The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012

July 30, 2007

The Tourney

My company does sales kickoff meetings twice a year, in January and July. About 4 years back, I started a tradition where we have a poker tournament on the second night of the meetings. It’s not a company-sponsored event, but we’ve now gotten to the point where over half the company participates, and I expect the number to rise next January.

As I’ve pointed out, I’ve actually won the tournament twice, January 2006 and July 2006. We played again a few weeks ago, and I had big hopes for my entry fee. After all, I’ve got a baby on the way, karma should dictate that I win another one, right? Given the size of the tournament, with 32 players (buy-in of $40 each minus food/beer), we had our first prize pool in excess of $1000, and our 1st-place prize was nearly $500. It’s by far the biggest we’ve had (the last one was 26 players), and with the new office we moved into, we had four nice tables in one room.

The tournament started off well. I played ultra-conservative, and won a few mid-size pots as the blinds started raising. As is typical, I don’t remember a single hand I won. As I started building some chips, it was about time to press.

One hand came along, and I had A-T suited. I raised pre-flop, and pushed all but one other player out of the hand. Flop comes queen and two blanks. He had position, and bet into me. I pushed and raised him, hoping to catch him out on a bluff. It wasn’t many chips, but given my conservative play, I knew it would make him think. He called, and I was worried. Turn comes, another blank. He checks, and rather than throw more chips away, I check behind him. The river comes, another blank, and he bets big into me. Given that I was on nothing more than ace-high, I had to step away from the hand.

Not long after, I pulled pocket 5’s. Pre-flop, I raise, trying to push everyone off the hand. One guy stays with me, and he’s a serious player, so I know I’ve got to tread lightly. Flop comes A-2-3, giving me an inside straight draw, but with a big card out, scaring the hell out of me. He checks to me, perhaps thinking I’m holding an ace. I bet 200 chips into him, looking to push him off if he’s holding KQ or something similar. I know he can’t call without an ace. Well, he doesn’t call. He moves all-in. This puts me in a tough spot. I know he’s a strong enough player to make a bluff on that, but also know that he knows I’m a conservative player, and won’t get into a hand if I don’t have something. I felt a little like the below scene… I knew what I knew, knew what he knew, but knew that he knew that I knew what he knew. So all bets were off. I judged that there was no way he’d make a move like that on me without an ace, and even if he didn’t have an ace, it was too early in the tournament for me to throw it away on a hunch. So I folded again. I did find out the next day that he was holding an ace with a weak kicker, so we were both in a position of non-strength, but I was happy with my decision.

So at this point, my stack is starting to drop off. Blinds are raising, and I need to find a place to make a move. I have a little over 400 chips, and the blinds are 50-100. So I’m getting to an all-in or fold moment. Luckily, a dream hand comes. A-Q suited. In position. You can’t ask for much more than that. I figure I’m a shoo-in to steal the blinds, and if I do get into a hand, there’s only a few hands that I’m actually an underdog to. So I move in. Everyone folds but the big blind, who (I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize it) was pot-committed. He’s in for maybe 275 chips or so, and he’s dwindling so far that in the big blind, I think he’d have called on anything. Well, he had 6-7 offsuit, so there’s not much “anything” below that. Granted, I’m a fair favorite in this hand, but I know all it takes is a 6 or 7 to beat me. And a 6 comes on the flop, but so does my queen. So I’m no longer a fair favorite, I’m now a pretty strong favorite. We’ve each got a pair, but I’ve got the big pair and there’s only two cards to come. And then he hits his 7 on the river, to beat me with two pair, leaving me in an UGLY chip position.

Now I’m desperate. With the blinds at 50-100, and me with only 120 chips in front of me, I know I need to pick my best hand and move in with it, and pray for luck. And again, a hand comes along… Ace-King offsuit (king is clubs). That’s a heck of a lot better than I can expect when I’m only two seats out of the blind, so I move in (obviously). Given the tiny move it was, three players stick in the pot. Flop comes with three clubs in it. I’m thinking I’ve got a shot, but two other players move all-in on the hand (the third player folds), so I’m a bit worried. The guy who moved me off the pot earlier shows two low clubs, and the guy who is about to double him up shows something else (it was obviously inconsequential at this point). So all I need is a fourth club and I’m golden, I quadruple up and the other guy still makes a nice big pot. The turn is a red card. River is an ace, but not of clubs. And I’m done.

All told, in a field of 32, I finished roughly in the high teens. Not great, but I didn’t do anything stupid. Looking at all the hands I played, I can’t think of a way that I could have played a single one better, given the circumstances. I’ve had tournaments where I’ve won but made some questionable decisions, but this was one of those days that I made great decisions yet still lost. So I was happy with my performance, just not my results.

I was a bit pleased that the tournament was won by a fellow Boilermaker. There are only two Purdue guys in the entire company, and between us we’ve won the tournament 3 times. Given that the company is in California, and Purdue is in Indiana, I think that’s a nice bragging point. He was at a different table, so I didn’t get to see his tournament, but I’m told it hinged on one hand. For some reason he called two all-in bets preflop with 2-4. Nobody knows why he did it. But I think he ended up making a full-house with that hand, and that was the one everyone remembers. One guy in particular, Joe, who is a decent player, was complaining about that hand all night long, as he got knocked out. But the winner, counting a little side bet, walked away with over $500.

We’ve had a few side games occur during the tournaments. I decided, for the first time, to actually take part in this game this time. Usually if I’m not at the final table, I’m observing it, in order to get enough interesting information to write a poker summary that the entire company has grown to expect the next day. But this time, I decided to throw responsibility to the wind, and join the “loser’s” table.

We ended up with 8 players, in for $20 each. We started with a huge number of chips in comparison to the blinds, and we ended up being ahead of the blinds the whole tournament. Given my conservative nature, I love playing with enough chips to disregard the blinds. I’m sure I could have simply folded into 3rd place (the low-money spot), and possibly even into second. With players who were all amped-up and looking to make up for their poor performance in the big tourney, it was a lot of wild betting with little purpose. So I just sat back and played a tight-aggressive strategy, and watched as everyone picked each other off. Getting down to 4th place, I knew I was in decent shape. When we finally hit the money, I started opening things up a bit, as I was the short stack at the table (without being a small stack, I was still the shortest at the table). I also started getting some decent cards.

We knocked off another player, and were down to 2. I started pulling a few big hands, and took the chip lead by a decent margin. A hand came up, and I was holding 2-7 suited. Not very good, but I was in the big blind and my opponent, Joe*, simply called. So with a free flop, I checked. Flop came 7 and two other blanks. I move all-in, knowing I’ve probably got the best hand and that my opponent will see the move as a bluff. He calls. Turn comes 7, and river comes 2, for a full house.

I managed to win the loser’s table, but considering that I won $90, I was still $30 in the positive. And that’s not even counting the case and a half of free beer. It was cheap beer, but it was free cheap beer, so I’ll take it.

All in all, a nice evening. I certainly would have liked to win the whole thing, but any time you make money is a good night in a poker tournament.

* Joe is the same guy who lost to me with 2-7, and the winner of the big tournament with 2-4. Not exactly his night, and he’s still complaining about that!

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:00 pm || Permalink || Comments (2) || Trackback URL || Categories: Personal Life, Poker/Gambling, Purdue


  1. Looks like your tournaments are a real hit! You came out in the black and that is always good.

    Comment by Lucy Stern — July 31, 2007 @ 9:29 pm
  2. I agree, you just ran into some tough beats, but played well. We both know that’s going to happen. I could write for hours about the brutal beats I’ve taken lately, but why bother. That’s poker.

    Comment by Arizona Lawyer — August 8, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

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