At the point of my last specific update we were down to 52. From there we dropped to 40 players over the course of the next hour. And then the tournament came to a grinding hault.
People were still playing hands of course, but not one was being eliminated. We were stuck on 40 for maybe as long as a half an hour! I had no fewer than 10,000 and no more than 16,000 chips during that time and was boucing between 30th place and 35th place.
In a situation like this you have to balance trying to just make the money and playing your normal game which might get you eliminated, but should also lead to more chips in your stack. Normally it's an easy decision for me. I play my normal game because I want to WIN the tournament or at least finish in the top few spots. Of course just making the money is usually a few hundred not over six thousand!
Another thing that made this spot unique was the player I was up against. One was Dan_druff who is a WSOP braceltt winner (he has at least one other WSOP final table) and a high stakes online player. Another was THE_D_RY who might be THE toughest SNG player on all of pokerstars. He plays the biggest SNGs (up to $2,000 buy in!) and all of the biggest tournaments. Then there were three other players who were all very strong players. In fact I might have been the worst player at my table! I'm not sure I can ever remember a time when that was the case in any game. Even at the highest stakes I've played there's always been at least one person (usually many more) who I could point to and say "At least I know I'm better than that guy!"
Eventually ever so slowly people started to drop. I'd be surviving just by stealing blinds or winning very small pots, but then I started to get some good cards. I took my stack all the way up to 27,000 chips and was in 23rd place with 35 players to go. At that point I thought I had it locked up for sure.
Then I had a big hand that was full of tough decisions - exactly what I didn't want! We were playing limit and the blinds were 500/1,000. I got dealt A8 with the A of clubs in the small blind. The button came in raising and I three bet make it 3,000 to go. He capped it at 4,000. Uh Oh!
The flop came down J 9 4 with two clubs. I checked and he bet 1,000 into the 9,000 chip pot. I didn't have anything, but this guy was super aggressive. I thought there was a chance I could have the best hand and the pot was just so big that I couldn't fold. The turn was the queen of clubs which gave me a flush draw and a gut shot straight draw. Now I had to call, which I did when he bet.
The river was a total brick and after my opponents bet I was looking at a 17,000 chip pot. A pot that was worth $10,200 in real world dollars if you do the math on the equity. If I folded it would just be gone. So I called, and my opponent showed AT for a slightly better ace high! AHHHHHHHH!
That was 9,000 chips out the window and then I slipped some more! With only 32 players left I was down to 10,000 chips and in 29th place when the following hand came up. I was in the big blind and the very aggressive button who was the big stack at the table came in raising (we were still playing limit at the same stakes). I was in the big blind with A7 and I knew my opponent could raise literally any two cards given the situation.
I was pretty sure I had the best hand, but I wanted to play the hand as cheaply as possible since survival was more important than picking up chips. So I just called.
The flop came down A K 4 which looked like a great flop to me so I check raised. And my opponent three bet! Uh Oh! I called which mean 5,000 of my 10,000 chips were in the pot and calling a turn and river bet would cost me 4,000 more. If I lost here I was done. But no way could I fold.
The turn brought another ace which was a fantastic card, and I check called. The river was a blank and I thought about betting, but I figured my opponent would fire again no matter what he had. Sadly he gave up, checked and turned over 86 which was no pair no draw!
I would have been super pissed to finish in 32nd! But I didn't, and went on to make the money which paid $6,400! This is the most I've ever been paid and the highest net profit I've had for just making the money.
I went broke almost right away after we made the money losing first with AJ to KK and then with 2nd pair to top pair. But 30th place was just fine with me!