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What was I saying…?

Remember what I was saying about cheap limit tournaments, where most of the players don’t actually want to be there?  I had the pleasure of getting my pocket aces cracked by one of them just now, but it was more than made up for when I flopped a set a little later.

This is a $1k guaranteed tournament on Empire Poker that I dropped on during late registration.  With 299 players and a $6 buy in, it’s somewhat different to the uber-tight $215 tournament I played last week.  There’s just 159 players remaining at the first break – one hour in and nearly half the field has gone broke already.  I expect most of them wanted to.

As no hand history convertor appears to work with limit tournament hands, I’ll have to do my best to recount the action using actual words.  Skip about four paragraphs if you want to avoid what is technically a bad beat story, even though I couldn’t really less about losing that hand.

I have pocket aces in middle position.  There’s a limp and a raise ahead of me, and I 3-bet.  Six players see the flop: 5c 3c 9d.  Yes, six.  I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t in Vegas yet.  Sadly not – it’s still seven days away.  I check/call the flop hoping to see a good turn card so I can punish the draws on the next betting round.  A risky play, but nobody’s folding for one small bet here, and I don’t expect anyone to raise ahead of me if I bet.

OK, one player folds for one small bet when it comes from the player to my left, and five of us see the turn: Kd.  It looks like a good card for me, except that there’s now two flush draws to avoid in a 5-way pot.  I can’t let anyone draw for free, so I bet.  At first I’m happy to see the next player raise, although when I work everything out it’s not as good as it first seemed.  I realise that I’m way out of practice at counting large multi-way pots: anyone else tagging along now is going to get pot odds of at least 6-1.  It’s really as much as I could hope for to try to force out the draws, but it’s not quite enough.

However somehow we’re heads for the river: Jc.  It’s now just a case of whether I actually have the best hand and I should probably bet/fold here, but I check/call instead.  Of course he had rivered the flush with 7c 8c.

Let re-evaluate: (1) cold-calling three bets pre-flop with a very poor hand (2) open betting a weak flush draw and gutshot on the flop and (3) raising the turn when calling with this draw would be infinitely superior.  This beat was actually great news for me.  His flop play wasn’t terrible, but I now know that this player wants to play big pots and won’t give up with much of anything.  He is playing a death-or-glory strategy and has potential to throw his chips away.  I just need to get lucky to capitalise.

Getting lucky happened with pocket deuces.  I’d limped and our friend raised pre-flop so I stuck around to see three more cards.  One of them was exactly what I wanted.  The flop: Tc 2s Kc.  Can I check/raise him here?  You bet.  I check/call the flop, hoping to win at least half a big bet extra by waiting until the turn to speak up.

It works.  The turn: a harmless 5d.  I unleash the check/raise and he makes it three bets.  Well, if I’ve been screwed by another set-over-set here so be it.  Much more likely he has one or two pair.  I cap it.

River: Ts.  Not great.  Although I have a full house, he just caught up if he had KT.  But, given the high likelihood of spewage, I decide to go for it.  I lead straight out, he raises, three from me and he caps.  His ace-king is far from good, and I rule.  Hello the chips.

A result in this tournament isn’t going to be life changing, although $388 first prize isn’t bad at all for a $6 investment.  But still it’s more much-needed limit tournament practice, and hopefully once the field has thinned a little it will play a little more sensibly.  I just need to run well enough to maintain a playable stack for a few more rounds.

EDIT: 4th for $104.65.  Woohoo.  Trip report may follow tomorrow, not sure yet :)