Sure I felt ready to play in the WSOP qualifier this past weekend. I had been patient, avoiding trouble hands and big pots when I didn't have the goods, and playing aggressive when I was in a hand. Funny how things can change
We started with 10,000 chip stacks and 30 minute blinds so there was no pressure to play fast and loose to build a stack. That can work for or against you. If you are picking up some nice hands and people feel pressured to make moves with marginal hands, you can make some big chips fast but if you are on the other end, it can cost you fast. This way, you get time to settle in and play.
I started off slowly, making a few calls with suited connectors and either not hitting or getting raised off the pot. I made sure I wasn't doing anything in early position as that's just suicidal. And I'm not catching anything either. There are a couple of aggressive players at the other end of the table and so I am avoiding calling and having them raise me off it. Then I get 7-7 from early position. I want to play these and I don't want to be raised up if I limp so I raise to 200 (blinds are 25-50). I get 3 callers. Haven't raised a pot yet and as soon as I do, everyone wants to call. Flop comes A-5-4. I'm sure at least one guy has an ace and I hope he is weak like A-8 and not A-4 so I bet 400 trying to represent a big ace. Guy folds and the aggressive guy further on raises to 800. Now I'm fairly certain I am up against either a set or 2 pair because if I am on AK, he would be foolish to raise me on Ace anything else. Everyone else folds and I decide to call him. Next card is a 6, a good card for me giving me both ends of a straight draw. I check and he bets 600, which puzzled me a bit cuz it looked weak. I thought he would bet more into this one as he had been pretty liberal with his chips. If he makes a bigger bet, I probably have to chuck it as the pot odds aren't good enough for me to play this hand. To me this narrowed his hand down to a big ace or a small 2 pair as a set or top 2 pair would try to move me off the pot. Of course he may be afraid I have a set too, though I don't see that. Anyway final card is a blank. I check, he is obviously confused by my wacko play and checks showing me AQ to take it down. I felt pretty stupid and wondered if I should have pushed the last bet but I just didn't want to get involved in a huge pot on a bluff. Not at that point.
The next 2 hours or so is a blur of lousy hands and decent cards that hit nothing. I did get to see 9-3 and 10-5 a number of times each but never saw AK or a big pocket pair. I am slowly bleeding chips as the antes kick in after the first break but still have some chips at least. By time of the second break I am down to 5400 and haven't played a hand past the flop in well over an hour. The only hand I thought about playing and didn't, K-9 suited in middle position, I decided to dump because I couldn't stand a raise then. Of course no one raises, the flop is K-9-9 and I want to shoot myself.
We come back after the flop and I'm talking to the guy on my left who is also short stacked. Guy next to him has made some big chips and the guy next to him is the one I want to play against. He is obviously used to playing in low limit tables as he is making some very thin calls with 2nd and 3rd pair against raises. And winning when other guys have AK and don't catch. He knocked out the first guy on my left when he called his healthy raise with A5 suited. Flop is 9-10-J, guy makes another good sized bet and he calls that. Next card is a 5 and the guy pushes all in and Mr Low Limit calls with a pair of 5s. He has to put this guy on a complete bluff which it was cuz he had AK but still, he could have had QQ in that position too. Last card is a 2 and he takes the pot and knocks this guy out. That was the 3rd time I had seen him go to the river on a hand I wouldn't have called originally. Of course I never get cards up against him cuz I know if I have top pair, I'm going all the way with him.
But of course he gives away all his chips before I ever get a hand so I don't taste any. I do win a couple of pots from the blinds, once with 5-5 which held up all the way to the river and another with a 7-3 when I river a 7. So my stack is building back up slowly to about 7K. Then I pull AQ in the small blind. 4 people call to me and I decide to just call the blind too. I hate playing AQ in early position and if I raise it and don't catch an A or Q I probably have to fold it cuz I'm not going broke with that hand again!! Since blinds are now 300-600 I would need to raise it to at least 1500-2000 and thats a good chunk of my chips so I would rather see the flop first, then make a decision. Flop comes down Q-7-3. I bet out 1800 and get one caller, the big stack 2 places to my left. Next card is a Jack. I was going to bet another 3000 but that only leaves me a little over a thousand behind so I decide to push all in. He calls and I wonder if he has QJ but he tables Q8 so I am ahead by a good bit. Last card is a 9 (thought it was an 8 when it first flipped) and I pick up a good pot which gets me up to 17K.
After that I lose some blinds and one hand when I flop zippo with AJ. Guy to my left gets AA, guy to my right also gets them, but they keep avoiding me, as do KK and QQ. I'm down to about 14K when I pick up 10-10 on the button. Guy who is new to the table raises to 1500 from 3 seats to my right. He had just raised a couple hands ago and picked up the blinds. I raise him to 4000. He goes all in for about 11K and I start to think. I really put him on a steal on that hand. He was fairly late in the hand and it just feels right, but maybe he has a big ace. I'm favored over either hand though not by much over big ace. For some reason I didn't think he had a big pocket pair. So I call him for most of my chips and of course he has AA now. Sucks to be me. Needless to say a 10 did not hit the board and I was crippled. Not long after that I was out.
I'd like to say I played well except for that hand or I was unlucky but really, I was a donkey and I made a few mistakes during the tourney. Usually unless you are all in, you can come back from a couple of mistakes if you play solidly. But going all the way back to the 7-7 debacle earlier and the 10's near then end, I really did not play all that well when I had a good amount of chips riding on it. I'd like to think I could have gotten away from the last big hand if I had just called his raise and seen the flop but in reality I probably still would have gotten hammered. The flop was 9 and below (I actually had a straight draw on the river) and one of us would have bet after that flop for sure. And I probably would have put him on big ace then too. Maybe I would have gotten away from it but there was a pretty good chance I wouldn't have. And that's on me, I had made up my mind and didn't look at the range of hands. And I should have. His initial raise was not that big, could easily have been for a big hand. Still in the middle I didn't play poorly, I stayed out of hands a lot and when I did make something decent, I got all my value out of it. So I would grade my self a C+ or maybe B- for the day. Unfortunately I would have needed A- to hit the money that day. And some luck lol. Oh well it was a learning experience.