All the poker greats say it: Sometimes you can play the perfect poker game, and still lose.
When will I win the big prize?
I may not have played perfect poker last week, but feel like I played my best poker out of the six tournaments I have played at the National Capital Poker Tour. But I ended up finishing sixth, out of the money.
Despite not winning anything, I am still pleased with my play. I made good reads, but still ended up playing most of the night shortstacked.
Here are some of the hands I was involved in, plus some other plays that happened at the poker tournament.
Very first hand of the night, blinds are 25/50 cents. I’m dealt pocket kings. Perfect. Second best starting hand you could have. I figure this is a good opportunity to start the night on a strong foot. So I raise about three times the blinds. Paul, the guy who won last month, calls. Then Jason re-raises.
Now, to say Jason is a loose player is like saying Daniel Negreanu likes to talk at the table. Jason plays a lot of hands. His range is pretty much anything from 7-2 offsuit to pocket aces. So I decide to re-re-raise. I’ve even contemplating all-in if he raised again. Paul folds. Jason calls.
Flop shows A-garbage-garbage. I want to see where I stand. So I raise about four dollars, hoping Jason has a pocket pair and will fold if I’m representing the ace. Jason calls. Despite his loose play, I know he has the ace now, probably with a high kicker since he re-raised. I’m actually guessing AK at this point. I am not putting any more money into this pot unless a king pops up.
Turn comes more garbage. I check, Jason checks. River comes more garbage. I check. Jason raises a small amount, and I fold, showing the pocket kings. Jason shows AT offsuit.
Later on, someone mentioned to me that I played that hand really well, and to fold the kings was a great move.
Preflop, I’m favoured to win that hand a little more than 71% of the time.
At this point, one hand into the game, I know it’s not going to be my night.
Paul, on the other hand, was dominating early. He picked up a lot of monster preflop hands, and was hitting flops. He was dismantling everyone at the table, and it was getting to the point that it was almost better to stay out of his way. For a while, anyways.
For me, I didn’t pick up a lot of great hands. When I did, and raised preflop, most people folded. Anytime I was in on the action, I would hit nothing on the flop. Not good.
Eventually, it led to…
A guy I don’t know was first to act, and he raised four times the blinds. He had played some pots, but I didn’t really know his style too much. I looked down at my hand, and it was pocket 9s.
Phil Ivey likes the way I play shortstacked.
I debated what to do for a minute. I know he had a high pair, or an A-high kicker, since he raised so much in early position. Any type of ace, and I’m a small favourite to win. And type of pair higher than mine, I’m an 80-20 underdog. I knew I couldn’t just call. It was either all in or fold.
I decide on all-in.
The other guy actually debates for a little bit. At this point, he must think I have a monster hand. He showed the cards to his neighbour, and still debated. He finally decides to call, and he has QQ. He must have thought I had KK or something. Anyways, I’m a major dog, and I lose of course.
I decide to rebuy.
Paul at this point is starting to have his amazing good luck turn into major bad luck. He’s starting to lose races that he was winning before. At one point, Mike was shortstacked, but he doubled up a few times.
They were involved in a massive pot where Mike’s AK took out Paul’s AQ when an ace came on the flop.
As for me, I never saw a lot of action. I don’t think I went to the river at any point since the rebuy. Although I did win a few hands, I was starting to get down in chips.
But then there’s a major hand.
Important to note: Right before this hand, I raised four times the blinds with QQ, but there were no callers.
For this hand, I looked down at JJ, and again raised four times the blinds. My luck must be changing, to get back-to-back high pairs.
Mike called. The flop came K, Q, garbage. Mike checks, I check behind. I don’t like playing JJ when there’s two overcards. Even an all-in by me would probably be called if he’s holding a queen.
The turn came garbage as well. Mike thinks about it, and checks. I check again.
The river shows a four. Mike makes a bet. I fold, showing the jacks, knowing I’m beat by something. Mike shows his hand, which was 44, giving him a set on the river. Sigh. I lose again.
Preflop, my odds to win this pot was 80-20. After the turn, I was a 95 to 5 favourite.
I become shortstack with about 13 people still in the tourney, but just like last month, I somehow manage to stay in the game.
Eventually, the two tables merge into one. I draw card number 9, which is actually the last and the best for my situation. I’ll be the last one to be hit with a big blind, which means there should be a lot of action before I need to play a hand.
Plus, the guy on my right, Chris, is just as shortstacked as me. To the left of him is Paul, who is pretty much tied with Chris. I think $4 was the difference between all three of us. For me, this is good because if one of them moves all-in, I don’t need to worry about whether to move in with my hand, as it would have to be a monster hand for me to call.
Chris starts going all-in quite a few times. But he’s getting good hands, and doubles up at least twice, possibly three times. Paul isn’t as lucky, and is soon eliminated.
I keep getting garbage, which is frustrating since it limits my double-up opportunites. At one point, I’m in the small blind, and everyone folds. I even joke that maybe I should move in without even looking at my hand. I decide to look anyways, and see 9-4 offsuit. I fold. Dom, the guy on my right in the big blind, shows TT. So it was a good fold.
The next hand was the key one.
The blinds are something like $6-$12. I have $16 in chips. Chris calls. I look down at AJ offsuit. I raise all-in. Not a huge raise. Dom, in the small blind calls. My buddy Matt, in the big blind, calls. Chris, needing to only put in $4, also calls.
You can't tell, but Maria Ho is saddened that I lost to two 7-2 offsuits while holding A-J.
This was crucial. I’m either out, or I quadruple up. I need a win.
I don’t remember the exact cards the rest of the way, so I’ll make up the ones I don’t know, but it was something like 9-2-6. Obviously, everyone checks, as they want to eliminate me. The turn shows a Q. All checks. The river is a 4. All checks.
Matt and Dom both turn over 7-2 offsuit, giving each of them a pair of twos. Chris has a 10 high (I forget the other card), no pair. Obviously, I have no pair.
So I lose to 7-2 offsuit. Matt and Dom are so excited, they high-five each other over my elimination.
Before the hand, I was favoured to win more than 53% of the time against all three opponents, and about 75% of the time against two sets of 7-2 offsuit.
So I’m out. I finish in sixth place. The top four pay.
Matt finishes fifth. That’s a good sign of karma for celebrating eliminating me with 7-2. Dom comes third.
By the way, Mike won the tournament, beating out Chris at the end. Interesting that the two of them were heads up, considering they were both major shortstacks at various stages.
As for me, what else could I do? Of my biggest hands, I lost most of them when I was favoured to win preflop by quite a bit. I think I played the KK properly. For the JJ, maybe I should have bet on the flop or turn, but with two overcards, I didn’t like my odds. The pair of nines was a bad move, but it almost paid off if the other guy folded. And I went all in with AJ which was the best hand.
On three of those four pivotal hands, I was a preflop favourite by at least 70 per cent. Yet, I lost all four of those hands.
I did actually steal a few pots. And obviously I won some hands, or else I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I did. If I had won three of those hands I mentioned above, it may have been a better night. But that’s the way the cards fall sometimes.
Hopefully, my luck will turn around at the next tourney.