Day Four started with 474 players, which made the average chip count 288,776. Bearing that in mind, here’s the table I drew:
B01-1: Matt Matros – 822,500
B01-2: Mitchell Smith – 332,500
B01-3: Frank Chimienti – 175,000
B01-4: Denny Lee – 162,000
B01-5: Brian Hansen – 634,500
B01-6: Helge Pedersen – 517,000
B01-7: Eric Tom – 218,500
B01-8: Alan Jaffray – 908,500
B01-9: David Saab – 321,500
Five of my eight opponents were above average, no one was short, and one of only 13 people in the tournament with more chips than I had been drawn to my table. That was bad, but it got much worse when the 2 and 3 seats busted and were replaced with David Benefield (on my immediate left) and James McManus (not the writer, a different guy), another tough player, both of whom had very large stacks. A reporter mumbled that our table had more chips than any other table in the tournament.
I thought it would be tough sledding, and I was right. The entire table, it seemed, was tough and aggressive. I played a bunch of difficult hands, but two were especially memorable. With blinds of 2500-5000 and a 500 ante, I opened for 15k with AJo in the hijack. Only the big blind, an aggressive player I’d played with a little on an earlier day, called. The flop came J86 rainbow. My opponent checked and I bet 21,000. He check-raised to 58,000. I had a pretty big hand for the situation, so I called, planning to call again on the turn and possibly the river. The turn was a deuce, bringing a backdoor flush draw, and my opponent surprised me by checking. I thought my opponent would’ve check-raised the flop for value with many worse hands than mine (worse jacks, middle pairs, etc.) and that he was probably planning to call a turn bet with them. I bet 85,000 for value. My opponent check-raised 105,000 more to a total of 190,000. Now I was in a very odd spot. I don’t like to value bet and then fold to a raise, but I’ll certainly do it with the worst hands in my value betting range. But something about the big blind’s story didn’t completely add up. Obviously I didn’t give him an overpair without a preflop reraise. He could’ve flopped two pair, but it would be strange for him to check the turn with such a vulnerable hand, and stranger still to make the small check-raise. I thought he either had a set or was bluffing/semi-bluffing. With this read, and knowing my opponent was aggressive, and getting 4-1 on my money, I decided I couldn’t justify a fold. I called, waiting to see what he did on the river. The river brought a five, and my opponent bet 210,000 into the 530,000 pot. I hated the river card. I thought my opponent’s most likely semibluffing hand was a straight draw, and 79 got there on the river. To be fair, 9T was still no good, and the backdoor flush draw hadn’t got there. I was now getting about 3.5-1 on my money, but of course my opponent’s most likely hand, based on the action, was a set. I took a long time and was legitimately on the fence about this river decision. When I’m that close on a decision, I usually go with my instincts. My instincts at the table, at that moment, were that my hand was good often enough to justify a call. I didn’t care about “maintaining my chip position,” or about “losing a big pot with one pair,” or anything else. I only cared about making the most positive-EV decision I could with the information I had. I called. My opponent said, “good call” and rolled over ATo for a complete bluff. I have to credit him with a hell of play that really almost worked. After the hand, I had about 1.2 million in chips.
The second memorable hand was a button vs. small blind confrontation. With blinds of 3000-6000 and a 1k ante, the button opened for 18k. I made it 60k in the small blind with pocket threes. The big blind folded and the button called. The flop came A54 with two diamonds. I bet 85,000, my opponent called. I thought his most likely hands were a medium ace or a flush draw. The turn brought an offsuit six. Picking up the open-ender, I decided to fire another semibluff. I bet 175,000, and my opponent called again. At this point I no longer gave him a flush draw, and thought it unlikely that he had even a medium ace. Now I had him on AK or AQ. The river paired the six. I thought this was a bad card to try to bet. If he had what I thought he had, he would be unlikely to fold after the board paired and none of the draws came in. I checked, giving up. My opponent thought for a while, and eventually checked behind me. “You must win,” I said. “No,” he said, “you win.” I rolled over my hand. Let me repeat that. I ROLLED OVER MY HAND. He said, “that wins.” I looked over at David Benefield (we’d sort of become friends over the past few hours) in shock. But then my opponent said, “oh wait, do I win?” At that point I knew I’d been slowrolled. He turned over 8d5d. He’d flopped a pair and a flush draw, turned a gutshot to go with it, and somewhere along the way forgot that a pair of fives beat a pair of threes. I never get upset at anybody, but when he tried to explain what he’d done I said, “just shut up and take the pot.” A few minutes later he tried again and I said, “dude, I don’t want to talk to you anymore.” At that moment I thought I’d be mad at the guy forever (as you’ll see in a future update, it turns out I didn’t stay mad at him). I was down to 800k again.
How did I work my stack back up? No really, I don’t remember, how did I do it? Reading over old updates…ah yes, “Aces Again for Matros.” They don’t mention that I probably played them like an idiot. With blinds of 5k-10k with a 1k ante, the button (yes, same guy) opened for 30k and I made it 90k from the small blind. David Benefield called everything cold from the big blind. The button folded. The flop came J75 with two hearts. I bet 130,000. David called again. The turn brought an offsuit deuce. I checked, intending to induce a bluff. (I don’t remember if I was planning on check-calling or check-raising, sorry.) David checked right behind me. The river brought the eight of hearts. The flush draw and several straight draws came in, not to mention that 88 just made a set. I’d had David on queens or jacks preflop, and I still thought both those hands possible. Of course, I only beat one of them. If I bet and got raised, I would be in a very tough spot against a very tough player. And if I bet, would David even call with two queens? Probably, but possibly not. I didn’t think he’d call with tens or nines. And he was certainly tricky enough to have the nut flush (I had black aces) or even T9 or 69 for a straight. I decided to check and call. David checked right behind me again. My aces were good. We’ll never know how many bets I missed.
At that point I had about 1.1 million, and our table broke. I did mental cartwheels. Unfortunately I got moved to the slowest table in poker history. It took us about 20 minutes to play the final hand of the night. I’m not kidding. And the guy who had the “huge decision” was getting some enormous price and he had an overpair. I’m not kidding. I ended Day Four with 1,126,000.
This thing took longer than I thought it would to write, so Days Five and Six will have to wait for another post.