I hadn't played many $200+ tournaments lately but had nothing to do Sunday afternoon so I decided to play in the Full Tilt Series of Poker Event #19. This event was a $240+16 NLHE event with $40 from each entry fee going to a knockout bounty. Take a player out and you win $40. A whopping 3,656 players started this event creating a prize pool of $877,440. 1st place would get nearly 150K. I was one coin flip away from making a really deep run in this event. I ended up finishing in the low 200's winning $517 for my efforts. I also added three knockout bounties for another $120. In this tournament we started with a double stack of 3,000 chips and the blinds at 10/20. Here's how the tournament played out.
Hand #1 – I haven't played a hand in an orbit as I wasn't dealt anything playable and I wanted to get a feel for my opponents. I open with from late middle position to 60. The small blind flat calls. The flop comes A-J-6. The small blind checks and I check behind him. My reasoning here is while I probably have the best hand, I don't have the best kicker so I want to try and keep the pot reasonably small in case I am out kicked. The turn is the 8 of spades, putting 3 spades on the board. The small blind checks and I bet 80 into the 140 pot. He calls. The river is the 4 of spades. The small blind checks again and with four spades on the board I am only more than glad to check behind him. He has Q-Q with no spade and I take down the small pot. I have 3,130 after the hand.
Hand #2 – The blinds are now 15/30 and I open with from middle position to 90. The cutoff calls. The flop comes 4-2-2 with two clubs. I check and my opponent bets 120. Feels like a position bet to me so I make the call. The turn is the . I check again to give my opponent an opportunity to bluff and he does by betting 240. I'm reasonably sure I have the best hand and that I will have the best hand on the river so I decide to give him some rope to hang himself and just call. The river puts a kink in my plans though... it's a 7... a relatively safe card but it is a 4th club. I decide I'll just check call any bet my opponent makes... if he has a club than I deserve to lose. I check, he bets 420, and I call. He has ... was bluffing the whole time... and I win the pot. Gotta give him credit though, he did fire three bullets, just wasn't going to work against my non-believing, calling station butt. I have 3,985 after the hand.
Hand #3 – With the blinds at 20/40, I open from middle position with 9's to 120 and am repopped by the player to my immediate left to 400. I call figuring if I hit a set I am going to stack him. The flop is an ugly one A-K-Q and I check fold.
Hand #4 – With the blinds at 25/50, I raise first to act from the small blind to 150 with A-Q. The big blind calls. The flop comes J-6-3 and we both check. The turn is a 5 and again we both check. The river is a 8. I check and my opponent bets 150. Eh. If he had any of that he would have either bet the flop or turn... if he hit the 8 so be it. I call and he has K-4 and I win the hand. Moral of this story: if you're going to bluff, make sure it makes sense. Here the bluff didn't make sense. I have 3,500 after the hand.
Hand #5 – I win a couple pots with queens and 4's when I limp in and bet the flop in each instance and everyone folds. I steal the blinds with . I raise with A-10, am called in one spot, and it is re-raised. I quickly fold. After all of this fun I have 3,380 in chips. With the blinds at 40/80, I open for 240 from late middle position with A-9. The cutoff and small blind call. The flop comes A-Q-4. The small blind checks and I decide to bet to see where I am at. I make it 550 to go into the 800 pot and everyone folds. I now have 3,850.
Hand #6 – Blinds are 50/100 and it is folded to the button who makes it 300 to go. I have Q-J in the small blind and call. I'm normally a fan of re-raising here but if I make it 900 to go and he comes over the top of me I'd be sick risking that much of my stack. I'd rather see a flop here with minimal risk. The flop is a great one for me... Q-Q-5. I check and he checks behind me. The turn is another 5. I am hoping now that he has an ace or a pair and will call a small bet. I make it 400 and he folds. Up to 4,150.
Hand #7 – With the blinds at 60/120, I make it 360 to go from the cutoff with A-4. The big blind is a loose, talkative player who thinks he knows it all (trust me, he's telling the whole table). He calls. The flop is A-K-10 and I check behind him. You all have probably noticed I do a lot of this with marginal hands. It's because I'm a big believer in keeping the pot small. I'd rather win or lose a small pot, than lose a huge one. The turn is an 8 and he bets 500 into the 780 pot. I call. The turn is another 8. A great card for me because now if my opponent has an ace, we're chopping unless he has A-10 or bigger. I don't think he has one of those hands though because he would have re-raised pre-flop. He checks. Even though I'm 100% certain I have the best hand here, I actually check because I want the information of what he has. He has 7-5 and says “I should have moved all in, you would have folded.” I wouldn't be so sure about that sir. I have 4,740 after the hand.
Hand #8 – The blinds are now 80/160. A savvy, tight aggressive player makes it 480 to go from middle position and I flat call on the button with . The flop comes K-5-3 and my opponent bets 800 into the 1200 pot. I want to steal here and have two options to do so. I choose the safer one by just calling. Sure enough my opponent checks on the 4 turn. I bet 1200 and they fold. Up to 6,020.
Hand #9 – I've folded a couple of orbits and am down to 5,260 with the blinds at 120/240 and a 25 ante. A short stack moves all in from one before the cutoff for 1,360 total. I have and decide to take a small gamble knowing that the player cannot bust me and that there is $40 to be had. I also know the range of hands they likely have won't be too far ahead of my hand. The one thing I have to hope for is the three people left to act fold. They do. My opponent has A-4 off and proceeds to call me a few names after I hit a 10 to knock them out. Up to 7,180 after the hand.
Hand #10 – The blinds are 140/280 with a 25 ante and I make it 840 to go with pocket jacks. I get one caller. The flop comes J-6-2. I decide to go with the fast play is the best slow play route and bet 1,120 into the 2,325 pot. Unfortunately for me it doesn't work as my opponent folds. I have 8,390 after the hand.
Hand #11 – the very next hand I get and make it 840 to go again. I again get one caller. The flop comes . A good flop for me so I decide to go for a check raise (since people in position just seem to have this automatic “I have to bet if it's checked to me” play in them). My opponent throws a kink into my plans. He goes all in for 6,230. Wow. 6,230 into a pot with a little more than 2K in it. I'd say 90% of the time I've seen someone make that type of bet they have a big draw... usually it's something like an open ended straight flush draw. I don't think he'd move all in with 10-8 or a set here. It just smells like a semi-bluff to me. I make the call. He has . So it was a semi-bluff... only one problem... his 9 paired putting him ahead of me. I still have outs to any heart, king, or ace though. In fact, it's a virtual race as twodimes.net has him as a 53-47 favorite. I hit the heart on the river and eliminate him winning another $40 and putting me in great shape with 16,080 in chips.
Hand #12 – a loose aggressive player in middle position minimum raises to 560 with the blinds at 140/280 and a 25 ante. I call from the big blind with Q-J. The flop comes J-5-2. I check call an 840 bet. The turn is an 8. I check call another 840 bet. Notice how he decreased the size of his bet on the turn. It meant he didn't like the fact that I called. It wasn't a value bet. It was a “I sure hope you fold to this weak ass bet.” The river is a 7 and I lead out for 2,000 and he folds. I am up to 18,015.
Hand #13 – I lose 1K moving all in first to act from the button against a short stack that I knew was going to call with any two. I had Q-J, he had 6-4 and hit a straight.
Hand #14 – I raise first to act in early position with A-J and win the blinds and antes.
Hand #15 – the blinds are 250/500 with a 50 ante. UTG+1 player makes it 1,500 to go and I call in middle position with . Many times I would re-raise here but the fact that he raised in early position and that there are still 5 players left to act lead me to take the more cautious route here. The small blind moves all in for 18K. The UTG+1 player folds. It could be a squeeze play, but even if it is, it doesn't mean I'll win the hand and there is a good chance I am way behind. I fold and have 15,418 in chips.
Hand #16 – I raise first to act with 4's in early position and am called by a middle position player. The flop comes K-Q-6 and I bet 2,500 into the 4,150 pot. My opponent folds and I have 17,918 in chips.
Hand #17 – I go 20 hands without playing a hand. Just over 2 orbits. This takes my stack down to 14,943 meaning I've lost 3K in chips just from folding for 2 rounds. That's why tournament poker is so tough. You have to create situations and opportunities for yourself and sometimes there isn't anything you can do. I get 7's UTG+1 with the blinds at 300/600 and a 75 ante and I make it 1800 to go. Everyone folds and I pick up the 1,575 in dead money.
Hand #18 – with the blinds at 400/800 and a 100 ante, I raise first to act from middle position with and win the blinds and antes. Still only 16,700 after the hand though.
Hand #19 – I raise first to act with A-9 from the button and pick up the blinds and antes. This just maintains my stack at 16,943.
Hand #20 – I go another 20 hands without playing a hand (believe me if I had the opportunity to, I would have) and have blinded/anted myself down to 10,518 with the blinds at 600/1,200 and a 150 ante. We are three players from the money when I am dealt A-K UTG. Well, if I'm gonna bubble, I'm gonna bubble. I make it 3,600 to go. I'll obviously call any all in re-raise but I want to give myself an out if I am just flat called and miss the flop. While I'm not just trying to make the money, I'm not going to kid myself and say that winning $400+ and “cashing” doesn't mean something. Everyone folds and I pick up the 3,150 in the middle.
Hand #21 – We make the money and I am in the big blind. One player limps with the blinds at 800/1,600 and a 200 ante. I have K-4 and the flop comes K-10-8. The short stack in the small blind moves all in for 6,797. I have him covered by 5K. I figure he has a 10 or 8... maybe a draw... and is trying to pick up the pot. I call but he has me beat with K-7. I'll be ok if another card bigger than a 7 comes though and it does and we chop the pot. I have 15K after the hand.
Hand #22 – What happens when you don't play a hand for one round at this level? You lose 40% of your already short stack... that is what happens. I am down to 9,118 when someone shorter than me moves all in for 7,538. I move all in as well with A-K. He has A-7 and I hit a king to take him out. I have 21K after the hand.
Hand #23 – A loose aggressive player raises to 5,500 with the blinds at 1,000/2,000 and the antes at 250. I move all in for 18,156 total with A-K again. They call with A-10. An ace flops, no 10 comes and just like that I am right back in the thick of things with 40K. Crazy game this no limit hold 'em.
Hand #24 – Two hands later a player moves all in for 23K from UTG+1. I have 10's in the cutoff. Too many hands that I am ahead of here... he'd do this with any pair or big cards I think. I know I am going to have to win these types of hands if I am going to make it deep. I call. He has K-J. Luck is not on my side today though as he hits and cripples me in the process. If I win the hand, I have 70K, as it is I have 17K.
Hand #25 – the blinds go through me once and are about to go through me another time. I fold my big blind with Q-7 leaving myself with only 7K and the blinds/antes at 1,200/2,400. I know a lot of people say you have to go with any two in these situations but I don't always believe that's true. As you can see, I had managed to recover from being down to 10K up to 40K... there's no reason I can't do the same here if I can double up once. The person that I had doubled up earlier when I had 10's minimum raises to 4,800 and I move all in with 2's from the small blind. They call with . I'm looking good until the 8 on the river that knocks me out. Not my day with races and that's usually the difference between a big payday and a moderate one like the one I had today. All in all I was happy with my play though and felt like I made good decisions and that is all I can do.