Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

July 13, 2006

So Close, Part Two

Last night I should have won a $370 seat in the PokerStars 150 Seat Guaranteed tournament for the WSOP main event. I literally played the best poker of my life in this game. It was a 700 FPP rebuy tournament where a seat was offered for every 23000 points. I had 731 FPP points prior to this tournament. So I bought in, knowing I couldn't rebuy and knowing that I was going to get called down by less than stellar hands for the first hour in the hopes that they would double up.

I made it through the first hour pretty easily, doubling up my original buy in with two pair vs an opponent's top pair and open ended straight draw. After the rebuy/addon period, we got down to the real game. I had a fairly short stack compared to everyone else who had a million FPPs to rebuy with at the beginning, but I held on. I tripled up when my AA held over QQ and some other guy's hand (he folded when the other caller pushed on the flop of 662).

From then on, I was mostly card dead. However, I had a great read on the players at all of the tables I played. I knew who I could steal from and who I couldn't, and I was able to stay alive. I made what I think was a good call when some guy pushed over the top of me after I raised with KQo from the cutoff. I had stolen from there a few times before, and my read was that he was sick of it and didn't really want a call. I called, and my KQ won the race against 33. This was the only race I was involved in during the entire tournament.

About 170 players registered for this tournament initially, and when it got down to the final 30 or so, things started to tighten up a lot. Fourteen places paid, with 9 through 14 getting FPP points.

It was at this point that I made a poor call. I had A3o in the BB, and there was a limper and caller in front of me. I checked, and the flop came down Axx, rainbow. I checked, and the initial limper bet out. The caller folded, and I decided to raise. He thought for a minute and then pushed. I had him covered, and I thought about it for a while. Would he really have limped with an ace? I can't put him on AA here, and I doubted he had a set. I ended up calling, and he turned over AJ.

That cost me dearly and put me at the bottom of the ladder. I doubled up my next hand after it folded around to me in the SB, and I pushed with K7h. It held up against T8o. I was in 23rd of 27 at this point, but I wasn't really worried. I knew I was in the zone. About ten or fifteen minutes later, my wife looked over at my screen. "Hey, how'd you get in second place?"

I looked over at the tournament window. How did I get in second place? I had seen maybe one or two flops since I doubled up, but nothing big. That's when it dawned on me: I had stolen my way to second place. The table had become extremely tight near the bubble, and the few hands I had shown had either won big pots or busted people out. (Ironically, the guy with AJ that I lost to when I had A3 lost the same hand in reverse. I took him out a few hands after that when he pushed with 45s.) It was to the point where no one wanted to call my raises.

I was right where I wanted to be.

With this new chip status in hand, I made it down to the final twelve. I had dropped to about 7th in chips, but at this point, the blinds and antes were enough to move you up and down a couple of places on the ladder. I woke up with QQ UTG+1. The aggressive big stack UTG raised it up 3x. I reraised it to 15x total. The guy behind me pushes for his whole stack, which wasn't a whole lot more than what I raised. I had him covered by about 6000 or so. The original raiser calls, and I do too. (I'm pretty sure I thought I was going to be all in, otherwise, I would have pushed here.) The flop comes 89J rainbow, and the big stack checks. I insta-push my measly 6000, and he folds.

It's down to me and the guy to my left, and he flips over his dominated AQo. I'm two cards away from moving into a HUGE chip lead and a guaranteed $370 seat.

The turn is a blank.

At the time, I thought he was drawing dead to a tie; my mind just didn't register that one overcard for some reason. I was sure I was going to win. When that ace came on the river, I didn't even realize I had lost until my wife said, "No ace!"

And that's when it hit me. For the second time in as many days, PokerStars had pulled back with all it's might and delivered the massive three-outer kick straight to my junk, right when I was about to move into a great chiplead, and right when I was about to hit the major prizes. It happened in the WWdN, and now it happened again.

And you know what? I don't even care that I didn't win the seat. I would probably have unregistered and just sold the W$ anyway. I wouldn't be able to make it to Vegas this year. What really pisses me off is PokerStars' unflinching consistency in bad beating me out of tournaments right in the spot that matters most. I can take the bad beat in the first hour, maybe even two hours of play, and shrug it off with "That's Poker."

But after investing almost four hours, playing the best poker of my life, coming within inches of the big prize, and going into the hand as a HUGE favorite in a situation that, if I win, will let me coast the rest of the way to the finish line...

I mean, what the hell?


  • with skill over time, you win those hands.

    with one tournament, it's about getting some luck along the way.....

    Well done to get as far as you did, and sorry you didn't get your W$.....

    By Blogger jjok, at 7/13/2006 11:40 AM  

  • "I had stolen my way to second place."

    I know what you mean. This happens so often in late-stage SNGs: you're the short stack, and after a few uncalled pushes trying to keep up with the blinds, you're suddenly chipleader without even realizing it.

    Unfortunately, the "don't look down" advice applies here; if you think of yourself as chipleader, you might naturally tighten up a bit, and that's deadly. In actuality, only a starting pot or two might separate chipleader from last place, and you have to keep up the aggression to avoid falling right back where you were before.

    I think this is why some people call turbo SNGs luckfests. :)

    By Blogger Sowbug, at 7/13/2006 3:26 PM  

  • that kind of finish has happened to me so many times at the freakin site. i've come to expect it.

    if it weren't for the WSOP satellites and blogger tourneys, i wouldn't play a single hand there.

    By Blogger smokkee, at 7/13/2006 5:30 PM  

  • Good job getting deep into the tournament. The more times you do this the more real experience you get. Sucks that you lost when you had the other guy dominated, but I would say you gained a lot with the experience of playing situations like that. The more you get into situations like that the more you will start to dominate later in tournaments when it really matters.

    By Blogger Nick Christy, at 7/13/2006 8:53 PM  

  • Way to play Matt - completely sucks that you went out like that, but try and look at your play overall in the tournament as something to build on.

    By Blogger Garthmeister J., at 7/14/2006 12:58 PM  

  • "....if only you had......."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/15/2006 6:43 PM  

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