I think I figured out where all the pocket aces I was missing were...they were hiding in week 14.
I came in to week 14 5th in points. Top 2 finishers go directly to the State Tournament. Since the top 2 pay essentially the same, my only main focus is finishing in there. With three weeks to go, I was only 71 points out of first place and 65 points out of second. I have a shot!
My plan the last 3 weeks has been this. Make good decisions, play each had one at a time and think about who's in the pot with me and make sure everything is optimal. What the heck does that mean? Too often, when I'm play free bar poker, I didn't take into account the other player and what motivates them. Some people want to win the tournament, some just want to win the hand and other just want to make points. Also, there are vastly different skill levels and experiences...this needs to be considered.
I muddled along for most of the first part of the night and only played 4 hands before the first break...couriously...3 of those were AA. I had almost forgotten what they looked like. Too bad though, they didn't really pay me big...just big enough to keep the stack growing. But it also gave me more respect moving forward.
I played the player most of the night. One thing with free poker is you can't out play people that only see the two cards in front of them, so when you make moves, be aware of the person you are doing it to. Lucky for me, people don't do this. I won 2 larger pots making the correct call on the river. Each with no better than a pair. One of the calls was a 200 chips raise on the river when blinds were 75/150. This just seemed odd. The pot was 750...and I had bottom pair. Getting almost 5;1 to call with bottom pair, turns out everyone else folded to a stone cold bluff. Two hands later, the flop comes all junk, it's 9 high and rainbow. It checks around on the flop. I paired my Q on the turn. The UTG player raises 300. This gets everyone to fold. I know this player...he would have raised with anything higher that QJ preflop UTG. Why would he bet a Q if it hit him and not raise preflop. I had QJ, so there didn't seem to be a hand he'd play that would be 2 betting the turn...so I call. The river is a blank...and lower than Q or J. He raises again...and I still have the same problem...what would he have? As it turns out...NOTHING! I called the river bet and take down the pot. Hmm...this thinking stuff worked.
It wasn't long after this that I lost half my stack in 2 hands. 5400 to 2500 in 2 hands. I'm not really sure why I played this hand, AJo UTG, I decided to raise 3X for 1200. It folds around to the BB...the guy in 4th place, 1 point ahead of me...he moves all in. Wow. Ron is the kind of guy that will use pressure to win pots, but he knows I'm a tight player and one not prone to raise with crap. He's also seen my only raises all night were with AA. I just can't imagine him doing this with AA, KK or maybe even QQ. I don't think he would do this with AK or even JJ. He didn't get to be in forth place in a 16 week league by being an idiot. I lay it down and he turns AA. I'm out 1200, but still alive.
2 hands later, I get 88 in the LB. It folds to me and I raise it one bet and get called. He had folded to a raise early with junk, so I'm guessing he's not completely junky. The flop comes 9 high and 2 clubs. I bet it one bet and he calls. I really get the feeling he's got something. He's trying to trap me. I just know it. We check the turn and the river. The river brought an ace, so there is no way I'm taking a swing. I turn over my 8's and he turns AQ of clubs. My stack has been halved, but at least I made the right call.
I play some small pot poker and raise and steal my way to the final table. Double up once when a checked river brings me a flush and straight draw and a king in the whole for an over. I hit the river!
At this stage in the tournament, the blinds are ridiculous. No one has an M greater than 15. I held out until there was 6 left. Each orbit is costing 3000 in chips and I only 12000...I push it all in with J6d when it walks to me in the LB...BB finds KQ...and it holds. So I'm out in 6th. Not bad though...3 weeks and 3 final tables. One hell of a turn around!
So here's how the top 5 look now (and keep in mind - the top two go directly to state)
- Ryan - 1266
- OhCaptain - 1226
- Jon B - 1193
- Prof Jens - 1160
- Ron - 1130
I need a much bigger lead...or the next 2 weeks canceled...buckle up! We're in for a fun ride!