Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I was absolutely amazed that we got four full tables going for the $110 NLHE tourney. We have sometimes been as low as only 11 players. This was our biggest crowd, to date, if my memory serves me correctly.

I was given table one, the wild, maniacal locals table. I almost changed cards, but then I thought better of it.

After last night's disappointing finish, I started picking apart my NLHE tourney game at the Belle. I figured out that I'd been making a huge, fundamental error.

Several months ago I'd come up with the optimal strategy for this tourney. It was a good one. I had a high EV for these tourneys, and had become a powerful force at the Belle. But time changes things. The locals had become used to my style. They had adjusted. I hadn't. I was still playing the same "optimal" strategy, which wasn't so optimal anymore, lol. Basically I was only getting called by locals when they could beat me, or has a good chance of it. Only the tourists made bad plays against me. I wasn't doubling up anymore, I wasn't getting any action.

So I picked apart everything about my play, regrouped, and came up with a different strategy. What better way to test it than table one? Table one, the local, crazy table.

Away we went. I was in seat two, and things started to click. I played more hands; drawing hands when I could see the flop for one bet during the limit portion of the tourney. I played T9s on the button (normally a hand I would toss without hesitation). I flopped open ended. Everyone was scared to bet into me. I made the nut straight on the turn, with a four flush. No one put me on T9s.

I kept up this change for the first hour. I limped more often than I have ever limped in these tourneys. The locals kept looking at me strangely. They know I raise or fold, so what was I doing??? They were all off of their game, and playing very warily.

I must admit, at this time, that I was getting more than my fair share of pairs, good aces, drawing hands and flops that fit perfectly. It is easy to fall into a routine of saying that I was playing perfectly, and outplaying everyone. That is not necessarily the case. Although I had changed my style of play, I was also hitting very well. Only one of my river hands got cracked, 99, which is marginal to begin with.

Not long into the NLHE portion of the tourney, our table broke up. I was given seat two at my new table. There were a few locals there, mixed with some tourists, as well.

I started to go a little card cold, but I was okay in chips, due to the earlier wins. Then something extraordinary happened at my table. Here is a ruling that needs a thinking cap:

The SB was in seat one. I was the BB in seat two. The player UTG limped in for 400. It was passed around to the ten seat, who raised to 1200. Seat one mucked, I mucked. UTG had his cards in one hand, and with the other hand reached for his chips to call the raise. He had seat ten outchipped about 4:1. As he was cutting his chips to call the raise, suddenly seat ten mucked his hole cards, face up, into the middle of the table. He had pocket queens. The UTG player, with the chips in his hand calling the raise asked, "What are you doing???" I explained to the UTG player that seat ten had just mucked his hand, face up, and that his hand was dead. UTG looked perplexed by this, but shrugged and said, "Oh, okay." He mucked his hand and took back the 800 call. The dealer started pushing the pot towards seat ten!!! I immediately protested.

April came to the table, and we explained the situation. No one was telling the entire story, save me, that UTG had called the raise BEFORE seat ten mucked face up. She ruled that the pot should go to seat ten (???). I told her that the ruling was a horrible one. Why should UTG not only lose the hand, but then be further punished by losing the 400 limp, when HE did nothing wrong? Granted, he should never have released his cards, but still, we all assumed the hand was over, seat ten forfeited any right to the pot.

This was clearly a horrible decision, and since the Belle follows the TDA rules almost completely, this should never have been such an issue.

April defended her decision and dug herself in deeper by saying that, "The ten seat had pocket queens and probably would have won anyway, so UTG saved some chips." What COULD have happened is of no consequence. UTG clearly called the raise. The ten seat forfeited all rights to the pot by mucking his queens, face up, into the center of the table.


Using my new strategy, I found AJo in the BB when we were shorthanded at two tables remaining. The button raised my blind 3x. I normally would have shoved all-in, in this spot, but here I was, trying to get some equity out of the hand. I simply called.

The board came all rags and the button bet enough to put me all-in. I sensed extreme weakness, and a desire to steal. I called. Sure enough, he had A8o. I doubled through.

Soon we were at the final table. I was seated to the immediate left of the chip lead. What a great draw.

The players were a little more aggressive than most final tables, so they were falling left and right. I mostly sat out of hands, watching them bust themselves as I moved up in position.

Getting a little blinded down, I waited for a couple of spots to steal. This successfully occurred when the chip lead had released his hand prior to me, lol.

In one memorable hand, I was the SB with A2s. The BB was all-in for the complete blind. An EP player limped. The flop was jack high, and I paired my deuce. The limper bet out. I put him on a jack and released. He turned up his cards to reveal K5s!!! He bluffed into a dry side pot! I wanted to strangle him. The turn brought an ace, which would have given me two pair. Fortunately the river was a king and he got lucky, instead of the BB. The table started yelling at him, putting him down for that play. He kept defending himself by saying he put me off the best hand, and he wanted to get HU with the blind. There was NO side pot to win, you idiot! I kept my mouth closed, except to answer in agreement to the chip lead, who was asking me about the hand, and chastising the bluffer.

The chip lead was raising about 50% of the hands he was dealt, and playing well. He had more chips than the rest of us combined. I have never seen him before, but he knew proper tourney strategy. He raised my blind once. I saw A9s and moved in, as I was getting blinded away, by this time.

He had QQ, ouch! I was almost getting ready to leave, as the flop and turn brought me no ace, but then I sucked out when the ace hit the river and settled back in.

Once we were down to five, I made a move UTG. I had 88, and went all-in for 5500 in chips. I guess I shouldn't have raised quite so much, because the chip lead, to my right, was the one of the only two who could bust me, and he woke up with TT. Bah! So much for my new and improved strategy, lol!

I went home in 5th place, $190 richer, lol. Hopefully wiser? We will see next week.