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Poker :: That elusive final table...
  submitted on November 13, 2006, 9:05 AM

I'd say right now I'm an adequate poker player. I'm by no means a good poker player, but I'd like to think I've cleared that hump of being a bad poker player. Discovering the poker blogger world and learning from them has done wonders for my game. And yesterday, I finally got to my first MTT final table.

I've come close a couple times. In some 2400 entry tournaments on Pokerroom, the highest I've ever finished was 16th, and I've finished in the top 50 a couple times, as well. But I've missed out on that final table. I've made it to the final table at the 3-table and 5-table S&Gs. And while this final table that I made it too isn't quite as impressive as wading through hundreds of players, I'm still pleased with my performance.

I decided to sit down and play one of Full Tilt's new 90-person DS tourneys. I think it was Blinders that had spent his time pimping them (Although it might have been Waffles), and the idea of being able to play a DS tourney was very appealing to me. I'm a fairly tight player, and in regular 1500 chip S&Gs with standard levels, the blinds can quickly get overwhelming for me if I don't have ample opportunity to make moves. But with 3000 chips, it gives me so much more time to pick and choose my moments, and it's a much more comfortable feeling overall.

So I sat down to play, and over the first hour I picked up some chips, not too much, and probably ended up at around 3800 or so by the first break. I've played in a few of these 90-person S&Gs, and I've yet to pick up that elusive double up in the first hour that so many seem to get. I just haven't had a big hand in the right circumstances yet. It's too bad, because I think I could do well with a stack like that.

Anyways, the second hour saw me spending a lot of time folding. We went from 90 to about 38 in the first hour, and I was in the mid-20s or so. The blinds got bigger, and my stack got smaller. About 40 minutes into the second hour, I had three hands in a row where I pushed all-in, and didn't get a single call. I wasn't too mad, because they weren't fantastic "Please call me" hands to begin with, and the blinds/antes were enough to get me by. I was probably pushing with around 2700 in chips and the blinds hovering around 200/400 or so. Another player called me a blind stealer, which I didn't really understand. I had no chips, pushing was really my only option there. He definitely got on my case and raised me in the bb several times (He was the chip leader at about 33,000 chips).

Right before the second break I came across pocket 9s in MP. I raised, the big stack re-raised, and I pushed, and he showed me A7, which was even better than I expected. My hand held up, and I shot up to around 8,000 in chips with around 23 left and the top 18 cashing. I wasn't too concerned with folding until the money, mostly because that $9 return really wasn't what I was shooting for. So that double up was big for me, and I cracked the Top 15 for the first time that day. Finally having a significant chip stack that the big stacks couldn't push around, I was able to make some moves and take some pots down, and my 8,000 chips quickly turned into 11,000-12,000, and I then cracked the Top 10. I doubled up at one time to get up to 25,000 in chips, around the time we finally got to the final table.

I was very happy with my play in the tourney thus far. I had gone all-in with the best hand every time, and hadn't suffered much in the way of bad beats. It was finally at the final table that I saw Aces for the first time, and while it only netted me a couple thousand in chips, it did allow me to send someone to the rail, so I won't complain. I suffered a setback when I lost around 7,000 when I folded my Jacks post-flop on a K Q x flop. Somebody called my huge re-raise pre-flop with K10 sooooooooted. Loser. All was not lost, however. My biggest hand came when we were down to the final 5. I was in the bb with J2o. One caller to me, and I check. Flop comes Qc 2c Qh. I bet the pot, fairly sure that my hand is best, and my opponent smooth calls. Turn is a scary Ad. I do some analysis, and figure there's a good chance he's on a flush draw, as he's shown at the final table that he's willing to lose a lot of money on his flush draws, and he's usually more aggressive when he actually has a hand, so I figured with a pp he would have raised post-flop. The one thing I was worried about was that he was drawing with the Ac, in which case he just paired up. But I still liked my chances, so I pushed my last 30,000 into the 25,000 pot. He hesitated, then called much to my chagrin, only to flip over K6 soooooooooted. So my read was dead on, and he was drawing to a club flush. River was a harmless 9d, and I shot up to 95,000 in chips, only around 7,000 behind the chip leader.

So the flush drawing donkey (He was the previous chip leader who called me a blinds stealer earlier) had lost most of his chips due to flush draws on two separate hands, and he went out in fifth. Down to the final four, I make was is probably my first big mistake of the tournament. I get pocket 10s on the button, and UTG pushes all in with around 40,000 in chips. Before he pushed I thought about what a nice hand this could be, and for whatever reason, that thought carried over and I called with little hesitation. Now, as much as I liked my pocket 10s, do I really like them enough to risk almost half my stack on a coin flip? The logical answer to that should have been no, and I should have contemplated before making an agonizing fold. But I called like an idiot and lost half my stack when he flipped over his KQo and hit a queen on the flop. Stupid.

I caught the bad end of a flop on another hand, and with the blinds as high as they were, I pushed my last 25,000 in with 59 soooooooted and lost to pocket 7s, and IGH in 4th. So, as happy as I am to finish 4th, I'm still a little bummed that I didn't take the bastard down, especially considering how well I was doing in second. I guess on the flip side of that, if my 10s had held up, I would have had almost a 2:1 chip lead on the 2nd place stack and would have been in great shape to take the tournament down. Probably should have waited, though. So, there was my big weekend venture in the poker world. I find myself constantly losing money on Full Tilt lately, while PokerStars seems to just be giving it right back. It's a weird phenomenon that I haven't been able to come up with any solution to at the moment. I'll probably keep trying to play the 90-player MTT every now and then, especially considering my past success. It's a pretty fun tourney. That's all for now.

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