Set the hook
That's what I didn't do late last night when I played a PartyPoker $5 SNG. I could blame all the turkey and ham and potatoes I ate, but ultimate responsibilty must fall at my feet. Had a little opportunity, my one real hand of the night, and I blew it.
Last post I wrote that aggression is the watchword when playing no-limit Hold-Em, and last night I tried to practice what I preached. I didn't get good cards at all but I did a lot of aggressive raising, especially in late position, and I stole three or four nice little pots. I didn't have good cards but I managed to build my stack to about 1100 from an 800 start.
The player two seats to my left was the early chip leader, and he started raising things up almost every hand and taking down lots of pots. But one time he bet 500 and the small blind went all-in (about 650) and Mr. Big called. The blind had pocket Kings, Mr. Big had A-8 offsuit. He wasn't Mr. Big no more. Two hands later he went all-in and the player to his left, who now had a slight chip lead, called. The former Mr. B turned over K-8 offsuit, his foe had pocket 10s, and that was that.
I hung around and let the other players make huge mistakes and get knocked out. Trouble was I didn't do any of the knocking. By the time we got down to the Final Four I had about 1300 in chips and the leader had around 3900. I didn't want to do something stupid and cost myself a chance to place in the money, but I did something stupid that perhaps cost me a chance to win the whole thing.
I was in the big blind and found myself with pocket deuces. Two other players called, including the chip leader, and I checked. The flop came 2-A-J, all different suits. Triple deuces, quack quack quack. The chip leader bet 300, which didn't intimidate me at all. I didn't see him with pocket aces or jacks, so I was confident that I had the best hand. The other player folded, leaving the decision to me. I figured the bettor either had an ace or he was trying to bully me in case I didn't have an ace. But with trips I of course wouldn't be bullied.
And then I did something stupid--I tried to play the bully myself. I went all-in. I hadn't made a really big bet all night, and for some reason I couldn't help myself from pushing in a thousand chips. Even as I hit the button I knew I was horribly overplaying my hand, and sure enough he folded without a second's pause.
I hung my head and bereted myself. I could have smooth-called him, let another card come up, and see if he would bet into me again. If he checked I could either make a small, tentative bet to string him along or wait to smack him on the river. True, maybe he had a straight draw, but even with KQ only a 10 could help him, and in that case I'd slow down. But I had a chance to milk this guy and instead I acted like a yahoo and panicked.
I didn't get a good hand the rest of the night. The #4 guy got knocked out by the chip leader, putting me in the money, and at the time I was only about 150 chips below the #2 guy. But he won a nice pot from the top dog, and the blinds whittled me down to 650 chips. I was in the big blind and checked to the leader, and when the flop came 10-K-10 I went all in, hoping to scare him out and let me pick up enough chips to keep me going a few more deals. No such luck. He had too many chips to be scared away by my tiny bet, and besides, he had a 10. I had the 5-3 of hearts with no heart on the board. It was the official end of my Christmas cheer.
Oh well, won four bucks and learned a lesson. I really enjoy playing SNGs, its just tough getting logged on to the doggone tables. It was still a good time, even though I messed up. It's hard to be too upset when I actually won a few bucks and learned a lesson, so I won't be. I just need to get better, bit by bit.