Last night I played in a poker tournament at a club out in Danville or my sister Carol and her husband Joe belong. They have won every few months. Mom also played as well as my friend Clarence from church who helps me with the poker tournaments at St. Gabriel. A total of 64 people paid $50 each to enter the tournament.
Five hours later I was walking away with $675 second-place prize money. At one point I was heads up with a two to one chip lead. It was getting pretty late and I was trying to end things quickly and lost a big pot. That got us about even again. The guy offered a split but I wanted to play a few more hands to see if I can win it outright. He took a big pot off of me shortly after that and two hands later it was all over. The first-place guy got $1000.
For the first several hands of the game there was a guy three players to my right was very aggressive and I was worried I was going to have a tough time against him. I had to lay very low for a while and only play premium hands. It was quite a while till I won my first pot but it was a pretty good size one.
I seem to get a lot of hands that were ace with a low kicker that I ended up having to throw away. On the other hand I played some suited connectors and people were betting the minimum a lot. I chased a straight and caught it to be a guy with trips and took down a big pot. A guy who’d been very aggressive early got a cold streak but he continued to hold the chip lead at my table for quite some time. We started out with 3125 chips and by the first break a couple of hours in I had 13,000 so I was doing really well.
Most of my good hands I made the hand early and went slow play it getting the minimum or calling someone else’s bet and then betting large on the river. By that time it looked like I was trying to steal and they would call me not realizing I already made my hand.
When it got down to two tables of 10 players each it looks like I’ve pretty much had the chip lead at my table. Just before we merged to the final table I had ace deuce and the flop came 7-2-2. I bet the minimum and a guy called. The next card was a jack and the other guy bet. I was pretty sure he had a jack so I just called again. The final card was an ace giving meat deuces full of aces. I bet very big and he pushed all in and I called. He had three jacks but my full house took him out. That gave me a huge chip lead when we merged to the final table. In fact when we all got to the final table I had a two to one lead over everyone. I had almost 70,000 in the next highest player had about 32,000.
There were 10 players at the final table in the top seven were going to get paid. Seventh place would get his $50 back. Sixth place got $130. Lots of times a big chip leader will try to take out the shorter stacks but I wanted to wait for premium hands. The blinds were not too steep and the blind levels were 30 minutes so you can afford to wait. At one point I did end up doubling up someone who was a short stack but it didn’t cost me that much to lose.
With 10 players still at the final table I remember looking at the guy across from me who had the second biggest stack and thinking to myself “Whatever you do don’t get sucked into a big pot with this guy because he’s the only guy with enough chips to really hurt you.” Somehow or another two hands later I forgot that advice and got sucked into a hand. It was probably the worst strategy hand I ever played. I had top pair and a good kicker but he was betting strong and I kept calling. I finally ended up pushing all in when he had only a few chips left and he called. He had two pair to my top pair with big kicker. I still have a straight draw on the river but I didn’t catch it. That stupid move cost me about three fourths of my chips. I was down to about 18,000. Fortunately the blinds were only 1000/2000 at the time. That left me in about a three-way tie for short stack with all 10 final table players still there and only seven people going to make the money. I felt like such an idiot.
With 10 people at the table, reasonable blinds, and no antes I could wait for premium hands. Everyone was playing really tight and generally most hands were battles of the blinds. When I was on the button or in the cut off sometimes I would have one good card and I would limp in. The blinds would call me in the flop would be low. I could bet the minimum on the flop even though I didn’t catch anything and they would typically fold.
I slowly began rebuilding my stack and eventually got a pretty good hand against the guy sitting next to me who had slightly fewer chips than me. He was on a draw that he didn’t catch and I took him out and that got me up to about 30,000 again.
The guy across from me who had devastated me in that one big hand maintained and even built his chip lead. When we finally got down to the final seven I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I at least have made the money after almost blowing it completely.
Once we were in the money the short stacks were more likely to try to double up. I don’t recall if I took any of them out. But I did build my stack a little bit more. One by one as people dropped out the money kept increasing. It finally got down to just three people. It was my arch nemesis across from me who had the big stack that I had given him earlier. There was a guy on my left who had about 15,000- 18,000. I think the blinds were up to 2000/4000 at that point. I still had about 40,000 or more and the big guy probably had closed 100,000. Finally the guy who was short stack went all in against the big stack. He figured he had no chance against either of us and he was just trying to get out of our way so we can go heads-up. He had two small cards and so did the big stack guy. The short guy caught a pair on the turn to double up. To about 30,000. When he explained he was just trying to get out of our way so that I can go heads-up with my rival I said to him “What you mean… you and I are going to take down the big guy and we will play heads-up.” He said “I did my part… now it’s your turn” and we all laughed.
A few hands later I got in a big pot with the short stack guy and ended up taking him out. I think he got about $450 for third place. That left me heads-up against the guy who had earlier stolen three fourths of my chips. I was so surprised I had been able to build my stack back up and get to be heads-up with him.
We played heads-up for a very long time and I slowly nicked away at him. Many times we would both limp in and even though I didn’t catch the flop I would bet on the flop and he would fold. I thought about trying to cut a deal to split the first and second place but I wanted so badly to beat the guy who had hurt me so badly earlier and I was so thrilled at being guaranteed at least second-place money of $675 that I wanted to battle it out to the bitter end.
I finally took down a very large pot from him giving me a two to one chip lead again. By now it was after 11 p.m. and we had been playing since 6:30 p.m. and we were all very tired. I tried taking him out at one point but it turned out he had caught a small straight which doubled him up again and gave him a very slight lead. We talked about splitting again but I wanted to play a few more hands. I just didn’t want to give in against this guy. I wanted revenge for him taking advantage of my stupidity earlier in the game 🙂
Shortly after that he took a really big pot off of me and everybody watching said “you should’ve taken the chop when you had the chance”. A few hands later he took me out to win first place of $1000. I was very happy with my second place of $675. It was the largest poker game I have ever won!
I did a rough calculation of all of the live poker tournaments I’ve played in both at the club in Danville and at St. Gabriel. This is only the second time I’ve ever made the cash in a live game. I had been pretty far in the hole because I’ve played in a couple of $100 games at St. Gabri
el. My rough calculation this puts my all-time winnings at live poker tournaments at plus $200 or so.
Mom made it about halfway through the tournament. My buddy Clarence lasted a little bit longer than that before he was eliminated. He then got in a cash game and won back all of his entry money plus some more so he came out ahead for the evening and had a very very good time. He’s looking forward to coming back to the next one I have in Danville.
That’s all for now! I’ve got to go figure out what I’m going to do with my winnings!