Mini Milestones

Today I played 3 9-handed SNG’s. 

Game 1: 

This one ended VERY early when I took a beating w/ 99 vs 88 where the 8’s flopped a set.  We were equally stacked, I was in position, it was heads up.   It was so early in the game I didn’t have a read on anybody and just sort of assumed my overpair was good after the flop.  After the check-call on the flop AND the turn I really had a feeling I was up against a set, but couldn’t really turn back.  Not the worst mistake in the world…in fact, I took it well (a milestone) – primarily because I really had the feeling I was beat, but ignored it because I had an overpair and didn’t have player profile information to indicate otherwise.  $10 donation! 

Game 2

Much more impressive result after some all-around solid play.  Not to mention JJ was magic when I flopped quads and suckered some dork with KQ into thinking he had the best hand…his hand never improved…it was just KQ.  Did some similar damage later on and took down 1st place…$45.  Weee!!!

Game 3

I came in 3rd in this game, but I honestly feel it was one of my proudest moments in poker!  Three key things happened:

1)  Pocket JJ’s in mid-late position.  Unopened pot.  Button was short stacked and the table had been pretty passive.  I made a 3.5X raise…or roughly 1/3 of the button’s remaining stack from mid-late position.  My feeling was that it was a standard raise that would get rid of anyone with a mediocre hand who didn’t want to call the button’s all-in raise if he decided to play the hand through.  The button called my raise and so did the BB.  I was concerned because I pegged the BB as tight and pretty skilled (the chip leader at the time).  After the flop the highest card was Q (an over to my J’s), so I was uncomfortable.  The button pushed all-in and the BB called.  As usual, I didn’t hesitate to act…only this time I folded my JJ!!!!  The button showed 44 and the BB showed AA.  I was all smiles after a pretty huge laydown – albeit an easy one based on the GAP concept.

2)  Same game – still a passive table, and I had plenty of chips!  An early position player with an average stack (roughly starting size) made a min raise.  I held A8 and would ordinarily fold, but a passive table and a min raise and my late position convinced me that it may be worth it to see a flop.  What’s the flop?  A8X…top 2 pair for this dog!  I put a feeler out to see if my opponent held an A or if he held a high pocket pair like JJ, QQ, or KK.  I was convinced it was an A, so I stepped up hoping that he’d stick it all-in – which he did, and I immediately called.  He showed AQ, and he was dead to 3 remaining Qs…of which, 1 of them arrived on the river.  I was down, but not out.  Again – took the beat well and congratulated my opponent on a great hand.  He apologized – realizing that he was lucky to still be in the game.  I’m convinced I made the right play(s) throughout because of all of the evaluation I did before calling with A8.  In fact, I had agreed that if an A came out, I would get away the second my opponent was willing to put another chip in the pot.  So all was good…again, down but not out.

3)  As the tourney went on I really had to figure out how I was going to place in the money.  The chip leader (the guy with AA earlier) really seemed to respect my play (perhaps for getting away from my JJ so early).  So I wasn’t going to get much from him and he knew he wasn’t going to get much from me.  The other player who sucked out on my A8 actually seemed pretty solid – afterall, AQ is not a bad hand.  Those 2 players were similary stacked (just over 3,000 in chips).  The player to my right though was also above 3,000 chips – but I’d pegged him as having fairly laxed starting hand requirements.  I decided that my strategy was going to be a mix of trying to take chips from him AND letting him hang himself when he got involved with the other large stacks.  To my surprise I didn’t get too much from him – only the other big stacks did – which was still part of my strategy.  The other surprise was that my table image really seemed to help when I raised with my short-stack when the other two were SB and BB…they NEVER defended if I min-raised.  I decided that they thought I was slowplaying monsters if I was willing to put in 1/3 of my chips without putting 100% in.  I had found the perfect risk/reward ratio neccessary to steal the blinds enough to survive.  To keep up that image, I also had to fold my BB and SB when faced with a raise.  I was strict about this and just waited for the amatuer to my right to self-destruct.  Which finally happened when he had A-10 vs the top dog’s JJ.  The JJ held up, and the dude to my right was the bubble boy.  As soon as I was in 3rd, I just made a move with K4s for all my chips.  I was behind, but didn’t care…I’d made the money and the blinds were high enough that I needed to either double-up or go home!

To summarize, I think the bank analogy and risk/reward discussion elevated my game today and I took many more things than usual into consideration in order to make some fairly sound decisions.  Sometimes even 3rd place can be EXTREMELY rewarding!!

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