I was a little demoralized when I moved to seat #4 at my new table. The stacks at this table were clearly heavier than most other tables. I think there was only 1 or 2 stacks at this table smaller than mine. Finally I discovered there were close to 2,800 entrants on day 1a and that we were down to about 400, making average stack around 21k. There was talk about possibly being in the money by just surviving day 1a, but we wouldn't know until they completed registration for day 1b.
Approximately what I remember my table looked like:
It was hard not to notice Seat #7, who was a very very old man. I was surprised he was playing poker. He had a big old stack and the entire table was joking around with him. I know it sounds discriminatory but I couldn't help but to be impressed with his stack to age ratio. He was certainly a character. His cowboy hat was unique. He had a snake head coming out of the front and the rattle from the back.
At this time my wife arrives to the tables for support. We talk for a brief time and I explain what has happened to my M, and how if I don't rally soon I will be struggling to just make the money. I didn't want to just make the money. I wanted to win this tournament.
She asked if the old guy in the cowboy hat was famous. I wasn't sure until I sat back down and finally heard everyone refer to him as "Slim."
Generally speaking I am a player of poker, not really a fan of poker. I have read about Amarillo Slim and have even seen some old black & white photos of him in books. After all this hobnobbing with some of the big wigs I think I am starting to become a fan as well.
Notable Hand #9
My Chip stack is down to about 14.5k and I have AKs in late position. I could talk about AK forever. It can be a powerful hand, but playing it for a +EV can be very tricky. I could blog about it for miles, as I'm sure most players could.
Seat #8 (who has about 14 k) raises from early position, $1800. When I have AK, if I am first to enter the pot or no one else has raised I will raise, most of the time. If I am raised in position I will generally just call and play my position on the flop.
I call. Everyone else folds and we are heads up.
Flop: A 4 7 rainbow Pot: ~ $5200
He bets $2400. Honestly, it feels like the first time in months my AK actually hits. I didn't have a great read on seat #8, but after 30 minutes of observing him, instinctively I did not find him to be much of a threat.
I raised to $4800, hoping he would fold. Almost immediately he pushes me all in.
I have in many instances laid down a hand like this. This is especially true in cash games against a player that I respect. Unless I feel strongly otherwise I am pretty good about following the rule that average winning hand is at least 2 pair. Although I base my plays on my situational reads, in general top-pair top kicker in a tournament setting is a stronger hand than in a cash game. In this situation I did not feel folding was the right thing to do. I have about 6.5k; If I lay this hand down I will be left in the red zone with an M of 4. The next play I make anyway is going to be an all-in push. It's coming to the end of the day, the binds and antes are mounting and people are more volatile, pushing a bit more often with sub-optimal hands. I have top pair top kicker. I don't think I will have another opportunity like this tonight. I call.
He flips up A9 off, and I flip my AK. He states "damn...you got the better end of that ace didn't you?"
I survive the turn and the river and bring my stack to around 30k and send my first victim home.
About one orbit later I pick up AA. Before I act there are 2 limpers and a raiser. I make a rather large re-raise and everyone folds adding another 7k or so to my stack. I am back in this ball game.
Level 10 Blinds 400-800 Antes 100
When level 10 came along I was feeling good. I was now a contending stack. I was again loosening up and picking up blinds/antes. At one point in late position I raised a 6-8off with Mr. Slim in the big blind. He clearly did not like my increased aggression and reluctantly mucked. When I mucked my cards he said: "I saw you muck a King...did you have another one of those?" I responded that I might give him some information if he wasn't a poker legend but respectfully must decline to answer. In addition to poor eye sight I was pleased that he had respect for my raise.
Notable Hand #10
I am halfway through level 10 with around 40k in chips. I am again dealt red Aces under the gun. I have been raising 2.5x the big blind when I was stealing. I try to keep my raise consistent when I have strong hands to conceal their strength.
I raised to $2,000.
I was not pleased to get 5 flat calls. I started to second guess my pre-flop bet and wished it had been bigger. I am little sick at this as now my aces are vulnerable to all kinds of garbage. As much as I hate it I mentally prepared myself to let this hand go if the situation dictated.
Flop: 6hAs10s --- Pot: 12.5k
I flop the nuts. With two spades on the board though it is vulnerable. In a cash game I will almost always bet this out to protect against someone taking a free card to a flush. In a tourney with 5 aggressive vultures left to act after me I will almost always check with a plan to check-raise all in. I am 90% confident I will get a bet.
It is checked all the way around to seat#1 who now has a little more than 20k. He pushes all-in. Seat #2 & 3 fold.
My wife is at the rail looking on. She can't really see what is happening, but I catch her eye and wink as if to note "watch this," and I push all my chips in.
Everyone else folds. He shows 6s6c and appears physically ill when I turn up my set of aces. My heart dropped for a moment when the turn brought a fourth spade, and then relaxed when the river was a blank. Although he was a nice guy and a fairly good player, I was happy to take all his chips and send him home.
Stacking all those chips was a wonderful inconvenience. It was even better to note the fear the rest of the table had for me after this show down. Part of me wished that it would have happened with more play time left as my fold equity had just sky rocketed. At the end of the level I had 65k.
My blacks were traded in for some pink 5k chips before we were instructed to bag them for the night. I was given my seat assignment for Monday. I was happy that I didn't have to play on Sunday as sleeping with all of my circulating adrenaline was hard to do. At the end of the night 280 of us were left.
Since I started playing poker in 2005 this day was the most fun I have ever had.