Sunday, March 11, 2018

Road to the Final Table

I've played in nine poker tournaments during the past three years.  This post is about my tenth entry.  I almost didn't even play.  I went to get a haircut but they were too busy.  I ended up going to another place near by.  By the time I was done, the tournament had already started.  I checked on my phone and there was no traffic, so I decided to give it a shot.

There were about 200 players already in the tournament as I entered one hour late.

With blinds at 200/400 and a 50 ante, I look down at 9♣-9.  It checks to me in hijack-1.  I have 14,000 and bet 1,500.  Two callers, seat 5 and seat 7 with 50,000 chips.  I had not seen many hands so I didn't know much about the players.  One hand that I did see involved seat 7 going all-in on the turn and getting called.  The caller had trip tens but seat 7 had the nut flush.

The flop is 3-8-J and I bet 3,000.  Seat 5 folds but seat 7 calls.  The turn is a Q, he checks, and I check.  The river is a 2 and he moves all-in.  I needed some time to think through this one.  Was he on a flush draw?  Did he interpret my check on the turn as weakness?  I had seen him go all-in before and he had the nuts.  Could he be holding Q-x or J-x?  I doubt it since those hands would at least bet before the river.  With what hand would he check-call the flop, check the turn, then go all-in...9-10?  Unlikely, I'm holding two nines.  None of it was making much sense.  I could fold and still have 20 big blinds.  If I call and lose, I can rebuy.  What would you do?

A new player got moved to our table with a short stack.  Not too long after, he shoved and I called with A-5.  He had A-K but the board paired twice so we chopped.  

The blinds were 800/1600 with a 200 ante.  I was in the BB with 7-5.  There was a min bet and a lady with only 4,500 moved all-in.  It folded to me and I decided to put in 2,900 more to win 13,400.  We checked the flop.  The turn was a 7 and the river a 5.  She had K-K and was not happy to be knocked out by my pitiful hand.

Then I called an all-in by another short stack.  I had J-8 and he had 10-7.  The flop brought a 7 but an 8 arrived on the turn.  He started to get up but changed his mind when a 10 came on the river.  I lost close to 10,000.  I chipped up nicely after that but didn't have time to write down the hands.

I got moved to another table but wasn't there for long.  I did witness a massive pot between 3-3 and A-4 on a board of 2-3-x-5-x.  They broke the table shortly after.  I ended up in seat 8 at the new table.  By the second break, there were 60 players left and I had 90,000 chips.

The blinds were going up fast.  An older lady moved all-in with 40,000 chips and I looked down at A-K.  I moved all-in and everyone else folded.  She flipped over A-J.  The flop was A-K-9, the turn brought a Q, but the river was a harmless 8.  That got me up to 140,000 with 50 players remaining.

I called 6,000 with K-J after the big stack called.  The BB was also in the hand and bet 10,000 on a J-10-7 flop.  The turn was an 8 and the BB bet 20,000.  Both of us called.  The river was a K and he bet 20,000.  The big stack called and I called.  The BB showed J-10 (I think), the big stack folded, and I scooped.  This got me up to 220,000.

The bubble broke shortly after.  The blinds were skyrocketing.  I called a pre-flop bet of 36,000 with J-J.  The flop was ace high with two hearts.  I folded to a bet.

I didn't get many playable hands until we got down to 18.  The blinds were 10,000/20,000 with a 3,000 ante.  The BB called 20,000 and seat 2 moved all-in for 100,000.  I looked down at A-Q and moved all-in for 74,000.  The BB folded.  Seat 2 flipped over K-K.  The flop was A-J-10 and I had to hold my breath.  The turn and the river were bricks.

Then I got dealt A-Q again.  I called a 55,000 bet from seat 3.  The flop was J-10-9 and he checked.  I moved all-in with 120,000 and he thought about it.  He decided on a call.  He flipped over A-Q also!  We chopped.

I didn't see anything worth playing for two orbits.  Each table was down to seven players.  I looked down at K-10.  Seat 3 bet, seat 4 called, and I moved all-in.  They both called.  The flop was K-x-x, seat 3 bet, and seat 4 folded.

Seat 3 showed A-A!  I went up against the cowboys twice and outdrew them both times.  But I couldn't dodge the bullets.  After seven hours of play, I cashed for less than $200 profit but enjoyed the battles on the road to the final table.


  1. Nice job! But I guess this is what gets to me about tournament poker -- SEVEN HOURS! Play in a small tournament and the structure is almost always bad. Play in a deeper one and you are there for hours, many times hoping to at least minimum cash. Maybe when I retire and have more time on my hands I will rediscover tournament poker. Disclosure: On Saturday I played a cash game for ... about eight hours!

    1. Thank you, I agree. Takes too long and the smaller buy-in tournaments have a terrible structure.