So I left off Reno Part 1 talking about how terrible my table draw was. Now I'll tell you how that affected me throughout the tournament.
I decided that I would play tight, but "tight" is relative - the way I play tight someone else might consider loose. Unfortunately the cards I got didn't allow me to play as few hands as I would have liked.
Hands like suited connectors, suited one-gappers and small pairs were being dealt to me about three or four times per orbit and this early in the tourney there was no way I was ever going to fold those. Of course, with this tough table I never got away with any bluffing after missing the flop about 95% of the time.
I was close to even though because I had hit a straight and got paid off a little bit. Soon after that I played the one hand that bothered me a lot in the first two levels. David Pham limped, Jon Little limped, David Levy limped and it folded to me in the big blind where I looked down at 2-2.
I normally would just check. Late in the tournament I might make a huge raise, but once in a while I like to throw in a goofy little min-raise from the blinds. I just do this to enhance my image, take a little bit of control in the hand and build a bigger pot.
So I made it $100 and David Pham, the king of the goofy plays, limp re-raised to $400. It folded back to me and I was loving it because he was forcing me to play a big pot knowing I didn't want to. I knew he had a wide range in this spot, and I knew that he would fight hard to win the pot as he'd been doing just that the whole time he'd been at the table.
At this point I planned on giving up if I didn't flop a set, but I knew I'd get some decent money if I did. The flop was 6-4-K rainbow. I check and he bets $500.
I thought this bet was pretty weak and thought he could have easily missed the flop considering his range (I didn't put him on a pair pre-flop, but more like suited connectors or AK-AT type hands or random junk), so I called him.
The turn was a T and I checked fast. He bet $1,200 and I thought he was definitely trying to take me off the hand with some sort of turned draw. I thought Q-Js, 7-8s or A-Q were the most likely hands.
So I called again; the river was a 9, which totally sucked because it filled two of the three hands that I thought he might have. I checked and he bet $3k.
I thought for a couple of minutes, still trying to figure out if I should call and pray he had A-Q. I decided to fold and he later told me he had had A-Q. Who knows if he was telling the truth, but I wouldn't doubt it.
This was a situation where if I had called the river and was correct (if it came anything but a 9 or A, pretty much), it would have given me a huge confidence boost and the stack to continue to dominate the tournament. Sometimes, in tournament poker it only takes one sick play to get you on your way to a deep finish.
A bit after this I got moved to table one. I remember being happy because it was on the side of the room where all the bad players were. Unfortunately I once again had a horrible draw - Erik Seidel, Zach Hyman, ElkY, Jordan Rich and Shawn Buchanan (later to be replaced by Tim West).
I continued to miss everything and was soon down to about $3,600. I raised it with 7-7 with the intention of folding to an all-in. ElkY called on the button and the big blind called; the flop was 4-5-6 and I was left with no option but to move all-in.
ElkY called and had A-A. I hit a 3 on the turn and was back up to about $7,500.
After that I bluffed all three streets against some old guy who played really tight. Later I played a hand against ElkY where I called him pre-flop with 6-4s; the flop was T♦ 8♦-4x. He bet $1k; I made it $2,600; he called.
The turn was the J♦. He checked and I checked behind. The river was a 7, I believe, and he bet about $3,500. I looked at his stack and after giving it some pretend Hollywood, I put him in for $9k more. The bluff worked and I was suddenly up to about $24k.
After a while - I was raising a ton - I raised the third hand in a row from the hijack with A♦ Q♦. Seidel called me from the cut-off and we saw the flop heads-up. It came 7-9-4 rainbow with one diamond.
I pulled a move, which I rarely do, and just checked, thinking I would probably check/fold. He bet $500 which seemed weird and small to me. I decided to peel one off and reevaluate the turn, which as it happened was a 2 that put two spades on the board.
I check and he bets $1,300. Now I felt that this bet was too big and just like in the David Pham hand I really believed he had a draw. I called again and the river was a 9s, which filled a back-door flush and paired the top card. I checked and he bet $2,800.
Now I wasn't convinced that I had the best hand. J♠ T♠ was a likely hand, and the 6-8s was too. Of course at the same time that's a perfect card to bluff at if you have 6-8 of hearts.
I had a quick flashback about how I got pwned by David Pham and before my brain could convince me to stop, my hand was throwing in the chips. He turned over the 6♠ 8♠.
Remember how I said that sometimes one sick play can get you on the road to a deep finish? Well, one bad play can get you on the road to busting out just as quickly. Soon after the bad call on the river, I got sucked out on in a decent-sized pot. I misplayed KK, and lost a race.
And just like that I was on my computer booking a flight out. Of course it wasn't the outcome that I wanted, but that's the way of tournament poker.
For now, I don't know when I'll be playing another big tournament. It may very well not be until the World Series that I report about my results in another tournament. We'll see.
-- J.C. (www.JCAlvarado.com)
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