A couple of weeks back, I had some time off from school. With that in mind, I headed down to the local casino to play my first live tournament of the year. I take a seat at the table, in seat 7, and I get a pretty good idea of how the tournament’s going to play out in just my first couple of hands. There are a number of people at the table. Seat 1 is this older guy who seems clueless as to how to even play poker, let alone bet; Seat 3 is this old short-haired woman I had seen a lot but had rarely played against; Seat 9 was a chubby bald guy who seemed to play weakly post-flop, and seat 5 is a LAG who’s only moderately loose. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

First hand, I’m in the button, and I look down at ATo. The woman in seat 3 limps, and I raise to 200. Only she calls, and she folds on a 783 two diamond flop when I c-bet. But literally the very next hand, seat 5 raises to 150, I look down at pocket Queens! I 3-bet to 450, and much to my surprise, the old woman cold 4-bets me to 1100! Note that we only start with 6000 chips, 7000 with the add-on. I think for quite a while, and because I’m still in position, I decide to call and only continue if I improve – her hand reeks of Aces or Kings seeing as how the 4-bet was small-ish, but if I hit a Q on the flop I can take her whole stack. Unfortunately, the flop is T-high, so I have to fold and I’m already down almost 1000 chips. I get a walk next time I’m in the big blind, but not much else.

We soon get some new players this level. There’s a new old woman in seat 2 I haven’t met before (and seems to have an Irish accent), and seat 6 is a guy in a denim jacket. I’m soon involved in another pot; seat 2 raises a fair bit and 6 calls. I look down at a medium suited ace in the big blind, and due to the pot-odds and number of people in the hand, I call myself to look for a flush. The flop is Q97, but there are two hearts on board and wouldn’t you know, I’ve got hearts! I’m not QUITE strong enough to donk out, though, so instead I check. Seat 2 bets quite small, and seat 6 calls – I’m getting just the pot-odds I need, and so I call as well. The same thing happens on the blank turn. On the river, I unfortunately miss my flush, but I do hit an ace. I still check anyways, but then seat 2 bet a very small amount on the river again, which seat 6 almost immediately calls.

This is where I get confused – what the heck could seat 2 be playing to bet all three streets, but all of them bets of less than ½ pot, even as low as ¼ pot? And what does seat 6 have to be calling? Because I’m an idiot, I still call with my pair of aces. Turns out seat 2 was betting the whole way with KQ for top pair+2nd kicker until I hit the river, but seat 6 had been check-calling the entire way with 97o for two pair, meaning he gets the pot. Not once did this guy raise his two pair, despite the board being very draw-heavy and none of the draws (other than 86) coming in. Now I’m down even more.

The last hand I play of the first level is 88. Several people limp behind me, and I raise to 250 in the small blind with pocket 8s (which I realize now is probably a bad play out of position). This raise fails – EVERY limper and the big blind come along, so I have to check-fold on a J96J board.

The 50/100 level finally comes, and I start to see how badly seat 6 is playing. He’s limping a lot, and when he DOES raise, it’s to something like 2.5x when two people have limped behind him. We also got a new seat 4 – a guy in a baseball cap, and he immediately seems to be playing loose-aggressive. In any case, Seat 6 soon limps again, and I look down at QQ. I raise to 400, and only the weak guy in seat 9 calls. The flop is Qxx, two hearts; I’ve got top set, but the board is wet, and I know that these players love chasing flush draws, so I c-bet anyways. Unfortunately, I get no more out of him, and I take it down.

About this time, two new guys join the table. Seat 8 is a pretty short guy with glasses, but I instantly recognize seat 10 – he’s an old, bearded chatterbox who’s notorious for busting me from two previous tournaments, and I consider him to be kind of a rival. I’m instantly reminded of his loose playstyle when I see him limp with a small pair and slowplay bottom set the whole way, reminding myself that I have to be careful against him.

In my big blind, there are 4 limpers. I look down and find pocket Aces! I raise to only 500, which is probably a bad idea, but I’ve noticed that larger raises tend to not get called regardless of pot-odds or number of players preflop. My rival calls the 500, but suddenly seat 5 overshoves his 70 big blind stack against me. I think only briefly to make sure that he has me covered before calling, while my rival folds. Seat 5 turns over pocket 7s, and the board comes out 89K3K. My bad start has reversed with this amazing double-up, and now seat 5 is crippled. He busts the next hand and immediately goes to rebuy, where he moves to another table.

Only two more things of note this level: one is that my rival minraised utg with A9 suited, which is good to note. The other was that even after my win, there were two limpers and I looked down at KJo in the cutoff. After tanking for a while, I folded my KJ – I just felt it was too weak in what was likely to be a multiway pot.

The next level (75/150) comes, and although I don’t get involved, I see a huge mistake happen. The Irish lady in seat 2 raised to 600 utg, and only the LAGgy baseball cap guy calls her. The board was Q8x, and the Irish lady c-bet. Almost immediately, seat 4 overshoved on her. She tanked for a LONG time on this board, and eventually she declared “call.” She turns over… KTs for king-high? And she starts talking about how she wants a jack. She completely misread her hand and thought she had a gutshot draw. Well guess what, lady – even if you did have a gutshot draw, that was an awful call, especially since seat 6 showed pocket Aces, which he had just called with.

I get nothing for a while (seat 6 is still limping utg with trash like Q8o), but eventually it’s my big blind, and I check my option with K5o. I flop top pair on a K97 rainbow board, but since there are quite a few players and my kicker is weak, I check the flop. When it’s checked around and the turn is a J, I make a small bet of 225. Only seat 6 in the small blind calls, and we both check the A river. He shows down 74s for bottom pair, and I get a small pot.

Soon after, seat 10 raises utg, and seat 8 (who had been pretty quiet) suddenly 3-bet shoved his 15bb stack that had somehow gotten that short. My rival calls, and his AQ busts the glasses-guy’s A6o (although there was a sweat with a 57A8 flop and turn with three diamonds). The last hand before break, I get 76dd on my button, and with two other limpers in the pot, it’s the perfect spot for me to see a flop. I call, and 9 checks his option. The flop is 549 two hearts, so I have an open-ender but nothing else. But suddenly, without warning, 9 bets the pot without hesitation. There’s a caller, but with a bet that big and no pot-odds, my medium draw is into the muck. I forget the rest of the action, but the turn and river are a Q and a K and seat 9 shows down a set of 5s, which actually makes a lot of sense. But even after this, the break hits, and after adding on I have 13,150 chips, or about 66 big blinds after the break.

Soon after we come back from the break (100/200 blinds with a 25 ante), a new guy arrives in seat 8. He’s covered in tattoos and has a Toronto Bluejays cap on, and the first hand he plays I can instantly tell he’s LAG. He raised to 500 utg, and he immediately gets three callers with 1, 3 and 4. I look down in my big blind at pocket 2s and think – it’s not a strong pair, and I’ll be out of position, but I’m getting over 8:1 pot-odds. Even without a set’s implied odds, that’s enough to make a speculative call. Unfortunately, the flop is 766 two clubs, and I have to fold to a ¾ pot bet.

Two hands later, though, seats 1, 2 and 3 all limp. I look down at AKs on my button, which is a great spot. I raise to 1100 (5.5x). Both of the blinds call and so does the clueless guy in seat 1, but 2 and 3 fold. The flop comes AK4 two clubs – I have top two pair, but the board is too wet for me to slow-play, especially when everyone checks to me. I bet 3250 into a pot of about 5000, and 8 starts tanking. Eventually, he reluctantly gives up whatever he had, and the other two snap-fold. I take down another pot. The very next hand, though, I limp with JTs in the cutoff, and it soon becomes a 7-way limped pot. The flop is 865 rainbow. Everyone checks to the button, the bluejays seat 8, who thinks and then overbets the limped pot. Everyone folds, and he claims he had 74 for an awful limp and the 2nd nut straight.

The only other thing of note to happen this level is the old woman in seat 3 getting crippled by the Irish lady in 2. 3 had raised utg with AQo, 2 had called in the blinds with ATo, then donked out on an A23 flop and overshoved a T turn, spiking two pair.

The 150/300 (25 ante) level comes, and 8 gets crippled in back to back hands. First, seat 2 took most of his stack when 8 kept chasing a flush draw that missed, and then he lost even more by calling 3’s shove with QTo., which lost to AKo. He did double up the hand after, but he was still less than 10bb left.

Soon after, bluejays in 8 shoves again, and 9 reshoves with about the same stack size. Interestingly, my rival in 10 (whose stack is big) and the clueless guy in 1 both call. I look down in the big blind at AKhh! I think for quite a while – I COULD reshove here, but there wouldn’t be much point. There’s nothing in the side pot to win, and my rival’s stack is bigger than mine, so he could bust me. I elect to just call with my hand. It gets checked down the whole way – the board goes Q75J6, Q and J of hearts, meaning I just missed a royal flush. My rival turns over AJ for 2nd pair, 1 turns over AKo, and 9 reveals pocket 6s for a spiked river set. 8 mucks and busts out. I later talked with my rival about this hand, saying that I had considered shoving before the flop but I thought that he could have called and busted me, and he responded that with AJ suited he probably would have called that shove.

The only other things worth mentioning this level is the new player in seat 8 – he’s a bald guy in a cap and sunglasses who I’ve often played against before. Also, I managed to steal the blinds by raising 2.5x utg with 88.

Here comes the 200/400 level, and we get a new guy – his hair is grey, and he has a double chin. Already he’s chatting up some of the other players, and he describes himself as a “conservative” player. Well, we’ll see buddy. But soon, my rival raises in middle position, which seat 3 calls. The flop comes KQQ and he bets out, and granny in seat 3 shoves her short-ish stack in response. My rival calls, revealing an attempted blind steal turned into trips with Q3s. Granny isn’t down-and-out, as she still has JTo for a straight draw, but it misses and she busts. The only hand I get to play at first is T7s, which I check in my big blind when it’s limped to me. The flop is QQ7, which means I paired up, but seat 6 to my immediate right suddenly bets out, and I feel really bad about my hand, so into the muck it goes. But seat 2 calls, and then 6 shoved a blank river, which 2 also called. 6 had pocket 3s, but 2 had A7o for a better pair, so 6 busts as well.

I’m card dead for almost the entire level – the only thing I get is ATo, and I have to fold that when my rival raises utg, then seat 4 3-bet shoved and 5 reshoved. My rival folded as well, showing A4s before doing so, and 4 and 5 turn over pocket 8s and AK suited, respectively. There’s a king on the flop, and so 5 busts 4. A new seat 4, a younger guy with windslicked hair joins. The main things I take away are: 1) seat 5 keeps limping, contradicting his claim of being conservative, and 2) windslick’s first hand is a big 3-bet squeeze and a 60% c-bet on a board of Ah Jh 5h.

I do get to play one hand this level – AQo utg. I raise to 100, but seat 8 takes one look at me and 3-bets huge to 4400. With a bet that huge out of position, my AQo is no good, and so I fold. He keeps making these big bets, as he raised to 3200 utg the next hand – a total of 8x.

Now we’re at the 300/600 (50 ante) level, and despite being short on chips, clueless seat 1 is STILL limping. With only 6bb left, he limped with K7s, and he ended up busting to seat 9s 89o that hit a straight. I’m still card dead again – I’m getting lots of suited connectors, but they’re all out of position. Worse, I keep seeing that if I play them, I’d hit things like trips and two pair everywhere. Eventually, I’m down to 16 big blinds. Seat 4 limps in the hijack, and I look down at A9o. With the antes in play, the limper, and my desperation, I SHOVE my A9o. Everyone folds, and I’m over 11,000 chips again. Yay.

I notice that Irish lady in seat 2 raised to 4x utg – a grand total of over 6.5x without any limpers. Even more amazing, two people actually called her! She took down the pot with an overshove c-bet, and later claimed she had an overpair. Eventually, I get another hand – A4dd in the hijack. Because I hadn’t played since that shove, I make a standard raise to 2.5x (1500), and only 9 on the button calls. The flop is AJK rainbow. I have top pair, but it’s not very strong. Nonetheless, I c-bet anyways, and 9 takes only a little bit of thinking before he calls. The turn is the K of diamonds – I now have a flush draw with my top pair, but there’s also 4 cards to a broadway on board. I think for a bit, and I decide that my flush draw gives me enough equity in the chance that someone has me beat to give me positive EV (that, and I don’t have tons behind anyways). So I shove. 9 snap calls and turns over… KQo, for the flopped nuts. UGH. I prepare to bust, as I just have 9 outs to win and 2 to tie. But the river is the Qd – broadway on board, but I hit the flush. I cripple seat 9, who’s kind of upset, and I double to over 23,000 chips, meaning I’m going to break with about 29bb.

After the 2nd break, we’re at the 400/800 (100 ante) level. I notice my rival raising utg a lot, and he likes to show his good hands. He raised to 3000 (3.75x) utg with AQs. Also, I’m getting annoyed by seat 5 – he keeps open-limping in the small blind against me, I always look down at two cards that are less than 5, and he always bets out small on the flop which I have to fold. So annoying!

There’s soon a table break, and we’re down to 20 players in the 56 person tournament. 6 players will get paid, with $800+ and likely a $330 tournament ticket for the winner. There are new players in seat 1 (a fat guy in a shirt that reads TASK), 3 (an old guy with a moustache), and 6 (a younger unshaven guy in a fedora, meaning I instantly distrust him). Soon after all this happens and we’re 10-handed, I look down at KT suited in the cutoff. Three people limped in front of me, and some of them I haven’t played against before. It’s just like the KJ situation from earlier, so I fold. However, I also notice that seat 1 limped utg with less than 8bb left first hand, so I know how fishy he’ll be.

I’m card-dead the rest of this level, but Fedora guy soon starts winning quite a few hands – he’s either LAG or getting really good cards, and he keeps showing good cards. First, he crippled seat 4 with his pocket Aces over 4’s AKo when there was an A on the flop (4’s limp utg with his premium hand didn’t do him any favours). Then Fedora took the rest of seat 9’s chips with pocket Kings over A7. Seat 3 (moustache) got pissy because he called a bet on the flop that hand, then folded the turn and would have hit a straight on the river. But with that, we move levels.

After plenty of hands, Windslicked in seat 4 finally busts at the 600/1200 (200 ante) level, when his JTs loses to 5’s A3o, which flopped two pair. People start busting and doubling up left and right – 1 busts to 6 (not good, because Fedora in 6 now has a gigantic stack, is LAG and very dangerous), then 3 doubles up through 6 when his 88 hits a full house on the turn against Q9s. Next, my rival doubled up through Irish lady with AKo against AQs (which Irish lady 3-bet shoved a HUMONGOUS amount preflop). Irish lady busted soon after, when her AJs flopped the nut flush draw, but the flush never came against KQo’s top pair.

I’m still card dead this level, and in fact even after the break, when I got up to 23,000, I’m down to less than 15,000 already without playing a hand (other than 5 limping to my big blind, then betting out any flop). I watch as seat 3 limps his small blind and 4 checks his big blind. On a 57AA two diamond board, both of them check down. The river is the 4 of diamonds, and suddenly both of them start betting, shoving and snap-calling each other. Turns out 3 rivered the flush, while 4 had a straight. 4 busted because of this. The last thing to happen is we get a new player in seat 9 – a guy who I called Farha due to his resemblance to Sammy Farha, interestingly enough.

The 800/1600 (200 ante) level arrives, and finally I start getting cards! While 6-handed, Fedora minraises in the cutoff, and I look down at A4o. With only 10,900 chips left (less than 7bb), I shove my ace. Farha showed me 74o before folding, causing the table to get into an argument about showing cards when you weren’t last to act. Fedora tanks for a good while, and then folds, showing Q6s. I show only my 4 before collecting the pot, and I’m suddenly up to 11bb.

Interestingly enough, the very next hand I look down at AKo. I ask everyone if they want to go again as I shove, and they fold to my rival, who seems very eager to bust me. “Let’s see what I’ve got first, if I’ve got good cards I’ll call.” He looked at the first one, “Ooh, that’s promising!” The second one: “Ah, that one’s terrible,” and he folds J4o face up. I now have over 21,000 chips, and I suddenly have a chance again.

The hand after, I look down at a rag Queen. I ask everyone one more time, “Want to go for another ride?” They start to get upset at my shoves, but then laugh when I say, “Because I’m not in the mood right now,” and fold. However, I’m card-dead for most of the rest of the level. I do get A8o, but utg raised to 5500 and I have to fold to that, as I have barely any fold equity against a hand like that.

But almost the moment that the level changes, seat 5 busted, and we’re down to 10 players, meaning we move to the final table! The moment the 1k/2k (300 ante) level starts, we draw for final table spots. They are:

Seat 1: Me

Seat 2: The Fedora guy

Seat 3: Moustache man

Seat 4: The old bald sunglasses guy

Seat 5: Farha

Seat 6: A fat guy in a t-shirt with wolves on it

Seat 7: A black guy wearing a white Bluejays hat

Seat 8: A guy in a New York hoodie

Seat 9: A red-haired woman

Seat 10: My rival.

I’d say what our stacks were, but I forgot almost immediately for reasons that will soon become apparent. My 10bb stack is about 7th place on this table, so I need to double quickly. Two hands into the final table, I look down at AQo utg and shove. It’s folded around to seat 8, who with his 15bb tanks and calls. Everyone else folds, and he turns over… AKo. UGH. But on the flop, there’s a Queen! Yes! I now have a decent chance at getting a cash! Turn is a blank… and the river’s a King, busting me in 10th place and with no money to my name.

It was a fun night, but it sucks lasting so long only to have nothing to show for it. Hopefully I’ll do better later – a couple of honest-to-god deep runs in online MTTs this month (5th place in a $1.10 for $34 and 12th place in an $0.82 for $12) helped offset my losses for this tournament, so maybe things will go better later.

Christxof out.