Fore regular readers of this blog, you will know that I’ve been attempting to win a National Capital Poker Tournament for a few years now.
I’ve come close a few times. A few months back, I finished second. I’ve had early chip leads at tournaments. I’ve made miraculous comebacks. But it wasn’t until this past Friday night that I finally managed to win one. It was also a bounty tournament, which means for every person you knocked out of the tourney, you won $10.
How did I do it? Here are some of my key hands:
Early on, I was playing a lot of pots. No real big hands, but winning a lot of small stuff. There was only one memorable hand for me in the first hour or so.
There’s a guy in our tournament, Anber, who is a pretty loose player. He plays a lot of hands, and is constantly raising and re-raising. I find him pretty tough to play against, because you never know what two cards he might be holding. So I try to keep the pots small unless I have the nuts.
It was still early on, so the blinds might have been around 50 cents/$1. He raises around $3. I look down at AQ suited, so I call. There’s no other callers. Flop comes with A with two low cards, but no spades. Anber raises $4. I call. Turn brings nothing. He bets $6. Again I just call. River brings nothing. He bets $10. I call, and take down the pot.
Now, it may seem like I played this hand pretty passively. But I’ve been burned a lot by this guy. He’ll raise with 9-5 offsuit, for example, and keep betting. So if he hit a five on the flop, he won’t slow down. Then if he hits a 9 on the turn or river, he keeps going. And it’s happened to me when he keeps betting and hits those two pairs or a straight or a flush. So I stay wary unless I have a monster hand.
But in the end, I won about $23 off of him, which was great.
A couple of hands later, I had an interesting situation.
I had a hand like 7-5 suited. Blinds might have been around 75 cents/$1.50. I like playing these types of hands for cheap, so I limp in, as does Dom and Scott.
Flop brings three clubs. Something like J, 8 and a 2. I check, hoping one of them bets so I can check raise. I am most worried at this point of one of them holding a king or ace of clubs, and wanting to chase.
Dom also checks, but Scott bets something like $4. I raise to $15. Seems like a big re-raise, but I figure a caller would be after a flush with a higher club than I have. If they fold, then I win the pot.
They both fold. I win about $8. Maybe I was too aggressive, but if any other club had shown up, I had nothing.
There were no real hands of circumstance for a while. The only real mistake I made was when Pat and I were in a hand. He was shortstacked, and after the river, I bet $10 (there was betting before this, and I don’t remember the cards I was holding or what I was showing). Pat called, and I won the pot. But he was only left with $5 (blinds around $1-$2).
The reason I didn’t like my play this hand was the fact that with a bounty, I could have collected the extra cash by eliminating him. I was thinking he would raise the last bet by going all-in, but he surprised me by calling. I should have just bet $15. If he didn’t call, fine. But I should have been more aggressive in my betting.
The final table isn’t too far behind all this. And we slowly whittle down. I eliminate Chris when he moves all-in with something like AJ, but I’m holding AA.
It wasn’t until the final four that I played my most interesting hands.
I’m in the small blind. Blinds are around $4-$8. The first guy bids something like $32. Gabriel re-raises all-in, about $179. I look at my hand and see 8-9 suited. I loved these hands. I want to call. Rohit, in the big blind, is short-stacked. He’ll probably call with any two decent cards. And there’s still the original raiser to worry about.
I take a minute to think about it. I had the $179 covered. I would have called the $32 easily. But I decide with a raise and a re-raise, I have to fold. Rohit does call, but the original raiser folds. Matt, who was eliminated by this point, said I made the right call.
I don’t remember what Gabriel had (I think Ace-high kicker), but Rohit had JJ. Of course, the flop comes 9-9-T. Ugh. That’s horrible. I should have just closed my eyes instead of looking at the cards.
Rohit wins, and doubles up. But all I can keep thinking about is the fact that I could have been in the final two with about 90 per cent of the chips.
Bad luck starts following me around at this point.
Not too much longer after the missed set, we’re down to the final three.
Rohit is first to act, and raises to about $40 (blinds were around $6-$12). I see 6-6. I think Rohit is bluffing, so I move all-in. He calls, with a J and either a king or an ace. But it’s pretty much a coin flip at this stage, which is better than I could have hoped for when he called. However, the flop brings a jack, and the turn brings whichever of the other two cards he was holding.
So Rohit doubles up to about $500, and I go from chip leader to about $300 in chips.
With the blinds soon going up to $10-$20, I was comfortable with that amount of chips. But then I started a bad trend, until a fateful hand turned it around.
This hand turned around my bad luck. After losing the previous hand I spoke about, I was completely card dead. Not even bluffing hands, or calling hands. Just brutal.
Eventually, the blinds go up to $15-$30. I look down at 10-3 of diamonds in the small blind. At this stage, I just wanted to turn my luck around and steal a pot. Gabriel folded, so I moved all-in. Rohit, the big blind, called with KK. I was sunk. All I could hope for was to fluke into a flush.
A 10 came on the flop, but only one diamond. However, a 10 came on the turn, giving me a set and cracking the kings. Rohit was down to $6. The hand immediately before this, he was a massive chip leader. He lost when he flopped a set, but lost to a straight on the river against Gabriel. Rohit went from about $500 to $6 in two hands.
Heads up lasted a bit longer than I thought it would. We went back and forth. I became chip leader, then he did. Then I did again.
I started to get some really good heads-up hands. At one point, I had pocket twos, pocket nines, and pocket sevens within five hands. So my raises were getting folds. That meant I was grabbing the blinds, which was important when they are so high.
All of that led to this:
The final hand of the night. I had a KQ offsuit, which is an excellent starting hand. With the blinds at $20-$40, I raised to $120. Gabriel raised me all-in (he had something like $300 left). I called pretty quickly. He had an A-4 offsuit. The flop brought a king. And the turn was a queen, giving me the victory.
Plus, with this hand, I ended up with four eliminations, which meant an extra $40.
Overall, I was pleased with every hand I played except for one (where I didn’t bet enough to eliminate someone early on). Even the big hand with my 66 versus Rohit’s KJ offsuit, I liked my play, as it was a coin flip and I was chip leader.
I was aggressive. I raised a lot, played a lot of pots, stole some hands, and got lucky at the appropriate time.
The first victory felt good. Now let’s hope I can do it again.