This event was the Friday night 28K guaranteed event at Full Tilt Poker. These events are usually good to play in because the size of the field is so large; this makes for a nice payday if you can make it deep. I'd make it deep in this one but not quite deep enough to make it a great payday. 1,673 players started with the top 261 making the money. 1st place was worth $7,428. I took 48th for $88. Such a huge disparity between a middle money spot like that and making the final table ($578)... this is why it's all about the final table finishes that make the difference in tournament poker.
If I make the final table I end up having a profitable day despite not cashing in 7 other tournaments I played in. As it is, I end up losing $80 on the day (it could have been $170 so I can't complain too much). One key hand at the end is the difference between me making the final table and finishing in 48th. Frustrating to play nearly perfect poker for so long (and in this tournament I felt I played really well) and have it come down to one hand... but that's how these tournaments go.
Hand #1 – the blinds are at 15/30 and we started with 3,000 in chips. UTG minimum raises, the cutoff calls, I call out of the small blind with and the big blind calls as well. I've said it before but I'll say it again... early in the tournament is the time to be making loose speculative plays such as this one... this is the time it is cheapest to see the flop and you have the highest potential for getting paid off. The flop comes . I decide to check to see what the raiser does although I have a feeling I'm ahead.
The raiser checks but the cutoff bets 90. It's possible he has a queen but with 240 in the pot, I'll take one off for 90. The other two players fold. The turn is a 5 and now I've picked up an open ender to go with my pair. I check/call 150 from the cutoff.
The river is a 2 completing the straight for me. What's even better about this card is that it gives someone with an ace a straight as well. I lead out for a big over bet figuring that if he has an ace he will pay it out. I bet 1,140 into the 720 pot. He calls... with A-3. Heh. I was ahead the whole time. I have 4,500 in chips after the hand.
Hand #2 – I win and lose a few small pots... nothing spectacular. With the blinds at 40/80 I make it 240 to go from middle position with K-J. I am called by the big blind who checks the 10-6-5 two spade flop. I bet 300 into the 520 pot and they fold. A perfect illustration of two key concepts... making the continuation bet and why it's an advantage to play hands in position. If my opponent had position on me there, he has the advantage of reacting to me, but since I have position on him, the advantage is in my favor. I have 4,585 chips after the hand.
Hand #3 – I lose 400 when I raise to 240 with A-K, a player min. re-raises me to 400 and I call and check fold on a rag flop. I pick up 360 of that back when I raise 3 limpers with queens to 500 total and they all fold.
Hand #4 – I lose a bunch of small pots (basically where I entered the pot pre-flop with a limp or call and folded on the flop) and am down to 3,595. A fairly predictable passive player in early position limps with the blinds at 80/160 and I make it 640 to go with A-J from middle position and everyone folds but the early position limper who calls. The flop comes 8-3-2. My opponent checks and I bet 960 into the 1,520 pot and my opponent folds. Pretty much the same thing I talked about above... using position to my maximum advantage to pick up a pot. Back up to 4,475 after the hand.
Hand #5 – I steal the blinds by raising first to act from middle position with A-8.
Hand #6 – Middle position player minimum raises to 400 with the blinds at 100/200. I call out of the small blind with and the big blind calls. The flop comes A-J-9 with two spades. I don't love my hand here so I decide to take a passive approach and see what happens. I tend to be more passive out of position than when I am in position... because I have to react to my opponent's rather than act... and when I have a good but marginal hand like this I want to keep the pots small. The pre-flop raiser bets 800 into the 1,200 pot. Pretty standard continuation bet I think so I make the call. The big blind folds. The turn is a king and I check and my opponent checks. I'm pretty sure I'm ahead now, if he had a bigger ace or set he definitely would have bet here. The river is a 2, we both check, and I win the pot over his pocket 8's. I have 5,935 after the hand.
Hand #7 – I have to admit... people that minimum raise baffle me... but I love 'em to death. A middle position player min. raises to 480 with the blinds at 120/240 and a 25 ante, the button calls, and I call out of the big blind with J-10 off. The flop comes K-9-9 and it is checked around. The turn is a queen giving me the straight. I check to go for the check raise (yes, a full house is possible but I don't play scared of the nuts... especially in these low buy in tournaments) but everyone checks. I lead out for a small bet on the river of 720 into the 1,785 pot. Mainly because I want a call from someone who has a king or a queen. They fold though and I am up to 7,165.
Hand #8 – have I mentioned how much I love position? And min. raisers? A player in middle position raises to 800 with the blinds at 200/400. I call on the button with 5's and the big blind calls. The flop comes K-J-9. They both check and I bet 1,850 into the 3,050 pot and take it down. Up to 9,985 after the hand.
Hand #9 – I steal the blinds with 7-4 off first to act from the hijack.
Hand #10 – I lost a small pot calling a raise and folding post-flop. With the blinds at 300/600 and a 75 ante, it is folded to the small blind who is an overly aggressive big stack. Predictably they raise... and get this... it's a minimum raise. I have 7,735 left and A-8. There is just too strong a chance that I am ahead here and any re-raise I make will commit me so I move all in. The loose player tries to get some information from me and finally types in the chat “I feel like gambling.” Ugh, I really wasn't wanting to gamble. He turns over K-9 off. I always lose these but not this time as an ace flops. I have 16,070 after the hand.
Hand #11 – With the blinds at 400/800 and a 100 ante. A short stack (he has 6,700 in chips) makes it 2,200 to go. I have Kings and make it 5,600 to go. Everyone folds back to him and he moves all in for the additional 1,100 with A-K. No ace for him and I am up to 26,640.
Hand #12 – I fold my way down to 23K and figure I've been tight enough to make a steal. The blinds are 600/1,200 with a 150 ante and a middle position player limps in. I make it 6,000 to go from the button with... ummm... 8-7 off. I'd seen the middle position player limp in a lot and no one had tested him yet so I decide someone needs to. I'm not one to shy away from testing weakness. One problem though... he called. Oops. At least I have position. The flop comes 10-5-5 and he checks. I hate it but I have to bet here (to follow up my pre-flop aggression) and I make it 8,500 to go into the 15,000 pot. I've left myself with just under 9K. I'm talking to my screen... “please fold, please fold, please fold.” Not something I'd be doing in a live tournament that is for sure. He does fold and I am up to 32K.
Hand #13 – I raise first to act with K-Q from the button and the small blind moves all in. Easy fold for me and I do... they show kings. I make it 3,400 to go from UTG+1 with 10's. The big blind calls me. The flop comes A-5-3 all spades. I have a spade. My opponent checks and I decide to check because I don't want to get check raised. The turn is an 8 and again my opponent checks. I again check. The river is a 4th spade and this time my opponent leads out for 2,400. That's a small enough bet for me to call and I do. He has 7's with a spade and I win the pot. I have 36K after the hand.
Hand #14 – UTG player limps with the blinds at 800/1,600 and a 200 ante. It is folded to me in the big blind. I check my option with 5-4. The flop comes 8-7-6. I check and my opponent bets the pot...5,800. They have 13K left and I don't want to give a bigger straight draw a cheap opportunity to draw out so I move all in. They call with A-8. Wow. Let's look at how bad that play is. First they limp in early position with a crap hand. Then they bet pot on a coordinated board with top pair rather than making a smaller bet. THEN they call off all their chips after their opponent has CHECK RAISED. I don't feel too sorry for busting people when they make plays like this. I have 52K after the hand.
Hand #15 – the guy I had bluffed earlier with 8-7 off is now short and moves all in for 3,038. I re-raise to isolate with queens to 8,000 total. The small blind calls. The flop comes J-8-4. The small blind checks and I check behind him. My reasoning is I want to give him an opportunity to bluff on the turn. The turn is a 3. He bets the minimum and I just call. I still feel like I am way ahead and don't want to give him a reason to fold yet. The river is a 5. He checks and I bet 8,000 into the 25,000 pot. He calls with 10's and I am up to 75K.
Hand #16 – I maintain my stack with a series of steals... just once an orbit to not push my luck. I always look for people who are medium stacked and have to commit all their chips if they are going to play a hand. So with the blinds at 1,000/2,000, I typically would try and steal the blinds of someone who has 20-30K. The blinds have now jumped up to 2,000/4,000 with a 500 ante. Two players limp, the small blind completes, and I am in the big blind with 10-2. The flop comes 8-6-4 and everyone checks. The turn is another 4. I decide to take a stab at it since this looks like a board that has big blind written all over it. I bet 12,000 into the 20,000 pot and everyone folds. I love it when a plan comes together. I have 84K after the hand.
Hand #17 – With the blinds at 2,500/5,000 I make it 13,500 to go with Q-J from middle position and win the blinds. I have 92K after the hand.
Hand #18 – two hands later I make it 13,500 to go again from UTG with A-K. It is folded to a middle position player who moves all in for 65K. This is it... I know that if I win this hand I am going to make it deep. If I lose it, I'm in trouble. I can fold and still have 75K but I like the idea of having 175K more and it's all about winning big races at the end of these tournaments. The fact that I won't be out if I lose the hand also weighs into my decision. I make the call. He has 10's. I don't improve though and am down to 25K.
Hand #19 – I fold my big blind and move all in from the small blind with 5's. Up to 29K.
Hand #20 – a fairly solid player raises to 15K from middle position on my big blind. I have K-Q and 20K left after posting my big blind. I know I need to double up and push hoping he has a hand that I am at least live against. I am... he has A-J... but he flops an ace and I am out in 48th place.