I played in the $500 monthly NLHE tournament at the Texas Card House again. Let’s look at some hands.
I chipped up some early and was on the button during Level 3 with QQ. I made my standard open raise and the BB, who I knew could be spewy at times, called. The flop was Q73 rainbow. The villian checked to me. My normal play here would be to check back as I am ridiculously far ahead. I knew, however, that this player might see a small bet as a sign of weakness that he could attack. So I bet a bit less than 1/2 pot and, to my delight, he went all in which was about a 4x pot bet. Of course I snap called and got my first big stack going. He showed AQ for top top and so I was super lucky on that cooler.
About an hour later in Level 6 my stack was still above average but not huge. I was in the small blind with 55. Middle position raised and the cutoff reraised. Normally it is raise or fold in the small blind and no way was I going to raise here. However I gave it some extra thought and decided to take the risk of cold calling knowing I would have to fold in the event of another reraise. The Big Blind also called and, fortunately the original raiser just called.
The flop was JJ5 giving me the boat. I checked and it checked around. Of course that is very unusual for a paired board. Maybe my boat was not going to get me any chips after all. The turn was a 7 and I decided to check again. The big blind checked and then the original raiser made a 1/2 pot bet. Almost immediately the hijack went all in. I had him covered a bit and I immediately went all in myself. If he had 77 I was going to kick myself, but no way was I laying down this boat. The big blind, who was also shorter than me, then tanked and eventually called. The original raiser sighed and said “I guess my overpair can’t be good here” and mucked. The hijack showed AJ and the big blind showed J9 and so I was in great shape. I faded the river and tripled up. A pretty amazing hand. It was entirely possible that all four players decided to slow play the flop assuming they were ahead.
Much later we are down to 16 players left. 10 get paid with 10th place getting $1,000 and 1st place getting just over $12,000. I have been amazingly card dead and so only some stealing has kept me in the hunt with 16 BB which was slightly below average. There were 4 tiny stacks but clearly I would need to chip up in order to make the money and give myself a chance to go deep. I am in the Big Blind with the blinds at 2K/4K with a 500 ante.
Middle position player with an average stack opens to 10K. One of the better players in the hijack makes it 30K. This guy has a top 3 stack and has been opening and 3 betting a lot. Still he had AK the last two times that he 3 bet. Still I think he is capable of making a light 3 bet. It folds over to me and I look down at AQ hearts.
Now it seems clear to me that this is a shove or fold situation. I want the original raiser out if possible to improve my equity and then I can hope that I am either flipping against something like JJ or perhaps even leading something like AJs or ATs. But what are the chances I am up against AK? In that case I am in big trouble and cannot expect to get a fold from the big stack. Perhaps being so card dead for the last hour put me on tilt just a bit but I went ahead and shoved. Sure enough the original raiser folded and the villain fairly quickly called with AKs. The board was no help and I was out.
I have not questioned my play very much over the last year. Sure I have played with less than my A game on a couple of nights, but the number of individual hands that I think that I totally butchered have been few and far between. Now this one was close, but in retrospect I think it was wrong. I really didn’t need to take this chance at this point knowing that the chances of being dominated was reasonably strong. With AQs I want to either be the 3 bettor myself or else be up against smaller stacks who would be under a lot more pressure to get out of my way. I have, on occasion, gotten people in this tourney to fold AK pre with a big bet but I don’t think that happens very often. Certainly this villain was good enough and had enough chips to make that call reliably.
At least I went out on an aggressive play. One friend thought my play was obviously correct. I don’t but I will admit it wasn’t horrible. Still I think I should have given this hand additional thought at the table before I pulled the trigger. Maybe I might have done it anyway, but there is also the chance that I could have gotten away from it.