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Minefield Dilemma

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Everest 50K Freezeout, approx 440 entries. Busted out in approx 200th place. Details:

Blinds 150/300. This table has not broken since play began: I have reads on all my opponents. Most are passive and seem like satellite entrants. For most of the tournament, the loosest one at the table was a fish on my immediate left; he recently busted out (giving his chips to the tricky player on my right) and was replaced by a new player. Over a very small sample, I have already observed him defend his BB and stick around vs the button on a “raisers flop”, as well as float another flop with only backdoor draws, barrel a blank turn into multiple opponents and check back river when he caught showdown value with a pair: This player, who unfortunately covers my chip total by a small margin, seems to be aggressive and understand position. The player in the BB is very tight and more than doubled me up last orbit when I limp-called his late position all-in squeeze from UTG, holding QQ vs AK; he is now the table shortstack.  I have shown very few hands, mostly premiums, so I should have a rather tight image. (It may be relevant to note that I had also doubled up on the first hand of the tournament by limping UTG with 65s.)

I am dealt QQ. The bigstack folds UTG and I am next to act. My stack contains approx 32BB, which is above average for the table. In a “minefield format” competition such as this, I always feel a dilemma when holding a big hand in early position. I tread a fine line between sticking to the standard opening strategy for value (this works best vs the decent players) and setting traps for the volatile and/or inexperienced players who are willing to pay me off with their dead money. Several stacks are currently in the 12-20BB range and probably looking to shove over a raise or a limp. I feel that if I limp, feigning weakness, it is possible that someone may try to isolate me from the consequent parade of limpers-behind (maybe even the shortstack BB player); however, the fact that I just executed that move makes it less likely to catch anyone by surprise this time. It would also be a tragedy if no one takes the bait and the action is never opened.

I decide to raise to 900, hoping to confuse my observant opponents by playing it straightforwardly. This way I can still get all the chips in against anyone who spastically shoves an ace or a pair in an attempt to double up. To my surprise, the new guy on my left reraises all-in for just over 10K chips (from UTG+2); placing everyone else all-in who still has cards. The action folds around to me. Not believing I am beat, but somewhat upset at having passed up the chance at a lower-variance outcome, I make the call for my remaining ~8700 and lose a race for approx 20th place chips. Safe flop, killer turn.

What happened in the Mutiverse… He might conceivably have folded if I had elected to limp-reraise, though probably not. I would never have merely limp-called if he had made a standard raise, so we would still have raced. The only other way to win the pot was if my open had been cold-called, allowing me to c-bet my overpair; but not even that is guaranteed since some players never fold Big Slick post-flop.

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