"You win by not losing. Except when it gets to be very shorthanded (final 2 or 3). If you get that far, it's a matter of headsup skills."- Poker Penguin's Law of Tournament PokerI woke up early to write some thoughts about politics and the RNC. Afterwards, I fired up Party Poker and decided to play in their 8am $10 multi-table NL tournament. 310 others signed up and top 40 made the money with $775 for first place.
Levels 1-4: I played zero hands out of the blinds. I folded everything else and read poker blogs, the Wall Street Journal, and my favorite hooker blog while eating poundcake and sipping green tea. I was chipped down to T810 and I was roughly 1/3 of the average stack with 132 players remaining at the first break.
Level 5: I got a table change and I was the short stack at my new table. With A4s UTG I moved all-in. It was one of those "Fuck it!" moments that we all have once in a while. I had a gut feeling. Of course I was wrong. The big stack in the LB called with AKs. I flopped a 4 and bad beat the chip leader to double up (T1620) with some breathing room. I even apologized in the chat for my fishy move. I'm not a young gun who watched too many episodes of the WPT and think I'm a Gus Hansen clone. I pride myself in doing my own thing in life, and that often requires me listening to the voice inside of me. Sometimes it gives me horrible advice.... but most of the time, it's cajoled me into going places I never would have had the balls to go otherwise.
Level 6: I reraised the chip leader with AQo in LP. She pushed me all in with her A10 and I doubled up again with T3915. Another table change and in my first orbit, I picked up the blinds with AQs and K10s. By the end of the level, I increased my stack by 6x from the first break. There were 80 players left and I was slightly above the average stack size.
Level 7: Winning coin flip situations is crucial. Those middle pocket pairs have to hold up against A-x over the length of multi-table tourneys if you want to make a final table. I won a race with the Hilton Sisters vs. A10 and doubled up to over T7800. Although I was 4th in my table in chips, I was 10th overall and feeling confident. Getting lucky and hitting flops is even better. I called the small blind with Q9s. I hit an opened straight draw and a flush draw. There were three players also in the pot and I checked-called the min. bet and hit a flush on the turn and took down a lucky pot, in a hand I never would have played if I didn't have the chips.
Level 8: I was a tad over T10k in chips. Then I caught pocket 8s three times in one orbit. I raised each time, picking up the blinds twice and then taking down AJ when the flop came out: A38. I bet the pot on the flop and the chipleader put me all-in. I doubled up to T20,000+ and found myself 2nd in chips overall with 50 players left and I was 3.5x the average stack.
Level 9: I lost a 1/4 of my chips to a short stack when my AJ fell to AQ. I wasn't getting playable hands, and folded plenty of small-aces and suited kings. By the end of the level I was still 3rd in chips with 47 players left.
Level 10: 88 in the BB. Nothing is sweeter than flopping your set with an Ace on a rainbow board in a multi-way pot. I checked, a guy with an ace checked, and so did two guys in late position. On the turn the guy in late position bet and we all called. On the river, I checked my set, the ace checked, the guy in late position bet the pot, I called, the ace moved all-in (check raise). Both guys called and so did I. My trips took down a nice sized pot. I was the chip leader with over T24k. I knew at that point, I wasn't going to win. I had the chip lead to early with 42 players left and the top 40 paying out.
Level 11: I bad beated AQ with AJ when I caught a river straight. T28k and shocked. I made the money and was 1st out of 40th.
Level 13: With 25 players left, I had T22,000. I was third in chips at my table and fourth overall. I had been playing with two huge stacks for the last three levels. We all took turns alternating as the chip leader. In LP, I raised with AJs. I big blind called me. She was the chip leader. The flop: AJ7 with two diamonds. I had clubs and moved all-in after the little blind checked to me. She called and caught a river flush to knock me out and have almost T50K in chips! Yeah she ended up winning it all and I got stiffed with 25th place and a lousy $22.50 in prize money.
Oh well. I played solid. I'd rather go out knowing at the time I bet all my chips, I had the best hand and was river'd... instead of me making a bonehead move and losing my chips on a semi-bluff draw. I hit a lot of flops with my middle pairs and I got lucky a few times and dished out a few bad beats. That's how you win tournaments, like the Penguin said, by simply... not losing pots. Sounds basic, but only play in pots you can win.