Big Score in the Full Tilt 30k!! (Updated with Screenshots and Commentary)
So Wednesday night started off just like any other regular night for me. I got home, Hammer Wife and I put the Hammer Girls to bed, we ate dinner together, and then we headed into our bedroom for what I generally consider to be the "poker portion of the evening". Hammer Wife made it clear that she was not into me playing poker during Lost, and I made it clear that I felt I had to play this week as the BBT is brand new and in full swing and I wanted to give my strongest participation. Hammer Wife wasn't cool with it but acquiesced, and meanwhile I sat down to my nightly haunt, the 8:30pm ET $8 rebuy satellite into the 30k guaranteed tournament at 11pm ET nightly on full tilt.
I missed the first 15 minutes or so to finish dinner with my wife, but that really doesn't even matter in this satellite as you can just rebuy as soon as you sit down, and unless you've missed three hands of pocket Aces or something, those first few minutes are very recoverable from no matter what you didn't get to play. Long story short, I got no cards for the first 90 minutes or so in this sat, I busted once on a redickulous suckout, and did my usual double-rebuy since half my table had doubled up by that point. Eventually I took the addon and at the time was in 9th of 17 players remaining (top 5 won seats to the 30k), and I proceeded to get a few hands, winning with AK over A5 (donkey) and winning with KK over A9s (semi-donkey) to eventually get me in first place with 10 players remaining. From there I was basically able to coast -- stealing the blinds and antes of course where it made sense -- without making any major commitments, and I got to watch that uber-fonkey "loose1" that I wrote about a couple of weeks back bust out on the bubble for the second straight night before I managed to win the 30k seat sitting in first place at the time of the five payout seats remaining. Here is a screenshot I took just one hand after making the money in this thing (check out who is out in 8th place, whatadonk!):
Meanwhile, the Mookie started at 10pm ET, and within the first half hour a well-known blogger and awesome writer who shall remain nameless called my 3.5x preflop open-raise from by button with his 54s from the small blind. Yes, a heads-up preflop raise call with 54s, a move that you wouldn't find in anyone's arsenal or in anyone's poker book -- even the guys like Negreanu and Hansen and Doyle who like to play suited connectors will readily tell you that connectors as low as 54 are simply not playable, especially for a raise, and doubly especially against just one opponent with just one opponent left to act behind you. Bad play. And yes, the man flopped a flush, I had bottom pair and an oesd, plus a fairly high flush draw of my own, and poof I'm out early again. Highlarious. Shocker of shockers, this famous blogger didn't last even to the BBT points, despite munching up all of my chips so early on. What do I always say about tournament mindset again? And congratulations to Miami Don for taking the Mookie down for the second straight week. Seriously, that is some serious donkeypunching to win that thing back-to-back, way to go.
Anyways, the 30k started at 11pm ET, and maybe 5 or 6 hands in, I have 87s (in hearts) on the button, and UTG raises the 40-chip big blind to 120. Three other players call as the action comes around to me, so I do the right thing and call for 120 chips as well with my acceptably high suited connectors, and with a guarantee of at least five players to see the flop for just under 3% of my stack (Doyle or Danny Boy would be quite proud of that move, because I know how to play me some suited connectors). The flop comes with two hearts, and one of the up-front players bets 240 into a pot that had 620 chips in it from the preflop action. For me having to call 240 chips into an 860-chip pot with my flush draw, it was an easy call for me considering my implied odds of course, and then when the turn brought a third heart, I bet a little, my opponent called, and then on the river I bet the rest and he fonkily called with just top pair, and he was eliminated. And then he went on to berate me for the next hour or so in the chat for "calling a 240-chip bet with just a flush draw". No mention whatsoever of the amount of chips already in the pot, or the pot odds that his pussy 240-chip bet gave me to chase my draw. Man I love fonkeys like this, especially when they follow me around in the chat for an hour and continue to show what a recockulous idiot they are.
To be honest, there weren't a whole lot of notable hands between this early double up and when we were nearing the money positions about 2 1/2 hours later. I did nothing but stealing and stack-bullying for the balance of the first hour, heading into the first break in 35th place out of 206 players remaining. The second hour was more of the same, as I bet or raised almost every time I flopped top pair, and many times that I did not due to my big stack, although eventually I did double up a semi-shorty who held 99 against my AJs (ha!) allin preflop when I had put him on a steal due to his open-raising before the flop from the button:
A bad play by me no doubt, and with one of the gheyest hands imaginable to put a lot of chips into the pot, but I had seen him steal from the button before with large overbets and I had reason to believe this was another. Sucks. Phuckin Ace-Jack. But it was sOOOOted!
Anyways as I said, with still a decent sized stack, I spent the remainder of the second hour pushing hard on the flop whenever I flopped top pair, and being careful otherwise, and even before the flop I bet, or raised any late-position openers, whenever I felt I had the best hand, and I was almost always right. At the 80-160 level near the end of the second hour, I got a read on a guy who allin-raised me on a fairly raggy flop, and I ended up making the ballsy call for all of my chips with just shitty third pair and top kicker:
This one paid off big time, as a harmless Ace and a 6 on the end gave me the pot and my biggest stake of the day at over 11,000 chips. I added some more to my stack after slow-playing a flopped King-high flush and getting a Jack-high flush to move in on me on the turn:
I then flopped my only set of the night with 7s, and my opponent I guess put me on a bluff when I bet the pot on the raggy-looking flop after not raising preflop:
I opted just to smooth call his raise here, obviously signalling that I had something good given the size of his bet, and then when I bet the pot after he checked on the turn:
he folded, leaving me at over 16,500 chips and in 11th place of 96 remaining at the second break.
My first big hand of the third break was a huge jump to nearly 25,000 chips when I turned a flush and waited until my opponent pushed a huge stack in on me with just AQ-high (donkey):
Slam! That one was huge. Thanks to this hand, and a number of steals otherwise during the third hour, I was in 10th place out of 60 remaining, and 12th out of 50 remaining. I lost a lot of chips on this hand when the fonkeyducker across the table moved in with total tripe and then made a flipping boat against my AQs:
But as I always write about in connection with big mtt runs, there is just no way to avoid hands like this in 5 or 6 hours of constant tournament poker. You just have to work hard to amass a sufficient stack to be able to withstand the carnage when the inevitable happens, and I was lucky enough to be in just that situation here. I managed to be in 20th place out of 40 remaining as we got down near the money positions, which paid out the top 36 spots as usual out of 326 entrants at $109 a pop. I was in 24th out of 37 players remaining, sitting in the small blind with a good but not great hand (ATs) when the button open-raised 3x the big blind on the exact bubble with 37 players remaining, and I thought for maybe 2 seconds before quickly pushing allin over the top of him, causing him to insta-fold as I figured he would have to with any hand but Aces, Kings or Queens, sitting just one spot from the $195 first tranche of payouts. It really is true what all the major poker tournament pros say in their books -- bubble time is the best time to chip up if you have the intestinal fortitude for it and if you're confident enough to be willing to swing for the fences and play to win the tournament, not just to squeak into the money. That hand right there vaulted me back into the top half of the field, and a few hands later two players were eliminated on the same hand and we were into the money, only my fourth cash in the 30k after probably 50 or so attempts (all satellited in to, mind you), and only my third cash in probably 40 attempts this year following up on my final table of this tournament back I think in January of this year.
Once in the money I tried to play it smart, and I managed to get the benefit of a couple of huge hands to enable me to chip up and eliminate some great players along the way. I used my old nemesis AJs to jump quickly back to my largest stack of the tournament when I reraied the button allin preflop who had open-raised on what looked like a steal, and he made what I consider to be the terrible play of calling off his entire stack on a 51% hand, and lost he race to me:
Now, this is 6-max nlh, and as if that doesn't already require you to be aggressive enough, once the blinds and antes start getting sickly big, you just have no other choice but to push hard if you expect to get to the gold. At some point fewer than 20 players left in the event, Bonaparte9, winner of at leat one FTOPS event from last November's series, was moved to my table and and he was pushing everyone around like crazy, using that shiny yellow FTOPS jersey on his icon to intimidate players into folding. Not me. Here is my balling up against him with what I felt fairly sure was the best hand in a situation where he surely had the stack to call me, but he couldn't bring himself to do it:
Bonaparte folded here, and then commented that he "doesn't lay down top pair very often". Ha. This would e just the first of a large number of instances throughout the rest of the tournament where some known successful online players lie through their fucking teeth when they make big laydowns. I can't count how many times these guys laid down steal-raises preflop and claimed they had pocket Jacks, or claimed they had TPTK after folding a bet on the flop, etc. Don't believe what you hear, these people are largely full of shit and have not won what they've won online by constantly laying down big hands. I enjoyed watching Bonaparte, da_professional and other names I recognize from the big mtt circuit on full tilt lie and lie and lie about what they were laying down. No way they could possibly be dealt high pocket pairs and make top pair on the flop anywhere near as much as they claimed when they made laydowns. To me it's just funny, but it happened quite often as we wended our way down to the final table in this tournament.
I got up from around 10th of 20 left to near the top of the board when I won another big hand from Mr. Bonaparte, this time when he called my allin preflop with his AQ (donkay!!!):
Booooooom! And just like that I was in 6th of 19 players remaining with over 65,000 chips to play with.
On one hand -- again I think you guys will enjoy the screenshottage once I can get it up here because this was just about the luckbox move of the century -- I remember going up against the chip leader at my table by open-raising from the button with 97s. Here's how it looked to begin with:
Just the small blind called my bet, not a good sign given how shitty my cards were, and I knew I would most likely have to abandon if I didn't hit the flop good. We checked it around on a flop of KT4, with me knowing I didn't have squat here, but then when my opponent bet out 14,000 chips on the turn card of a 6%clubs;, I just got the vibe that he didn't have anything, so I decided to use my large stack as a weapon and try to take this away from him right here and now.
I figured he had to fold this unless he had top pair and something decent to go along with it, which I highly doubted since he had opted not to move at the pot on the flop. He smooth called me, and I knew I was in trouble, and that I had stoopidly lost a good portion of my stack was total shit and just an unlikely inside straight draw. Dammit, I thought to myself, until I saw the most beautiful river card in the world, and then to add to the fun, my opponent moved in on me for another 47,000 chips and I held the mortal nuts to the board!
Turns out this guy had just KQ for top pair Queen kicker, so I can't feel too bad for him the way he played the hand, but let's just say this was my luckiest draw of the entire tournament and leave it at that. It set me up with 112,000 chips, and vaulted me into 2nd place out of 16 players left, inching ever close to the final 6 players and my second final table in this event in 2007.
Maybe 15 minutes later, down to just 13 players remaining in the tournament, a biggish stack called my allin reraise on the flop when I held slow-raised pocket Aces, and he had just a low pair and a flush draw:
Amazingly, my Aces held up after this inadvisable play for late in a tournament like this by Cancer (nice name):
and there I was over 200,000 chips for the first time, all alone and well in front of everyone else left in the event. Awesome.
In 2nd place with just 8 players remaining, I put in a steal-raise as I had done on about 100 other hands with nothing in this tournament (and as you have to do the later you get into any nlh tournament, in particular very late in a 6-max event), and then I hit a monster flop in a heads-up pot against the tournament chip leader of all people:
Here you can see me betting the pot as I almost always try to bet my trips just as much as I bet my top pairs and my steals. Here is where the big stack made a massive error. Instead of just geting out of the pot when he was up against the 2nd biggest stack in the tournament and the only guy who could realistically hurt him in any significant way, he went for the reraise, not knowing what he was up against:
I put him allin right then as quickly as I could, trying to represent weakess with the quickest bet I could come up with. He called me for most of his huge stack, with this:
Again, this is a smelly, horrendous, awful play by the big stack. Against a shorty it's a great call with top pair and a Ten kicker, but against me with the way I had played it, there's just too much chance of trips here or a higher kicker or an overpair to risk your entire huge stack at this point in the tournament. He did not improve and I jumped out to a massive chip lead. I eliminated that formerly big stack a few hands later with my A9 against his all-in preflop with K9, and the leaderboard looked like this:
We made the final table about 15 minutes later, with me in a solid first place out of the last 6 players standing in the tournament:
I played mostly great poker at the final table, making only two major mistakes. The first one was early on in the event, when I called a shorty's allin with ATs and lost on this board:
I don't think this was a horrendous play by me, but it wasn't great. I should have known that at his stack size at the final table where every spot means thousands of dollars in cold, hard cash, he was not moving in there with A9 or worse. It was either a higher Ace or a pocket pair, period. Bad play by me, but again luckily I had the stack to withstand this indiscretion on my part.
My second big mistake at the final table was similar, when I called an allin reraise from the table shorty again with my A8, and again ran into an AK that I should have known was there for exactly the same reasons as above:
This one was even dumber, for two reasons. #1 I had only A8, not ATs as in the prevous example, and #2 because da_professional is a well-known and very successful online player, and this really gave him a big stack in a situation where I basically knew I was behind even as I made the call. I got blinded by the possibility of eliminating the best and most experienced player left in the tournament, but in that blindness I went and gave an easy and fairly obvious double-up to the most dangerous guy left in the event. Still can't really believe I did that, and unlike the first bad play above, this one would have ramifications later as I let da_professional squarely back into the match with this play. Yeech.
In 2nd place out of 5 players remaining, I had probably my biggest hand of the entire tournament when I raised preflop with my other nemesis hand of pocket Queens. Yes the phuckin whores themselves. And then an opponent across the table reraised my 18,000 chip raise way up to 60k, clearly trying to ends things right then and there. Blech. I told slb in the girly chat that clearly this is where I go out of the tournament, but with huge blinds and just single-digit players remaining and thousands of dollars on the line for every elimination left, there is just no way I'm folding pocket Queens to a regular old preflop reraiser, not without more data anyways. So I reverse hoyed his ass, leaving him just one chip when he called my big re-reraise, big enough for him to lay down anything but Aces or Kings given his big stack as far as I'm concerned:
When the flop came with a King and a Jack, he did move in his last chip, and I thought I would for sure see KK or AA (of course), or maybe even JJ since a Jack had just flopped. But miraculously the guy turned over just this:
I couldn't believe it. I could believe it a little more when he flopped the inside straight draw to go along with his draw to the remaining two Aces, and then the most unbelievable thing of all happened.
My hand held up. I'm still in shock. My Queens held up to eliminate the 5th place plaer and give me a nice chip lead again in the tournament, down to just 4 players remaining. It was in retrospect a horrendously bad play IMO from my opponent at the time, who has no reason whatsoever to have to risk his nice-sized stack with a fonkey hand like AQ to my preflop raise or my allin re-reraise before the flop. Yes, AQ is not exactly fonkish at a 6-max tournament no doubt, but at some point you should just accept that with a large chip stack near the end of a major tournament there is sufficient chance of being up against AK or AA or KK, or at least a pocket pair to which you are still behind, that it's just nowhere near worth it to go up against the literal second-biggest stack left in the tournament in that situation. But I benefitted and that was awesome, and I had probably around 400k in chips with one of the 4 players remaining sitting on less than 70k in chips and me looking good to go deep, real deep.
Soon after, A9 bested QQ allin preflop when an Ace came first on the board, and we were down to 3 players left, each of guaranteed at least $3600 and change for our efforts. But I didn't want to stop at 3rd, not with a big pile of chips in front of me and with about 2 grand more for each of the next two spots that I could survive.
I lost this allin preflop race against the short-stacked da_professional that would have all but assured that I won the entire tournament:
Man that sucked. Again giving the most experienced player at the table another new life in the tournament. But again, I still had a nice stack and was determined to make the best of what I had left. But did I mention that race sucked? Three hands later, da_prof did it again, winning again with an Ace on the flop after getting allin preflop with AQ against a good pocket pair in his opponent's hand:
This kind of luckboxery at any major final table tends to lead to tournament victories, and these two huge wins from behind staked da_prof to a significant stack of nearly three times my own 2nd-place stack at the time. I couldn't believemy chip lead had evaporated so quickly like that, but what can I say, the guy got allin preflop twice from behind and won 'em both. Successful online player or not, that shiat is pure luckbox.
Luckboxery which continued two hands later, when he was allin and behind on the flop to the then-shorty but he still managed to suck out a flush to knock out 3rd place and take a massive chip lead against me heading into heads-up play:
This meant over 5 grand was guaranteed to me, and I was at such a big chip deficit that I knew I had my work cut out for me if I was going to make a run at the title at this point after all the luckboxery that had brought da_professional to this point in the tournament.
Starting off down 740k to 230k in chips, I actually played admirably well heads-up I think with my severely depleted stack, taking nearly 50 minutes or so and managing on a couple of occasions to bring myself up to only a 2-to-1 defecit at 660k to 340k or so, using just one big suckout with 42s to get back to that point which really pissed da professional off. Eventually, however, with me down just 2-to-1 in chips, I raised preflop with K4s, he called, and the flop came K77. He checked, and I just went allin, using a move that I had used several times in the past and then showed bluffs with since I knew da prof was not about to jeopardize his chip lead without a big hand:
Anyways, he thought for a few seconds and then called my allin. I was thrilled. Then he flipped up....
KJ. No way I was getting away from that shiat heads-up at the final table and at a significant chip disadvantage. He didn't need it but the river brought another Jack anyways just for good measure, and IGH in second place, bringing in $5050 and change for my efforts and almost exactly 6 hours worth of work.
I played a great heads-up battle against a very much more experienced opponent than I, and overall played awesome in the tournament to get where I ended up. Yes there were the inevitable suckouts (both for and against me, of course) along the way, but I am very proud of the way I played in my best nlh tournament score since winning the pokerstars $11 rebuy madness tournament back in September of 2006. And having satellited in to this badboy like usual for only I think a total of $33 on Wednesday night, to be $5000 and change richer on Thursday morning 4:55am ET, I got no complaints of course.
And yes, thanks again to slb for railing the whole way through, what a trooper till 5am.
As I always say, there really is nothing like nailing a big mtt like this, for me no cash game performance can equal it. And thank you for all the nice comments and well wishes, which are always appreciated. Now I just need to find a way not to play like uberdonkey for the next few months after this big score, and I'll be all good.