Bobby Dee invited me to meet him and play in a local poker tournament. I had played in this particular tourney a couple times before, once final tabling, but just missing the money.
Tonight's game was a $35 buy-in with 30 players taking a seat. Each player started with $4,500, and the blinds began at $25-50. As I mentioned in a previous post, the blind levels only lasted 15 minutes and doubled each time. So you better come prepared to mix it up.
The standard 3X raise didn't thin the crowd too much in this game, so I raised to $250 (5X) when I entered my first pot. I was on the button and had two limpers plus both blinds already invested when I peeked down at 5-6 sooted and thought it might be a good opportunity to steal a pot and try to stay ahead of the blinds. The BB called and everyone else folded. The flop was ten high, with no chemistry, so I bet another $400 when the BB checked to me and took down a decent pot with nothing.
By the time we got down to two tables the blinds were up to $200-400 and I was sitting on ~$6,000. I went card dead for a couple rounds, tossing hands such as 8-3, 6-2, 9-4 etc. I finally picked up a few hands and ended up knocking Bobby out when I raised from the button with A-6 offsuit and he called from the BB for his last $1,500 with K-J. Neither of us improved and we moved to the final table with my chip count at ~$19,000.
I started quickly at the final table, with an opening hand of A-Q off. Blinds were at $1,000-2000 at this point and after a limper from UTG, I raised to $5,500. It folded back to the the original limper and he pushed for an additional $7,000. I called and he flipped over 6-6. I didn't get any help on the flop, but paired my ace on the turn and took down a nice pot.
My second hand was even better, pocket aces. I open-raised to $5,500 and received one call from a short-stack, who tossed in his last $2,500. The pocket-rockets held and we were down to seven players.
After the first two hands I now had a decent stack and a chance to cash. The tournament paid the top three finishers. Things were looking even better when I peeked at my third hand... A-K. As I pushed forward my standard $5,500 raise, a couple players smiled and shook their heads. It folded to the button, who called. Both blinds mucked and we were heads up. I bet $6,000 into the K-J-9 flop and again received a call. The turn was a blank, so I pitched another $8,000 in and once again received a call. The river was an ugly ten, so I checked. The button tossed in his last $7,000 and I tanked for a minute or so trying to determine if my opponent really had a queen. I finally called and was shown A-Q for the rivered straight.
We got down to the bubble with three of us having similar stacks and one player possessing about three times as many as the rest of us. The big stack had entered quite a few pots and pretty much bet every street, forcing the smaller stacks to either fold or risk busting on the bubble. His LAG style came into play as the biggest hand of the tournament (for me) was dealt.
I was UTG when I looked down at pocket jacks and decided to limp in for $4,000. There are a couple reasons I limped with such a big hand with only four players, one good and one bad. I didn't want to be the bubble-boy after playing so long and what better hand to go busto on then J-J? Also, I had busted in an ugly way in our Vegas or Bust League (see here) and I was still smarting from that hand. Of course that hand has nothing to do with the jacks I was holding now, but psychology can be hard to overcome at times.
The player to my left then pushed for $13,000 and I knew I would have to call. The big stack called, as did the BB and I, so we had a family pot. The player who pushed was the short stack, so the rest of us were hoping he would get felted. The flop had a jack, completing my set, but there were also two clubs.
All I could think of was, "Here we go again. Gonna get sucked out on."
That was before I noticed the other two cards were both sixes and I had flopped a full house!
Both other players checked as you're supposed to when a player is all-in. I decided to bet $8,000 to ... well to be honest, I don't know why I bet there. The big stack called, so all I could put him on was a jack with a big kicker. I checked the 8d on the turn, hoping to take advantage of his loose aggressive style. He didn't disappoint, tossing in a $10,000 bet. I cut out $10k from my stack and set it aside as I counted my remaining chips as if I were contemplating a call.
I decided to call :)
The river was another small card that missed the flush draw, which is what I think he must have put me on. He tossed in another $10k and I pushed forward my last $11,000. He pitched another $1,000 in and I showed him my flopped boat. The original raiser had A-Q and Mr. Laggy claimed to have pocket tens.
Now we were in the money and I was the big stack. I toe-tagged the former big stack a few hands later when he pushed with T-8 sooted and I called with A-Q. There were two more aces on the flop, but it also gave him a flush-draw. The turn was a blank for both of us and a queen on the river gave me another boat and the pot.
I had an 8-1 chip advantage as we entered heads-up play. Blinds were now $3000-6000, so I knew I was only a couple hands from a tight battle if I lost them.
I raised to $15k from the button with K-T offsuit on the final hand and received a call. My opponent checked the T-8-7 rainbow flop and I said, "I'll put you all-in."
"I'll call," he replied, turning over J-6 of spades for a gutshot straight draw and a backdoor flush draw. Neither hit for him and all the chips were in my stack.
First place was $360, which is nice, but sitting at a poker table with every chip in the room in front of you is as good a feeling as you can have at a poker table.
Although I had been fortunate to win a flip or two, and have my important hands hold up, I was pleased that I had gotten my money in with the best hand each time. Decent play and a little good luck goes a long way!
Till next time, win the flips.