Here’s the skinny: Level 9 of a $3.00+$0.30 NLH MTT on Stars. 957 entrants, and the bubble just burst about five minutes ago. About 130 players left. Blinds are 300/600, with a 50-chip ante.
After a rocky start, I’ve played fairly well for most of the two-plus hours of the tourney. I managed to donk off over a third of my 1,500-chip starting stack in the first two hands, but then patiently picked my spots and built back up. At the time I was moved to the current table, I had around 6,000 chips, but I was able to work that up over 10,000 primarily by picking on a couple of passive players who weren’t protecting their blinds. By the time we reached the hand in question, I had 9,711 chips, just a hair below the average chip stack for the tourney (9,832). The average stack at my table was just over 10,000, and there were exactly four players with more chips than me and four with fewer chips.
Pulling out my Harrington on Hold ’em, Volume II: The Endgame, I see that my “M” here is only a little over 7. That puts me in Harrington’s “Orange Zone,” where, according to Action Dan, I am mostly (but not entirely) reduced to all-in (“first-in vigorish”) moves. My “Q” (the ratio of my chips to the average stack) is almost 1. According to Harrington, your “M” is more important than your “Q” (“M” is the “strong force” while “Q” is the “weak force”). I usually don’t pay that much attention to my “Q” number, though I do generally pay heed to how my chip stack compares to the average stack at my particular table. Incidentally, Harrington doesn’t appear to specify what exactly constitutes a low “Q” number, though I imagine anything below 1 would qualify. (If anyone has any Q-tips, send ’em on, please!)
Anyhow, back to the hand. Given my stack size and the overall situation, I’m starting to get a bit anxious but am by no means desperate. For this hand, I’m in the small blind where I get dealt . I watched as a player in middle position -- SuperTrooper, with 9,304 chips (just a few hundred less than me) -- min. raised to 1,200. The table folded around to me.
Question 1: What do you do here?
I contemplated the all-in move here. With SuperTrooper’s raise, that would’ve netted me a nice pot (2,800) if he (and the big blind) both folded. I thought for a moment then decided a larger-than-average raise should accomplish the same purpose while also (perhaps) giving me options down the road. So I raised it to 5,400 (just over half my stack). Here’s my thought process: (1) He might have AA or KK; if so I’m cooked. However, if he doesn’t, the only correct call would be with AK (in which case I’m in a coin-flip situation). (2) He might think by my oversized bet I have less than QQ, and thus might well call me with something worse than AA, KK, or AK. (3) If there’s no ace on the flop, I’m probably gonna push.
SuperTrooper called. The flop came .
Question 2: What do you do here?
What did I say? I'm probably going to push if no ace came? Is that what I want to do? When the flop came this way -- and I noticed our stack sizes relative to the pot -- I hesitated. The pot was 11,850. I now had 4,311, and SuperTrooper 3,854. Neither of us was going to give up this pot, I was certain. I quickly realized that pushing here was probably going to get a call no matter what SuperTrooper had. (In fact, as it turned out, my preflop play hadn’t really allowed myself that many options down the road.) I checked. I did have a couple of immature rationalizations in mind for checking (e.g., “If he pushes, he’s weak!”), but to be perfectly honest I was just buying time. SuperTrooper predictably put his remaining chips into the pot.
Question 3: What do you do here?
I called, of course. I had essentially committed myself to the pot with my preflop raise -- as had SuperTrooper, really -- so it was probably destiny that we were getting it all in at this point of the hand.
What did he have? .
Shamus furrows his brow, obviously distressed. I had one of the diamonds, so I had to sweat the eight that were left (plus the other three aces, of course). The CardPlayer odds calculator says I’m 56.77% to win here. Still, given how the hand went, this was about as good as I could’ve hoped, really. (Looking back, the only other, better possibility for me -- that would be probable -- would be for him to have had tens or nines or something.)
Alas, the came on the turn and I was all but toast. I lasted three more hands with my remaining chips (528), then quickly bowed out of the tourney with a cool $4.59 for my efforts.
My first response was frustration over the fact that my opponent had called my largish preflop raise (9x the big blind, 4.5x his own min. raise) with crummy ace-nine suited. (I didn’t fault his postflop play at all.) But the more I thought about it, the more I began to question my own play here. Did I really have to be in that situation? How would you have handled this one? If I had been less aggressive preflop, could I have escaped the hand with, say, half my stack (or more) intact?
Labels: *on the street