Playing tournament poker, players have to risk their tournament life on numerous occasions. The key to successful tournament play is to recognize when to take that risk and when the risk is too great. I recently learned this the hard way, on back to back hands that ended my tournament life.
Two hours into a tournament with 32 starting players I was sitting on 49,500 chips with the blinds at 500/1000. I had been making good reads on the first table taking down every pot that I should have. The tables combined at 18 players, bringing four new players to the table.
Sitting in mid-position I checked my hold cards to find pocket 10s. I raised to 3500, and every player around to the small blind folded. The small blind went all-in for 13,500. The big blind thought about it and finally talked himself into calling, making the pot now a total of 30,500. Both players were veteran players with WSOP experience. As I sat there going over my options, I put the small blind on A K. The large blind I decided must also have an A. With 20,000 chips left behind, I decided he would have raised had he had a large pair. I decided to call the 10,000 due to the pot size and thinking they were holding each other’s outs.
The flop comes out 10-7-9. The big blind checks and I bet 10,000. After a few minutes of hesitation the big blind calls. The turn card is an 8. The big blind checks again and I bet enough to put him all-in. After thinking over his options, he calls. The small blind turns over pocket kings, the large blind turns over pocket queens, I am looking at taking down a 70k size pot. The river card is a jack giving the large blind a straight and the pot.
I have pockets aces, again from mid-position, again I raised to 3500. Everybody folds to the small blind, the player who just caught the straight on the river the last hand, he calls. The big blind folds and we are heads-up. The flop comes out A 7 8, two of them clubs. The small blind ask how much I have left and then bets enough to push me all-in. Without hesitation, I call envisioning getting my chips back from the last hand. Small blind reveals A J, and I show him my set of aces. The turn and river are both cubs giving him the flush and sending me to the rail.
On back to back hands here, I flopped top-sets and got run down by runner-runner. I have spent that last 24 hours playing both hands out in my head, deciding the following. Without a doubt on the first hand, I should have gone all-in after the flop. The results could have very well been the same, but the possibility of the large blind putting me on a set may have enticed him to fold. Had he folded the first hand, the second hand would have possibly played out differently due to size of chip stacks.
The bottom line here is I should have risked my tournament life when I flopped the set of tens. This would have eliminated the opportunity for my opponent to make that decision for me on the next hand. Like I said the results may have been the same, but the feeling may have been different. This same player ended up winning the tournament.
Have thoughts on either hand? I would love to here them.