2nd place finish in a small but wild MTT

Well, I’m back after my week off.

Sunday I played I don’t know how many SNGs and failed to win any chips, losing about 300K in the process. It was aggravating. I wasn’t playing particularly poorly, just getting terrible cards and missing flops when I did get OK starting cards, and couldn’t get anyone to fold to any bluff I tried to make. Bad night. Should have heeded my “quit after 3 losses” rule, but I played a few more than that…

Today, I played two MTTs. The first one I busted on AJ, beat by AA, in the only hand I got into, after sitting out a couple orbits because I wasn’t getting any cards.

The second MTT apparently ended my drought, and I managed to win 2nd place. Took 2nd place out of 35 entrants, it was small because of XMas Eve, of course. The guaranteed pot was 1M chips, and first place was 400K, 2nd just 240K. I was SO CLOSE to winning it all.

I was ahead in the final hand, with trip 9s, my opponent had paired a Ten and went all in with 2 pair, TT99, and I had him dead to rights, but then the lousy river turned up another T, inverting our leads and suddenly he wins boat, over boat. TTT99 over 999TT, about as close as you can make it. Mine sunk. He was the slightly bigger stack, but if I’d won that hand I would have had nearly all the chips at the table, and could have played any 2 cards against him for the remainder of the tournament until I busted him.

This tournament was amazing. I flopped Quads twice: QQQQ and JJJJ, and there were TWO times when the flop came up QQQ. My first quads, Queens, was one of those, and no one would bet on that board so I only won 180 chips with Quads, which sucked. The Quad Jacks hand was so much better, someone went all-in on me and I cleaned them out. I had JJ all-in another time, and had to settle for a 3-way chop when the board gave everyone in the hand a Straight, but my starting cards were the best of the three. I also flopped 2 full houses. I went all in at one point in the middle of the tournament with a draw to a King-high flush, hit it, and busted out two players. Overall I played great, but definitely got lucky in a few spots where I really needed to. That last hand tho… man! Not much strategy to review here, just some very fun hands to watch.

The final hand: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456086806

I call a scary bluff with the better hand, KK33 over unmade straight, really afraid I’d get beat by trip 3’s, taking a massive pot: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456084796

Trip Kings on the river, calling big bets with top pair and a raggy kicker to bust another opponent holding AA. This was bad play, but I got lucky.

Flopped full house KKK55 to knock out 1 player, and cripple a 2nd: KKK55 over AA55 over 7755: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456080606

Guts call against a huge bet to hit a flush and win a very big pot, K-high diamond flush over KK over 66 to a Straight: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456079986

Hard luck 3-way chopped straight on the board, JJ nullified over TT nullified over AJ-suited that missed a Hearts nut flush by 1 heart. This one had me pretty angry because at the time I really needed the chips and going all-in 3-way with Jacks is super nerve-wracking, but at least AJ didn’t hit his fifth Heart to take it: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456079424

2nd flopped Quads hand of the tournament: JJJJ over QQ improving to a Broadway straight: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456077794

Second QQQ flop of the night, same table, just a few hands apart from the first: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456074598

Two other players contest AJ vs JJ, turn and river are an A and a J. https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456074493

Doubling up with trip 5’s: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456075248

Quad Queens, for all of 180 chips: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/456073386

1 Like

You were gone for a week?! Wow, I just finished reading your last Forum post like 15 minutes before you wrote this one. :wink:

Congrats and welcome back.

Man, looked at some of those hands - how many times do people have to get burned slow-playing huge hands before they figure out its a terrible strategy? They slow play them preflop and then overvalue them postflop. You can only get away with plays like that if you have some skill postflop and have deep enough stacks. Some of the comments are hysterical too. Who knew that some people have been playing this game since they were “toddlers”? LMAO You’d think they would have gotten better at it by now.

1 Like

Well, I didn’t play last week. I actually did play, two 3-max SNGs, winning both last week, but that’s just 15 minutes of poker for the whole week, so it doesn’t really count.

I did participate in the forums a bit last week, replying to conversations I was already in. Yesterday was the first day back playing in earnest, and today was the first day I won chips and had something other than grousing to post about here.

gratz on the 2nd place :+1:

1 Like

You would think, but in my last two tournaments I was eliminated shortly before the one hour stage when in a top ten position by opponents with leading stacks limping in with monster hands.

On the first occasion I raised all-in against three limpers (blinds were fairly high at this point) with KK and was called by early position limper with AQ who aced the flop and took me out.

On the second occasion I am in the Big Blind, with KQ offsuit and miniraise raise three limpers, all of whom call the raise. Flop comes Q high and dry with no straight or flush prospects. I shove and am called by a slightly larger stack with KK and am eliminated.

Obviously you can criticize my play on both hands and argue that I should not have shoved on either occasion, but on the other hand, on both hands, had I won the pot, I would have had the tournament lead. Being all-in with KK against AQ to take the tournament lead with half the players eliminated seems like the kind of situation you want to be in.

Personally I would never limp in with AQ or KK, because I would want a large pot with the prospect of taking it at the flop and I would want to discourage drawing hands like JT or J9 suited or small pairs from getting into the pot at all. However it worked for them and both players were ranked within the top 2000 on Replay Poker.

1 Like

This is why @MekonKing ,
Hand #456152959 · Replay Poker
So I take a break, play some low stakes, even out bankroll @ 10.5m, then
Hand #456183681 · Replay Poker
So much for christmas cheer … :face_vomiting:

( Still no Santa on any Ring tables I’ve been on last 3 days )

From early positions, when the blinds are big, limping a big hand makes some sense. If you raise, most opponents will fold unless they too have a very good starting hand, and many times you’ll just end up taking the blinds and antes and nothing more. If it comes around to you and someone has raised, you can re-raise them, and try to steal, but then if you just call, that can still work out well if you keep people betting and still feel comfortable that you’re on the best hand. That depends on the board, of course, but if you only called and you don’t like the board, you can dump the hand and not really lose much, and if you do hit, then you stand to get even more chips out of it. Big starting hands are an opportunity, and you don’t always get to capitalize on every one. If you’re one of the bigger stacks at the table, dumping the BB-sized investment on a hand that flops poorly for you is really not a big deal, and certainly beats losing a bigger investment that commits a big percentage of your stack; if you’re one of the short stacks, that BB-sized bet may already be enough to commit you to winning the pot or die trying, making it impossible to bluff you.

I might get dealt AK-suited, and see the flop come up solidly suited for some other suit, and know that I’m drawing dead to a flush, and if I raised big pre-flop and isolated to one player, and they have just one of the board suit they’re going to stay in to the river in case they hit, or if they were suited-aligned to the board and have me beat already, now I have to dump a lot more chips, or just commit everything on a bluff and hope they’re convinced I have the nut-flush and they dump it instead. But you usually are going to get someone who wants to pay to see what cards beat them when there’s that much in the middle already.

Try to have a merry Christmas, anyway.

1 Like

If it works or not once in a while doesn’t really mean anything. The players’ ranks mean less. I’d be more apt to limp KK than AQ - those hands aren’t really comparable IMO. Limping a huge made hand seems to be less of a mistake than limping a big speculative hand. I frankly hate seeing people limp big aces. People wind up folding tons of equity with them when they miss flops.

IMO, if you are doing everything the exact same way every time, you aren’t mixing things up enough. If you know some guy is perpetually raising all your limps and you want to trap him, this is a good way to do it once in a while. However, if the blinds and antes are getting up there, getting folds and increasing your stack is a good thing. Late in games those blinds and antes can be significant, especially here where people keep playing down to under 5BB.

I just don’t like weak play. I like the game of poker, not roulette. Limping and trying to connect with flops is weak, IMO, especially for play chips.

1 Like

I can’t argue. Mixing things up is a good tactic, you don’t want to be too predictable. But you also don’t want to veer too far from sound strategy. When you have the big stack, once in a while it’s not necessarily bad to throw away some chips on a garbage hand, just to keep your opponents off-balanced.

The key is that if your opponents are folding to your raise, they’re not seeing your cards. So why waste your good cards on the raise that makes everyone fold? Save it for when you get 43o, and slow play that KK. Not every time, no, but if you’re raising KK and not getting any value because no one’s calling them, you might as well raise your garbage BB hands, and slow play the big pairs to get better value out of them .

Here is a great example of why its a bad move, especially at short stacks: Hand #456332120 · Replay Poker
On the final table this is poker malpractice. Could have taken the limps plus blinds and antes and increased his stack by 25%+. That’s a new life in a tournament. Want to play it a bit trickier? Just min-raise and jam and flop without an ace.

ARGH! - went out 7th in this one. Some really ugly beats near the end (AQ beat by A9 and stuff). Frustrating to go that deep and not take it down. That’s poker. I’ve made a good run lately though. These are my last 7 MTT results - Santa has been good to me :slight_smile:
7 of 140
49 of 73
1 of 175
8 of 40
8 of 161
1 of 109
1 of 40

Play your strong hands strong in position at this level and you’ll do far better than trying to get tricky, IMO. If you want to get value for your big hands, you need to raise more than just QQ+ and AK. I can’t tell you how many people tonight crashed and burned by letting the blinds see cheap/free flops. BTW, my goal in any MTT is to make the top 5% because that’s where the money is. Everything I do from the start is to get to the final table with a chance to win. I’m not really interested in just cashing. If that’s the way the game is going, I’ll grind it out if I can but I’d rather go out early than just play to cash from the beginning.

1 Like

Just added a 5th of 83 playing the same way. People make enough mistakes that you don’t have to get too clever here to do well. Make better decisions than the field does: don’t take unnecessary risks, know which are the right hands top play at the right times, shove early enough for it to matter and know when to get out of the way. Just do that much and you’ll cash more than not, at the very least.

1 Like

Clearly what you’re doing is working well for you. You seem to know the game pretty well. I think if I were having as consistently good results as that, I’d keep my advice to myself :smile: and just let my bankroll grow.

My very first MTT, I finished 4th overall, and all I did was play very tight, mainly playing only premium cards and the blinds. I didn’t yet have experience in heads-up play enough to feel comfortable in the endgame, but I was very pleased with myself for finishing 4th out of nearly 100 players. I thought maybe I was a good player.

Then I learned. I still think I’m a good player, but I am always learning and improving. But my results are still pretty inconsistent. I’ll win easily for a day or two, then go through a cold streak. It feels lately like it’s the cards more than its me. So maybe I’m not as good as I think I am, and my “secret” is to get dealt good cards and hit the flop. There’s certainly some skill to playing well even with good cards, but it sure is easier when you’re getting dealt lots of face cards.

My problems with bad beats holding AA notwithstanding, my problem doesn’t seem to be poor play with good cards. It’s poor play with poor cards. When I am seeing lots of raggy hands, and I feel like I can’t get into any hand for many orbits, and then I finally get a Jack-gapper hand that feels like my best opportunity in ages, and I try to force my way into taking a jackpot, those are the times I get beat. Or when I finally get a playable hand like get KT-suited and want to get in a hand finally, but someone else shoves QQ+ and I have to lay down and go back on the rag diet for a few more orbits… I just can’t find ways to survive long cold spells. I think that’s going to be where I need to focus on improving if I want to win more consistently.


@puggywug - LOL, there aren’t any secrets in anything I said. It just comes from playing a whole lot of small MTTs over the years and figuring out what works. Yeah, you need to catch some cards and if you’re going to win, you’ll probably need to win a flip or two along the way. A lot of tournament strategy is about playing the right hands at the right times though. Last night I folded AQo preflop to an open shove and someone else flat calling. Didn’t make sense to play that hand at that time. I folded a ton of small to medium pairs because I couldn’t open them from early position or because stacks were too short to play them profitably.

I’m not a great player or even a good one by most standards. Fortunately, most of the people playing the stakes I do aren’t either. That’s why I play the stakes I do :slight_smile: IMO, doing the basics well here will make anyone profitable. I wouldn’t fall into the patterns of play we see a lot of just to fit in if anyone wants to increase their bankroll. The typical play here is going to be exploited by anyone who hasn’t yet fallen into these patterns. In fact, the guy who won the MTT I played last night had only been here about a week. He was playing like you’d play a real game and it showed. This site hadn’t had a chance to kill his game yet. Maybe that’s why you did so well when you got here?

Anyway, keep having fun and keep working things out. If I could make 1 suggestion based on what you wrote, I’d say look for situations more than for cards. You need to make some things happen in MTT’s, no matter whether you have the perfect cards or not. Play worse hands in better spots and try to steal/re-steal when stacks get to ~30BB. If you do that, you’ll have a huge advantage over the people just trying to make hands.


YES! YES! It isn’t your cards alone that make the hand, it’s the situation you have that hand in. You can LOSE with a K-high straight flush, in the wrong situation.


OK, just finished another one and wound up with a ticket in the 50K satellite (top 5 of 40 this game). I actually had over 1/3rd of all chips in play at the final table, which was also the hard bubble. I did not have a lot of cards but was grinding my way through until this hand. I was outside the bubble line by a good margin. I knew this was probably my best chance to win a big pot. We talked about making the most of your big hands and this is how I prefer to do it rather than taking a more passive line and praying for no overcards on the flop or turn.

I knew the guy who cold-called my 3-bet was capped at QQ or AQ because he would have shoved with AK or KK+. Since I’m blocking QQ and AQ, I’m figuring JJ or less and AJ or less. When the initial raiser re-raised, I am not going to flat and give the 3rd player a cheap flop with position on me so I shoved my stack. I still wound up with 2 callers but this hand propelled me to an easy cash. If I had taken a more passive line, I would not have gotten the most out of this hand because neither player could really call off their stacks postflop with this runout.

Later in the game I’m holding JJ and the UTG player limps in with only 11BB. I want to play for his stack or take all the blinds and antes so I shove my 30BB over. I actually didn’t want to play with the guy who ended up calling me but I knew there was absolutely no reason for him to make a call with his stack and the bubble coming up. This was a case of someone making a very bad decision, even if his cards were decent. If you’re inside the bubble line here, why would you make this call and risk most of your stack? Fold and walk to the cash or call and flip for your tournament life? This is what I mean about not making the same mistakes other players will make. Know when the situation is wrong for the cards in your hand and just muck them. Its not about winning hands, its about winning tournaments. Tournaments are not the same as ring games but many players don’t make the proper adjustments.

I wound up pressing my big stack at the bubble and ran TT into AA but that was about the only hiccup I had after the 2nd hand I posted here. Nothing fancy the whole game and it wasn’t a sweat other than 1 hand. If I lost it, big deal because I was outside the bubble line anyway. If I had played it passively and not gotten full value for it., I may still not have cashed but wasted more time in the effort. If this was a regular MTT for cash instead of tickets, I set myself up to win the whole thing. Its not complicated and you will lose these big hands more than you would like to. You will be called an idiot and laughed at when you lose them. Big deal. If 95% of all poker players lose money, why would anyone care about gaining the approval of losers?

EDIT - another great reason for playing strong, especially in the BB is that people will start giving you walks instead of limping in on you. Those walks add up. If you aren’t losing money in the BB, you’re ahead of everyone else.


Re: Hand 456600972, yeah that’s the way it’s supposed to go. If I play that hand, the exact same hand, the river would have been the 9, and the Turn would have been the King. Lol. Guaranteed. At leeeeast 3/4 of the time.

There’s nothing wrong with the way you played that hand, though, and in this case it did pay off for you as well as it could have. Kudos.

I have hands like that too now and then, of course, but I forget about them immediately because that’s what’s supposed to happen when I get QQ. Lol. I only remember the terrible beats with the 1% out on the river. The things that aren’t supposed to happen stick out in your mind. It’s like a confirmation bias thing. Since the odds are long that they happen at all, when they do they’re memorable, and since I remember them more than the more ordinary hands, the tendency is I think that they happen more frequently than they actually do, and that’s confirmation bias working against my rational mind.

Re: hand 456603519, your opponent who called with AT-suited made a gutsy call and it went poorly. If he pairs the Ace instead of the Ten, he gets you. Or if he happened to land the flush, he’d get just about anyone. So I can see why he thought he could make that call. But it was too risky.

And yeah, plenty of times I’ve been in situations where I’ve had AJ, AT, or KTs, and had to fold it preflop because someone else shoved what I could only assume was a big pair, and I didn’t want to risk going up against that. And that’s often been the right call. Both in terms of long-term EV and in terms of that specific hand in question. The situation in those cases has always been that I wasn’t willing to risk my tournament life, even with pretty strong cards, and preferred to wait for a situation where I had the strong cards, but not someone betting like they held AA ahead of me.

But then again, in looking back at this MTT I started the thread off with, in re-examining some of the critical hands, there were a few hands that I played poorly, but luck was with me, and made me a lot of chips that I didn’t necessarily deserve.

With the K4 hand, 456081264, I felt like I had set myself up to die on that hand. I was playing K4 in the first place only because I felt defending the blinds was an important principle to uphold right then. Then I happened to hit top pair, but my opponent’s raise after I tried to buy the pot on the flop made me concerned that he had also hit top pair, likely with a better kicker, or possibly hit two pair. I wasn’t even thinking AA, KK, or QQ, although those were all possibilities and indeed what he actually held was AA. But I lucked out with a river King that gave me the hand. Bad play, good luck. I should have folded when he raised my post-flop bet.

Hand 456084796, again I’m defending the BB with King-rag, and pair the King. I also have a runner-runner straight draw with 345 after the flop, which adds some 1% outs for me. I try buying the pot, getting one fold, good, but when UTG called, I was again afraid that he may have a King with a better kicker, but at least he didn’t raise me. If he raised there, I would have folded. I had plenty of chips, and losing 5200 would have been annoying, but not as bad as losing even more here. The no-bet on 4th street had me doubting that, though. Either he’s slow-playing me, or he’s on a draw. (He was on a draw, and missed, as we see in the showdown.) The River had me worried, since there was now a pair on the board, and either Trips or a full house were then possible. Or I could have even been looking at quad 3s, but I felt that was unlikely given that he didn’t bet the Turn. So I hoped a 5000 chip bet would get him to fold here, but he shoves in response, and now I’m sure I’m going to see trip 3s if I call, and I’ll be exiting the tournament in 5th place. But I thought about it, and I was OK with a 5th place finish, as it meant finishing in the chips, and I wanted to see the hand that beat me rather than lay down and possibly last a while longer but with way less chips. I didn’t really expect to win that hand, and when I saw the unmade straight draw, I was honestly surprised. Wasn’t expecting his shove to be a naked bluff. I’m not a good player. Just a lucky one. But then, his call at the flop wasn’t good play either. Yes, he’s 4 cards to a straight, but he’s only out is a 5, making the odds about 10:1 that he hits, and he’s only getting 2:1 pot odds to call. He should have just folded at the flop, and by chasing his bad play, leads him to shove in desperation as a last-ditch means of taking the hand since he can’t win it in a showdown, and makes my bad call look good. But I’m no psychic.

Likewise with the K-high diamond flush, Hand 456079986, in that situation again I felt like I was resigned to being beat on this hand if I didn’t hit my draw. I had 4 cards to the diamond flush, and a runner-runner double gutshot draw. Did I know I’d hit my flush? Of course not. Did I know what cards I was up against? Not at all. I only knew that if I did hit the flush, I’d have the 2nd best possible flush hand, and probably take it. The reason I called here was simply that there was so many chips in the middle that it was worth risking an early exit to get them. And luckily I did.

But also, I was mad about the 3-way chop four hands previously, 456079424, when I had JJ and “should have” beaten AJ and TT. My anger at getting only a split of a huge pot made me just tilty enough to be inclined to go all-in here, chasing the flush. If I’d missed the flush, I would have been out of the tourney, and probably even more tilted, but I was already ready to give up the tournament because I felt like missing that opportunity to double up with JJ had hurt my chances of going deep, so I figured this was as good a hand to go out on as any I’d get to see. If I had won the JJ hand instead of chopping it, I’m likely folding here with KT-diamonds and facing the shove on the flop with the flush still un-made. But instead I’m angry enough to call, and calling because the pot is big enough that it’s worth the risk of being eliminated if I do hit it. Landing that pot with the flush calmed me right down though, and I played as well as I’m capable for the remainder of the game. Decent, not great, but good enough and lucky enough for the 2nd place finish.

Which, dang it, should have been a first place finish. But sometimes you just can’t help getting beat like that.


Its a terrible play in this spot. Forget about the ICM stuff for now but just use this thought to see if you should make any call at any time: Find the best hand that you’re ahead and ask yourself if your opponent would make the play he did with that hand. If you think he would, then you can think about how many other hands he would also do that with. If he wouldn’t, then there’s nothing you think you’re ahead of that he’d shove so why would you even consider calling? So, in this case, would he think I’m shoving 30BB with A9? I don’t think that’s a reasonable assumption so it would be a fold normally. Add in the ICM stuff and its a no brainer insta-fold.

As long as you recognize the difference between good results and good play, you’ll be fine. Work on patience and on finding spots and your results will improve. Get rid of some of your leaks and they’ll go up a lot. IMO, rethink your blind defense and donking ranges. Most people lose too much by over defending their BB. They think it will make them look weak if they don’t defend super wide. That’s bull-squirt. At this level, you can dump lots of hands and not be overly exploited - as long as you play back enough. Conserving blinds is more important than looking “strong” if your goal is to win. You can also fold most hands from the SB rather than paying the extra .5BBs and be better off for it. Save a few BB here and there and your results improve a ton over a field that isn’t doing these things.

Edit - well, I went out 12 of 98 in the last one. Tried to make a play at a pot to get healthy and the guy just happened to have the weirdest hand and hit the flop. Who open-limps 7/4? LMAO. I check-shove from the SB on a 2/2/7 flop with KJ and he had paired the 7 so oops. I had made the cash but needed chips fast to get to the final table. Crap happens. I only had 1 premium hand the entire game so I’m ok with getting as far as I did. I saw an opportunity and took it. I looked like a fool I’m sure but 90%+ of the time I get folds there. Most of the time that guy will have A-high or unpaired high cards that can’t continue when shoved on. The 10% bit me in the butt this time so I’m all clear the next 9 right? LOL


“Defending” the small blind needs to involve a healthy preflop raise. I usually go 30-50% bigger than my typical button raise size - around 3BB if I’ve been opening to 2.2BB, as is typical later in a tournament, or up to 4.5BB when I’ve been opening closer to 3BB. You don’t want the big blind to see a free flop and then have to play the rest of the hand, multi-way and out of position, which is the best case scenario if you merely complete facing a limper. If the big blind senses your weakness and makes a big raise, you’ll probably have to throw away your hand - and that extra half a blind.

Defending in the big blind against a preflop raiser who’s knocked out the rest of the field, with no other players left to act preflop, is a different story. Be careful not to confuse the two situations.

1 Like

I admire your honesty and the way you think out your play - always been a fan of that. It helps others, like myself, think about their own play and how others are thinking in given spots. Interested to see your results/progression here over time.

1 Like