Saturday – 9/1/07 – Short-handed

Today I’ll reflect on Saturday’s shorthanded tourney at the Castle.  The players were me, L, B, and D,  We bought in for $40 a piece and more or less traded chips amongst ourselves for the first 3 or 4 rounds with everyone more or less remaining average stacked.  As the blinds got higher and raises were neccessarily bigger – damage started to ensue.  Luckily I stayed out of harm’s way for the most part.   At one point after the break, I felt L was doing a lot of raising.  Almost any time I limped – he either raised substantially or pushed all-in.  Realizing this, I would fold to his raises most of the time, and his all-in’s EVERY time.  He continued a pattern of aggressiveness that I decided would eventually present an opportunity for me.  I waited until I had J-10 suited on the button.  His pre-flop raise was enough to leave me with $10,000 in chips (exactly what we started with…which provided some comfort), so I decided it was time to see if I’d get lucky, sensing that a medium strength hand could be just what the doctor ordered against an aggressive player who was likely holding an Ace and was likely to follow with a substantial continuation bet.  If I didn’t hit the flop -or- any A’s or K’s were on the flop, it would be easy to get away from my hand.  No matter what happened I was certain I’d be facing a substantial continuation bet after the flop.

When the flop came, the high card on the board was a 10 – giving me top pair, medium/decent kicker.  Luke followed up with his continuation bet (all-in if I remember right) as predicted and I immediately called.  I showed my J10 and he showed an Ace with a weak kicker.  I took down the pot and was on my way to winning the winner-takes-all event with a 3:1 chip lead over DW.

I like L’s play – I wouldn’t put a caller of a substantial raise on a hand distribution that included J10, particularly after folding to so many previous raises.  Up to that point his aggressiveness had gone unchallenged – so any callers would likely be holding a premium hand -and- would have likely missed that flop. 

By the same token, I like the way I played it as well.  Prior to this hand, I showed a willingness to fold to his raises when I limped in – indicating I wasn’t up for many coin-flips, and demonstrating that I could be pushed out of a hand even after voluntarily committing chips from the SB.  I liked my position – being on the button and getting to see what would happen before committing any more chips.  I liked that it was heads-up and that he was the pre-flop raiser, so I could anticipate a continuation bet.  I like that my hole cards were suited, connected, and in my opinion were two of the best cards to have when suited/connected (any straight will have either a 5 or a 10 in it).  I like that the J10 *probably* gave me 2 live cards and was not a hand most players would put me on in a raised pot – which added some deceptiveness.  I like that I was conscious of my chip stack in relation to other players and to what I had started with.  I like that I was conscious of the fact that there is luck in poker, and that if I got lucky, my opponents likely post-flop actions would reward me handsomely.  I like that if I didn’t get lucky on that flop I’d committed to folding and that my opponent’s post-flop actions would continue to build a false sense of confidence that I won’t ever call an all-in move.  Overall, I’d consider it tricky, but not reckless – which I suppose is a good image to have.

From that point on it was back and forth between me and DW.  I don’t remember the hand that won it for me because it wasn’t a key hand in my opinion and it didn’t require any thought/analysis in the middle of the game/hand – whereas I was extremely pensive when it came to getting involved in the abovementioned hand with L.

Bottom line:  When patience, position, player observation, and pattern observation are all in alignment – we can selectively put ourselves in situations where getting lucky rewards us handsomely and being unlucky has minimal negative impact.

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