To celebrate the one week break I get after the two exams I wrote last week, I took a trip this Thursday to my local casino again to play in one of their tourneys. As it was Holy Thursday and the start of the long weekend, not to mention the crowded parking lot, I expected today's tourney to be bigger than usual. It didn't disappoint - it attracted a total of 87 players, when generally weekdays are lucky to get more than 40.

I started off at seat 3. With the dealer add-on, stacks started at 9500, and blinds start at 25/50. And quite quickly I see how this table is going to happen - I'm going to get almost no cards, but I start to make more amazing reads on players then I ever have previously.

Most of the players are fish - notable is seat 1, who limped on the button with A-Jo. Although he won the pot and admitted what he had, he said he didn't raise because "he didn't want people to fold." Um, with A-Jo, yes you do want people to fold. So there's a good one already.

Seat 5 is an aboriginal kid with a backwards cap. He's playing quite LAG, which actually makes him one of the better players unbelievably. He also tries getting tricky, though, and he does bad bet sizing, only raising 3x after 3 people limped, then checked with top pair+2nd kicker+open ended draw before check-raising a probe bet on a blank turn. Also, the only hand I played this level was a BIG mistake on my part - he limped utg, and a fishy woman in seat 9 raised to 150. I look down at 67s in the big blind and call, because the stacks are deep, but then the LAG kid limp-reraises big! My fault - I called this reraise. I should NOT have done this - a big leak for me. He later said he had pocket 10s.

Also, seat 9 is notably a calling station, chasing draws without the odds and playing her made straights and flushes passively.

Level 2 (50/100) starts and I'm down to 8800. Seat 4 just joins; a young aboriginal-looking woman. And I immediately see how she's going to be playing. Twice she limped to open out of position, called a raise, and then donked-out big. One of the times was with Q-Jo, which she flopped two-pair with. And she's doing big donk-bets all the time. She's playing surprisingly aggressively postflop.

Seat 6 is also a new player, and he's also good from what I see - he raised A-Ko utg and bet top pair top kicker every street.

I then see seat 4 claim a stack on a stupid play, making me think she was ripe for the picking. Once again, she donked out against the LAG kid - I don't quite recall what she had exactly, but the LAG kid reraised her BIG. She tank-called then instantly shoved the turn, which the LAG kid called. It turns out seat 4 donked out with a gutshot draw and turned a flush draw - which hit the river, claiming most of the LAG kid's chips.

The LAG kid is then on tilt - he shoves 32bb the next hand, which gets folders all around. Two hands later, he shoves 34bb. Seat 7 is a man in a cowboy hat, who tank calls... with K-Js! And it wins. What an awful play. The LAG kid sighs and goes to rebuy, leaving the table.

Seat 8 has been here since the beggining, but he's been quiet until now. When I raised with ATo, I got calls from seats 4, 7 and 8. The flop is 8-3-2 rainbow, and I don't c-bet due to all of the players. Surprisingly, seat 4 doesn't bet, but seat 8 does - he bets big. But I'm the only one who folds. Seat 4 and 7 call, and eventually lose quite a bit when seat 8 reveals his set of 8s.

Level 3 starts at 100/200 antes. Notable here is that seat 4 finally raises utg instead of limping. She gets two callers, and the flop is ATT. She c-bet, but then got raised AND re-raised by the other players. This screams that one of them has a T, but did she think that? Nope - she said she didn't believe it and 4-bet shoved with A-Ko, getting snapped by A-T.

And then it happend - I get A-9s on the button, best hand I've had in a while, and raise to isolate 2 limpers - the limpers don't call, but seat 4 does. The flop is A-Q-6, two spades, and she donks out with a pot-sized bet. Since she does this all the time, I instantly shoved on her. I only had about 6500 behind, so she's getting 4500 to call a pot of 10,000 - decent to call with anything but a bluff. She sighs and calls, flipping over K-T of spades - she had a combo flush+gutshot draw. And she spikes the gutshot on the turn.

Needless to say, I lost control when I saw that J. My backdoor flush didn't complete on the river, and I stormed out of the casino, ultra-pissed. But as I was about to head back to my car, I thought - I'm getting upset at losing a 60/40. This shouldn't be like that. So I thought - there were still plenty of people left, and most of them were terrible. Also, the nice spring evening was calming my nerves. I spent 6 minutes outside before I headed back into the casino and rebought.

My rebuy put me at seat 9 on a different table. I did NOT take the dealer add-on this time, as the next level was 3 minutes away and would only be worth 5 big blinds at that point. I DID take the end-of-rebuy add-on, though, which was an additional 10bb, so I start level 4 (150/300) with about 10500 chips.

One thing I notice is that it's harder for me to get reads on this new table. Worse, I've gone completely card-dead. The best opportunity I get is to steal from seat 10 and a sitout with Q-2s, but I don't because I'm not that desparate yet, and it's quite likely seat 10 would call a raise (he limped utg earlier). Seat 10 is actually gone fairly quickly, but I do see seat 8 to my left with a sizeable stack. He explained to me that he had quintupled up (!!!) in the first level, but got nothing going since then.

Level 5 (200/400) comes, and I'm still card dead. Thankfully, I start to get some reads. Seat 4 is being talkative, and he's short-stacked. He raised a little more than 2.5x with only 12bb left, and didn't get the money in until the flop. Seat 3 was a... actually, I can't say. It would be offensive. But there was something up with him, and he was limping and calling raises a LOT. In later levels, he stopped calling raises, but he never stopped limping.

The first 3-bet of the table came this level from seat 7, who was playing kind of tight in hindsight. I was in the BB and look down at T9s, so it's into the muck. Seat 8 also plays, limping to open on the button - don't know why he did that.

The only playable hand I get this level is K-To, but I can't play that with a raise in front of me, especially when I'm in the small blind. It's into the muck.

Level 6, 300/600, comes and I'm down to 15bb. But it's here that I finally win some pots. I get 3 limpers when I'm in the BB, and I check my option with A-9s, as these players will sometimes limp with AQ to AT. I flop top pair, though, and I make a bet - I get a caller, and the turn is a blank. Another bet, another call, a flush-completing river. We both check and I take down a pot, taking me up to 20bb.

I also manage to get pocket 10s, the best hand of the night so far. I get a couple of callers, but they fold to my c-bet on a Q-high flop.

Level 7 comes, with 400/800 and a 100 ante. I get K-Jo and Q-Js early in the level, but I have to fold them because tight players (including seat 7 and are raising. I might have been able to play the Q-J, but it was for a lot of my stack. I'm down to 17bb at this point.

That's when the bigstack moves directly to my left. A quick count shows that he EASILY has more than 83,000 chips - more than 100bb! I'm worried my steals won't get respect from this guy. He then shows how he got the bigstack - he called an utg raise with K-Qo, flopped top two-pair and raised big. I also noticed seat 6 at one point call a shove on the flop with nothing but an overcard - I don't know exactly what went down, but that's a bad play in almost every case.

Then the bigstack limped utg with a sigh. The flop was 5-X-X, all hearts, and he called a bet with it. Then a black J hit and he reraised all-in, showing J-5o (J was a heart). Wow, what a play.

Level 8 - blinds are 500/1000 with a 200 ante. First hand, there's several limpers, and I look down at A-10o. I shove my short stack, get a bunch of folds, and I'm up to 18,000 chips.

Unfortunately, I then made a really bad play this level - seats 7 and 8 limped out of position, and I look down at K-Js and limp. BAD PLAY - one, my stack's not deep enough to play so speculatively; two, I'm WAY out of position. This is confirmed when seat 5 reshoves his 12bb, and I'm forced to fold.

A little later, I get pocket 6s utg. Because I want to show strength and keep a stack, I raise 2.5x. But then a short-stacked seat 2 flat-calls for 1/5 of his stack, and seat 4 reshoves 8bb against me. Against this, I'm screwed, so I have to fold. Seat 2 calls, and they flip over A-Jo and pocket 9s. The 9s hold, and seat 2 is down to about 3bb. I'm down to 14bb, and it's soon 8bb once level 9 comes.

Level 9, 700/1400 with 300 ante, starts off with a cooler elsewhere. There wa a raise somewhere, but seats 3,4, and 5 call (4 and 5 are the blinds). Flop is K-4-4. There's action, but eventually all the money gets in between seats 4 and 5 on either the turn or river. Seat 4 says "I've got 2nd nuts" and turns over pocket Kings, which he flat-called with a short stack out of position?! Wow. And seat 4 says "I've got nuts" and turns over pocket 4s for quads! Worse, someone else says they folded a K, so a coolered seat 4 who misplayed his Kings is out.

All I do this level is steal with A-8s utg+1, which gets through. I get up to 15500 chips, but I still have work to do.

Unfortunately, Level 10 (1000/2000, 300 ante) goes south. I'm completely card dead again, and even if I wanted to steal, I can't against all the limpers. Another bigstack, seat 1, joins the table, and I watch him play pocket Aces passively every street. Eventually, because I will have no fold equity left if I don't, I shove my last 11,000 chips utg with 10-9o. Seat 10 sigh-calls with A-Qo and I get no help. After one rebuy, I'm out in 24th and have no chance of seeing that $1100 win.

Today was a great lesson for me in both reading other players while playing live, and in trying to manage my tilt control. When I went on tilt, I went outside for 6 minutes before rebuying, and it helped clear my head enormously. I hope I do better later.