It's funny. The Hammer Wife was on the computer around 9pm ET last night, and my buddy R hit me with an IM to make sure I would meet him for our usual date at the party 40k guaranteed tournament, which was scheduled to start a little over an hour from when he chatted me. Hammer Wife ensured me she would be done within 30 minutes. Now I don't begrudge her, but I have to admit that once 10pm rolled around and she was still on the computer, I was getting antsy, and I remember specifically thinking to myself that I had a good feeling about tonight's 40k. My record finish thus far had been 62nd place out of around 2400 entrants, which occurred about a month ago when R and I really started this daily barrage on the 40k guaranteed tournament. 10 days ago or so I also came in 99th place out of 2500+ entrants, and I fully intended to blog about it because there were some really interesting hands and plays in there. But life happens and more poker happens and before I knew it, I was writing about other things. Suffice it to say I've finished in the top 100 for the first two times in my life within the past 4 weeks or so, but have never really made a serious
run at the serious
money available near the top this thing.
The early part of my party 40k last night started off more or less just like any other. I took chips from some donkeys. I stole a lot of small pots with nothing. I hoyed, I Hammered, and I hit a couple of bad cards to keep me from making any serious moves early on. My first double was when I made top two pair on the flop:
And got chips thrown at me in a big way. Turns out he had hit top and bottom pair on the flop, a deadly combination and a very lucky setup to double me up early:
It's always good to get a nice cushion of chips to play with early on in these things, because it's a long road ahead if you expect to cash and cash significantly, and you want to have enough currency to make some moves, and, at least as importantly in my view with the large MTTs, to be able to withstand the inevitable bad beats that might otherwise be knocking you out of the tournament if you were short on chips when they happen to you. So this hand was a good thing, and it gave me some confidence as well as some chips to better do my thing, leading me into the first break with about 1.5x the average chip stack:
A stack which was not destined to survive for long, as I lost about 40% of my chips on this hand, about 25 minutes in to Round 2, after I put in a sizable steal-raise in late position, only to be called by Queens in the SB:
But a few hands later I managed to get back all those chips and a little bit more, thanks purely to a river 3-outer suckout, thankyouverymuch:
The best part about the above shot is that if you look to the left of the main pot, you will see two single chips, which is him moving in his last chip and me calling it after I hoyed his ass on the river (yeah!). And then I followed this hand up about 20 minutes later with my first Really Big Hand
™ of the tournament, when I ended up allin preflop against a guy who insisted on re-reraising me allin preflop with just pocket Tens, and paid the price for completely disregarding the likely meaning of my preflop reraise:
This hand vaulted me into the top 10 of the remaining players in the event, by this time dropping to around 500. Unfortunately, those two kings were one of only two or three truly playable hands I would see for the next 2 1/2 hours
(though I did make some of the others really count). Literally. Don't get me wrong -- I stole a bunch of pots, and held my own for the most part. But it was a nearly intolerable streak of card death. I remember thinking that to myself at some point after midnight, that it had already been quite a remarkable streak of nothing but cripe cards, no pocket pairs higher than 4s, and no Ace with higher than a Jack, and even then probably only 2 or 3 Aces with anything higher than a 6, and then it ended up lasting for a whole other hour
even beyond that point.
At the second break in the party 40k, I was sitting pretty, at over 21000 chips and still in the top 10:
About 30 minutes of folding later, I managed to take down the WWdN Not tournament, for the second week in a row (remember, I am always
multitabling. Always!). I had a whole post planned for how I dominated several blogger friends, including Smokkee
at the final table, but other events have precluded all those fun screenshots. Suffice it to say, I played very well, used my moderated aggression so I could wait a little more for the good hands to play, and then I won multiple races and even sucked out bigtime one time once we were all ITM, and I'm the back to back champ heading into next Thursday when I will go for the threepeat:
So, back to the party 40k. I'm doing well, haven't seen a big hand in quite a while, and I get 99 in MP. I raise it 3x to a little over 10000 chips, but then the guy to my left moves allin for 60k+, enough to felt me and then some:
I had put a quarter of my total stack in this one pot with pocket 9s, a top 10 hand in nlh. But, as I've made gone deeper and deeper in more and more of these large events, I have learned that every run to the end of a big tourney includes some nice suckouts, some hands where you get sucked out on, and every run also includes some big laydowns. This was one of them. I don't know what he had, but after mulling it over, he could have a higher pair in which case I'm an 4-to-1 dog, or he might have AK, AQ or something similar, in which case I'm a favorite by a hair. Why put my tournament life at stake with that, at this point in the game? In the first blind round or two, I would be very likely to call in this situation. But after all this work, this far into the money, and a rare chance to really hit it big, I think the fold was definitely the right move. It kept me in the tournament, living to fight another day.
And fight I did, when just a few hands later, I am dealt AA in first betting position. It had been so long since I had played a big hand, and I was absolutely hell-bent
on getting value out of these Aces, so I couldn't just push and chase everyone out here. So, I did the unthinkable. I limped from first betting position preflop with pocket Aces. Fortunately, it had the desired result, as the big blind raised it up 3x:
I pondered my next move. If you're a regular here, you know I was not about to push in on this guy just yet. I reverted to my usual fuckoff move with Aces -- another re-reraise, but not too big. I want him to think his KK, QQ or JJ are good, and push in on me, where he might fold that QQ or JJ if I push him allin right here:
My re-reraise to 15000 is a big move, and it gets a lot of chips in the pot. But it also gives the impression that I want to leave myself an escape hatch, depending on the flop or the continued betting in the hand. This guy pondered for a bit, but then he moved decisively after making his read:
Damn did I get lucky with those Aces working for me. He flips 88 (that's a major fishmove for sure btw), and I am suddenly stylin after my Aces hold up, above 91,000 in chips and back into 4th place of the 207 remaining players
. And we're already into the money spots, which begin with spot #220 in this event almost every single night.
Shortly before the third break, I took another beating when I ran KQo on a steal into QQ, costing me about a sixth of my existing stack:
But again, here is another great example of how important chipping up early is in these MTTs. You simply have to build up a solid stack if you expect to be able to withstand the beats like this, as well as the suckouts and spiking river cards, that are simply inevitable when you play 500 hands of poker over 6+ hours straight at the tables. It's going to happen to you; you just need to make sure you have enough chips to withstand those times, and try to avoid playing against the other large stacks who have the ability to end your tournament early. In this case I left myself with plenty of chips to still make some moves, and I entered the third break with still over 100,000 in chips, and still in the top 10% of the 100 or so remaining entrants in the tournament. This would mark only the fourth time I have lasted to the third break in the party 40k, so I'm approaching the level where I have been unable to get past before as we head into Round 4.
Early in Round 4, I made an ill-advised and probably too-large steal-raise from the button with QJs, and unfortunately got called in the SB by ATo, a call I would clearly have made as well in his shoes:
Fortunately, luck was on my side again as I made two pairs on the turn and took down another huge pot. The pot was so huge, in fact, that it immediately brought me here:
where if you look you will see me in first place out of the 84 players remaining. I was nearing my all-time best 62nd place finish in the 40k event, and I had never been in the chip lead anywhere near this late in the tournament. I have to admit, when I saw that, I had my first thought that tonight could really be something special for me. But even then, I was very cognizant of just how much poker was left to be played, with 84 people left and the chip stacks continuing to rise.
And my card deadness was still continuing. As I mentioned, it lasted for the better part of 2 1/2 hours, and this Round 4 was the worst of it, as I stole a few big pots (all the pots were getting big at this point thanks to the ever-escalating blind structure) but otherwise did a whole lot of folding with my hefty chip stack to fall back on. The fourth break came mercifully, with me still holding my own with over 200,000 in chips:
You want to know how bad the card death had been for the last long while? Check out my flops seen percentage, as of the fourth break:
8%. Over 4 1/2 hours
and counting. Ouch.
Round 5 of the party 40k. Unchartered territory for me, or any of my friends or the people I regularly play with online. I was nervous, but I got up during the break to take a walk, use the facilities, just to stretch out. I didn't know what to expect as the next round began, but I knew that I did not want to waste away this opportunity I was living to really make some noise in this, my favorite as well as the largest of the non-rebuy nightly guaranteed tournaments on the sites that I regularly play.
After doing nothing and seeing no cards once again for the first half hour or so of Round 5, I finally look down to see AKo in middle position. What's better, is the guy to my immediate right pushes allin just ahead of me, for a little over 100,000 chips, or close to half of my existing stack:
Now I know from sitting here over the past hour or so that people are stealing every pot they can get their hands on here, and that even a hand like a middle Ace becomes a monster when your blinds are 15000-30000 with a 700 chip ante. So I figured I had to call, so instead I reraised to isolate, and we went heads up for another massive pot:
There's a race with AK that I won in a huge spot. This is nothing I would call "lucky" as I was basically a 50/50 shot to win the hand, but it could have easily gone the other way, and put a severe damper on my continued tournament existence. Instead, I was back up near the top of the leaderboard as the number of remaining players continued to dwindle.
Nearing the end of Round 4, I ended up getting allin preflop with JJ against a guy who was reraising from after me, and yet was moving just quick enough with his responses to my actions that I just got the feeling he didn't have something stronger than my Jacks. I had him on TT or 99 or something similar, but in the end my read was wrong and the cards were all right:
And poof, I'm over 750,000 in chips, and I'm just plain giddy about it. That is, until this hand about 10 minutes later knocked me way back down to size, despite me having been the clear favorite going in:
This one took away about 60% of my chips, but once again, to consistently make it far in a large MTT, you need to play very aggressive poker. And to play that kind of very aggressive poker, you absolutely need to be able to withstand the inevitable beats you're going to take by virtue of making plays at so many pots, many of which where you will not necessarily have the best hand, or even a good hand at all. So thanks to my previously large pile of chips, I was still doing ok even after this huge beat, holding almost 275,000 chips, squarely in the middle of the 17 players still alive at that time. And it was great that I still had some chips to play with, because not 3 or 4 hands later, I nearly doubled back up when my 44 held up against what turned out to be AK:
So there's another big spot where I won a race, this time against
AK instead of with
AK as I had won about an hour earlier. And I had my big stack back again, up over 650,000 chips and slightly above average chip stack with less than two tables remaining. And from here, with just 14 players remaining, things tightened up significantly as you might imagine. For a good 30 or 40 minutes at least, all pots that were contested at all, were contested heads-up, and probably a good 90% of the hands were taken down without seeing a flop. I had both of the remaining tables open on my desktop, and I watched as slowly but surely, the pushfest would send in one of the short stacks with a worse hand (or they would get drawn out on despite having a better hand). 13 people, 12 people, and then just 11 remained -- the Final Table Bubble on partypoker. And, sitting squarely on that bubble, nearing the end of Round 5, when I was dealt another pocket Aces (more incredible luck, to get bullets in a big spot like this), I was thrilled to be able to accumulate another 400,000+ chips by drawing in one opponent with a not-too-large preflop raise, and then a half-pot bet to follow up on the flop:
And then, with just one minute to go before the fifth break (who knew that even existed?!), a short stack got sucked out on at our table, and presto:My first ever party 40k final table!
I was elated beyond belief. But this is where my other MTT final table experiences from this year come into play, as I also had a sense of calm, of familiarity, and a sense that I was not going to let this opportunity pass me by without making a real play for the gold medal, the top prize of nearly 10 grand.
Now I'm not going to bore you by showing all the hands that I played at the final table. I won many of them, but just about all of them were steals. I was playing just the way everyone else at the table was. I had enough of a stack not to have to be a total pushmonkey, but the short guys pushed in every time they made any move for a pot, and slowly but surely they would get picked off by a larger stack who thought he could take the short man down, and guarantee the rest of us another few hundred or more in our cash payout. And every time it was checked around to me in anything but the first position or two, I made a move, and I won most of them. Imagine a bunch of K2s and J7s and A4s and Q9s and 63s and T2s that all go for winners without seeing a flop. That was me at the final table. Here is me having amassed over 1 million chips for the first time ever in any online poker tournament in which I've played:
which, incidentally, put me squarely in 2nd place out of the 6 remaining players at that time (one of the stacks you cannot see was actually over 2 million chips at this point -- "bluejackson", in the top right of the screen). But even down to 6 players remaining, we were each guaranteed of at least a $1300 payout or so, so this was already in position to be my largest-ever single payout from any poker tournament, online or IRL.
I played a huge pot when we were still 6-handed when I ended up going against the prohibitive chip leader, something in general that I wanted to avoid doing at this point in the tournament, with every additional spot you climb adding hundreds, and eventually thousands, to the payout. But it just happened. I raised preflop with A6s, and he called me to see this flop:
He led out for 60k, and I figured if this guy has the case Ace and
a card higher than a 6 and
the other two Aces just happened to come out on the flop, then I'm just destined to lose here, because I'm fucking betting this situation. So I did my old favorite, the slow-raise:
and once again it worked flawlessly as I elicited a reraise from my opponent the chip leader:
And look at what he had!
What an unbelievable mistake to make at a final table of a huge event like this. I imagine that was a rookie mistake, and it was just the kind of move that I simply don't make anymore at MTT final tables. I did in my first one, maybe in my second, but I don't tend to move in with crap anymore at a final table, period, at least not without a very good reason to do it. This guy made a major mistake, and his misfortune became my fortune as I inched very close to bluejackson's chip lead with the same 6 players alive:
Here was my low point, after I was forced to laydown preflop two hands where I had put in large steal-raises. Again, experience in these things has taught me not to push in the face of brazen reraising aggression without a solid hand, so I am willing these days to make a big laydown, even for a lot of chips, at a final table if it means I can live to play another hand and hope for the best. So here is me, in 5th place when we were down to 5 left:
In this huge hand, I moved in most of my chips on the flop with just two overs after getting an Ace-solid vibe from bluejackson preflop, where I once again nailed the river card for a huge win to keep me very much alive in this thing:
and two hands later, blue was after me again, pushing in with his AQ. Unfortunately for him, I held AK and I knocked him out in 5th place:
We were all guaranteed at least $2000 apiece at this point, although it was all like a dream to me at the time. It was also getting close to 4am ET, which I'm sure contributed to that feeling, although as you might imagine, I had never felt so "awake" in my entire life. I could not believe I was sitting once again on the chip lead with 4 players left in the party 40k!
The rest happened pretty fast, actually. First, I took out the reigning short stack at the table with a hand that was the favorite heading into the flop, but which needed all five cards to overcome the flop suck that threatened to but a big cramp in my style:
At this point, we talked deal for 5 or 10 minutes, but it was apparent that these two guys wanted much more than their fair share, in a situation where at this point I had a monster chip lead, and a whole lot of confidence. I wanted to be reasonable with them, but they weren't interested. So, I pressed on, down to 3 with me way out in front and one very short stack:
Maybe 10 hands later, the short stack moved in on me when I held the Hilton whores, but it again took me all five cards to resuck his suckout trips on the flop:
At this point, down to just two players remaining and with me outchipping my remaining opponent by more than 11-to-1, the little weasel who had been holding up our doing a deal all through the final table then asks me to deal. I rejected quickly, intending to close this thing out and take home my fucking ten grand (!)
. In the fourth hand of heads-up, he moved in with what turned out to be K9s, and I had to call with my A3o, assuming my Ace-high was likely good:
In the end, I turned trip Aces on the board to take it down:
and I had done it!!!
As I was only able to sleep for less than two hours before getting up to come to work today, and this all really just went down less than 10 hours ago still, it has definitely not fully sunk in yet. I will say that I feel one of the greatest senses of accomplishment that I have ever felt with anything right now. I'm on top of the world, and I'm so happy to be able to share this with you.