Monday, June 25, 2007

MTT Memories

I hardly played any poker this weekend, and it felt pretty good. The girlfriend and I decided to jampack our weekend with barbecues, art festivals, a gay pride parade, and several hours of Lost: Season 1. The only poker that I played this weekend were a couple of SNGs Friday night. In 3 games I had two cashes and 1 token win. But that's not to say that I didn't think about poker this weekend; in fact, I thought about it a lot.

On Saturday, while the girlfriend and I were throwing back some pints, the conversation turned to poker, again. I talk about poker a lot with her because, well, she's always around, and now that she's showing an interest in poker, I can't help it. I was talking about my stats lately; since the Mookie a couple of weeks ago, I've played 16 SNGS. My stats: 12 cashes, 7 wins, two tokens. My stats on Sharkscope: $425 profit, 32% ROI, and running SuperHot. More importantly, I've felt more confident with my game lately. I know I'm not at my peak game yet, but I'm getting there, and I've got this confidence now that I can run deep in a MTT very soon. I've got two tokens to burn, and with a 50% cash rate in the $26k (only 2 for 4, but it's a start), I'm going to see what I can do in that thing.

Of course, thinking about going deep in a MTT conjures up memories of my two MTT final tables. I haven't final tabled a large MTT since a 2nd place finish in a $77 game on Party Poker over a year ago. Granted, I've only played a couple since then (and I'm excluding my BloggerPods and 90-player SNG finishes from the list, BTW), so I've had few chances. Anyways, those memories of final tables past got me thinking about a couple hands from those games, mainly the hands I busted out on. Those hands got me thinking about more hands, and more hands, and so on. I remember so many different hands so vividly, it's like the screenshots from Hoy's blog, only in my head. So, as I set forth in my goal of making another final table, I make a trip to the past, and my 10 most memorable hands ever.

10. A9 vs Q3

Most of these hands were hands I busted out on, this one included. This hand occured on a $100+9 MTT I played on Party years ago. I played this after my first big MTT, and I remember it started late at night, around midnight. It wasn't too large of a field, somewhere between 180 & 200 runners. I signed up on a whim and almost immediately fell asleep. Somehow I made down to the final 18 and cashed when I made the mistake of limping A9 from the SB when it folded to me. Then, I c-bet the Q3x flop. When the A hit the turn, I knew I had to be golden, so I bet then called my opponents all in. He hit the BB special with Q3 and sent me to bed. This one sticks out mostly because I immediately knew afterwards just how badly I played this hand and I vowed never to get tricky with A9.

9. QQ vs AK

This was a hand from my first final table. We were getting close to the bubble and I had decent stack, but nothing that was very workable, something around 9900 (I don't remember what the blinds were). Someone raised in EP, I think about a 3rd of my stack, and I pushed with QQ. He had me covered, but I figured I had some fold equity, but I also knew that a call meant I could be out. He called and showed AK and my hand held up. In the same circumstance now, I'm not sure how many times I would make that play, but I remember that hand because I felt I had the best hand and I made the decision that I'd rather go deep and take down the tournament and risk busting then I would to just barely cash like I had several times before.

8. JJ vs Q9

This was another hand from the first MTT. I raised preflop with JJ. Flop came Q9x and I c-bet, got one caller. Turn was another 9. I led out again because I didn't put him on a Q and he still called. River was a J. At this point I put him on a 9 so I pushed. He calls and shows the Q9. This was a huge hand for me because it was the first time that I was able to go deep in a MTT with a good sized stack.

7. AA vs KQ.

I think this was the first time I ever laid down AA. I got AA on the button, and preflop, UTG raised. UTG+1 either called or reraised, I think reraised, and I just smooth called. UTG called as well, and the flop came Q high. At this point I was honestly scared of QQ, but the betting didn't get crazy, it might have even checked to the turn. Turn was a K and UTG now leads out. UTG+1 reraises, and I just had that feeling I was beat, so I folded. Turns out UTG had KQ and +1 had AK. Good laydown, Matt.

Of course, the river was the case A and I would've scooped a monster pot, but I think I ended up winning the whole thing (this was on a 5-table SNG).

6. KK vs AA

Probably the only time I've laid down KK preflop. A couple of hands before I doubled up through some guy with AA vs his KK. There was something about the way he played that hand, and most of his big hands, that I took note of. I think it was about 4 hands later that I got KK on the button. The same guy limped before me in the CO, and I raised it up. The SB and BB, both shorter stacks, called, then the CO reraised it. There was something about this play that called out AA to me, and after taking a huge pot off this guy, I didn't want to give the chips back. I folded, and both SB and BB called all-in. He showed AA and took a big pot, but it would have been bigger if I didn't fold. This was one of my prouder moments.

5. T3 vs Ax

This occured in another multi-table SNG. I had chipped up and had a pretty tight but solid image, when I decided to mix it up a bit. An EP player raised it up, but his bet seemed kind of weak, so I decided I was going to see if I could outmuscle him, so I smooth called from the BB. The flop came A high and I check raised his C-bet. The turn was a blank, and I lead out strong, essentially putting him all in, and he folded, saying that he thought he was outkicked. Prior to this I was a HORRIBLE bluffer, so I couldn't help but show him the bluff. I won't always make this move, but if I'm confident in my read, I've been known to call with air from time to time just to change things up like this.

4. 99 vs A3

This one occured in live play, when I was playing a tournament at the Plaza in Las Vegas. I was staying there many trips ago with some friends, and I decided to get up early and try my hand at their $55 game. This was my first time ever playing poker in Vegas. The first tournament I didn't even last the first break. I was visibly nervous and just completely out of my element. The second game I was a lot more calm, and after winning a huge pot with AK vs AQ preflop, I had a decent stack and made it to the second break.

After the tables broke, I sat down and got 99 about 5 hands in. It folds to me and, with a stack of around 8500, I raised it to 2k preflop, about 3xBB. One of the blinds call. Flop comes K63. I bet 2k and he calls. Turn is a blank. Another 2k bet, he calls. River is a 3 and he puts me all in. I didn't think he had a K at the time, so I called, and he shows A3 for the rivered trips. Today, I wouldn't play that hand the same way, but I'd still probably go broke because I had the feeling that he was treating his bottom pair like it was gold. This hand helped my live game because I gained some confidence in making some reads.

3. KK vs 42

This hand was relatively inconsequential. I think it was at a $22 multi-table SNG and I raised preflop with KK. BB calls. Flop comes 42x, no straight or flush possibilities. BB check raises me all in and shows 42 soooted. At this time I was still pretty brash and talked a lot of shit, and I just went off on the guy. I called him whatever I could think of and asked him how he could defend his call.

His response: "It was suited. I like suited cards".

Of course, today, I might make the same call he did, but I didn't understand it at the time. What I did understand though was two things:

A) Putting myself on tilt does me no good. I end up playing worse, and there's no point getting that upset about something I can't control.
B) Berating someone for a call like that does no good either. I want that guy to call me with 42 every single time I have KK.

Don't get me wrong, I still talk shit from time to time, and sometimes I can't help but let my emotions get the best of me. But from that hand forward, I've focused more energy on trying to play better and less on getting tilted.

2. QJ vs KK

This hand came from my 2nd place finish in a $77 MTT on Party, and my biggest cash - $3500. We were heads up and I had a decent chip lead, but nothing dominating. The other guy offered to make a deal. It might have been the smartest choice, but as I told him, I'd never really made it this far, and I wanted to go for the win. Of course, this decision probably cost me about $1k, but that's in the past now.

I raised preflop with QJd and my opponent just called. We checked the 9 high flop, and the turn was the Td. The 9 was also a diamond, so I was swimming in outs and looking at a potential straight flush. Plus, my opponent seemed weak, so I bet the pot. He then pushed all in for less than double and I had to call. He shows KK, I can't find an out, and he takes the chiplead. I finish in 2nd when my A4 is no good against A5 when we both pair our kicker.

I'd still probably make the same play, I just happened to get trapped by a slow played KK. Even though this wasn't the hand that busted me, it was the most crippling hand, and I went from being a confident chipleader to watching a chance at victory slip away.

1. JJ vs AA

Easily the most memorable. This was my first final table in a MTT. It was about 3pm on a Saturday, and I didn't really have anything to do, so I signed up for a $33 MTT on Party. Prior to this, I'd barely cashed a handful of times but nothing spectacular. I got a good run of cards, made some good decisions, and at the final table we get down to 4 when this hand comes up.

In the SB, I'm sitting at about 150k. Button has about 180k, BB is chipleader with 300k. UTG is shortstack with 32k, and blinds I think were 4k\8k. First hand after the break, shortstack pushes. Button folds, and I'm in SB with JJ. I think the shortstack could have anything, and 4 handed with JJ, and a chance to acquire more chips, I decide to push. BB chipleader instacalls with AA. Shortstack shows 44. First hand back, we all have pocketpairs, and we're both dominated by the chipleader. Wonderful.

I never hit my 2-outer and I go home in 3rd for about $1400.

Again, I'd probably make the same play again. Maybe if I call and check down I get away from the hand, but I wasn't in a position to call off about 1\4 my stack when I had a very strong hand 4-handed. I just happened to run into AA at the worst possible time. It happens.

Now, let's see if I can bump one of these hands off the list with a new one...preferably the hand that captures my first MTT victory.


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