I've been on vacation with a big group of friends in Lake Tahoe for the past 4 days, in a cabin with 7 bedrooms, an indoor pool, a theater room with a 106" screen, and a slew of other luxuries. It was a great break and a way to recharge before the SCOOP. But the day before I left I had a very nice result in a $109 tournament that started with 756 players.
I've been trying to focus on cash games lately and I entered the tournament on a total whim. I requested a hand history for this tournament because I felt like I played really well and wanted to look write a detailed post. So while I might not go into great detail about everything I'll try to mention all of the key hands.
The first big hand came on hand #43 of the tournament. We started with 3,000 chips and after not much action for the better part of an hour I had 3,135 chips. I got dealt AK and found myself facing a raise to 150. I made it 450 and my opponent who started the hand with about 3,000 chips as well called my reraise. The flop was 3 7 9, with two spades I bet 700 and my opponent went all in.
My first impulse was of course to fold. After all I didn't even have a pair. But after some thought I decided that it wasn't likely that my opponent had connected with that flop and there was at least a 50/50 chance that I was up against a semibluff or a total bluff. So I called, my opponent turned over QJ, and after a brick on the turn and a brick on the river I was up to 6,000 chips. This was a bold call and I felt great about having the stones to make it.
On hand #56 I improved my situation when I got half my chips in preflop with JJ vs AQ and my hand held up. I stayed right in the range of 10,000 chips or so for about the next hour then I picked up another nice pot.
The blinds were up to 150/300 with a 25 chip ante and I got dealt T8 suited in the big blind in hand #136. My lone opponent in this hand got dealt KK in the cutoff and came in raising. I made a little bit of a thin call preflop, but once the flop came down J 8 7 I decided to go for it. My opponent had 6,000 chips, which was a good sized stack, but only half of what I had. I check raised him all in on the flop, he called and I rivered a 9 to make a straight! Up to 18,000 chips I felt like I had a great chance to make the money.
Around hand #150 a player who I'd be seeing a lot of in this tournament was moved to my table - johne147. As we got close to the money I was impressed with his play. It's rare for an opponent to stand out to me in a standard NL tournament, but for some reason this guy caught my attention. It seemed like he was in a lot of pots picking up chips even though he didn't have much more than an average stack when he started. His activity kept me from stealing as many blinds as I normally would have as we approached the money, but I decided there was no reason to go after him with marginal cards.
There were several occasions in the tournament where we were split up and then moved back together again. The last time we were brought back together was at the final table.
Fast forward to hand #199 and I was up to 25K chips. We were in the money (which started out at around $200 gross) and the blinds were up to 1K/2K. I got dealt AQ of hearts in middle position, made it 3K to go and got smooth called by the button. I was a little nervous that I might be up against a hand like KK trying to trap me, but I was far from sure what my opponent might have.
The blinds folded, the flop came down 9 4 2 all clubs, and I bet 5,000 into the roughly 8,000 chip pot. My opponent paused for a moment and then went all in for 40K! ACK! I had about 15,000 chips left and for some reason I decided my opponent was putting a move on with a bare ace of clubs. Also I was thinking "I'm in the money and I've got a loooong way to go before this gets interesting so I'm just going to go for it!"
I called and my opponent showed me TT with the ten of clubs! OOPS! Now I needed a non club A or Q to survive. Amazingly the turn was the queen of spades (one of only 4 cards left in the deck that would help me) and the river was a small heart. Now I was up to 52K and in great shape.
A little while later on hand #217 I raised with KQ under the gun and the big blind had a moment of stupidity. For some reason after three and a half hours and 200+ hands he decided he'd just move all in with J7. I was pretty sure I was beat when he moved all in for 17K, but I was hoping he had a pair below queens which would mean I was getting the right price to call. I was really surprised to see what he had and happy to take his chips!
At this point I think I was in the top 5 of about 60 or 70 players.
On hand #253 I took out a smallish all in who had A6 vs my 44 and picked up some more chips with a flop bluff on hand #259.
On hand #274 I called a button raise out of the big blind with Q9. The flop came down JT6 and we both checked. I thought my opponent either had a monster or nothing so after the turn came a 2 I bet 8,000 into the 12,000 chip pot. He called which didn't tell me too much. I missed my straight draw and thought about giving up on the hand. Instead I bet 20K and pushed my opponent off the hand. It felt great!
After that string of small, but not insubstantial pots I was in first place with 125K. I stole some blinds and had some people play back at me a few times and really didn't have much happen for the next 30+ hands. Then on hand #308 with blinds of 1.5K/3K I got dealt A7 suited and raised to 9K from the button. The small blind folded and the big blind went all in for 45K. I wasn't thrilled about it, but I decided that my opponent's likely range of hands was pretty broad here so I opted to call. He turned over KQ, I hit an ace on the turn and I took down a 93,000 chip pot!
I stayed right in the range of 175K for the next hour or more and that's right where I was when we got down to two tables. At that point average was 126K so while I wasn't blowing everyone else out of the water, I was still in great shape to make the final table.
Things were pretty steady and boring as we approached the final table. I put on a little heat here and there and when we were down to 9 players I was up to 225K. Ninth place paid a little over $1,000, but of course there was much more money at the top of the prize pool.
I have a busy day tomorrow, but on Wednesday I'll recap the final table and give a little bit of a SCOOP preview.