Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tough KK Spot in Monthly League Tournament

Last night was the 4th monthly league tournament that I play in, and I'm happy to say that I final tabled for the 4th month in a row, though I busted in 9th out of 41 (pays top 5) and am not too happy about a few hands I played.  Before I get into any of the specifics I should note that the host decided to put a $20 bounty (buy-in is $50) on my head this month since 1) I've been running pretty hot, and 2) I knocked him out last month.  I went into this month's game expecting to get a bit more action than usual, especially in situations where my tournament life (and the $20 bounty) are on the line.  Because of this I was probably a bit more cautious with some of my marginal hands in spots where I might otherwise 3-bet or shove.  Early on in the game I found myself in one such situation where, in a different format, I probably would have played the hand much differently.  I've been going over it a fair amount and am still not sure what the best end decision should have been:

Background: It's early on in level 2 of the tournament, only one or two players have been knocked out thus far, and the very first player gets the chance to rebuy, which he did (and he currently sits on my left).  Villain made most of his chips from knocking out said rebought player on my left, KK > 88 all-in pre-flop where "el busto" made an interesting snap-call of Villain's shove... needless to say his second buy-in did not last long either.  Since building up a nice double-stack Villain has been running pretty hot and picking up other pots.  He's usually plays a fairly loose-aggressive game and seems even more active at the moment playing the big stack role well at an otherwise fairly passive 8-handed table.

Hero has chipped up a bit and has about 17k (15k starting stacks)
Villain dominates the table with about 35-40k
UTG+1 probably had about 10-12k at the time

Blinds are 50/100
UTG+1 raises to 300
Villain calls 300 on button
Folds to Hero in BB with KsKh, who raises to 1100
UTG+1 calls
Villain calls
Pot is 3350

Flop comes 9s8s2s
Hero bets 2250
UTG+1 folds
Villain announces all-in

Hero goes deep into the tank and eventually...

... folds... sadly and gently flicking his cards into the muck.

Villain says "I think you made a bad fold" and shows TT with the Ts.  So yes, it turns out I was more than a 90% favorite and did make a bad fold in this spot.  Actually what I think was worse was leading the flop instead of going for the check-raise and being able to apply the pressure myself, rather than being the one facing the pressure.  Once I bet the flop I should have realized that I was taking a step towards building a big pot with a big hand, and I should have welcomed Villain's assistance in building the pot for me, even if I had far from the nuts.  I got what I wanted but ended up shying away from it, and I'm not sure if my fold is justifiable given the thoughts that went through my head at the time:

1) If I call and win, I'll be well above average and the big stack at the table.  But if I call and lose, I'll be out in almost last place, accrue very few points towards my total league standing, and will probably have to wait another hour until the cash game table gets going.  Plus I'll have to give the $20 bounty to Villain and let's just say that some folks would be mad at me for letting him of all people bust me out.

2) If I fold, I still have about 14k in chips.  It's still very early and I have plenty of time to find better spots to chip up.  This is not exactly where I want to put my tournament life on the line.

3) Let's think about hand ranges for Villain.  He knows I'm pretty tight-aggressive and am representing a big hand here.  His shove then has an added element of strength to it and I don't think he's super light here, as he sometimes can be.  Worst case scenarios are 99, 88, and 22 for sets, all of which would make sense given his entire line from pre-flop on.  Also pretty bad for me are hands like A9, A8, AJ, AT, with the Ace of spades where I am only slightly ahead and would be hoping to dodge any spade, Ace, or runner-runner type hands. Also not out of Villain's realm of possibilities here are hands like 98-suited and maybe even baby flushes with hands like 6s5s.

In pretty much every scenario that went through my mind I could not see myself being a big favorite, and thus I chose to live on and fight another day.  I was honestly very surprised to see TT, since I figured he's 3-betting pre-flop in position there with Tens and higher.  I pretty much took out hands like TTs, JJs, QQs, as well as Ax-suited spade hands that he would be more likely to flat and slow-play.

If it were later in the tournament, or it was a tournament where I wasn't concerned about points, I'd have to say that I snap-call Villain here every time.  My hand was definitely big enough to stack off with in many other tournament situations, but I just did not like it a lot in this specific moment.  It's hard to look at it in retrospect after he showed his hand and be happy with the decision - it's definitely been on my mind as you can tell - but sometimes good poker demands making bad folds, and I think this might be an example of that principle.  Maybe not, and I'm just a super-nit, but who knows.

Regardless of what happens in poker you have to put it behind you and move on to the next hand.  The gal on my right asked me right after if I was steaming at all or about to go on tilt.  Before I could answer the Villain said all that needed to be said - "he's fine, he doesn't tilt."  Damn straight :)

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