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Breaking my own rules

I saved myself a lot of money by winning an EPT Grand Final package on PokerStars in a $500 satellite. However, my play down the stretch in the Main Event ended up costing me even more. Now that I have a little distance and can look back on how I played on Days 4 and 5, I realized that I made two very questionable folds that took me off track and led to me missing out on the final table.

I got off to a great start in Monte Carlo, coming in fourth in the Open-Face Chinese side event, and building a big stack during the first few days of the Main Event. Then, with 20 players remaining, I opened from early position with two sixes. Andrew "Luckychewy" Lichtenberger called on the button, and Johnny Lodden came in from the big blind. I hit a favorable flop for my hand, T-5-2 rainbow, and my plan was to check-raise. Johnny checked to me, I checked, and Luckychewy made a small bet. Johnny folded, but instead of going through with my plan to raise, I just called. The turn was another small card and I check-called another small bet from Luckychewy. The river, however, put a pair of tens on board. I checked, Luckychewy bet small again, and something about his sizing had me convinced I was beat. I thought for a long time and threw away my hand. Almost immediately, I was furious with myself. I hadn't stuck to my guns and gone with my original plan for the hand. When I chose to raise pre-flop with the two sixes, it was imperative that I followed up with a continuation bet on the flop especially because I was out of position. Instead, I gave up the lead and let Luckychewy possibly bluff me.


Later on, with the blinds up to 12,000/24,000, Steve O'Dwyer, who was very active at the table at the time, opened for 50,000 from under-the-gun. Noah Schwartz flat-called, and the short stack, who had only played two hands in the last three hours, moved all-in for 340,000. The action folded to me on the button and I looked down at pocket tens. I had 390,000 left and a huge decision to make. Instinctively, I thought I was crushed because the short stack had been playing so tight. But I forgot to remind myself that the pot was giving me the right price. If I moved in for 390,000, there was almost no way Steve or Noah could call with two all-ins in front of them. However, I didn't give myself enough time to really think it through. At the time, I thought it was right to go with my gut and I folded the tens. Both Steve and Noah folded as well, and the short stack won the pot without a showdown. Later, I found out that the short stack had A-Q. It would have been a coinflip, but it was entirely possible that either Steve or Noah folded one of his outs.

Sometimes, making a quick "gut instinct" decision can actually hurt you, and in this case, I feel like it cost me at least the final table, if not the tournament. I didn't slow down and think about the fact that the short stack could have easily had sevens, eights, or nines and I was the one that had him crushed. I didn't think about Noah or Steve potentially folding his outs. I didn't think about the price the pot was offering me. Also stuck in my head was the fact that Noah had made the same exact play earlier in the day, flat calling from early position with a lot of action still behind him, and he turned out to have pocket jacks. If I had shipped it in with the tens, I would have given myself a chance to go deeper in the tournament, but instead I broke my own rules.

I ended up finishing in 13th place and although I cashed and made money, I can't sit here and convince myself I played really well when I actually made a couple of horrible decisions when it really counted. I played nitty poker instead of pushing my edges when they presented themselves. Sure, maybe I made a few more money jumps by sticking around a little longer, but I didn't give myself a chance to win. Honestly, I was steaming after the whole thing, but hopefully it's a mistake I won't repeat anytime soon.

Victor Ramdin is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

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