Want to go for a wild-and-crazy ride? Then find yourself a spot in an ultra-low buy-in fixed-limit tournament, preferably with the availability of re-buys and add-ons. And be brave, very brave. The following is a recap of my play in one of these recent tourneys, and it's not pretty.
By way of background information: This was the $1,000 Guaranteed Fixed-Limit Tournament on the Prima Poker Network, starting at 3:30 a.m. EDT on September 12, 2005. I'd played this tournament a dozen or so times previously, doing quite well. The tourney normally attracts 170-200 players, invariably pays 20 places, and I'd already won it once and cashed two or three other times. This tournament epitomizes loose tournament play... but that doesn't mean a tighter player's necessarily going to win. The times are in military format: 0230 = 2:30 a.m.
Tourney Recap: $1,000 Guarantee Fixed-Limit Hold-'Em
Entry Fee: $3.00 (+ 0.50)
Starting Chips: 1,500
0232: First hand --- I catch 10-8 suited one ahead of the button, watch two limpers, a raiser and a cold-caller jump in in front of me. Tempting, but I want to get a handle on who the donkey betters are before I speculate. (Chip Total: 1,500)
0234: Second hand --- and already we have the first re-buy request for the table. Yee-hah! In fixed I like to wait a little while before making a rebuy, usually until I can't cover the needed four rounds of max bets without going all-in. I mean, when the blinds are 10/20, what's the point? I prefer to play on other people's money.
0241: Almost all Euro players here this time of night --- just me and one dude from Atlantic City representing this side of the pond, out of the 10 at my start table. Three of them, out of five Swedes total, are from Stockholm.
0242: I find K-10-off in the BB; six limpers to me this hand. The Q-7-5 rainbow makes it a throwaway. Across from me, a player named Lars_Vegas (claiming to be from Atlantic City), who's already played at least five hands, completes a Q-high straight with a J on the river, fitting his lovely 10-9-off pocket.
0244: Woo-hoo! Ks-Kd on the button, but a dangerous 2-J-J flop comes, including two hearts. I'd raised pre-flop and do it again on the turn when the board J's are checked to me, though I still get two callers. My bet on the heart 9 turn (representing the flush) gets rid of one of them, but the other, a player named LeDiable who's also already played several hand, calls again. A scary heart Q arrives on the river for the board four-flush, and the donkey turns out to have played the deuce of clubs and the (*sigh*) six of hearts. He called a pre-flop raise with 6-bleepin'-2 unsuited!! Jesusfuckingchrist!! (TC: 1,350)
0246: I try to steal on cutoff w/ A-10-off, and no betting before me; behind me the button 3-bets. Junk flop, no help. Crap. Lovely frigging start. Last place at the table. (TC: 1,230)
0248: There's lots of infomercials airing on a Sunday night/Monday morning.
0253: 8-3 suited in the BB. With four limpers between me and the button's raise, I'm almost tempted. Said "almost". Fittingly, a third manic type playing Q-4-off takes it away from that button raiser when the doof spikes a third four. I need a hardhat around here.
0256: It's checked around to me on the button where I give it a pop with a suited 9-8, but the LAG (loose-aggressive) player behind me (a thomas5555 from Stockholm) comes over the top again, out of the small blind. I end up with a gutshot straight draw plus overcards to the rag flop of 2-5-6, which kept me in all the way to a cheap showdown when a surprising check occurred. Unfortunately, a third player takes it down with a paired six. It turns out the 3-betting LAG has A-Jx --- about what I figured. (CT: 1,005) At least a couple of loose types have plummeted below me.
0258: A-8x under the gun, the second A I've seen. Well, -I- won't play it.
0300: Played to the turn for free from the BB. No nothing, not even a pair. Really sucky first half-hour. 0% hands won. (CT: 930)
0302: My K-10-off on the button gets dumped to the inevitable raise and re-raise from the two manic types in middle position. The board ultimately reads 8-4-6-6-7 with no flush possible. LeDiable's K-Qx didn't win, losing to the cold-call BB who turned over a suited J-7. Gawd. And the 3-better, who played to the showdown, had to have had slick or similar, too.
0305: With A-J-off, I smooth-call behind Lars (who raised pre-flop again), with the added protection of a cold-caller between him and me. The flop comes 3-8-A rainbow; Lars bets, I raise, and we've lost the third player. I bet again on the raggy 7 turn and raggier 5 river, and Lars_Boy mucks it there. (CT: 1580)
0307: My pocket 5-5 goes nowhere in the face of an A-J-6 all-diamond flop. Good old LeDiable's 10-9-of-diamonds pocket pushes him up to 5,390. Sigh.
0308: Good girl --- I dump K-Jx from position 5. The 8-K-A flop was trouble anyway.
0309: On the TV, Ron Popeil's done spieling; now Time-Life's selling their '70s soul collection. Ron's better entertainment in the context of an infomercial, somehow. Time for CNN.
0312: I find K-K again in the BB. The UTG player raises, there's one cold-caller (Lars), the button 3-bets, and I cap. The flop is a two-suited 8-8-9, with a Q and a 3 falling later, no help to the flush. Looks safe, right? Particularly since my bet on the flop scared off two of the players. But... Loose_Lucky_Lars takes it down with his lovely suited 8-7. And now I've got a cat on my lap, too, stomping my lap for attention. (CT: 480) K-K sucks.
0313: Re-buy. *sigh* (CT: 1,830)
0315: K-K a third time?? Sure enough. It gets capped again going to the flop, whcih comes a semi-dangerous 10-6-10 rainbow, but it's just me and the player who re-raised and capped me pre-flop. The 2 and 3 on the flop don't change my opinion of the strength of my hand in this heads-up match, whci, by the way, is against the player under the gun. I'm prepared to tell him nice hand for his AA at showdown time, but he turns up K-10-off. Yes, this from the UTG raiser. Fuck K-K and these loose morons. Must the junky trips card always be out? And who the hell caps with K-10x?? (CT: 780)
0320: I limp with 2-2. Six players see the flop, which comes 4-7-6. Fold. Cat evicted. Damn thing's shedding anyhow. (CT: 680)
0322: I dump 5-5 from UTG+1. I'm seeing tons of PP's --- but can't win with any of them. I have had, mildly put, luckier runs.
0323: Time for my second and last rebuy, not counting my add-on coming up at the break. I normally don't even go past one re-buy, but it's a treat for this first-time tourney recap, which already seems like a tourney from hell. I bet you don't think I've got the guts to write and post this crap, do you? (CT: 2,180)
0332: Time for my add-on at the break. (CT: 3,455; do or die) A puke-y 96th of 124 before the add-on, out of 195 entrants.
0335: Pee break. Thought you should know!
0337: Hee-hee! I win the first hand after the break when it's folded around to me in the small blind. I bet it with a paired J at the river (despite an A and K also on the board) since the BB has done nothing. Turns out he wasn't even connected, so the auto-fold brings it home to me. Good thing I didn't check it through! (CT: 3,605)
0340: Wow: A-A. LeDiable raise in front of me, of course, and caps it behind; we've got a third player as well. The flop comes a scary Q-J-9 with two hearts. Diable bets (again of course), I raise, and the the third player cold-calls behind me. Diable 3-bets, and I cap it because he's shown me a manic approach: he'll re-raise on a bottom pair, a joker, the little "poker odds" card that's always left behind in the deck box... anything. The third player isn't as loose as these other crazies so his two cold-calls to cap on the flop are far more of a concern.
Did I mention that the blinds had jumped to 100/200? It's a big hand for me, to say the least. Sure enough, the J turn on the river spells doom for my rockets, and I'm stuck making the crying call with over 6,000 in the pot. A small consolation: the cold-calling dude was all-in, and he's no surprise for me in turning over the third jack. (CT: 1,030). Don't care no more. At least LeDiable crashed out in the process with his pair of Q's, small consolation. What a wonderful run: AA, KK, KK and KK... and 0-for-4 on the batch. Plus a 10-10 and 9-9 I didn't mention earlier. I believe I've caught 9 pocket pairs in a hair over an hour and lost all nine, seeing a flop seven times. And I've been sucked down for bonus chips throughout by a couple of manic morons.
0345: A freeroll window opens; I'm already registered for it. Can I play two tables --- one fixed, one no-limit --- and write this all at once? We'll see! Stuff like 6-4, 4-9, 7-2 makes it easy for a while. The overnight freerolls are always like the translation of "Tora, Tora, Tora": Dive, Dive, Dive! But Prima freerolls are good money, too --- I took second in one a week earlier for $120. I've made the final table six times in two months.
0348: I'm all-in with K-Q-off and a Q comes on the flop. My challenger had sixes, so I doubled through. (CT: 1,760)
0349: Over in the freeroll, I dive in with 9-9 for my 1,000 chips from middle position... just because I'm on total tilt. Naturally, I'm cold-called by a suited J-10 on the all-in. And of course, the J comes on the flop. It's a good sotto voce lesson on tilting, not to mention going all-in on middle pairs, the moron call from that player notwithstanding. But whatcha gonna do when the cards run cold? At least I can type the rest of my notes on this fiasco at my leisure.
0353: I flip-flop the position of the table and WordPad windows on my terminal. That'll change my luck!
0354: I miss the BB when the player to my right crashes out! But my SB hand demands a limp, then a fold when I again utterly -whiffff- on the flop. So I only save a SB.
0355: I limp in with Qh-10c on the button, one of three to see the flop, which is 9-7-5, all hearts. My semi-bluff at the scare board takes down a mini-pot (CT: 1,910). 87th out of 90 and on the move!
0358: Two of the three manic LAGs at our table are gone now, though Loose_Lars lives on. The truth is, terrible flops aside, a chunk of my drop is attributable to the increased variance caused by their wild play. I was caught in the backwash, so to speak. In the long run, I'm guaranteed to do well against these players, but this tournament ain't the long run.
0403: 400 chips lost on a dead BB. (CT: 1,510)
0406: And all-in on a final 9-9 that gets neatly ironed out by a flopped king; with big slick on the button he'd re-raised me, and I'd capped the pre-flop 3-bet with damned little to lose. (What I had, I lost.) In summary, I was utterly doomed by my 0-for-10 on pocket pairs, including four that were still overpairs post-flop. I placed 82nd of 195... my worst finish ever in this event. I really hate poker right now.