It’s rare for the best player to win the tournament. From the WSOP to the weekly Party Poker 300K guaranteed, poker is just not a game where the best player always wins.
Which is a big part of the beauty of poker. The fact that Aces get cracked, that flushes find full houses and players can be too dumb to be bluffed make poker unique in the world of games – it’s as cruel as real life can be.
But sometimes, the best player does win. And sometimes, a tournament victory is less important than the cash game action it leads to.
So with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the action from this week’s Party Poker 300K guaranteed NL Texas Hold’em tournament.
With about 100 players left, it is obvious who the best player left is – olkku has twice as many chips as any one else and is dominating his table (I apologize if olkku is actually female, but all of the pronouns from here on out will be masculine for the sake of ease.) This is not too uncommon for these types of tournaments though – you can usually pick out the best player with about 100 players to go. What is uncommon is for that player to win.
Hand 7126789336 I put Cyprean on at least a pair of 8s after he went all-in over the top of olkku’s opening raise and Cyprean easily could have had hooks or better. But olkku didn’t buy it. olkku called the 60K with that most dreaded of hands, AQ to see that Cyprean had in fact been holding A-2. Just one of many great plays by olkku.
Hand 712881264 I’m including this hand and the following one to display the difference between a good player with chips (olkku) and a not-so-good player with chips (Russian_Fish.) After climbing up into second place with more than 300K in chips, Russian_Fish started to give his chips away. In this hand, he calls 22K pre-flop from ozencc, calls a substantial bet on the flop then folds after, in all likelihood, a blank hit on the turn. Call call fold – that’s a good way to give away 100K.
Hand 7126927372 I would not have included the previous hand in this analysis if it weren’t for this one. After issuing a minimum raise to 24K, Russian_Fish fails to call an additional 12K bet into a 61,600 pot pre-flop (a move made all the worse by his play in the next hand which amounted to an all-in and a subsequent exit.) That is an astoundingly terrible play as there is not one single pre-flop hand match-up that could warrant folding more than 5 to 1 on your money (save for a situation like 7-2 vs. 7-7 or Q-8 v. Q-Q.) I seldom see players get so deep into a tournament and make such a ludicrously awful play. Maybe he mis-clicked – I sure hope so.
Hand 7126951551 After winning 7 of the previous 9 hands without a showdown, olkku again issues a pre-flop raise. This time, 2 other players follow him into the flop. The flop comes A A J and from first position, olkku checks. Parteisoldat bets out from last position and olkku calls – the other guy gets out. Turn comes a blank and olkku checks. Parteisoldat goes all-in and olkku quickly calls holding AK against Part’s A10, winning a 1.4 million pot. Part of winning any tournament is being on the right end of a battle between two sets of Aces (which can often boil down to nothing but luck) but another part is getting value when you do flop a monster. olkku did a fantastic job of both.
Progression of Hands: 7126903717, 7126911473 and 7126922705: I love looking at progressions of hands because it exposes the psychological game in poker:
• In 7126903717 olkku takes 100K or so from Arsenius114 on what looked to me like a bluff. This came on the heels of numerous examples of good pre-flop aggression from olkku resulting in multiple stolen blinds and antes – so the table was on high-alert. And now Arsenius114 has got to be angry for giving more chips to olkku.
• Fast forward to hand 7126911473 where olkku pops it to 36K pre-flop from the button on Aresnius114’s big blind. To everyone watching, this seemed an obvious example of olkku picking on a player whom he must’ve had some read on (which would explain the wonderful re-raise in hand 7126903717.) But before the action could even get to the big blind, payinviter goes all-in from the small blind for another 80K or so.
Of course, no one can call and payinviter makes a great (and successful) play based on a read from the previously discussed hand. You can bet olkku took note of this.
• And then 7126922705. Olkku raises pre-flop again (his 6th pre-flop raise in 11 hands) and payinviter calls him with position. The flop comes with an A and olkku quickly checks – no one could possibly think that he has anything. payinviter goes all-in with a pocket pair and in a split second olkku calls with AJ for a pair of Aces. Payinviter has been trapped after making a stand against olkku’s aggression in hand 7126911473. olkku had to know that payinviter had decided to play aggressively against him so set a great trap.
This progression of hands helped to determine the psychology behind ensuing decisions – all too often we look at hands as if they occurred in a vacuum. This is not the case, as we can see through these three hands.
olkku v. MommasBigGun: The players who finished 1 and 2 in the final results clashed a couple of times on their way to $40,000+ payouts.
• Hand 7127098908 olkku found himself in an unfamiliar situation before this hand began – for the first time in a long time he was no longer the chip leader. That honor now belonged to MommasBigGun after taking a massive pot the hand before. So what does olkku do? He takes it back. After a bit of betting leaves the pot at 1.2 million on a flop that reads Q 3 4, olkku goes over the top of MommasBIgGun for 2 million or so. After using up all of his time bank, Momma folds – olkku shows his A-5 bluff as he rakes back in the chip lead. This sets the table for the a later hand where Momma goes over the top of yet another olkku pre-flop raise holding A-5. Olkku calls holding pocket 8s and if it weren’t for a spiked Ace on the flop, MommasBigGun would have finished in 9th place rather than 1st.
• Deal or no Deal? By the end of the tournament, olkku had to know that he was a lot better than MommasBigGun. So when Klausen_ finally went down in third, in the process giving all of his chips to MommasBIgGun to put the two remaining players in a virtual dead heat, olkku offered a deal:
“Deal, then heads up for $27,000?”
This deal eliminated the crap shoot that is the super-high blinds of late tournament poker (40K/80K +3K ante meant that each player would have had to go in with less than stellar hands sooner rather than later) and allowed the two to play heads up for the difference in first and second place outright prize money ($27,000.) While the results of that game have not been made public, as a betting man I would have put my money on olkku.
So Party Poker people, any thoughts on the tournament?