Toto HK – Event #3 – just a bit delayed
Yeah, I know, I should have written about this several days ago. But I fell off the wagon. I think I ended my writing streak at nine days in a row. Not too bad – let’s see if I can break that record.
So coming off a disappointing performance in the $1000 event, I was determined to play better in Event 3. And I did. 540 players put up the $550 for a chance to beat the field and win around $75k. 53 other places would pay as well. We started out with 2000 chips, with blinds at 25/25 and 50 minute levels. The day started out great – in the second hand, I flopped a set of 9’s. I didn’t bust anybody, but I took a decent pot. More importantly, I felt like it was a good omen. I only played one other significant pot the first level, when I had K-K and a player moved all-in after my raise with AQ suited. My hand held up, and at the end of level one, I had 3300 chips, well above average, but nothing to get excited about.
I had three interesting hands in level two (25/50 blinds), all involving pocket queens (the Hilton sisters, Sigfried and Roy, Venus and Serena, hmm what else – I think I’ve even heard them referred to as the Gabor sisters). Twice I had them, and the other time I was up against them. So the first one I was in the big blind. The player under the gun min raised to 100. Everyone else folded, and I re-raised to 300, and he called. Now I don’t like the min raise under the gun, but he definitely didn’t seem too comfortable with his hand, so I didn’t think he was slow playing something big. The flop came out T-9-6. I led out with a bet of 400 and he called. Hmmm, AT? JT? QJ? KQ? Actually, that’s probably what it is, KQ. If he has a set, I’m in big trouble, but I’ll take that chance. The turn card was a 5, no help to either of us, regardless of what he had. I decided to play it coy, acting as if I had A-K and missed, but planning a check-raise. I checked, and he bet 600. I thought about it for a little bit before moving all-in (he only had about 1000 behind him). He agonized over it for a long time before finally folding, saying he had A-T. Not so sure I believe that – he probably would have called having invested over half of his stack already if he had top pair. Either way, he gave me 1300 chips. The next Q-Q hand wasn’t as fortunate. The player under the gun moved all-in for 500. Then a player in middle position says, “Tell him his ass got called” in a Mississippi drawl. The table busted out laughing, but meanwhile, I’m on the button and look down at Q-Q. I didn’t think the caller was too strong, but if he was, he only had about 1300 left. I raised it up to 1500. The blinds folded, and the caller thought about it for awhile before finally saying, “I hope you have a big pair” and folding. The all-in guy turned over his cards – K-K – doh. The caller said he had T-T and was visibly upset when the flop came out ten high. Well, nothing on the board helped me, and I took a small hit to my stack. He had one of the two hands that beat me – oh well. Next hand, I was in the big blind with Ad-7d facing a button raise to 150 and called. The flop came out A-9-9 with two spades. I wanted to get aggressive here. He had less chips than me and even if he had an ace he had to wonder if if I was splashing around with something like J-9 or T-9. So I checked, and he bet 300. I raised to 900, and he definitely wasn’t too happy about it. He thought about it for awhile before moving all-in for only 600 more to me. Toto HK – I didn’t think I was ahead at that point but still had to call, and he surprisingly turned over Q-Q. Huh? I guess he thought I was on a bluff or semi-bluff with spades. No help came for him, and at the end of level two, I had a pretty good stack of 5250.
The next couple of levels weren’t nearly as good as the first two. My cards were going cold at a less than optimal time. I tried to stay afloat by picking my spots to be aggressive, but I was definitely going slowly in reverse. I also tried to take some chances at flopping sets, but none hit. At the end of level three, I was down to 4200, and at the end of level four, I was down to 3800. Not good, but not horrible either. Level five would be 100/200 with a 25 ante (550 per orbit), then level six would be 200/400 with a 50 ante (1100 per orbit), so I wasn’t extremely short stacked, but I definitely needed to make a move. Unfortunately, level five didn’t really go anywhere. I went all-in a couple times, but was only able to pick up the blinds and antes (which I definitely needed to do to stay in it).
But then I was able to make a big move in level six. I was down to about 2500 chips. Facing an early raise, I was in the small blind and looked down at 8-8. I thought about it for awhile before finally deciding it was time to take a chance and moved all-in. I was probably facing a race situation, and sure enough the raiser had Ks-9s. I was barely favored. Luckily for me, I won and doubled up to around 5800. Back in business. I won a few more hands, mostly just picking up the blinds and antes. Then I had T-T in early position and raised to 1300. A guy who recently took a hit to his stack by making a boneheaded call moved all-in for about 4200 more. Then another guy looked at his hand and thought about it for a long time before finally folding. Now, I knew it was possible that I could have been facing J-J, Q-Q, K-K, or A-A, but against this guy, I could have been facing a variety of lesser hands as well. I figured that the guy who ended up folding probably had A-K, and the all-in guy had something similar, so even though I was probably facing two overcards, some of his outs would be in the muck. So I decided to call, and he turned over A-9. Not exactly what I expected, but alrighty. The guy who folded said he had J-J, so I was wrong about that too. Oh well – it turned out for the best – my opponent didn’t catch his ace, and all of a sudden I went to the break extremely healthy with about 12,500 chips with about 130 players left and the average chips stack at less than 8000.
Level seven was 300/600 blinds with a 75 ante (1650 per orbit). With the average stack at around 13 big blinds, the players were falling fast. I wanted to be aggressive and take advantage of players who were trying to eek into the money, but at the same time I needed to be careful – I only had 21 big blinds, and getting involved with any pot and losing would hurt. And I wasn’t going to win the tournament by being cautious. But I got involved in a couple hands in which I felt I made a mistake. On the button with no action in front of me, I raised to 1800 with K-9 offsuit. Not the best of hands, but I really just wanted to take down the blinds and antes. But the small blind called. The flop came out A-A-9. My opponent checked, and I quickly checked behind him for two reasons, 1) I probably wouldn’t bet if I did have an ace so he might suspect me of slow-playing and may raise regardless of what he has, and 2) what if he does have an ace? Anyway, the turn is a jack, and we both quickly check. I felt like I had the best hand with two pair, but I was going to play it cautiously. Then the river brought another jack, giving me aces and jacks with a king kicker. My opponent led out with a smallish 1800 bet. My guess was that we were chopping the pot – he probably had something like K-Q. Or he could have been on a post-oak bluff figuring I had something like 7-7 or some other smaller pocket pair. I thought about it for awhile before calling, and I was surprised to find that he had me absolutely crushed with A-J – yikes. I probably should have gotten away from that – the 1800 bet sure seemed like he wanted a call, and I gave him exactly what he wanted. Now, that doesn’t appear to be a huge pot on the surface, just a standard raise pre-flop and one smallish bet. Yet I lost 3600, about 30% of my stack. Then another hand I was in middle position and called a standard pre-flop raise with K-Q. Three others entered the pot as well. Nothing hit for me, and another player took a big pot. That was really a silly play on my part. K-Q facing a early position raise is a bad hand. Calling it from middle position is even worse because there’s no way I could call a re-raise. And all of a sudden, losing two seemingly unspectacular pots, I’m bleeding fast and down to about 7500.
At this point, there were only nine tables left, so we were inching closer and closer to the money. But I still wanted to play for first place. Sneaking into 54th place and making $900 wasn’t all that appealing. So, with Ks-Ts in the small blind, it was folded around to me, and I simply completed the 600 big blind. The big blind thought about it for awhile before deciding to tap the table. The flop came out 3s-Js-9h. Pretty big flop for me, something I could certainly be aggressive with. I had one overcard, a gutshot straight draw, and a flush draw. I checked, with the intention of raising. He bet out 1600 right away. I figured he had a jack, in which case I’d be favored and he probably couldn’t call an all-in anyway. I paused for a moment before raising all-in, and he called immediately. Whoa, guess he didn’t have just a jack. Nope, he caught a set of 3’s. Pretty unfortunate for me, but I still had outs – about 34% to win. But no spades or queens hit, and I was knocked out around 85th.
Overall, I felt like I played well, except for a couple mistakes. It certainly hurt to play for that long and not get paid though. Two out of three tournaments I played in Tunica I went deep, only to come up empty. Maybe next time.