This event was the $10+1 Midnight Madness tournament at Full Tilt Poker. It's a big field, fast structure event, with a very top heavy payout. You start with 1,500 in chips and the blinds at 15/30 so you only get 50 big blinds. 1,831 players started and the top 261 would get paid. The bottom money spots only paid $14.65 and it is not until the final table that you see numbers that make the event truly worthwhile. 9th place paid $263 and if I was lucky enough to take down 1st place I would get $3,387. That's a pretty good return on $11. I wasn't able to win but I did manage to finish in 4th place for a very respectable $1,095. If I wanted to I could now play nearly 100 of these tournaments without going broke. This is why I always tell people it is important to play to make it deep, not to just survive into the money. My tournament was two different tales... in the beginning I could do nothing and got nothing. That obviously changed.
Hand #1 – I raise first to act with to 90 with the blinds at 15/30. I am flat called by a player in middle position and a player who was just crippled moves all in for 180. I decide to re-raise isolate the short stack because I don't think the flat caller is all that strong. If he was, he would have re-raised. I move all in and he folds. The short stack has and when the board pairs twice I knock him out with my king kicker. I am up to 1,785 after the hand.
Hand #2 – I lose 60 calling a min. raise with 4's and folding post-flop when I don't flop a set.
Hand #3 – The blinds are now 20/40. A middle position player minimum raises to 80 and is called by the button. I call as well from the small blind with . The flop is . A good flop for my hand and I check with the plan of check raising any bet. Both players check though and we see the turn. Not a very good card for me so I decide to check and see what my opponent's do. The initial raiser bets 80, is called by the other player, and I call as well. The river is the giving me the nut flush. I'm not going to go for the river check raise here because I'm not positive that my opponents will call. I bet 440 into the 520 pot figuring this is the highest number either of them might call. They both fold though. I am up to 2,085.
Hand #4 – I call a raise to 140 with 8's and fold post-flop to an all in and a call on a 10-4-4 flop.
Hand #5 – I have in the big blind. It is folded to the small blind who completes. The flop comes J-4-4. The small blind checks and I check as well hoping to induce a bluff on the turn. The turn is a 7 and my opponent moves all in for 1,348 into a 120 pot. There's one problem with that bet... it's only going to get called usually when you are way behind. He could have made a pot sized bet and gotten away from the hand but instead he is out after I insta-call and beat his . I am up to 3,253 after the hand.
Hand #6 – a short stack moves all in for 775 total with the blinds at 30/60 and I call with . He has jacks and I do not improve and double him up. I am down to 2,448 after the hand. That is the type of situation I don't mind racing with a hand like A-Q... when my opponent only has 25% of my stack or less.
Hand #7 – the blinds are 40/80. Two players limp and I limp as well with from the cutoff. The flop is . The original limper bets 160 into the 360 pot. I decide to call to see what he does on the turn as I don't think this flop helped him any. He checks the turn and I check as well. I am thinking that he is on a flush draw and will likely bluff the river if he doesn't improve and I can make a value “call.” The river is the and he bets 300 into the 680 pot. I make the call and he shows for the busted flush draw. I am up to 2,898 after the hand.
Hand #8 – I raise twice, first to act, with A-K and get no callers. I run into A-K when I am dealt A-Q in the big blind and it is folded to the small blind who raises to 240, leaving himself with just under 1,600. I re-raise all in thinking that most hands he has here he will fold or be behind but obviously with A-K he isn't going anywhere. I would have doubled him up anyway as the flop came A-2-2. I am down to 1,338 after the hand.
Hand #9 – I call a raise to 240 with 8's with 2 others already having called the raise. I fold post-flop on a Q-J-9 flop and am down to 1,058.
Hand #10 – I stole the blinds twice with all in first to act moves and am up to 1,358 with the blinds at 60/120. I move all in again first to act but this time I have a hand... 10-10. I am called by a big stack who has 6's and he doesn't get lucky and I double up to 2,896.
Hand #11 – a short stack moves all in for 465 and is called by a very loose, bad player from the cutoff. I have 9 [c]- and make the loose call (mainly because of the cutoff calling and the other player being all in. The flop comes and I bet 600 into the 1575 pot after the loose player checks. He folds. The short stack has A-K but hits an ace on the river to triple up. I am down to 1,811 after the hand. Quite the roller coaster so far.
Hand #12 – I fold 4's after a player opens for 600. Not going to risk my stack at this point with a small pair.
Hand #13 – I move all in twice first to act with and and everyone folds. I move all in after a middle position player has limped with A-J and everyone folds. I am up to 2,551 after these hands.
Hand #14 – The blinds are now 120/240 with a 25 ante. I lose 240 with 3's in an unraised pot that I fold post-flop. I move all in first to act again with and no one calls. So of course when I get A-K I move all in first to act again figuring eventually I am going to get called and this time I do by a player with jacks. I'm fine with this... I need to get some chips... and when an ace and king both flop I double up to 5,577.
Hand #15 – I lose a bit when I move all in to isolate a short stacked limper from the small blind with A-J but the big blind short stack wakes up with kings. Thankfully he only had 1,485 and I am down to 3,197. Still going up down up down. At least I'm not out yet.
Hand #16 – I essentially blind down for three orbits... I never had an opportunity to make an all in move because people were raising or the timing wasn't right (like having a big stack to my left that was making lots of loose calls). I move all in with aces over the top of a limper from the big blind but the limper folds. I am up to 2,912 after the hand.
Hand #17 – I move all in with 2's first to act from the button and pick up the blinds.
Hand #18 – I move all in with A-Q first to act from middle position and win a small pot against the big blind who was all in after posting. I have 3,832 after the hand.
Hand #19 – I get kings at the right time. I am in the big blind with blinds of 250/500 and a 50 ante. The UTG player has moved all in for 4,949 and it is folded to me where I make the easy call for the remainder of my chips. My opponent has . He picks up a flush draw on the turn but I survive that scare and double up to 6,614.
Hand #20 – the very next hand I move all in first to act from the small blind with the player who was crippled the previous hand (they have 1,442 left after posting) in the big blind. I have 10-3 off and they call with K-4 off. I hit a 10 to knock them out and am up to 8,956 now. I was in danger of bubbling but now making the money looks like a sure thing. That's not my goal though.
Hand #21 – I chop a pot with with another player that has A-K. The action went raise from him, push from me, call from him (He had me slightly covered). The very next hand I am dealt A-K again and move all in over the top of a 1,200 opener (as you can tell I'm not overly concerned with squeaking into the money). They fold and I am up to 11K after the hand.
Hand #22 – We are in the money now but I want to present to you our clueless call hand of the day. With the blinds at 300/600 a player in middle position limps. The big stack at the table makes it 2,400 to go one to his left. I am one to his left and move all in with Kings. The original limper folds and after thinking about it for a little the big stack calls with for an additional 9K. No help for him and I am all of a sudden looking good with 24,787 in chips.
Hands #23 – a few folded hands... 6-6 and Q-J when there were early position raises from medium sized stacks that I had no fold equity against.
Hand #24 – the blinds are 400/800 with a 100 ante. I open for 2400 with 10's and am called by the small blind who checks the 9-5-5 flop. The small blind has 8K left so I move all in knowing they cannot bust me. They fold and I am up to 28K.
Hand #25 – a short stack moves all in for 3,803 total and I call from the small blind with K-Q. They have K-5 and don't get lucky. I am up to 32K.
Hand #26 – more hands I've folded in raised pots just to give you all an idea of what hands I won't play. Q-J, A-7 suited, A-8, and 5's. I also folded A-J when a short stack moved all in and was called by a big stack... just felt that I was behind the big stack... and I was as they had A-Q. With the blinds at 500/1,000 and a 125 ante I open to 3,000 with K-J and am called by the small blind who checks the 9-8-3 two spade flop. If you're willing to raise pre-flop and have position on a player who checks to you then you need to be able to follow through with a continuation bet. I do just this when he checks by betting 5,000 into the 8,125 pot. My opponent folds and I have 34K after the hand.
Hand #27 – I raise first to act with and 6's and win the blinds and antes both times. Despite this I go several orbits without any situations I can play and find myself at 25K in chips.
Hand #28 – I've been playing pretty tight and my first to act raises have been getting respect so I raise to 4,500 with the blinds at 800/1,600 and antes of 200 with 7-5 from the cutoff. The button moves all in and has me covered and I fold. I am down to 21K after the hand. Looks like I'm back on the down part of the roller coaster.
Hand #29 – I lose 6K with 7's and am down to 12,215 with the blinds at 1,000/2,000 and a 250 ante. I move all in UTG+1 with Q-J and am called by the very loose big stack in the big blind with . I hit a queen and jack and double up to 28K. One key when you are short is to make sure you are first to act when you move all in. I had folded Q-J just 3 hands prior because someone had opened for a raise. It is better to give yourself two ways to win (getting people to fold or having the best hand at showdown) than having only one way one to win (having the best hand at showdown).
Hand #30 – ironically I move all in with Q-J first to act and win the blinds and antes.
Hand #31 – folded to the small blind who completes with the blinds at 1,200/2,400 and a 300 ante. I have... you guessed it... Q-J. The small blind has half my stack and since he just completed he's either slow playing a monster or has a weak hand. Odds are it is the weak hand so I move all in. He folds.
Hand #32 – UTG player limps and I limp on the button with 4's. Not often I will play small pairs at this stage of the tournament unless I can raise first to act but because I have position I decide to see if I can see a cheap flop. The small blind completes and the flop comes . The UTG player bets the minimum 2,400 and figuring he has an ace or a hand that can draw to a straight (like Q-J), I make it 9,600 to go. He folds. I am up to 42K after the hand.
Hand #33 – and here is why I usually don't like playing small pairs at this stage. I open for 7,200 with 6's from middle position. Another player flat calls and the cutoff makes it 21,600 to go and I fold having put nearly 20% of my stack in. I win the blinds three times in two orbits by pushing first to act with A-J, A-9 (from the button), and Queens (no callers booooo!).I also make a standard raise to 7,200 with and am up to 45K. Being aggressive at this stage has kept me in good shape chip wise with the very high blinds.
Hand #34 – with the blinds at 1,500/3,000 and a 400 ante, I raise to 9,000 from early position with and the big blind calls me. The flop comes 6-3-3 and the big blind checks. I don't think they have a pair or they probably would have led out on this flop. More likely it's a hand like the one I have and a bet will take it down. I have him covered by 10K and decide to take any possible check raise play away from him by moving all in. He folds and I am up to 58K.
Hand #35 – in the “these are the easy ones to play” department. I open for 9,000 with Aces and a big stack moves all in for 72K total. Another advantage of raising so often is that people are going to start pushing back against you and if you have a hand you're going to get them to make a mistake. This is one of those times. I call. He has A-Q and I double up and now am among the tournament chip leaders with 108,460.
Hand #36 – I raise first to act with Q-10 from the small blind and win the blinds but fold 5's the next hand when the cutoff raises (and shows queens after I do so). I lose a big pot though when the UTG player limps, a middle position player limps, and I limp on the button with A-J. The small blind completes and five people see the flop.
The flop comes J-3-3 with two clubs. Everyone checks to me and I bet 12,000 into the approximately 20K pot. The UTG player check raises all in for an additional 15K. I don't like this at all. I don't think they have a 3 but they could have a slow played over pair. There is 59K in the pot though and I am getting nearly 4:1 on my money so I make the call hoping they have a hand like 10's or K-J. They have queens though and I double them up. I still have 79K after the hand.
Hand #37 – I raise first to act with my favorite hand, Big Lick... aka 6-9 off. I am reraised by a very aggressive big stack though and have to fold. The very next hand I am dealt aces and call a short stack's 20K all in bet. They have and I knock them out and am back up to 98K.
Hand #38 – with the blinds at 2,000/4,000 and a 500 ante a short stack moves all in under the gun for 17,206. I have in the big blind and am getting just over 2:1 on my money. I make the call. They have and I flop two pair to take them out (he called me some name that rhymes with rock as he left the table). I have 111K after the hand.
Continued in Part II