Anatomy of a Hot Win
As I scrolled through the PokerStars lobby last Saturday, I picked out all the MTTs I would play in addition to my couple hundred MTT SNGs. A sexy red tournament I don't normally play caught my attention: The Hot $55.
As I hovered over the registration button, I remembered the dinner I'd planned for that evening--herb-roasted chicken with cauliflower puree. Aside from indicating that I should have eaten that morning, it was more than my hunger that concerned me. The meal I planned would take more time than what I usually make on Saturday night.
Playing the Hot $55 instead of the Saturday Speedway would enable me to be done a bit earlier and avoid telling my husband, "Uh, dinner's actually going to be an hour later than normal..." Instead, I joked to Collin that I was just going to win the Hot $55, and we were going to have a great and punctual dinner!
And thus begins the story of how a humble Mexican chicken led to my biggest online score to date.
The tournament got off to a good start, when I doubled at the 25/50 level with kings to queens. Then, I had my first successful reshove:
Though I didn't have my opponent tagged as a reg, he seemed pretty aggressive but unlikely to be shoving as wide as Nash Equilibrium. Even so, this is a clear three-bet shove with any suited ace, and I was happy to hold!
After winning a few flips, and holding in a three-way all-in where I had the nuts, I found myself pretty deep in the tournament.
I was at the same table as TheLipoFund, a player with whom I have a ton of friends in common. Though we have yet to meet in person, I have a lot of respect for his game and the fact that he also went to Florida State -- go 'Noles! Once, I messaged him for Internet advice, as he is also in this part of Mexico, and he gave me some great info. Though I should have hoped for softer opposition, I had a brief dream that we would get heads-up, as I always wish the best for people that take the time to be nice to me.
At my new table, I perceived myself as having a tighter image than I actually was playing and intended to capitalize on it. In this hand, I thought that I might be shoved on by TheLipoFund and the big blind tighter than Nash, because of my image combined with the small blind's stack. I was committed to calling his shove after I opened, making my range possibly appear stronger. If the small blind shoved and the other players folded, I'd be getting better than 5-to-1 to call, and would therefore only need about 15 percent equity.
Even if the small blind was only going with high pairs, I would still have about 20 percent equity with my 87s.
On the final table bubble, I had my biggest suckout of the tournament. Had I been about five blinds shorter, I would have open-shoved, instead I min-raised my pocket eights.
Versus loose-aggressive regs, this would have been any easy call. But I didn't have many hands versus this opponent, and I had his VPIP/PFR at 10/7. Plus, it was the final table bubble. To make it a profitable call, I needed more than 43 percent equity versus his range. This means he'd need to be shoving roughly 66+, ATs+, AJo+. At the time, I wasn't sure if he was shoving that wide, but the other part of me felt ridiculous raise/folding an ante-adjusted 12-big blind stack five-handed with pocket eights.
So, I clicked the call button and saw the bad news. Before the flop came out, I minimized the table to limit the pain in defeat, as I had to keep my head focused for the 30-some-odd tables I was still playing.
But the Hot $55 popped back up, and I learned through the replayer that I'd flopped a set! One of the friends of the guy I bad-beated tweeted to me that his friend hoped I would win after busting him. It's hard to be that classy when bubbling a final table, and it meant a lot to me.
At the final table, there were about seven all -ins in a row where the short stack won. I found myself with an ante-adjusted four-big blind stack and was happy for my days spent grinding super turbos. So many players discount the importance of solid short-stacked play, and usually the ones who do lack a thorough understanding of adjusting for ICM while short.
Despite being short-stacked, I was thrilled to be at the final table, and I sent out a quick tweet while I danced along to "Anything Can Happen" by Fifth Harmony.
After losing AJ to K6, I had a 3.3-big blind stack and a dream! All at once, players started busting at a rapid pace and suddenly we were three-handed. The 'Noles-living-in-Mexico demographic was well represented with TheLipoFund and me. Soon, I was faced with a decision for my tournament life:
In a winner-take-all tournament where there is no ICM, this would have been an easy call. In Nash Equilibrium, the button should be shoving about 28 percent. I was happy that I'd spent hours studying yesterday and that I'd looked in detail at a spot that occurred in a 180-man that was very similar.
If villain was shoving 28 percent, that would make this a call with 77 and a -.01% of the remaining prize pool ($268) mistake to call with 66. But the button had been super aggressive, and over a significant sample, had a VPIP/PFR of 30/29. He likely knew that TheLipoFund could only call a shove with a very tight range, considering his status as the mid-stack. Also, I'd been very card dead for the most part at the final table, folding a five-big blind stack often. So it was reasonable to think that this player thought I'd be calling too tight, and that, for these reasons, he could exploitively shove wider than Nash allowed.
I clicked the call button and was met with two great sights in quick succession: first, that I was an 80 percent favorite against 55, and second, that I managed to hold!
Soon after, the other two players collided, and I was heads-up with one of my online heroes! To start the battle, I had 2.3 million to TheLipoFund's 1.8 million. Twenty hands later, I'd increased my chip advantage a bit when the final hand of the tournament occurred:
Marty made a profitable shove and ran into my AQ, which gave me the win!
After jumping up and down with joy, I timed out on a few of my remaining tables to dance with my dog. Wilbur may not have fully understood what was going on, but his wagging yellow tail seemed happy for me.
It turned out that he wasn't the only one! The kind tweets and messages I received from so many people made me feel like I'd won the tournament many times over!
Kristalina Steininger kindly made this picture to celebrate for PokerStars Women:
The roast chicken I made that night was the best I've ever tasted (though I was in such a great mood, it could have actually been the worst and I wouldn't have thought so), and dinner was right on time. We finished the night in a hot tub that overlooks the ocean with a bottle of champagne. I've rarely felt as lucky and grateful as I did that day.
Given how my plans to roast a chicken lead to my success in winning the Hot $55, the next time someone bring up the old riddle "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" I'll adamantly defend the chicken!