Chasing Ghosts

Posted: February 9, 2010 in poker

In my 5 years playing this game for a living I’ve been put in some extremely profitable spots that for one reason or another haven’t always worked out in my favor. That’s the nature of the beast and most likely I was my own worst enemy when the big money was on the line. The past 6 months or so has been an immense maturing period in my career. The amount of work I’ve put into my game has gone far beyond the felt and has propelled me to a place I naively believed I was at years ago.

The hours, hands, the grind, game theory, psychoanalysis, research and determination finally came to fruition last night when I chopped the $750k. A 6-fig. score has been a goal of my since I blew my first shot at one in ’06 finishing 5th in a Borgata $750 event, 1st $125k. Despite it not being life changing money(as I cleared $35k after makeup) it remained a huge monkey off my back and a huge step forward.

Reflecting back on the final table a couple of hands stuck out in my mind:

satty player takes lead oop
The first of which was 7 handed and me having about a 17.5bb stack. I elected to open light on this particular BB as he was a satty winner who had been protecting w/essentially atc but ch/fld w/every missed flop. It’s thin but my stack sucks and the diff between having 17.5bbs and 12bbs isn’t really going to change my play much. However, chipping up beyond 20bbs will allow me to open more frequently on the soft spots, allowing for me to chip up gradually.
Anyway, he flats and I flop a double-gutty w/two overs. He leads half pot which generally is weak and given the strength of my draw the hand plays itself as a shove. He folds and I chip up to 24bbs.

Satty player takes lead oop again
Fast forward to 6-handed and I’m in a similar spot w/A9o and 17bbs. The bb is fairly tight and the sb is the satty winner who doesn’t defend as liberally from that position. I didn’t anticipate anyone 3-betting me light here as my stack is awkward and I’ve been fairly solid up until this point. The sb defends w/the bb folding. Already I’m a little surprised, sure he’s loose but I expect to see the better half of his range here. The flop is :Ad :2s :5d Again he elects to lead into me for about half pot. Bells and whistles are going off in my head. I can’t imagine after getting jammed on in the exact same spot last time that he would duplicate a bluff line. I elect to flat. Turn is :2h. He leads 2/3rds pot now essentially putting me to a decision. Now don’t get me wrong this guy has played awful, but not in an aggressive way. Bad players don’t two barrel, definitely not on an Ace high board. Piecing the hand together it just made sense that he was at like AT+ here. I elect to fold and preserve a 10bb stack. Within a few hands I steal a pot and then reship KK into the same player to double thru his AQ.

These next two hands happen back to back.
Guy busts 4th
I think this hand is a good example of anticipation. When I flat pre I know that I am putting him in an awkward spot w/his stack size and I anticipate he will take certain lines to allow himself maximum opportunity to win the pot w/o being in a weird spot. In other words I would expect him to either c-bet/call off to a shove, check/shove, or just surrender and check/fold. That being said it really allows me to play my hand flawlessly. I flop a strong middle pair on a pretty dry board and he checks. I would probably bet air here less than half the time as to avoid being ch/jammed on by what is likely dust. So I bet pretty confident he will fold or jam, w/me calling the latter.

First hand 3-handed
Very next hand I pick up AA, how fun. SB, who has been extremely active, limps. Bah he’s almost always weak here. I raise to 2.5x and he snap jams for 25bbs showing KJs. The most unfortunate part of this hand is ultimately it leads me to chop. Had I held I have about a 3-1 CL against a guy whose avg. buy in is $30. No chop there and barring some bad luck 30k more in my pocket.

bvb AJ vs AK
I was kicking myself over this hand. Shoving here is bad. We’re too deep and it dramatically alters the complexity of the 3 way match. I had been sooooooo aggro 3-way winning such a high % of the pots I don’t think I thought this spot through enough. He’s rarely raise/calling off w/worse barring a hi-cup w/like A8-AT and maaaaaaaaybe KQ. Flipping here for 30bbs is a huge no-no and given that I’m in position I can just own him post flop. The KJs hand was still too fresh in my head and it led to a mistake.

bvb AJs vs 44
Again not exactly happy w/this spot either. But the back and forth between us had escalated and I think 3-betting to induce isn’t too bad w/AJs there. I would expect him to jam pretty much any pair, any ace, as well as all broadway. I don’t like to flip for 30bbs and I could/prob should take the lower variance line esp. 3 handed at a major FT.

No idea wtf he’s doing
This is the hand where the satty winner derails and bet/folds river w/2bbs left. Idk what the hell was going thru his head.

fitting end
For the 3rd time I was given AJ in a dominated situation w/30bbs. I didn’t really play it right the first two times so why would I now. All 3 I was in position, all 3 the board came profitably for me, yet all 3 I jammed/called off pre. I felt a little more justified here as he clearly didn’t care about the 13k we were playing for. One of the first hands back he called a two barrel bluff of mine w/K high. My bluff line was fairly solid and he certainly wasn’t capable of that call when 50k+ was on the line.

The next few days will pick up right where I left off. Our lease is up so I’ll be moving/getting into the FTOPS grind. I’m really looking forward to getting to the Venetian or LAPC for a shot at some live scores.

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