Yesterday, I took a run out to Firekeepers Casino in Battle Creek, MI to take a shot at the very soft, $65 Super Satellite for the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT). This tournament will qualify you for the $250 satellite for the $1100 main event May 15th-18th.  You can download the entire schedule including satellites here.

All of these satellites are “Survivor Tournaments” (STs) where a percentage of the field wins.  In this case, 20% of the field wins an entry into the next stage of qualifying which is a $250 satellite to the main event.  Some STs have just a cash payout but I do not know of any that run in this state.  The goal of these tournaments is to survive and qualify.  It does not matter if you have 200,000 or 500 in chips, you win the same amount.  This requires a different style of play to advance.

The first thing I look at when determining how I am going to survive is to figure out how many are qualifying and divide that by the total chips in play to get the average stack when everyone qualifies.  In this case, there were 86 runners so 17 qualified with a bubble getting $50.  There were 688,000 chips and play bring the average stack to just over 40,000 chips.  This is where I would really like to be at the end but that is only a target.  I try to make sure I stay above this mark when getting near the end of the tournament and try to think about it when I am trying to decide a big call or to make a big move.

There are a ton of variables at the table and I cannot cover everything here but my general strategy is if the big stack, put tons of pressure on everyone.  The medium stacks do not want to get involved with you because one hand can knock them out.  If I am the medium, I just hang back and play premium hands.  I am content to fold my way to a win.  Short stack play is where it is difficult.  Everyone will be pressuring you and sometimes, you just need to get it in and pray for a double up otherwise you will be blinded out.

Now with that out-of-the-way, lets talk about some of the weird things that happened during the tournament.  As usual, I am the most aggressive player at the table.  Raising about 8 times in the first 2 orbits which is way more than I usually do but I actually had the cards to back it up. However, I’m down about 1k.  Then this happened at 100/200 with about 7k effective stacks:

UTG+1 who I have played with before and I’ve seen bluff some but takes some weird lines raises to 600 and I call with AQs.  Flop comes A87 rainbow and he checks.  I bet 600 and he raises to 1200.  I make it 1800 and he ships while I start to tank.  About 5 seconds later, I think he hears “call’ from the table behind him and tables his hand.  I insta-muck when I see AKo and thanked him for showing. haha

The very next hand:

Same player UTG raises to 1200.  This seems very weak to me since he just raised to 600 with AK.  I finally ship about 4500 with ATs which he eventually calls with 77.  I flop 15 outs and miss them all twice and it’s off to re-enty.

No big deal here, it is still early and I can get back in with 40bbs.  After re-entry, I am placed at new table and pick up a couple good hands at the start.  Even get 3 bet all in when holding AA vs AKs.  Flop an A and he has outs going to the river but I hold.  Quickly I get up to 33k before losing 7k on the last hand before break in a blind vs blind all in preflop.  I proceeded to play very few hands after that just staying ahead of the curve.  There were too many short stacks at the tables to get too cute so I slowed down.

Usually, when you get down around 10BBs in a normal tournament, you are shoving a pretty wide range of hands.  However, if you are down to 18 and 17 are winning an entry, there tends to be a LOT of folding from the short stacks.  Usually you get a guy to get blinded out of the tournament.  When that happens, most of the table will call just to maximize the chance for knocking them out.

I watched 2 guys blind themselves down to less than 2BBs before the following hand happens.  This hand will make you throw up a little in your mouth:

We are down to 18 players with 17 advancing. Blinds are 2k/4k/ with a 400 ante.  HJ has 6500, CO has 50k+, I am in the SB with 28k and BB has 6k total (2k back).

It folds to the HJ who calls for 4K. (yes, I said he calls).  Then the CO calls (I’m fine with this.  Lets get more in to knock these guys out).  Button folds and I fold (there’s going to be 3 in and most likely 1 will be out or only have an ante left).  Now here is where it gets really ugly.

BB ships for 2k more.  HJ calls (with 500 back) and yes, the CO folds…….  (puke)

Really?  You fold?????  Are you fucking kidding me??????  DON’T EVER DO THAT!  EVER, EVER, EVER!!!!  I had just watched him call a turn and river with 3rd pair which would have left him with 10k had he been wrong so I know he really had no idea what he was doing but damn.

Really, the plan here is to knock someone out so everyone advances.  You do whatever it takes to get them out and 2 fucking K is not going to hurt your 50k or a 40k or even a 20k stack here you have to call.  I knew calling in the SB would cost me at least 4K to call and this guy in the CO has bet on ever flop with someone all in since we got to this table so I did not want to get involve.

In the long run, the HJ wins the hand and the rest of us qualify.  I really have no idea what the hands were because I was so disgusted by the play I could not think straight.  Feel free to blind yourself out when I am at one of these tables.  I really hope I see a lot of that again when I play the $250 qualifier either Friday or May 10th.  If I lived closer to Firekeepers, I would play every qualifier I could because the play is incredibly soft and feel it is a great -EV investment for anyone with a little knowledge of playing these types of events.

Good luck!

-Caveman