I finished 63rd in the Sunday $1.5 million tourney. It was my second time playing it. I won an entry into the event through a $2 satellite back in December, but quickly flamed out in that one. This time, after finishing second in a $2 MTT on Friday and winning more than $600, I decided I would just pay my way into it. Boy, am I glad I decided to enter! I wound up with a prize of more than $2,500 - by far my biggest payday at Pokerstars!!

My goal going in was simple - I just wanted to finish in the money. I was using nearly 30 percent of my bankroll to join (my usual rule is to risk no more than 10 percent of my bankroll - I hate rebuys!). That meant placing in the top 1170 out of the more than 8,100 entrants. My first piece of strategy was to delay joining the fray. The event started at 4:30 p.m. ET, but I didn't sign in until right around 5:30 p.m. At the time, more than 1,000 people had already gone out, and the average chip count was above 11,000, so I was not all that far behind. About 4 or 5 hands in, I wound up winning a good sized pot and got my chips over 12,000, which put me above the average. I won 2 or 3 more good size pots and eventually worked my way up to more than 20,000 chips. I would say that until at least 7 p.m. ET, I was ahead of the average chip count.

I took a few chances early and chased a flush on a couple of instances. I wound up hitting it 2 of the 3 times and was able to win quite a few chips both times. That helped me keep my chip count above the average for most of the first three hours.

After the 7 p.m. break, my strategy basically changed. I stopped taking chances (except for one time when I foolishly tried a bluff and would not let it go and wound up wasting 7,500 chips!). At that point, I decided I would not play a hand unless I was willing to risk all my chips. That didn't necessarily mean I was going all-in; it just meant that if I put in a pre-flop raise and somebody put in a re-raise, i would call. This limited the number of hands I played, but that was okay. The last time I checked, the percentage of flops I had seen was around 14 percent - which is a good place for it to be.

My first observation is patience. You just have to be patient, especially when the blinds get really big and the field narrows. There were many times when I folded A-8 or a mid-range pocket pair simply because I did not want to risk getting knocked out.

Once I reached the money, I got even tighter with my play. On numerous occasions, I folded an Ace with a good kicker because I wasn't ready to go out yet. I also started keeping an eye on the number of players left in the tourney and where the next change in money was. If it was close to going up to a higher prize level, I would not play and wait unti lthe next level. No reason to throw away money!

I eventually went out with an A-6 suited (diamonds). I lost to an A-K suited (hearts), although the flop contained two diamonds and I had two chances to hit the flush or a 6. I don't regret going all-out, because I was last in chips at that point and was getting ready to do the BB and SB, which would have taken another 25 percent of my stack. I had already decided that the next time I got an ace or a pocket pair, I was going to push all-in and take my chances.

Here is my time by the numbers.

0 - number of Pokerstars Team Pros who finished ahead of me.

3 - number of times I survived an all-in by hitting a card on the river I needed to stay live (you gotta be lucky and good).

6.5 - number of hours I played.

14 - percent of flops I saw

$2,521.54 - payday (my biggest ever by far).