Tournament poker is like pitching a no hitter. More precisely, winning a large tournament is like being a pitcher going for a no hitter. Every single decision you make seems like it needs to be perfect. Every so often you make a little mistake, be it an ill-advised bluff or folding the better hand. Just like a pitcher may leave a hanging curveball over the heart of the plate and watch the batter foul it off. You rarely get away with mistakes in tournament poker or during a no hitter, but it happens. On the flip side, you can make every decision correctly in a poker tournament. And the end result could be devastating. Just like a pitcher can spot a 98 mph cutter in on the fists, busting the bat on the swing and the batter still ends up with a duck snort to left center. End of tournament and end of no hitter.
Why am I talking about this? It's just been on my mind lately. Because so many poker players get upset about "bad beats" and wonder why they never win WSOP bracelets. Part of the answer is - You can make every decision correctly and still not win. In fact, a lot of players will say that they play perfectly (they don't, but they're poker players - therefore they're not 100% honest people).
Also, I have started playing little poker tournaments onli... er, uh, not in a live game. (You think the government really cares?) Skip the rest of this section if you don't want to read about my poker playing....
Anyways, I entered one this evening that was a little more expensive than I normally play. But I had a good feeling and I had plenty of time and focus if I went deep. 356 players entered. I won't tell you how much I entered for, but the winner took home more than $13,000. (You can probably figure it out if you're familiar with poker payout structures). Anyways, without going into too much poker detail, I just played a very straightforward, only taking calculated risks approach.
Within the first hour, nearly 100 of the 356 entrants were eliminated. Like a no hitter, little things were working in my favor. My table didn't break up for a long time - which meant that I could take advantage of my image. The only hands I showed for 2 hours were premium hands (and winners). Which set up little steals and bluffs later on.
I honestly don't remember how the tournament field got narrowed down to under 100. But I wasn't playing a whole lot of hands and I was just making good decisions. That was it. In 3 hours I only saw 5 showdowns (most of them were putting short stacks all in) and I only played something like 16% of hands. (Which is a low number - you normally want it closer to 20-30%). But my chip stack, which started at 3000 chips was up to 12,000 and I was 40th or so in chips.
The tournament paid the top 36 players. I was always told that when you're getting down to that number, everyone tightens up, just hoping to cash out. And, I have to admit, I wasn't about to go nuts with some mediocre hand, risking a bust out in 38th place. I was hovering between 20,000 and 25,000 in chips and, because of my weak starting hands, just waited it out and moved into the money.
I made some timely raises and steals of the blinds and antes. And I also tried making a move from the sb when it folded around the bb called. An ace hit the flop and I didn't think the bb had an ace, so I made my continuation bet. He paused a long time and called. At this point I needed to commit all of my chips on a bluff on the turn and I gave up. That one hurt and took my chips from 55,000 down to 34,000 or so. I got my one lucky hand a little later. I made my all in move on the button with Q 10 of diamonds for 21,000. The sb calls (ugh). The bb comes over the top for 48,000. If the bb has a middle pair and forces the sb to fold, I'm a happy camper and will take the race. The sb calls and flips over A8 off. The bb has AK. Ok, my Q 10 is live. I hit 2 pair and take the main pot and triple up. There's also an 8 out there so AK loses. That hand was my slider that caught too much of the plate and the batter still grounds into the double play.
Not too much later, I pick up AK suited in the sb. It folds around to the button who goes all in for 32,000. I have 63,000, and despite calling off half my stack, I pretty much have to call. (This is my 0-2 splitter in the dirt). In fact, I go all in to get rid of the bb. The button turns over Q5 offsuit. I hit my ace on the flop. The turn card gives the button both a flush draw and a gutshot straight draw (remember, I was the one who was suited and connected). And yes, he catches the flush (swinging off his shoetops and catching the hole between first and second base). So, I'm not out. But before that hand I was 6th in chips and would've moved up to 3rd had I won. Instead, I was down to 12th in chips with 19 players left.
My final hand I had AK in the sb. It folds around and I push all in. The bb calls immediately with 8 8. And I lose the race (notice how I continue to lose big with AK late?) Nearly 5 hours after the start of the tournament, I bust out 14th out of 356. I made a little profit. I got some experience. I learned a little bit. And I didn't finish in time to hit the gym. So, you take the good with the bad.
I'm giving a much deserved shout out to Fortener Design. I don't know if the individual who emailed me is looking for personal recognition (if you are, I'll post you name)... But, without my request, completely redesigned NachosRule.com. I haven't made the update yet, but I have them in hand and intend to bring NachosRule.com out of the 1990's and into the new millennium.
I made my first contribution to YouTube the other day. The first rating I got was 5/5 stars. After 2 ratings, the average was 2.5 stars. Which makes me happy. That people either love or hate the video. I even got my first subscriber. I've been debating whether or not to post the actual video here. It's just a little pet project that I made like 2 years ago (making it a little outdated). And it's not real nice. And the quality is terrible because of YouTube's guidelines (the version I have it WAY clearer). Ok, ok. You talked me into it. Here it is. The only deal is that you rate it well (or if you don't like it, don't rate it. leave a comment instead).