Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My Main Event - Day Four

I had reached the fourth day of a poker tournament just twice before: In 2007 at the EPT in Baden, which was the most important and exciting day of my poker career, and two Februaries ago at the NAPT Venetian where we played down to the final table of eight. Both of those tournaments were deep into the money, whereas in this one, we hadn’t even reached it. 852 players remained with the $19k bubble bursting at 693. As nervous as I was the day before about busting and embarking on a dangerous trip up Mount Rainier, day four was even more nervewracking. After bubbling so many big events in 2010 that I considered naming my book “Life on the Bubble”, it felt like that’s exactly where I was headed once again. The grossest part of it was that I was in exactly the situation I didn’t want to be in heading into day four, beginning the day with an uncomfortable stack of 142k with the blinds at 2000-4000-500.

The second hand of the day I raised AQ under the gun to 9500 and was met by a 3-bet to 25kish from the 850k stack on the button. I had done a little research on this young player, Dan Retallick, who appeared to be an aggressive online player who probably wouldn’t be making any big folds. I ended up folding this hand reluctantly, knowing he could be making a play but not really expecting it two minutes into the day vs a UTG raise.

I have been carefully considering this hand since it went down. Shortly after it happened I was reading Retallick’s twitter and saw that he had nothing that hand, and I was upset at myself for folding. After his 3-bet there is

9 X 500 = 4500 (antes) +

2000 + 4000 = 6000 (blinds) +

9500 (my raise) +

25200 (his reraise) = 45,200 in the pot

If I fold I have 132k, 33 BB, which is fine, but if I shove and he folds I have 177k which sure makes a lot of difference at this point in the tournament. When you factor in his position, his age, his stack, and how often AQ does win against AK, KK, JJ, I convinced myself that folding this hand was a mistake and I should have just taken a risk and piled it.

But then I was reading his twitter a couple days later and realized I misread, that he actually had AK in that hand, and I went back to questioning the whole thing, and really I have no idea what I should have done, though I do think calling the raise is the worst play of the three.

A few hands after that everyone folded to a different kid with a big stack on the button who raised and was called by the older guy in the big blind, who had a ton of chips organized into stacks of ten.

The flop came 744r and the older guy led out. The kid quickly called. The turn was a jack and the older guy checked, then made a 3x raise when the kid bet. Again, he was quickly called. The river was a 9 and the older guy checked again. The kid made a small bet and then, to everyone’s shock, the older guy raised again! The kid quickly called with T4o while the older guy turned over A9o. What a wild hand to see early on Day Four of the Main Event! I think everyone at that moment wondered how in the world that guy had gotten to this point, with a handsome stack to boot.

A few hands later I raised KQo to 9k UTG. When it got to that older guy in late position, he said “raise” and put in 9k, likely never having seen me open the pot. The old guy was forced to make a min-raise to 14k and everyone folded back to me. With 115k in chips I considered shoving but figured he would call spitefully with a lot of weak hands and saw no reason to jeopardize the stack preflop, so I called. The flop came Q74 and I checked it over to the guy, who bet like 18k or something. I tried to look as weak as I could knowing top pair was going to be unfoldable to this guy and then called. The turn was a ten and I checked. The old guy quickly announced all-in, covering me. I called after about fifteen seconds and almost burst out laughing when he turned over the A5 of hearts. Though my tournament could be one card away from coming to a tragic ending, I really found it amusing that this guy had run such a ridiculous all-in bluff with the A5 of hearts on that board just moments after blowing a pile on another comical bluff. No ace on the river and I doubled up to 245k.

The table broke and I was sent to a new table which was filled with young dudes who looked like pros, though I only recognized Justin Zaki a few slots to my left. Most of the players had reship stacks while only Zaki, the young guy to my right, the older guy to his right, and one other Minnesotan across the table had “comfort” stacks as we approached the bubble.

I raised one hand with pocket fours and couldn’t call the BB’s shove.

I raised another hand with pocket sixes from MP and Zaki reraised on the button. Right away I knew three things:

  1. His range was extremely wide
  2. Four-betting was out of the question since it would be so easy for him to 5-bet shove his covering stack and I certainly wasn’t gonna be calling it off with a pair of sixes at this stage.
  3. If I was to flop a set I thought I had a great shot at a double-up. I already had my line planned out: check-call, check-call, check-call. I felt like Zaki would likely keep firing with nothing or a hand he thought was best because of the bubble.

So I called. The flop came A54 and he checked it back, which meant he had something. This hand only would have been interesting if he bet the flop, which would have been more likely to be a bluff.

The turn was a 2 and again it went check-check. I checked the X river to him and he made a bet, which instantly sent my cards into the muck.

The last hand of the level, I raised AK under the gun. Everyone folded to the big stacked young guy in the BB, who called. The flop was 973 and he checked. I made a bet, he raised, and I folded. Since everyone had left the table, he decided to show me he’d flopped a set of sevens.

If I ever had a hand like an overpair in that spot, I would always check back the flop - to avoid busting on the bubble if he did outflop me, and to let him bluff off some chips thinking I had overs.

The bubble was not a pleasant experience. My stack was such that folding every hand would ensure a spot in the money, but also a pretty short stack once there. There wasn’t a whole lot to be done other than sitting back and waiting for it to be over. I did manage to steal one pot raising the 54s in early position but also lost an open on the literal bubble with a random ace when Zaki reraised me. This was basically a pure bubble hand where (once the guy to my right folded UTG) I knew that no one would mess with me EXCEPT for Zaki, who would be smart to reraise me with ATC, so the question was, would he? I thought that he might fold rags so I gave it a shot, and he did show an ace after I showed an ace and folded. That hand inspired some discussion about what hands I should be shoving with after that raise, and what hands he should be calling with – I eventually decided I should be shoving only pocket aces, which means he should only be calling the shove with aces – though you couldn’t fault him for calling with kings.

Right on the bubble the short-stacked but active guy to my left raised UTG and then to everyone’s shock the young and even shorter-stacked player to his left went all-in and then even more shockingly the first guy quickly called. They both turned over pocket kings, then had to wait two minutes for the cameras to come over. Sure enough, the covering stack flopped a backdoor flush draw, but the turn ended the suspense. Personally I thought the first guy should have folded pocket kings since I didn’t see the other guy shoving with worse than kings.

When the bubble finally ended I was down to 112k. Arrangements had been made for shots for the table, which everyone gratefully took once we hit the cash. In the maelstrom that followed, I folded most hands but picked up pocket kings in back to back hands: shoving the first over Zaki’s EP open from the SB (folds), and shoving the second over Zaki’s UTG raise and a call from an older guy in LP. This time the older guy (who had been very active) considered for a minute before laying down.

Shortly after dinner Zaki raised early to something like 14k and the same older guy called. Déjà vu struck as I found pocket kings once again in the small blind and shoved in for 100k more. Zaki folded but the older guy muttered that he was “so tired of it” and called with queen-ten suited! Nothing scary hit the board and I doubled back to 240k.

Less than an orbit later I raised ATs to 14k in early position. The vampiric Max Heinzelmann, who had recently shown up with over a million chips, called from late position. The older guy who had just doubled me up with the QTs called from the BB, but not before some hesitation which hinted that he didn’t have much. The flop came ten-high with two babies and the older guy led for something like 16k. I made it 45k pretty sure I was calling a shove, Heinzelmann folded, and the older guy called. The turn was a 9 and we both checked. The river card was something low and the older guy checked. I fired something like 78k and got looked up by “a worse kicker.” I felt like the really close decision on this hand was whether or not to bet the turn to set up an all-in river bet. There is some chance the ace-ten is no good (especially with the 9 coming on the turn). Checking the turn back ensures I won’t go broke on the hand and also increases the chances I get one more good street of value in. But I really didn’t think I was beat because of the preflop tell, and also thought this guy was tilting and might feel like doubling me up again. All things considered I think I should have bet like 64k on the turn and shoved the river if called again.

The very next hand I raised AK UTG with the guy to my left along with Heinzelmann calling. The kid on the button decided this was a good squeeze spot for some strange reason and did so, but small. I made sure the kid didn’t have me covered and then jammed, and everyone quickly folded. God that is so annoying when you flat a raise with something speculative and then some dumbass behind you ruins the party with an idiotic squeeze that obviously gets shoved on.

Just like that I was up to 430k and the Oasis song “Lyla” which I’ve been listening to at the WSOP since 2005 was going off in my head – “I waited for a thousand years for you to come and blow me out my mind…” My hands were shaking as I stacked the chips.

The old guy who had been my lifeline tilted off the rest of his stack and was replaced by another older guy named Thomas Grey who looked pretty straightforward. He raised a hand from early position and I called a couple behind him with AK. I think Heinzelmann or someone may have called as well. The flop came AK9 rainbow. For the second time and the first since day one I had flopped more than one pair. Grey led out for 20k and I felt like he had a piece. I raised it up to 52k which prompted a fold from the third party and a quick call from Grey. I felt like he probably had AQ or AJ and was looking forward to adding another wing to my growing castle of chips. The turn came a six and I bet 68k after Grey checked. He then raised to 200k and I threw up in my mouth. Suddenly it didn’t feel as much like AQ or AJ. He had another 100k behind which I moved in after a short tank and he called with a matching AK.

Another hand involving Grey came with Andrew Brokos raising early and Grey calling in late position, then calling down three big barrels on a Q55xx board and showing AQ after Brokos collected the pot with KK.

Grey busted my friend Joe calling a raise with Q6o big blind vs small, calling a bet on an 854 flop, then raising the 7 turn and getting it in vs Joe’s J4. I tell that story not to embarrass Joe, a skilled and manipulative player, but to provide context for the hand that ends this long story.

Incredibly my friend Chris Moore was moved in to the seat Joe vacated. Chris (Toph) and I were texting back and forth about the players when it occurred to me that Toph had about the same stack and we could swap some action. Although I generally try to swap a lot of action in the WSOP, I hadn’t asked Toph to swap before the tournament because he is such an incredible player that I believe asking him to swap is simply unfair, especially since he’s such a nice guy he might say yes. But at this point it seemed reasonable, so I asked him how many chips he had and he quickly proposed a 2% swap with more possibly at the end of the day.

I had folded about an hour’s worth of garbage and anted down to 360k when Heinzelmann raised a pot to 18k with Grey calling from the cutoff. I called with 22 from the SB and the BB folded. The door card was a deuce with offsuit 6 and 3 coming behind it. I checked, Heinzelmann checked, and Grey snap-checked. The turn was a ten, a second diamond. Again I checked, Heinzelmann now bet 35k, and Grey immediately slid in a twenty-stack of orange 5k chips making it 100k. I winced and stared at Grey (who had never given off anything physically perceptible), which is something I sometimes do when I have a strong hand but am genuinely concerned. I thought for a while and then shoved about 340k, Heinzelmann quickly folded, Grey called with a set of sixes, and I busted in 408th place for $30,974.

When you bust the Main Event putting the money in behind, inevitably you are going to torment yourself over the fatal hand, wondering if it could have been played any better. I’ve agonized over this one and concluded that my best play on the turn, once I checked it and Grey raised Heinzelmann’s bet, was to fold the hand. My second best option was to call the 100k and see what happened on the river. It was certainly a cooler hand and I would never have been able to get away from it had someone bet the flop, but as played, it was foldable.

Grey is not going to show up with an overpair or two pair in that situation. There are two hands that I wonder about: a flush draw (possibly with a gutshot, possibly with two overs), and a ten. I do not know for certain how he would play a strong flush draw, but my guess is that he would have called. It should also be noted that he instantly raised the bet.

To this day I wonder how he would have played a ten. I truly do not know, but I think there’s around 65% chance he would have just called (the AQ hand vs Brokos suggests this as well) with most tens and maybe even ace-ten. Having done this autopsy, I think a fold was certainly in order. The hands Grey is most likely to have will always call the shove and have me drawing to one out with one to come.

That hand obviously wasn’t the way I wanted my career as a professional poker player to end, but it was a wonderful and thrilling experience to finally make a run in the Main Event – and I will be back to play it again, hopefully every year for the rest of my life.


Blogger Tanuccio said...

Hey man, Tan here, i've always read your posts... never commented tho... but your ME Recap was incredible you must take some long thorough notes


Set over set, so sick


10:09 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Great, great recap, Moon. Really an awesome read.

Oh, and your bustout hand is simply unfoldable for you, you are surely wasting your time acting like you misplayed what was really just terrible luck. In fact, you've convinced yourself now that calling was the best move on the turn, when given the size of the bet, a call isn't even fathomable there. It's push or fold, and really, it's only push and pray. Despite what you've talked yourself into to the contrary, the raiser could have several hands that are behind yours (including several overpairs, two pairs, and flush vs straight draw combinations), and in addition you described him as insta-raising the turn, which is almost never the case when someone is sitting on top set.

I don't agree that obsessing about your friend's ME bustout with AJ vs the KJ on the JJK board is results-based thinking (I've got a post half-written about that one already), but in this case you are most definitely beating yourself up over nothing but sick, sad luck.

7:06 AM  

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