November 8, 2004
I usually stick to 10-person sit-and-go tournaments, but last Thursday I played a bigger tournament, with 650 total players and a $33 buy-in. After not catching any cards for a few rotations and getting blinded away, I built my stack from the 1,000 chips I started with to around 5,000, stayed there for quite a while, and then moved up to 8,000.
At that point, I knocked out a couple of the low stacks at my table to move over 10,000, peaking at around 11,500 or so. With about 150 players left, I started to catch some cards, but I got absolutely killed on the river. Twice in the span of about 20 minutes, I found myself all-in after the flop with top pair/top kicker against someone with top pair/low kicker. In other words, I had them dominated with two cards left. And both times the river made us each a full house, thus negating my kicker advantage and making a split pot.
Had I won both of the pots, like I should have, I would have been among the top 5-10 chip leaders heading down the stretch. Instead, I had about an average stack, and when my pocket kings didn't hold up against another medium stack's ace-ten unsuited (I'm not sure why he called my all-in re-raise), I was crippled and down to about 2,500 in chips.
I stuck around long enough to finish 58th, earning myself a cool $68 (a profit of $35 for a couple hours' work). Not bad, but the first-place prize was $4,200, second place was good for $3,000, and I was a couple of really bad breaks from having a chance to get there. Very disappointing. A little later I played another $33 buy-in tourney, this time with 250 players, and finished 22nd when my pocket queens couldn't hold up against pocket eights. Another tough way to lose (and yeah, I know everyone despises "bad beat" stories).
I continue to do well playing sit-and-go tournaments, and each passing week of profits goes a long way to convincing me that my play isn't a fluke. I'm certainly not a great player, but I've come a very long way from when I first started playing. The next step, I suppose, is starting to play in some live games. The problem is that I think I am far better playing no-limit tournaments, rather than the limit ring games that most live poker rooms tend to offer.
Regardless, I would guess that those of you who play at the Canterbury Card Club here in Minnesota might see my ugly mug a few times over my winter break from school (although I hear there are unbelievably long waits to get a table there). Actually, I had a crazy thought while I was playing in the 650-person tournament. If I can continue to play well for the next few months, I could build up a large enough bankroll to actually fly to Las Vegas and play in one of the smaller stakes World Series of Poker events this summer.
"Smaller stakes" is all relative, of course, since the lowest buy-in for a no-limit tournament is $1,000. Hell, I could get really crazy and try to play my way into the Main Event through a $1,000 satellite tournament. Like I said, it's a crazy thought. I do wonder if they'd let me wear a "The Hardball Times" t-shirt on ESPN ...
Since I figure I should branch out to live games now, I suppose I should ask if any of you guys have a local game in Minnesota that has room for one more. Since a large percentage of my audience here probably plays poker and a large percentage is in Minnesota, there must be a few games out there that wouldn't mind having me. I'll bring snacks, so drop me an e-mail.
Oh, and one other thing: If you are a betting man (and odds are that if you made it all the way through this entry you are), then I highly suggest you take the Colts minus the points tonight against the Vikings. I can't possibly express to you how strongly I feel about this. Just do it, and you can thank me in the morning.
Today at The Hardball Times:
- The Meat Market: Third Basemen (by Aaron Gleeman)