So, I played the Noon tournament at Venetian on Tuesday. The tournament got 130+ entrants, which was both good and bad. Good, in that it was a decent sized field for payouts, bad in that we got just enough players for the tournament to pay 18 spots instead of 9.
Things started out very well. With a starting stack of 7500, I was very quickly up to 17,000 with no truly memorable hands. I then got into a great zone where I was playing and reading very well. I flopped top pair against an aggressive guy, when I was holding AK. I had a sense that, based on the way this guy was playing, if I checked behind him on the turn after betting the flop, he would bluff at the river quite a bit. Well, true to form, he did bet the blank river. However, he unexpectedly pushed all-in, which was a pretty big overbet. Could he have a set? I thought it was much more likely he had a busted straight draw with two big cards as opposed to a set. The problem was the tell he was giving off. Earlier, he had been staring right at me in a hand when I read him for weak. Now, he was staring down, and wouldn’t say much. I asked him if I was losing, and he started to say something, then got really quiet and shrugged, pointing at the pot. This was enough to convince me that he was pretty nervous, and I called. Had he kept quiet and still, I might have laid down top pair. But taking the overbet and the change in mannerism into consideration, I ended up making the right call. He showed me a busted straight draw. This propelled me over 30K.
A couple of automatic calls/hands that played themselves, popped up, and I won coin flips against smaller stacks to push myself over 40, where I treaded for a while. I crossed over 50K when we were down to 80 players, then ran KK into AA to dump off half my chips. I ground my way back up to 50K again, only to take AK vs. A7, and drop back down to 32K. At this point, the blinds were starting to become a factor. We were at 1000-2000, with a 300 ante. I was stealing enough pots to stay afloat, but things weren’t great. The blinds moved up to 1500-3000, with a 500 ante, and I was officially in bad shape. With less than 40 players left, I had 23K in middle/late position. A fairly tight player in early/middle position raised to 6K. This screamed weakness, since he usually bet more when he was protecting bigger hands. The guy next to him smooth called the 6K. I looked down at pocket 7s, and hoped I had enough to get the initial raiser to fold. The player to his left was fairly weak-tight as well, so I thought if I could get through the first raiser, I was fine. That was, until the SB just called my raise to 23K. The SB was a tighter player as well, who had a bad habit of over-valuing his hands. I had no idea where I was. The original raiser folded, but the second guy in the pot decided to call, even though it looked like he wanted to jam. I think he just didn’t realize the SB called instead of jamming. On the flop, both of them get it all-in. One of them held AA, the other KK. The true beauty of this situation was that the flop came out 7 high. All of a sudden, I had 80K, and we had 30-ish players left.
The next hour was short-handed play as players dropped somewhat quickly. I was able to pick up lots of small pots to keep my stack at around 80K, but when we were down to 22 players, I lost 35K on AK vs A7. Yes, I lost to A7 holding AK all-in preflop twice in the same tournament.
When we got to 20 players, everyone in the room wanted to take $300 off of first place to pay 19th and 20th $150 each. The prizes were already thin enough ($14 profit for finishing 18th). The floorman, Daniel, who I consider a good friend, asked if there were any objections. I complained a bit, but told him if I was the only dissenter, it was fine. Then, some moron suggested that we take $200 off of first and $100 off of second. I started screaming that the clock was still running, and just wanted to play poker. In reality, the money bubble is always a great spot for me to pick up chips, which is what I had been doing for an hour. So, I was sad to see it go.
It took about another hour for us to get down to the final 10. 10th place still only paid $200, vs. $5000 for first. So, aggression was still the method of the day.
There were 997,500 chips in play. I was 3rd or 4th in chips with roughly 130K when we got to the final table. I played one hand poorly with pocket 4s, but managed to work my stack over 200K. We dropped a few people to get to 6-handed, then busted the girl to my left with AQ vs. A9 to get us to 5-handed. I had almost 300K in chips at this point, and was the chip leader. Sitting in the SB, I reraised the button holding AK only to have him jam for just a bit more holding KK. No improvement, and I was down to 150. I worked back up to 200K, then lost a coin flip to drop under 100K for the first time in a while. I stole few pots preflop, then got into a 3-way pot. Instead of making a play at the pot on the flop, I waited until the turn (something I’ve been trying to add to my game), and successfully took down the pot to get over 100K again. Blinds were 6000-12000, with a 2K ante at this point. Effective aggression had me back over 200K again when I raised from the button with A9s to 33K. The BB jammed for another 37K more, and showed me K9. He rivered a straight, and now everyone had roughly the same stack.
It was at this point that someone suggested a deal. Based on the crazy size of the blinds, we quickly agreed to chop it up 5 ways, each taking $2400. So, all in all, a strong tournament for me. However, I feel like it could have been a much better payday if things had gone my way at the final table. I got lucky on the 77 hand earlier, but not a lot went my way at the final table. Ah, the cards can be fickle!