When you make some changes to your game, you tend to lose form for a bit and doubt yourself. I had crossed the 20 million chip line in about 10 months on the site, and now decided that the only way I could make significant headway forwards was to play in more expensive MTTs, like those with a million chip buy-in where I would presumably find the most skilled opponents.
However I seemed to hit a losing run and had lost 25% of my total stack in a week or so. Even though I had a number of in-the money finishes in cheaper entry tournaments, I was going down out of the money in the million chip buy-in tourneys.
Today I entered a million chip buy-in tourney and decided that I would really concentrate hard, not read other stuff while playing, not cook while playing, ignore the dog while playing, and just concentrate on the screen, by the grace of the Poker Gods got off to to a good start and was soon able to seize the tournament lead, thanks mostly to some good luck, and some poor play by opponents.
What about these nice pots?
On this hand I folded AA preflop, but it didn’t seem to do me any harm.
This was not deliberate-I was away from the table, but I often find AA is a tricky hand early in tournaments with low blinds, and tend to play it like any pocket pair. I had the tournament lead at this point, so could not double through anyone.
Anyway, as it got to the last few places, I had a loss of confidence. It seemed that this game was impossible to win. How could I ever know if opponents were bluffing? Just one step wrong on a missed flop and that was it. With a dozen players left and only four places in the money, I was sliding down the leaderboard. Then there was a five minute break, and I told myself that if I really concentrated hard, I could make it into fourth place, which I eventually did, as one by one opponents melted away until there was only one left.
The monstrous villain had a much bigger stack, but after a bit of a struggle, I took the lead, then lost it again, and then I was dealt AA. I baited the trap with a limp, he raised, I shoved, and he called. Flop came and I made my set of Aces, and then–I couldn’t believe it, he made a runner-runner flush, that probably cost me 5 million chips, because if I had won that hand, I would have had an overwhelming chip lead it would have been hard for him to come back again.
Still, with second place I won over 6 million chips and got back all the chips I had recently lost, hit a new chips high, and made a new high in the RP rankings, although I have still not cracked the top one thousand.
Here is the 5-million chips hand.
One important flaw in many people’s game and my own too on many occasions, is deciding what to do with a hand as soon as you see the cards, and then not making adjustments, but just going ahead anyway. Player looks down and sees KQ suited and has a surge of adrenaline as he finally has something to play. Then a big stack in early position puts in a 3 or 44 BB raise that could well mean AK or AQ or a pocket pair, and he calls, when probably he should have folded a hand that is easily dominated.
Or he sees that KQ in his hand and puts in a large preflop raise, as illustrated in one of the hands above, gets callled by AK or AQ and loses his stack.
I think I had a lot of luck in this tournament, but more and more I am grasping the essential point that poker is a game of deception. You cannot fool all the people all of the time, but you can fool most of them most of the time. A show of strength is weakness, a show of weakness is strength.
This guy was next to me on my right and had been acting the bully for a long time, but in the end I took my revenge when I slow played two pairs on the flop and he slow played an Ace on the turn.
A couple of hands later the other villain feasted on what was left of his stack, and he was history.