The Landing On Step 3

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

Playing with the ticket I won earlier, I don’t manage to get ahead in the first fifty hands. A 3BB raise with JA early on just gets me the blinds; I pick up 150 with a 57 in the big blind when a couple of players limp in and the flop of 869 gives me a straight; AA in the small blind gets me 240. But when I push a smaller stack’s all-in with an all-in of my own holding AQ, he turns over TT and neither of my over cards connect. I manage to double up and get back as high as 1,150 before my 9A all-in is called and out-kicked by TA and I’m back at the foot of the steps.

Full Tilt $2,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

I like this little bounty tournament althoughI’m at a loss as to why. I’d have to check to see if I’ve picked up any bounties, and I know I haven’s cashed in it. It’s cheap and it’s there if I’m not playing Midnight Madness (or if I’ve busted out). I came into this edition late, with blinds already at 50/100, lost 333 on my first contested hand, and the rest of it only fourteen hands in when my KT got clobbered by QQ that would have had me beat even if my straight draw had come through.

Full Tilt Step 1 (1,500 chips)

I caught a very lucky KK just four hands in. UTG limped in for 30 and I raised from UTG+1 to 120. UTG+2 called, then everyone but UTG folded. The flop was 29T and UTG opened with 405. I shoved all-in, +2 folded like a good boy and UTG called for slightly less than I had. My kings beat his tens—although he was one card from a straight by the river—and I eliminated a player.

I stayed up over 3,000 as chip leader with some small induced folds, then had 87 on the button with five players left and blinds at 50/100. I’d slipped to second place, the big stack was in the small blind. UTG called, I called, and the small blind called for four players to the flop, which was T9Q. After checks from the blinds, UTG made a pot-sized bet and I doubled it. Straight flush here I come! The blinds dropped out and UTG went all-in for an amount that would leave me with only about 1,400. Naturally, I called. I got a straight with a 6 on the turn. The A still didn’t give me a flush but I was up to 5,300+. My own KT knocked another player out a little later when I flushed to beat not only his 66 which tripped up in the flop but a straight on the board: 73654.

I tried letting the two remaining players battle it out but they were taking so long the blinds ate away 1,500 of my 9,000 chips and I figured I’d better make my presence known when I could. I had about 6,600 in the small blind at 80/160, the big blind had 4,200 and the button had 2,700. I was dealt KA, the button made a min raise, I re-raised to 640, big blind folded, button called. The flop was a rather ugly 6KQ but I raised all-in and got a call. I had the better made hand but with QA it was far from over. Fortunately, diamonds are my best friend and the rest of the cards were 64. No flush, no more queens. Just a Step 2 ticket for me and guy in the big blind.

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

An early JJ pops me up to 2,000 but I nearly get felted 34 hands in when I get over-confident and call an all-in with AJ. The all-in turns out to be AK and I drop to 530 chips. It doesn’t help that the other ticket winner from the previous game is in this one and is either an ardent admirer or has a novel method of making me a target by appearing to be a sycophant, praising every win and warning people getting into hands with me that they’re going to be sorry. I manage to double up twice in the next eight hands, with a K5 that pairs the top card on the flop and then 88 in my pocket, each of which sets off a barrage of admiration and my own attempts to deflect.

I lose another big pot to the same player as before with an out-kicked king (he’s got KA this time) and have to build my way back up from the sub-1K region again. We’re down to five players, I have 1,160 in the big blind at 100/200 and I’m dealt AQ. The guy who’s been beating me is first to act with a call. My fanboy’s on the button with 1,925 and raises to 900. The small blind folds and I shove all-in. UTG raises all-in—he’s the largest stack by far with 5,875—and the button preserves his remaining 1,025 with a fold. When the cards flip UTG has TT but he’s in a bit worse shape when the flop shows Q89. Another Q on the turn closes just means he has fewer chances for a straight, but the 8 on the river makes my full house instead. I move from fifth place to second, with 3,320 chips. Another 88 gets me 600 more chips.

Then I spend twenty-five hands waiting for a good opportunity as my stack shrinks from 3,800 to 1,700. I have to make a move at 120/240 and get very lucky with an all-in from the small blind holding 2A. By the turn I have a six-high straight and the A9 of my nemesis is busted. (My fan is gone by this time, thankfully). After my double-up, nemesis and I are relatively even at around 3K while the chip leader is at 7K.

I’m able to push a little better with a larger stack and—frankly—a better run of cards. I creep slowly up through the 4,000s and into the 5K range while meanwhile my nemesis doubles through the chip leader. Now we’re even at about 5,250 while the former chip leader is just above 2,500.

I manage to bump up to more than 7K with 87 in the big blind at 200/400 with a rivered nine-high straight. The two other players are now at about 3K. The non-nemesis opponent goes all-in from the button when I have AQ and I go all-in. He’s got just 2A, the Q shows on the turn, and the match is over after seventy minutes including sixteen just three-handed (there are two winners, so there was no heads-up play).

Full Tilt Step 3 (1,500 chips)

This game looked rather grim. I’d made it to Step 3 before only to crash and burn. Sixty hands and thirty-five minutes in, with blinds at 50/100 and only five players left and I was under the starting stack. Then a KJ in the big blind met up with a QAT flop and I pushed everyone away from 1,850 chips with an all-in for my straight. On the small blind the next hand my JQ double-paired on the river of a AKJ9Q board. A little scary but the all-in forced another fold for a profit of 1,350.

Three hands later I had the same combo in slightly different suits: JQ. I was the first to act and limped in for 120; I was heads-up against the big blind. The flop was a pretty safe 6Q2. Big blind bet 180 and I called. The 9 didn’t look scary to me and I matched the bet of 400. I figured a KT could have me beat on when J showed on the river, but I matched the 1,570 all-in bet and when he showed 96 it was mine.

I maintained top position three-handed at about 7K, hoping my two opponents with 3,500 each would weaken each other, to no avail for ten minutes. Then I matched a 480 raise from the small blind while I was in the big blind holding T8. The 383 flop gave me two pair but I should have been more leery of the 480 post-flop bet. I raised all-in and was called by A3. An A on the turn just made it worse and I was reduced to 3,700. A couple of hands later my all-in call with JQ failed to improve and was beat by 66, putting me out with another chance at Step 3.

Full Tilt Step 3 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

I re-raised a 3BB raise with AA ten minutes into this two-table match, inducing a three-bet all-in that I called. I was up against QQ and another ace showed on the flop, putting me in an early lead. I kept the lead as the table shrank through elimination and balancing to six players, then ran my TA into JA and lost 1,200 chips. A freak river 7 paired my A7 to wipe out a JA and put me over 5K. Then another four-flush struck when I stupidly contested the big stack’s big blind and I dropped from third place and a sure Step 4 ticket to sixth and Step 3 again.