Well, what a day it was, Friday Apr 22, 2016!


I made sure to arrive early to the casino, to avoid a big lineup at the registration table.  I planned well, got my table and seat allocation....table 4, seat 6....and went off to a quiet corner to relax for the next 30 min or so before the excitement began.


My psych-up music is R.E.M., and I made sure to listen to "It's the End of the World as we Know it (and I feel fine)" and "I Believe" prior to the walk to my table a few minutes prior to High Noon.


The obligatory "shuffle up and deal" was called out just after Noon and we were off!!

Having minimal experience in LIVE poker tournaments, my initial goals were:

1. Don't be the first player to bust out!

2. Make it through level 1, with 25/50 blinds and a 15,000 chip starting stack.


Goals 1 and 2 - completed!


Re-adjust goals...make it to the end of Level 3 and the first 20 min break period.

Goal achieved.


I then set goals of making it to the dinner break - end of Level 6.....and utimately to the next set of break periods after Levels 9, 12, and 15.  After the completion of Level 15, any remaining chips would be bagged..and the remaining players excused for the night.


My starting stack of 15,000 bobbed and weaved as the afternoon wore on, and became evening.

I sliped down to around 11,000, and got up to around 25,000 as highs and lows went.


Had a crack at the included buffet after Level 6 - very good chicken, carved roast beef, veggies and salad.  But not TOO much, says my Daniel Negreanu text, chapter 2 - Preparing for a tournament, point 4..."thou shalt NOT make a pig of thyself at the dinner buffet".

Ok, it doesn't REALLY say that - I embellished for effect, but I did follow the advice for the most part.....but how could ANYONE resist the creamy mini chocolate eclairs and yummy chocolate cake on the desset table??!?!?  I had one each, patting myself on the back for showing such great restraint.

I must have chosen wisely, as I felt refreshed heading into Level 7, stocked up on water, heeding rules 2.and 3. - limit your booze and caffeine intake.  Wait! Chocolate doesn't contain any caffeine, does it?

The next few levels passed without any major incidents, and my stacked reached as high as 45,000 or so, down to about 25,000.

I remained at, or close to, the estimated average stack well into the evening unti about Level 12, when the antes kicked in.

Ah, the antes!  Like an infestation of termites, picking away at your house (in this case, stack) to the great annoyance of the poker player.  My lack of LIVE experience was being challenged now as everything seemed to speed up, and stacks dwindled and grew much more quickly that in the previous couple of levels.

With some amazement, I stayed in my seat 6, table 4 position for close to 12 hours (with exceptions for breaks and dinner, of course)

The higher blinds at Level 10, combined with those damned antes, began to chew away at my stack....but somehow I managed to win a few pots and stay more of less even for a few levels.

It's amazing how quickly 45 minute levels in LIVE play can go by, especially when you consider the comparison of  5 min. levels in Turbo online games.

By Level 13, blinds had climbed to 1000/2000 with 200 antes. I was beginning to think "unlucky 13" would get me....but again I managed to survive with only minimal dents in my chip fortress. Well, "fortress" is highly overstating it, maybe it's my chip "utility shed"

I could feel the potential of making it to the end of Level 15 at this point, and the cool-factor of getting my chips offiicially counted and bagged, in preparation of Day 2.  Just like they do at the World Series!!!!

Soon, I was considering whether to remain quite tight, or open up to build a more playable stack. Those of you who know me can probably guess what I did...yep...remained tight...at least for now. Even though I knew the end of day mark was a hollow goal (still a LONG way to ITM) the appeal of saying I was in Day 2 of my first big LIVE tourney held a lot of sway in my mind.  I can hear all of the PSO trainers yelling "BOO" at this point. LOL.

Well, I really didn't get any decent cards to play for a while, and players came and went from my home at Table 4.  I noticed that the new players coming in were carrying bigger and bigger stacks in their mobile chip trays - NOT an encouraging sign, I assure you!

My table had actually maintained a fairly even stack balance for most of the afternoon and evening.  No one had a huge, killer stack.

When the first monster stack was moved to my table, I joked that he couldn't play here as his stack size was too big for this table.  I got a small chuckle from him - turns out he was a pretty cool guy...and a good player.

I was definitely beginning to notice that there were a LOT of very strong players at this point (later stages, go figure, eh! LOL) The table talk turned towards higher end discussions of hands played and results obtained.  

Example: Player 1:"Yeah, I called you...but after you raised on the flop and turn I still believed I was ahead...and I was right....besdides what was I SUPPOSED to do there, I had NO CHOICE!"

Player 2: "Yeah, you're right buddy - you had the right odds to call there..nice hand"

There were other conversations at significantly higher levels of poker knowledge...I got the gist of most of them....but some I just sat there, knodding appropriately trying to hide the fact that I didn't have a CLUE what they had just discussed. LOL.  At least I know there is a LOT more I still have to learn about this great game.....not that I EVER doubted that!!

I started to feel very card dead as my stack dwindled down to the 15,000 starting stack (not a good place to be 11 hours in at level 14 as you can imagine!!).  Then I slipped a bit below the 15K mark, only to win some small poststo to crawl back up around 25,000 - still one of the lowest stacks of the 30-or-so remaining players.

Then it happened. Our table broke after me having spent more than 12 and a half hours there. I was moved to table 1, seat 7 by virtue of a random seat draw....and found myself right in the big blind, Great. Another 4000 hit with 400 ante earlier than should have been fair.  Oh well, luck of the draw.

Now under 10BB, I was looking for a place to shove.  At one point earlier, I had mucked 9 9 after some serious thought about it. I'm pretty sure that was a big mistake.  I could "hear" some of the realy good PSO players  shouting in my head.."ship it all in, you idiot!". Perhaps nerves kicked in and I mucked it.  Turns out I would have lost the hand and been out there, so I justified my move thinking that perhaps I had a psychic moment.  But if I think about it cleary - I'm pretty sure the shove was the play there.

Ok. So back to Table 1....and I see huge stacks on either side of me, and only 1 other stack similar or less than mine on the re-formed table of 10 players.  There were even a couple of players who seemed to be sporting poker tour/sponsorship shirts nd gear. Oh oh....it's been nice playing here....I leave my chips in memory of........

The clock on Level 15 was winding down, and it looked like I would actually be coming back for a second day of this mad fun!

A few hands in, I got A9off in the SB, and everyone folded around to me. BB had a monster stack but I had to shove here. He insta-called with an "any two" kind of hand (I don't recall the actual cards) and we were at showdown.  I was a pretty big favourite...and I just mumbled to myself, "no pair for him..no pair for him,.....PLEASE . no pair for  him".  My A9 held and I had doubled up from a scary 4BB, 15K to a still-scary, but better 29K.


The clock ran out and the tournament staff came around with baggies, and a receipt book. the guy counted my chips, I agreed the total was correct and I was issued a chip receipt.  An actual slip of paper listing my stack size, table location (still Table 1 Seat 7) and signatures from the tourney staff member, and my own.  This is COOL!!!


1:30am.  Started at 12Noon the "previous" day and I was still alive (on life support maybe, but still alive.)

The story of this journey will continue - the LIVE action re-starting on Sat Apr 23/16., and my long-winded blog sometime after that.

I've you've made it reading this far...thank you!  I hope the story of my first big LIVE poker tournament has been somewhat entertaining so far.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that good things will happen later today - Saturday, Day 2!

I will try to add some more info about some of the hands that I played....if I can remember them!!! LOL. in a future post.

I hope that this story may be even a little bit useful for someone entering their first LIVE tournament.

Best of luck on the tables, all.  I will be back with more (a promise, or maybe a threat! LOLOLOL)