I write this blog today mostly for myself, as a means of self-analysis, and hopefully, self-improvement. Of the few live tourneys I have played in Goa this year, I have been the final table bubble three times. I’ve also ended my run in tournaments at positions 11-15 four times (ie, pretty close to the FT bubble). I would like to use this blog to analyse these three FT bubbles.
FT Bubble 1, IPS 10k Double Chance, May-12
I played this tournament well, staying above average stack for most of the tournament. Eventually we were down to the final table bubble position. Since I hadn’t been on a FT till this date, I promised myself that no matter what, I would make it this time. I began to play very tight, not getting into any hands. As a result, I started to bleed. I was down to about 10bbs, when on my big blind, I got ATo. UTG, CO and BU folded. The short stacked SB (with 5bbs) shoved. I tanked for a while, put him on pockets, wanted to play safe for the bubble, and folded. The SB did show pocket 5’s before mucking his hand. The very next hand, this time on SB, i got AJs. UTG, CO and BU fold. Big blind had about 20BB and was a tight player. This time I shoved, hoping I could get the big blind to fold and hence steal the blinds and antes for that round. Big blind called my shove and showed ATo. Flop was KQ8, and I was ahead. Turn was 8. Since it was the FT bubble, quite a few people were watching the action, and a lot of them started chanting “Chop-chop”. The river was a 10. The dealer pushed the entire stack to the big blind, since Big blind had hit his 10 pair. Commiserations by the people watching followed, and I walked away utterly disappointed. It was only half an hour later that I (and others) realized that I had actually rivered a straight!! My fault for not spotting the straight in time. Had I done so, I’d have doubled up to 20BB, and would most probably have reached the final table.
1. I should have called the 5BB shove with ATo on the big blind, considering I had a decent enough hand and it was a good chance to knock him out.
2. No matter what everyone/the dealer says, always verify the result for your self.
3. Always know your outs on the flop, turn and river, so when you hit them, you know!
FT Bubble 2, IPC 5k FO, Aug-12
This tourney had 62 entries, and I did well to make it to the FT bubble. Since I was allocated table 8 at the start of the tourney (or is it table 7?), I was at the designated final table, so I hadn’t moved tables the entire evening. Another player, Rajesh Hegde had been with me on the table from the start. Once antes kicked in, he had began playing very LAG, raising almost every other hand, amassing a huge stack of chips, and frequently showing his cards once he’d won a hand (often, it was just ATC). On the button with me down to 9BB, Rajesh min-raised from UTG. Every one else folded. I had A7s. This time I shoved, hoping to steal the blinds and antes, as well as his raise. He snap called and showed AK. I was pretty much dead, and an ace on the flop did not do much for me.
1. Such a hand is one to shove with, but not to call a shove or a raise by a big stack, for you are most likely to get a call after shoving on top.
2. This for me was also the first time I realized how post-ante pre-flop play needs to be a lot different than pre-ante pre-flop play.
FT Bubble 3, IPL 5k Rebuy + Addon, Sep-12
This was a day when AK failed me…3 times! Mid-way through the tourney, I had amassed a huge stack and was quite possibly the chip leader at the time. I raised at UTG with my AK, only to have one player shove his entire stack on the button. As I had more than double his stack, I called his shove. He flipped open his cards to show A9o. He clipped a 9 on the turn and doubled up. Then AK went against me a second time. Finally, on the FT bubble, with atleast 3 people shorter stacked than me, I got AK for the third time. This time I shoved, hoping for someone to call. A larger stacked guy called with pocket 4’s. The board ran dry and I walked off the table in a huge huff. I wondered if I should have folded any of the AKs.
1. No matter how strong AK may seem, it is still not a made hand. There will be times when it will fail you.
2. My play all three times with AK was a correct play.
3. Though it is said that there is more to the game of poker than life, it is still at the end of the day, a game. Losing your cool over it is not worth it.
The close to bubble finishes have all been with Axo. Each time I made the mistake of just looking at an Ace and shoving, without paying attention to the players who had raised, or even thinking about the possible hand range they had raised or shoved with. Atleast twice I knew right away that I should not have shoved such a hand against a tight player. Atleast once I knew that I just needed to fold five hands in a row to make it to the final table, as there were several people with short stacks, or less than half my stack. And even if I wanted to be in the hand, I could have 3-bet instead of shoving my entire stack.
For all my deep runs I’ve only made it to two FTs, and a single third place finish. The PGMP2 sessions have been very useful in opening my eyes to several new elements and strategies, and I cannot wait for the upcoming IPS, APT and PGT events to try them out.