q, then hands like A/10, K/J or Q/10 might have just overtaken me. But the turn K§ gave me Broadway, and thoughts of tripling up danced through my head.

After the BB and the Asian lady checked around, my dreams of tripling up were dashed when the river came J¨. Now we all had the nut straight and a 3-way chop. My profit for the hand was one-third of the small blind: 5 chips. Even worse was that I did have them both beat: the Asian lady had a smaller ace, and the big blind, who played rather donkishly, had K/10.

After the third round came a 10-minute break, wherein any player who wanted an add-on (or two) could stick the requisite amount of money under their stack so the staff could chip them up. In went my fun money, and I went to catch a break. When I returned, the blinds slowly gobbled me up. I tried doubling up with pocket nines, but the early position raiser chickened out. At the 100/200 level, I was down to 375 chips, and went all-in under the gun with Q¨/8¨, figuring Q/7 is the statistical median hand, so Q/8 suited is technically better than average. I got two callers, and dreaded being knocked out by the unspoken "check it down" conspiracy. But the flop came Q§/4©/7©, and the remaining players fought it out, with another winding up all-in. They had A/J and J/10, so I was way ahead. Another Q came on fourth street, leaving them both drawing dead and me tripled up, for real this time.

It was short-lived. Before the blinds could get to me next round, I went all-in from early position with 6¨/6ª. I had a bad feeling about going all-in from such early position, but with the blinds so high and me so short-stacked, it was undoubtably the correct play. The nice Asian lady immediately called. I grimaced. I saw that it was for all but 75 of her chips and winced. I asked her if she had a pair, and when she said "Yeah!" I cringed.

A§/Aª. Try the veal, I'm here all week.

IGHN, placing . . . well, I don't even know where exactly I placed, it was that badly. About 250 players registered, but with all the re-buys and add-ons there was enough money in the pool to send ten players to the $10,000 Final Event.

But that's for the next post.

Given that I put myself in a corner by coming to the tournament short-rolled, I think I acquitted myself fairly well. Next time I won't forget the first two rules.

And don't feel too bad for me; after a quick trip to the nearest ATM I came back, played $4/$8 limit at the regular tables, and made back most of my "fun money."

(Edited 11/12 1:33 AM to add the STB link.)


Location: Mishawaka, Indiana, United States

I graduated with an English degree from the University Of Notre Dame in 2001, and in 2008 I have a day job that has nothing to do with my degree but gets the bills paid in a semi-regular fashion. (I have running water five days a week!) The idea is that once I get turned around on my bills, I go to grad school. I also have an idea for cold fusion. Anyone's guess which will be feasible first. In non-work mode, I'm usually reading columns by famous and well-read thinkers, blogs by critically praised writers, or sometimes blogs by overzealous cranks who make me laugh. I yearn to be all three at once; until then I'll settle for being the third. I also have an undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football. Praise them and I'll buy you a beer; curse them and I'll dump it over your head. If that's not enough, I'm becoming quite the fan of no-limit Texas Hold'em. My games have one of two results: I either win all the money or whine because I didn't win all the money.

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marchand chronicles has such massive readership and influence that it makes me weep.
—Glenn Reynolds


Damn right.


What's Your Line?


I absolutely love the name of your site.

Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson, Power Line
Just the name? Not the content? . . . I'll take it.

You have something in common with Dave Barry, Hemingway, and Mark Steyn: I'm not linking to them, either.


That's good stuff there Mark.

Dean Barnett, Soxblog
Psst, it's "Mike."

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