Well finally one of those tournament things paid off. Last Saturday night, I played a Winner-Takes-All satellite to the $1500 PLO event at the WSOP and managed to stumble my way to victory :-) Hopefully I will be another fat bloke talking about how I turned one hundred bucks into hundreds of thousands on ESPN...hold it, maybe I need to lose weight!
I almost didn't play the event itself as I was feeling quite under the weather with a man-cold that I haven't been able to throw off. But because it had been organised by one of the immortals on the 2+2 plo forum, and occasionally here, Acesover8s, I gave it a spin.
To be honest, I didn't pay a whole heap of attention to the early stages as I was having some big swings on PLO8b on Stars. There was a lot of play though, and after taking an early lead I then bluffed off a few too many chips and had to get into waiting mode.
Even this didn't really pay off, and with 13-14 players left I had less than 2% of the chips in play. In these kind of stages the way to play is very simple - make sure you have enough to make a raise...and make sure you raise and don't call off your chips so at least you have two ways to win. I trawled through this mud for quite some time, building back up, but never enough where my stack had any real kind of play to it beside allin. Eventually this tight aggressive approach got me to the final table, but only with 7 big blinds. So again my approach was dictated for me...wait for hands, make cheap moves where possible and be aggressive if I played at all. The game was being played to a very very loose aggro style, and it simply didnt make sense trying to play flops with such a short stack. I ended up passing a lot of hands that I would play in a cash game and it seemed I was the only one really making that kind of adjustment. This doesn't mean I was adverse to making a steal or two with something like Kh,2d,Js,Qs for example...but these were position moves only.
My first big break was when I raised with Ad,Jd,Ac,4d and got a caller who also called for a reasonable allin bet on the flop of 10d,Qh,5d. The fact I was called by Ah,7c,5h,7h showed just how loose the table was playing. Kind of a hybrid PLO/NLHE combo :) This gave me room to breathe, but I was still playing a tight game, for example I passed a medium suited pair to a raise in my big blind. All the confrontations would be of my choosing, if I could help it.
I ticked along in this fashion for quite a while. One of the things I was lucky with was that when I did get my raises called, I tended to hit something on the flop, even if it was only a good draw. This meant it was much easier to follow through and bet the flop. Then I made my first real bad mistake. I called a very loose raiser from the big blind with Ah,8s,9d,4c and the flop only brought me Jc,7s,8c. Now I could actually be in front here, and I do have a half-assed draw, but I felt I needed more in this spot, especially and perhaps paradoxically BECAUSE he was a loose raiser. I hung tight for a while until I got a chance to make a nice move to make up for my previous poor one:
With only $3100 in my stack I called 1800 more from the small blind from the same loose raiser with 8d,7c,Jc,7d. Yes, CALLED. You guessed it, I was going to bet regardless of what came on the flop, which was an ok Kd,4d,2c...my foe passed.
Only a few hands later i found myself headsup facing over a 5 to 1 chip disadvantage. I would have to get lucky. What was in my favor was that my opponent was playing very, very fast. Now some people prefer trying to finish off a tourney in this way, a quick murder. But I don't like it. Especially when the antes are large enough and my stack still of a size that if I double up a few times, I'm the chip favourite. There was no point in limping as he would raise...so I was happy to let him limp and if I was in, I was firing. I lost some ground, then doubled up with kings. Immediately I bet out the very next hand with bottom two pair on the flop, and passed to a raise. Again, I wasn't going to try and get lucky on a call.
I was then lucky for 9c,As,Kd,2d to stand up against Jc,Kh,10d,Qh allin preflop. The power really shifted when I reraised with 10h,4s,10s,2c against 10c,3d,Ad,7d and won on the flop when nothing came. To be honest I don't like either of our plays in this hand...my tens action is too extreme and he should really pass to the reraise.
Now I was chip leader the difference in approaches was very apparent. I didn't give him much action at all, I was looking to grind him out, and when he raised I only called with Qh,Ad,3h,Ks. The flop came a very nice 10c,6s,Js and I check raised him allin with his 7s,4d,7c,Jc and I hit my str8 on the river! My opponent played a great game, considering his inexperience but I feel he tried to close me down too quickly instead of just anteing me out.
So, adorned in Absolutepoker.com livery, to Vegas I shall go!