So much for Seat 3 of the Protégé contest.

I’m now eliminated from the competition for another seat. Last night was Round 2 in which 400 players were to play down to 40. We had a very crazy night on the home front and I wound up missing the first several hands by arriving a bit late. Worse yet, the stupid full contact download client wasn’t working. It keeps claiming that it can’t apply an update patch or some such nonsense. Their support told me that the whole site was down, which was clearly false since I was logged on using the Java client. They eventually came up with uninstall/reinstall (doesn’t help) and reboot (doesn’t help). So, I resigned myself to playing with the thin client, which means no hand histories.

Anyhow, I fire up the client and the table pops up with a beautiful pair of Kings over my seat on my first hand! I manage to act in time to put in a 3x raise. Since I’ve been “out” until this hand, I hope they might just think I’m a nut and reraise me. Instead, I get four callers which means an Ace is certain to flop. However, the flop is K93 with two diamonds (I have none). It checks to me and I bet half the pot hoping to build a pot and get one caller. The turn is a total brick and I bet half the pot again, since I think I’d like him to call. Even if he has the flush draw, I’m making the price wrong. He does call and I’m left with about 400 chips in my stack. The river completes the flush to my dismay, but he checks to me. He’s actually got me covered by a bit, but I can’t imagine he could check the flush in this situation. I think for a second and decide to push the rest of chips to the middle. Instead of the satisfaction of watching the chips slide to me, my screen goes blank and I get “Attempting to reconnect to server….” My stupid wireless router has gone simple. I curse at technology, my laptop and the dog I don’t have. I scramble over to the router and kick it in the slats and restore access. As I expected, the software timed me out and awarded me the pot, but I missed out on a complete double up. Still, I’ve gone to 2,500 from my initial 1,500 and I’m sitting 10th in Level 1. I go a bit card dead for a while and drift down to 20th or so by the end of the level.

In Level 2, I get a number of decent hands, but the table is playing very much like a typical freeroll with everyone raising and re-rasing pre-flop with marginal hands or making crazy all-in bets on the flop. I don’t want to get in a lot of trouble reraising with AQ or KQs or lose a bunch with a weak pair and I continue to drift down, ending the level at 45th or so without making it past the flop on any hand.

In Level 3, my table continues to be aggressive but I see a flop with a middle pair (77, I think) despite a pre-flop raise. Two people cold-call in front of me and I know there will be at least one behind me. Six of us wind up seeing the Jack high flop where I hit a set. The guy to my immediate right, who is particularly loose and agressive, fires out a ncie bet at the pot on the drawless flop. I decide to just smooth call and see if I can get some more action, but we end up heads-up. He is one of the overall chip leaders at this point. The turn is a brick and he bets about 2/3rds of my remaining stack. I wait a beat or two and push all-in. He insta-calls and turns over KJ for top pair which doesn’t improve on the river and I double up with my set. I’m now around 11th or so in chips.

I then embark on a pretty long dry spell throughout Levels 4 and 5, but I manage to steal a pot here and there and hold my position pretty well to the break. I think I was around 22nd at the break and the field was down under 200.

Level 6 continues the dry spell, but I lose more chips now. I have two quite aggressive big stacks and they either reraise me out of pots pre-flop where I either got caught stealing or don’t want to take a big chance with AJs. I end up down around 40th by the end of the level.

Level 7 was where I made a huge mistake and got sent home. I get the first real hand in quite a while with JJ and the big stack, who is aggressive and loose and not that good, makes a normal raise in front of me. I decide I have enough chips to make a normal re-raise and think I might well fold him anyhow. He calls my re-raise. I don’t remember the exact chip stacks, but I know I still had about twice the size of the pot in my stack. The flop comes down A73r and he makes a probe bet of about half the pot. I have folded to these sorts of bets several times since I joined this table and I think I have a pretty tight table image. I decide that he won’t be able to call me with KK or QQ or AQ and below and I feel sure he didn’t have AK or AA or he would have pushed harder pre-flop. I decide to push all-in and try to bully him out here and now. I’m pretty sure the pot was laying him about 2:1 after I pushed. He thinks for a little while and calls with AT. I don’t hit the miracle Jack and I go home now.

I think I should have known enough about his play to recognize that he wouldn’t fold a weak Ace in this spot. I tend to think about what I would do in a situation and conclude that is what the other guy would do instead of trying to think like he would. I’m quite good at predicting what other players will do in ring games, but I’m just not experienced enough to do that well in tourneys.

In hindsight, I think it was a foolish play anyhow. Even if he lays it down, I haven’t really improved my chip postion all that much. I know that I can often double up when I do hit a big hand and I know he is more likely to have hit the Ace than not. The funny thing is that if he checked to me and I made the probe bet, I would have had no problem laying it down when he check-raised me. This means his probe bet was a great strategy.

We were down to about 100 left and the top 40 go on, so we were approaching the zone where everyone plays very tight. I am sure I could have stolen my way back up once we got to that point if I had folded. When I played the live event at the Bellagio, the slower pace of play made it easier for me to really think through every decision. In these on-line tourneys I think I sometimes decide too hastily. I suspect that if I was smarter about the low-level aspects, I could concentrate more on the other aspects.

Of course, if he had folded and I was well up into the money I would think that this was a great example of my poker instincts and crowing about how I coasted through another event. 🙂

I think it is another example of where I almost get it, but haven’t quite put it all together yet. I’ve been talking to PokerElmo a bit about poker strategy and he’s going to sweat me and give me some pointers at a future tourney. I have a ton of respect for his game and I’m hoping this might elevate my play to the next level.

By Nsidestrate

I'm a hard-core limit ring game poker player who is becoming a degenerate sports bettor. I'm sure it will all make more sense if you read on.