Right after my largest-ever tournament win at the Master Classics Main Event, where I cashed €87,000 for my fifth place, it was time for me to head to Singapore. The first official poker tournament on Asian territory was being staged there, and quite frankly I had planned to go over there to do a special report for CardPlayer Europe, being its Bureau Chief. I had also arranged that my girlfriend could be included in the dealer crew. So even though in the end I didn’t need to go there for the report, I decided to go there anyway – if only to join my girlfriend, and maybe to just enjoy a little holiday.
But when I found out I could still enter the $5,000 Main Event, I thought: “What the heck. I am always abroad for stories, reports, and interviews – why not just play a tournament, for once.” Especially because I had noticed that the field was not particularly strong for an event of this size, and also because one could claim I was “in good form”, I decided to pony up the five grand. And even though I didn’t think the field as a whole was strong, it did include top flight players like Gus Hansen, John Pham & Liz Lieu.
I had an unlucky draw. While many tables had lots of soft spots, I was seated two to the right of Harry Demetriou, and also at my table was Singapore-born Willie Tann. Plus, two or three other players that I did not recognize seemed to play a very strong & aggressive game as well. But as the blinds were just 25-50 (with a starting stack of 10,000), and especially because our table was one of the first to get broken, I knew there was no real need for me to get involved this early in the event with any sub-optimal hands.
So, what did I do? Well, just that – getting involved with a sub-optimal hand. On just the second hand of play, it was folded to me on the button. Holding a J 10 , I decided to make it 125 to go. The small blind called, and then big blind Harry Demetriou reraised to 450 total. I went into the tank right away. Was Harry making a play at me? Obviously, he had heard about my overaggressive play at the Master Classics. So, could he be thinking something along the lines of: “Hey, it’s time to send this Rolf a message right from the start that I just cannot be messed with.” While seriously contemplating a reraise just to show that also I couldn’t be run over, I then decided to call and try to use my good position, rather than make a crazy move at just the second hand of play. The small blind called as well, and obviously I didn’t like this at all. I was in danger now of getting sandwiched, as the small blind would invariably go for the check-raise if he happened to flop something good – thereby putting me in the middle.
The flop came 772 with two diamonds, and Harry came out betting 475. I again thought about trying to raise him off his hand. But being on the button and with this board, I decided that this move would be a bit too “obvious”. So, after some deliberation I decided to fold, and when the small blind also folded, Harry then showed his hand: aces. Phew! I knew I had dodged a bullet. I had been this close to making a move on only the second hand of the tournament, putting my entire stack in jeopardy against the stone cold nuts. But fortunately for me, I had ultimately chosen to chicken out.
Outplaying Willie Tann in a small pot
Then I got involved in a pot with the strong Willie Tann. With the blinds still at 25-50, he had made it 150 to go from early position. Being seated two seats to his left, and playing a 9400 stack, I decided to just flatcall the 150 with my pocket kings. Two other players called, meaning we took the flop four-handed. When the flop came Q42 with two diamonds (that I didn’t have), I again chose to just flatcall Willie’s 475 bet. I was happy to see that the other players went out of the way, as I could now play the hand heads up, and in position without having to worry about a third player who could have flopped a monster. When the turn came a jack and Willie checked, I decided to check it back, for two reasons. First , I didn’t want to expose myself to a possible check-raise when (also because of the deceptive way I had played my kings) I wouldn’t know exactly where I was at. And second: Checking now would make river play very easy. So, when a second deuce came on the river to give me kings up and Willie checked once more, it was just a matter of selling my hand. I chose to value-bet 1025, knowing that the way the betting had gone, this for all the world would look like a total bluff. After some deliberation, Willie called with what I presume to be an unimproved ace-high, probably AK. I gave myself a pat on the back for having played the hand quite well, having found a proper balance between minimizing risk and still trying to make some money.
Making some stupid plays at a new table
When my table was broken up, I again found myself at a very strong table. In fact, this table didn’t seem to have any soft spots at all. (From the perspective of my opponents, I could very well be the soft spot. Especially after the many hands that I would misplay at this table, this assessment may not have been all that unreasonable…) This being a strong and tight-aggressive table, I decided to try and build an ultra-solid, yes even somewhat weak-tight image, hoping I could use this to my advantage later. But knowing that in general my strength doesn’t lie in playing a table of good players, especially not when the money is fairly deep, I didn’t think I would have much of an edge here. So, I decided to just lay low, knowing that with the blinds still low and the tables ten-handed, the overly tight strategy of just folding all marginal hands would not be punished that severely.
Then, after about 30 minutes of folding, I found AA under the gun. Having been so tight, I decided to just limp, hoping that one of the aggressive players would try to muscle me out, so I could then reraise. But right as I limped, no less than two players joked: “Aces?” after they saw me limp – and as it happened this became the first multiway pot at this table. The flop came good for me, K43 rainbow, and I decided that given my image, it would be best to just check and let someone behind me do the betting, so I could possibly check-raise. As it happened, it got checked around. And when a six came on the turn and then the big blind bet half pot into the field, I decided to fold there and then – rather than compound the errors I had made by first not raising before the flop, and then not betting after.
And then I played yet another hand in the same bad, weak-tight manner. Again just flatcalling a raise with a big pair, with again failed check-raise attempts on both the flop and turn, I finally snapped off a small bluff bet on the river from Harry Demetriou. But despite the fact that I had won the pot with my unimproved queens, the entire table could see I had not done anything right in this hand: not having protected it, having given my opponents free cards etc.
That was the bad thing. The good thing was that I still had 10,900 in chips, and that I could possibly profit from this weak-tight image later. If indeed I succeeded in this… well, you can read all about that in my next column.
Dieser Artikel erschien auf PokerOlymp am 29.08.2007.