We started with 109 players needing to get to 45 to make the money. I was in 79th place chip wise to start the day, knowing I'd need to win a few pots early to survive.
But my only plan was to play my best and take it one hand at a time. With that said it's really difficult NOT to plan. I had 13 hours between day 1 and day 2 and you can bet that the majority of my thoughts during that span were about what was going to happen on Day 2. But there's no reason to go into it thinking I'm going to do this and I'm not going to do that. Even saying I want to have X chips by the next break is dangerous. You have to let the situation dictate your actions and if you follow a plan you came up in a vacuum you're doomed to make mistakes.
Everyone redrew for seats at the end of day 1 and happily I went from a miserable table where everyone could play and had a ton of chips to a table with a few soft spots. If fact once again the two worst players at the table were sitting on my left and my right.
Even better I got off to a great start. We were playing 1,000/2,000 stakes so every pot I won added to my stack significantly. I stole the blinds a few times. I won a pot or two with a continuation bet on the flop. I finally got pocket aces for the first time in the tournament and won a fair sized pot that was three bets preflop, one bet on the flop and no call on the turn. I won with JJ at showdown.
By the time the stakes went up to 1,200/2,400 I was up to 37,000 in chips! It was about the best possible day 2 start that I could imagine.
Then I didn't win a pot for the next hour and to make matters worse I played one hand very poorly. I raised in the cutoff with T9 suited and got called by the fishy player on the button. The flop was K 9 2, I bet and got raised.
The only thing he could have here is a king (or AA maybe). There were no draws, KQ, KJ, and QJ were what I figured to be his most likely holdings given the preflop action, and I knew he didn't have a pocket pair since he 3 bet me a little earlier with 66 (that was the hand with JJ).
I called the flop which is defensible, but I also called the turn and the river which is nothing short of foolish. He rolled over KQ suited and took down the pot. This was the worst hand I played in the entire tournament.
By the time we made it to the first break of day 2 (2 hours in) I had 21,000. More than I started with but much less than I had before.
While all this was going on players were blowing themselves up all over the place and we were down to 69 players as we started level 13 which was 1,500/3,000.
My 21,000 chips were equivalent to having $210 in a $15/$30 game, an amount that could go in on one pot. Even worse I went cold for almost an hour folding 100% of my hands preflop.
At the very end of level 13 I was down to about 9,000 chips when a big hand came up. Pokernews.com actually reported this hand in their tournament coverage, but they were not even close to what actually happened. Here is what they said:
When we arrived at the table the board was reading 3h Qh Kd 3d 5d and Donev was holding pocket tens. Wesley Huff tabled pocket queens and doubled up through Donev.
Huff is now up to 21,000 chips and Donev slipped to 50,000.
OK. About the only thing they got right here is the players involved and the chip counts at the end of the hand (some of the cards are similar I guess).
What really happened is I had KT of spades and I raised to 3,000. Donev in the small blind reraised to 4,500 with QQ (with the Q of clubs). The flop came down K T 3 with two clubs (notice it was all red cards in the pokernews version) which of course was a monster flop for me. The first card I saw was the king and given that I had half my stack in the pot already it was a welcome sight.
On the flop Donev checked which I thought meant he had a big hand, but I put him on AA or AK and no matter what he had I was getting it all in with this hand. I bet and he just called. The turn was the A of clubs which was the worst card in the deck (not knowing what he had). Donev checked again and I put in my last 3,200.
Before he turned over his hand he said "I just have a draw." This was good because it gave me a chance to say "good, I hope you miss it!" This little micro conversation kept me from thinking about the fact that a club, a jack or a queen (14 cards out of 44) would put an end to my tournament. It was about 2 seconds from the time I saw his hand to the time the river card was on the table. I hadn't processed what he needed to beat me yet, but I knew a ten made me a full house and I was still alive.
KT beating QQ on a A K T T 3 board is a little different from QQ beating TT on a K Q 5 3 3 board. Boo pokernews!
That pot kept my head above water for a while, but soon the blinds sucked the life out of me. I got absolute garbage after that hand. Nothing even close until I was down to 7,000. At that point we had 50 players left. 5 spots out of the money and the blinds were taking 3,000 chips out of my stack every round. It did not look good.
Finally I got QJ suited which was the best hand I'd seen for almost an hour! The under the gun player raised, but I still thought I had to go for it. I three bet making it 6,000, he put me all in and I was pumped to see him turn over TT. I expected to be behind 60/40 or maybe even worse, but instead I was 50/50. Even better I flopped a queen and my hand held up.
Maybe 5 minutes later we went on a 60 minute dinner break with 47 players left. I had 18,000 and looking around at the other stacks there were two players with about 6,000 (the blinds would be 1,500/3,000 when we came back) and 4 others with between 8,000 and 15,000. So my chances were very, very good of making the money. But it's not like I was going back to the table and folding AA or KK so if I made a big hand and lost I could still come up short.
I had an hour to let my mind spin all the scenarios. Every time I thought about missing the money I made sure I thought about winning the tournament outright. Looking back I think I had a much better chance of making the final table than of going broke short of the money.
Two hands after we came back my resolve got put to the test. The under the gun player who might have been the tournament chip leader raised. This guy was very aggressive and I was 100% sure if I'd get more action than I wanted. I looked down at QQ...
Jesus. Can I really fold QQ here? I knew calling was not an option. If I reraised it would be to 9,000. Then if I bet the flop that's another 3,000. And since I was all but sure I'd get check raised I'm looking at getting it all in by the flop or the turn.
Did I really want to get it all in with QQ two spots from a $4,000 payout? No I didn't. This was the first time in over 2,000,000 hands of limit poker that I folded QQ before the flop.
After I folded another mega stack in the small blind three bet it and the flop came down ace high. There was a bet and a raise on the flop so I'm confident I didn't fold a winner.
5 minutes later we were in the money! Whoo! 2 hands after that I was out. Boo!
I got dealt Q9s in the small blind and I raised. The big blind called and the flop came down A K 9. Not great, but at least I had a pair. I had to bet and I got called. The turn was a brick, but I bet my last 6,000. My opponent thought for 20 seconds and called with K8. No help on the river and that was it.
I finished in 45th place which paid $4,097. Also I missed the Stud event so I have $5,597 more in my fat roll of hundreds than I could have at this point in my trip.
A very good start and a good boost for the confidence.