August 2006
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Played like a demon

I played like a bleeding demon tonight, and look where it got me. Up to 12k chips (three times starting stack) by the first break, finding plenty of opportunities to gather small pots and maintain. And then this happens. With blinds at 300/600 and a 50 ante I’m dealth JTo in the small blind. There’s one limper and I complete the bet. Big blind checked. The flop comes down a fantastic 89Q with two hearts. I have the Th so I have the nut straight and I know nobody else can have a straight with a flush redraw. I check and the BB kindly bets 1400. The other player raises to 4000 and so I move in.

The big blind calls in a flash, but the other player goes into the tank for a while and eventually folds and shows his top pair, top kicker AQ. The big blind shows J9 hearts for middle pair, an inside straight draw and the second best flush draw. He had about 5000 left so the pot was so juicy he had to call. The Kh fell on the river and I was crippled.

Later I agonise over whether calling here is better, but either calling two raises or putting in a third raise screams “monster” and I probably won’t get any more action from the other player, plus if a heart comes on the turn or the board pairs, do I back off now? I don’t think there’s any reason to get tricky here, I made sure I got my chips in with the best of it and there was plenty of money to pick up even if I don’t get any action. I was at least a 2:1 favourite against any hand to not go broke at least (a hand with a J or T will split the pot about 10% of the time.).

So left with only 5000, the blinds jumped up to 400/800/75 and I had to move all in with any two cards when it was folded to me in the cutoff. 5h6h was plenty good enough, but not against JJ. The flop couldn’t have been any kinder, bringing two hearts and a 6 so it’s essentially 50/50 at this point. I reminded myself to get it quietly when one of my 14 cards came, but it never did and I was out just before 11pm. Which is a crap time to go out of any tournament because it was too late to run up the strip to Caesars or down to Sahara for their late night efforts.

This was so frustrating. This tournament seemed like it was going to be the one. The conditions were perfect for getting a win under my belt – a small field (49 players in total), a fairly slow structure (30 minute levels is about as good as you’ll get here really, although the Mirage during the day has 45 minute levels) and the chance to gather a decent sized stack early on. We were down to two tables before I’d broken a sweat, I hit the nuts and watched lots of chips work their way to the pot without me even having to do anything. Then went home in 13th place.

Seriously, I can’t play any better than this. 🙂