In my very first on-line tournament, I made it to the final table and finished in 7th place. I thought, "Wow, this is easy." I couldn't have been more wrong.
In all of my tournament play since that day, I've gotten as close to the final table as a freshman physics major gets to a soroity girl's dorm room.
On Saturday, I saw Otis sit down at a $10 tourney and decided I'd join him. Maybe we could make it to the final table together. Unfortunately, he didn't see many cards worth playing. Maybe he sent all his poker karma my way...
Break #2. I'm sitting at 9090 chips. We started with 270 players and I'm in 10th out of 39 remaining players.
I'm in middle position and down to 8790 chips. The blinds are 300/600. I look down at A-Q suited.
Two fold in front of me and I raise to 1200. A woman behind me calls. The screen reads MN_Tricky. Shortly before the break she beat me twice taking a few thousand chips.
The flop comes 9-8-A. The 9 and 8 are hearts, just like my cards, and I've got top pair with a great kicker. I can hardly complain about the flop.
That said, I'm not sure why I checked. She bet the minimum 600 and I called. Maybe I was scared of my new nemesis.
The turn brings a K of spades. No help to me, and it doesn't complete and straight. I still like my chances, but I just check.
That's when she goes all-in with her remaining 2445 chips. The pot is up to about 7000.
Maybe my checks made her think I didn't have an Ace. Maybe she has a K and paired it. I might as well call.
I was right, she had a K. Unfortunately, she had two. Now I need an A or a heart, or I'm hurting.
The river brings a Q of diamonds. My two pair lose to her three K's.
Easy read on this hand. I needed to buy her out when the A came on the flop. Why did I let her stick around for the K on the turn?
I'm down to just 4545. That's about a third of my high water mark. Ugh.
It's the very next hand when I look down at a pair of pretty ladies. That helps me forget about the last hand.
Same blinds, and again I raise to 1200. This time, just the big blind calls me. He's known as Dr. Durango.
The flop shows me 2-Q-J rainbow. Could there be a better flop? Sure, I guess two Q's, but I'll take it.
This guy has a bout a 3-to-1 chip lead over me. I need to suck as much out of him as I can get.
He checks and so do I. I'm hoping he pairs an Ace or catches a draw, or at least tries to buy it.
The turn brings a 5, the second club. He checks again and I bet just 600, he calls.
The river brings a 10. Ugh. That's why you don't slop play trip Q's. If he's got A-K or 8-9, I lose to a straight.
He bets 3990, at least representing the straight. I don't have much choice. I'm down to just 1155, so I call.
He shows K-7, and his K-high easily loses to my trip Q's. The slow play works, but it was probably stupid. I'm back up to 9390.
The very next hand brings another pocket pair. This time it's 10's, one of my favorite hands.
I'm UTG and I raise again to 1200. A short stack goes all-in for 2995. He's the got the clever handle "Sofa King Hot." (Let it sink in, you'll get it.)
I'd played with him awhile, and didn't want to see him go, but this is poker. I call.
He shows about what I'd expect, Big Slick. As long as I avoid and Ace or a King, I win.
The flop is 2-8-9 rainbow. The turn is a 5 and the river brings a second 9. It's another 6890 for me and, perhaps, the start of a rush.
Just four hands later, I'm in a late position, next to the button. It's another pocket pair, this time 5's.
Five players fold in front of me, so I raise to 1200. The small blind re-raises to 1800. His less-clever, and more crude handle is Harry Balszak.
His 7300 chips are about 5 thousand fewer than mine, and the 600 doesn't hurt to call, maybe I'll flop a set.
The flop comes J-7-3, two hearts. Well, not the worst flop ever. Maybe he didn't hit. I've got him on a Ace.
He checks, I bet 1000, and he raises to 2000. Trapping? Nah, he would have gone all-in, maybe he thinks I'm buying. I call.
The turn is a 9 of diamonds. It helps with a straight, but he's certainly not on a straigth draw.
He checks, and so do I. The river is a K, the third heart. Is he on a flush draw?
When he checks I decide not to bet, just in case. He shows A-10 off suit, and my pair of fives takes another 8200 chip pot.
Just three hands later, I get A-J off suit. Not bad. The two in front of me fold and I raise to 1200.
My nemesis, MN_Tricky calls, and the rest fold. I've got about a 2-to-1 chip lead over her.
The flop is 5-10-3, all hearts. I hate that flop because neither of my cards are hearts.
I check, she bets 600, I call. The turn is an 8 of spades. I check, she bets 600, I call.
The river brings another 5. I check, she checks. She shows a 10 and her two pair takes the 5700 pot.
Why didn't she bet? Maybe she thought I was slow playing the nuts. Anyway, I'm down to 15285.
I'm about to play my 6th hand out of 12. That's a lot for me. This time it's another pocket pairs, 9's.
I'm UTG when I raise to 1200. Harry Balszak goes all in for 3540. Everyone else folds, and I put him on two overcards, so I call.
He shows A-Q off suit, and he probably rolls his eyes at my 9's.
The flop brings K-6-2 rainbow, a 7 on the turn and a 10 on the river.
The 7980 chip pot takes me to 19125 and 3rd place overall.
A whole five hands go by before I play again. The blinds are up to 400/800. This time is A-8 suited.
I'm in a middle position when three fold in front of me and I raise to 1600. The big blind calls.
He goes by the name highrez, and I've got a 5-to-1 chip lead over him.
The flop is 10-K-10, and it doesn't hit my flush draw.
He checks so I bet 800. I'm not suprised when he goes all-in and I quickly fold. I'm down to 16245.
It's been awhile, and the 600/1200 blinds have me down to 14225. I get A-J off suit. Not bad.
The second bettor goes all-in for 1260 and I decide to call. Another short stack after me calls, then my nemesis raises to 2400.
I call, I figure she's just trying to force the other short stack all-in and it works. He calls, as does a 5th player.
I couldn't believe 5 players were in a pot this late in the game. Here's the list:
MN_Tricky is at seat 0 with 15190.
highrez is at seat 1 with 9865.
Socal is at seat 2 with 1260.
I'm at seat 6 with 14225.
vinny422 is at seat 9 with 2400.
The button is at seat 8.
The pot is already up over 10000.
The flop is 5-3-2, two hearts. My nemesis and highrez check in front of me. So do I. Was I afraid of trap? That was dumb. When you're in late position, use that advantage!
The turn brings a J of clubs. Works for me! Both check in front of me again and I bet 1500. They both call.
The river brings a 4 of diamonds. That means anyone who's playing an Ace has a straight. My nemesis checks, but highrez goes all-in.
I have to call, right? The only card that beats me is a 6, and who's playing a 6? I call, my nemesis folds.
Naturally, highrez flips A-6 suited. My hand beat the other short stacks, but it doesn't matter. My hand was also the winner before the river.
Why didn't I bet more on the turn!?!?!? I clearly had the hand of strength and a good stack. I could have bought the pot right there.
Suddenly, I'm in very bad shape.
Four hands later, I'm in the 1200 big blind with just 4360 chips. The poker gods sent me another pair of lovely ladies.
Unfortunately, the poker gods are joksters because everyone folded in front of me. I won just 600 chips.
Big slick comes my way five hands later. I'm the second bettor and instead of going all-in, I just raise to 2400. Why?
It doesn't matter because everyone folds and I take the 1800 blinds.
I'm in a late position, next to the button when I get a pair of 6's. Pairs have been good to me. I'm dying in the blinds and have to make a move.
A big stack raises to 4200 in front of me. He's clearly saying, "Stay away from me." I wasn't listening because I raise all-in.
He calls, and the showdown is A-Q vs. my 6's. Once again, it's a pair vs. two overcards. This matchup has been very good to me.
The flop is Q-4-K. Ugh. Turn out the lights, the party is over. My luck has run out.
The turn is a 7 and the river is a 6. Well, it was fun. I'm glad I made it... what? What was that card? A 6?!?!?!?
Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! dolohov, the guy with A-Q, is not as happy as I. I'm suddenly back up to 10520.
The very next hand, I get A-Q off suit. Not bad. After two folds in front of me, I raise to 2400.
highrez, who's now the biggest stack at the table, calsl me. He was in the big blind, so it doesn't hurt him much.
The flop is 5-4-3, two spades. If he bets, I'm out. Thankfully, he checks, and so do I.
The turn brings a Q. He checks and I bet 1200. He folds. That 5400 chips boost takes me to 15000 and 8th place.
The 800/1600 blinds have knocked me down to 11520 when I get my first cowboys of the tournament.
Everyone folds to me and I raise to 3200. Everyone also folds after me. Damn. A few thousand chips take me to 13920 and 7th place.
I'm in a middle position when I get A-3 suited. Two fold in front of me and I raise to 3200.
Everyone folds and a few thousand chips take me to 16320, still 7th.
It's another A-10 unsuited. I'm UTG and raise to 3200. My nemesis, MN_Tricky, now one of the short stacks, calls me. So does dolohov, the guy I bad-beated earlier, but he's got more chips than I do.
The flop is A-7-3, rainbow. Hmmm. dolohov checks. I go all-in. I had a feeling. Top pair, no flush draw, no straight draw, and a good kicker.
My nemesis calls, but dolohov folds. I like my chances, but she flips the same A-10 I have, both unsuited.
We chop the pot and I'm up to 13920 and 6th place.
Wow, the 1000/2000 blinds have me down to 7920. I'm on the button with A-8 suited.
Everyone folds in front of me so I raise to 4000 and the big blind calls me. "mj23457" has a 6-to-1 chip lead over me.
The flop comes J-J-4, no help for my flush. MJ checks, and I take a chance, going all-in with my remaining 3920 chips.
Thankfully he folds, and I'm up to 12920.
Just two hands later, it's another suited Ace, this time with a 7. I long for my pocket pairs.
Two folds in front of me and I raise to 4000. The smalles stack at the table goes all-in, and highrez also calls me.
The flop is 3-9-A, two spades. That gives me top pair and a flush draw. highrez checks and I go all-in. highrez folds.
That leaves me and the small stack, and all he has is a pair of jacks.
The 7 on the turn and Q on the river are no help to him and I'm back up to 16760 and 7th place.
A few hands later, I 'm down to 12760, but after a knock-out, I make the final table!! In fact, I'm in 7th place!
final table!!!!! 12760, 7th place
Hand #21: Final Table
I have just 8260 chips and I'm in the big blind of 3000. I wish I had played a few hands up to this point, but I've been scared.
Nine players are left, and I look down at my first Ace in a long time. I make the decision to go all-in before anyone else even bets.
I figure the small blind will knock me down to just 3700 chips if I don't play now. That will invite all the big stacks to call me no matter what I have.
Maybe going all-in now, I can steal some blinds and stay alive.
Unfortunately, highrez is on the button and he goes all-in for 15295 in front of me.
The small blind folds and it's decision time. I tell myself he's just trying to buy it, but I don't really believe that. I call anyway.
He flips A-7 unsuited, and I quickly see that only a 5 saves me... or a miracle 2-3-4.
The flop is K-6-J. No help. The turn is a 9. No help. When the 4 comes on the river, I'm through.
It was my first final table in a long, long time, and I think I was intimidated. I should have played some hands I laid down, but hindsight is always 20/20.
I finish in ninth place and win $54.50. I wish I had stuck around for just a little while longer, I could have used the money!