I had a great day yesterday in the $335 hold'em tournament at the CSPC. We started with 230 players each with 3,000 chips and I seemed to get good but not great cards all day. It made for interesting, fun play and I didn't often find myself sitting there doing nothing for long stretches.
I'll fast forward through the early stages to the point where I had about 25,000 chips and we were down to 35 players (27 spots paid). I had the best seat at my table, just to the left of the two best players who were both very aggressive Vietnamese fellows. I'll call one gap tooth and one lollipop since one had a massive gap between his front two teeth and the other was sucking on a lollipop and then a stick the entire time I was playing against him.
Gap tooth was good, but tilt prone. He had about 50,000 chips when I sat down (average was around 20,000) and was using his big stack to play a lot of pots against the short stacks. He's also made some big calls with very marginal hands so I knew I'd need to make a hand to get him, but if I did I was likely to get paid off big.
After almost an hour of waiting I got my chance. With blinds of 400/800 with a 50 chip ante the under the gun player went all in for 2,000. Gap tooth was in the small blind and just called. Later he said he got distracted by the loudmouth who was all in and forgot all about me which led him to call instead of reraising. I looked down at K3 which is total garbage, but there was already 5,200 in the pot and it would only cost me another 1,200 to call. Also I knew I could get action from gap tooth if I hit big.
The flop came down K 7 3. BINGO! Two pair! Gap tooth checked and I bet out 4,000. Against someone else I might have slow played or bet less, but I thought even if he missed he might try to take me off the hand. He reached for chips slowly, counted out 12,000 and pushed them into the pot. I tried to look worried as I thought for 30 seconds. Then I said "I'm all in."
He wasn't happy, which I knew meant I had the best hand. After the dealer counted down my stack he called with KJ. The turn was a 4, the river was a 6 and I was over 50,000!
I took out a short stack with AT vs 88 which put me at about 60,000 when the next hand came up. Gap tooth was steaming at this point. While he'd won a few big hands with garbage and taken his stack back to 50,000 he'd just lost 20,000 with AA vs 44 which had him back at 30,000.
The blind were 600/1,200 with a 75 chip ante and gap tooth made it 4,000 to go. I looked down at KK and had a tough decision to make. How was I going to play this hand? I could just call hoping to trap him and maybe get someone behind us to move all in. I could make a standard reraise to something like 14,000. I could reraise small to 9,000.
I took my time and eventually decided that I should just move all in. It would look weak like I didn't want a call and since gap tooth was on tilt he might just get fed up and call with a marginal hand.
So after 20 seconds I moved all my chips into the pot. Gap tooth looked like he was going to explode and said "I call." When the cards got turned over he had QJ off suit! The board was all garbage and I took down a huge pot. I was proud of myself for reading this situation right and getting someone with 150% of an average stack to get it all in with me 5 spots short of the money as a major underdog.
I won some more pots and found myself with 110,000 chips when the average was 23,000. I was in first place in the whole tournament by a mile and no one at my table had more than 40,000. But that 40,000 chip stack was in the hands of lollipop.
When we got down to 28 players - 1 spot out of the money - I made and extremely bold play (This is the great story part). I was on the button and the blinds both had about 10,000 chips. It was obvious to everyone that there was no way they were calling anything. They were just going to wait until they were in the money before the did anything. When it got to lollipop he made it 4,000. He'd be doing this time and time again stealing the blinds. I'd played back at him once with a reraise a while earlier and he went all in. He'd also shown a propensity to call standard reraises and take a flop. I wanted to stay patient, but I felt like I was getting run over.
I knew he could have just about anything, and I was tired of him stealing all the blinds that I should have been stealing! I was the big stack! This was my house! After he made it 4,000 I thought "If I have anything at all here I'm moving all in." I looked down and saw 72! The worst possible starting hand. I paused. "We're one spot short of the money. No one is going to call me if I move all in, it doesn't matter what I have" I thought.
In a moment of boldness I said "I'm all in." The blinds quickly folded and lollipop said "Really?" Immediately I knew he had something. I thought it might be AQ or a pair below JJ. He'd been thinking for about 90 seconds when someone went broke at an other table meaning we were now in the money. "AHHHHHHHHHHH!" I thought. Now the pressure was off him to some degree.
He kept saying things like "This is a $300 tournament. If this was a $10,000 tournament I'd fold. This is a $300 tournament." It was pretty clear he read me as weak, but didn't want to risk his whole stack. Now everyone had gathered around. After this hand we were going to redraw for seats and everyone was just waiting. There were about 50 people watching the hand and I could hear whispers about what I might have and what he might have. No one was saying they thought I had 72!
I was trying to think if there was anything I could say to get him to fold, but I decided to stay quiet.
Finally after close to 5 minutes he pulled a quarter out of his pocket and said "Heads I call, tails I fold." Then he threw the quarter at least 10 feet in the air as everyone held their breath. It bounced in the middle of the table and hopped up on to the rail (the edge of the table) looking like it was going on to the floor, but stopping just short.
It was heads. Everyone said "heads!" Instantly lollipop said "I call." "AHHHHHHHHH!" I thought. When I turned over my hand everyone said "OOHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!"
He had pocket tens and there was a ten on the flop ending any chance I had of a miracle. I was down to 70,000 and in the money which was still great, but I was feeling a little like an idiot.
At my new table I quickly lost two small all ins with 88 vs JJ and 66 vs A9. I was down to 35,000 and feeling like I had one foot out the door wondering how I'd gone down hill so fast.
But then things turned around! I won some pots made some head way I ran it back to 95,700 which is how many chips I have right now. We stopped at 10 players and I'm going back today at 4:30 to finish the action. I'm not sure if lollipop is still in it, but I think I'm in 2nd or 3rd chip position. While I'm only guaranteed something like $1,400, first place is close to $20,000. Hopefully I can finish the job and take this one to the house!
People often refer to a confrontation between a pocket pair and two over cards as a coin flip. They say "You need to win some coin flips to win a tournament." This is the first time I've ever lost 40,000 chips on a literal coin flip!