When to Fold Kings

When you are sitting in 16th place with 21 left and the bubble is at 18 you probably still want to at least see a flop with pocket kings, but if the next pay increase is at 2nd place and you are in position to basically fold your way into the money, it's probably not worth it to risk your tournament life for a chance to pick up some more chips. No matter how big the pot is, it will never be large enough to offset the risk of missing the money, even if the risk is minimal. Those extra chips won't do much to increase your chances of reaching the next pay-out level, and so putting any amount of risk on your tournament life in this situation is a negative expected value in the long run. Fold your kings, and probably even your aces.

Somehow that sage advice is always harder to follow in the heat of the action though. I played a great game through the 500K Play Chip $40 Freeroll on Full Tilt tonight. It was a bit of a roller-coaster ride when a guy pushed all-in in front of me for about two-thirds my stack and I couldn't fold my pocket aces. He hit a flush on the river and sent me into survival mode. I played some excellent poker though and managed to work my way back up to 16th place with 21 players left when my kings showed up. I naturally couldn't resist calling a big raise from a big stack in front of me who had been playing real aggressive and taking advantage of the extremely tight play this close to the bubble. I didn't take the time to fully analyze the situation like I did above, and had I done that I easily would have folded my way into the money, but no, I acted rashly in the heat of the moment with what on the surface looks to be a good opportunity. Sure I probably had him beat by a mile, but that's not the point. It's really irrelevant that he had pocket 9s and hit his set on the flop because the outcome in poker is never under your control. You can only control your own decisions and actions, and this one was clearly a bad one. I may have had the odds to not get busted most of the time, but at that point in the tournament even a 5% chance of busting out is way too high a risk to take with almost any possible return given the distance to the next pay-out increase..

I've got a discussion going over at Raise the River about this hand if you're interested.

They say tournament play is all about situation, and this hand proves that more than anything else. It's not worth crying over bad beats unless you can learn from the situation, so hopefully I've learned a good lesson while the stakes are still only $2. Although $2 is like a million bucks for my bankroll right now :)

So much for my streak of 5-straight cashes in this nightly tournament. It's always good to recognize that it was my bad decision that cost me the game tonight though. Always recognizing errors and improving on my play is what this bankroll challenge is all about, so at least I've gained something valuable tonight.

On another positive note, I'm currently sitting at 73 of 170 in one of the huge 2700 player tourneys on Full Tilt so it looks like I may break my record of 75th. Who knows, maybe there's a couple dollars in store for my bankroll tonight after all. I'll post an update on that one in a bit if things go well.


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