Last night, I played one of the best poker tournaments of my life, only to end up 10 players short of the money. Tim and I waited till the last minute to commit to going to the Bike to play in their Big Poker October $60 buy in event. It started deep stacked at 7PM, with 6000 tournament chips, and a massive field of 766 players total. It was quite the event.
I opened play at a table that was endlessly frustrating. I had two absolute maniacs at my table that were playing all of their hands either all in or folding. They would show cards like AQ, AK, and one time, 9c-7c. It was pretty disgusting. But I started off so card dead, that I really couldn’t afford to make a move. So I chipped in a downward spiral for the first 90 minutes of play, until I found 7-2os UTG +1. I opened the 100/200 blinds with a bet of 500, and only the BB came along. On the flop of Ac-Kd-8s rainbow, the BB led out with a bet of 500, and I quickly called it. On a turn of the 5d, the BB checked, and I fired a 1200 bet into him. He deliberated a while, and finally made the call. The river came out with the 5h, and the BB again checked. I immediately shoved my whole stack of about 2500 left, and the BB made the laydown, showing the Ace of spades. That was the turning point of the tournament for me, as I began my chip up. I ended the first three levels of play with 5100 chips, and felt good about where I was at on my table.
Tim met me at the break after having hit the rail before the end of level 3. After losing a big pot (AK > KK) he shipped the last of his chips again with Qd-Jd only to again find an AK caller, and he was done early. We shared some stories and some strategies, and I said, I just want to get 1 double before the next break. And I did.
A few hands into level 4, I found myself with Ad-Kd from the SB, and action folded to the cutoff (the same guy that I’d bluffed previously, who was now shorter stacked), who raised the 200-400 blinds to 1000. I shipped it all in at that point, and the BB deliberated before making the call. The original raiser folded, and we turned our cards, with my opponent holding Ah-Qh. The board bricked out for both of us, and my AK held as I chipped over 10k for the first time. When they finally broke my table at around level 5, I was between 8k and 9k.
At my new table, I was taking advantage of my new image of being an aggressive player. I stole a few blinds in route to chipping up to around 15k. I didn’t see a single premium hand, and I didn’t get involved in any real confrontations. I avoided showdowns, and was happy with my profit. That table was broken by the end of level 7, and I was moved to table 3 with about 15k.
Here, I established myself through table banter as a math geek. We started talking about the number of chips in play, and what the average was going to be at the bubble. With 766 players all with 6k chips, they were paying 72 places, which meant that chip average would be about 63k. That was my goal. With blinds at 500-1000, 75 ante, I found KQos in the SB, and had a raise to 4k in front of me from the cutoff. I insta-shoved all in, and when it came back to him, he said “nah, you’re too good at math. I fold.” I knew that I’d have to use that image.
A couple hands later, the same thing happened with the same player going to 4k, and this time, I found AQos. I asked him for a chip count, and including the 4k, he had another 19k behind him for a total of 23k. I shipped my stack all in to try and price him out, and he tanked. He verbally went through the range of hands that I could have, and eventually decided to call, tossing over AQos as well. As expected, we chopped the pot. Then, my table was broken again with me holding about 25k.
At my new table, I immediately liked who I was sitting with. I gave a preflop shove with KQos from the BB to a preflop raise again, and the gentlemen asked for time, counted out his stack, and realized to call that it would only leave him with 5k behind. He made the laydown claiming pocket 6’s. I then scooped a pot showing AA when I pre-flop raised the 1k-2k blinds to 6k, and action folded around. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t raising with crap.
The big swing hand came soon after with me on the button. Action folded to me and I found Ah-Qh, and I raised to 6k. The SB folded, and the BB shoved his stack. I could immediately sense his weakness and snap called, much to his dismay. He turned over Kc-5h, and I had him crushed when the board paired my Ace, and had two hearts to boot. The 7h on the river sealed it, and I was sitting on over 55k. Then action went dead for me for a little bit.
After the third break, there were only about 100 or so players remaining. My goal was not to min cash, but to run deep. I was playing really well at that point without getting any real premium hands to speak of, and I really wanted to establish an image at the new table as the guy that the big pots were going to have to go through. I wanted the people that were interested in just cashing to fold their marginal hands to me, and chip up big. But it just didn’t work out that way.
With blinds at 1500/3000, an early position player raised to 12k, with only 6k behind. I announced all in squeezing pocket 10’s. Action, folded around back to the initial raiser who counted the last of his 6k, and made the call with KK. When the Kc hit the flop, I was basically drawing dead, and I lost some momentum. A few hands later, I min raised to 6k with Ad-Tc, and found 1 caller from the Button. Both blinds folded, and we saw a flop 8d-6c-4d. I checked, and the button moved all in. I asked how much more, not really wanting to call anything, but when he said “it’s not much more” I thought for a minute. The dealer announced 6k more, and I calculated that I was getting 4 to 1 on my money. I said “I think that I’m behind right now,” and he said “I know you are.” I reluctantly made the call saying, “I think that this is a donation” as I put 6k into the pot and he tossed over Kd-Jd for nothing but a flush draw. The turn was the 7d, and the river was the 3c, giving his flush the winning hand.
After the blinds passed me by, I got lucky again from the cutoff, when I woke up with KK. I shipped it all in preflop, and found a caller from the button with AJ. The board flopped a K, and I doubled my stack to a little more than 45k.
Then, the doom switch hit with 82 players remaining. From early position, I 3 bet to 9k, with KQos, and found callers from the Button and the Small Blind. That meant that there was 34,500 in the pot, and it was go time. The flop came out Kc-6s-4s and the SB checked, I shipped it all in for 35k more, and the button made the call. The small blind passed, and the Button showed As-Js for a flush draw. It was not to be my day as the Ad hit the turn, and an 8c hit the river, and I was covered by a mere 9k in chips.
I still question as to whether or not it was a good idea for that guy to flip it for his tournament life right there. I don’t think that I could’ve called off the rest of my chips on a draw like that on the bubble. But he did make the call, and it hit, and I went home at about 1:30 in the morning short of the money. It was truly frustrating.
I’m thinking about giving the bike another go on Wednesday night where the structure is identical. I don’t know that I could’ve played much better than I did, but I have to believe that I would get more hands to play, as I certainly couldn’t fare any worse in that department. Hopefully I can continue my solid play, and make it result in a good cash this time.