Last night I played in a live tournament with about 65 players. The buyin was $50 plus another $10 bounty. The starting stack was equal to 50 big blinds.
I was pretty card dead and uber-tight for awhile, whittling away about 20% of my stack. Then the most aggressive player, an older guy, was on the button, with me in the big blind. Not only was this guy aggressive, he was irritating. A couple of times he was doing business on his cell phone while in a hand, including once as the dealer, and seemed oblivious to the rest of us.
Another time, he made a fairly standard-sized open raise and I called with 9-6 suited. Not a premium hand, but folding all the time was getting boring, the blinds were still small, and I had position. Two of my suited cards appeared on the flop and the old fart shoved all-in, about 5x the pot size. Of course I folded, and he showed AA and said he was just happy to win what was already in the pot. I made a mental note for future reference.
So this hand he is the button and I still have about 10 big blinds. Everyone folds to him and he raises to just over 3BB’s, and the SB folds. I have KT suited. Not great, not terrible, not something I want to play out-of-position, not something I want to fold. My image should be very, very tight. I shoved and he insta-called, showing KK. As I’m starting to walk away from the table, the river card completes a gutshot straight for me.
A bit later, the blinds are up again, I’ve won one more pot and now have 18.5 BB’s. Everyone folds to me in the Hijack seat, and I have Ah 8h. This is certainly good enough to raise, and I have to mix it up some or the blinds will begin taking their toll soon. I raise to 2.5 BB’s, and the next two players fold. Then the small blind 3-bets to 5.5 BB’s and the big blind folds. The small blind made a strange play early in the tournament (first level of blinds). On a monotone flop, he made the nut flush. There was a bet and a call in front of him. He shoved all-in and everybody folded. He then showed his flush. Really? Why push everybody out if you have the nuts? That seemed like such a perfect time to milk the pot for so much more. Sure, it’s possible someone will have a draw to a full house, but you want to entice them to chase those draws.
On the other hand, I haven’t seen any 3-bets from this player. His range seems fairly narrow, like JJ+, AQs+, AK. For some reason I cannot explain, it seems that the JJ-KK pocket pairs are most likely. He might call and trap with AA, might call with AK and evaluate the flop, etc.
Against this range, I have 30% equity. The pot is now 8.5 BB’s and it will cost me 3 BB’s to call, so I have the proper odds. My stack is 16 BB’s and I would have 13 BB’s after calling. I will have position on this villain post-flop.
I hate giving up 20% of my remaining stack on a call here. Any other ace will have me dominated. Flushes don’t come around that often. The size of his 3-bet is inviting a call. Deliberately? I don’t think so, as I am not very impressed by his prior play.
I decide to fold, but don’t slide my cards to the center. Let’s think a bit more. This is a short tournament. There are only so many opportunities to accumulate chips. I got a second life with my earlier suckout against the button’s KK.
TOO MUCH THINKING HERE. “Fold!” I tell myself.
The flop is A-Q-4, with one heart. Not bad, top pair with a backdoor flush draw. He checks. I check.
The turn is the 4h. Helps my backdoor flush draw. Otherwise, this card changes nothing, as he certainly doesn’t have a 4. He checks again.
At this point, I’m either way ahead or way behind. I’m ahead if he has KK or JJ – he would only have 2 outs. I’m behind if he has AA, QQ, AK, AQ. Against AA or QQ, I’m drawing dead as the turn card completed a full house. Against AK I have 12 outs (hearts or an 8). Against AQ I have 9 outs for a flush. Based on my assessment of his preflop range, those are about the only options.
The only right play here is to check behind. As I’m writing this, it is abundantly clear. But last night I was tired, the result of a very late online session the night before (accumulating material for more blog posts!). The flush draw got me excited, and I rationalized that the additional equity made it proper to shove. Looking at it now, none of the hands that are ahead of me are going to fold. Am I representing that I have a 4? How silly. None of the hands that are behind are going to call.
So I shove. He calls and shows AK. I have 12 outs, miss them all, and make the walk of shame, after starting this hand in perfectly good shape for a deep run in this tournament.