This Monday's tournament had a larger turnout that usual due to the Bike offering tournaments where in addition to the regular prize pool, the winner gains fast-track into their Annual Winner's Tournament, where the winner is sent to the World Series of Poker on the club's dime. This Monday was the first such of these tournaments, and attracted three full tables -- 27 people.
Lot's of good lessons below the fold on this one.
My first table had two players who I know to be extremely aggressive. If they think you'll fold, they have no problem throwing chips into the pot until you do. One of them was directly to my left, which means whatever I do, he'll usually be the very next person to act. This makes it difficult for me to do anything but play premium hands, because whenever I would raise a mediocre hand there's a good chance I'd get raised out of the hand. I think I've improved: I remember a time where I'd feel like I was forced to make large moves against these guys, and I'd bust out early. Instead, this time I just played solid poker and took advantage of big hands to keep my stack at roughly average.
When we broke down and re-formed into two tables (18 players remaining) I was at a much softer table -- players not nearly as aggressive, lots of flops seen without a raise. This allowed me to steal a few blinds, raise a few good pots, and build up a decent-looking stack. Not huge, but comfortable enough to make plays without worrying about going broke. Here I was pleased that I was able to switch my game up and play more aggressively, instead of staying in my tighter-mode.
I went into the final table feeling pretty good with a decent, but not great, stack size, and immediately became completely card dead. The two chip leaders were to my immediate left, which again put me in a spot where I couldn't make as many moves as I might've. The blinds and antes were eating into me, and I soon found myself with only ten bets left. Then five bets. Then only two bets left. I never should have let it get down to that point, but here we were. At this point we'd made it past the bubble, but the only reason I didn't bubble-out was that one of the medium-stacks clashed AK against one of the big stacks and didn't hold up, so I lucked my way into the money.
I end up folding a hand, 6-4 offsuit, which like the past five hands I should have shoved on. I would have tripled-up on this hand. This opened my eyes a bit, and I shoved on the next hand and did end up tripling up. Then I shoved again, and doubled-up. I went from roughly 5K chips (on a 1k/2k + 300 ante level) to a ~30k stack in a couple of hands! I was feeling pretty good, and playing some marginal hands that turned out in my favor.
Sadly, the blinds kept eating me and my hands never held up, and I went back down to roughly 12k. At this point I have to play aggressively, so when I catch Ace/Jack hearts, I shove. I'm called by the two big stacks, flop comes Ten Jack King rainbow, and post-flop one of them shoves and the other folds. I'm up against Ten Jack off. None of my outs comes, and I'm out.
Fifth place, out of 27 players. I was playing for the win, but I'll take a small profit too.
- When the table is aggressive and you're not catching hands, sit back and fold. Marginal situations early-on seem tempting, but there's no reason to bet the tournament early-on.
- Remember to switch modes. If you move to a new table, take an orbit or two to sit back and watch how the table goes, and change your style appropriately.
- Shove before you get into a situation where every other player at the table can call you easily. I got lucky this time and hit the right flops, but that doesn't excuse bad play. And even though I lost, shoving on AJ-hearts was a good move.