After getting an endorsement from Junell, I had been thinking about going to check out John Smiley's game on the north side. This afternoon I got an email advertising their $100 NL tournament beginning at 6:00 this evening, so I decided tonight would be the night.
I showed up. I drew for a seat and sat down with the other 15 players. Then I paid my money and drew the big blind at the start. My strategy going in was to play very aggressively because of the fast blind structure the rather low number of players. On the first hand I checked my blind to the lone limper at the end of the table and then folded when my trash BB hand didn't meld with the trash flop.
On the second hand I played a marginal hand from the small blind (J8s), caught top pair on the flop (J 2 4), and got one other caller to my 2x overbet. I was surprised by the call - as opposed to a raise or a fold - and figured then that I was up against a better kicker.
Then an Ace came on the turn and I checked with the full intention of folding to any action. Instead, he checked too and now was pretty sure that I was up against something like KJ or QJ or that he had caught one of the tiny ends of the flop and called in hopes of catching trips or two pair on 4th and 5th streets.
Either way, when I caught two pair on the river, I was certain it was good and I went all in. I knew right away that I was beat by the way he quickly and eagerly called. I announced "two pair", he announced "straight", the dealer confirmed his straight, and I got up and walked out, eliminated on the second hand of the tournament - a new record for me.
I wasn't particularly bothered by being eliminated, nor was I bothered by the incredulous looks that I got from the strangers who gawked as I got up to walk out so quickly - (I know they were thinking that I must have been a true dumbass neophyte to be eliminated so quickly in a tournament - heaven forbid that anyone would not play timidly and defensively!). None of this botherd me because I am fully aware of and quite comfortable with the fact that quick elimination is a necessary risk of the fast strategy that is required in a small tournament like that.
No, what bothered me was that I had - again - missed seeing a straight on the board. That the 8 on the end had hit him right in the gut and that I was blinded by dollar signs from my two pair that I never saw that it could have helped someone else more than it helped me. That once again I was so caught up in my own style of play that I forget to remember that even thought I don't usually play 9To or 79o, that doesn't mean other people are so selective. I will sometimes miss a straight on the board and get clobbered thinking that my top pair or set or two pair is good because there is no flush or paired rank on the board. Yes, that making that little mistake once again was what was annoying me as I drove home, but I could figure out how he had made a straight with just a Jack and an 8 on the board.
I was beginning to think there had been some mistake - that the guy had misread his hand I had left too soon. But then, I realized it. It all became clear.
He limped before the flop with 35, probably suited. A marginal hand that I probably wouldn't have limped in with, but I could defend it as an appropriately aggressive play given the structure. And besides, Fro would have definitely approved of a play like that from late position.
The he caught a perfect flop - I had piece enough to be interested and he was open ended. This was such a perfectly disguised trap hand that if he did catch the straight, he was going to make a lot of money off of me.
The Ace was probably the perfect card on the turn, at least against me - because I always just assume the Ace is high and I never look at an Ace as a low card unless I'm playing Omaha. I also like to believe, until I see otherwise out of an unfamiliar player, that most people arounda poker table are idiots who will play any Ace dealt to them. Both of these assumptions thus led me to believe that when he checked, the Ace was blank for both of us. I was licking my chops, and instead, he was slowplaying the shit out of me, hoping that I would either still like what I had seen on the flop or would at least catch a little something on the river to induce a bet that he could then come in over the top. I stepped right into his trap.
Now, before I go nuts, let me quote "The Wolf" and caution myself not to blindly suck anyone's dick - either my own because I'm a genius in figuring this out 10 minutes too late, or his for being such a brilliant player. The fact is that he still limped before the flop with 35 (whether suited or unsuited) and then simply called a big overbet with nothing more than an open ended draw - not so much as a semi-bluff. Then, the turn and the river were perfect cards - a 6 on the turn instead of an Ace would have probably been a more obvious danger signal to me and had I not caught my own two pair on the end I would have probably just checked and surrendered to whatever he did at the end because I was out of position with a marginal hand. In a sense, he caught a runner runner beauty for me to have played like I did, or even more generally, it took a perfect 5 card sequence for him to get all of my chips.
And before the comments start rolling in, yes, I should have seen the possibility of a straight when the Ace came on the turn - I play against Fro enough that I should be used to those hands by now. I also agree that there could be an argument made for being more cautious so early in the tournament before I can get a good read on other players. But I also figure that in a small tournament that escalates as quickly as that one does - it's a race to catch cards before your out of chips, and I had a great opportunity to make a significant windfall so early in a tournament.
So I will say this - the slowplay was genius. Ths hand was interesting. And I'm ready to go try again next week, for a whole lot of reasons, mostly that I would like to make it around the table one time before getting eliminated.