Long-time readers of this blog know I have a healthy aversion to a certain starting hand in no-fold'em-hold'em, that being A-Q. While there are times that I'll play the hand as if it was aces, I've had so much bad luck with it, like Doyle Brunson, that I just won't play it hard a lot of the time. (It's about the only thing Doyle's game and mine have in common, by the way.)
But last night, I donked my way to victory with it.
'Twas the $2,500 Guarantee at Merge, a habitual stomping ground of mine. I've played very little overall the last two months; though I've always had decent success here, my sum total of poker on the network in the last three-weeks-plus has been six MTTs and a single paltry sit-'n'-go. No cash play whatsoever. Busy times.
Last night, though, I found myself with a couple of free hours and fired up the old $2,500. I was fortunate to double up early, then did nothing for at least an hour as a good chunk of the field passed me by. With the top ten cashing, I found myself bouncing between 13th and 17th and in desperate need of a double-up. It turned out I picked up not one but two double-ups as the final table approached, getting the chips in good both times and having the hands hold up.
Once in a while it's nice to run well.
I got to the final table fourth or fifth in chips and in no huge hurry, with an aggressive leader captaining the table and two or three extreme short stacks in need of departure times. Then I picked up pocket kings and dispatched one of the not-short stacks, who had pushed from the under the gun with pocket tens. My kings held and I was near the lead, and I stayed there, swapping the top spot with zgfjsh, the earlier leader, until we were down to four. Then he took a big pot to move out in front, and when we got down to three I was narrowly in third place, though not in terrible shape. Zgfjsh was on my right and MK-something was on my left, and they'd both shown a tendency to push hard at perceived weakness. I used that against the MK-something guy when I found another monster pair and let him get it all in on a 9-high flop. Soon enough we were down to two of us, me and zgfjsh.
I had perhaps 70 big blinds, zgfjsh 60 or 65, when the final hand arrived. I was on the bottom and found A-Q, my long-time nemesis. I raised three times zg's big blind, and he called. He had shown a tendency to three-bet with his big hands so I was pretty sure he didn't have a monster, but instead had something he wanted to see a flop with it.
The flop came 7d-Jd-Qc, I believe. (It was definitely two-suited though I forget which suit.) He checked, I bet about pot, and he check-raised me for about two-thirds of his stack.
Hmmmm, what does he have? I don't think he has an overpair, and I don't think he'd check-raise me on the flop with a set, so again, what's he have? To me the options are total air, a strong semi-bluff hand such as two diamonds or K-10 or 10-9, a hand I beat or tie such as A-Q, K-Q or A-J, or possibly two pair. He's aggressive enough to check-raise with total air, so that's a factor here. Given that I've ruled out the set, two pair is the only holding that beats me. I hate A-Q, and top-pair/top-kicker is foldable with as many chips as we have. And yet... I figure I'm ahead of his likely range. The pot-commit bet of his is as likely to be a ruse as not, too. I'm pretty sure it's the flush draw, so I jam... and he of course calls, being pot-committed.
Turns out I was wrong. He shows J-7 for bottom two and my A-Q is in trouble. It's okay, though, since the turn is a five and the river another five, and I donk out a better two pair and the victory.
See, you don't have to be good all the time. Being lucky after coming to the wrong decision works once in a while, too.