June 25, 2013
And so it came to pass that I played in
a $340 Aria Classic event in late June. My friend Derek had spoken
of the value in these tournaments. He compared them to the Aria $125
I knew and loved. I threw up a post on our facebook group about the
tourney, and the possibility selling some action. I didn't expect
any takers, but two members quickly replied with requests for 15% and
20%. I had to wait on Derek to tell me what, if anything, was an
I locked up both offers before the
tourney started, and thought, “This is pretty cool. I'm getting
staked for the very first time, and it's in a tourney where I
probably won't embarrass myself.”
Julian Gallo was on my immediate left.
I have no idea who that is, but he had left his registration copy at
his seat, so I took the liberty of looking him up on Hendon Mob. He
was there, with a couple of decent but not breath-taking results in
small buy-in events.
As the tournament started, I recogized
the 10 seat as a regular from the Aria cashgames, 2/5 and 5/10 I
think. I didn't recognize anyone else, and was relieved that I was
one of the younger players at the table.
Seat 1 was a grizzled Brit who looked
and sounded a little like Sean Connery (I almost told him, “Sir, I
*loved* you in Finding Forrester!”), Seat 2 was a Crafty Spaniard,
and Seat 4 was a young Aggro Scando. I felt great about being in the
5 Seat, as I had the weaker players on my left, and the stronger,
more aggro ones on my right.
I won two nice pots in the first orbit,
getting good value in spots where more timid players might have
checked. 15K starting stack ballooned to 21K. Great start. 108
runners, with $10.2K up top. Last June was my first four-figure
tourney score... can't a guy dream about a five-figure score?
It quickly became apparent that this
table was not as awesome as I had hoped. It started when the 3 Seat
couldn't find a fold on a queen-high flop with kings against Sean
Connery's limp-4bet aces. The new 3 Seat caused all the problems.
He jumped all over limpers, and opened every pot from “the office”
(hijack, cutoff, button) when folded to him. Aggro Scando was having
none of it, 3-betting liberally. Soon, Connery and Spaniard were
openlimping, in order to 4bet the two uberaggro kids. I was in the
five seat with an explosion of action on my right. I was witness to
my first “4bet, then fold to a min 5bet” at a table where I was
playing. I had a feeling that any 3- or 4bets made by me would not
be automatically respected.
I wondered if I could go a whole
tournament never finding any good spots, when the 3 seat min-opened
to 600 and the 4 seat smoothed. I 3bet to 1700 from the button with
77, hoping to take it down there, and thinking I would call or 5-bet
if they reraised. The flop came AdQd6x, the 3 Seat checked, and the
Aggro Scando bet into me. Normally, I raise donkbets, but this was a
tough spot to be in if they can't find a fold, as I'm only ahead of a
6 or air, I'm mathematically behind something like T9-diamonds, and
I have to account for Seat 3, who could be looking to checkraise.
folded, shaking off that bad situation. I was comforted by Seat 3,
who checkraised and won the pot right there. Seat 3 went on a
terrible run, losing just about every hand he played after that. He
was out right before the break, and I was hopeful that the table
dynamic would improve. My 21K stack had shrunk to just under
turned out to be prophetic. Aggro Scando settled down noticeably,
and I have no idea why. The table was much more manageable. I got
myself all-in for the first time of the tourney, and scored a
doubleup. Raised it up with AK, bet the K-high, two spade flop, bet
the offsuit ace turn, and shipped the nonspade river for value. I
have to assume ace-something of spades called, as the dealer mucked
the losing hand. I wasn't about to insist on seeing that hand, as
per rules of a tourney all-in. That put me at 26K with the blinds at
200/400/25, and probably middle of the road as far as table stack
the second break, I had run that up to 37K thanks to my queens
holding up to stack somebody holding KJs, and it could've been much
larger. I had Julian Gallo ship with 87s and next to no fold equity,
and I called with AKs. He had been discussing his thoughts on hand
ranges, and I had silently disagreed with most of his assessments.
This hand was no different, but I was content to have a relatively
weak player on my left.
brought that 37K back to 600/1200/100, while the average stack was
35K, and the chipleader had about 90K on another table. The 6/12
level is usually when things go either very wrong, or very right, for
my tournament life. That day, I ran good.
Connery openlimped, and the Aggro Scando folded his button. I was
pleased to see that I could call from the SB with 65-clubs. Gallo
checked, and we saw a helluva flop: KQ9, all clubs. With about 4K+
in the pot, I thought a checkraise was in order, as all sorts of
hands should bet that flop. Sure enough, Connery led for 3500, and I
raised to 9K. Surprisingly, Connery shipped it all-in! Obviously, I
was up against a pretty strong hand, but you don't flop flush over
flush in tourneys very often. There are plenty of strong hands that
would take that line that I'm ahead of, but have to fade. Deep
breath. “I call.”
shows KdTc, for top pair with the gutterball straight flush draw. He
bricked, and I got a gloriously tense doubleup. I was the table
chipleader with 76K – sixty big blinds! - though the Aggro Scando
was close behind with 65K.
played assassin for the next half hour, winning two flips with AK to
knock out Gallo and the Aria regular, stomping on their sevens and
jacks, respectively. The Scando and I stayed out of each other's
way, which let me pick on the table when he wasn't. I stepped up the
aggression, but didn't overdo it, and didn't show a weak hand.
one point, there were 30 left, and I was starting to get a little
nervous. I had 157K at 1K/2K/300, while the average stack had 52K.
The top 12 got paid, but I had my eye on making a deep run. I really
wanted a friendly face on the rail, thinking Rick or Derek would
provide some advice, or comfort if I fucked up. I posted on facebook
at this point, asking for a spectator. After a little while, I
realized nobody was coming to help, and I was on my own. I grew
calm. I could do this.
went on the dinner break with 170K (the table chiplead) and 19
players left. We came back to 2K/4K/500, and this level almost ended
raised in MP with 55, got a lone caller from the BB, a very
aggressive, thinking player with almost as many chips. The flop came
out QdTd3x, and he smoothcalled my c-bet. The turn was another
queen, and we checked it through. The river was an offsuit 4, and he
led about 40% of the pot into me. I felt strong enough to
bluff-catch, and called. He showed me... aces. “That could've
been much worse,” I whispered to the guy next to me.
made a bluffraise, got shipped on, and counted to 5 before I folded.
I had cut my stack practically in half – 90K. The blinds increased
to 2500/5K/500, and the same gent with the aces opened for 13K. I
thought this an odd size, as the table had generally been opening for
min, or min plus a chip. He had the clear chip lead, and was
probably going to start running over the table with the bubble
shipped my 90K with AQ diamonds... and got snap called by kings.
“Oh well, it's been a good experience for me. Clyne and Paul will
appreciate that I played well and made a deep run, even if I fell
short of the money.”
Ace. I am a phoenix, risen from my own ashes.
190K, I need to play smart for a bit. How about some snug, ABC poker
for a while? I got whittled down for a bit, then personally busted
the bubble. The chipleader opened, and a shorty shoved for 70K. I
woke up with aces. I decided not to get cute and smooth. I shipped,
and the chipleader folded. After the board ran out and didn't help
the shorty's queens, I'm pretty sure I understood enough French to
comprehend that he would've knocked us both out.
the money, with a playable stack? This is happening? With 12 left,
I want to play as aggro as I can against the medium stacks,
preferrably with the other large stacks already folded.
took 275K to the final table, and then the blinds went up to
6K/12K/2K. I was 2nd
in chips, with about 3 pretty short stacks at the table. I was
focused on every single hand, and I probably looked at the payout
information way too often – first was $10.2K, second was $6700+,
was $4200+, while 7th
was the first four-figure payout. I wanted to give myself easy
decisions, avoid risk, move up the payout ladder... and maybe try to
win this thing. As always, I wanted to have a decently sized reshove
stack. My goal was a balance between risk and reward.
wasn't faced with another decision the rest of the tourney. The pots
I entered pretty much didn't see a turn card. At 7 players left, I
had 315K of the 1.52M in play. We played some after the 7th
player busted, and the chiplead changed hands, on what looked like a
little spewy all-in preflop confrontation of AQ vs AJ. At some point
around here, I texted Derek “If I suggest a chip chop, will that
make me look like the weak amateur?” He told me to suggest getting
chop numbers, and locking that shit up if the numbers looked good.
Right before the dealer was about to pitch cards on my big blind, I
asked her to stop, and broached the question. Everyone at the table
said yes... eventually, like nobody wanted to seem too eager.
numbers came back, and with 6th
place at $1414, the shortest stack was looking at ending the tourney
with $2800+. The chipleader was promised $7200, just 3K short of
first place money. I was in 2nd
when we stopped, though I was closer in chips to the fifth place guy
than the leader, and my share was $5025. We couldn't talk the
chipleader into playing a hand face-up for the trophy, so he took
that home. I tipped $200 – I've heard 4% is standard, and I really
like how the Aria runs things. That left $4825 – my share was
$3136, which was a good bit better than my previous tourney best of
$2200. It made me feel good that I could share my success with
people who believed in me enough to put their money behind me. And
it was a great feeling to step up a level, have instant success, and
realize you can hang.