So I have been reflecting on the first event here in the past day and thinking about my play. I think I made four mistakes, the last hand not included. Three of them were in the first two levels, and I eliminated that donkish behavior from my play until we returned on day two. It however was a small pot and really didn’t effect much. So, here’s the rundown.
I began in seat two, 18 players left. I got a fortunate draw with the two other chip leaders on the other table, and no significant stacks on my table. On the very first hand I busted Ed with the 7h8h calling his all-in bet from the big blind. I was getting a little over 2-1 on my money and flopped top two. I then gave 45k to Barry Goldberg with the J7c, another situation where I was getting 2.5-1 on my money after he went all-in over my blind steal from the small blind. My mistake was making the bet so big that I would bet getting desirable odds to call if he chose to go all in. I should have raised to 2.5 BB rather than 4 BB. Oops.
I then busted Melissa Poff, a great girl. I re-raised her all-in with the AsKs and she was pot committed and called with the AcTc. 2 spades on the flop, K on the turn, and a 3rd spade on the river sealed the deal. Then, a frisky short stack pushed all in from UTG for 38k when the blinds were 2-4k with 500. I called with 77, he had 99 and I never improved. From there on out I picked up blinds and antes and picked off steal raises to keep my stack healthy, but did not have an interesting hand until the final table.
With 7 left I open raised from the button to 24k, blinds 4-8k with 500. The BB went all-in, and I called instantly with AcAx. He had QQ, picked up 3 more outs with a gutshot straight draw on the turn, but no improvement on the river put me over 300k.
Then, with 5 left, I got in a clash with the chip leader, who was to my left and had me somewhat handcuffed all day. I raised from the SB with JTo, he called, and the flop came down KT9o. Pot was 50k, I bet 30k, he called after some thought. Turn brought a blank, I checked, and I read him as “Sweet. I actually got him.” He had a medium hand at best. He bet 40k, and after a while I called. River came a blank, it went check check and I thought I was getting the pot. Nope. He had QT. Ouch. Later, same blinds, same players, I limped from the SB with Q5c, and the chip leader and I took a flop heads up. It came Qd9d5x, I bet 8k into the 13k pot, and RJ called. Turn came another 5, I bet 24k, RJ called. River brought the Kx, I made a defensive bet for 20k and took him to value town. He called, my hand was good.
Down to 4 we broke for dinner. I had a short conversation with Joe Hachem, the winner of last year’s main event about final table strategy. He gave me some priceless advice. His main words were to keep the pots small, see flops, and “just play poker.” Let the chip leaders go to battle.
The advice worked immediately. The short stack was busted in a hand that I opened and then folded pf, and then Chris (new chip leader) and RJ (2nd chip leader) got in a battle, and I was eagerly anticipating Chris to bust RJ - as I felt that RJ was a much better player. RJ raised from the SB, and Chris called the BB. Flop 672 rainbow, RJ made a standard bet, Chris made a standard raise, and RJ went all in over the top for about 1.5x the pot. Chris instantly called, and I was like, sweet. RJ’s crushed. How wrong was I! Christ called him with King high! KING QUEEN HIGH! No draw. Funny part was that RJ was bluffing with the best hand, A4 high! a K on the river sent RJ to the rail pissed, and I celebrated my advancement into 2nd place, $66,588 guaranteed.
When we went to heads up play, I was behind about 5-1 in chips, but felt that I had a pretty good chance. Blinds were 6-12k with 2k ante, so I had some time to work, and I am very confident in my heads-up game. I clawed my way up to over 300k when this hand came down. I opened from the SB for 36k, and he called the BB after some thought. Flop 338 rainbow, chris checked, I bet 45k, chris thought for a while, staring at the board, and raised to 100k. I thought he was so weak. One, I had seen him make this move on a garbage board 4 times in the tourney, including just very recently in that hand vs. RJ. Second, staring at the board is a classic sign of weakness. And third, I figured that I could get him to lay down any non bluff hand that did not contain a 3 or an 8 or a trap (ie bigger pocket pair). I went all-in quickly for an additional 150k on top of his bet, he called instantly, and he had the 43o. So sick. Bad read, oh well. I was very confident, my instincts had been very correct for the entire tournament, and I trusted my read - which got me there in the first place.
Anyways. $70,000 cash weighs a lot. Like, a pound at least. So sexy.
We finally got going from the room to celebrate around 3am. It was my brother Jared, his gf Jackie, my buddy Danny, and the guy on the couch, Doug. We went to a new club called “Seamless”, and the place was sick. We actually ran into Melissa Poff at the entrance, and we joined her party to celebrate, getting a booth with bottle service. Her party included Dutch Boyd, notable TV poker player. He is an awesome guy and we talked poker for couple of hours and had a great time goofing off and enjoying the time.
I took it easy today. I played 40-80 for a quick hit and run and made $1015 in 20 minutes. I then ended up at the 2-4 game at the Imperial Palace to simply relax and donk off some chips. I signed my first autograph of all time, which was pretty cool, and had a lot of fun playing poker which was so refreshing in the midst of this being work and a ton of hours. It was great to have a reprieve from the stress of the high stakes poker and remember that is still is a game.
I will be going to sleep as soon as the circle bar cuts the bass, and headed off to event 4 tomorrow, $1500 limit hold-em. The live updates can be found here.
Tournament winnings: $66,363
Side game winnings: $4,805
So far so good!
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