Monday, December 19, 2005

The Heads-Up Tourney

Many of my Atlanta poker crowd got together this weekend for the first inaugural Christmas holiday heads-up hold 'em tournament. It was awesome!

We made the tournament double elimination, with a winners bracket and a losers bracket. Matches were designed to last up to an hour each, and three (out of eight) players would place.

I was glad to have a heads-up tournament, because it really is an interesting form of poker that isn't played often enough. Daniel made a good point when he said that it's a very pure form of poker, in that you have all the weapons at your disposal. You can check-raise bluff, limp-raise, open limp, bluff on no streets or four, change gears and read your opponent. I highly recommend a tournament like this -- the action is intense and you really get to know each of your opponents.

I drew the brackets at random. Daniel and I were both disappointed that we had to play each other in the first round. It would have been much more fun to meet him in the finals! It was a good match -- probably the closest match of the evening. Our stacks were very close most of the time. Daniel told me later that he was surprised I wasn't playing looser. But I had told myself at the beginning of the tournament that it would be OK to play a lot of hands, but I didn't want to commit all my chips unless I felt it was necessary.

I believe it was the first hand of the tournament when I held 52 offsuit and called the blind. The flop came 9-2-2. We both bet at the pot, but somehow I was able to get away from the hand. Daniel showed down 9-2 for a flopped boat.

Our match came down to the final hand, when the blinds escalated to 2,000/4,000 (our starting stack sizes were 20,000 each). We both went all-in. I held pocket 10s and Daniel had AJ. I won the race, but Daniel played well and he could have easily won the match.

I faced my brother, Michael, in the second round. I don't remember much of what happened. He played better than I expected, but I was able to outmaneuver him until his stack had deminished.

For the finals of the winner's bracket, I had to take on Drew. Drew always throws me because he likes to play wild starting hands, and he's not at all afraid to bet out or check-raise his draws.

I made a large all-in bluff with 10-3 offsuit, which he called with a pair of Queens. He later said he wasn't paying that close attention, and he didn't realize there was a pair on the board. But I got it back with two suckouts. First I went all in with pocket 8s vs. pocket Qs, and I caught an 8 on the flop. Then I flopped a straight to Drew's flopped flush. We both got all-in on the turn, but I caught a fourth suited card on the river to give me a slightly higher flush.

Drew moved to the losers bracket, where he took care of Sham in the first hand. That meant I had no time to relax before our rematch. I needed to win one; Drew needed to win two in a row.

I got all in with QQ, which Drew called with AQ. He caught an Ace on the flop, and we headed to the final game.

I really have to commend Drew for his aggressive play in the finals. He pushed a lot of hands, and I couldn't bring myself to call with second pair without any redraws. Drew whittled away at my stack until I felt like I had to make a move at the end of the 500/1,000 blind level. I pushed with KJ offsuit preflop, and he called with J9. My hand held up.

A few hands later, I had finally gotten my stack to the point where I didn't necessarily have to push preflop. I raised with AJ, and Drew called. The flop brought K-J-x. I pushed all-in, Drew called with K7 for top pair, and it was all over. Drew won!

I had never played a heads-up tournament before, and I was glad that it lived up to my hopes. You have to constantly keep your head in the game. At the end, both Drew and I were mentally exhausted.

That didn't matter much though -- we weren't too tired that we couldn't play a full ring game for a few hours!

1 comment:

Victor_Enriq said...

good one