Day 2 - Playing the Small Stack With Confidence Finally Pays Off
My confidence from day 1 carried me into a successful day 2. I didn’t get lucky but unlike day 1 I didn’t get unlucky either. No luck with the table draw as again there was no real weak player – only 1 or 2 that were not very strong. I was the small stack at my table for much of the day but I kept my nerve, chose some spots to steal some chips to stay alive and when the big hands finally came and held up my stack grew to a reasonably comfortable 74000.
My starting hands were pretty close to what would statistically be expected over 240 hands (8 hours at approximately 30 hands per hour). The statistics say you’ll get dealt each premium pair about once every 220 hands – in fact I got pretty close to that::
Aces – once
Kings – twice
Queens – none
Jacks – none
Tens – once
Nines – once
You should get ace-king and ace-queen about once every 80 hands or so and I did get both twice. I only saw 6 flops all day and only “hit” one of them but at least I didn’t hit them only to have my opponent hit them real hard like on day one.
The day started out with a new challenge I’ve never faced before at the WSOP – the dreaded boob-ploy! A 30ish blonde woman from Denmark wearing a much lower cut blouse than she has on this in picture:
sits down at out table and starts flirting with the guys. Classic maneuver to distract, disarm and then disembowel. Now I know my new bride is reading this so let’s just say I was prepared for the ploy, stayed the heck away from her and although there can be no visual evidence of my eyes behind my sunglasses lets just say they stayed glued to my cards and the faces of my opponents!
Actually I had my only emotional outburst of the day when she doubled me up just before the dinner break. She said something a little bit nasty to me which did set me off for about 3 seconds – since doubling up was the turning point of the tournament for me let me tell you how it went down.
I was sitting with about 17k in chips 10 minutes before the dinner break - which is starting to get lowish – not danger but getting close when she makes a standard raise to 2.2k, gets called by one other player and I look down in the small blind to find AK of clubs. The correct play here is to reraise all in – a standard reraise would be about 10k and using the rest of my stack makes it more difficult for either one to call which is what I’m basically looking for even though I have to put my tournament life at risk. With AK even if you are called you are either 50/50 if they have a lower pair, a big favorite if they call with an Ace and a lower card than a king and a 65% favorite if they call with two other cards say 10Jack. You’re only really crushed if they have Aces and Kings. So I’m hoping for her to fold to pick up the 6.5k already in the pot but I’ve still got a reasonable shot if she calls. Now she thinks about it for about 3 minutes with a stack size of approx 65K – so its not a small decision for her to call my 15k raise - before she finally decides to call. I table the AK, she winces and tables an AQ. I let out a yelp of “Yes” (first emotional outburst of the tournament for me) because I’m a 75% chance to win and this time my hand holds up to get me to 35K!
She says out loud “I really thought he wanted to go home which is why I called”. What she is saying is that she thought I was feeling the severe emotional strain of playing the small stack, was ready to mentally crack under the strain and was willing to shove with a mediocre hand to get it over with one way or the other – either double up and no longer be a short stack or get knocked out to end the strain. This happens all the time – in fact a well known player at our table (Gabe Thaler) did just that about an hour after our dinner break – just shoved without thinking too hard out of frustration and sure enough got knocked out. I took that as an insult and shot back “You think I want to go home – you think I want to go home – I don’t want to go home” (second emotional outburst) but then caught myself, took a breath, smiled and said in a comedic voice – “I just want to go to dinner!”.
One of my goals this tournament is to maintain composure throughout – showing no emotion even if I win a big pot – the idea is to send a message to my opponents as well as to myself that I do have ice water in my veins. Well I failed at that point but I’m rededicating myself to that task going forward in the tournament.
My most proud play of the day came in the round after the dinner break. I’m sitting with about 33k in chips at this point which is still one of the smallest at the table but not a small stack per se. I haven’t raised the pot for a few rounds so I decide I can try to steal the antes and blinds with a J9 of spades (not a great hand to play if I do get called but could turn into a big win if I do hit it since the table takes me to be very conservative and would not figure me for a hand like that). A big 40ish British guy with a straw hat with a confident almost obnoxious manner and a big stack of about 150k calls. So we see the flop with about 6k in the pot.
The flop comes A92 with not two cards suited for a flush draw. I’ve got a pair and I bet 3.5k representing the big Ace. He raises me back to 8k total (4.5k raise). Hmmm – likely he actually has an Ace but why did he raise so small? Is he concerned that I have a big Ace like AK and he wants to find out where he’s at or does he have a real monster like three of a kind and he’s trying to lure me into the pot with a small raise? I think about it for about a minute and decide its more likely that his bet is weak – maybe he doesn’t even have an Ace he’s just seeing if he can use a small part of his big stack to push me off the hand if I don’t have an Ace. I figure if he has a monster he would raise me back big because if I have a big Ace like AK he would likely think that I wouldn’t be able to resist calling (or even reraising) a big raise from him so no need to use a small raise to lure me in – might as well make it a big pot.
So I reraise him back another 11k leaving me about 13k left (which would be painful if I’m wrong because I’d be back to a small stack but I know now that I can emotionally handle that) and he starts thinking, counting out his chips as if he’s going to put me all in. He stares at me to try to see if I’m showing any signs of weakness watching him counting out his chips and after about 2 minutes finally throws his cards away. He says out loud that he’ll probably regret throwing it away and then tells me he had Ace Jack.
How good does that feel? Power poker at its best! – I was sure I didn’t have the best hand but I was also feeling pretty sure that he was not feeling great about his hand and would believe I did have an AKor AQ given how tight I’ve been playing and how carefully I’ve been nurturing my smallish stack.
That got be to 44k. I ended up steadily sliding back down and eventually hit 25k in the last round of the day after losing 6k in a pot to the Danish lady when my AQ didn’t hit the flop. But finally I pulled another power play preflop with AK (this time no call) and found Kings and Aces in the last round and took down two nice sized pots. Again the flop didn’t bring cards that turned these last two into monster pots but sitting at 74k sure feels good. I even got to open up my game when I hit 65k and aggressively pulled down some pots that weren’t rightfully mine.
In any event I’m in the middle of the pack sitting at about 1100 out of 2044 players left. The last 648 get paid which may happen late tonight or early tomorrow. Hopefully my growing confidence will take me there and further!
Thanks for all the support!