As of this writing my PSO rank is in the high 200's but it's about to go down because I just had an early exit in the 3:00 p.m. PSO tournament.  I'm going to have to regroup and try again in the 5:30 tournament.

But I feel that I have had a great month of December and while I can definitely give some credit to my PSO tournament experience, I was already having a good month before this past weekend.

I had a standard run of the mill Christmas day and really only played a handful of cash game sessions and a PSO tournament (which I came up just short of the money places).  My family & I were planning to go to a Christmas party on Sunday and I was very excited about this - mostly because this would be the first time my aunts, uncles, and cousins would meet my new baby.  However, Mother Nature decided now would be a good time to send a massive snowstorm barreling up the East Coast and snow us in.

Originally my plan for Sunday was to register for the Twitter poker league tournament and not play because I would get a point, and would hopefully cement my standing in the top 100 to get a league prize.  However due to the party being postponed, I now could play in the tournament.

And it's a good thing I did.  I actually managed to take 2nd place in the tournament out of 1140 players!

The tournament has a $1.10 buy in and after 4 1/2 hours of play, I turned that into $142.50, and 18 league points.

For those not familiar with the league, it is a 2 month league that plays a weekly tournament on Sundays at 2 p.m. EST.  The buy in each tournament is a paltry $1.10 and it has a slightly faster blind/ante structure than the standard NLHE tournaments on PS.  8 minute levels and the blinds increment a little lower.  For example, 10/20 is level 1, 15/30 is level 2, but level 3 is 20/40, then 25/50, then 30/60, etc.  The antes also start at 5 chips at the 30/60 blind level.

The key to doing well (IMO) in this particular tournament is to NOT play it like a turbo.  Most league members tend to do so and in the first 10 levels you will see some really weird play from some players.  Usually these plays are seen in the micro buy in MTTs and they run rampant early in these tournaments.  I find that if I can avoid being at risk during the first 10 levels that I am in contention to make the money.

Making the money is important as far as the league standing goes because you get 1 point for playing, but 5 points for making the money.  For making the final table, you get 10 points at least, and up to 20 points for winning the tournament.

This past tournament was the final for the season and I had 15 points (2 cashes, 5 early exits) which was good for 80th in the standings.  The top 100 at the end of the season receive at least a $7.50 Step ticket, while 2nd through 10th receive an $82 step ticket, and the winner gets a $215 step ticket.

I will try my best to recall the key moments early before the money.

Around level 3 I was seated at a table with a loose aggressive player to my right.  Sometimes he would fold, but whenever he would play a pot he would raise all in for 4k+ chips (depending on what he had at the time) which had the entire table covered.  I was dealt QQ in the cutoff and he decided to make this all in play.  The blinds were 20/40 and I had $1.8k in front of me.  I was not willing to take a risk here for all my chips because I knew I could play much more selectively before the flop.  I decided to fold, but the  BB decided to call.  The maniac had 33 and the BB had K7 suited (told you about the gambling that goes on early!).  The maniac managed to turn a set of 3's and knock out Mr. I gamble for my tournament with K-7 suited.  Meanwhile despite me making the "incorrect" fold, I maintained confidence in my ability to keep charging ahead.

I managed to work my stack up to 3.3k around level 5, but then lost 2k in a set over set pot with a short stack.  I flopped a set of 5's but he beat me with a set of 9's on a 9-5-2 board.

I didn't see much in terms of hands up to the first break and made it there with 1.5k.

After the break I had AQ on the button and was down to 1.2k.  Two people limped in front of me (including one limper who played every hand) so I decided to raise all in.  Both players called my raise and had me turn away from my monitor and await the pop up notification sound to indicate that my tournament was over.

I however heard the cards being dealt soon after and turned around and saw my stack at 3.8k.  Replaying the hand, the board was KQ34Q and my AQ had rivered trips to beat AJ and K7 (from the limping maniac no less), so I hit a 5 outer on the river to save my tournament.

I maintained this stack or so at the bubble and easily made it into the money to secure my top 100 finish in all likelihood.

At the 2nd break I had worked my stack up to 5k after knocking out an opponent who held 66 to my TT and then went downstairs to tell my wife about how I was doing.

The 3rd hour of play saw me double my stack with AA versus AJ and KQ after neither hit anything on the flop.  I had both opponents covered and put my stack at 11k.

Shortly after that I got AA again and managed a similar feat, knocking one player out while doubling through another player (I forget their holdings) to put my stack at 35k.  At this point there were about 65 players remaining.

The very next hand I doubled up the guy I doubled through after my AJ lost to his A9 after he flopped a pair of nines.  That put me down to 28k.

Then came the most important hand I played all tournament.  I remember it quite well.

I was on the button and was dealt QQ.  UTG raised all in for 16k and a guy with an 80k stack made the call in about 4 seconds after it was his turn.  It was folded to me and I paused to consider what to do.  If it was me and the UTG guy I'd have reraised all in to isolate, but the big stack making the call made me worry.  I sunk into my time bank and let out some exasperated sighs because one part of me saw this as an opportunity to increase my stack to a huge amount but the other part of me recalled earlier in the tournament when I folded QQ for my tournament life and since i'm still in this and deep, it was a good decision.  After elapsing 40 seconds out of my time bank, I begrudgingly hit the fold button.

Everyone behind me quickly folded as well, and the cards were turned up....

UTG: 99

MP2: KK

I leapt out of my seat and pumped my fist and let out a huge "YEAH!!!!" after seeing that the big stack had in fact laid a trap and I avoided it.  He eliminated the player and grew his stack to above 100k while I remained in the hunt.

At the very same orbit, I was in the BB and was dealt a measly T4 of clubs.  Everyone folded to the SB who limped in.  I read this as a weak move and raised him 4x BB.  He made the call which obviously did not sit well with me.

But to my surprise the flop was K 8 3 all clubs and I had flopped a flush.  He checked to me and I bet the same amount - 4 BB.  He then check raised the minimum.  At that point I could barely hide my excitement and I immediately pushed my stack, having him covered by a bit.  He called it off with 9c-8s and was drawing extremely thin.  He did not improve and I busted him and put my stack at 56k going into the 3rd break.

After this break we managed to make it down to 12 players before the fourth break and the most notable hand I played after that (besides folding - a lot) was when I was dealt AA again and was fortunate enough to have two players get dealt JJ and QQ respectively and I tripled my stack through them to 150k which was good for 2nd in chips at the time, and knocked out one of the players.  Down to 11 and I was 2nd in chips, I was ecstatic to be in that spot.

At the other table, this one player was steamrolling and playing a lot of pots.  He was catching all kinds of flops as well and had the chip lead by far with 760k which was over 40% of the chips in play.  He eliminated two more players and set the final table which had me sitting in 3rd overall.

Play at the final table was a bit slow but I was being patient, seeing this opportunity to improve both my league standing and my bankroll.  1st-2nd would have been worth more than double my bankroll at the time ($193 for 1st, $142 for 2nd).

With 8 players remaining I was dealt a 2-4 in the BB and had about 110k to start the hand.  The BB was 5.6k.  UTG+1 limped in (90k behind) and everyone else folded.  I took the free flop.

Flop: Q 3 5 rainbow

I checked my open ender and waited to see what he would do.  The pot was around 18k.  He bet 11.2k.

I decided to call and try to hit the straight on the turn, but be prepared to fold if he bets me out.

The turn was a 6, giving me the straight.  I checked to him and he bet 44k which was half his stack.  Seeing how he just pot committed himself I checkraised him all in and he called and flipped up AQ.  I don't even remember the river because I knew he was drawing dead and I was shipped the huge pot that put me solidly in 3rd place.

The next 3 eliminations came rather quickly and the chip leader did all the work.  We played 4 handed for a bit before the chip leader busted another player who held AA to his 88.  The board ran out QJT29 and sent that guy to the rail in cruel fashion.

The chip counts with 3 players were the leader with 1.3M, me with 300k, and the short stack with 90k.  My plan was to stay out of the chip leader's way and whittle down the short stack.  For the most part if I raised my button (which was the short stack's BB), the chip leader folded and then the short stack followed suit.  If I folded, the leader would raise the short stack and he'd fold.  There weren't a lot of flops.  The short stack did manage a double up to 200k through the chip leader, but again we managed to whittle him down to 100k ish.

Three notable hands came up three handed.

I had 99 on the button and made my standard preflop raise.  The chip leader moved all in and the short stack called off 98k.  I folded.  The chip leader had K2 of spades, and the short stack at KK.  The leader flopped a flush draw but didn't connect and doubled up the short stack to 200k.  This put me at 250k to the short stack's 200k.

The next time I had the button I had AT of spades and made my standard preflop raise, only to watch the chip leader push all in.  At this time if I folded I would be the short stack, and given that he was shoving light, I decided to go for it and make the call.  He had A8 offsuit and my AT held to double me up to 450k.

Finally, the chip leader pushed all in and the short stack made the call.  The leader had Q4 of diamonds to the short stack's 66.  The board ran 9-4-2-Q-Q and sent him to the rail.

Entering heads up I had 420k to his 1.29M.  We didn't play too long but I knew I was going to have to play for all my chips soon. I was dealt KJ on the button and raised, but he pushed from the BB (blinds were 6k/12k at this point if I recall correctly) I felt I had him and called off my stack.  He had 86.  The board ran A8624 and I was eliminated.

I was so ecstatic to get 2nd place not only for the prize money, but because that earned me 18 league points.  By my calculations that should put me in 4th place in the league and I will receive a Step 3 ticket worth $82.

Pretty good result considering that I wasn't even supposed to play in the tournament!

If you made it this far in the post, I apologize for the length of it.  I felt I had to put it here while it was fresh in my memory.  It marks the highest I have ever cashed in a NLHE event and this is the 7th non freeroll final table I made in 2010 (and that's from July to December too).

My final tables this year:

$1.65 FLHE, $4.40 FLHE (x3)
$1.10 7 Card Stud H/L
$2.20 PLO
$1.10 NLHE (Twitter Poker League)

I also played FTP's Big Little tournament in August and scored 39th there, which was good for $200!

Remember, I play mostly micro limits (once in a while I play $0.50/$1, but that's still micro :-D ) so the cash I earned from these are all significant bankroll boosts.

In December, I made over $200 between tournaments and cash games.  Plus I hope to cash in PSO for at least $15 but hopefully $30+.

That's all for now.  Happy New Year and good luck in 2011!