When people I know find out that I am a serious poker player, they often ask me "when am I going to see you on TV?" Since most televised events cost $10K or more, the answer is I am not going to be on television anytime soon. I suppose that I might be in a televised event during the WSOP, since they often televise lower buy-in events. Frankly, though, I'm not sure I want to play a televised event - I don't particualarly like being in front of a camera and I think they make you sign release forms and stuff that at least a few poker pros object to (Chris Ferguson and Andy Bloch, for example, no longer play in WPT events for this reason). Even the lowest buyin events at the WSOP are over $1K, and I very rarely play events over $400. Last night, however, I decided to try my hand at the $540 evening tournament at Mandalay Bay, part of their "Mandalay Bay Poker Championship." If I made it to the money, at least I would have some form of recognition to point my "fans" to. Besides, I am falling behind one of my poker buddies from back in college. The last time I saw him was the day after he placed in the WSOP event.
Only 42 people entered the $540 evening event, with 5 places to be paid. Actually, I think there were a few more entries after the tournament started, but their were still fewer than 50. My first table was mostly tight except for a pretty loose player directly to my right - a very favorable situation, really. I decided to play a little aggressively because the table was tight and I would almost always have position on the only guy who usually called. I had increased my stack from the initial 3000 to about 4000 (blinds at 25-50), when I picked up AA in middle position. the guy to my right limped in, and I raised to 200. I think my aggressive play may have paid off a bit here, because the next two people called behind me, and then the big blind went all-in for over 2500, probably an over-sized bet regardless of his holding. Anyway, the loose player folded and after several seconds of fake pondering, I pushed all-in too (I think this makes it look like I may just have AQ or something). The two players behind me folded. My AA held up against his 99, and my stack was up to about 7000. Meanwhile, some of the more experience playes were getting frustrated by our dealers. The first two dealers of the night were truly terrible. They certainly knew the rules, but they couldn't keep up with the action, and seemed not to have much motor control in their arms or fingers. Basically, the players had to announce where the action was, when it was time to put out the flop, what order he was supposed to deal in, etc. Fortunately, after that, we had much better, more experienced dealers, but those first two were just so ridiculous I felt I had to mention it here even though it doesn't much relate to the rest of the story.
At the first break (after 3 rounds of 40 minutes), with about 30 players left, I was the chip leader with about 18,000 in chips, with average around 4,500. After the break, another player at my table began getting very loose and aggressive, taking down a lot of pots. After about an hour, he was up to 15,000, and I was up to 30,000. We were playing 7-handed because only 15 players remaine. Blinds were 200-400 with antes of 25, so each hand had 775 in the pot to start. With him on the button and me in the big blind, he opened with a raise to 1200. I had 89o. This is a difficult situation because I think I can push him out with a raise, but if I raise to 4000 or something, I would really not welcome a reraise all-in, which was a common move on his part. I would probably have to fold if he did that. Alternatively, I could just push all-in right here. The player to my left, the big blind, was very solid, with around 8000 left. He would probably fold without a very unlikely AA-JJ. This would also force the original raiser to decide if he wanted to risk the whole tournament on this one hand. I think he would probably have made that raise to 1200 with about half of his possible hands, trying to steal the blinds, so it's not that likely he has a hand strong enough to call. I think he'd call with AJs or better, so let's do some Dan Harrington style calculations to see what the EV of an all-in raise here would be.
About 1.8% the big blind calls me with a big pair. Assuming the button folds in this case, the EV for me in this situation is:
% win/loss EV
17.2% I win, + 9575 1647
82.8% I lose, - 7800 -6458
Sum = -4811
Obviously bad for me, but this happens less than 2% of the time. The other 98% looks like this:
% win/loss EV
87.6% button folds + 1975 1730
12.4% button calls
17.2% I win +15775 336
82.8% I lose -14800 -1520
Sum = 546
Overall EV = .018*-4811 + .982*546 = -87 + 537 = 450.
Obviously I don't know exactly what hands my opponents might call or fold with here, so there is no way to get as precise as the number above indicate. Still, it looks like pushing all-in here is probably good for the Expected Value. Probably a bit too much risk, however. I'd really rather not lose 15000 chips, which will happen about 10% of the time.
Instead, I decided to just call with my 98o. Not sure if this was a good idea. The big blind folded.
Flop: 9d 9h Td.
Great flop for my hand, obviously. Despite the obvious draws on the board, I chanced a check here because my opponent was so very aggressive. As expected he bet, but only $1200. This looked a lot like a probe bet, so I figured he probably had nothing. A hand like a pair of tens or an overpair would want to bet more to charge me to draw to my straight (or flush). Anyway, I raised to 4500, and he came back over the top, all-in. I called, and he showed QJo with the J of diamonds. I was about 82.5% to win, but the K came on the river for his straight.
I held on for another hour or so before being the first knocked out at the final table. It was fun, though, and I feel like I played quite well. My inclusion in the Hendon Mob Poker Database will have to wait, though.