I have also played a few of the Venetian's standard $120 7pm tourney's. Since the DSE began, they have been intelligently labeled as the "second chance" tournament boosting the fields from the standard 150 to 250. These are turbo minefield donkaments and if you don't hit some big hands within 90 minutes you could be looking at an M less than 5. Two of the three times I played this event I got knocked out on the bubble.
Picture of me tearing up the final table just before I walk into the QQ vs. KK pit.
So here is a list of things I learned (or need to re-learn) from this tournament:
1. Don't bluff bad players.
Its easier to play good players than bad players. It is hard to know what goes on inside the head of a weak player. They are volatile and can do anything. I lost a big pot when bluffing a player who called me on the river with pocket 8s when the board had 3 over cards. His inability to lay down small pairs was eventually what knocked him out...I just wish I had recognized earlier to value bet him only.
2. AJ is a shitty preflop hand when someone has raised.
I have learned this lesson before and usually I am disciplined enough to fold it in any position. I lost a good sized pot when I called AJs in position. When the Flop came A310 and he checked I bet and ultimately lost a bunch of chips to AQ. I know better than this.
3. Stay disciplined with controlling pot size.
Sometimes I get carried away and greedy with my top pairs or even two pairs and do not make a strong enough effort to control the size of the pot. My QQ loss to KK is a good example of this. I can only justify what I did because I was clearly on a rush and felt I was being challenged by a non-believer.
4. Call draws more often at early stages of a tournament or any time deep stacked.
Sometimes I am too tight in the earlier stages of a tournament, calling my draws only when the math dictates. Its hard to calculate implied odds when you are unfamiliar with people, but generally in tournaments players like to get their chips in the middle with average hands. I reminded myself of this during the early stage of the tournament and called a $400 bet in a $600 pot on a nut gut shot straight draw. I hit my card on the turn and won close to 8k. If I would have missed, it would have been an easy fold to a turn bet and the damage would have been minimal to my 14k stack.
5. Poker does not burn calories.
Although it is not really a lesson for me, I was amazed at the number of morbidly obese players in this tournament. Some individuals were easily over 400lbs. I wanted to hand out my card at times...but you can't do that.
My pet peeve at the late stages of the tournament was the large number of players that did not know to check down a multi-way pot when a very short stack was all-in. I saw people betting bottom and middle pairs heavy in this situation only to watch others fold and the short stack double up. I have not played a large number of tourneys but it amazes me that people do not know this.
Although I played far from perfect, at the end of the day I was pleased with myself. So far playing tournaments has earned me much more money than my cash games. I doubt I will ever again be a regular cash game player. I have much more confidence in my tournament skills and hope I will be able to find the time to play in these events.