On Monday I played in a live tournament at the Chicago Poker Classic, a $350 mega deep stack turbo.  I thought this tournament had great value, as they were adding 3 WSOP Main Event seats to the prize pool, so the equivalent of about 100 extra runners in prize pool $ added to the top, which made it a regular pay structure MTT with a free added satellite bonus feature.   The structure was also a familiar one, with 25K starting chips and 20 minute levels… it plays very similar to the online 20K/5min turbos PSO runs in the Home Game Club series each month, with deep stacks and lots of play early, and a similar progression/shallowing of money late.  Additionally the tournament allowed late entry and re-entry through the end of level 6, so there were a number of players willing to gamble for an early double up and fire multiple bullets if the effort failed.  In the end, a total of 394 bullets were fired (only 1 by me).  The tournament paid 36 places, with 27.5K on top.  Ultimately I was disappointed to fall just short of the final table, but it was nice to put together a deep run none the less, and my 11th place effort was worth $2173. 

This structure type requires some level of gambling in good spots and move making to accumulate chips that is more so than a slower structure, while still not going overboard and punting off your stack. And as with all tournaments, it also requires some luck. I thought for this blog entry it would be nice to share with you a few of the key hands. 


Hand 1 – Ad5d

My starting stack had dwindled down to about 14K on failed moves and failed flops, and one bad river bluff on my part.  With the blinds at 100-200/25 ante, there were 2 limpers in EP, then a raise to 600 in mp.  A shorter stack on my right who had just been moved to the table flatted the raise with about roughly 8K behind.  I called on the button with Ad5d.  I fully expected this to be a multi-way pot, and with a 70bb stack investing 3x in position with a hand that has nut potential seemed like a good risk/reward ratio.  Folding here would be too tight imo and fails to take advantage of a reasonable opportunity at a good price, and re-raising to squeeze is too reckless imo as players were not afraid to gamble at this table still being able to reenter, so fold equity was diminished pretty significantly. 

The SB and both limpers called, so we went to the flop 6 handed.  The flop came dry, AT7 rainbow with 1 diamond.  Action checked all the way around to me on the button, and I tossed out a 1K chip.  This should be enough to get rid of the riff raff, and since I likely have the best hand at this point and so many turn cards will put straight draw potential on the board, I see no good reason to give a free card to the field here.  If an EP player raises, I can feel comfortable folding my hand.  The SB called my 1K bet.  He was loose for “cheap” bets and liked to peel, so at this point I think his range is largely A-rag, Tx, 7x, any straight draw or gut shot, and the occasional slow play of 77.  The field folded around to the shorter stack on my right, and he surprisingly moves all in.  His body language had sort of a “let’s go” feel to it, like he was making a move.  Additionally, his action doesn’t make sense for a big hand… while a player in EP may check to the raiser with 2 pair or a set, hoping to get a c-bet and trap people, the late position player has no one to trap, and will usually bet a big hand rather than give a free card to 6 players.  He can’t know I’ll bet for him if he checks the flop, and I’m the only one left.  The likeliness of this line to be a move, and the body language, prompted me to not believe him.  I reraised all in to put pressure on the SB to get out of the way.  The SB tanked, and after about 30 seconds or so, shook his head and threw his hand away, flashing an ace in the process.

The short stack says “I guess I need runner runner runner” (lol) and turns over T8o for middle pair.  The turn 9 gave him a straight draw, but the river paired the 7 sending him to the re-entry line while getting me back up over the starting stack.


Hand 2 – Ah6h

After a number of non-eventful pots, steals, etc., this was the next significant pot I would play.  With the blinds at 1K-2K/300 ante, I was down to about 28K (14bbs).  My table had recently broken, and I was moved to a new table.  I had been there for about an orbit and had already figured out what was going on.  The 1 seat, who had the most chips at this table by far, was capitalizing on his stack and apparent lack of willingness of the others to play back at him by running over the table.  He had already raised 5 of the previous 7 hands when, after doing so again from the cut off, I looked down at Ah6h in the BB after the button and SB folded.  This is a classic good resteal situation with a blocker and good fold equity vs. a very wide range.  I jumped on the opportunity and raised all in.   He asked for a count, then after a brief consideration, called and turned over AJo.  So the first time I was all in and at risk for my tournament life, I was dominated.  But fortune would favor my 31% equity this time, with 2 hearts on the flop and another on the turn completing my nut flush and giving me a key double up at this stage of the tournament.

Hand 3 – AA

Literally 2 hands after my double up with the Ah6h, I’m on the button with AA.  Sadly the 1 seat didn’t open this hand, but when it folds around to the cut off, he does so, making it 4600 to go.  He had maybe 30K so I covered him.  I 3-bet to 10,400.  The SB, who was short, snap calls off for just less, 10,200.  After some deliberation the original raiser folds, so I take back 200 with my action limited to the SB’s short stack.  It’s a pretty gross set up hand for him, his patience in waiting for a premium hand finally paying off in the form of KK, only to run into aces. This time fortune would give back however, as the board ran out 6898K.  This hand wasn’t terribly significant, other than the fact I didn’t tilt in the least and just kept grinding.  And as evidence that I’m not always a big lucksack.

Hand 4 – 72o

Fast forward to a new table and much later in the tournament now.  We are down to 6 tables and 51 players remaining so the money bubble of 36 is approaching, and I’m sitting on a stack of about 10bb’s.   It folds around to me in the SB.  The player in the big blind is one who I know from the league John and I play at my local casino.  She is generally a very tight player, and while she has advanced her game to the point of open shoving a short stack lighter, she still is reticent to call off without big hands.  She has a similar stack of 10bb’s and I just felt like will not call off her tournament life without a premium here.  So I had an active plan that on short stacks,  any time it was folded to me in the SB, I would shove her BB to steal the blinds and antes and simply hope I didn’t run into a monster.  I looked at my hole cards for show… they just happened to be 72o this time.  After looking, I confidently moved all in as though I had the goods.   I was confident!  Not in my cards, but in the situation.  She groaned, and folded.

Hand 5 – KK

About an orbit and a half after the 72o hand, It folds around to me and I pick up KK and move all in.  The same tight player goes into the tank. Since I stole her big blind, she has open shoved ATs, getting called by JJ and winning to double up, then called a short stacks shove with JJ herself and holding up vs AK, so she’s got me well covered now.   Despite this, I know because she’s tight and respects my game (and like most of us, would not relish losing back some of the newly acquired stack so soon by putting money in bad), she’s got a big ace or a middle/high pair to be tanking.  But when she hasn’t reshoved within the first 3 seconds, I’m silently rooting for her action.  Eventually she declares herself all in as well.  The SB player who I slightly cover, overcalls all in as well.  We table the hands and I see I’m a solid favorite against her 88 and the SB’s AQo.   As the dealer brings the flop, there is an ace in the door, but the rest of the flop includes a K, and I get a key triple up that should allow me to not only make the money, but also to abuse the bubble some to accumulate more chips.

Hand 6 – KQo

Not much to say here… after consolidating down to 4 tables ITM, and with blinds at 8K/16K/2K ante, I open shoved ~180K with KQ, and got isolated by 44.  I won the flip to double up.

Hand 7 – A7o

Not long after the KQ double up hand, I opened A7o as a steal from MP for 35K.  Both blind players called, and we saw a flop of A33 rainbow.  They checked to me and I opted to check behind them… both for a small amount of pot control and to induce some action on future streets.  It’s very likely I’m ahead as most bigger aces would have 3b me preflop, and both villains are prone to giving action… the BB likes to stab at pots he thinks are winnable, and the SB likes to make loose calls.  Since there’s little to risk in a free card, and there’s not much worse they can call me with on the flop, it seems like checking is a reasonable play.  The turn is an 8, the SB checks, and the BB fires for a small bet of 30K.  I just call, in order to draw some loose calls from the SB, and give the BB a chance to bluff the river, an attempt to capitalize on each of their favorite mistakes.  The SB calls as well, and we see a T river.  They both check to me, and I make a small value bet of 40K, but neither bite and I take it down without a showdown. 

This put my stack over 500K and was my peak stack of the tournament.  Although that sounds like a lot, the reality is once the blinds caught up to my stack, the rest of the tournament was largely about managing a stack size between 8-25bb.  Common fare for turbo structure events. But don’t shy away from turbos.  With some good stack management, timely exploitation of steal and resteal spots, and yes, a little luck, they can be a lot of fun and very profitable.