Monday, November 20, 2006

Clamped down

Near the bubble, the FTOPS main event got a little rough.

With the blinds at 400/800 with a 75 chip ante, my stack started to wear down as I folded every hand that was dealt to me. The money was agonizingly close.

Entering the 400/800 level, I knew I had a chance of winning a few hundred dollars just by folding. I'd have to be careful, but I also wanted to keep my eyes on the bigger prize -- the $224,634 for first place out of the $1.2 million pool. More than 2,400 people entered the tourney, and the top 351 made money.

It took me seven satellites to win a $535 entry for this event at a cost of $89 after I had cashed in a couple of the donkfests. I finally (!) won a single-table $75 turbo tourney that gave an entry to the first-place finisher.

My M was near 4.5 at the beginning of the 400/800 level. I needed to somehow make the money. I went into lockdown mode, waiting for the right opportunity to steal enough chips to survive.

Here are the hands I saw:

88 (folded to an early position raise when I was in middle position)

I folded every single hand.

If you've ever played a tournament, you know the pressure that builds up as your stack dwindles to near nothingness. Your chips, your lifeblood, are bleeding away. With every chip you lose, that's one more chip less that you'll have if you ever do double up.

I was ready to push in. I didn't want to wimp my way into the money. But I also knew that I had to avoid busting to win anything at all.

Somewhere near the end of that horrifying run of pathetic cards, the bubble burst!

When that level ended, I was in big trouble. My stack had dwindled to 5128, and the blinds were going up to 500/1000/125. Based on the numbers alone, with an M of 1.95, I needed to push with almost anything.

Or did I have to?

This is a troublesome spot. Entering the new round of blinds, I had two hands before the blinds hit me. Once the blinds took their chunk of my stack, I'd be crippled.

The first hand, I was dealt K7o. I decided to fold yet again and try to endure. I hope I'm not making up excuses, but I didn't want to put my stack on the line with that hand from MP1, especially when almost every other player at the table had enough chips to call me with anything.

Because I felt like I didn't have much folding equity, I tried to get a better value.

I kept waiting as I folded and folded:

A5 (I know you're going to tell me I should have pushed here UTG)

Now my stack was laughably low. I had 2503 chips left, only slightly more than a minraise.

At long last, I saw a beautiful pocket QQ, which I happily pushed all-in with. They held up over a big stack's 96 out of the big blind, and I had doubled up.

The next hand, I went all in again for 6,256 with ATo. Everyone folded. Then again, with AQs, and everyone folded. In three hands, I had picked up 9,000 chips.

It was amazing. With 11,000 chips, I was still below average but in better shape than most players at my table.

After losing 2,000 from the blinds and antes, I went all-in again with ATo and got called by KK. A Ten on the turn gave me hope, and the Ace on the river doubled me through. I was alive!

The blinds went up to 600/1200. Everyone else at the table folded super fast when I raised my first hand back from the break with AQs.

From there, I made a couple of steals but the blinds started catching up with me again. I pushed with QJs against 66 and caught a J on the turn. A few hands later, at 1000/2000/250 blinds, I pushed with TT against QQ. For the first time, my luck failed me.

I'm happy, though, to go out in 158th place with a payout of more than $1,100. Thanks to Daniel, who had a piece of me, as well as railbirders and fellow entrants.

My bubble and post-bubble play is questionable. At some points, my stack got so low that all I needed was a face card (or less) to justify putting all my chips in the middle.

I held on for a long time, knowing that the best I could hope for in most situations was a coin flip. To win, you have to survive. In each of those agonizing hands, I believed my best chance of staying alive was to fold.

I've bounced out on a lot of bubbles. This time, tight play kept me in it until I finally went out 193 spots after the bubble had popped.


TripJax said...

Congrats on a very nice run!

jl514 said...

Great run! With blinds and antes high, and many people short like you are, even if you never picked up QQ and doubled I'd think you still would have made a couple extra $20s at least.

When it's not about winning first, and it becomes more about moving up the ladder as far as possible before running dry, I think you played perfectly.

lucko said...

Good job!

smokkee said...

i would've been very happy to cash in that event. well done.

Maigrey said...

Awesome job!

Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

very, very nice. and I like the point this post raises, because I fluctuate between this style and an ATC mode near the bubble.


surflexus said...

As you know, I watched the latter stages of your run. I think you played the short-stack brilliantly and patiently moving up nicely in prize money. Well done!!