Started out fairly normal. I don’t remember any huge hands, but I came into the game with a few goals:
Don’t play as many weaker hands out of position weakly. If I want to play them, I have to player them stronger and pay attention to the people to my left to see if they’re already interested in playing.
If I make it to the middle stages of the tournament, I have to be raising a fair amount when I have position, even with weaker hands. I can’t simply sit by and wait for good cards, but instead look for good opportunities to take some chips down.
Don’t slow play. Nothing good can come of it.
The first hand I remember winning was with A/Jo against Mr. Miles and the Milkman. I was in the big blind and called a small raise. The flop is Jack high and I check call as does Milkman. Mr. Miles checks the turn and I can see him eying me suspiciously. He of course knows that I hit my hand. I lead out on the safe river and Milkman calls while Mr. Miles folds (no surprise). I take down a good pot and Mr. Miles tells me he knew he was in trouble when I called the flop.
After not seeing A/A for a month or so, I wake up in the big blind with it and 3 bet it against Ron who folds after thinking about it. Ah well!
I open from late with Q/Q against Dave (new guy, no nickname). At least one other person calls. The flop is King high (Yuck!) but I bet like I have it. Dave calls. The turn is a Queen, which is awesome. I bet a normal amount and he folds saying he only wanted to see if I would fire a second barrel. Interesting. I’m glad I didn’t try to slow play as I’m sure I would have been crushed on the river.
No idea what I had, but I remember opening and then getting a stare down from Mr. Miles. With our history, we usually smile and banter, but I decided to change it up and just stay calm and stare icily back at him. He folds and says it was scary!
By this point of the tournament I have an above average chip stack, probably 1.5x what I started with. Blinds are still low so I’m feeling very comfortable and willing to take some chances. I decide to try a false tell and raise from late and use a bit of force to put my chips down. This is of course a tell of strength. It works and everyone folds. The mental/psychological side of this game can be fun if you have the chips to get into it.
I make an easy fold against Dave on an Ace high board. It had checked around to him and he bet VERY enthusiastically. We all fold and he says he hit his Ace. I tell him it was obvious from his projected strength and get an odd amount of silence from him. Not sure he knew he was giving off that tell.
At about this point, we combine down to 2 tables and I’m moved to a new table. I have about 20k behind and blinds have gone up to 500/1,000. 20 big blinds is not bad compared to what other folks have.
I limp/call with 4/4 against a least 2 people, including Rocco. I remember when I sat down at the table that I saw him there and remembered that for whatever reason, I’m unusually lucky against him. The board helps: K/Q/4. I lead out and he instantly calls. Everyone else folds. The turn adds a flush draw I think and I fire again and he calls immediately again. This whole time I’ve got him on K/something, maybe two pair or some type of draw. He’s giving off a strong vibe of strength, but I don’t have him on a hand that can beat me. With his willingness to call I want as many chips in the middle on just about any river. I move all-in for my remaining ~10k and he calls. I’m way ahead of his K/J (I think) and take down a HUGE pot of around 44k. Wow.
I call blind from the big blind against JG2’s all in. He didn’t have much and I think it’s a good move for the tournament. We both have two live cards so it’s a flip. I hit one of mine and knock him out. I’m sure he wasn’t happy especially since I didn’t have much of a hand, but with as many chips as I had, I think it was a good risk to take.
From the big blind, I call with A/5s against Jason and maybe one more player. The flop is Qs/2s/3. With the combo draw of the nut flush and straight, I lead out for about 75% of the pot. This was around 7,500 I think. One fold and Jason moves all-in for around 23,500 more. Yikes. The pot is now around 50,000 and I have around 30,000 behind. A call/loss would leave me with 1 all-in move but a win would give me around 80,000. I go deep into the tank and even tell the table that I’m going to take a few minutes.
1 – I go through his possible hands:
A/A – Unlikely as I have a blocker, but possible because he opted to go all-in.
K/K – Somewhat likely
Q/Q – More likely as he seems very confident in what he has.
I eliminate 2/2 and 3/3 as I don’t think he would have opened with those from where he was (middle position)
2 – I start to calculate odds which I’m pretty terrible at. I know that I need 3:1 for the flush draw and decide with the straight draw that I could improve that to maybe 2.5:1 and if I take A/A out of his range I might have 3 Aces I could also hit. So maybe 16 outs at best. Probably at worst I have 13 outs. At best I need 2:1 to call which is what I’m getting. Ugh.
3 – I actually ask him if he has Q/Q. He doesn’t answer.
4 – I’m starting to feel the pressure of time and apologize. Jason actually says it’s ok as it’s a big hand. Interesting. He feels very comfortable.
5 – I finally ask if he’ll show if I fold. He says no. Interesting.
He shows A/A. Not the best result, not the worst. My odds to win are 43% to 56% with a 1% chance of a tie. If I do the math right, my odds to win are 2.3:1 so I was pretty close!
The turn is a non-spade, non-4 and I cringe. The river is a beautiful 4 and I make a straight to win. Wow.
Jason is stunned as are many other players that I made the call. Someone, David I think, even said it took a lot of balls to make that call. Big praise!
After having a lot of time to think about this hand, there’s one aspect that I left out that would have helped me arrive at his exact hand. What hand did he think I had? Based on my actions, it’s extremely likely that I have an Ace high flush draw. With his ease of moving all-in he is definitely not worried about me hitting my Ace. Therefore, he likely has A/A. If I had thought about this at the time, I may actually have folded.
I call with K/Jd against Doug who is on my left. I donk out on the Queen high flop with nothing but truly project strength. He thinks and then folds saying he doesn’t want to make a hero call. I show as I want to make sure that people know I’m capable of pulling off a big bluff.
We combine down to the final table with me starting as the chip leader. The blinds are accelerating and I’m losing steam, both from an energy perspective and a play perspective. I’m able to take down a few hands here and there, but the blinds start to eat away at my stack.
Somehow I’m able to survive down to the final 3. With around 30k left behind (2.5 big blinds), BobbyBigBlinds limps into me. I check with 8/10. We both check to the river, an 8, and he bets 25,000. I move all-in and he calls and has a straight. Yuck. I didn’t even see that only that I’d hit my 8. Ah well, good game and good night!
So what did I do well?
Did a good job of raising from the big blind when I had the opportunity to steal and it had limped to me.
Did a good job of paying attention to position and really putting pressure on the table when I had it.
Did a good job of not limping as much and truly raising some of the hands I have been limping with. Worked well too as I was able to take down most of my pots without going to showdown.
What did I do poorly?
For sure I felt my attention drift a few times and I definitely got caught up in some conversations that distracted me from the poker. I definitely play better when I’m 100% focused on what’s going on. It’s such a drastic change that if I can get into the zone, I truly can play some amazing poker. If I move out of the zone even a little, I’m almost flying blind and just playing my cards. Take the hand against Rocco into consideration. I could see with nearly 100% clarity what was going on and was able to capitalize on it.
Fun game this month. Of course, it always helps to feel good about the game when you’re winning.