Reality sometime hurts.

Published by Dominique_32Red on

While being here in Las Vegas I realised something that never came to mind before. To be a great tournament player one needs to be prepared to put the tournament on the line many times.

Playing safe in this kind of tourney will only give you the chance to hit the money. If you want to win the whole thing – you need to take a more calculated risk. Sadly as I was cruising my way into day one I didn’t made any of those moves and started day 2 with a little more than average size chips. This was good to start the day with but not enough to survive without stealing some nice pots.

My day 2 started with a pocket jack. I was on the small blind and everyone folded to the button who raised 3 times the big blind. Unsure on his range of opening hand, I decided to raise 2 times to see where I stood. The board was perfect for me as the highest card there was a 10 with no flush or straight draw. The player to my left, Adam Schofield (professional poker player) decided to check the board to me. At this moment loads of things came to my mind. Is he trying to trap me with a higher pocket pair? Did he hit is set on that low board? The only way for me to find out was to fire a pot size bet – so that’s what I did.

He took a good 4 minute think and decided to call. What could he be holding to take so long to make the call I ask myself? Could he be on an Ace ten, Ace king perhaps and hope for an Ace or king on the turn. Or is he thinking of bluffing the turn and trying to steal this pot from me. The turn came and a second 10 came on the board making it scary but I was pretty sure he didn’t have the 10 in his hand – so it was a good card for me. He checked again and I sat there and decided to have another go at the pot. This time since I was pretty sure to be in front I decided to go for some value and shot 4K. He took another five minutes staring at me. He said “you got the 10 Sir”? At this moment I was pretty sure he was holding a better pair then me since the only card he seem scared of was the second 10.

My only option was to either fold or to go in the tank and push him all in for is tournament. The pot already had half my chips in it and at this point I was pretty sure the only way to win the hand would have been to bluff the pot but the river came and a king dropped in the middle. Now he decided to fired a massive value bet and my only option was to either fold or call and most likely being behind. It took me ages but I was unable to fire a third time and mucked my card for the fold. This hand put me on the tilt from the start of the day. 3 hands later the dealer dealt me an 8 and I raised 2 times the blind hoping for a call and a lovely board. The board was indeed good as 994 came. I was in position so my opponent made a continuation bet and I instantly raised. He decided to call. turn was a blank and he checked to me so I bet again. But this is where I made another mistake my bet was to low and he called.

A Jack came on the river and the caller decided to now bet 3000 chips. I thought to myself is he trying to suck me in or is he trying to steal the pot. The bet was not high enough for a bluff but at the same time a bell rang and I was pretty sure I was behind. Anyway I decided to call and he turns Jack 8 suited for the pair of jacks. Unlucky me or maybe I deserved that hand since I played the board poorly.

A few hands later I managed to get pocket queens. This time I was on 24K left and decided that this hand was going to be the one for me. I am on the button and there is one caller and one raiser so I raised 3 times the first raiser. He thinks for a moment and calls me a few second later we are heads up. Now I thought to myself no ace king on this board please and I will push in all of my chips. The flop came Ace 6 deuce. What a horrible board! The caller checked to me so I have to fire a bet to put myself in the hand. I get an instant all in re raise for my tournament. I have no option there as this player obviously has the goods, I was forced to fold and now my 47K was to 18K and this only after an hour and a half.

An hour later as I am not catching any cards in the small blind I get K J. 3 players limped in so I decide to re raised and get 2 calls. The board comes K J 6. This is a pretty nice board for me and I decide to bet into it. The player to my left re -raise my bet and at this time I thought to myself this is now or never! I push all in and he instantly calls me. We are both holding K J but his hand is a little scary. His king jack are suited and even though there is no flush draw yet I can only split the pot or lose it on runner runner flush.

The dealer turns a club and I am thinking that’s it! I guess the river will give him a flush and as I was looking at the river card coming – the 9 of clubs came to fill my opponents flush. That was the end of me and the WSOP.

It has been a great experience but the feeling of leaving the table is unexplainable. Of all the tournaments I have played in, this river will haunt me forever. At least I believe I have played pretty well and I now know how it feels to sit down with some of the best poker players in the business. It is simple – play your game and don’t be scared, give it your best and if you are meant to do well you will, if the cards go the wrong way there will always be another game.

Keep your head up and learn from this experience. I hope everyone of you one day have a chance to go and feel the thrill of the WSOP it is something I have enjoyed and I have learned a lot from.

Till next time people.

Dominique

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2 Comments

Isabel_32Red · July 12, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Well done mate! Sounds like you did a good job there AND you must have had looooots of fun 😉

trickyrock · July 14, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Hey Dom,

Many congrats over in Vegas- it hurts to come kind of close to the money and not make it I know, but I hope you’re really happy with the way things went.

Thanks for letting us know about your experiences, especially in such an honest way. So many interesting hands went down, and there is alot to talk about. This is the case I think in any poker tournament; it hurts a little at first, but it’s great to go back after and think about the hands.

I think the most interesting thing you touched on is the first thing- that to be a great player, you have to be prepared to take a big risk, and to put your life on the line. There are lots of artificial barriers in poker tournaments- making the second day, making the money (sometimes for me making the dinner break!). People concentrate too much on these barriers, and I believe it stops them making the optimal plays.

In this respect, I belive the biggest mistake made by most tournament players is that they put TOO much value on their “tournament life.” Tournaments are not a challenge to survive, they are a challenge to make chips. However, almost every player finds it difficult to make the kind of brave decisions that do risk it all. There are all kinds of emotional factors involved as well- people have travelled a long way and looked forward to the event, it’s embarassing to put yourself out of a tournament on a bluff. Most of all, people just want to play!

The greatest challenge of tournament poker is to put aside all these emotional factors, and just to try to make each time the optimal play. It’s something that I don’t think I’ve managed yet, and something that is especially very tough to do in the World Series Main Event! One lady at our table was faced with an all-in decision in the third levle of play, thought for about three minutes before an eventual call, and turned over aces! Needless to say, her opponent wasn’t too happy, but she just really didn’t want to have the risk of going out!

You have a great philisophy on the game mate, and I’m sure all these things will come together quickly for you. I thought maybe I would comment on a couple of the hands. I’ve written my report as well, and would love you and the readers to leave their comments. Unfortunately, my experinece was not as long, but there were a couple of real toughies for me!

First of all, the exit hand is really unlucky! Nothing you can do obviouisly, to lose to a runner runner flush like that really sucks.

The hand with the jacks against Schoefeld- this is a really tough spot, especially against a world class player. It made me wonder about a technique which I really like when that second ten hits, and is all to do with pot control. When the turn comes a second ten, I think you have a great situation to check behind. It is impossible to know whether you are ahead or not, and a check on the turn effectivaly minimises the damage that this confusion creates.

If he bets on the river, you probably have to call, but will lose only one bet; if he checks the river, you can bet knowing that your hand is good. You have the added advantage that it looks like you’re bluffing, because you have checked the turn. You have misrepresnted your hand, and he may well call you with a weak holding. This check behind uses the great advantage of position, and is something well worth looking out for in a lot of spots.

The great danger in this check behind is that you might give away a free card, and turn your better hand into a losing one. However, in this situation the following is probably true: you are either behind and will remain so unless you hit a miracle 2-outer, or are ahead, and have him drawing to just two outs with one card to come. The other factor is that there is very little chance he is drawing to a hand, as the flop came with no threatening flush or straight draw. All these factors are really worth looking out for; if they are in place, it can be a great idea to make a pot controlling check.

I’m sure you made a good laydown on the end- you did well to resist the temptation to make a crying call, and you left yourself in a good situation in the tournament. I think it’s important not to think at all about bluffing with your hand. I know that it is tempting when it looks you might be behind, because it gives you an opportunity to win the pot regardless of your hand. However, pocket jacks is a really difficult hand top bluff with; whenever you bluff, you always have to think “what hands am I trying to make fold?” and this range is very narrow when you have a strong hand yourself.

For all that the first day went smoothly, the deck was cruel to you on the second day. You did well again to lay down the queens when you got check-rasied on the ace-high board. Too many players sigh, and throw their last few chips in. You gave yourself an opportunity to stay alive.

The only hand in my WSOP experience that I was happy out came when I laid down queens before the flop. I would be interested it if everyone could have a read of my experiences, and let me know their thoughts, in particular about my killer hand!

So, many congrats mate! I hope you really enjoyed the experince, and to make the second day on your first try whilst plaiyng some great poker is a real achievement.

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