Bad Play in San Jose

So I just busted my first bullet here in San Jose at Bay 101 casino. It’s the only tournament I show up on time for. Normally I wake up around 11am, head to the gym at noon, and skip the first 3-4 levels of tournaments, mostly the no ante levels because I find them to be quite boring and mostly useless for my overall chances of winning the event. The adrenaline I get from the gym outweighs whatever value there is for me in increasing my stack.

This event starts at 11am, and because I am a bounty I feel a responsibility to respect the venue and show up on time. Outside of the $50k Player Championship, the WSOP Main Event, and the $1 million One Drop, I simply do not plan on attending any tournaments right on time. I know after 20 years of playing what works for me and I’m clear that it’s the best way to approach these long, grueling tournaments.

So I was doing just fine up to the 100-200 level when I raised next to the button with 77. Owen Crowe, a fantastic Canadian pro, 3-bet me to 1300 from the button. I of course called and the flop came KQ7 with two diamonds. He is an aggressive player, so I elected to play possum and let him hang himself. I checked and he bet 1600. I called.

The turn was a 5, I checked, he bet 4200 and I just called hoping he would fire a big bet at the river. The river was a 2. I checked, and he bet 6000. He had about 14,000 left after making the bet, so I had to decide whether or not to raise or call. Folding is not an option at all.

I allowed a thought to creep in my head, “Well, if he has a bigger set I can always re-enter.” To me, the right play in this situation, if my tournament life is essentially on the line is to CALL. That’s especially true for me and the way that I play tournaments. Everyone knows that for me to play a hand this way, then check-raise the river, I have a REALLY strong hand. Minimum KQ. Owen is a great player and he knows this. So what is the point of raising? I need him to have AA, AK, or KQ, then I need him to actually call. I don’t think he is going to call with AK, he is likely to call with AA, and he is all but certain to call with KQ.

That doesn’t equate to enough hands I can beat that he would call with for me to warrant check-raising, but I did. I made it 15k and he put the rest in which I called. He turned over KK leaving me with just 7k left of my starting 30k stack. Sure, I could chalk it up to a “cooler” and be a victim to circumstance, but no way! This was a clear mistake. I chose poorly by raising that river, and the main reason I did so is because my mental state was off. Not on my usual routine, and allowing the re-entry to cloud my judgment.

I’m writing this blog as a journal entry where I am acknowledging to myself that I made a mistake and why. I’m also taking some time to digest it, reset my mind so that I will be prepared to play well when I re-enter this tournament after the dinner break tonight. If I don’t feel “up to it” by around 6pm, then I will go ahead and re-enter on day 1B. Playing right now would be a mistake. Not because I would spew off my stack recklessly necessarily, but because I haven’t quite let go of the mistake fully just yet.

So now that I have acknowledged my mistake, the next step is to declare my intention going forward. My intention is to re-enter at 6:30pm tonight and run up my 30k stack to 100k by the end of the night. I get the day off tomorrow so I’ll hit the gym and maybe drive around the city. I have come here for almost 20 years, but have yet to visit San Fransisco! My intention ultimately is to play well and win this tournament.

There has been lots of talk about re-entry tournaments, and I have chimed in various times. You can read that blog here.

As I mention in the blog, I personally much prefer freezeout tournaments to re-entry events, but I understand why organizers and the venue implement them. Based on conversations I’ve had with pros across the world, I feel like more and more of them are of a similar view.

The easy way to accommodate players who travel a long way to play the main event yet bust out early, is to offer tournaments on days 2, 3, and 4 of the main event. They will be there anyway and want to play, so instead of making the main events longer by allowing re-entry, you are better off holding more tournaments for the bust outs. In the past, venues would hold tournaments to bring players in to fill their cash games. It’s time we realize that times have changed. Tournament players come to play a tournament, because they want to play tournaments! They just don’t spill over to cash games like they used to, so venues should give the players what they want. Not re-entries, but postliminary tournaments.

***postliminary is not an actual word but I like it!***