Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Correspondence With My Horse, Drew Chapman

About a week a half ago, I decided for the first time ever that I would back a player.  I have long been opposed to this idea due to the fact that winning players shouldn't need to be staked and, of course, the awful experiences of numerous other people.  This was different, though.  First of all, Drew never wanted anything more from me than advice, and secondly, he was already a winning player.  Though I won't give out the exact details of the arrangement, I will say that he has a strong winning record in the $8 HUSNG's on the Cake Network, which you can read at his blog, Heads Up Chicago.

After having some correspondence that night with Drew, I realized A) he is probably ready to step it up, perhaps into the $25's and B) that it would be a fun project on my part.  Partaking in this new field started me thinking on what normally goes wrong with such agreements, namely backing losing players and stressing their results.  I feel that these problems can be eliminated by putting someone into higher volume and/or bigger games provided that they are already winning, yet not properly rolled and also that the staking operation should be worthwhile as a recreational cost.  After all, if you are ever stressing the results of your horses, you are just playing above your roll!  I also believe too many people are involved in staking because they are trying to get rich.  I believe that other than the legendary staking operation of Sheets and Bax, you should do it with the goal in mind of creating a small supplementary income stream.

All that being said, I strongly urge anyone who is interested to check out Drew's Blog.  Though it is early in the making, it is very clear that he is going places in this game and the quality of the writing and analysis is just plain excellent.  Currently he has hit a rough patch and looking for advice on how to break out of it, though I think he has already figured it out.

Hey man. Thanks a lot for your encouraging comments on the blog, that means a lot.

Things are going okay. I still haven't completely "recovered" as it were from the slump of the last week-two, but things are looking up a bit. I had a decent session the other day, made about $60 in 3 hours. Of course, later that day I lost about half of that back in the course of two games, but it was at least, finally, a winning session in which nothing went too seriously or bizzare-ly awry.


In terms of the 25s, my record for this week is 8 wins/9 losses, so not great but not horrible. I've been good about employing focus and judgement, which has helped. 


I played a little recreationally last night. I have discovered a new way to play poker purely for fun when I'm not concerned about profitability or over-analysis of my game [read=when I'm tired/want a beer]: don't play hold 'em. Specifically, I hit up the micro and low stakes 8-game SNGs on Stars, which can be tons of fun, as I really enjoy razz and 2-7 draw without having the same degree of technical knowledge of those games as I have with HE...
Anyway, tomorrow I get back on the horse (no pun intended). Perhaps I'll have a little pre-game study session with Moshman's book and/or some videos to prime my brain, as well as possibly some physical exercise. I have been experimenting with such tactics to see how they affect my play, to some success; specifically, I've noticed that when I've spent part of the day out being mentally & physically active in other ways, my game benefits... I will let you know how things shape up. Thanks again for all your support!



-Drew




Having games that you play for "fun" is always important.  Ironically, when you are not playing for money, per se, you are often encouraged to try those things that you always wondered about that might be able to push your game to that next level, yet the fear of "playing incorrectly" (according to what we we THINK we know) often paralyzes our actions.  Besides, when playing for fun when are never auto-piloting the decisions and we actually become much more mentally active than we normally are when trying to play "well."


-Lorin




Something just occurred to me, and I wanted to run it by you. I think that i've been thinking about this stake the wrong way, and I'll tell you why. So far I've been treating the $25 games too much like the $5s & $10s; that is, I game select for opponents with a negative ROI, and play them with the same mindset and in basically the same way as I play my lower-stake, & mostly lower-skill, opponents, because I play them during the same grind sessions through which I try to eke out my profit. This raises two problems: 1) I'm not in the right mindset. I'm grinding, mostly playing ABC poker because that's mostly all that's needed to beat the smaller games. This means I'm not using these $25s to really push myself and learn how to play the "new" game at the higher level, and I'm leaving myself vulnerable to opponents who are playing a more nuanced game/whose focus is fresher/etc. And, 2) the losses that I take from the $25s have a more pronounced psychological effect on my session, for the reasons I mentioned in my previous blog posting. If I win $30 over the course of 4 matches and then lose most of it in one, the degrading effect on my confidence and momentum is significant, and probably makes me less effective. Perhaps if I played on your stake in exclusive sessions, or otherwise separated these matches from my regular grind, it would have an overall positive effect. Thoughts? I should prob turn this into a blog post...


-Drew




Hmmm....since you are very careful about game selection, there is no way of being certain that the fish in the bigger game are any better or worse than those in your regular game.  One thing that is for certain is that since the losses do affect you more acutely at the higher level, some part of you must be playing a little more weak-tight.  If this is true, then your opponents will be playing a proportionally more aggressive game than yourself, making them appear to be tougher, though it might only be you who is getting weaker.  I strongly suggest that you stick with your normal game, but if a player is doing something that you find confusing or frustrating, it is best just to move on.  Even though you are feeling down at the moment, you will adjust as your pain threshold increases.    


I do agree with the idea of game and stake segregation.  It is a known fact that when playing multiple stakes side by side, the larger game affects your judgment and you will pay less attention to the smaller game.  Rather than reiterate an article that has already been executed greatly, I will turn you over this link at Pocket Fives when it has already been explained, particularly Jennifear's comments at the bottom.


-Lorin

Monday, March 29, 2010

Closing in on the End of the Bet

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lorin Offers to Settle the Bet

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Open Letter to Jolly Toper

The following post was originally going to be a reply to several comments by "jolly toper" in some of our recent posts.  However, when planning out in my mind what I wanted to say, I realized that the information I am about to put forth was too important to risk having it be missed by our regular readership.

Congratulations, Ronnie Kruger.  Rather than joining and being the third best player on "Team Charlatan", you have chosen to burn your bridges with Travis and claim the spot as the #1 player on Team Barfly.  I am failing to see how this has done you any good.  Rather than aligning yourself with players who have achieved the position that you used to seek and are capable of pulling you up, you are choosing to keep company with people who lack the technical knowledge and experience to ever prove any of your theories about poker wrong.

Being a long time friend of yours, you should be happy that Travis has finally taken the step to achieve a goal he has sought after for a very long time.  Now that you are attempting to dismiss and diminish his recent  accomplishments in a hurtful way, you have failed to seize the golden opportunity that had lain before you, and that is to simply ask him: how did you do it?  Even better, ask him what he did that you did not.

I'll tell you what that is.  Travis did not get there by possessing an overabundance of intelligence or natural ability, as he has neither :).  Both of these traits will only get you about 10% of the way there, anyhow.  What Travis did was keep pushing through when the experience reached the height of his pain threshold.  It was neither easy nor was it fun.  Though he may have been able to do this on his own, he had me by his side the whole time to make sure that he never gave up.  I supplied him with the knowledge and the standard and he made that extra push on his own.  It was nothing more and nothing less.  Though I can hardly take the credit for what Travis did by virtue of his own fortitude, he would gladly tell you that he could not have done it without me.

As a friend, Travis would have been willing to do the same for you.  Instead, you retreated back into the purgatorial shell that I like to call the "transition phase" and chose to discredit him rather than face where you are lacking.  The transition phase is the stage that exists when you are clearly the best player in your regular game and are entertaining thoughts about going pro.  However, making this transition is like going from being the high school basketball star to riding the bench on your college team.  It strongly arouses the insecurity that comes from being the best in the local pool to testing yourself against those who are clearly better than you.

Most potential pros will never get out of the transition phase, as they feel that acknowledging the accomplishments of others somehow lessens their sense of self-worth.  They prefer to label those with better results than themselves as "lucky", or take your unique position that we have contrived this massive illusion to mask the fact that we are just jacking each other off in our basements while collecting unemployment checks.  Players in the transition phase find it too painful to come to grips with their weaknesses as players and forcefully block any attempts by others to help them.  I would know, because I have been there.  Now at this stage in my career, I wish that I had taken more steps to surround myself with people who knew more about the game and played better than I did.  Unfortunately, at the time, my ego just would not have allowed it and I have suffered by choosing to pass up on the experience.

I doubt that this is what you had originally set out to accomplish in poker.  While being the best player in your home game might garner you respect on a small scale, you know that you can never respect yourself for having given up on your dream of being a professional.  So rather than trying to pull people back down to your level, get up off the floor and join them instead.  Now that you have officially severed your ties with both myself and Travis, you have to surround yourself with new poker friends.  Hopefully, they will know more about the game than yourself and thereby be in a better position to uplift you.

The good news is that you aren't done yet- not by a long shot.  Part of what makes poker so great is that you can take it up at any point in your life and you do not have to rely on the judgment of others as to whether or not you succeed.  It's completely meritocratic.  So if you still want make it in the poker world, stop reading this blog right now and pick up a poker book. You hold nothing but contempt for what it contains, anyhow.  However, if you want to stick around for one last piece of advice, here it is:  My baseball coach in college once gathered the team up and told us about how Tony Gwynn, the best hitter alive, would take 400 swings in front of a mirror every single day.  Then he said, "if Tony Gwynn has to do it that many times, then how many times do you have to do it?"

Stand right now in front of that mirror. Now take a long, hard look at yourself, and start swinging away.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Prop Bet

First of all, I would like to congratulate Travis for officially quitting his 9 to 5 and going pro this month.  Fittingly, he not only had his first $2k day this month at the cash game tables, but his second and third as well.  Now that he is running hot and a little ahead of me in the winnings category for the month, we thought we should run a special little prop bet to see who can earn more.  The rules are simple: $ won and rakeback count, bonuses do not.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

The winner gets to dress as the pimp and the loser gets to dress up as the ho.  And oh yeah, we wear these outfits out in public at Travis's bar, The Golden Nugget.

It's very important that Travis get humbled immediately, else he start thinking that this whole poker thing is easy.  Besides, my massive ego simply can not allow this to happen.  We figured that this plenty demeaning, but if anyone else out there has a better idea, we would love to hear it!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Run Your Poker Game Like a Business…(Part I)

One of the most common things Lorin and I talk about nowadays are concepts concerning poker that have nothing to do with the play at the table. For any aspiring pro, or even for somebody looking to advance recreationally, there are a myriad of other factors to consider. We have touched on this topic before but I think that it bears it’s own blog post at it is some great advice gleamed from our successes (but more often from our mistakes) that doesn’t give away strategy to those Short Stack Haters that read the blog just to get a glimpse at our playbook.

There is no doubt that 95% (if not more) of the system we use at the table came from Lorin. The only reason that he keeps me around is that I have a much larger experience base for life factors away from the table. As he has really started to make some serious money, he needed someone to help him out with the other complications that inevitably arise from a rapid ascent into unknown territories. It worked out for both of us. He gave me the play book for shortstacking and I gave him advice on financial issues, marketing, “significant other” issues etc. (while we both got to hang out and waste time under the guise of “meetings”).

To get to the point, I have always believed that there is an optimal way to do EVERYTHING. The difference between “optimal” and “adequate” will often be quite small but their importance cannot be overstated. This should be apparent to students of the game. The difference between being a 1.00bb per 100 winner and a 1.25bb per 100 winner is monumental. While that seems like a tiny margin, (especially if a bb is only $1 or $2) over the course of a year, that is the difference between living in you grandma’s basement and buying your first house.

So, in order to give some hard learned advice to our loyal Short Stack Hero readers, here are some points that will hopefully help you make the transition to pro or help you out with some of the issues arising from that transition if you are already there….


1. Find the best Vendors…..
Before I sold The Bar that I owned, I got very good at looking for the right business partners. Some people may call them Vendors or Suppliers, but I always looked at them as business partners and that may have an ingredient of my success (and I will take this oppurtunity to brag, I won MAXIM magazine's "Great American Neighborhood Bar Search" a year and a half after I took over). Look for the best deal. Just because a certain company (poker site) is the one everybody uses, doesn’t mean that it is the best fit for you. If I found a liquor rep that was hungry and creative, I knew that we could make each other a lot of money if we worked together. There is a reason that Lorin and I both play predominately at POKERWORLD and speak so highly of RAKEBACKNATION. They have been fantastic partners (and us telling you this doesn’t hurt our game at all). Everybody Plays at PokerStars and FullTilt. But why? They are all the public know. They have great marketing plans. But ask yourself, what pays for that marketing and does it help you. Tilt may be superior to PokerWorld when it comes to High Stake game availability. But you know what? I don’t play $10 $20NL and up so I don’t care. Pokerworld has plenty of games at the stakes that I play and a great rotation of tournaments so the rest is just window dressing. But here is the real kicker. Smaller sites pay better because they are looking to build market share. If I was running a promotional event at the Bar, I didn’t approach Budweiser for prizes or financial support because they don’t budget much for Promotions because they don’t have to. They own the market. Coors, however, was awesome to work with because they want some of Bud’s market share. Same with Poker sites. Last Month I raked $4,711.63. With the rake chase that was done with RakeBack Nation, I earned a bonus of $575. A player that raked the same as me at Full Tilt only earned a bonus of $75. Not to mention that I earned 33% Rakeback while he only earned 27%. So, for the same amount I play I earned $2146 ($4700 x .33 = $1551 + $575) while he earned $1344 ($4700 x .27 = $1269 + $75). I won’t even mention the almost $800 I made from PokerWorld’s Gold stack bonus’ (although I guess I just did). So by choosing the right partner and nothing else, I made $782 extra last month. In a year, that is $9384. And that doesn’t require getting better at the game at all, just running your “business” better. I have nothing bad to say about FullTilt as I still play there (ie. Use that vendor) for some things, I just found a better fit to my current business model with PokerWorld as my major “business partner”. It is just choosing the smartest way to do business.


2. Stay up to speed on the Market.

Almost every industry has industry related material such as books, magazines, seminars etc. Poker is no different and actually has a HUGE volume of material available. And I am not just speaking of books on strategy, but also magazines, pod casts, websites etc. It is important to stay abreast of the “market” to help keep up with trends and be knowledgeable about your business. Not to mention, it is a great source of information for tips on the game such as the emergence of the UTG bet as a steal, common SNG strategies etc. It also fills you in on broad subjects like the UIGEA and the legal battles over Poker that may be going on in your state or country. If you owned a bar, you would need to be aware of possible changes to the liquor law. This is no different. After all, if you are going to be a pro, you should be an expert in the field.


Next Week I will address some other issues such as surrounding yourself with the right people and using all the tools (especially technology) to your advantage.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Loss of Focus to Focus of Loss

Today I ended the session fairly early after booking my largest loss of the year to date of $1,400.  More importantly than that, this was my first loss of the month.  Since winning every session is not particularly interesting, I decided to "make" this an opportunity to write a new post.  But first, take a leap of faith with me.

WINNING EVERY SESSION IS BAD FOR YOU

Until you have experienced this personally for a large sum of money, you will consider this complete and utter horseshit.  I don't blame you.  Several months ago, when said Mr. Kruger was challenging the credibility of my results, he questioned (at least to Travis, who passed the message on to me) why I would not be at home playing day and night and enjoying the fruits of my automatic money machine.  This is a very valid question and it has many answers, but the first and foremost, and the one by which I hope to make you understand is this: you lose the hunger.

Here is my analogy.  When you go the entire day without eating and decide that you will order pizza tonight, you engorge yourself when it first arrives (at least I do!).  Those first few slices are amazing but as your belly gets full, the pizza, while it may taste the same, declines in pleasure and you quickly find something else that is more entertaining.  Though I have stated this before and it has been stated many times before (as the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility), the reason this is bad for you is that when the money rolls in, there is no urgent need to improve.

To this day, I can not think of any time in my playing career where I was truly focused during a rush.  The facets of my game where I need improvement are always present and I make a mental list of them, yet there is no pressing need to fill those gaps as long as you are winning.  However, when that downswing hits, you are forced to look at your performance for the session and make a checklist of all the things that you could have done differently and with the pain of loss, the hunger quickly sets back in.

Now I am not saying that this imperfection within yourself is something that you should strive to eliminate completely once you finally get to experience it.  No professionals are perfect, rather, they are just more aware of their imperfections and can bounce back quicker when they arise.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Midwest Poker Regionals: How Deep Are You?

Every time a tournament is played there is always at least one person who is asking "what is the structure"?  If the stacks are deep and the levels are long everybody is happy and everybody has an advantage.

Wait a minute.... Surely a long structure can't be good for everyone, can it?  Naturally, it can't.  This weekend I got a great opportunity to find out just how wrong this idea is in practice.  I am quite certain that starting with 15k in chips at blinds of 25/50 and hour long levels was the milkshake that brought all the boys to the yard to plunk down their $2,100.  Did it do them any good?  No.  Did it do me good?  Well, yes and no.

Here is what happens when you are this deep and the money is this significant:

Everybody gets scared and thinks they need the nuts to play a big pot.  Being that this was far and away the largest tournament around, the money spent for most people was very large and the anticipation leading up to the event was even bigger.  Not only did they not want to lose their chips, they were also afraid of losing out on getting their $2,100 worth of entertainment for the day with no other equivalent outlet for another few months, at least.  If you are in a position to play such an event, here is what you can expect and how you can get an advantage.

IMPLIED ODDS

Starting at 300BB deep, getting huge implied odds is a no-brainer...there aren't any!  Though this certainly flies in the face of anything you have been taught, a simple dose of common sense says that it shouldn't. Implied odds rely on a willingness of your opponent to cash off his chips to you.  If everyone is afraid of committing large portions of his chips at any point in the hand, then they are just not willing to give you implied odds.  I saw guys with big pairs, trips, and sets shut down immediately after getting check raised small on the flop and often times after just being flat-called.  After all, if the guy with a known big hand isn't willing to give action, then you definitely can't expect the guy with the lesser hand to be pushing real hard either.  In essence, perception becomes the consensus reality so if you had planned on playing a big pot, you had better have the nuts or....

LAUNCH A BIG BLUFF

This would have been trivially easy.  When you are this deep and everyone is playing this straightforwardly with big money on the line, this is how you play big to win big.  Three betting was virtually non-existent in the first 4 levels and few hands even went to show down.  Would I have had the guts to do this?  I am not quite sure, but I did perfectly well for the first 6 hours or so making lots of small bluffs with a success rate that was close to 100%.  Here are a few examples:

A weak player limps in early position and I notice that this guy is capable of peeling light on the flop but not willing to take any hands to showdown.  So I limp on the CO with 75o and if he checks, I will fire 3 barrels no matter what.  The older gentleman in the BB is of no concern as well because he shares the exact same tendencies, so barring anything unusual, I will try to bluff both of them on the turn if necessary, though I would probably give up on the river if they both got that far.  In any case, the flop is K94.  The guy checks and calls as expect and the BB folds.  Turn is a T and he checks and calls another 1/2 pot bet.  The river makes a backdoor flush and though my first instinct is to check because no one could ever believe I hit that card, I realize that I am not competing with poker competency, but their fear of failure and looking foolish.  So I another 2/3 pot and he grunts and lays it down.

#2.  A very loose, though seemingly decent post-flop player limps in middle position for 150.  I decided that I will make a play at him on my button if no one else enters, despite what my cards are.  I look down to see 96o.  First, I should give a little background info on this guy.  The very first hand of the tournament he limps in EP with AA.  He gets heads up with the BB, who check calls a board of 764 to the river and then leads out for $500 when the straight hits (about 1/3-1/2 pot), which he obviously has.  The loose player laughs disgustedly to himself and then flips over his aces.  Not a huge laydown technically, yet many people could not bring themselves to do this.  Personally I feel that this was a huge mistake on his part to show, but I happily file this piece of information away since I might be able to use it later.  Secondly, I see that he is perfectly willing to lead at a lot of flops, yet is not paying off on the river.

So I do what any reasonable player would do and raise my Big Lick to 600.  The flop is KT7.  He checks, I fire my annoying half pot bet and he grunts and folds.  It is duly noted that once I again I plan on firing at least two barrels and then making a judgment call on the third, if necessary.

KNOW WHEN TO SHOW

Just as bluffing indiscriminately should never be done, showing your cards should also be meticulously planned.  As I soon found out after my first table broke and I got moved, if you are winning too often without a showdown, it is crucial to show a good hand.  Here is where I feel that I made a rather small, yet significant mistake.  I had about 22,000 in chips with blinds of 100/200 and made my typical raise of 500 with KQo and got a caller behind as well as both blinds.  The flop was beautiful as it came KK7 rainbow.  Being that these guys often took off a card on the flop, I decided to go ahead and bet 1,000 and the loose player behind me whom I had already tangled with several times decides to be my only customer.  An ace hit on the turn which did me no harm but looked as if it would totally scare away any action so I decided to check it.

Though some people might advocate firing again in case he has a king, I just don't consider this to be good advice because if he has a K, the money is going in anyway and the chance that the ace really helped him is minimal and would only allow me to get one more bet from him if he does have it.  However, checking gives him a chance to think he can take it away.  He doesn't oblige and checks behind and a 9 falls on the river.  I bet 2,000 and he quickly folds and I muck my hand.  Being that we had played several pots and has now been moved off of all of them (I still had not showed a hand yet), he naturally inquires as to what I had.  I told him the truth, that I had KQ and even mentioned that I should have showed that one.

It was then that I realized that I had made a mistake.  Even though I had the goods about half of the hands in which I had won, the only thing they thought about me what that I was a complete fucking thief.  After all, though I had previously flopped a set and also had trip K's, they didn't know this.  By not establishing my honesty, per se, I actually encouraged "Wild" Bill, an old timer from Tennessee who wasn't particularly good, to take a shot at me a short while later on a scary turn card because he said "he keeps raising."

The hand in question occurred when I was on the cutoff and was playing my rush with a K4s.  The flop came down 764 with two spades.  Bill, who had been playing very loose and calling often in his blinds, decided to check and call my half pot bet.  When the A of clubs hit on the turn and he checked again, I saw an opportunity to move him off a better hand or get him to fold a straight draw.  I bet half pot, about 2,000 and he check raised me 6,000.  Did he have it?  It was hard to say since he was playing so loose, but then again, I only had a pair of fours which could have been good at showdown had I gotten there, yet my own thieving image could have spurned him to make that check raise when an ace hit that also completed a flush.  Excluding things like chaos theory, had I showed the KQo hand, I would have had more confidence in whether or not he was bluffing.  Bill showed plenty of inclination in that direction and though the result could easily have been the same, I would now have had a better opportunity to read how Bill was reading me which could have led to a profitable play in the future.

This highlights one of the more interesting aspects of the game in that what is real is not actually what happens, but rather what people believe happens.  The information flowing around the table amongst common competition tends to be very polarized.  In other words, you are either a thief or you aren't.  In Bill's opinion I was the former and I am sure that everyone around the table more or less agreed with him.  Therefore by betting the flush card in this instance and then folding, I was only confirming their suspicions and it was now going to be harder to pull of my tricks in the future.  Being that you have more shitty hands than good hands and miss more flops than you hit, I would rather preserve my ability to steal than to get a small bet paid off, since no one was really paying off big anyway.

GETTING PAID OFF (HOPEFULLY)

Now that I was down to 26k in chips after a high of 32k, I was delighted to pick up KK under the gun.  With blinds of 200/400 with a 50 ante, I made my standard raise of 1,000 and was hoping that Bill would take this opportunity to show me that a naive greenhorn couldn't sit at his table.  He said, "I'll be your huckleberry" and called.  The action folds around to Megan in the BB on my immediate right.  She has already proven to be nitty and unimaginative, though solid.  With 12k left in chips, I am excited when she 3-bets it to 4,000.  I announce that I am all in and after some deliberation, Bill folds.  Megan turns over AQs and the board runs her out a four card straight to take the pot.  Though it was my somewhat laggy image that caused this otherwise good result, it is very important to remember that preflop your edge can only be so big and therefore, it is MUCH more preferable to win a lot of pots uncontested.

At this point I was in quandary. Though I wanted to update my Twitter, it was now crucial that I be present for every single hand.  I also didn't want to sound like I was whining, because hey, that's poker!  So with a stack now of 14k, I was looking to either chip up or make a big move.  With the blinds rising however, open-limping, which was previously very common, was occurring much less frequently.  Here was my plan:  the new guy who had been moved to my immediate left was playing very nitty and was neither raising much nor calling any raises.  My goal was to force the action if we got to play heads up.  With his stack at about 30k, I was virtually certain that he wouldn't be calling open shoves with anything less than 99+ and AQ+.  However, my short stacking experience armed me with the knowledge that even if he was calling much lighter, it was still profitable to shove any two cards!  However, as my stack dwindled to 10k and the blinds now at 300/600 with a 75 ante, he would be much more willing to call with for 1/3 of his stack than for about 1/2.  So do I make a move now or do I wait?

Here is my philosophy about tournaments.  Once your stack dwindles beyond a certain point, the value of your tournament life plummets, especially if you are intent on winning the event or at least getting to the final table.  With 46 out of 102 players left, I was still a long ways out and was not planning on scrapping by the entire time.  My stack also needed just a little push so that I could successfully threaten other players with some power moves, which I was ready and willing to do.

With Smitty limping UTG (the player I had been tangling with) and a very laggy player limping two spots after him, I looked down to see A2o in the SB.  With 10k left, there was really only two options here: shove or fold.  Calling was not an option since I would only get action post-flop if I was beat and flopping a great with with A2o is a lot more difficult than most people realize.  In other words, I would be a waste of 300 chips.  Now I understand how this might look, but hear me out:

1.  The only hand I had showed this entire time was KK.
2.  Smitty was playing very loose with a combination of raising and limp-calling and showing no inclination to limp re-raise.  He had about 50k.
3.  The LAG behind him had a very large stack, but showed that he was willing to raise with any two cards.  When I first sat at the table, I even saw him raise Smitty and Bill with A2o.   Though I understand that he is certainly not doing this every time, it is much like playing blockers in PLO- he could have such a hand and be willing to call, but the prior action makes it much less likely so.  My main concern was that he would call with a small, yet larger ace or a small PP.
4.  The BB behind me is almost never calling.
5.  Any time you hold an ace, you have a shot against a player's entire range unless he holds aces.  Given Smitty's tendencies and the fact that I held a blocker, this almost never occurs.

Finally, #6, the X-Factor
Smitty and I had been chatting it up and this makes him somewhat more likely to fold in a very marginal spot, rather than eliminate his new buddy.

So combining the fold equity, the value of future fold equity by increasing my stack by 30%, my suckout equity, and the diminished value of my stack, I choose to shove.  The BB and Smitty fold as expected, but then the LAG calls and surprisingly shows me ATs.  I don't know why he chose to overlimp in this spot but I still spike my 2, only to be rivered by a broadway straight.

Given the outcome of the hand, I am still very happy with the decision I made, specifically because it was all meticulously planned.  Even though I was able to small ball my way to doubling my stack, I was very unlucky to have lost my tournament life to the only two large pots that I had played.  Once again, that is poker!