Event 6 recap (or “I refuse to dwell on bad beat stories”)
The one constant of playing in the WSOP is the buzzing of bad beat stories in the air. As you walk from the room where the main tourneys are held, you hear everyone in a one mile radius telling the story of how they fared badly at the hands of a less-skilled player. No one ever loses because they were an idiot and no one who is listening to the story really cares about the details. The other thing is that at the start of the hand each player had a different amount of chips. If you were the player with more chips, then there is no outcome that can result in you going home as a result of that particular bad beat. Much of the edge in skill is the accumulation of chips so that you can survive bad beats and inflict bad beats of your own. So you should always ask yourself if the fact that you were eliminated was due to your failure to accumulate enough chips earlier.
I started off on an amazing run of cards. In the first level I seemed to hit every hand I played. In very short order I increased my chip stack from 3,000 to over 5,000 chips. Most of it was because I got lucky, although some of it was that the table was playing a bit meekly which allowed me to capture many pots I didn’t deserve with sheer aggression. Poker players can always find something to complain about — if you don’t catch any hands in the early going, you complain that your chip stack dwindled to nothing before you had a chance to really play poker. If you catch a bunch of hands, you complain that you didn’t catch them later when you could really accumulate a ton of chips.
Now poker is a game that is played on many levels. Some players don’t participate in all the levels, but they are there. There is the math of the game — what are the odds that my hand is best and what are the odds that my hand could pass a better hand and so forth. Then there is the multi-level psychological aspect of the game. It starts with “What do I have?” then goes to “What does HE have?” then “What does he THINK I have?” and then “What does he think I think he has?” and so on. A critical component of this psychological game is your image. If you are a little old man who hasn’t played a single pot in an hour, when you raise, people will assume you have a very good hand. They might still call you at first, but they will be looking to spike a hand that can beat a big pair. If you have proven yourself to be an idiot, loads of people will try to call you. You always have to be conscious of the shifting sands of what they think of you.
By the second level of the tourney, they thought I was insanely aggressive and that I must certainly be a habitual bluffer. You could see it in their eyes. They were taking a longer time to fold when I bet and you could see frustration as they thought “I wish I could get something to play back at him.” A good player recognizes this and adjusts accordingly. I had resolved to stop bluffing and to play more cautiously since I already had accumulated a nice stack. To my utter delight, I found two red Kings in early position and raised it up. My image now destroyed, I got a call and a call and three bet! Better still, another guy called all three bets. Of course, I raised again and built an enormous pot for five players for four bets. The flop came down KT4, which was the fabulous circumstance I was hoping for. Because they don’t believe me, I still fired a bet (for a player like me to check would be insane) and there were a fold or two and the player who initially re-raised me raised again. This is good since that must mean a strong hand that she will pay me off with. One player called both bets, I made it three bets and everyone called. They can’t be too sure about me, because I could have AA or AK and really like my hand as well as KK. The turn was a Jack and I bet and the pre-flop raiser raised me yet again! I’m ready to go to war with her when the other guy, who had initially just been calling made it three bets. I think for a second or two, but decide more raising would be foolish. One of them could well have the broadway straight with AQ. If the board pairs, I can go nuts, but not now. There is a slim chance that someone has two pairs or all three of us have sets, but there is also a good chance I’m losing. The river is a blank and it goes check/check/bet/call/call. The guy who came alive on the turn had turned the nut straight, the other lady held TT. If only the board had paired, I would have busted her. This hand was so massive that I was back to nearly my starting stack. Having accumulated chips early put me in shape to withstand the loss, but had I won that hand, I would have a truly massive stack that would have allowed me to really put the screws to the rest of the table. *sigh*
The rest of the story isn’t much more interesting. The only two significant hands I played before my last hand were hands where I held a dominating Ace but the other player got lucky AK v A3 and AT vs A7. Left short-stacked I knew that I would soon be forced to play a hand for all of my chips and I found it with KJs on a flop of QT5. An open-ended straight draw that turned a pair was not good enough to beat AA and I was eliminated.
I really felt that I played great poker, so I wasn’t upset at all. Obviously, I wish it turned out better, but these things are going to happen sometimes. You have to play a lot of tourneys to get to your true long-run results and I still think I’m a favorite against these fields, but I haven’t done much to prove it yet. I’m heading for another event in an hour or so — hopefully this one will do the trick.
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