Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 is Done, Variance and Vacations

My desktop background for the year to remind me of what I was trying to achieve 
So, it's over. A true test of commitment, organization and rigid schedule, for me at least. I do not play the biggest games on Pokerstars and I do not play the most tables of all the players out there so for me, achieving Supernova Elite was an enormous challenge. Christmas Eve was the day I crossed the finish line achieving my millionth VPP much the way I'd hoped. I chose to stop playing my bread and butter (6 max sit and gos) with 10 VPPs left and got a couple of friends to join me in a 1c/2c cash game! We fooled around for a bit and finally when I got the notification telling me I'd just joined the Supernova Elite club, I was able to celebrate with them. A fitting way to end fantastic year.

Some of you may ask if it's worth it, giving up a lot of privileges that poker gives you that not many jobs allow - the chance to have whatever amount of time off you want whenever you want, that unrivalled flexibility that so many crave but it wasn't like I just stared at a screen for 7 days a week this year. I made a concerted effort to balance my life in a way that very few people, let alone poker players, do. Four holidays with friends (Berlin), family (St Anton, Austria) and my girlfriend (Mallorca and Gran Canaria) broke up my 5-day-a-week schedule of sit and gos well. This was a key part of my organization which started mid way through 2012 when I first discussed making a run for SNE with my good friend Eric 'Foreman11' Porlier. We both agreed it was achievable and spent months preparing ourselves the best we could by honing our games and discussing strategy. This preparation stood myself and Eric in good stead for this goal we had set ourselves. Eric, a pensive player who's calculated aggression made him as tough a player as any out there, had been running pretty poorly before 2013 started but, as if almost to prove that every iteration is independent of each other and that bad luck has no memory, his relentless down swing continued and in the end he decided (many weeks and even months after most) that he would try and consolidate earnings rather than risk getting in a truly enormous hole trying to achieve something that in the grand scheme of things, is less important than happiness. I wouldn't have considered myself better than Eric as a player, in fact I think he knew the theory better than me. I think our years could easily have been reversed such is the brutality of the negative variance he had to go through and the fact that I ran above expectation ($17k). Having played just over 90,000 tournaments in my career I've seen and experienced some nasty variance. Of course, the amount you lose and win is a product of equity so those with a higher expected ROI in a game will win more when they run well (all things considered equal) than those who have a lower expected ROI. This applies in the negative version of this too by which the higher expected ROI player will lose less. This is what makes Eric's run even more unbelievable.

But enough about that. At the start of the year I expected to play around 40,000 turbo tournaments and realistically I'd have been disappointed if I hadn't made $50k pre rakeback on top of the rakeback earnings that achieving Supernova Elite made possible. As it turned out I realised that in order to achieve Supernova Elite just playing turbos I'd have to play a truly grinding number of hours and in the end poker is about your hourly rate ($ earned per hour). My first two months of the year were my best months I'd achieved lifetime at that stage so when this point of realisation came in late April (as the turbo volume's continued slowing became ever present), it gave me a little bit of wiggle room to try and learn hyper-turbo sit and gos whilst I was playing them without fearing losing. I'm nowhere near the finished article at hypers now but it has added another string to my bow and without running well early in the year learning them would have been tough and I'd most likely have fallen short of my goal.

Back a couple of steps and after 2 months and 3 weeks of running pretty well came my first vacation to St Anton, Austria, a holiday with the family. I must recommend this resort if you have a pot of gold lying around because it is worth every penny. It may well be pricey but its a lovely resort. We spent a week out there and had some great conditions excluding the first and last days. Here are a couple of snaps I took when the conditions allowed:

Dad, Mum and my brother Angus

This was actually a natural shot despite it's pose-like appearance

This wasn't so natural...
A great holiday.

Following this trip came the aforementioned period of realisation that I couldn't just be a turbo and reg speed Supernova Elite, or at least be able to choose games where I felt my edge was greatest. So I entered a period of transition where I was playing and learning and subsequently my win rate decreased substantially. Familiarizing myself with new regs' habits who had honed their skills for many months more than I had in this format was tough but whilst I was learning these games I continued to play and run well in the turbo and reg speed formats. At this time I felt like poker was exciting because I was learning something new. However, I was behind pace and I knew that I wouldn't always feel this enthusiastic towards the game as this. Thankfully I had a holiday booked to Mallorca with Emma, my girlfriend, which broke up the grind quite well. The weather was fantastic and being in a country where poker is regulated meant I had a totally poker free week to concentrate on perfecting my wonderful tan...............of course I came back paler than when I arrived, it is so great being ginger! I have a couple more photos to share from the trip:

View from the balcony

Dinner time with Emma

Following Mallorca there were many hours of intense volume put in as admittedly I began to panic for the first time about maybe not achieving SNE. To motivate me further I would always look to something in the distance that would give me the opportunity to let off some steam and relax. The thing that shone out above all like a beacon occurred when Pokerstars announced they were going to host a VIP Club Live event in Berlin in August. I'd been to one in London in 2012 and really enjoyed it and that combined with the chance to visit one of Europe's most historical, cultural and exciting cities made it more or less a no brainer. I managed to persuade my housemate (a banker working in London) to take some time off work and after a few days Peter 'Solidthought' Rees joined us. My housemate left us the day before the party as, understandably, he didn't feel he'd have as much fun as us at a poker event so Pete and I saw some sites and enjoyed what Pokerstars had to offer, which included a free bar and whisky tasting amongst other things.
Here's what Berlin looked like through our eyes:

Great view of the River from the Berlin Tower

Whisky tasting at the VIP Party.
Holocaust Memorial
Berlin Wall

I flew home early the next day after the party with around 400,000 VPPs still to achieve. I gave myself the target of being at 775-800k by the time Emma and I flew for our second trip together to Gran Canaria which was booked for the 20th October for 1 week in the sun while the UK resided in cold wet weather (this is essential, I feel, to the success of your holiday-your home country cannot have weather equal to or better than your holiday whilst you are away). So, against all ginger traditions I spent a week bathing in the sun and enjoying some spectacular views:

This is the point that my last blog post started. I had 205k VPPs to do in just over 2 months. I knew this was easily achievable and having written a thesis at university I know all about leaving myself a lot to do in a very short time. This previous experience discouraged me from doing the same again so whilst I was slightly behind pace I hadn't left myself an excessive amount which would have resulted in stress levels rising. In fact, I set myself the goal of getting it done before Christmas which in the end I managed on Christmas Eve. I had my biggest downswing of the year in this stretch of time when I lost $17k in the space of 5 days which I was half expecting having run well for the rest of the year. It was a bit alarming to lose so much so quickly with an average buy in of $65 (whilst choosing games I felt I had a good edge in) but I wasn't flustered and I finished the year strongly before hitting the milestone at lunch time Christmas Eve.
The fabled shiny black stars-the end product

This gave me enough time to update my Facebook, Twitter and Tiltbook to notify my friends and followers of the news before taking the train up to my parents' house in Yorkshire to enjoy Christmas in the countryside.

It has been awesome just enjoying the company of my family and friends since then. I've enjoyed the festive period but a lot of what has allowed me to do so is achieving what I set out to achieve. I'm not a hugely results orientated person, I made sure that my mindset was set to 'make VPPs and the money will follow' rather than being results based this year but the way things turned out were fantastic. I will not post numbers because I do not think it's appropriate to do that publicly (those of you with sharkscope accounts can do the maths for yourself - just take $17k off my sharkscope and you have my EV!) but I have hit a few global leaderboards for several sit and go formats.
I'm aware there are a few blocked players who would be ahead of me in some leaderboards, but I'm proud :D

I wish you all a Happy New Year and good luck in 2014

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Home Straight

It's been a while writing this thing but trying to balance work and play has been very preoccupying!

The road on my first attempt to get Supernova Elite has predictably been a long one but I think through strict scheduling I've allowed myself the best opportunity to a) achieve the 1 million VPPs this year and b) enjoy my life outside of poker. I'm currently at 795k VPPs with 9 weeks left. I'm not one to be results based but the year has been good, so far, pre rakeback and with every step towards the shiny black stars that come with the SNE VIP status, more hard earned rakeback comes to the fore. As well as this I've travelled abroad 4 times this year, so I think I've balanced my work and play quite well all things considered despite the demands of the aforementioned chase.

I will always preach that poker allows you to have more free time and flexibility than most so as soon as you feel like every waking minute is spent in front of a computer screen there has to be a point where your quality of life is being reduced.

So I write this now having returned from my final holiday of the year spent with my girlfriend in Gran Canaria for a week. It was a fantastic trip and the perfect setting for a bit of relaxation before pushing hard until Christmas. Here is a picture of our favourite spot at the hotel we stayed at:

This was exactly what I needed as I've returned refreshed and determined to achieve what I set out to do on January 1st-achieve Supernova Elite. I know have to be very disciplined and work hard until that 1 million mark.

Anyway, this was only supposed to be a small post. I will keep you posted on my progress both here and on my twitter:


Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year Folks

The end of 2012 has come and I would consider it a real success. I've learnt a lot about how to cope with variance after the first couple of months of bad luck and since November as well whilst retaining a solid income and a good hourly rate. Running bad, whilst it can be relentless, is not personal it's just part of the game despite what some people may claim. Future decisions should not be influenced by previous misfortune. As one's understanding of this grows a more level-headed approach to this form of 'gambling' should follow making decisions based on equities and ranges the primary objective and therefore increasing your hourly rate.

So, I finish the year with 432,000 VPPs having done a lot of trialling of the pace I will need to achieve on a daily basis if I were to try and achieve Supernova Elite towards the end of the year. This is an ambitious goal but if I get ahead of pace early (I'll try and get Supernova by the end of January) then I hope I can retain a good quality of life rather than sweat my way through the later months of the year in an effort to achieve it. The chief concern is that I will not be the only one with this goal, but my hours don't collide heavily with many mass tabling regs which is a bonus.

This will mean I will have to buckle down and possibly make a few social sacrifices but 2013 is the year I've decided to be the year were I put everything into this.

I wish you all a Happy New Year


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Risk vs Reward

PokerStars Hand #88240824273: Tournament #634144143, $93.25+$6.75 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50) - 2012/10/26 7:59:51 ET
Table '634144143 1' 6-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 1: Player 1 (1640 in chips)
Seat 2: Player 2 (1052 in chips)
Seat 3: Villain (1982 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero (1795 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 5 (1069 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 6 (1462 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 25
Hero: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Td 8c]
Player 5: folds
Player 6: folds
Player 1: folds
Player 2: folds
Villain: raises 51 to 101
Hero: calls 51
*** FLOP *** [8d Tc 3d]
Villain: bets 94
Hero: calls 94
*** TURN *** [8d Tc 3d] [4h]
Villain: bets 253
Hero: raises 306 to 559
Villain: raises 1228 to 1787 and is all-in
Hero: calls 1041 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (187) returned to Villain
*** RIVER *** [8d Tc 3d 4h] [2d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [7h 6h] (high card Ten)
Hero: shows [Td 8c] (two pair, Tens and Eights)
Hero collected 3590 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 3590 | Rake 0
Board [8d Tc 3d 4h 2d]
Seat 1: Player 1 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: Player 2 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: Villain (small blind) showed [7h 6h] and lost with high card Ten
Seat 4: Hero (big blind) showed [Td 8c] and won (3590) with two pair, Tens and Eights
Seat 5: Player 5 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: Player 6 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

This hand is a blind on blind encounter in the mid stages of a $100 turbo. Whilst I believe that playing these stakes requires there to be at least a couple of very bad players (and they should be the focus of your exploitation) if you have the opportunity to play in position against an extremely wide range vs any kind of player you should take it with a wide range. Such an opportunity arose in this situation where an extremely aggressive (and sometimes spewy) regular raised from the small blind (something I notice he does 75% of the time having consulted my HUD) with a little over a min raise. Whilst T8o may seem mediocre holdings it is actually a 45% underdog vs the 75% range (assuming you see all 5 postflop cards) according to Pokerstove. So as I'm getting 3 to 1 to call its a no brainer to pay the extra 51 chips to see a flop.

The flop comes a 8 T 3 with 2 diamonds, somewhat of a dream flop for me as its just unconnected enough for me to hardly ever have huge hand but draw heavy enough for me to get value from a huge part of his range whilst I'm almost always ahead . However, at the risk of sounding a little greedy, I want value from ALL of his range. I've also previously mentioned that he is hyper aggressive and sometimes makes ill timed moves which should aid me in my quest to maximize my value. This particular opponent almost always continuation bets the turn as well as flop so whilst taking a risk I flat call his C bet of 94 chips. This call has 3 functions. The first is value. The call is designed to mainly induce a bet from his absolute air ball combinations (Q5o, K2o, 75 of spades to name a few) on the turn that couldn't continue if I raised the flop as he will fire the 2nd barrel again. The 2nd is to under-represent my hand and therefore polarise my range massively when I make my move on my turn (and in turn hopefully induce a 'spew'). The 3rd is to balance my range so that I don't just have floats, draws and 2nd pairs here.

The turn comes an off suit 4 which only improves 44 in terms of hands that weren't beating me that now are. True to form he quickly bets 253 for around 2/3 pot. Here comes my chance to make my move. I raise small to 559 which at this time hugely polarizes my range to 44 and possibly TT (which I'm sure he'd believe I would be inclined to 3 bet preflop) or absolute air. It also leaves just over 1000 chips and the illusion of fold equity. As I tend to make my raises on the flop vs this opponent I was happy to make an uncharacteristic play to hopefully confuse this reg. After a while of thinking the reg decided to shove over the top which I quickly called off and he tabled 76 of hearts (he'd picked up a two way straight draw). I faded the 8 outs and the 18% equity to become the dominant stack of the tournament.

Whilst a few dangerous cards could have come on the turn I've played enough with this player to know that he won't slow down and will go for value quite thin (an important part of being a good aggressive player) so if the 7 of diamonds did come I wouldn't be too concerned about the chance of him shutting down on the turn if he had two Kings here. A few people might think that I need to charge the draws but as draws form such a relatively small part of his range (which involves almost 1000 combinations of cards) and quite a small chance of being completed in the next card I believe the long term benefits of adding a bit of slow play to enable me to play for stacks outweighs the chance of being sucked out on vs his range in this spot.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Thinking Outside the Box

PokerStars Hand #87086455001: Tournament #622969906, $55.56+$4.44 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level VI (100/200) - 2012/10/03 12:50:16 WET [2012/10/03 7:50:16 ET]
Table '622969906 1' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 2: Villain (8525 in chips)
Seat 3: Player 2 (2463 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 3 (1892 in chips)
Seat 8: Hero (620 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 100
Player 2: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Td 3c]
Player 3: folds
Hero: raises 300 to 500
Villain: calls 400
Player 2: folds
*** FLOP *** [Jd Qs 6s]
Villain: checks
Hero: checks
*** TURN *** [Jd Qs 6s] [7h]
Villain: checks
Hero: checks
*** RIVER *** [Jd Qs 6s 7h] [7s]
Villain: checks
Hero: bets 120 and is all-in
Villain: folds
Uncalled bet (120) returned to bigstealer
Hero collected 1200 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1200 | Rake 0
Board [Jd Qs 6s 7h 7s]
Seat 2: Villain (small blind) folded on the River
Seat 3: Player 2 (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: Player 3 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: Hero (button) collected (1200)

This hand is played on the bubble of a $60 9 man sit and go. 9 man is by no means my speciality but when 6 max traffic is slow I mix them in with reasonable success and with more play/studying my ICM and strategy has slowly improved.

In this particular instance I'm left with just over 3bbs having been whittled down over the tournament most likely because I'm a massive fish. I find myself on the button with a rather ugly T3 off suit. As I'm so short I'm almost forced to shove here but as I believe that I have little fold equity so I make it 2.5x the bb in the hope that the sb and bb aren't paying attention and will look at it like a normal raise (this play is effective against multi-tablers who will fold a bad hand here if they are playing too many games). Not only that but if the small blind was to isolate all in and the big blind called I could happily fold and creep into the money.

Unfortunately, in this case I get flat called by our villain in the small blind and the big blind throws his cards in the muck. I see he has a VPIP of 41% and curse at my lack of observation before making my 2.5x 'play'. So, we get to see 3 more cards and I have 120 chips behind. The flop comes 6 Q J with 2 spades and it gets checked to me. It becomes apparent to me that if a someone is fishy enough to have a 41% VPIP they are likely to be a bit of a gambler and just want to see more cards so instead of putting my final 120 chips in on the flop when the action is checked to me I elect to check with the aim of getting to the river in order to try a rather audacious bluff where no more cards will be dealt. What do I have to lose? I check behind and the turn is a blank 7. The action goes check check and the river is a 7 of spades which again our fishy friend checks. We are at the river and the 1st part of my goal has been achieved so I quickly bet my remaining chips all in. He quickly folds despite his outrageous pot odds of around 11 to 1 and I scoop a pot of 1200 plus the 120 I bet.

This kind of play does not need a large success rate to be extremely profitable and with T3o I have more than doubled my stack without actually ever being at risk.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Fancy a little Ace game?

PokerStars Hand #86038254453: Tournament #612902844, $92.60+$7.40 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level IV (50/100) - 2012/09/11 21:46:31 WET [2012/09/11 16:46:31 ET]
Table '612902844 1' 6-max Seat #5 is the button
Seat 1: Villain (3771 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero (1793 in chips)
Seat 5: Player 3 (3436 in chips)
Villain: posts small blind 50
Hero: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Td Qs]
Player 3: folds
Villain: raises 109 to 209
Hero: calls 109
*** FLOP *** [Tc 3h Ad]
Villain: bets 209
Hero: raises 241 to 450
Villain: raises 3112 to 3562 and is all-in
Hero: calls 1134 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (1978) returned to Villain
*** RIVER *** [Tc 3h Ad 3c] [4c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Qc Jh] (a pair of Threes)
Hero: shows [Td Qs] (two pair, Tens and Threes)
Hero collected 3586 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 3586 | Rake 0
Board [Tc 3h Ad 3c 4c]
Seat 1: Villain (small blind) showed [Qc Jh] and lost with a pair of Threes
Seat 4: Hero (big blind) showed [Td Qs] and won (3586) with two pair, Tens and Threes
Seat 5: Player 3 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)

This hand is played on the bubble of a $100 reg speed 6 max game. The two players are regulars but both have their faults. The Villain in question is extremely aggressive/spewy and does not adjust when players use that aggression against him. On bubbles he seems to make it his sole objective to try and outplay (and failing that gamble with) the players involved regardless of your activity or image. To give you a barometer of his aggression his raise from the small blind % is very close to 90% but when it is 3 handed it is pretty much 100%. That means when you are to his left you can have a lot of fun by widening your calling and 3 betting range accordingly.

In this particular hand the other regular folds the button and our villain makes his obligatory raise to 209 which is essentially a min-raise. Given that he incorporates near enough 100% of his range when he raises in this situation I have 2 options when I look down at QTo. I can re-raise all in (which is likely profitable given that his calling range would have to be astronomically wide to make it break even or worse) or I can choose to flat call and see a flop with a) a hand that plays well and likely dominates his range and b) position for at least the flop. I have tremendous pot odds to go with those other 2 factors so I decide to flat call and stacks are deep enough to allow for maneuverability post flop should I find a suitable spot to make a move.

The flop comes A T 3 rainbow. The Villain goes ahead and continuation bets half pot (which he does 94% of the time). A tricky situation with 2nd pair? The reality of it is that it's not tricky at all. This player loves to try and outplay on bubbles as I mentioned before. He will never give me credit for an ace, as he'd expect me to re-raise preflop given both of our images, so when I raise it small to 450 (leaving ~1000 behind giving the illusion of fold equity) I expect him to continue with his entire range such is his nature whether he has me beat or not. I'd expect KK-K10 to flat call here in which case I shut down. As all aces (A2-AK), AA, TT and T3o accounts for 16% of his range it is hugely profitable to make a raise here with the intention of calling off his inevitable flop 3 bet. In fact, a 3 bet all in may be weaker still as he may choose to flat call his strongest hands (AA, TT, AK, AT) in the hope I'd continue what he perceives to be a bluff. Anyway, as predicted, our villain snap shoves all in and turns over QJo giving him a gutshot and an overcard to my pair of tens. I fade the 27% equity he has in the hand (rather more than I expected/hoped) and get to work on making use of my increased chip stack which has been kindly handed to me.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Not on this Board!

PokerStars Hand #83776863314: Tournament #591621017, $27.58+$2.42 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50) - 2012/07/24 13:49:19 WET [2012/07/24 8:49:19 ET]
Table '591621017 1' 6-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: Player 1 (960 in chips)
Seat 3: Villain (4276 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero (2169 in chips)
Seat 6: Player 4 (1595 in chips) is sitting out
Hero: posts small blind 25
Villain: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ad Qs]
Player 1: folds
Villain: raises 50 to 100
Hero: raises 200 to 300
Player 4: folds
Hero: calls 200
*** FLOP *** [Kd 2h Kc]
Hero: bets 260
Villain: calls 260
*** TURN *** [Kd 2h Kc] [7d]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 360
Hero: calls 360
*** RIVER *** [Kd 2h Kc 7d] [8s]
Hero: checks
Villain: bets 1150
Hero: calls 1150
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain: shows [Ts Jh] (a pair of Kings)
Hero: shows [Ad Qs] (a pair of Kings - Ace kicker)
Hero collected 4190 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 4190 | Rake 0
Board [Kd 2h Kc 7d 8s]
Seat 1: Player 1 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: Villain (button) showed [Ts Jh] and lost with a pair of Kings
Seat 4: Hero (small blind) showed [Ad Qs] and won (4190) with a pair of Kings
Seat 6: Player 4 (big blind) folded before Flop

The hand I will talk about is from a $30 6 max turbo Sit and Go played earlier today. The hand is played against a fellow regular player who isn't folding's number 1 fan and certainly has been known to throw a few bluffs into the mix. Although I don't know him, my feeling is that he tends to get emotionally involved in the game and will often try and outplay players who he feels are getting after him and I've witnessed him spewing his chip stack away as a result. This means that, whilst in most cases game flow can be overvalued (as many pros play lots of tables), it is definitely a consideration when playing a player of this nature.

So, I find myself in the small blind with an unsuited Ace Queen and with Player 1 folding his hand it is left to our Villain to act. He is an observant player and is likely to have noticed that Player 4 in the big blind is sitting out. *Free Equity* I hear you whisper. Subsequently, I can safely assume that his button raise is likely to include a wide range of hands. When he does min raise I feel I'm left with little choice but to 3 bet, both for information and for value. A quick peak at my HUD says that the villain folds 50% of the time that he's 3 bet and only 4 bets 8% of the time. I 3 bet here with the intention of folding vs this opponent's 4 bet as his range is simply too strong against my holdings. However, some of you may think its a bad decision to reraise when 42% of the time I'm going to be left out of position in a bloated pot. This is the case a lot of the time but my hand is too strong to simply flat call and check fold a low flop when my opponent is relatively loose. It is important to maximise value with a hand especially if it dominates his range like it will if he flat calls.

I 3 bet to 300 and true to form he doesn't release and we see a flop. I expect him to have a wide range of hands here as he enjoys using position and he himself probably thinks I would resteal wide having seen Player 4's absence from the game also. The flop comes down Kd 2h Kc. This is a great flop for my hand. It is unlikely to have helped him and may also encourage a player that likes to use position to steal pots to stick around a little longer with weaker holdings gaining yet more value for my Ace high. I bet a little under half the pot for protection and value. I will still get called by small, medium and possibly even slow played big pairs, three of a kind (which realistically will be KT, KJ and KQ) as well as a tonne of floats with the intention of bluffing me later in the hand.

The turn is the 7 of diamonds changing very little improving 77 to a full house. I check with the intention of calling one street realistically to see what he'll do on the river. He quickly bets well under half the pot which conceivably he could do with all his range (a big/medium/small pair trying to reach cheap showdown, a King and all his bluffs) but I feel he's more likely to check back the pairs in his range hoping to get to showdown...and so the polarizing of his range begins. Given that three of a kind and full houses form such a small part of his range I elect to call and see what the river brings.

The river is the 8 of spades which is a bit of a brick improving 88 to a full house. I check and he instantly bets around 2/3 pot which was almost all my stack. Given the magnitude of this hand (in terms of how dominant the winner of this pot would be for the remainder of the tournament), the strength of the hand he is trying to represent and the size of the pot, the speed of this large bet didn't make any sense to me whatsoever. I expected most small/medium pairs to check back instantly (as the function his turn bet in this case was to get to showdown cheaply) and for a AA/QQ/KK/KT/KJ/KQ/77/88 hand have a little more time working out a good bet size for value. I tend to be careful regarding time-tells as good players will use them against you but on this particular occasion it made a lot of sense to take it into consideration. With pot odds of 2.6:1 I needed to be right around 30% of the time. With the texture of the flop, bet sizing and bet speed, I expected his polarized range to be heavily weighted towards bluffs. Subsequently, I took very little time in making the call. I was relieved and pleased to see he had JTos.