One of the keys to making it deep into a MTT is getting full value out of your big hands. Sure, you have to learn to steal blinds and constantly be building your stack, but you always have to make sure you are doubling up at every opportunity.
In our first example, you can see I flopped a pretty nice hand. I had raised 3x pre-flop and been called by the SB. He checked the flop and I was in a quandary. What to do with such a hand? I contemplated going all in because I had the best hand and definitely did not want to get drawn out on. Isn't it the pits when you flop quads and you slow play it, only to lose to a rivered bigger quads? Yeah, I hate that too. Damn donkeys will call with any pair to chase you down. I really don't know why I bother playing sometimes.
Anyway. I got over my fear and just checked. The turn did not pair the board so I was more confident. When the SB bet half the pot I was just able to resist the urge to go all-in there to protect myself. I called and steeled myself for the big lay down I would have to make if a second ten came on the river. A raise would have been useless and folding is PROBABLY a little too cautious there.
When the river came with a blessed blank, I was sure I was going to get all his money in. After all, I had pretended to be weak by just calling. Nobody but maybe Hellmuth could have deciphered that weak really meant strong there. Of course, my victim complied by going all-in and I moved way up the ladder.
Do you see what I did there? I acted as though didn't have much of a hand when I really had a monster. Of course I would have laid it down if another ten had come on the river. I get beat by one outers something like 41% of the time. I know many of you think that is impossible but as soon as I get this Poker Tracker everybody is talking about, I'll show you it's true.
A little later, picked up this little gem with two potential suck-out artists along for the ride. With no over-card on the flop, my nervousness level was only moderately elevated. Hey, if I had a nickel for every time I got beat by runner-runner quad jacks, I'd be a winner overall for my poker career. Again, I'll show you when I get Poker Tracker up and running.
Now, I had faked weakness before by checking so I was reluctant to try it again. If it was checked to me, I was going to push knowing I was going to be called. Everybody knows how tight I play, so it would have made the other players suspicious to see me make such a bold move there. They would have had no choice but to look me up. Unfortunately for me though, the BB went all-in before me. I delayed as much as I could to make it look as though I was thinking hard before slowly clicking "call". The Button folded as the BB had acted quickly, clearly telegraphing the strength of his hand. If the BB had just paused for a few moments as I did before betting, the Button would have thought he was good and called. By making the donkey-like quick push, the BB kept me from tripling up.
Both times, pretending to be weak allowed me to double up and then some. I am sure someone will posit some theory soon about how weak=strong and strong=weak but until it becomes common knowledge, I would encourage everyone to play flopped quads very slowly (unless there is an over card on the flop) and try to induce a worse hand to bet. Eventually this method will be discovered and the newsgroups will be full of advice on how to combat this advanced play, but until then you should be able to profit handsomely.
I went on to a 16th place finish after being undone by a series of amazingly bad plays by bozos. I know some of you can sympathize. Us TAGs need to stick together. Keep the faith.
In the first hand, the SB had AJ and did bluff the turn and river to double me up. On the second, the BB had JJ and went all-in on the flop. It was a nice surprise to get some value out of these hands. After a few months of running so bad at FT, I've made a pleasant turn around. MTTs can be incredibly frustrating when you keep getting your money in ahead and end up losing. There is so much tied up in these big payout events that getting knocked out can almost make one physically ill. I have taken to calling out loud the cards that will beat me. It doesn't stop them from coming sometimes but it seems to soften the blow if they do come. And come they do, almost exactly as the odds dictate they would. Damn you math, making sense again.
The key is to make your play and move on with life. If you get beat, it does not matter how well or how poorly the other player played. You got beat and you need to move on to another tournament. I don't think they have ever let a knocked-out player back into a tournament based on the "the other guy played that so bad, I didn't deserve to lose defense." It may take a while to hit that big score and if you finally do, it may take longer to hit the next one. As long as you play within your bankroll and keep getting your chips in ahead, you willeventaully win one. Then you too can be like me and pretend you understand poker.