Tournament tactics, I played like a fool

Last night I decided to play the Hijack tournament, which is 6-handed, and starts at 7:30 pm Eastern Time, which is very convenient if you get home from work at around that time, and can play for up to a couple of hours before going to bed.

I have not played it recently because there are other tournaments at higher stakes at other starting times.

However last night I decided to have a shot at it because it was cheap, and I wanted to experiment with being super aggressive and playing a lot of bluffs without putting lots of my bankroll at risk of an early exit.

At first all went well:

but then I got over aggressive, lost a couple of pots, then did a few shoves and lost every single one of them, and was dumped out in 17th place, not even in the money which ran to 10 places.

Actually, once you have accumulated more than 10% of the chips in the tournament–this tournament had 51 players, so 255,000 chips–it is usually best to just fold your way into the prize money and get on the final table, perhaps picking up a few small pots from the blinds, and only open absolute monsters AA, KK, QQ, maybe limping JJ, TT, and 99 to set mine, and only call shoves with AA, and raises with AA, KK, or AK.

The shoves have to go to 5 cards, which improves the chances of A 5 beating your KK. The raises can be evaluated again on the flop, so AK is much more viable against a pocket pair and can take the pot at the flop.

Although I have won some tournaments from the top, most wins seem to come from sneaking in under the radar and climbing the rankings towards the end, playing as few hands as possible to remain viable.

This is the hand that started the process of my elimination.

I had a red queen and a red seven, and from this point onwards, it was all downhill. I should never have played this hand.

and then I was totally bewitched bothered, bewildered, and bamboozled by a player ranked 280,000. I had T 2 of clubs.

When I do well in an MTT, usually I manage to win one big hand early, and end up with around 15-20k in chips. Then I go on an extended cold streak where I get dealt absolute garbage for an hour and a half, so I fold every hand. Somehow or other I end up surviving to the bubble, and then once in a while I’ll get hot at that point, and go on a tear, knocking players out and get a lot of chips. I may win or I may just finish somewhere ITM, but that’s how it goes for me.

But every time I play an MTT, I see 2-3 players who are sitting on 30k chips within the first half hour. Some of these are bingo players who got lucky going all-in against some other bingo player 2-3x, and eventually their luck dries up and they lose their stack, but some of them hold onto it through the whole game, and some will even win even more, ending up with gargantuan 100k+ stacks that make them very tough to play against. I don’t know how, other than just being very lucky on 4-5 critical hands, they can do that.

That’s how it often goes. Perhaps it’s related to the act you’re FOLDING a lot during that interval. The thing I find scary is when the guy with the enormous chip lead–perhaps 3X the number 2 stack–decides to try to bully the table and ends up going out in 4th, 5th, or worse place. He/she would’ve been better off to sleep into the final 3.

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Oh, it is OFTEN related to that fact. At a certain blind level, with the type of stack I have, I can’t afford to lose any hand. At that point, it’s fold or shove, and mostly it’s fold.

I played very cautiously tonight in the 2 1/2 million chip buy-in tournament. There were only 7 entrants so it was more like a sit n go with 4 players on one table and three on the other until one player crashed out. With prize money for three people, there was not much of it, and I eventually ended up in second place and picked up a profit of about 1 buy-in.

On the final hand, I thought I was probably beaten, but called a shove because I had spent enough time on this and had other things to do to win favor with the poker gods.

Still I passed the 50 million chips landmark for the first time, which was encouraging. In spite of not buying chips on Facebook, or whatever you are supposed to do.

I still don’t know if the play is really better at the higher buy-ins, it is just that people are more cautious, and everything is quiet until two players pick up good hands at the same time and then there is an explosion as neither will yield.

You just have to observe the opponents and see who limps too much, who calls too much, who folds too much, and punish them accordingly until their stacks are depleted and the blinds coming up to meet them. A lot of time the opponents will turn over their cards, to help you know things about them, like they will call a pot sized bet with second pair and an Ace overcard.

In tonight’s game I was leading until I called a shove from the smallest stack on the bubble with AK. He turned over Jacks and won the hand, making me the small stack, however after hanging on with a few shoves, I shoved AT and was called by that same player, and doubled up and got back into the game. He eventually won it.

So all that careful play and it just ends up the same with more or less equal hands shoving and calling and the devil taking the hindmost.