Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thanks to my friend Jim (and his wife Kim) and a group of generous poker players, the kittens and puppies at the Animal Welfare League (Chicago's largest humane society) are about $150 richer.

Last night, Jim hosted a $20 rebuy NLHE tournament, in which a portion of the proceeds was to be donated to the AWL. 12 players came out to play for the puppies and kittens, including Randy and I.

We started out 6-handed at two tables. I bought in for $40 (the $20 buy in and an insta-rebuy). I later took the $20 add-on as well. I knew Randy and Kim at my table, but the two other guys and girl were new to me. The guys were from a game Jim had recently played in, and the girl was the girlfriend of a friend of Jim's. (Look at me, forgetting everybody's names already! I didn't bring my notebook, as you can see). The girl was a bit new to poker, which was fine as we helped her along with the betting options and whatnot. The two guys seemed to know how to play.

I was getting good starting hands early on. On one hand, I tangled with the new guy across the table from me. I had QQ and raised it 4x the big blind preflop. He called my raise, and led out betting into me on a flop full of rags. I raised him back, and he called. On the turn (another blank - uncoordinated board of low cards), he bet into me again - way too small for a pot of that size. Now I was fearing that I'd run into a sneaky set or some bullshit two pair. I called. The river was another blank, and I can't remember if he bet or if we went check-check. Either way, I turned up my QQ. He had JJ. Yowza! Nice pot for me, but it tipped me off to the scent that this kid wasn't too keen on choosing bet sizes. At that point, I thought maybe he wasn't as experienced as I'd initially thought.

I had QQ a couple more times - getting cracked off once by the girl at the end of the table, who called my bets down all the way only to flip up her hand at the end saying, "I've got nothing!" Turns out, though, she had A8o and spiked the Ace on the river. Ship it... away.

Kim made a very nice laydown against me (grumble grumble grumble!) when I flat called her preflop raise with KK and flopped a set of Kings on an A-K-x board. Again, my recollection is sketchy, but I think she bet out and I raised her. She laid down top pair with AQ. Eeeep! Good lay down, girl. (grumble grumble grumble!)

Randy picked me off once, raising my bet on the come with a flush draw. I called him a dirty word. (Gotta remember my PG rating here, heh). I don't really think Randy is a (insert dirty word here). It's just fun to do some verbal jousting. We've known each other long enough to get away with it.

My big question mark hand was one against Ed. I lost a good half of my stack on it at a rather crucial time in the tournament. We'd made it to the final table with only a few spots left to the money (top 3 places paid). Ed had just run into a messy hand, and the table was crying tilt on him. I raised preflop in position with a ragged Ace. Ed called. I flopped top pair top kicker on a low-card board and bet about half the pot. Ed raised half my remaining stack worth. Ed had been in the small blind. Was he tilting? Or did he catch with some dumbass two pair or set? Or was he holding a small overpair to the board - 10-10 maybe? Anything was possible, considering 1) Ed is generally a blind defender, 2) Ed was in the SB, 3) Ed called a preflop raise (probably 4xBB - that was my norm last night), 4) Ed very well could have been tilting from the previous hand (it has been known to happen).

The old mantra, "don't go broke with top pair" echoed through my head as I considered my options. Calling wasn't really an option. It was push or fold, considering that a call would overly commit me to the pot, and a fold would leave me with about 10BB - not the best situation but not dead yet.

I folded, a bit disgusted with the whole hand.

Ed seemed shocked that I laid down top pair - I'm not sure if because he was surprised at it as a good laydown, or if because he was surprised at it as it was a tight laydown since he was just testing out his Ace high. He said that he absolutely was not tilting, but whether or not that means he actually had a hand - well, I guess I'll never know.

I'm thinking he had 10's or Jacks. Something like that.

With that vanished half my stack, which put me pretty much in push-or-fold mode.

I ran into a hand vs. Jim and the new guy I'd clashed with earlier. With A9 I flopped top pair 9's. Jim bet out and the other guy called his bet. I was inclined to raise, but even a minimum raise would commit half of my remaining stack, so I pushed all in. Jim pretty much insta-called with his nut flush draw, and the other guy called as well. (I don't remember what he had, but in a whole lot of cases it turned out to be... nothing). My top pair held up.

Randy and I discussed that hand on the way home. Jim cited his implied odds as his reason for calling my all-in raise. Since the other guy initially called Jim's bet, it was likely that he'd also call my all-in, so in terms of the odds of winning the hand vs the money odds the pot was laying, it was statistically the correct call with 2 cards to come. However, at this point we were out of the rebuy period, and losing that pot would severely cripple Jim's stack.

I concluded that implied odds lose their importance when the losing end of the proposition puts your tournament life at stake. Implied odds can definitely swing your decisions in a cash game or during a rebuy period in a tournament, when you have the option to buy back in if luck doesn't swing your way. But when your tournament life is on the line, and you are not yet in the money, I think that choosing to play a speculative hand based on the implied odds of winning is not the best move. In a cash game or during a rebuy period, I'd make the same move Jim did all day long, but in a tournament where losing the gamble basically costs your tournament life, I think I'd lay it down.

Then again, you can always live by the philosophy of, "I'm playing to win - not just to make the money" - in which case, my laydown there is too conservative.

But that's me :)

I ended up busting out in 3rd place - just making the money. Ed and Randy played one hand heads up, which I dealt - AJ vs AK. (Yes, I rule - here's to quick heads-up finishes!) Ed's AJ didn't improve and Randy took down 1st place.

Congrats to both Randy and Ed for a great game, and huge thanks to Jim and Kim for hosting the game for a charity that is near and dear to my heart!


  1. **JZ** said...
    You said it best yourself, especially when only three places pay. If I'm playing in the Sunday Million on PStars and I'm near the bubble, I'm bailing out (probably not even leading out post-flop hoping hard for a free or cheap look at the turn before being forced to a decision). But in a small game like Saturday's, I'm gonna look for the knockout punch and play the odds.

    Thanks again for coming out. I'll be in contact with the AWL tomorrow to see how they can best use our donation. I was looking at their website to see if there was something specific they were looking for. It looks like they prefer cash donations but Kim's kinda hung up on bringing in food and materials for the animals. It's kinda like the whole B-Day gift dilemma for someone you're not super close to. Do you just stick some green in a card or take a chance at buying a gift you hope they can get some use out of? I'll keep ya posted!
    Shelly said...
    It would definitely feel more fun walking in with a bunch of presents for the animals :) Usually they have a list of their most needed stuff. Whichever way it works out, they'll get stuff that they need and that's always a good thing! Thanks for hosting!

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