In my first article of this series, I suggested that a poker player may need several styles of play to obtain that magic first place. This is highlighted by the fact that tournaments may differ in structure as well as having different circumstances that creep up during play. It is for these reasons that I have searched the memory banks for some answers…..
My fist major win as a pro was the last in the Late Night Poker series that was screened in Europe and more recently, in the US by the Fox network.
With a starting stack of just 2000, blinds of 25-50 and 30 minute levels; this shootout format (seven players and the winner going through to the final), left little room to maneuver and no room at all for error. Every chip was priceless. So what’s the best approach for such an event? Apart from getting lucky and picking up hands early (as I did when winning a nice pot with aces), it needed a very careful approach. This did not mean waiting for a big hand (the fast clock made sure of that), it was more a case of not missing any opportunities to take the blinds or a small pot. If a pot was there to be taken, you had to take it. Even if the situation was not ideal for such a move, the circumstances dictated what needed to be done.
This kind of situation required a very tight, and yet aggressive style of play. It was not a caller’s kind of tournament that allowed you to try and outplay an opponent. Anyhow, not unless you managed to gain a major chip advantage. But with four players remaining and only one going through to the final, that was not the case as all four of us had a similar size stack. This was not an ideal situation for any player wishing to play purist poker. It was therefore going to require either a rush of raises or a major commitment to a hand. Picking up the blinds would have been ideal. It was the safe way to at least give yourself the time to wait for the right hands. Calling an all-in bet was risky. However, winning the hand would give you a great shot at winning.
But due to the overly aggressive play from one of players (Fabrice Soullier from France), the former was not going to be easy do. So I chose the latter, Fabrice’s style made sure of that. It also made him the target. It was now a matter of picking up a hand to call one of his all-in moves. As I said, this is not ideal. But sometimes in poker we are forced through circumstances to make a stand. Even though a showdown was opening the door to getting unlucky, it would also open the door to winning. Sometimes there is just no choice. This was one of those times.
Though I suggested earlier that aggression was by far the best policy for this kind of structure; Fabrice would be first to admit that he perhaps overdid this tactic. It was fast becoming obvious he could not be picking up the hands that he was representing. Hence the reason why he had become the target.
While waiting for the right hand to make a stand, I was lucky enough to become the slight chip-leader. This would make the decision somewhat easier as I would still be in the game should I lose, even if only just. And so when I was dealt AT on the bb, and all had folded to another of his raises, it was a quick and easy decision to call. Even if the speed of the call did make the others think that I had Aces. My thoughts on this occasion had been correct, as Fabrice turned over Q4os. I think this kind of situation typifies a lot of what poker is all about, and that is to give yourself a chance to get lucky with the best hand. I got lucky!
In the next article, I will cover the final and how the circumstances and approach were completely different.
Until then, play well, get lucky and enjoy life!
Peter “The Poet” Costa