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Turning Stone (cont.) part 2

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  • Turning Stone (cont.) part 2

    The next day, I’m ready to go!!!! This is the $500 NLHE event. When Dez and I went to go sign up for the event, I heard two of my favorite songs, playing on the loudspeaker in the casino, “Away from the Sun” by 3 doors down and “100 years” by Five for Fighting. The reason that I mention this is because after I heard these two songs I felt very different. Like I had some sort of aura about me. I felt like I belonged in this place. The only other time I had this same feeling was at the 2004 World Series of Poker. Even tho I did not play in the 2004 WSOP event, I did play a single table tournament there and won it!!! At that time, it was the biggest money payout I had ever won which was $1100 and it was against a few of the WSOP poker players that had been knocked out of that tournament. Does that mean anything…maybe!!

    I go to my first table at seat number #2. Not much really happened at this table. I was playing pretty passively because of the low blind limits. We started out with $2500 in chips, the same as the previous day. I hit a few hands and made some money when my table broke up. I said to myself “ here we go again”. I always seem to start off fairly well and enjoy the first table that I’m at, and then I get moved!!! Well this move was not very good for me. I got moved to Dez’s (Jcastle’s) table. I really didn’t want to play against him and I got a little nervous. I got nervous because I was afraid to make a mistake in front of him and have him think that I was a bad poker player. This nervousness made me play one hand really bad that I should have not been involved with even tho I got lucky.

    I was dealt in late position pocket Jacks. A player in front of me made a standard raise of 3 times the BB. I decided to re-raise with the Jacks to see where I was before the flop. The player that made the initial raise called. The reading I got at the time was that he had AK, AQ or maybe even AJ. He was only 2 seats to my right and at the left seat next to Jcastle. The Flop hits Q 9 3 and the player bets into me $800. I say to myself “did he hit the Queen” and I didn’t know. Here is the big mistake!! I should have laid down the hand, but instead, because of my nervousness I then said to myself, “I’ll just push this guy out of the hand” and I announced “All-In”. The other player looked at me for a second and said “Call”. He then turns over AQ and I show JJ, ugh!!! I then get lucky, next card is a 10. Now I have an open-ended straight draw and whamo a King comes on the river to give me a runner-runner for the straight. Oh boy, the other player is mad that I sucked out on him and I feel bad. It was the wrong move and I got lucky but hey….that’s poker and it’s happened to me more times than I can count on 10 fingers and 10 toes. Yes you have to get lucky at least once or twice in a tournament.

    I’m still nervous at this table but now I feel as I’ve gotten a break. The chip leader at the table makes a standard raise of 3 times the BB, another player calls and I look down at AK. I decided to re-raise this hand but the amount I raised was a little too much in my opinion. The reason I decided to re-raise was that I wanted to find out what the Chip leader had in his hand and I wanted to be able to go heads up against him. The blinds were $100 - $200 and I thought a raise to $1500 would have been good enough to accomplish this, but instead I raised it to $2000 total, $1400 more for him to call. The chip leader called and the other player folded. At that instant I knew I was beat. I had gotten the read that I needed even tho it cost me a lot of chips to find out, almost half of my stack. I was praying for an Ace on the flop, but the flop was Jack high. So I checked and the chip leader moved all-in on me. I had felt that he was very strong before the flop and this all-in bet confirmed my assumtion. Pocket Kings came to mind and so I folded. I was upset with myself for reraising so much but I was happy that I was able to get a good read on him. Another player confirmed my read by telling me that he flashed the 2 Kings.

    Now I’m fairly low stacked, but not in bad of shape. Dez is very low stacked and now has to make some moves, so he does so on the button when I was in the BB. It’s only another $150 or so to call even tho I have junk. I make the call and he doubles up with the win. I’m glad cause I really didn’t want to be the one to knock him out of the tournament. I can’t, not make that call and give him the blinds since it wasn’t much money for me to call. Still, I have to play correct poker no matter who the player I am going up against. A few hands later Dez gets knocked out of the tournament.

    My stack is now very low and I make an all-in move. I can’t remember what I had in my hand, but a lower stacked player behind me calls and wins the hand to double up. I am really low stacked now and I am going all-in with any face card. I do not get called on my first all-in, but when I go all-in with J9o I get called by the BB with A8s. I hit the 9 on the turn and win the hand to double up. “This is it” I said, “I’m going to play very aggressive now and trust all my reads”. If I read that the player is weak, or if I have the best hand I am pushing all-in, no more fooling around. I was given new life and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. This is the start of my tear. I was going to hammer and pound everyone into submission and play very solid poker. I decided to have a “take no prisoner attitude” and if someone were going to beat me, they would have to pay to do it!!!!

    There were probably about 40 players left to this point and I was building my chip stack now. I am now at the top of my game. I was making moves at the right time. I was making all the correct reads. I was pushing my stack at the right times. Next thing you know we were down to 3 tables. I decided not to change the way I was playing even if I were to get knocked out on the bubble. I just wanted to stay aggressive.

    The defining hand of the tournament for me was about to come up. I’m in middle position and get dealt pocket 8’s. I raised 3 times the BB, making it $6000 to go. Everyone behind folds, but the chip leader at the table who was in the BB thinks for a second and calls. I think to myself what he could be calling with. I felt that he was calling with a weak hand just by the way he made the call. I have $28,000 in chips left and he has about $38,000. The flop hits Ad 5d 6c and he bets into me $6000. Wait a minute!!! I was the pre-flop raiser and he is now betting into me!!! The only thing that can hurt me here is a pocket pair higher than mine, the ace, and a set or maybe he has a flush draw. I didn’t put him on a set cause I felt that he was weak. He could have a higher pocket pair, but if he had that hand I think he would have re-raised me before the flop or bet out stronger after the flop. So now I think he has an Ace or does he I ask myself. $6000 is more of a probing bet, not one that says I’m strong. I look at the flop, look at him and feel he is really not that strong even if he has an Ace. I really believe at this point he might just be trying to buy the pot, so I announce “All-In. It’s $22,000 more for him to call and there was about $20,000 in the pot before I moved all-in. He thinks about it for a while, which makes me believe that he might lay the hand down. Then he says, “It’s a little more than half my stack”. He then says, “I have a bad kicker.” I think to myself “Oh man, he does have the Ace” and now I’m praying that he does not call. If he did call and lost, it would be a big blow to his stack, but I know now that if he calls I’m probably knocked out of the tournament. He states again “Damn, my kicker is weak, I know better not to play this hand” and he mucks it!!!!! I take down the pot and now I can breath again. He asked me if I had AK, or AQ and I said that I would tell him what I had at the end of the tournament. Thank god he didn’t put me on a pocket pair.

    We are now at the Final table. I am the second lowest chip stack at this table. During the entire tournament up until the final table I did not see any pocket Aces or pocket Queens. I feel that I will now start to get some big hands that I’ve been patiently awaiting. Here they come, and I methodically start building my stack. I try not to get into any trouble but I still stay aggressive when I have a hand. I remember that I was in the BB when the player on the button raised my blind. I look down at my cards and I say “All-In” (sorry, can’t tell you what I had). The button player looks at me and folds. He says, “I should have moved all-in first”. The next time around I’m in the SB and the same fellow now pushes all-in, I look at my cards to find pocket Aces and I call and win the hand and knock him out of the tourney.

    We are down to 5 players and I had just seen the player in seat #9 win a hand with pocket Aces, just a few hands previous to this hand that came up. The player in seat #9 raised 3 times the BB. I was in the BB and everyone had folded around to me. I look at my hand and see AJ, I think for a few seconds trying to put this player on a hand. I actually put him on a medium pocket pair. I looked at his stack and asked how much he had left and it wasn’t much. I had him covered with enough chips remaining, so I pushed All-In. He thinks for a second and calls. He turns over pocket 9’s and I show the AJ. He can’t believe I moved all-in with that hand but I figured I had nothing to lose and more to gain, plus I wanted to be able to see all the cards that came out since I had a drawing hand. The flop came down and I hit an Ace on the flop and that was it for the other player. I had knocked him out of the tournament.

    Next hand I remember, UTG player to my immediate left raises 3 times the BB. Everyone folds and I look at Ad Js. Being in the BB again, I decided this time to make a call. The reason being is that the UTG player had almost as much chips as I. Flop hits As 6s 7s and I’m first to act. I have about $80,000 and so does the UTG player. I bet out $24,000 and the UTG player moves all-in on me. I think for a second, look at the flop, look at my hand and think, “I have top pair with a flush draw and a pretty decent kicker. If he had the flush already he would have not moved all-in.” Now I have to decide if he raised with AK or AQ with one of the Kings or Queens being a spade. I thought that he still might not have moved all-in with a hand like that. I felt that he had a pocket pair, was trying to push me off my hand or had an Ace with a weak kicker. We were 4 handed at this point so I decided to call the all-in thinking that he was trying to push me off my hand. The UTG player shows Ace with the 9s and I show Ace with the Js. So now I’m way ahead in this hand. The turn brought a Jack and I went on to knock that player out of the tournament. Now I’m chip leader going 3 handed, with $280,000 in chips.

    The player that I bluffed earlier with the pocket 8’s was still alive, but was now the low stack at the table. A few hands later he moved all-in and got called by the other player who was getting cards like crazy. Even though the other player called with Queen high, he hit his Queen and knocked out the player that I had bluffed. Now I’m heads up. Most of the tournament I tried to stay away from this player, the reason being, he was constantly getting big cards. We played a few hands heads up when the final hand of the tournament came up. I had about $350,000 in chips and he had about $120,000. He limps from the button and I look down and see pocket 8’s. I think for a second “If I just call, I am going to give him an opportunity to bluff me out of the hand. If I raise the standard 3x raise then he might go over the top but if I push all-in he might have his hands tied and maybe lay down the hand”. I decided to push all-in. He immediately calls and I go “Oh No” cause I know the fast call means a monster hand, and he shows pocket Aces. I flip over my pocket 8’s. I need a lot of help now……I am way behind. The Flop hits and all I see is the 8 on the flop and get really excited. I have no clue what the next card was but the river brought a pair of 3’s to the board to give me a Full House and the tournament win!!!!! Boy did I get lucky on this hand. Only the second time I was behind in a hand and got lucky to win!!!! That note helped me keep my focus during the tournament. I would pull it out to read it all the way through the tournament. Not only did I come in the money like I stated in the note, I won the event!!!

    I had my picture taken with the pocket 8’s, all the tournament chips and my $500 No-limit championship trophy. Sharla came over to me to congratulate me on my win and asked if I would put my PSO gear on for some pictures and I did that too!!! Oh, it was great. My first big “live” tournament win. After 12 hours of play I was really tired but my adrenaline kept me going. Dez and I talked almost most of the night. I just felt like I was now ready for the WSOP. Dez and I hadn’t decided weather we were going to play in the $1000 event so we left that up to how we felt in the morning. I fell asleep at about 2am that evening.

    To be continued, Part 3…..
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