Playing a Limit H.O.R.S.E freeroll on FullTiltPoker as a member of the Railbirds

Poker chips
Image by Jam Adams via Flickr

Last Friday night I participated in a Railbirds.com freeroll tournament on FullTiltPoker. I have been a member of Railbirds since 2007 and have occasionally played the freerolls, especially in games that I needed more experience with. HORSE is one of those games. For those of you that don’t know what H.O.R.S.E is, it is six different games played during the course of the tournament. Basically, you start out with a ten minute session of Limit Holdem, followed by 10 minutes each of Limit Omaha High, Limit Omaha High/Low, RAZZ, Stud Poker High, Stud Poker High/Log. The blinds started at 15/30 and increased every 15 minutes as well.

So not only did the blinds increase, but the games changed as well. At least twice during the tourney, I did not notice when the game changed from Omaha High to High/Low or from Stud High to Stud High/Low. This not paying attention actually cost me some chips as I called with hands that were ok to play in High but should have been folded if playing High/Low.

This was a very intense tourney. It started at 9:00 pm eastern time with 947 entrants. It ended on Saturday morning at 2:15 am, although I was finished at 1:47 am with an eleventh place finish.

The payout structure was such that unless you finished in the top three slots, your payout amounted to .25 or .50 cents an hour for playing for 5 hours, 15 minutes. The top eleven finishers were as follows:

1: snertbinkler, $30.75
2: vernc, $20.55
3: santafeslim2, $14.25
4: weelo22, $9.30
5: catfishhall, $5.85
6: DavidT1224, $4.20
7: duelindalton, $2.93
8: GridironHot, $1.94
9: Bird-Howdy, $1.41
10: RudyRidge, $1.41
11: StevieTrips, $1.41

I tried to recall all that had happened that evening in order to write about this event. Thanks to a twitter friend, Paul Ellis, aka twitter name @fleapid, I was able to gather some of my thoughts about what had happened that Friday night and early Saturday morning. The following is an extracted twitter conversation between @fleapid and myself, @stevebrogan. The name preceding the comment is the person being spoken to. If you see, @fleapid, I was talking to him, etc.

@fleapid My best chip building results were with Omaha Hi/lo & Stud Hi. I did well in Razz until the last round where i blew chips away.
@fleapid In the case of HORSE, a couple of times I didn’t notice when the game switched from Stud HI to Stud Hi/Lo and that was costly.
@fleapid Michell’s book covers some of that. It mirrors what happened to me
@fleapid I will have to post that. Because I either got too aggressive or to complacent or both. Too tight and too loose in the same session
@SteveBrogan it’s a REALLY good point. I mean, when you have the most chips, players want to double through you
@fleapid I’ll have to collect my thoughts about that. That is a good idea. Once of my weaknesses was thinking I was invincible – not good
@SteveBrogan something like, do you get involved in more coin flip?, fish more cause you can. Or stay tight
@SteveBrogan lol – me too. I’d love to hear your thoughts in a blog post on “the dangers of playing with the big stack.”
@fleapid I give them a big target and they hit the bullseye. lol
@SteveBrogan hate that. I almost don’t want to be chip lead in the middle stages. I feel like I’m a target
@fleapid Not sure what I’ll be doing either. Last night left me drained. Had the lead four or five times and kept giving it up.

I started the tourney with 1,500 in chips, just like the other 946 players, giving a total chip pool of 1,420,500. The one who ended up with all of these chips would be the winner and that was my goal. In just the first ten hands I played, I actually went down to 1,100 in chips. Not exactly where I wanted to be heading. At that point, I was moved to a different table with different players. A fresh start. I was playing Omaha Hi and hit a full house and almost doubled up. I was now at 2,190 in chips. The next 20 hands I folded and on the 21st Iwon a small pot of 895 during a hand of Razz, T,5,3,2,A. The next hand, I added 695 chips to my stack with a Razz hand of 7,6,4,2,A. I folded the next ten hands. At this time, the game was Limit Stud High. I won a small pot of 480 chips with a pre-flop bet, uncontested. Two hands later at Limit Stud, High/Low I won a nice size pot of 1,905, giving me a total of 4,300 chips. Quite a few hands later, I ended the session at that table with a chip stack of 6,060. It was just 58 minutes into the tourney, at 9:58 pm and it seemed like an eternity had past by. I was moved to another table for the next session.

At 10:00, the blinds were at 50/100 and I was now on table 112 at seat 3 with 6,060 in chips. Thirty five hands later, I had amassed 8,190 in chips by the time I was moved to the next table at 10:44 pm. I had won six hands in that session and was the chip leader at my table when I left for yet another table.

At table, 79 I was second in chips having 8,190 versus the table leader having 12,320. I went about 15 hands, winning a couple of small pots but mostly folding until I hit a good hand that turned into a King high flush at limit for a pot of 4,800, bringing me up to 11,110. 15 hands later the blinds had reduced me down to 9,060 and I was again moved to a new table.

At table 7, I was fourth out of eight players in chips. We were starting a game of Limit Razz and the blinds were now 500/1000 and there was an ante of 100. Each round of play was now costing at least 2,300, even if I just folded every hand. That table session was my best so far. I was dealt 66 hands. I folded 29 of them. I won 15 of them, bringing up my chip count from 9,060 to a tournament leading 98,277 chips. I was moved to the next table at 13 minutes into the next day, Saturday. My biggest winning pots were in games of Omaha High/Low for a pot of 34,008 and Limit Holdem with a pot of 16,500.

I was now on table 19 with a very good chip stack of 98,277. The blinds and antes were at 1500/3000/250 and a round of poker would cost 6,500 if I folded every hand. My closest opponent had about 75,000 in chips. I was only on this table about 11 minutes and gave back almost a third of my chips before I moved on to the next table. There were only five hands played at that table. I played in all five of them and and never hit a good hand. The first two hands were in Limit Razz, the final three were in Limit Stud High. I left the table with only 65,827 in chips.

At 23 minutes past the hour of midnight, I found myself at table #73, with 65,827 in chips. The blinds and antes were now at 2000/4000/300 meaning that a round of poker was now costing 8,400 in chips if you just folded everything you were dealt. At that session, I was dealt 26 hands. I played every hand. Looking back, I can see that now I was tired and my judgement was not good. There is no way you should play every hand dealt. So I was desperate and looking for a way to work my way back up to tournament leader. This was not the way to do it however, and at the end of this session I was down to 40,227 in chips, about 14th place of the 17 remaining players.

At table #76, which was the final table I played at, the blinds were at 3000/6000 for Limit Holdem, meaning that a round of poker would cost about 9,000. Since I had 40,227, I would only be able to last about 4 rounds before being blinded out (the cost of the blinds would eat away my stack). I played in 58 hands at this table. I folded 4 times. I won five pots. I lost four pots at showdown. I usually folded after the flop, turn or river for the remaining time at this table. My stack size started at 40,227 and went as high as 88,342.

My stacks went from 40,227 to 64,227, 61,227, 59,727, 64,227, 56,227, 48,227, 50,227, 48,227, 65,727, 73,227, 70,727
23,421, 30,921, 29,921, 23,921, 22,921, 21,921, 29,421, 28,421, 40,921, 88,342, 87,342, 86,342, 85,342, 59,177, 680

680. This was where the worse decision was made. I was in Limit Stud High and went to seventh street with just an opened ended straight draw . Even now, I cannot believe I did this. I had only eight outs and I risked all of my chips on it. It only takes a few bad decisions to cost you a game, a tourney, etc. If I actually hit the open ended straight, I would have been in terrific shape. It does happen once in a while. But it didn’t and I was down to 680 in chips after the hand finished.  Basically a chip and chair.

The following hand summary shows what I was up against.

Seat 4: snertbinkler showed [Th 2d Ts 2h 4c 8c 7d] and won (128,526) with two pair, Tens and Twos
Seat 6: bbgold showed [2s Ad 4h Kc Td As Jd] and lost with a pair of Aces
Seat 7: StevieTrips showed [4d 5c 6c 3d Kd 8h Ac] and lost with Ace King high

The remaining 680 chips played out as follows.  The next hand I was able to get back up to 4,080. The following shows how my chip stack fluctuated for the remaining hands that I played.

4,080, 3,080, 8,080, 7,080, 6,080, 5,080, 4,080, 3,080, 2,080, 9,240, 6,240, 14,240, 13,240, 12,240, 11,240, 27,480,
26,480, 25,480, 32,480, 30,480, 26,480, 22,980, 21,480, 19,980, 15,980 and finally I was out. I finished at 2:16 am Saturday morning. Tired, and not really sure what had happened I went to bed.

Later that morning, I twittered with my poker friends about the game in general. I looked at the hand histories to write this post. This did give me a chance to study what had happened and would point out my tourney weaknesses. This would allow me  to learn and try to correct them. Of course, with so many glaring errors, this is definitely a work in progress. Finishing 11th of 947 was nice. Playing better and finishing first, priceless.

Has this every happened to you? Have you played more than 5 hours and found that at the end you were running out of steam? Have you started by playing your “A” game, and ended up playing your “C” game? Is there even a “Z” game?

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2 thoughts on “Playing a Limit H.O.R.S.E freeroll on FullTiltPoker as a member of the Railbirds

  1. That's happened to me a lot, though usually I find it's because I allow myself to be killed by the blinds in the late stages. My stack disintegrates until I make one final push with a hand that's usually above average, only to see someone call with an average hand for a fraction of their chips, and end up with the rest of mine. It's frustrating.Large tournament fields require the following, which are in no particular order 1) Skill, 2) Lots of Luck, 3) Endurance 4) Patience 5) Timed AggressionWhen you were sitting on 80k, that was a healthy stack, and when you got tired, you made some ill advised decisions with the pots that you were committed to. It happens. My only advice would be, try to avoid those tournaments that are going to run into the nether hours of the night/early morning, unless you're going to have the ability to still have all of your wits about you in the late stages. It is then that all of the decisions become increasingly important. In the hand that took you to 680, your opponent only had two pair. Not exactly the strongest of hands. I've made plenty of mistakes in the wee hours of the morning, but I've also been able to take advantage of some players that were effected by the early AM play as well.

  2. That's happened to me a lot, though usually I find it's because I allow myself to be killed by the blinds in the late stages. My stack disintegrates until I make one final push with a hand that's usually above average, only to see someone call with an average hand for a fraction of their chips, and end up with the rest of mine. It's frustrating.Large tournament fields require the following, which are in no particular order 1) Skill, 2) Lots of Luck, 3) Endurance 4) Patience 5) Timed AggressionWhen you were sitting on 80k, that was a healthy stack, and when you got tired, you made some ill advised decisions with the pots that you were committed to. It happens. My only advice would be, try to avoid those tournaments that are going to run into the nether hours of the night/early morning, unless you're going to have the ability to still have all of your wits about you in the late stages. It is then that all of the decisions become increasingly important. In the hand that took you to 680, your opponent only had two pair. Not exactly the strongest of hands. I've made plenty of mistakes in the wee hours of the morning, but I've also been able to take advantage of some players that were effected by the early AM play as well.

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