So I bit the bullet yesterday, rolled the bones, and entered a WSOP qualifier at Martinspoker, forking over €400. Which likely wasn't the best decision, given my general mindset and concentration level, but it was hard to pass up.
Martinspoker is running monthly WSOP qualifiers for a full package to the Main Event, with 10 packages guaranteed for each qualifier. I forget the exact number, but the first monthly qualifier was yesterday, and only got 140 or so entrants. So Martinspoker ended up ponying up about €50,000 of their own money to guarantee the 10 packages. Mmm, overlay...
You start with 7,500 chips, starting blinds of 15/25, and 12 minute levels. Probably 90% of the entrants were Swedish, with only a few US players in the entire field.
I was feeling pretty good, chipped up slightly to 8,500 or so, and people in general were playing pretty cautiously. Half an hour in and we'd only lost a couple of players.
Blinds were 100/200 when the following hand occured. It folds to me in MP, where I have A10c. A10 has been my MTT nemesis of late, so I'm not entirely thrilled to see it, but figure I can pick up the blinds pretty easily, given how passive people have been. It's still early enough that I can just fold if someone gets too jiggy. I still have 8,500 or so, and raise to 600. Folds to BB, who calls. BB also has me slightly covered, chip-wise. I don't have a read on the BB at all, as he's barely been involved in any pots.
Flop is Ad As 8d. I'm obviously feeling pretty good about that. Pot is 1,300 or so, BB checks, and I bet 900. BB calls. Hmm.
Turn is 7d. BB checks. Pot is 3,100. I don't like the diamond and I don't like all the smooth calls. But I also have to fire again, as he could literally have anything, even something as crappy as a big diamond. I bet 2,000, telling myself that's it, that I'll fold if he comes over the top of me, and live to fight another day with my 5,000 remaining chips. BB calls the 2,000.
River is 3c. BB insta-pushes all-in, covering me by about 500 chips.
I go into the tank, trying to find a reason to call. I have to call 5,000 to win a pot of nearly 13,000. I have trip aces, 10 kicker. Diamond flush on the board.
I finally throw up in my mouth a little and convince myself to fold, as I can't see any reasonable hand he'd play that way that I can beat, other than a slow-played big pair or something like A9, A6, A5, etc. But even that's hard to imagine, with the push on the river, as I'd shown strength the whole hand, so even if BB thought his Ax was good, you'd think he'd check again to me on the river, hoping for a free showdown.
Thoughts? Too weak?
Got blinded down a bit from there to 4,000 or so, biding my time, until I pick up KK on the button, with blinds of 200/400. UTG+1 (who's playing pretty terribly but somehow acquired a big stack) raises to 1,000, everyone folds to me, I push, and UTG+1 insta-calls with K9s. My happy dance gets cut off prematurely when a 9 appears on the flop, and another 9 on the river. Umm, thanks a pantload, poker.
Shortly after I busted also out of the Poker4ever $50,000 grand opening freeroll, 12 spots from the money, when QQ ran down my AA. See above note regarding pantloads, poker.
Can't say I feel too horribly about my play, despite the entry for the Martinspoker tournament being the largest I've ever forked over for the right to get sucked out on. I guess I'm still a little flummoxed by the A10 hand, but other than that, them's the break sometimes. I'll probably run the Martinspoker qualifier again next month, assuming it still offers a decent overlay, as I budgeted myself $1,000 or so to take a few shots at qualifying for the Main Event this year.
Added: Many thanks for all the responses so far.
(And, for the record BSN, the turn did bring the three-flush on the board, which greatly influenced my thinking. I don't think I can lay that hand down if there aren't 3 diamonds on the board.)
If we decide that I should bet the flop harder, what should I bet there? This hand was hard for me, as it's almost perfectly in-between my comfort zone in hands like this.
If my kicker were a bit stronger (or if the possible flush wasn't on the board), I'm inclined to bet slightly less than I did, like 600 or so, wanting a call.
If my hand were a bit weaker, I'd be inclined to push harder on the flop, betting the pot, trying to just take it down right there. But the pot isn't all that huge, on the flop, so my inclination was to lean in the direction of wanting a call, at that point, before the board puts three to a flush up there.
If I should bet the flop harder, how hard would you bet it? Pot it? More?
A second question, sparked by an email response, is do people think it's bad to make what looks like an obvious continuation bet on the flop? I hadn't thought of this before, but there is something to be said for avoiding what looks like obvious continuation bets on the flop/turn when you have strong but vulnerable hands. Yeah, I'm getting enough money in their to puncture the odds of most drawing hands, but I'm also potentially opening myself up to a river play, as happened in the hand.
By making standard sized continuation bets on the flop/turn, I'm not signalling that I have a really strong hand, encouraging people to make a play at me when my real intention is to take the pot down, then and there.
Another way of posing the question is whether a continuation bet is a continuation bet, if you have an actual hand, or is that a value bet? If you have a good hand you want to showdown but don't want to encourage heavy action, are you better off making either smaller or larger sized bets, to avoid the appearance of simply following through after a whiff with a continuation bet?