Part of the reason I challenged EJ was to give myself a kick in the ass. Does this mean I will win the series? No. I have no clue what will happen. What EJ does is out of my control. I can only control what I’m doing. And I know it takes time to prove something.
As I shift back to a highly focused game (no wine), I must remain patient and allow everything to fall into place. I might not cash the next tournament and the tournament after that, but I know I’ll be highly focused. The results will fall where they may. I’m also going to make mistakes.
For instance, in Tournament #3, which was a Sunday Freezeout, I finished 11th of 43 when the Top 6 got paid. After switching tables, I ran terrible while watching almost everyone else hit monsters. I still hung in there and had a shot, but I made an error with AQ on the Button.
The Sunday tournament was an opportunity because EJ busted early. I was informed that he kept getting pocket pairs and hitting air. Just one of those days. I have been in that situation many times. There is simply nothing you can do.
Rewinding to Saturday, the stakes were a little higher on the earnings side. EJ and I were still in when it was down to 19 players. One week earlier, we had discussed how cool it would be if we ended up heads-up at the final table in one of these tournaments. Neither of us had a ton of chips, but I felt we had an outside chance.
As far as those chips go, I actually had 360k in the middle of the tourney and was the chip leader. I accumulated 125k of those chips after hitting a royal flush on the river—the first one I have ever hit in live poker and I have been playing since I’m five years old. My opponent was one card away from a straight-flush, but I was only using one card anyway, so no bad beat jackpot.
A few hands later, I hesitantly called with Q5o out of the SB because I was getting 6:1. Most people would say, “You have to call there!”
Don’t listen to these people. First of all, anyone who truly understands how to win in this game isn’t going to help you at the table or insult your play. The former is tapping the glass and the latter is insecurity. Secondly, these people aren’t thinking about Reverse Implied Odds. In simple terms, this means the amount of chips you will lose if you hit your hand. And that’s exactly what happened here.
Joe was in the Cutoff and limped, so when the board was A5Q and he jammed for almost the same amount I had just won with the royal, I figured I was in good shape and going to have a monster chip lead and ship the tourney. I tanked a little because it’s always okay to fold and wait for a better spot when you’re not sure. However, I concluded that Joe always raises in that spot pre-flop with A5—based on what I had seen in the livestream cash game we played together and this tourney.
I concluded incorrectly and took a hit. He had A5. He later explained that the livestream cash game was a 1/3 and he hadn’t played that in a while, which is why he played so many hands that night.
This is what I love about the game. You use the information you have to make a calculated decision. But sometimes you will miss a piece of evidence.
On the other end of the spectrum, I called with QQ against Dwight on a K43KT board for two reasons. One, he didn’t bet top pair on the flop after re-raising me pre-flop. If he has a strong K in that spot, he’s likely to protect his hand. Two, when I checked the river, he tanked for at least 30 seconds and I could tell by his body language that he was thinking of a way to make it a sellable bluff. He eventually said to the dealer, “Oh … it’s on me?” and quickly and nonchalantly threw out 30k. I called. He mucked.
I made a similar call with TT on a 7AJA8 (two diamonds on flop) board later in the tourney. My opponent was in MP and had called my 3x pre-flop raise. Him flatting pre-flop was a big clue. When he just called my flop bet, I assumed he was on a draw or had the J. When the turn came an A, I knew it was highly unlikely he held an A, especially since he didn’t re-pop me pre-flop. And if he had somehow boated-up on the flop or turn, the speed of his calls wouldn’t have been so fast. When the river hit, he bet into me for 40k. This should look very strong, but it’s too high to be a value bet and told me he missed a draw.
Most players will not make this bet with the J, which I have thought about often. It’s a weird thing. The vast majority of players will bet 40k in that spot with the full house or air, but they won’t bet that amount with the J. This doesn’t apply specifically to this hand, but all similar situations. If you see someone value bet here with the J and win the hand, you’re playing against an A-level player and should use extreme caution. It means they know exactly where you’re at. On this hand, I called and he tabled 5d 4d. My TT held.
What’s more important is that I got to play with EJ for a while. I picked up a lot of information. One, he isn’t one of those guys who acts like he’s good but doesn’t truly believe it (a lot of players). The way he sits and carries himself tells me that he is truly confident. That is good! Two, he analyzes situations in a very similar way I do. For me, I sometimes feel like people want to call a clock on me, but I have to put all the pieces together to solve the puzzle (when not drinking wine). I won’t always be right, but REWIND IS EVERYTHING! I’m not sure if EJ cares if others are impatient when he’s rewinding. My guess is he doesn’t care and he’s going to do what he wants. I respect that. I also picked up that EJ is much stronger than I anticipated. That is good.
I cannot reveal the other things I picked up. I did min-raise from early position on one hand when he was in the BB. I did this for five reasons. One, and most importantly, it was a probe to see what he would do. Two, to build a pot in case I hit. Three, I didn’t want to risk much if he raised, and I wasn’t too worried because a min-raise from that position can look similar to a limp-raise with a monster. If I had to fold, I knew I was behind. No big deal. Four, it was possible he folded. Five, I never want to give away patterns and it’s a head-scratching play to most opponents.
EJ bubbled this tourney with 88 vs. 99. Not much you can do about that. I finished 15th and busted with AJ after calling Mike B’s all-in with As 4s and he hit his flush on the river. Ironically, it was for that same 125k. I had 6k left, but I was forced all-in from the BB with 84o, which didn’t work out well. Nevertheless, it was a cash, which led to a desired 1-0 lead. I had an opportunity the next night to take a 2-0 lead when I finished 11th, but it wasn’t meant to be.
I don’t know what happens in the remaining seven tournaments. I just know that you will be getting the real me now at the table. I won’t be results-oriented, but I will be focus-oriented. It would be great if me and EJ were heads-up at one point or if it came down to the final tournament.
For the record, there is no more importance for one category over the other. The # of Cashes and Total Earnings are simply two different categories. One is not more important than the other.
I would like to state again something that should always be remembered. When you play in these tournaments, you’re literally helping people. I’m talking about charities. A generous donation was recently made to adults in need. A big part of Chasing EJ is charity. Do we both want to win? Of course. But charity is the real winner here. So tell your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, FB friends, and whoever else to come on down for a tourney.
Important Note: I will not be there this coming weekend. Therefore, if EJ cashes or wins, it will not count for this series. We both must be there for it to count. I plan to be back a week from Saturday, which will be the 8th and 9th for Chasing EJ. If I can’t make it that weekend, I’ll be there the following weekend. Either way, it’s possible I’ll hang around until Tuesday night for the Bounty tourney, but I’m not sure yet. Either way, see you soon!
Side Note: As a competitor, I know that EJ will bring hell when I return in 2-3 weeks. I might have taken a slight lead, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. This means I must raise my game as well.
# of Cashes: 0
Total Earnings: $0
# of Cashes: 1
Total Earnings: $377