Yesterday, I achieved an amibition. I won an online shootout competition. For non-poker players a shootout is a game which starts with hundreds of players. Every entrant pays a fee to play and the total fees are distributed amongst the eventual winners. Each player is randomly given a seat at a table of, in this case, nine players. The player who wins all the chips is then seated at a table of other similar victors. The winner of that table goes through to the final table. The total entrance fee is then distributed amongst the winners which, in my case, were the last three players. The winner gets the lion’s share so a modest entrance fee can turn into a sizeable amount.
I’ve blogged previously about playing super-aggressive players and how to play AK and JJ. I’ve played a number of shootouts and have made the final table twice. It is really hard to do because you are playing a lot of good players, some of whom are running “hot”.
I decided to play the first round super-tight and let the “any two cards” merchants knock themselves out which they obligingly did. By now the other players had noticed I hadn’t been involved much and had decided I was either a mouse or a very tight player. As luck would have it I eventually got dealt a pair of 9s, did a min raise and hit lucky as a 9 appeared on the flop. One player was betting on a draw and needlessly went all-in, drawing in another eternal optimist. I called and won, knocking out two players in the process. My image as a tight player who only plays good hands was enforced and I shamelessly robbed and bluffed from then on in. Pretty quickly I was on to round two.
The next level is harder because most of the players can actually play. The cards I was being dealt were truly awful like 7,2 or 8,3 or 10,2 so I had no option other than to fold them away. The net result was another strong table image despite my stack being eroded to about a third of its starting value. Eventually my luck turned and I was dealt 10,10 and, because I had few chips left, I went all-in. Four players called in an attempt to knock me out. Another 10 came on the flop and the fourth 10 appeared on the river. I became the chip leader. Two players had lost most of their chips to me and went all-in in the next hand, being called by another player. I had been dealt 55 and just called. I hit another 5 on the flop and pushed the other player who called. I won, gained a load of chips and took out three players. I then exploited my chip stack and table image so that was pretty much that.
The final table is hard to win because only the good players have survived. I decided not to change a winning formula and played tight, got a read on my opponents. After about ten hands I was dealt AK suited in hearts and called. I was playing in position and six players had called before me. A lot of hands can beat AK so I think it was smart to flat call. I was fortunate that the flop came with three hearts so I’d made an ace flush. There was around of betting and I called. Another heart came on the turn and I knew somebody else had made a flush. The river was a fairly harmless card so the player who I thought had made a flush duly went all-in. To my surprise, two more players called. I found out shortly one had also made a flush and another trips. Naturally I called, became chip leader and removed three players. As I’d only flat called with AK the other players were very suspicious in the other hands I played so I was able to play a lot of flops and win them, usually without showing. I kept out of trouble and eventually it was heads up.
The other player tried to be aggressive by going all-in for a number of hands in succession. I just folded, principally because I figured I could out play him once he got bored of me just not playing his game. Which I could. Once I’d reduced his stack to a small amount, he had to go all-in, I called and hit a pair and won.
I’m convinced now that playing tight works me. It suits my personality and playing style which is heavily odds-based. Also, I can really exploit my table image to “steal” pots which add up surprisingly quickly.