As you may know I play in a weekly tournament here at Ohio State and this quarter I’ve been on a real cold streak, not placing at the final table in the last 8 weeks. Well last night things finally went my way as I took down 1st place out of the 24 participants and a cool $175 (about broke even for the quarter thanks to this win!). I want to share with you a few key hands that really propelled me on to the final table. It seemed like once I got started I never looked back, making chips throughout the tournament and only being a ‘short stack’ once we got three-handed (more on that later).
The tournament is a rebuy tournament so the first hour is always a good place for stories to be made. Early in the first hour I looked down at JJ under the gun and opened for $500 ($50-$100 blinds). I wanted to single someone out and if at all possible get all the chips in with a big advantage. Well the player to my left called and the player on the button reraised all in for $3500. I went all in as well, and the player to my left sighed and called all in for his remaining $2300. The hands were:
Steve (me): JJ
To my left: K 10
Needless to say I wasn’t feeling to secure in my jacks, any overcard and they had a higher pair, so I prayed for low cards. What did I get? A …. Q …. K, haha, imagine that, they’re all beating me. I quickly called for my opponent to two pair his K10 and lo and behold the turn was a 10 giving me the straight. Then I called for the board not to pair and a harmless 7 hit the river giving me a pot over $9000 and starting my roll. I knew it was going to be a good night if things kept falling the way they had in that pot.
Later in the first hour I reraised all in after a big raise from the button with AQ. He sighed, folded and showed AQ faceup. I showed him the same hand and he said “nice bet.” Hell yeah nice bet!
I stagnated for almost an hour and a half and I was feeling like I had the previous 8 weeks, off to a good start only to dwindle with the blinds, so I turned up the heat. On one of the hands a very loose player raised 4x UTG and I called behind him with 99. The flop came out 2 4 A, all spades and he checked. I quickly bet out $5,000 (about 2/3 the pot) and he thought for awhile and folded. That gave me the confidence I needed to go on a decent rush and get my chip count near $45,000 by the final table.
With 8 left I played a pot with the big blind while I was in the small blind with K9 spades. This player is known to play anything with a queen strongly, but other than that is hard to read (because he usually doesn’t even know what he has, it’s one of those deals). Anyway the flop came out 5 5 Q with two spades and I checked. He immediately bet $6,000 (about the pot) and I called. The turn brought a 4 of diamonds and I checked again. This time he quickly bet out $10,000.
I thought about this for awhile. I only had $40,000 chips left and I wasn’t sure I wanted to put him 1/4 of my chips on a flush draw with one card to come. Finally I told myself I needed to make a move and gamble a bit to take down a huge pot and set myself up for short handed play and I called. The river was the beautiful 7 of spades and I immediately went all in. In hindsight I should have simply value bet the river but I really thought this guy would insta-call with a queen.
He thought for at least 3 minutes before folding and showing me a 7! What the hell could he have had that he was betting so hard with a 7? I kept my mouth shut and scooped a pot putting me above $65,000 and the chip lead.
Three handed play I was the short stack around $50,000 with my opponents each at $75,000 and $95,000. I played aggressively taking down the blinds and stealing pots with big bets and making good calls and lay downs and within 15 minutes I had $120,000 and each of my opponents were below $60,000.
Finally the headsup began with the button player made an untimely all-in bluff with 45 suited and I woke up with AA in the big blind. I hadn’t seen aces all game but I was happy to see them there!
The heads up took about 5 hands, of which I won 3. The other two I folded preflop. On the last hand he raised all in for $35,000 and I called with AJ. He showed A6, missed the board and I took home 1st place, a great confidence booster and a blast to play. I missed the feeling of playing a great game and routing my opponents, but it felt great, I played great poker and everything was going my way, now let’s just hope this trend continues.