Today I’m playing the $5k 8-Handed Freezeout at Paris. It's a great structure but I expect a tough field.
Twenty minutes in, I'm put to the test. I pick up ace-king under the gun and open raise. A player in the hijack 3-bets, and the button 4-bets. I decide to respond in kind with a 5-bet. The hijack gets out of the way and the button calls.
The flop comes king-queen with two hearts, giving me top pair. I lead out with a bet and the button doubles it for a min raise. I call, and a heart comes on the turn. We both check, and a meaningless eight of spades comes on the river. I check, and my opponent moves all-in.
It's a sick spot. He's represented a strong hand all the way, and there are a lot of them that could beat me — pocket kings or queens at the top of the list. But there's something else about his play that doesn't make a lot of sense. Could he have jack-ten suited for a missed straight draw? Could he be turning a weaker hand like ace-queen into a bluff? Could we both have ace-king?
After a few minutes, I find a call. He turns over eight-seven of clubs for a worse pair, and I'm up to a great start with nearly double a starting stack.
But I take a big hit an hour later when my top two pair loses to bottom set. I lose a few other smaller pots, and am back down to a starting stack when I'm moved to a new table. There, I'm reunited with Stephen Chidwick, who's now climbed to 4th on the all-time money list.
I don't pick up many hands over the next few hours, and win even fewer pots. When we come back from the second break of the day I'm down to 15 big blinds.
I get it all in from the big blind with king-eight of hearts against the button's ace-two off-suit and double up.
A short time later I open with pocket nines and am called by a Lithuanian pro to my left. The board comes king-seven-three and I check to him and call his small bet. An eight comes on the turn, again I check-call his bet. A ten comes on the river and I check for a third time, and this time he puts me all-in.
Again, I'm put to the test. I have third pair, and he's bet every street, representing strength. I run through the combos of his pre-flop flatting range. I think through what bets on each street, what checks. Several minutes tick by. I call.
He turns over ace-queen off-suit, no pair. I'm back over a starting stack.
Two hands later, it folds to me and the Lithuanian in the big blind. A chatty player at the table points to me, “he’s going to be nice to you now that you doubled him up.” I chuckle, then put out a 3.5x raise.
The Lithuanian responds in kind with a low chuckle and a re-raise. I count out my chips and move all-in, met by an immediate call.
I turn over ace-king and am met by pocket kings. Coolered. The board runs out with all low cards, no miracle ace to save me.
I shrug — there's not much I can do in that spot. The cards play themselves.
I head out to get some dinner, looking forward to another day of play tomorrow.