Sunday, December 27, 2009

For Anyone Who Ever Thought They Took a Bad, Bad Beat

Although my job does not appear to have figured this out yet, I am allegedly on vacation this week so the posting may be sparse until the new year as is usual for this week at the blog. But I wanted to leave you with a sweet, sweet image I captured around midway through the pokerstars 100k guaranteed tournament a few days ago:

I resolve to remember this one from time to time in 2010 when I experience my usual luck in this game.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a relaxing, bad beat-free week heading into the New Year.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

NFL Pick 5 -- Week 16

Another 1-4 week last week for my picks, which makes three crappy weeks in a row as my early-season magic appears to have disappeared here heading into the end of the NFL regular season. Last week's performance brings my total season record down to 39-31, still eight games over .500 but totally heading in the wrong direction. As it's a holiday weekend, just five quick picks for this weekend's games:

1. Baltimore Ravens +3 at Pittsburgh Steelers. Nothing complicated here. I think the Steelers are finished, it took them an absolute miracle performance to pull out a final second victory against the Packers last week, and even at home I don't see them beating a hot Ravens team by a field goal.

2. Miami Dolphins -3 vs Houston Texans. I don't love having to lay the three points here, but I'll take the team that is extremely hot during December and is playing at home with a chance to sneak into the AFC playoffs. I have a lot of respect for the Texans on offense, including Matt Schaub at qb and Andre Johnson, probably the best overall wide receiver in football over the past two years, but I'm going with the Fins to find a way to pull this one out as they have all season long since their pro-bowl quarterback went down to injury in Week 3 with the team still looking for its first win.

3. Washington Redskins +7 vs Dallas Cowboys. Yeah, I must be literally crazy to pick the Redskins + any amount after the performance they put in last week. But this Cowboys team is going to be in trouble this week after nabbing the biggest win of Wade Phillips' career in Dallas against the undefeated Saints. This team's record when they get any sniff of success speaks for itself under the current regime, and I'm not picking them to win by more than a touchdown on national tv on Sunday night.

4. Cincinnati Bengals -13.5 vs Kansas City Chiefs. Two-touchdown favorites are never fun to bet on, but the Bengals will be looking to bounce back against a terrible Chiefs team after two consecutive subpar performances for Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco and company. And one thing the Chiefs have shown again and again this year is that they can get beat down on hard, especially by good teams. This will be the Bengals' first game against a shitpiler team in a while and I'm expecting them to pour it on early and often.

5. St. Louis Rams +14 at Arizona Cardinals. Although this is matchup of the NFL's worst team against the defending NFC champions, the Cardinals haven't been playing particularly well over the past few weeks, whlie the Rams have been at least competitive more often than they were earlier in the year. With the Cardinals having performed far better on the road than they have at home this season, and with Steven Jackson to control the ball for the Rams and keep that potent Cardinals offense off the field to some extent, two touchdowns here seems a bit too much to take.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NFL Winners and Losers -- Week 15

Sorry guys but no time on Tuesday for a follow-up post to the Mini FTOPS recap I put up yesterday, nor for a proper treatment of Week 15 of the NFL season. I am trying to bust out about ten different things at work, all of them urgent of course, and I'm also allegedly off for remainder of the year, though I have seen even that freedom slowly disappear over the last few days at my place of business. Oh well, gainful employment is gainful employment in this economy I suppose. But it certainly makes 100,000 words a day on the blog a difficult goal to achieve. So here I have the weekly Winners and Losers report, one day later than my usual.


1. I have got lots of Winners this week, but let's start the list with something near and dear to my heart: The Philadelphia Eagles and DeSean Jackson. After five straight wins, and with the Saints' loss and the Vikings' recent troubles, the Eagles enter the final two games of the 2009 regular season as the hottest team in the NFC and now sit alone atop the NFC East and at 10-4 on the year, with head coach Andy Reid putting together another typical Andy Reid regular season. Reid has managed the incredible feat of winning five NFC Easts in his ten years as the Eagles' head man, with this looking hopefully to be the 6th in 11 years for the City of Brotherly Shove. And with this weekend's two-touchdown beatdown of the 49ers, the Eagles also clinched a playoff spot, their eighth postseason appearance in the last 10 years. And as well as Donovan McNabb has been throwing the ball this year in Philly (3008 yards, 21 touchdowns (2 rushing), and 9 INTs), I don't know when someone is finally going to start at least mentioning 2nd-year wideout DeSean Jackson as a viable MVP candidate for the season. After another 6 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown against the Niners this past Sunday, DeSean's season numbers are now up to 56 catches for 1087 yards and 8 touchdowns receiving, 9 rushes for 134ards and 1 touchdown running, plus 2 more punt returns for touchdowns on the season. 56 catches, over 1200 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns while becoming the first NFL player to score 8 touchdowns of more than 50 yards in a season in a couple of generations. What a season for the second-year pro out of Cal.

2. The Dallas Cowboys. It's hard to believe I'm sitting here typing this out right now, but just one week after blowing their second straight critical December game for the umpteenth season in a row, Dallas came out and shocked the world by besting the undefeated New Orleans Saints 24-17 on the road to do far more than ruin Drew Brees & Co.'s shot at football immortailty. The Cowboys also saved their season in a big way, getting win that nobody expected and leaving themselves in position to nab the NFC's final wildcard spot, where they remain one game ahead of the New York Giants despite the Giants having swept the Cowboys on the season this year. What's more, the Cowboys' big win on Saturday night also ensures that they remain on track to control their own destiny within the NFC East, now knowing that if they win out -- including at Washington this coming weekend and then at home vs. Philly to close out the season -- then the Cowboys will win their second NFC East crown in three years and send the Eagles to the wilcard spot instead with their own season sweep over a key divisional rival.

3. Josh Cribbs and James Harrison of the Cleveland Browns. Boy did these two guys have special games in Sunday's awesome 41-34 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Runningback James Harrison, who had just over 300 yards rushing for the season prior to Week 15, out of nowhere had 34 carries for an incredible 286 yards against the Chiefs' porous defense, scoring three touchdowns and power his team to victory as he broke Jim Brown's single-game franchise record for rushing yards. Harrison's 286-yard outburst ranks him as the #3 individual rushing yardage effort in NFL history, which fits in very nicely with teammate Josh Cribbs, whose two kickoff returns for touchdowns on the day gave him 8 kickoff td returns for his career, which too is an NFL record for the just 26-year-old wideout. Could these guys have saved Eric Mangini's job in Cleveland this weekend? Probably not me thinks, with Mike Holmgren this week accepting the job of running Cleveland's football operation.

4. The San Diego Chargers and Phillip Rivers. When the Chargers drove about 50 yards in 50 seconds to win their 9th straight game against the playoff-bound Bengals this weekend, they did more than win their ninth straight game and move to 11-3 overall on the year. With the win the Chargers also clinched their fourth consecutive AFC West title after the Broncos' shocking loss to the lowly Raiders, and the team all but sowed up a first-round bye and the overall #2 seed in the conference behind the still-undefeated Indianapolis Colts. And despite all the great talent on this Chargers team -- from LaDainian Tomlinson to Darren Sproles to Vincent Jackson to Antonio Gates -- the biggest reason for the team's success this year has got to be 6th-year quarterback Phillip Rivers. In 14 games so far in 2009, Rivers has compiled 3891 yards and 25 touchdowns, with just 9 picks, for an overall qb rating of a very impressive 102.8. As a point of reference, the great Peyton Manning's quarterback rating through 14 games is 101.2. On Sunday, Rivers' 24-for-38 performance for 308 yards, 3 tds and 2 picks was enough as he led his team on a furious last-minute rally down the field to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired and keep the team's winning streak alive, including the Chargers' now 17 straight wins in December when it really counts. I've said it before here and I'll say it again, but the Colts and Chargers seemed destined for yet another great matchup deep in the AFC playoffs this season.

5. The Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens blew out the Bears at home on Sunday afternoon, with both the offense and defense doing their share to make Chicago's life miserable. The Ravens swirling defense caused Bears qb Jay Cutler to throw 3 more picks, causing 6 turnovers overall and playing with sufficient urgency to give the Bears no chance to keep the team from 8-6 and getting it the inside track to the AFC's 6th and final playoff spot. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, meanwhile, busted out with a career-high 4 touchdown passes, leading the offense to amass 24 points off of Bears turnovers in never giving the Bears a chance on either side of the ball. And with five teams just one game begind at 7-7 in the AFC, the Ravens appear to be peaking at just the right time, having won 48-3 over the Lions last week, meaning that the team has now outscored its opponents by a whopping 79-10 over its last two games. Bring on the Steelers this Sunday!

6. Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans. For the third time in the last seven weeks the Titans appear on the Winners list, as Vince Young has led the team back from 0-6 to 7-7 and right in the thick of the logjam one game behind the Ravens and Broncos for the final AFC playoff spot. In Sunday's overtime win against 7-7 Miami, VY threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns, getting into the end zone three times and captaining the team on its last drive in overtime to kick the winning field goal. It's a damn shame that the Titans are still a game out of the AFC wildcard picture right now, but as I've said previousl here, Vince Young and Chris Johnson would likely be the story of the year in the NFL in 2009 if not for one Brett Favre.

7. Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben did a little bit to help his team to a crazy 37-36 victory over the playoff-bound Green Bay Packers on Sunday: try 29 for 46, for 503 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the last-second score to wide receiver Mike Wallace, in the utterly thrilling win. Roethlisberger's 503 passing yards is an all-time franchise record for the Steelers, and Big Ben joins Y.A. Tittle and Warren Moon as the only other NFL quarterbacks in history to throw for at least 500 yards and 3 tds with zero interceptions in an NFL game. The Steelers' win not only ended the Pack's 5-game winning streak and Pittsburgh's 5-game losing streak, but it kept the Steelers alive in the AFC playoff race, with the inside track among the 7-7 teams one game out of the final wildcard spot and a game this coming weekend against the Ravens who currently hold that final wildcard at 8-6.

9. The NFL's Week 16 schedule. Man I don't know how the NFL knows to do this, but just look at all these postseason-bound or at least playoff-hopeful teams faving each other this coming weekend. 11-3 Chargers at 7-7 Titans on Friday night. 8-6 Ravens at 7-7 Steelers on Sunday. 7-7 Texans at 7-7 Dolphins on Sunday. 7-7 Jaguars at 9-5 Cheatriots on Sunday. 7-7 Jets and 14-0 Colts on Sunday. 8-6 Broncos at 10-4 Eagles on Sunday. 9-5 Cowboys at their big rival the 4-10 Redskins on Sunday night. There are just so many big games this coming weekend, there aren't enough tv's in the house to watch them all. Well done, NFL.


1. The Minnesota Vikings. There is so much blame to go around with this team right now that it's hard to pinpoint on just one player or decision, but things appear to be falling apart in a hurry for the team that just a few weeks ago was considered by all to be neck and neck with the Saints and Colts among the NFL's elite teams. Star runningback Adrian Peterson's role has been diminished to almost nothing over the last several games in Minnesota, with AP recording only three 100-yard rushing games this season and only one in his last eight outings, mostly it turns out because Brett Favre has been systematically increasingly audibling the plays called in by head coach Brad Childress, consistently switching up Childress's planned run plays for passing plays more prominently featuring Favre and his arm. Finally, with the Vikings getting beat down on by the 6-8 non-playoff-bound Carolina Panthers this past Sunday night and his Vikings unable to move the ball at all, Childress finally decided to do something to stand up to Favre and informed the all-time qb that he was being "rested" for the remainder of the game in favor of Minnesota backup Tavaris Jackson. Favre's response? "F you, I'm playin'." And so it was done. With the inmates running the asylum as the Vikings have now lost two of their last three games after a 10-1 start, Brett Favre has found a way to once again turn NFL fans all around the world against him and leave us just waiting and hoping to see his pomp and hubris catch up with him as the 2009 regular season comes to a close for the Viking team that Favre, apparently, is the real head coach of. Who knew?

2. The Denver Broncos. What do you even say about a team that had a comfortable 2-game lead in the wildcard race over the rest of the pack and a home game against the lowly Raiders, but then went out and let JaMarcus Russell of all people lead a last-minute drive to score a touchdown to turn the Broncos' 6-point lead into a 1-point loss in the final seconds. I mean, JaMarcus frigging Russell? The Broncos somehow failed to score a touchdown after a 1st and goal from the 2 yard line late in the 4th quarter, leaving room for the Raiders to win the game with a touchdown-scoring drive, and on the day the Broncos' vaunted rushing game could get nothing going as the team was outrushed 241 yards to 80, and the team allowed the Raiders more first downs, more total yards and more time of possession than they coud muster in this crucial game for their post-season hopes, all more unthinkable stats against this Raiders team. Now the Broncos will feel the pressure to win at Philadelphia and/or at home against Kansas City in their final two games or they could suddenly find themselves on the outside looking in to what is very close to becoming a hugely messy AFC wildcard race.

3. The New York Jets. After leading all the way from late in the first quarter until just a few minutes left in the game, and basically dominating on the defensive side of the ball throughout, the Jets let a crucial game to their 2009 playoff hopes slip away when they allowed the Atlanta Falcons to march down the field, eventually giving up the winning touchdown with a minute and a half to go on a 4th-and-goal play when they left all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez wide open on a quick slant in the end zone. The Falcons' 73-yard, game winning touchdown drive from a 7-3 deficit came after the team had managed just 8 first downs and 167 total yards in the entire game prior to the final drive, including an incredible 25 consecutive 3rd downs where the Jets caused their opponents not to convert. After giving up the lead, Jets quarterback Ryan Sanchez then compounded the pain by throwing his third pick of the game with under a minute to go to end his team's chances in preditcably frustrating fashion after an 18-for-32, 226 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interception performance on the day, the fifth time Sanchise has thrown multiple picks in a game already this season, and making his 20th interception overall so far in his rookie year in 2009. And it turns out the Jets really picked a horrible time to step down again in the 4th quarter, as a win would have left them tied with the Ravens and the Broncos at 8-6 in the fight for the AFC's final playoff spot. Instead, the Jets find themselves stuck right in the thick of the 5-team pile-up at 7-7 in the AFC, with at least the Dolphins and Jaguars holding tiebreakers over the Jets due to winning head-to-head against them during the regular season.

TO Watch: 2 catches for 20 yards, and no scores on Sunday. 2009 season stats through 14 games: 47 catches for 725 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not good at all my man.

JaMarcus Russell award: Brady Quinn, who was put on IR this week by the 3-11 Cleveland Browns, somehow won his last two starts despite throwing for less than 100 yards in each. In Sunday's thrilling 41-34 win over the Chiefs, Quinn limped his way to a 10-for-17 performance for 66 yards, 0 tds, 2 interceptions and a 27.7 overall quarterback rating on the day. But is that good enough to win an award named after JaMarcus Russell? Hale no, you guys know what JaMarcus thinks of qb ratings above 20! This week's clear winner has got to be Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears, who added to his NFL-high 25 intercepton total this week in going 10 for 27 for 94 yards, 0 tds and 3 picks in his team's 31-7 blowout by the Ravens. Cutler's final qb rating on the day was a far more JaMarcus Russellian 7.9! Now that's what I'm talking 'bout.

The Mike Tomlin Award: Ever hear of Fancy Play Syndrome in poker? After declining to start this award a few weeks back when Bill Bellicheat very publicly made the wrong decision in going for it on 4th down from his own 30-yard-line late in the 4th quarter in a move that directly cost his team a win against the undefeated Colts, I just can't pass the opportunity up again this week thanks to Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin. With 3:58 to go in the 4th quarter against the Packers on Sunday, and with his Steelers having just kicked a field goal to nab back a 30-28 lead in a crazy game against the Pack, Tomlin inexplicably called for an onsides kick -- yes, with his team having just retaken the lead -- and naturally one of his players touched the ball too early and the Packers took over for a short drive to a go-ahead score with just 2:06 left in the game. From this day forth, when an NFL player or coach engages in Fancy Play Syndrome and outthinks himself into making an idiotic play to hurt his team, it shall be known here as the Mike Tomlin award.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

$30 Rebuy Mini FTOPS -- 27k Score Recap

As I posted the screenshot of on Thursday, I did finish in 3rd place in Event #17 in the Mini FTOPS on full tilt the other night, which was the $30 rebuy nlh tournament, in 6-max format. The 6-max thing was an interesting trend here in this latest Mini FTOPS which just ended, where it seemed like every other event (or more) were suddenly 6-max, which I just don't understand or know the origin of at all. And to be honest, although there was a time a couple of years back when I was really in to 6-max nlh tournaments -- back when I used to focus on the nightly 30k 6-max mtt on full tilt every night, and when I played and cashed in the 6-max nlh tournament in the WSOP as well -- these days I find 6-max tournaments to be a bit of a drag, in that I think it caters more to my tournament game to get a little bit more time to play with some fairly deep stacks. I only registered for the event because I was just sitting down to the pc, it was still in the early parts of the late registration period, and frankly I've been beating up the $30 rebuy nightly on full tilt lately already, including my 5k score for second place in that event a few weeks back that I recapped here, and it seemed like something I would enjoy checking out on a whim on Wednesday night.

I should mention here that the other thing I really loved about the Mini FTOPS is that you could buy in to these badboys direct with FPPs. I must have had 30 billion FPPs stored up in my account last week, as I've been playing with some regularity on full tilt for more than four years now and yet have never even considered spending any of them on any of the little overpriced prizes in the full tilt FPP store. So in the three other events of the Mini FTOPS I played in this time around, I bought in straight for FPP points. 8000 FPPs here, 12,000 FPPs there, I barely notice the difference in my FPP account, and I certainly don't care about it, but I do get to spend my FPPs finally on something worthwhile, where the plan is if possible to turn these free buyins into actual cash money.

So anyways as I said, I registered a little late for this tournament, and as I sat down I noticed that there was one other regular stack (1500 chips), two double stacks of around 3000 and one quad stack of a little over 6000, so I immediately rebought to get my start at 3k in chips and be able to make a solid double with a little luck early in this thing. The immediate rebuy -- pretty much always the best bet of the night in any rebuy tournament as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, I lost my first buyin within the first few hands when my KQ on a King-high flop got allin to a guy holding pocket Tens, who natchy rivered a Ten to nearly felt me just minutes in to the tournament. Now that's just typical rebuy-hour bullshit, and the way I see it, I came to play in a tournament this large and so, especially with the ability to buy in direct for FPPs, I wanted to give it another crack. So I double-rebought in for another 8800 total FPPs, but unfortunately a short while later I was half-stacked again when my KK lost to a jackmonkey with A2o when he -- of course -- rivered an Ace after calling a couple of bets from me with nothing but Ace-high. Less typical, but still the kind of crap that goes on all the time during monkey hour. The rest of my second stack was gone maybe 10 minutes later when I got mostly allin with T9 on a KT9 flop but ended up getting -- you guessed it -- rivered by a queen to give a straight to the idiot who called a big flop bet with JT on that flop. In a split second I made the decision to buy in one more time and that's it -- a double-buyin of course, as my table suddenly had about 30k in chips around it to throw around and still another 15 minutes or so of rebuy hour.

Finally in the last 5 minutes or so of monkey hour I was finally able to make a move, as people typically tend to start pushing with crap if they have not amassed big stacks in an attempt to either make a move in the final few minutes of rebuy time or bust out trying. First I called an allin reraise from the guy to my left with the funny Asian name, and when my A4o held up against his K9 (even through the river, somehow), I was informed via pop-up window that I had just busted my 6th lifetime full tilt pro from a pro bounty tournament, this time a guy named Yongsuk Chang. $30 back into my full tilt account, so I'm only in for five buyins at this point, and then just two hands later a late position guy with just 3000 chips (average was over 6k at this point with rebuy hour just about to end) open-raised allin from late position, I found KQo in the big blind and decided to go for the double to get me at least around average heading into the rest of the tournament. The guy luckily turned up a dominated QJs, and just a minute later we broke, I took the add-on (so back in to the tournament for six buyins in total) and I entered Hour 2 right around average in chips of just over 6000:

Hour 2 started off relatively uneventful, with my only big pot being one where I called a preflop steal-reraise from a short stack and my A7s, was up against 99 and failed to connect, knocking me back down to around 4200 chips at the time and a good three-quarters of the way down the leaderboard with about half an hour to go in Hour 2. Near the end of the second hour I did manage to win a decent pot with AK on a King-high board and then with QQ on a Queen-high board, but both times I failed to get a call of my large bet on the river and found myself back around 6k in chips after I got rivered again a short while later by a naked flush draw donkey with ATs against my AK on the Ace-high flop. I chipped up a bit in the final hands of Hour 2, and I went into the break with just over 7k in chips, good for about two-thirds of the way down among the 1700+ runners still alive in the event:

I got my first real big hand of the tournament early in Hour 3, when I moved AJo allin preflop against a suspected stealer on a shortish stack, but then disappointingly I also got called allin by a third player whom I did not expect to stay in the hand. Turns out my JackAce was against Q8 and TT, and a Jack on the turn gave me more than a double to over 16k in chips, suddenly about 5k above average and good for around 350th place out of 1500 runners. At this point with the deep stacks afforded by such a large field in a rebuy event, I was for the first time in this event really able to start making the kind of moves I want to be able to make in mtt's, things like restealing on the flop, float-calling on the flop and then stealing the pot on the turn with a good-sized bet that is backed up by many big blinds worth of chips behind, etc., and with that I was able to slowly chip up to around 20k in chips, which was important because bad beat #5 against me was lurking right around the corner:

Obviously I'm calling this. And:

Not to blow this hand up into anything bigger than it was, but suffice it to say I do not believe I have ever been bad beat as much in any one tournament as I was in MFTOPS #17. Given how significant the pots during the latter half of my 11-hour run in this tournament eventually proved to be, I opted not to show screenshots of every single early bad beat I took, most of which I merely mentioned above. But they all took their toll, especially when experienced en masse all in one giant long sitting. Hands like this were so commonplace in this thing, the only saving grace I can come up with is that at least I managed to have a big enough stack to withstand each and every one over 11 hours worth, enough to make a nice big cash in the end at least, although bad beats would be a significant detractor on my total cash winnings in this thing before all was said and done. For now I was back at 15k, at this point right around average, and commenced trying to build a stack once again.

I got myself up over 20k with this river bluff-raise:

Hard to say why I did what I did here (both opponents folded), other than the generic sensing of weakness. With two guys in the pot, one of them raised preflop while the other just called, and then there was a bet and one of them called on the flop as well. In 6-max in particular, preflop raisers seem to get in there more often with Ax than wth pairs since the structure requires you to be so much more aggressive, and with all the calling going on in the hand, it just seemed like neither of these guys had hands they wanted to go to the felt with, and I sensed an opportunity to force some folds with my push with fourth pair. This time it worked. And then, just minutes before the third break, I got my first double-up with a big stack, against a guy who had been getting pissy with me in the chat after all my aggression no less, when I floated the guy on the flop, he failed to bet the turn with his top pair, and I ended up making runner-runner trips on the river with my lowly Q4o. The guy had been being such a dick to me in the chat, claiming I was on tilt after taking multiple bad beats right in front of him, so when the second Queen hit the river I opted for the major overbet, hoping if nothing else that this guy would be getting tired of me pushing allin so big on the river:

It worked. He had KJ, he couldn't fold, and not only had I doubled up again, but I had my first of what would prove to be many, many eliminations on the night who would be following me around all night berating me for my "bad play". Yeah. I was the one who made the bad play here by instacalling for 50 big blinds with top pair third kicker on a board with two Queens, three cards Ten or above, and three hearts. Yeah. With 36,243 chips at the third break, I was up to 100th of 873 remaining:

Got my first pocket Aces of the tournament about halfway through Hour 4, and although I won a decent amount of chips with it, it was only about half as much as it could have been:

The guy with the TT who we eliminated on this hand became the second guy who followed me around for the entire rest of the tournament insulting me in the chat. Because again, yes, it was my bad play I guess that led to his elimination. Next time I'll have to remember to fold those pocket Aces to action before the flop. Splitting the donk's stack lifted me up to over 40k in chips for the first time, and to the top 50 spots on the board with still just under 800 runners left.

Here's me getting coolered bigtime again a short while later in Hour 4, as I rivered the nut flush against one of these FTOPS gold jersey donks who are almost invariably the worst players at any table they are seated at:

I overbet-reverse-hoyed the guy, he called and, of course, that river card totally effed me:

Notice again, another guy calling me stupid in the chatbox. Good times. Meanwhile, I lost another 11k later in the hour when I called an allin with my AK, the guy flipped up JTo, and the Jack-high board once again cost me a shot to take a favored hand into the top 40 or so remaining stacks. Par for the course with all the other bad beats I took in this thing over the entire 11 hours of play, but my frustration level just kept rising and rising. I mean, even for me, this amount of bad beats was getting to be completely out of hand. So, back under 20k in chips again, I once had again to resume building a stack after surviving another sick setup and another dumb bad beat, but again I should point out as I have so many times in the past here on the blog that I was lucky to have as many chips as I had such that I would be able to survive the inevitable bad beats. Quite the number of beats I took in this was not really necessary, but to some degree they are always going to be inevitable and sometimes you just need to have enough chips to live through it.

Two-thirds of my dwindling stack disappeared on this hand just before the end of Hour 4, after the small blind called my preflop raise with my A7s, but I didn't put him on an Ace from the moment he had made the call. So when the flop came Ace-high, I bet, he just called. On the turn we both checked, which further fueled my thought that my pair of Aces was ahead in the hand, so when he bet out 8k on the river, I ended up calling with top pair thinking that I was best, and getting better than 2 to 1 on the call anyways even if I was beat. I was very wrong:

And with under 10k in chips, my run in the $30 rebuy Mini FTOPS event was suddenly in danger of ending early, well short of the money even, under the weight of too many coolers and, finally, one bad mistake on my part. Such is the way with no-limit holdem -- you play great for 6 hours, you make one mistake, and you're done just like that. Shortly after, I pushed allin preflop with QJo, not called. Allin with ATs on an Ace-high flop, not called. Allin preflop with the hammer, not called (shown). Allin with K5s preflop, not called. And then just before the fourth break I got back into the picture in the Mini FTOPS when I raised UTG with KJs, fully intending once again to get it allin but not wanting to push at that point since I had improved my stack 50% over the past few minutes. The big stack to my immediate left called my raise, and we saw this awesome flop:

In this spot, I knew I needed to achieve maximum extraction given my depressed chip position; this was double up for me or it was a total waste of a large flop. Having been the preflop raiser, I definitely wanted to c-bet here, so I threw in 3k into the 4875-chip pot, and the big stack smooth called (perfect!). Knowing I needed to double up here to get back into the race, I had to go for the bet-the-flop-then-check-the-turn move, hoping my opponent had something strong and would bet out here on the expectation that I was giving up after my turn check:

As soon as the big stack bet out as small as he did (3600 into roughly 10k in the pot), I knew he was strong and I was just hoping he didn't somehow flop the Ace-high flush, which would be so me. I repopped for my last 7k in chips, and the big stack had to call, and he showed this:

Goodbye, pocket Aces who only called my UTG preflop raise, and hello again to 31k in chips! Few hands later I added another 8k when the guy across the table called me down preflop and after the Ace-high flop with A2 despite my UTG preflop raise:

This, from the same guy calling me an idiot in the chat earlier. Good times, like I said previously. In any event, at the fourth break I was back alive, just under the 41k average chipstack and in 186th of 421 remaining.

Eight minutes into Hour 5, I had my new biggest hand of the tournament. I open-raised from middle position with AQs, and the big blind reraised me about 2.5x my bet, so I called. I don't love calling preflop reraises with AQ of course as anyone who reads here regularly knows, but in 6-max play again it becomes a more viable move due to the faster nature of the game, and with the hand being sooted it's something I would call with in most full ring games as well given the flush possibilities. The flop came with two of my suit, so I called my opponent's c-bet, and then the turn completed my nut flush. When my opponent checked the turn, I led out and he called my bet. Then on the river he pushed allin for his final 20k or so in chips, pushing right into my nuts. Turns out this time the river had coolered him just like the hand earlier when the river made my nut flush into my opponent's full house:

Now I had over 66k in chips and was up to the 60s out of just over 400 remaining. Back having a nice big stack again, I was immediately able to start aggressively chipping up, open-raising any Ace, any two face cards or really any two connected cards as well like 98o, QJo, etc. I even started doing some absolutely ridiculous things like floating two preflop raisers on the flop with the intention of stealing a bit pot later in the hand:

This is the only time in the tournament I did something this reckless, but these two guys had been playing and raising with shit at this table, and they had been talking smack about my play in the chatbox as well, so I figured I would take a shot with enough chips to hopefully hurt at least one of them. When none of these guys bet out on the Ace-high flop that also had a possible high straight draw and a flush draw, I figured these dickheads would definitely have led out with an Ace and at least one must have been on some kind of a draw. So, after the turn ragged out, I decided to follow through with my plan all along in the hand with a bet that looked like a guy holding a solid Ace:

And both guys folded, I'm sure with their anger increasing with every second:

I should note for the record that, in retrospect, my preflop call with this hand was pretty much the worst poker play I ever make, and it's really not something I would do again if given the chance. I can't explain it other than just that sometimes when I get a big stack and start to take over a table in nlh tournaments, I find it useful to figure out exactly where I'm at at the table, and just how far I can go and keep getting respect on my action. In any event, this hand put me over 80k and in even better position to make moves with now back up to 80 big blinds, in 45th place of 375 remaining. I called raises with 87o (had to fold the flop), A4s (won with a bet on the flop), and then of course I restole with this:

And I did my duty and showed as well as always:

I got up over 90k when I called a shorty's button push with QTs, he showed 86s and miraculously my QT held. I lost a race to another shorty, another guy who had been responding to the dickheads following me around in the chat after I had eliminated them earlier in the tournament for about 15k chips, so then two hands later I open-raised with the hammer again, took it down, and showed:

As an aside, I was into the final 80 runners in the 5050 on this same night at the same time. Wanna see how I got eliminated there right now?

How do I lose this? He's got just 4 outs twice, plus I have eight other redraw outs. I'm going to be top 3 in the 5050 at the same time as this Mini FTOPS run.

Or not. So, so sick. But such is the life of the mtt grinder. Ghey as it is.

So, back to the $30 rebuy Mini FTOPS. Just one minute after that sick, stoopid elimination from the 5050, I got involved in a blind vs blind confrontation when I called this smallish raise with third pair and no reason to believe I would be behind if I improved my hand:

I did improve on the turn, and of course I checked to the guy who had raised already on the flop, and when he bet out again I moved right in:

Turns out he had flopped two pairs with Q3, and he called for the rest of his stack, which would bring me over 100k for the first time on the night.

Or not, thank you river:

It's enough to make you cry, really. I mean, how many times can I lose to a 4-outer in one night? Sadly, that wasn't even close to the last time on the day. And there I was right back down to 43k. The chatbox lit up at this point with people speaking about four different languages, all laughing and enjoying that some guy hit a 12-to-1 shot against me. Classy.

Oh, and the very next hand?

quickly turns into this:

I'm really not sure why I didn't just pack it in, push allin blind repeatedly until I busted, and just go to sleep at this point. I'm really not. Here we were not even five hours in to what was sure to be a very long tournament, and I've already been bad beat about as many times as I ever get bad beat in an entire night. And all these asshats on the rail can do is talk about how lucky I keep getting? I guess that's why I was still alive in this thing while they were on the rail with the about 100 other people I had eliminated from this tournament already on the night. But to say that my frustration level was rising would be a major understatement. Those of you who've had the pleasure of girly chatting with me during a typical night of play -- which involves probably 5 or 6 bad beats on average spread over a few hours -- can imagine what my temperament was like after yet another bad beat, this one back to back with the last. 90k down to 33k in the span of about 2 minutes, against guys who I played circles around and didn't even know how far behind they were when they tried to gift me their chips. Playing mtt's regularly is just so sick for the psyche, take it from me. You have to be insane to really do this to yourself for any prolonged period of time.

I guess these guys convinced themselves through the chatbox that I was on some massive tilt, because it couldn't have been five more minutes before the assidiot to my left -- the guy who first four-outered me on the river with his lower two pairs vs my higher two pairs -- reraised me allin on this flop in a spot where I had to call my last 16k to win 50k. With top pair and a short stack after fifty billion suckouts against me, it was an absolute no-brainer call:

Yet another gift, and I was back over 66k in chips, with a fair amount of breathing room of about 35 big blinds, good for 86th place of 277 remaining. Although it felt like I had won about 500,000 chips already in this thing, I was still somehow in the top third of players after the idiot with the Q5 middle pair let me right back in this thing.

Few minutes later, obviously I called this:

I was up against pocket Jacks, and natch I could not pull it out either:

Back down to 56k as I just could not get a damn thing going in this thing. One minute before the fifth break, I once again felt compelled to call this against a confirmed aggromonkey on a perpetually short stack who had himself already sucked out on me once:

Donk! No part of the flush at all.

Ahhh, but this is against me, so no matter:

I mean can you believe this shit?!! Again back down to 54k instead of over 100k. Same ahole who 4-outered me once 8-outers me again here, plus fading my four redraw outs. I shoulda quit back four suckouts ago when it first occurred to me. The fifth break came, and I was in poor position yet again despite having won at least 750k in chips if things broke how they should:

After no playable hands for the first 20 minutes or so of Hour 6, I made a frustration play and finally got to experience the rush of sucking out on someone else, one of the uber dickheads who had been dirty chatting at me for over an hour at this table:

My god was that so effing sweet. I only wish I coulda called instead of raised allin, and done so on the turn instead of the flop, and then beat his ass. Gee, I wonder if I had this coming in this thing or what? Bastages. Anyways, finally I was over 100 grand, well over in fact up at 143k, and for the first time in hours I was back over 50 big blinds in my stack and with a litle bit of room to move. Up to 36th of 172 remaining.

I made another 15k in chips when I flopped trips with 62 on a 66x board, turning quads before failing to get a value call on the river. But I quickly undid that, buying a little advertising when I allowed myself to get called down on the river with the hammer after having bet on the flop already:

This only added to the general theme at the table that I was some kind of tiltmonkey, luckbox fishdonk. Which was of course a-ok with me. Especially when that same guy called my river bet puting him all in here about 15 minutes later:

The chat from the idiot I sucked out on up in that shot there probably didn't hurt either.

Bloom. Elimination number 5000 on the day. And I was at my tournament high, getting right up near 200k in chips for the first time, and into the top 20 with 144 guys left in the tournament. I quickly lost 40k in chips in a blind vs blind confrontation again with the guy to my right who had sucked out on me twice already when my A8s was no match for his AKo allin preflop, natchy. But when you catch a guy holding nothing but his cock in his hand basically eight other times in one night already, how can you possibly put him on a strong hand that ninth time, right? So frustrating. At least it made this one feel all the better, my second pocket Aces over 6 hours of play:

Which not only got me back up to 200k but also eliminated one of the worst, dirtiest chatting, generally biggest ahole players I met with during the night. And there were plenty to choose from, believe you me. And FrankTaylor3 would become the latest in a long line of eliminations for me who would follow my ass around until the wee hours of the morning just to smack talk me and my play as much as possible. I mean this f-up literally stayed up until at least 6am just to tell everyone else at my table late in this tournament how bad and lucky of a player I was. Till at least 6am!! Sure, I stayed home from work the next day. But I won 27 grand. What's this guy's excuse? I watched some guy win 27 grand and told about 15 other people how bad of a player he was all along the way? Wow.

Anyways, so I was back over 200k, and then right around the end of Hour 6, I jumped up over 300k in one sweet hand, where I had 85s in the small blind, a hand I was thrilled to get to play multiway when four players limped to me and I could complete for just 1700 more into a 17,700-chip pot. Mmmmmmmm. A no-limit player's dream. The flop came down Q97 with two of my suit (hearts), giving me a flush draw plus an inside straight draw to boot, for conceivably 12 outs into a very deep-stacked 5-way nlh pot. So I checked it with the four guys ahead of me and was surprised to see everyone check around on that flop. And then came the beautiful turn card:

As you can see I put in a standard turn bet of around 2/3 the size of the pot with my second nut straight plus redraw to the flush as well. I wasn't exactly sure what I was hoping for here, and frankly I wasn't sure what my opponents were on given the limited information I'd received so far, but I knew I was calling when I got this in response:

But it turns out I was in a bit of jeopardy here after all, as my opponent held J♥T♥. Amazingly I managed to dodge what, 13 outs once, between his higher straight and higher flush possibilities when the river came another 7, and after one more nice pot on a raise from me with K9 on a King-high flop, I headed into Hour 7 in 11th place of 82 left:

I treaded water right around the 400k level for the first half of Hour 7, blinding and anteing away (we were at 2500/5000 with a 600 ante halfway through the 7th hour) but then stealing enough preflop when the pot had not been opened in front of me to more or less recover those costs of playing the game at that point in the tournament. One such hand was J9s, another hand I love to play (as multiway as possible) in no-limit games, and when I raised it here on another typical steal play:

the big stack in the small blind reraised my 15k raise up to 45k. If I'm not suited and it's only heads-up I am likely to fold this hand in many situations, but with the hand being suited and the other guy being so, so deep, in no-limit I figured this is the kind of hand that I had to pay the price with and hopefully get lucky. And get lucky I did:

After first checking to make sure I hadn't accidentally fired up my pokerstars client instead of full tilt, I watched my opponent, who remember had reraised me preflop, lead out for 61k, less than two-thirds of the pot, and when I see a bet less than 2/3 the pot without a good reason for it, a little bell goes off in my head. So let's see, the guy reraised me preflop, and then he thought for a while and let his timer tick down to half before leading out for less than two-thirds of the pot on the flop. He's got a big pair. And I just flopped the nuts on him. And he's one of the few guys in the tournament right now who still have bigger stacks than I already do. Immediately it is obvious to me that this could be the biggest hand of the entire tournament for me if I can play it right. I considered how to get this guy's entire massive stack if he's sitting on pocket Aces. I figured if he's good -- and he's made it this far in a donkeyrific mass-marketed $30 rebuy tournament that had 3500 players and over 10,000 total buyins, so he could at least be reasonably good -- but if he's good, he might fold if I push in here. If he's good, this guy's gonna want to be pushing allin big with his Aces, rather than be put to the test for most of his stack and have to call off with his pocket pair. So you know what I did?

Yeah. I minraised, something I just about never do. But in this particular case, as strong as the minraise might make me look, I've got this guy on Aces and now, with this bet, I've put him into a situation where he can reraise me allin and expect to have significant fold equity with me still having 130k or so remaining after my minraise. I figured this was my best chance of getting this guy to get trigger-happy with his pocket Aces and see a chance to win a large pot where he is probably ahead, as opposed to if I push allin on him where he might (correctly) reason he is behind or at least where I am drawing very rich.

It worked:

My read was dead-on, and I held:

to win a massive, 850,000 chip pot, and just like that, I was the chipleader with 59 runners remaining, 7 1/2 hours in to the Mini FTOPS $30 rebuy:

For anyone interested in my stats through this point to make it from starting with 1500 chips to 850,000 and the chip lead, here they are as of that moment:

20% of flops, a little bit light for my preference in a 6-max event but acceptable I suppose. And especially impressive here is my showdown percentage being all the way back up to 47%. Believe me, when you take 9 bad beats or whatever it was over 222 hands, being anywhere near 50% in showdowns in a no-limit holdem tournament is to me the best stat on that board.

I picked up another 80k in chips when I busted the guy across the way from me who had gifted me such a huge stack with his pocket Kings, when my KQs bested his JJ which he moved his short stack allin with on a Queen-high flop. The rest of Hour 7 was pretty uneventful for me until the end of the hour when I called a preflop raise with pocket Tens and flopped a vulnerable-looking set on a KT9 flop with two clubs. I led out for the full pot, wanting pretty hard to take this one down right there rather than let some random club, Queen or Jack draw cheap to some dirty shit, and this time I was the victim of the dreaded minraise instead of the perpetrator. I thought it over for several seconds, and I figured I was probably currently head, facing some kind of draw to beat me, but that I probably held redraw outs to a winning boat. Thus, while I would not want to call allin from the chiplead position when I know I could just fold and still be 1st of 40-some players remaining, in this case I figured I was currently the favorite, and that I could obtain some significant fold equity given my opponent's large stack with a push. So that's what I did. The guy sat and sat. His timer ran down, and he requested extra time, which started at around 60 seconds. He let it get all the way down to 11:

before making what I can only assume was a big fold. Some kind of a shitdraw, or a pair-and-a-shitdraw or something similar. And just like that I was over a million in chips, the first guy to reach that point in this tournament:

At the 7th break I was still just over a mil, at the time in 2nd place with 41 guys left. We were slowly but surely getting down to the big time here, although in 6-max remember 41 players means almost 7 full tables still left. Given what I'd been through between the hours of 9pm and now 4am, to still be alive at all let alone to have such a large stack is more than I could ever hope for. I still can't believe I was still alive after all the suckouts, I really can't. And over the past hour as well, several more dickhead railbirds had come out of the woodwork to hate on me, including at least two guys I had eliminated from tournaments earlier in the week by severely outplaying their asses. I am still amazed how many people will follow someone around for hours, even days just because of one poker play, no matter what it was, how good, bad, lucky, unlucky, whatever. I can honestly say I don't think I've done this other than maybe one time when I wanted to see what it was like, and it very quickly became apparent that it did not make me feel cool at all to do so. Ahh well, the more the merrier I suppose, especially when I'm well on my way to my biggest-ever online score in front of all of them. and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it.

With this huge stack and now with comfortably more than 100 big blinds, I was determined to play as aggressively as possible, and I stole a great many pots through Hour 8 as I fought to stay ahead of the 4000/8000 blinds and 1000 antes per hand. I think my favorite moment of haterism might have been this one (I literally have hundreds of screenshots of the highlarious stuff that was said to me), when I switched up tables and found myself salivating at seeing not just one but two gold jersey FTOPS winners at my table. As anybody who plays regularly in the larger tournaments on full tilt knows, almost without exception the gold jersey wearers are the worst pieces of shit tournament poker players on the entire site. Two gold jerseys felt like two golden spewmonkeys to me, and as I'm just digesting what I'm seeing having just appeared at this table like 5 seconds earlier, this pops up in the chat:

Just two more of my loving fans. Blizzuff I had busted from two tournaments earlier in the week, and McLovin had been one of my early victims in this tournament several hours earlier. Oh, and I liked this one a lot too:

He's referring to Jamie Gold there, having just said that I play like him and then I, ever the egger-onner, told him Jamie Gold was my hero. These guys literally made this run for me at least 2 or 3 times more enjoyable and interesting than it would have been otherwise.

In any event, most of Hour 8 was more of the same, me playing highly aggressive poker and bullying the tar out of guys with medium stacks who were focusing on trying to get closer to the big big money at the final table and did not want to mess with my open-raises and resteals preflop and my consistent flop and turn bets representing strength. Near the end of the hour, I reraised the small blind before the flop from my big blind with AKo, and he pushed allin on me in response in a move that is more common than you would think when I have the stack to be that guy at the table making it impossible for anyone else to get any traction because I'm just betting and raising so much that eventually people just want to lash out in response:

This guy picked the wrong time, as my own image is the thing that made me so unsure that he had Aces or Kings, or even any pocket pair at all for that matter. I had to call, and I was very pleased with what I saw:

But then the turn card had something to say about that:

and just like that, with yet another bad beat, I was back down to 800k in chips instead of 1.5 million and a commanding chip lead once again with just over 20 players left. In fact it slid me all the way down to 11 out of 22 remaining. So sick. I had a couple of nice pots in the balance of Hour 8, but I could not do enough this hour with my medium stack to stay ahead of the ever-advancing blinds -- which is much easier to do with a huge stack of course -- and I headed into Hour 9 in 12th of 19 left with about 2/3 of the average stack:

You get bad beat enough in these tournaments, and it becomes extremely difficult not to be affected in a meaningful way by them. Here my entire style of play was taken away from me, a style that was helping me to accumulate chips by leaps and bounds while I was just able to stay ahead when I got the money in comfortably ahead. I took a walk around the house, hit a home run derby on the Wii and came back for Hour 9 refreshed if not frustrated as hell at not just being able to follow through with my favored hands, basically all throughout this event.

Hour 9 did not start off well for me. My 680,000 chips quickly slipped below 500k, as anyone out there who knows me knows that I am never, even playing just to survive, never playing to make the next payout level, and really even never playing to make the final table. I want to win, and thus I came out firing in Hour 9, hoping to build back my stack like I had after so many other bad beats I had taken already in this tournament. Unfortunately, those attempts failed and as I mentioned I quickly slid down to 16th of 18 left and looking in poor shape to make even the final table:

From here it was just about stealing, stealing and stealing as much as I possibly could, trying not to get allin against a dominating hand but otherwise willing to go to the felt and take a shot with two undercards if the situation made sense given the shitty stack I was left with after the decimation of yet another bad beat. Finally, mercifully, after several steals and several folds by me to reraises after I had raised already to try to pilfer the blinds, I doubled through a guy who made yet another horrible call of this allin bet from me on the flop:

He called with pocket 8s, and somehow my 9s held to get me back up to 1.1 million and into 8th place of 15 remaining players. Then about half an hour later, my whole tournament changed when I reraised a preflop stealer with my big slick:

He pushed in response, and I felt I had no choice but to call:

He showed pocket Jacks, not a hand I would have folded in his spot, and check out that lovely board:

Ooooooooh. 2.2 million chips, with the turn of an Ace. On the turn. Sweeeeet. This was good for second place of 13 left in the tournament:

Sitting in 2nd place with just 13 left and in position to win a shitload of money, it was time to switch back into a bit more conservative mode, so I spent most of the rest of Hour 9 -- this being from roughly 5am to 6am my time -- sitting back and watching others slowly bust, stealing just enough pots to maintain my position at the top of the leaderboard as we inched closer to the final two 6-max tables, where the payouts would be a minimum of over $3000:

I had a massive suckout here, my second of the entire tournament, when I reraised a guy allin with pocket Tens, and he called with pocket Jacks for about half of my nice big stack. The turn card brought my salvation though in a big way:

and suddenly with just a few minutes to go in Hour 9, I was once again the chip leader, now with just nine players remaining:

Needless to say, the rail exploded afresh there with my second suckout of the 10-hour tournament. You woulda thought I sucked out 310 times though with the way all the haters were talking. It's comical, really. But I just laughed it off, not really engaging the monkeys like I had been a few hours previously, but not letting it get to me or anything at all either. I stayed above 3 million in chips while a few more people busted, dropping me down to 3rd of 8 players left, just two from the elusive final table, but still very close to the chip lead, where I remained as the ninth break came and went, with play resuming at 6am my time. Work on Thursday was quickly becoming a pipe dream I knew, but with 64k on the line and me so close at this point, some things are just more important, right?

Early in Hour Ten, I lost a race with 44 to try to bust a guy in 8th place, again much to the delight of the rail, dropping me to around 2.5M and 4th place of 8 remaining. Later in the hour, I open-raised preflop with A3o and had to lay down to a reraise, and then still later I called a 3-way preflop raise with JTo, tried to take a stab on the turn but had to lay down when my opponent led out big after the Ace on the river. Before I knew it, I wasn't in such good shape anymore on the leaderboard or for making the final table:

But then I won another key race here a short while later:


Which not only kept me alive but gave me back the chip lead as well, now just one spot away from the final table:

The final table bubble took forever, as usual in these things. People played tight as hell of course, and the full tilt rng always seems to be ready and willing to serve up rediculousness as needed to keep things interesting, as the short stack on the other table sucked out when dominated three separate times as we played hand for hand. And then, mericfully, the bubble burst when, predictably, QQ took on AK at the other table and this time the overcards won:

And here we were at the final table, just a few minutes before 7am my time in a tournament I had started at 9pm the night before:

And remember, this was a big-ass tournament after 10,000+ buyins at $30 apiece, and each member of the final table was already looking at at least five figures in payout:

I took over the final table chiplead when I called down this aggromonkey twice including on the river:

and then I busted the 6th place guy when I called his allin push on the Queen-high flop with my KQo, besting his AK:

And we were down to five. With me well out in front with over 7M in chips. All of us guaranteed at least 15k in cold, hard cash. The tenth break came and went, still with 5 of us in there, and play resumed with me knowing for sure I would not be working in my office on Thursday, having just watched the sun come up out my family room window while I still sat in front of the computer screen.

A short while into Hour Eleven I faced this situation:

and given how aggro this table was, there was no way I was folding here. I got heads-up against the allin guy, he showed AQ, and I held to eliminate #5 as well:

And then there were four, with me once again comfortably in the lead at over 7.5M in chips. And a short while later, the shorty across the table pushed allin preflop for 500k into my pocket 7s, I called and finally won the race to score a big elimination:

So we're down to three remaining, me with 9.8M in chips, the guy to my left with 5.6M, and the short stack across the way sitting on 1.8M. After not too long I raised with AJs preflop and the short stack pushed allin for only another 3x my bet, which I begrudgingly called with AJs three-handed. I was unfortunately up against AKs, and I could not hit to stop the shorty from doubling through me up to around 3.5M in chips, although I still maintained a slight chip lead over 2nd place. At this point I proposed that we deal, and eventually the other two guys agreed to work on a deal, so we activated full tilt's new final table dealmaking software. I was willing to go straight ICM for the split, proposing this deal:

which would have paid me 47k (first prize was slated to be 64k) and left $5100 for the three of us to play for. The shortest stack quickly accepted the deal, but after sitting for maybe a minute waiting for the other guy to accept, I grew impatient and decided to just play it out. Just like when I was in Vegas at the Venetian Deep Stack final table this summer, I am always in favor of a chop when luck has become a huge factor and we're down to the real big money, but I am most definitely not in favor of sitting around trying to convince someone to deal. Not when I think I'm the best poker player at the table regardless. So I clicked on "Reject Deal" and we resumed play.

We played aggressive, three-handed final table poker for a good long while, before finally I reraised the 2nd-place stack with top pair, and I found myself reraised allin in a spot where I just didn't feel like I could fold for another 1.2M into an 8.7M pot:

And here it is:

I'm ahead, and if I win this hand, I shoot up to over 12M in chips to 3.5M for my heads-up opponent. The $64,000 first prize in this thing is very close to within my grasp. My opponent had twelve outs twice, but we're already after the flop here, and I'm roughly what, a 55-45 favorite to take over a totally commanding chip position for a big big payout. The turn was an offsuit 6, giving my opponent a couple more outs in matching his kicker, but then the river took the breath right out of my lungs in a big way:

It's just so wrong. Now I was back down to a distant third of 3 left. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. I fought back to over 5M in chips with a couple of nice aggressive moves and a couple of top pair flops, still well behind the chip leader but in ok position. That dwindled under 5M after a few folds to raises and reraises, and then I raised preflop from the small blind with KJo, the big stack called, and then I led out on an AA7 flop, thinking for sure with two Aces on the flop there was no reason to believe the guy actually had a third Ace in his hand. He smooth called, which concerned me a little, but I was getting more the medium pocket pair vibe than the Ace vibe. When a Queen hit the turn, I decided to test my medium pocket pair hypothesis and led out, which my opponent just called. Also not a good sign, but him just calling once again left me believing that he could be sitting on a hand like 88 or 99 or something similar. That's just what my gut was telling me. When the river King gave me second pair and paired my top card, that improved me enough that I decided to go for the gusto and put this guy to the ultimate test, representing some serious strength with a third bet after the flop in this hand, and a large one at that:

And, well, let's just say that it's never good when you try to represent the hand that your opponent actually has:

What can you do. I went with my read, my reads that had led me to this 27k payout, far and away my largest ever online score, and this time it failed me as my opponent had the amazing fortune of flopping a full house and of me improving significantly and surprisingly on the river. Sure I would love to have that hand back, but shit if we're playing the time machine game, how about I get back the hand that would have eliminated this guy when I was more than a racing favorite to get myself into extremely good position for heads-up play and a run at the 64k first prize.

Here was the final payout screen:

And the final leaderboard, or as final as I cared to stay up for:

In all, it was an amazing run, one that ended disappointingly and which was absolutely replete with bad beats as most any 11-hour tournament is, especially a donkey rebuy with nearly 3500 entrants and over 7500 rebuys and addons. Not that I'm complaining about the 27 grand. But as is always the case with these things, the sad truth is that I've spent as much time since then thinking about the 40 grand I didn't win in this thing than the 27 grand I did.

Maybe I'll have some more on this later in the week. I usually write some good stuff after big tournament runs, especially after the process of reviewing all the big hands Gus Hansen style in a recap post like this. Hope it's been enjoyable or helpful to some.

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