Because my table was filled with weak-tight players who weren’t playing back at me when I was betting and raising, I continued my loose aggressive play. I was, by far, the most active player at the table…getting into a ton of pots. I figured someone would make a stand against me, but the resistance was minimal. At first break, I was sitting with 28,000. Nearly doubled my starting stack.
Then came the hand where I believed was the 1st turning point of the tournament…
IMPORTANT HAND #2 -- “My Pocket 9’s are good..I know it…I can feel it…JUST STICK YOUR CHIPS IN THERE, DAMMIT!!”
Blinds are 200-400...I opened raise under the gun (First to act) with Pocket 9’s to 1,000 from my 28,000 stack. I’m called in three places. First player has 14K, the Second player has 17K. The third player is the Big blind, who I consider the best player at the table. So it’s 4 handed to the flop, the pot is 4,200. The flop comes 7-6-5 with two hearts…Big blind checks, I have to bet in this spot. My read on the players is broadway cards, or a suited connector. The two players in the pot are very weak. I saw both make terrible calls against other players. So I’m positive I have the best hand. If I check..I risk it being checked out and an over card to my nines hit the board. So lead out for 2,700...The first players goes all in for 14,000..then the second guy also goes all in for 17,000...Big blind folds..now it’s up to me….I shoot from my seat, rubbing my head wondering “what the hell is going on??” My first instinct was folding. I mean, if one person goes all in and another goes all-in…you figure pocket 9’s is no good. Then I got to thinking, I believed the first player had a flush draw. Against the flush draw, I’m have about even money especially if he has two over cards to go with the draw…The second guy was a different story, he was a terrible player…who I’ve seen make big calls with middle pair…so I wasn’t too worried about him. At this point, about two minutes have passed, which seemed like an eternity. My wife, who was at the next table, came over to watch the action. I agonized about what to do…ultimately, it came down to going with your gut. In tournament poker, you can do all the math and odds, but sometimes you have to hold you breathe and go with your gut…SO I CALLED! The first guy turns over AK hearts for a flush draw..the second guy turns over 10 8 offsuit!!!! WHAT??? So I had to fade two cards…TURN a Jack…RIVER was an OFFSUIT 5!!! I rake a nice pot!!! Bringing my stack to around 60,000!!! YEAH!!! I pumped my fist, proud of making a sick call!! My confidence rose after that…
With 60,000, and my blind relatively low, I toned the aggression a little bit, because I have a tendency to blow off chips, when I get a big stack. I didn’t completely tighten up, but I wasn’t going to play subpar hands when I didn’t have to…Then this hand came up where sometimes players just hand you their chips…
IMPORTANT HAND #3 -- “JUST GIVE ME YOUR CHIPS ON A SILVER PLATTER”
The great no limit tournament players know how to manipulate their opponents to extract the most value from their monster hand.
Blinds are still at 200-400.…I now have 56,000 chips..I raise in early position with pocket Jacks to 1,100….In middle position, a tight straightforward player re-raises to 3,300 from a 35,000 chip stack. Everyone folds back to me…I thought about re-raising, but this player was pretty tight. I didn’t want to re-raise, then find out he’ll go all-in, then find myself pot-committed against a bigger pair to my Jacks…The best course of action was to call, then re-evauate on the flop. I call. Two to the flop, 7,200 in the pot. The flop comes Q J 9...Hooray, I flopped middle set in a coordinated board…I thought about betting the flop for value, but thought check raising all in was the best course of action. A raise from a tight, straightforward player usually indicates a very tight range…10’s or above, AK, AQ…possibly AJ. My thinking is this board probably hit 90 percent of his range and if I check to him, he’s gonna make a big bet to protect against his hand..hopefully enough to pot committ himself, when I check-raise all in. So I check..my opponent make a pot-sized bet of 7,000. I go with my plan and check-raise all in…my opponent insta-calls. I felt my heart sink as I was afraid he was going to turn over pocket Queens…Instead, he rolls over pocket 10’s for an opened ended straight draw…I was very surprised he would put his tournament life on the line, but maybe he was just sick of me running over the table and felt like gambling…Oh well, good for me….I faded the turn and river and raked another massive pot…my chip stack rose to 89,000!!!!
My confidence was sky high and felt a deep run coming. Our table broke a few minutes later and I racked my 89,000 to my new table. I was a little disappointed I was moving, because I felt like I could do anything I wanted…Oh well, the good thing about moving is it makes you that much closer to the final table…..
IN PART III, I’ll tell you about a hand where I was at the receiving end of a tilting player who self-destructed. Luckily, I was the recipient of all his chips!!