This opponent has some very aggressive stats as soon as he joined my table. The good thing for me is that I had position on him and this helped with a big hand later on. Poker tournament strategy often requires intense pot management while you wait for the right opportunity. So first let's look at a couple hands before the big hand just to get a feel for this player.
Quickly this player has established himself as very aggressive, (10.0 AF!!) but in this hand I want to re-raise and not trap because he is tough to play against post-flop. With this raise, I can bet out no matter what flops with a good chance to end the hand right there. If I miss and he reraises post flop, then I am probably done with the hand because I am green M and will look to use my chips in more profitable situations.
I would like to re-raise here but the UTG player is short and a limp is just such an unpredictable move that I have no idea where I am against either player. Had Serbja folded, I would have re-raised and forced the short stack all-in.
So here is the big hand in question.
I too have been playing more aggressive and stealing more than usual. The two of us are the most aggressive at the table and have clashed several times. I have been actively engaging him because I want to get in a spot where he thinks I have nothing. earlier I lost a hand to him and he saw that I had nothing. Although expensive, it was a deliberate plan on my part.
Now here I flat called his late position raise with a hand I was absolutely sure was ahead of his raising range. In poistion, I am looking to trap him into a big mistake based a lot on his wild AF of 10.0. I was also hoping the blinds would fold so I could play this heads up.
All others fold and I get a great flop with little chemistry. Even better was the fact that he bet out, as predicted. I should flat call because only a king would worry me on the turn. However, as was the nature of past hands with this player, I decded to re-raise him again. Since I limped behind him, it could totally look like a bluff.
He called my flop reraise. I cannot see a two pair hand from this player, but I could see a KQ, QJ, or QT. If that is the case then I want him to give it all up with a weaker kicker, as I know he will not fold a Q in his hand right now. So I bet 2/3rds the pot, basically committing both of us.
Poker tournament strategy favors players who bet/shove first, applying pressure to opponents.
My opponent reraises all in. Now I am a little concerend because with the blinds at 120/240 I can actually fold here and have enough left to play with. That would really suck, but it would suck more if I lost to a Q9, 44, 55, or 99. Those are some hands that beat me, but I could also see him pushing a JT here or two hearts and perhaps a weaker pair like A9, Ah5h or K9.
The hard truth of this hand though is about our previous play together, where he knows I am capable of bluffing and his huge AF factor. With those two things, I really don't think a fold here is an option for me. Sometimes I might be beat here, but I feel most times I am ahead and a win can propel deep into this tournament. I call.
If he had Ah9h, I could see a push on the turn as a decent play, but when layers have such a consistently high aggresison factor it is also representative somewhat as playing in a tunnel, ignoring what your opponent may have. He has seen me play aggressive, but he has not seen me play for my entire big stack in one hand. On the contrary, I have backed down from big pots, while winning many smaller ones up to now. He can't put me on the right hand because he really wasn't thinking that way. He was thinking "I hit a pair, now I got him!" Had he thought about what I had, his A9 with no draw seems obviously weak. AQ, AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 55, 44 are some plausible hands that have him crushed.
What does he beat here? A complete bluff, or a lower pair like 88. You would have to agree that with how I have played the hand so far that would be very wreckless and uncharacteristic. This is the kind of mistake that can you can invite when you play more small pots and show some aggression at the table. How to win poker tournaments often eludes impatient players like this guy.
This hand helped me to the final table of the Midnight Madness for a 4th place finish. I have made the final table of that poker tournament 3 or 4 times, but this was my highest finish with a massive field of 3,764 during double guarantees week.