Playing beyond your bankroll completely rocks when you get lucky.
I knew the PokerDome satellite was too expensive for me to justify buying into direct. Even with its awesome added value – a $215 seat was worth $343 tonight – I’m just not serious enough or good enough to play three-figure buy in tournaments on a regular basis. I was well aware that I couldn’t continue playing this tournament every week, as I desparately wanted to, without running a little bit hot at first.
Last Saturday, I used some of the money remaining from the very nice Mansion NFL bet bonus I took advantage of earlier in the year to buy into the $100+$9 rebuy and the $200+$15 freezeout. It was pretty uneventful – I didn’t survive the first hour in either of them and couldn’t remember anything vaguely interesting to write about, so I didn’t even mention it.
Today I went only for the freezeout, figuring my balance could support two more cracks at it and I wasn’t really likely to play anything else at Mansion. They have a few money-added tournaments during the day, but they’re now making a big deal about a Christmas tournament series with $250,000 added. Very attractive (and a $50+$5 buy in is much more realistic for me) but they all start at 3am. So despite the Mansion server clock being GMT, they pretty much don’t give a hoot about their European players and have put this quarter of a million up for grabs only to attract the Americans that are still looking for a place to play. You can see why they’d do that, but just a couple that start during the day for US players – a token effort - would be nice.
Oh, did I forget to say the result before I went off on one?
First place baby! $7000 PokerDome package and $3430 cash.
What follows now will probably be waffle. I’m completely wired but also in need of sleep (I have to catch a train at 07:24). In this case especially, the size of the prize is much more interesting than how I actually won it, so I definitely won’t be offended if you don’t read any further.
Everything started great and I was chip leader within 15 minutes after eliminating two players with big pairs that held up. Had to make a terrifying all-in call with QQ on TT2 flop. The other player had called my third raise pre-flop and moved all-in immediately after the flop. There’s a chance he’s playing AA or KK in a donkish way there, but I found it hard to believe he wouldn’t try to check-raise me on that board if he had anything that beats my queens. In fact, a check-raise there may well have got me to fold the QQ (I’d be putting him on JJ-AA), but instead he donated his stack when AK did not improve.
Players fell fast down to three tables remaining. Two tables were getting paid, with $350 for places 10-18. On the bubble there were three mega short stacks, with about 1000 chips each and blinds at 300/600. I had a heart attack when I saw KK on the big blind with players who mostly had me covered, and was never more pleased to get a walk with a big hand. It wasn’t just me who wanted to lock in $350 then – that’s almost two more goes at this in my weak mind!
There were some crippled stacks on the final table so it dropped to 6 remining pretty quickly. That had guaranteed me a four-figure payday. I was keeping up with the pack pretty well, but I know I could have played stronger to take advantage of the bubble effect – when two players had very short stacks but the next jump in money was $600, I fancied the $600. I was helped by someone playing AK much too passively. He smooth-called a minimum raise from a habitual min-raiser, forcing me to pay one bet to see a flop with K8s from the big blind. I didn’t hesitate when the flop came KQ8 and got the payoff.
The jump between 4th and 3rd was $1500 and I was extremely glad that it happened on a pretty easy decision. I had AJs on the big blind and the small stack button pushed. He flipped over J8o and stood up.
Then I dithered a bit too much. The problem (if you can call four grand in the bank a problem) was that 3rd paid a nice chunk of cash ($4116) whereas 2nd was "only" $235 in addition to the PokerDome package. $4116, or indeed the $3430 extra for first place, would nicely take care our house rental next summer. Claire did just this with the extra cash she won alongside her WSOP seat last year, so I wanted to do the same. So my strategy at that point should have been to go for broke: get myself a massive chip lead or bomb out and guarantee the biggest cash prize on offer. Finishing 2nd, chances are I’m going to Vegas by myself, unless by some freak of timing the event I’ve qualified for is either the weekend we’re already going to be there or lands in a school holiday. Plus, I’d heard other players talking about previous satellites, saying that the 3rd place finisher is also taken to Vegas as a reserve.
By the time I’d realised that I needed to make this adjustment, it was too late. The other two were going at it, and we were heads up. The other guy had about a 2:1 chip lead on me. Playing, basically, a freeroll for $3000 in a satellite is a very strange experience. It’s the biggest leap in prize money on offer, even though both the players remaining have pretty much already achieved what they came for. We were both on our way to Vegas. But the tournament just kept on playing, there was no time to take that in, no time to start leaping around and not even time to go and wake Claire and get a sleepy hi-5. I’d been running excitedly back and forth with updates all the way down to 5 players left, as she’s much more conscientious at the whole having-to-get-up-at-6.30 thing than me. That’s like 5 hours away… and still no way I can sleep!
The heads up slaughter lasted about 45 minutes. I suck at heads up. I’m way too weak, and this guy was a big bully. He bashed me down to about 15k vs his 120k and I got lucky to survive. From then on I somehow slogged my way back even, eventually picked up a big hand and got paid off and once I’d fought my way to a 3:1 chip lead his TT held up against my AQ and we were back to level footing. Same old story – he bashes away at me and I have to get lucky again. Although by now I’m wondering if the Kill Phil heads up strategy of "go all in every hand" wasn’t such a bad idea. I was definitely outclassed, but on the bright side I now have some great experience of playing heads up for a big prize.
We already know that it’s bad karma to turn down a deal. Here we were, almost at the stage where it was time to race random cards for $3000 and I offer a deal. Don’t even know if it’s possible to do that on Mansion, but he wasn’t interested anyway. Can’t blame him really. He knew he was better, and I’d have been overjoyed to take any kind of deal to have it over with.
But when it’s with you it’s with you. I got ahead again, calling a small bet with middle pair and making 2 pair on the river. I never saw what he had, but I must have been behind most of the way. So with nearly a 4:1 chip lead I decided to have a crack with K9 to try and end it. It was good enough:
Now, you never know, going on TV might be enough to push me just that little bit harder to lose some weight…