If you want to read about Day 1 of this event, start here.
I came into Day 2 in a resonable position; solidly in the middle of the chip counts as 23rd with 54 players left. I noted to friends that I missed my first chance to suck out with what would have been an otherwise playable hand in a three-way pot just 15 minutes into the game, then knocked a player out with A♥9♥ v JxJx to make it up to 250K about 20 minutes in. Before a half hour was gone, we’d lost a full table’s worth of players, we were down to 45. Pay jump!
Not long after that, I lost 100K when I fliopped top-top with AxTx and folded to a big raise of my donk bet, which turned out to be kings. Got back up to 220K, then back down to 160K (16bb) and that was all in the the first hour of play.
I opened A♠8♠ in middle position with a raise and got called by the big blind. We both checked the Tx5x7x flop, and when he bet big on the 4x turn I had to fold; a call wiould have left me with no fold equity. I shoved 7♥8♥ on the button and took the blinds and antes. We were down to 39 players seventy minutes in. I had 145K on the button five minutes later, just before the first break (we played the remainder of the last level of Day 1 and the first level scheduled for Day 2, then took the break rather than breaking after 30 minutes).
Blinds went up to 6K/12K with a 2K ante and after going through the blinds in the first three hands of Level 17, I had just 118K. I shoved Kx8x from late position and got it through. 18K in antes, 18K in blinds and my stack grew by 30%. I shoved AxKx on the next button, raised TxTx from the cutoff then folded to a c-bet from the UTG player on a Qx5x4x flop. I’m a wimp. Down to 31 two hours in.
Ten minutes later, I got all-in with K♥9♥ v 9x9x and hit Broadway for a much-needed double up (no, I don’t remember who started it but I probably went all-in over ta raise or something stupid like that). There were 27 remaining as the blinds went to 8K/16K/2K, and my stack was at 286K.
I raised 9♥T♥ in the hijack and ttook another hand to bump up to 322K two-and-a-half hours in.
AxQx was worth a raise, but I lost 50K when a caller went all-in on a JxTx6x flop. One the button fifteen minutes later: 240K. Pay jumps at each of the first three tables to break (28th place to 54th) were all the same, but at 27 and below, jumps started hapening every three players. Once I broke 27th place, I was even for the trip! 23 left.
At the three hour mark I was down to 194K at 10K/20K/3K. Then we lost four players in the next 10 minutes of the new blind level. I had to shove Ax6x from UTG1, then pay the blinds and I still had only 143 on my next button. We re-drew to two tables at the half-hour mark. And my life for most of the rest of the tournament continued to be shoves. Ax[jx}][from][UTG1.][Open-shove][A♥5♥ from SM. Up to 209K just before the second break of Day 2, but blinds were going to 15K/30K/4K! I got jacks just before the break and shoved them from UTG1.
By my next button I had a measly 1/3 of the average chips stack. I shoved Ax2x—way out of my normal range—UTG and it somehow got through. Then I folded pocket eights preflop to a bet and call that ended after the a bet on the Jx7x5x flop. 231K on the button with 15 players.
Blinds jumped up to 20K/40K/5K a few miniutes later and I was down to 139K on the button when I shoved Jx8x and got folds from the blinds. Even with 216K I had just 2% of the chips in play with 15 left.
We dropped another player, then my A♦9♦ went up against TxTx of Stephen Gilbert, the winner of the first $100K event at Chinook Winds, back when it was still part of the Deepstacks Poker Tour. I pulled out the nut flush (ace-nine forever!) and while he wasn’t out on that hand, he was gone the next. Now I had 462K, and some of the white 25K chips that had eluded me for hours.
One of the more incredible feats of poker luck happened just after the 13th player busted. Tam Nguyen lost a hand to another player with the same-sized stack and was all in on the small blind with a single 1K chip. There were only six players on each table, so Tam’s “main pot” was a whopping 6K. He won the hand with Qx5x, and while he had the ante covered on the button, he only had 1K behind. He stacked that on the button. I don’t remember what his cards were, but he came out of the hand with 33K. He won the next hand (109K) and the next. I broke the streak by shoving Q♠T♠ UTG1 and 9♠T♠ UTG, but by then we’d lost two more players and he made the final table.
I had 477K, but blinds were 30/60/10, so I wasn’t exactly sitting east (yes, they went up 50% in one jump and people were talking about it; definitely not “Chainsaw-approved” but I’m not complaining).
We lost three players in 15 minutes, including one of the three enormous stacks of white chips (it looked like the cliffs of Dover in seats 7 to 9). Kerry Yoon got in an altercation with Will Tinoco and surrendered his massive chip stack, giving Tinoco what I approximated as two-thirds of the chips in play. There were three short stacks, of which I was the least short. Tam busted, and we were down to 6 going into the next break. I’d shoved Kx9x on the button and KxQx UTG1, a player busted on the last hand before break, and I had 337K. 5.5bb when we came back.
I shoved 4x4x and got called by Ax9x a little after we came back. The flop had an eight and I was standing up to grab my bag when I made an 8-high straight. Blinds went to 40K/80K/10K on the next hand (my button) so I still had only about 7.5bb.
Will on the remaining big stack at the table was on my right, and he consistently raised every one of his small blinds. To be fair, he raised a lot of everyone’s big blinds. I folded 2x2x to a raise, then got AxAx in my small blind, nobody put any money in, I shoved, and TJ Amhaz folded. I shoved J♣9♣ on the button with 6bb.
Another player busted just before the seventh hour of play ended. 445K at 50K/100K/15K. An all-in and call there would have tripled me up. I had K♥J♥ on the button, and normally I would have gone all-in myself, but because of the payouts I chickened out. Would have flopped the nuts.
It was all okay, though because I shoved UTG with Q♦5♦ and Will called with 6♦4♦ from the big blind. I only had 4bb, but I had the suit and I hit the queen on the flop for a double up (or more, really). Then he raised my big blind again and I shoved Ax9x and doubled again, which put me in second place and made the first significant dent in his wall of chips. And I got a couple elusive salmon-colored 100K chips!
I was up to 2.2M after don-betting into an open-ended straight draw on the flop, then laid down AxJx to a bet on the turn after an unfulfilling flop. We lost the fifth player at 6:30pm after seven-and-a-half hours and the blinds went to 60K/120K/20K. Nobody was that deep.
TJ had twice proposed an ICM chop and Forrest Auel and Devin Sweet ran the numbers while Will had an overwhelming chip advantage, but no deal was reached. I held steady for a level (blinds went to 80K/160K/25K), then we ran the new numbers after both TJ and Kao Saecho had both made gains.
For me, this has been a long haul. It’s my largest cash in the decade since I started playing poker in the home game I was invited to by my cousin’s husband. That led to playing small games (and a few large games) without any money (getting into poker when you’re unemployed and broke can pass the time but it’s not conducive to good bankroll management). I reconnected with my old colleague (and WSOP bracelet-winner) Toma Berda, I worked as a reporter for the WSOP, and most importantly, I started this blog. Thanks to everyone who’s provided encouragement and support (Angela Jordison, Mark Humphreys, and many more), and I’ll see you at the beach for the PACWest Poker Classic Main Event on Saturday!