Sunday, April 04, 2004

I played in a $9 + $1 qualifier Friday night on PartyPoker for their $200 + $15 weekly $200,000 guaranteed tournament. Started with 471 entrants, with the top 19 winning a spot in the main event.

About a third of the way through the tourney I was down to about 500 in chips (started with 1,000), but then started doubling up. Whenever I had the best hand, it would hold up; if I was behind (i.e. A-K vs. lower pair), I'd pair up on the board. I made it up to about 30,000 in chips and decided to tighten my play and hold out to make the top 19.

Well Lady Luck was on my side and I came in 4th! I actually had the pleasure to knock out the 20th place finisher. Blinds were 1,500/3,000...I was big blind, small blind only had 1,200 left. Everyone else folded to us, and our hole cards are shown. He has J-7, I have Q-6; he hits his 7 on the flop, but I also caught my Q...and it holds up.

Now I know I haven't won jack diddly yet, but it felt good to have made the final table of a big tourney. I was planning on hitting the local sports bar with some friends to watch the UConn/Duke game tonight, but that took a back seat to the opportunity of winning 50 large!

I was on edge all day, waiting for the 10PM start time to roll around. A little over 1,200 people entered the tournament, making first place about $49,000. They were paying 120 spots, with the next 50 winning an entry into their Million Dollar Guaranteed qualifier. The clock finally read 10:00, and I was ready to rock.

Actually doubled up pretty early on with the following hand...I was in the big blind with plain awful 7-3 offsuit, but nobody folds so I get a free look at the flop. Lo and behold, it comes 7-3-Q, so I made a decent bet. One person called quickly, everyone else folds. I figured him/her for a pair of queens, so I'm feeling pretty good about my chances.

The turn card is garbage, so I bet $500 and get quickly called again. River is more garbage, so I go all in for about $350 and hope the other player didn't catch two pair. Of course I get called, and...they've only got Q-10. Now I can breathe again!

From that point on my luck steadily went south. I'm not catching any good starting hands, and getting raised whenever I bet. I'm down to about $1,200 in chips when I get dealt A-Q of diamonds in middle position. I'm ready to make a healthy raise when the guy before me (who has about $3,500) raises it to $500.

Now I'm in a tough spot: do I make my stand and try to double up again, or should I lay it down? Since this was the best hand I'd seen in a while, and the blinds were about to go up to $100/$200, I decided to go for it and go all-in. He called and showed A-K offsuit, which made him the 70% favorite (according to the odds calculator...I love that thing!).

After the turn, the board was 4-5-6-7, which meant a 3 or 8 will give me a split, and a miracle Q will double me up. But alas, the river was another measly 4, and I'm out of the tourney in 430th place.

So now it's about an hour after I got knocked out, and I'm still wondering if I made the right call or not. I could've folded and tried to hang in there...have to figure a raise to $500 means at least A-J, A-Q, A-K, or a decent pair. But the guy also had a lot of chips, maybe he was bluffing. What do you all think?

Well the $50,000 dream is over for now...but now I'm dead set on making it into another one of these big money tournaments. To quote my fellow members, "Hold'em is crack!"