Today, on a spur of the moment, I decided to head to my local casino this morning to play in the morning tournament. I've played in one morning tournament before and it didn't go well (overshoving 40bb on the flop in the first 40 minutes with middle pair and spiking a 2nd pair - sigh), so I've normally avoided them. But I thought that today, it might go differently.

I was very right - it DID go differently. The casino was pretty empty, seeing as it was 9:30 in the morning, but another problem was that the tournament info screen that often comes up wasn't working today, so we were going with a handheld digital timer for the three tables that played. Also, it did get a slightly bigger turnout than last time - 25 runners. But these tourneys never pay out very many spots, which was why I was so nervous.

Also, I end up sitting at what would turn out to be the final table. And already several of the guys are talking about poker, the big monthly tournament my casino had yesterday, one of them even talked about how he multi-tables Pokerstars. So instantly, I'm wary, especially since at the other side of the table is the same guy who busted me back in April.

Of course, some hands go okay, and I get some good information. I manage to get a decent pot with pocket Kings one hand, and another I get valuable information when I raise with QJs, and the big blind squeezed with pocket 3s. A lot of these guys are showing their hands, too, which helps quite a bit.

I didn't keep a full track of hands we played, but I do know that several people are busting and rebuying. But then, just before break, I managed to get VERY lucky: there was a raise and a call while I was in the big blind, and I look down at A-K, which I 3-bet with. I get one caller - the multi-table grinder, whos an older gentlemen. The flop is a complete blank, something like 4-7-T, but I still make a c-bet. Problem: The c-bet was more than half of my remaining stack. Not good. I should have just shoved. I get called, of course, and the turn is a blank. Realizing there was nothing more I could do, I put my last 2475 into the pot with A-high. The other guy tanked before calling - with 98s, just an open straight draw. My A-high holds, and I double up just before the break. However, the skilled guy didn't forget that hand, and he played the rest of the tourney thinking I had nothing whenever I raised.

The middle levels were fairly uneventful, other than that some of my chips got taken away due to bad flops in multiway pots, and that I once checked down a hand with T-high on a board with 3 overcards - and WON. But mostly I was trying to stay away from confrontations, as some stacks were still quite a bit bigger than mine, including a few new faces.

But then, it happened - we reached the final table, and I still had a middling stack. However, the blinds were raising MUCH more quickly than the evening tournaments, and they were already up to 500/1000 with a 100 ante by the final table.

Of course, people started to bust, generally after limping with mediocre hands. However, just before the 2nd break, I got dealt K-Js 7-handed utg. Counting, I had only about 10 big blinds left, so I shoved. And guess who calls? That's right - the same guy who busted me last game. Except this time, instead of A-Q, he has pocket 6s. However, I flop a jack to double up, although he still has a huge stack.

It's right then that I realize I had a decent shot of actually winning this thing for once. They only paid three spots, but that was fine - I could make it, even though my stack was only average. Unfortunately, the first hand after the break had blinds raised to 1k/2k with a 300 ante, so already I'm short stacked again. Another couple of players bust, and I get some steals with A-Q and pocket Jacks, but I'm still in trouble.

But then, the turning point happens. The player utg while 5-handed min-raised, and I look down at pocket 8s. I ask how much the guy has left - I have him covered, but only barely. Even though I'm almost short-stacked, I do just flat-call, as I had a plan seeing as how we were so close to the bubble. The flop is 6-5-4 all spades, and since I had the 8 of spades, I realized I could actually pull off this plan. I checked, and the guy made another small raise. I then purposefully checked my cards - I knew I had the 8 of spades, but I wanted it to look like I was checking to make sure. Then, before putting my cards down again, I announced that I was shoving.

The original raiser tanked HARD against this. It seemed like he didn't think I had it, but he didn't think he was strong enough to call. Then, in a blatant attempt to get a tell from me, he revealed the Q of spades in his hand without folding. I tried my best to stay straight-faced, although I did stare at the card a little too much. Eventually, he folds, saying the other was a non-spade ace and that he thought I was on the nut flush draw, which was still better than him. Not quite, and I DID make a mistake here - I showed my hand. And most of the final table thought that I played that well, and particularly liked the flop shove with an overpair+straight flush draw, although one guy admitted that he folded the 7 of spades. I shouldn't have showed, but I couldn't help it - the rest of the table was showing too often, and I thought it was courtesey.

However, even with that, I was still only 2nd or 3rd in chips, with the guy I doubled up through being the bigstack and two spots to my left. I was getting really few opportunities to steal, but then it happened - the bigstack lost two big hands in a row and busted in 5th, making a young guy with huge headphones the bigstack, and one who was only moderately aggressive for a guy used to bigstack bullies, but MUCH more aggressive than most of the people at these tourneys are. In fact, I think the entirety of that final 5 were probably some of the best players I've seen at the casino - they weren't great, but they were decent, knew about correct calling odds, some were good at reading hands, and generally could be VERY good.

However, I was good as well. We made a small consolation prize for the bubble boy - we each chip in an extra $20, and 4th place takes that $80 prize while the rest of us fight for the $125, $255 and $500 pay spots, respectively. Eventually, the shortstack to my left busts in 4th, leaving the Pokerstars multi-tabler and the aggressive headphones guy in the money. My first cash!

I'm consistently 2nd in chips, but still short stacked, throughout the 3-handed period. But I try to be aggressive when I'm in control. I raise the short stack with flush draws, I bet my good hands, I do everything I can to chip up. But eventually, the multi-tabler busts to the headphones guy, and we're heads up, with him having about a 2:1 chip lead.

It's then that I figure I'm shoving any pair I get, any ace, and any two cards T or higher with my stack of 6bb. And crazily enough, two cards T or high composes about 75% of the hands I get dealt in the small blind. And because I'm pushing so often, the headphones guy keeps saying he'll call the moment he gets a hand that doesn't suck. And eventually, he does. I shove Q-To - and he calls with Q-To, and we split.

It's another several hands before he shoves, and I call with pocket 9s. He has A-3o, and I flop a set. Instantly, I'm now the slight chip-leader.

Because the blinds are so huge though (5k/10k with a 500 ante), once this happens, the headphones guy asks me if I want to chop. After a bit of consideration, we do it - we each take home $375, with my extra $5 going as a tip to the dealer.

All-in-all, I made some mistakes, but I also capitalized on short stacks and how players might play near the bubble, and it resulted in my first live cash AND a semi-win. $300 profit is nothing to sneeze at.

That's all I have to report. Chris out!