One Word: Strategery
This hand I played in a $6 MTT on Saturday has been reverberating in my head for most of the past two days. It illustrates perfectly what I love about poker. Looking back on it, I've approached it from every single angle. The goal not being to determine if my play was correct, but to explore alternate ways to think about it. The end result, hopefully, is to run through those possibilities while it's happening, instead of only in retrospect.
We were well into the second hour of the tourney. About 500 players left (out of 2000). I was sitting with a better than average stack of just over T8000, blinds at 150/300. I found JhJd on the button and I raised two limpers 4x. Both blinds folded, UTG called and CO folded. I put UTG on AK, AQ or medium pair, figuring he'd have re-raised with an over-pair.
The flop came 10c 2d 3d.
UTG bets out T1000. I take my time trying to figure out what it means. I ultimately decide he's got me pretty well pegged on JJ or thereabouts. I take the bet to mean he's got two overcards and/or a flush draw. If he's got both, he's a slight favorite.
I go ahead and push. I've got him covered by T1500, though a loss here would cripple me. Obviously, I hope to take it down right here.
He calls and shows Kd8d. Which is what I'd hoped for. Eleven outs, instead of 14. A terrible call by him on the pre-flop raise. But, here he is with a chance.
The turn is 8h. The river? Do I even need to tell you it's a diamond? The four, to be exact.
But this is not about getting rivered. It's about the other ways I could have played it. Ways which didn't occur to me at the time.
For instance, what about just calling the flop bet? Risky, to be sure. Showing a little weakness, for one. But also a defensive play. If a scare card falls on the turn, I can get away from the hand, maintaining an average stack, allowing me to still compete and pick the right spots. If no scare card comes, his odds of making his flush (or king) have dropped dramatically. He's now a 3-1 underdog. He certainly doesn't bet into me on the rag turn. I now have MORE the best of it. And a solid player would be likely to fold to my all-in (no question that's the only thing to do there) with only one card to come. Of course, this guy called a big pre-flop raise with K8s, so...
On the flip side, if a scare card DOES fall, now I've got to make the tough decision. By simply calling, I've forced myself into a dicey situation. His betting into me on the flop is also something that I have to factor into any play he makes.
So, what about this other play? Is it something I only came up with because of the manner in which I dropped the hand? I get the sense the guy plays it out until the end regardless, so the result is probably the same. But the idea of protecting my chips when I'm just slightly ahead is something I've not given much thought to. I am, undoubtedly, a novice player in the MTTs. As such, I find I'm looking to double up and steal blinds almost exclusively (and getting heads up with small stacks when I'm flush with chips). In this particular situation, my aggressiveness, my desire to double-up obscured alternate plays.
I don't think there is anything wrong with how I played it. I think there's something wrong with the fact I didn't run through all the possible ways TO play it.
For me, right now, I feel like it's best for me to minimize the number of difficult calls I need to make. Pushing on the flop certainly accomplishes that. Not sure it helps my growth as a player, however.
Any and all thoughts are appreciated.