Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Old Ace-King Trick

Here's an update on day two of the poker tournament I was in at the WSOP Circuit Event at Harrah's in Tunica, Mississippi.

We started Day 2 with 23 players. My chip count was about average and an aggressive young pro was on my left. I knew he'd be raising a lot of pots right from the start, which he did, trying to push people around. That wasn't a good spot for me, but I played patiently, eliminated one of the smaller stacks, and stayed out of the bully's way.

After an hour, five players were gone, so we were assigned new seats at the final two tables. I thought this would be good for me because I wouldn't have the young gun on my left any more. Unfortunately, my new table including the three biggest stacks of all. Fortunately, the biggest of them was directly to my right, and he was the one who was playing a lot of hands.

Once again, I chose my spots carefully and picked on the two smaller stacks, but could only tread water against the blinds and antes. Then I made a move against the chip leader and got him to lay down a superior hand, only to be called by the shortest stack at the table, who called with ace-king and hit a king on the river to take 40% of my chips.

My situation wasn't desperate, but I needed to make something happen.

The chip leader, who opened about 75% of the pots with a raise, liked to show his hands whether he won or lost. I was happy for the information, and could see that he was often raising light, meaning he didn't have to have a big hand because his massive pile of chips was intimidating to other players.

One round later, after the chip leader opened under the gun for a raise, I looked down at a pair of sixes. I wasn't in love with my hand, and would have waited for a better heads-up spot earlier in the tournament, but the blinds were about to go up again and I wasn't going to have a lot of time.

With 66, I might be a favorite to something like ace-rag, or even money to two unpaired overcards, or dominated by a bigger pair. Calling his raise would mean putting a quarter of my stack into the pot. I knew he'd bet out again on the flop, but if it didn't include a six, I'd have to fold and be stuck with a crippled stack. So it was either fold pre-flop and wait for a better hand or put all of my chips in the middle.

I chose the latter and shoved. He didn't hesitate to call and turned over ace-king, the hand that had been the bane of my existence in this tournament. When an ace came on the turn, my day was over in 14th place.

Ah, well. I walked away disappointed, but with four times the money I'd invested. My friend Mark came over to congratulate me on another deep run and said, "Now let's go make some more money in the cash games." We walked downstairs to put our names on the lists in the main poker room as I thought to myself that after finishing 15th in Biloxi, and now 14th in Tunica, I should be peaking just in time for the WSOP Main Event this summer if the trend keeps up!