I am extremely pleased with the way I have been running in the small buy in live hold'em tournaments at the local poker room.
Today I finished 4th/149 in the $100+25 no limit rebuy tournament which paid $1900 + a $1500+80 seat into another no limit tournament in a couple of months. 1st was $10k + the seat, and while I'm disappointed not to go all the way, I'm still pleased with 4th.
I believe that I was involved in 3 coin flips in this tournament where I had the pocket pair all 3 times. I was lucky enough to win all 3 (although I was the one who was all in only on 1 occasion)
A while back I commented to my wife how effective some players are by just being very aggressive in NL tournaments, forcing other players to back down. She asked me, "Why can't everyone just do that?"
A funny thing happened during the tournament that had an effect on how I played. At roughly the 1.5 hour mark into the tournament, I received a cell phone call from my VP. He told me there was some incident at work, and that he needed me to come in and help with the investigation. He did say that currently things were stable, and mostly just an explaination needed to be generated. I told him, I would try to get to the office in around an hour and a half.
He said that one or two hours wasn't a big deal, but he finished with saying that he would be in the office for the next 6-7 hours, so he would be there when I got in. (Great...)
I based this estimation on my expected median finish time. I had been assuming, as in previous weeks, that the top 18 players would be getting paid. I figured that the 3 hour mark would be very close to the bubble. Thus, if I reached the money, then I would be a little late to get to the office. The higher I placed in the money, the later I would be.
There was a change in the payout structure this time though where only the top 10 were being paid out, and the top 4 finishers also received seats into a $1500+80 NL tournament. This made the payout considerably more top heavy than usual.
This had a moderate effect on my strategy. I had no fear on going broke, and I was able to push a lot harder. I would guesstimate that I was more aggressive on 8-10 hands during the remainder of the tournament than I normally would have, and from these hands I took in around 20-25 big blinds. It was mostly from stealing blinds, but also from a couple of all in calls from loose or very desperate players.
Interestingly, during the 5 hours or roughly 180 hands that I played, I never showed down a hand where I was not the favorite. When I was pure bluffing, I never got called. This has got to be mostly luck. However, I certainly did take advantage of people near the bubble. I made it quite clear to the people at my table that I was not afraid to get involved. I would open push from MP+1 or later, with my 6-8BB slightly above average stack and players with similar or slightly larger stacks would grumble and throw away hands like 88, AQ since we were close to the bubble.
Stealing the blinds with a 6-8BB slightly above average stack is huge. And as a additional benefit, my opponents were afraid to attack my blind. Twice in one 20 minute level, everyone folded to my big blind. I was thrilled with my table image.
During the entire tournament I was only all in twice.
At the 2 hour mark, I had the following hand:
- preflop: an early position player who always makes his bets proportional to the strength of his hand limps, a very very weak player to my immediate right limps in MP+1, I have a slightly below average stack of 18 big blinds and find 5c5s and I push. Button calls my all in with AQo and everyone else folds. My hand holds up.
Certainly I was gambling with this hand, but my reasons for pushing were:
- I really do want to have an above average stack, and I will not pass on any opportunity to push when I'm likely to have the best hand.
- EP limp is dead money
- weak player is capable of laying down very good hands preflop. In this case, weak player laid down AKo.
- 3 of the 4 people behind me are experienced tournament players who would won't get involved without a big hand.
- the weak player has only shown down monster hands like KK or QQ, and in some ways weak player protected my hand. Weak player was on my immediate right, and while I was willing to gamble that WP wouldn't call, everyone else at the table had to worry that either I or WP had a big hand.
Button was a inexperienced gambler who did pick up a hand, but I was lucky enough to survive the coin flip.
A few months ago, I never would have made this play.
The only other time I was all in was on my last hand. Avg chips was ~160k. I had 70k in the BB and was the short stack. 2nd short stack was UTG with about 90k. Button and SB had roughly the same chips. Blinds are 10k, 15k. UTG is a loose gambler.
- preflop: UTG pushes, folded to me, I find KQo. I'd prefer that the 3rd chip stack get involved with someone else, but I'm getting 1.7:1 on my money. UTG is fairly loose, and will likely push fairly often, but I need to consider if my stack can outlast his gambling it up. If I fold here and also on in my SB, I will be down to 4.5BB which is very likely to be called when I do push, so I think this is the place to take a stand. I call. UTG shows K9o.
- postflop: K9424
This hand cost me roughly $2000. Uggg.
I later find out that UTG finishes in 3rd. Big surprise... Waah, waah! That's all you can do....
(I ended up arriving at work 3.5 hours after my VP called me, but the work stuff got resolved in a reasonable period of time after arriving so no damage done, I guess.)