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Need some cajones late in tournaments

Last night I played in the weekly $10+rebuy game here at Ohio State and placed 3rd for $80, but I could’ve played a few hands later in the tournament much better. I played them too passively and it cost me a lot of chips. Four handed I could have pushed an opponent off of his hand but opted to play it safer and hope for a higher placing, lost a lot of chips and lucked out to get 3rd place when the 4th place player went all in with KJ against AQ.

It was a rollercoaster game from 14 players left and on for me. I was short stacked with 14 players left and the small blind limped in and let me check with 82 offsuit. The flop came 8 2 4 all diamonds, he checked and I bet (I believe its always better to bet out here than see a free card) and he checked raised me. I simply called, wanting to see if another diamond fell. Instead of a diamond another 2 fell and I had 2s over 8s and he checked.

The check confused me and I gave him a surprised look and bet $8,000, about half the pot. He then check raised me again! This time he went all in and I had him barely covered and called. He showed A8 and my 82 doubled me up. Very lucky situation especially considering I would have folded to any raise preflop.

Let’s skip ahead to 4 handed. We just broke the money bubble and I was third in chips. A tight-aggressive player raised from under the gun, but this late in the game I didn’t have to respect that bet as much as I would’ve at a full table. I called the raise with A10 from the small blind and we saw a flop. It came down Q J 8 giving me a double belly buster (9 or K gives me a straight) and I checked. He bet out $11,000 and I asked how much he had left.

I didn’t think he had much, maybe a pair but honestly I had very little read. I had him covered by $15,000 (he had $39,000 total) and I should have simply pushed him off the hand here. I was torn, and simply called. I realized almost right away how weak the play was and I regretted it. The turn brought a 6 and the river another Q and we checked it down. The board was Q J 8 6 Q and I showed ace high, A10. My opponent showed A6, catching the 6 on the turn and taking down a huge pot.

I immediately felt really bad about how I played that hand, getting that far in the tournament to give away chips and play passively was not what I wanted to happen. Pushing there would’ve have made him fold, and even had he called I would’ve had 8 outs, maybe 11 (the ace).

Calling was probably the worst option here, and I paid dearly for it. Even had I caught the straight and pushed he would’ve folded, so the $11,000 call wasn’t getting me any more chips than raising right from the start. Next time I hope not to play so weak at the final table, especially short handed.

The very next hand I called a raise with KQ and the flop was J 10 6 and I once again called two bets passively and missed my draw, cutting my stack near $20,000 with blinds at $2,000-$4,000. The next hand the other shorter stack (with near $45,000) went all in with KJ against AQ and I squeaked into third, going out the very next hand to AJ.

It is important when you get to a final table to not clam up and start playing weak poker. Short handed play will kill a passive player and I learned first hand. The difference from third and first was $120, something I won’t forget for awhile now.

Good luck!

I've been playing poker for almost four years now (well before it was legal for me, woops!) Besides poker I enjoy playing the guitar and I'm very enthusiastic about pursuing Dentistry as a career. I'm currently at The Ohio State Univeristy studying Microbiology, living with three of my close friends. I'm dating a lovely girl from Australia and am looking forward to the oppurtunity to study abroad over there as well.

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