You would think that table image would not matter a lot in tournaments since you are constantly shifting tables, but in fact it does matter quite a bit.
If you watch top professional poker videos, you see the same dozen or so talking heads, hoodies, backwards baseball caps with sunglasses and so on all the time.
These guys know each other’s game inside out and remember individual hands from years ago. On RP, you run into the same gang of villains all the time, and remember what happened before.
Over the last couple of months, I had been trying to improve my tournament game by tightening up a bit and not wasting chips on silly plays, but the main result seemed to be negative.
I was playing the 1-million buy-in 6 seater MTT each evening at 6:30 PM my local time (Milky Way) and repeating again in the 9-seater at 9:30 pm, also playing some of the larger buy-in (5 million) tourneys at the weekends. The opposition is pretty much the same people in all of these tournaments and I guess can be considered to be the best MTT players on RP since several of the regular players are known to me as being on the RP all-time winners toplist, having won billions of chips in MTTs over various periods of time.
However my results were disappointing. Sure I was nearly always surviving the first hour, often making it to the final table, frequently going out on the bubble, and sometimes getting into the money, but I was not winning tournaments or even coming second, and had lost about 10% of my overall bankroll on this downward slide.
Last night I made a conscious decision to loosen up and play more aggressively and entered the 2.5 million chips 6-seater tournament. I had noticed that during my period of decline, I seemed to be getting less respect from opponents, for example one opponent would always call my preflop raises and then bet back at me ferociously on nondescript flops forcing me to fold or else get into a stack-threatening situation.
I started off really badly, losing nearly half my stack within the first few hands, while showing that I was not going to be pushed around. Soon I was in shove preflop/shove-the-flop mode and started to get a lot of respect from opponents who didn’t want to lose half their stacks by calling top pair weak kicker.
I struggled back and finally at the end of the first hour, I had recovered my original 5000 chips and had a few to spare, but was still among the tailenders.
I continued to struggle, always low on chips, but just hanging on, and sometimes winning pots by raising preflop with nothing at all and holding my breath.
With 7 players left (final table has 6 players) I was on a table with 2 other players both with huge stacks, who were playing cat and mouse with me down to my last 2000 chips, but somehow I snuck onto the final table, though in a hopeless position that only improved a bit after I launched a hostile takeover of another small stack and won.
With 5 players left (4 to get money) my position was again hopeless. The bubble went on for ever in a veritable marathon, perhaps for half an hour. I was always facing elimination, and yet no one would pull the trigger on me. Several times I was in the Big Blind with hopeless, unplayable hands and everyone folded to me fearful of me shoving, doubling up, and getting back in the game.
I gradually built my stack time after time with a number of secret stealth moves that I have patented, and four times I took on the smallest stack heads-up all-in to try to burst the bubble with promising hands, and four times I lost and the small stack redoubled up and overtook me, pushing me back down into the hotseat.
Finally the bubble burst, and it was my tiny, puny stack against 3 huge megastacks. Again no one wanted to pull the trigger on me, but I got lucky when one of the bullies in SB raised to my BB. I had KT suited and decided to shove all in and take my chances, so I shoved. After some cogitation, SB called and turned over the mighty J2o, which I managed to defeat in spite of RP being rigged, blah, blah, blah.
(As regards to rigging, I am one of the lucky ones, as RP is quite often rigged in my favour, even though I have never bought chips, so I have no complaints.)
After this humiliation the player in SB started getting slammed by the two other players who lost respect for his bluffs and faded out of contention.
This hand was a turning point, as I was now in a position to put some serious hurt on the big stacks.
The game went on and on, and eventually I got a bit lucky when my AQ hit an Ace on the river to make 2 pairs and a huge pot put me into the lead for the first time, after spending the last hour on death row. Could I now turn the tables and execute the bullies?
Long story short, it came down to heads-up and I had the larger stack by a small margin. Now started an even longer marathon heads-up session in which mostly I led, but the lead switched several times. My opponent was slightly too timid, and each time I went behind I was able to escalate into huge pots and take back the lead, mostly with bluffs.
It was as if I was playing against myself of last week.
The blinds crept up and up until we reached the point at 3000/6000 where there were only 24 BBs in play, where it became shove or fold. We were both exhausted and with stacks almost even, there was a shove and a call. Who had what?
Opponent was a sitting duck after this reverse and when I flopped a set of 2s two hands later I let him have both barrels and he was a very dead duck indeed.
So that was it. Totally exhausted after just over 3 hours of play, with bankroll mostly restored. I have to give credit to my opponents, though, for being so merciful. So many times they could have easily knocked me out, but were intimidated by my wild and crazy table image. Had I still been playing Mr. Righty-Tighty, they would have been all over me.
But what of the standard of play? I cannot honestly say that there was any player in the tournament who showed any signs of approaching professional or semiprofessional standards or sophisticated knowledge of ranges, so probably winning was mostly luck. After all, in every tournament on RP there is only one winner, but never less than one winner.
In this scene, I always knew that Liam Neeson would be the winner, even though he momentarily looked like the underdog after he had dropped his sword, and was pinned with the rapier on his neck, which proved to be a temporary inconvenience. It is all about table image and being able to pull the trigger.