I’ve had this Gold Card player bonus for ages but never seemed to find one of the tournaments where I could use the thing. Then, the other day, I got an email notification and voila! there I was.
The event was an unlimited re-buy format, with an add-on. I had exactly one Gold Card, I wasn’t in a position to do either, so I didn’t exactly have high expectations. Then again, my opening had was UTG1 with Q♦A♠ and I re-raised UTG’s raise of 40 to 80 (starting blinds were 10/20). SB and UTG called, the J♦2♥T♠ flop gave me a Broadway draw and not much else. UTG bet the pot for 260 and I called, with SB following along. K♥ made my straight on the turn and I bet the pot—now 1,040 chips—after action was checked to me. Both of the others folded, and I was up 700 chips for the second hand.
I won another few hundred chips over the next hands, then got A♥Q♠ again as UTG. I raised to 80, got a re-raise to 140 from CO, three-bet to 400 after everyone else cleared out, then got called. The flop was 5♣2♥6♦ and I bet another 400 to open, getting a call. 9♣ on the river was not the card I wanted to see, I checked, CO went in for 815 with just 385 behind, and I had to fold, leaving me with just a tad more than the starting stack.
I slid all the way down to 1,705 over the next hands. Then, for some reason, I called a UTG raise to 60 (at 15/30) in BTN with just 8♠Q♦. Both blinds got out of the way and we were heads-up. I made middle pair on the 5♥A♣8♥ flop but it didn’t look promising. UTG bet just 30 (with a stack of 5,300), though so I decided to give the impression of strength by raising to 255. He called. So much for the impression.
Then again, the Q♣ on the turn actually gave me a decent hand. UTG checked, I put out 675—about half my stack—and he called. The last card was K♦, putting an end to any flushes but making possible any number of better hands from standard starting ranges. I pushed after the check with my two pair, nonetheless and, UTG folded. It wasn’t a double-up but it made a big difference.
I got out of danger territory five hands later with J♥K♠ as SB. I’d lost about 400 chips in the intervening hands, blinds were 25/50. UTG1 (the player I’d just taken 1,000 chips off of) called. CO called. I raised to 175, pushing out BB. UTG1 and CO called. The flop hit me hard: T♥A♦Q♥. I had the best straight, but I checked the flop and everyone else was cautious, as well. 2♦ on the turn put a backdoor flush out of my reach (which turned out to be a good thing) but opened the possibility of two flush draws making it. I opened with a bet of 288, got called by UTG1, and forced CO to fold. I wasn’t particularly happy about the 2♠ on the river pairing the board, but I pushed all-in with 1,827. That was more than half the stack of UTG1, but he called and showed A♥7♠. My straight was good.
Another great opportunity hit five hands after that. I was BB with 4♥4♦. UTG1 raised to 100. BTN and I called. The flop was 4♣4♠K♥. I checked it, UTG1 checked it, BTN put out a tentative bet of 50. I bet half the port for 263, UTG1 called, and BTN went away. 5♥ on the turn and I still had four of a kind. I checked and let UTG1 take the lead with a bet of 451. I put more than half my stack in as a raise: 2,254. He pushed for 3,927, a bit less than half my chips. I called and he showed K♠K♦. A great hand—and a winner if he could catch the last king on the river—but behind me for the moment. The last card was J♣, and I was up to 9,270 at just over 15 minutes into the game.
I diled for more than half an hour, ranging between 9,000 and 13,000 chips as the blind levels crept up to 200/400/40. By my next significant hand, I had just 9,003 chips at a five-handed table with one player just under 4,000 and three others ranging from 20,500 to 31,600. I was dealt Q♥A♥ on BTN. UTG (with 29,000 chips) called the big blind, CO (the largest stack) raised to 2,000, and I pushed all-in. SB (the smallest of the big stacks) folded, BB (the short stack) called, and UTG called. The big stack abandoned his 2,000 raise. Everyone flipped and BB showed K♦2♠, with UTG displaying 7♠7♦. I was more likely than either of the others to win but I was still on the wrong side of the coin flip. The 3♥J♥2♣ flop put me in positive territory—at least as far as stats go—and my win was sealed with 8♥ on the turn. The win put me at 24,326 chips.
I didn’t have to wait as long for another bump, although it wasn’t nearly as large, either. Blinds were up to 400/800/75, I was BTN with K♦Q♦ and third in chips at the table. UTG (with a couple thousand fewer chips than my 28,000) raised to 2,400. The two big stacks folded. I called, SB folded, and the short stack (with just over 5,500) called. The T♠9♥9♣ flop didn’t exactly hit me, but I did have an inside straight draw. Everyone checked. The turn Q♠ gave me top pair and a decent kicker (plus my draw), and when BB pushed and UTG folded, I had to call the extra 3,150. BB showed the same pair, suited but with a bad kicker: Q♣3♣. The K♠ on the river sealed the elimination and put me up 8,725 chips.
It was about ten minutes later that I broke the 40,000 barrier. Blinds were 500/1000/100, I was BTN with Q♠Q♣ and just over 30,000.SB and UTG1 were under 10,000, UTG had 40,000, CO was about 35,000, and BB was lording it over the table with almost 100,000. UTG folded, the short stack in UTG1 called, CO folded, and I raised to 5,000. SB pushed for 10,180, BB and UTG1 folded, and I called, to see K♥A♦. The flop was against me, with K♠T♠4♥, but the turn resurrected flipped the odds with Q♦. Just a 9♥ on the river and I was up to 42,816.
Twelve hands later, the other short stack and a couple other players had come and gone. The big stack two positions to my left was sitting on 141,000 chips. Immediately to my left was a stack of 75,000. There were two of us in the 40,000-45000 range and two more between 20,000 and 25,000. Blinds were up to 600/1,200/120. I was BTN again, with A♥9♥. UTG folded and UTG1 put 4,920—about a quarter of his stack—into play, with only 720 in the pot. CO folded and I called; the blinds folded. The flop was 3♥Q♠8♠ and the small stack pushed with 15,816. With the big stacks out of the way, I didn’t feel bad about calling and saw he had a 9♠J♦. I was ahead, but he did have a potential straight draw as well as a backdoor flush draw. The turn, though, was 2♣ and the river was K♠, so neither possibility quite made it and I was over 65,000.
That success didn’t last long. Just two hands later I raised UTG to 5,000 with 9♠9♣. Everyone got out of the way except for BB, the other short stack with 25,000 who pushed all-in. I called and was running against K♣A♥. The board ran out K♦J♠8♦5♥6♦ and I was back below where I’d been two hands before.
Three hands in a row just six hands later put me into major contention. Blinds were 800/1,600/150. BTN had 34,000 chips, SB had 64,000, BB was the player who’d knocked me down, with 55,000. I was UTG with 34,000 (yes, I’d lost even more chips). UTG1 was over 92,000 and the big stack was CO at 138,000. I got dealt A♣A♦ and just called, with UTG1, BTN, SB following along. BB checked his option. The flop was 2♠6♦8♥ and SB bet 4,450. BB folded and I pushed for a total of 31,861. Everyone folded and I took a pot of 11,600.
My next hand as BB was A♣K♥. Action folded to BTN who bet 4,050. SB folded. BTN had me out-chipped by nearly 10,000. I pushed again and he called with J♥Q♦. Nearly 92,000 in the pot and the flop was 5♠K♠6♣. I won it with a 2♥ on the turn but the river A♦ wasn’t bad to see. I was a second at the table by a small amount.
A♠T♦ came to me next as SB. The stack I’d just broken down went all-in with 12,442 chips. I went all-in rather than just calling, hoping that BB who I just barely had covered wouldn’t call. He folded and I was up against 9♦T♥. The J♠Q♥A♦ flop opened up the possibility of a chop, but no Kx appeared and I eliminated the player to put me over 106,000.
Four hands later (1,000/2,000/200) I was BB again (we were still five-handed). There hadn’t been a lot of chip movement, I was around 103,000, the big stack had 134,000, the guy between us had 87,000, and there were two stacks of 42,000 and 50,000. My cards were T♠T♦. UTG called, then action folded around to me and I raised to 10,000. UTG called. The flop was 5♥K♥3♦ and I raised the stakes with a 20,000 bet. UTG called again. The turn was 2♠. I checked, UTG bet 31,000. I was reasonably sure he didn’t have a Kx and unless he’d bet 10,000 pre-flop with 5x3x, I was reasonably sure I was ahead, so I called. The river was a Q♠. I checked again and UTG went all-in. There was more than 150,000 in the pot—61,000 of it was mine—I called and he flipped 5♣6♣ for a bluff gone seriously wrong.
With 192,000 chips, I was the tournament leader.
I managed to hold onto the lead for about thirty hands, despite a slowly decreasing stack. Most of the other players near the top were experiencing the same phenomena. The player to my right went on a streak just as we hit the two hour mark, overtaking me by winning a 61,000 chip pot in one hand, then scoring a knockout against another similarly-sized stack that had just arrived at the table six hands later which put him over 310,000.
Blinds were 2,500/5,000/500 and we were five-handed again. I had 145,000 chips as UTG1, a new player had just moved onto my left with 45,000. The other three players had all been at the table for a while, with BTN holding 131,000, BB 115,000, and UTG still just over 300,000 (SB was dead). My hand was 7♦A♦ and when the big stack folded I min-raised to 10,000. The only caller was BB. The flop was K♦K♣A♥, BB checked and I checked behind. 2♥ on the turn, BB checked, I bet 22,500, and BB re-raised to 45,000. This is where I made my mistake. Of course he had the Kx; I went all-in, he called and showed K♠J♣. I got two pair with the river 7♣ but that didn’t beat a set of kings. I lost 115,000 chips and was down to about 30,500, short stack on the table now with a stack of over 230,000 ahead of the 300,000 stack.
I was UTG on the next hand with J♠A♦. Not a Mutant jack, but okay for a short-stack hand. I went all-in and got a call from the biggest stack in BB with 9♠4♠. He hit top pair on the flop: 9♥7♠5♣ and it looked like it was curtains, but the turn was A♣ and the river made me two pair with J♣. I was back up to 65,000.
2♥3♥ on BB the next hand didn’t look quite as like likely to win, but I got a walk and won 4,500 chips in antes and the small blind.
I was still on a stack of only 14bb. The next hand as SB, I got A♣8♦. The big stack (still with 270,000 chips) raised to 15,000 from BTN after UTG and CO folded. I pushed with just under 69,000, BB folded, and the big stack called with J♣T♠. Both of us missed the 2♣9♣6♦ flop. The 7♥ on the turn gave him a possible gut-shot straight draw, but mine was open-ended. Nothing came through, though, except for a board pair, with 7♦ for the river, and suddenly I was back up over 145,000.
A few hands later, I got A♠K♣ as BB. UTG—with a stack just a little smaller than mine—opened with a min-raise (at 2,500/5,000/500)—and action folded to me. I pushed, BB folded, and I snagged another 14,500 chips.
My SB on the next hand was 5♣7♣. UTG and CO called, I called, and BB let it ride. Only the largest stack sat the hand out. The flop was 2♥5♦8♠ and I was assuming middle pair 0n that board was at least a contender. I opened with a feeler of 5,000, only UTG—the short stack at the table with about 30,000—called. Q♣ on the turn and I continued pressing with another 5,000 bet. He called again. The river gave me 7♦. It was as good as it was going to get with this hand and I bet the pot, for 42,500. With only 20,000 left, UTG folded and I was up to 185,000.
Getting tricky with bad cards can become a bad habit, though. My next BB was at 3,000/6,000/600 and I was dealt 2♥5♣. Action folded to the big stack—now down to only 200,000—and he raised to 12,000. Like a fool, I followed along, hitting the bottom end of the 9♥8♥2♣ flop. SB bet 18,400 and I called, only to see K♠ on the turn. We both checked. The Q♥ on the river gave him the opening to push all-in and I had to fold, losing 31,000 on a hand that should have been thrown away.
I took another hit trying to play 2♦A♠. I four-flushed by the turn but with the lowest possible diamond flush. By two hours and fifteen minutes into the match, I was back down to 122,000.
Three of us saw the flop after a min-raise to 12,000 with me in SB holding J♠9♥. I had an inside straight draw on the 6♥K♣Q♠ flop and opened with 12,000. One player called. K♦ on the turn didn’t do me any good, but I opened with another 12,000 and got a fold with my bluff to win 39,000 chips.
A min-bet from BTN with K♠8♠ took down the blinds and antes on the next hand and moved me back up to 177,000 chips.
I called with a similar 8♣K♦ on the next hand as CO. SB called and BB checked. The A♦6♥8♠ board wasn’t ideal for me, but I did have a piece and position. BB (short stack at the table with 75,000 at the beginning of the hand) bet 8,000 and I re-raised to 30,400. SB folded and BB gave it up. I was over 200,000.
Four hands later, I was already back under 180,000 (with blinds at 4,000/8,000/800) when I got Q♦K♣ as SB. I was second in chips at the table, with the former big stack still bigger at 190,000+. There were three stacks of about 140,000 to 150,000 and one just over 50,000. UTG raised to 20,400 and action folded to me. I called; BB called. 66,000 in the pot and the flop was Q♥2♦4♣. I pushed 158,000 chips into the middle (or, rather, pushed a button) and the others folded. I didn’t want to see any more cards on that hand.
With 223,000 chips, I was about 30,000 ahead of anyone else at the table. I wasn’t the tournament chip lead, but I was in the top ranks again, and the field had narrowed considerably from the original 564 entries. I hadn’t rebought or added on (I’d seen one player rebuy six or seven times after repeatedly going all-in on every hand). I’d managed to almost immediately come back from a devastating loss of nearly 80% of my chips, an ability I rather pride myself on (I once managed to build from 55 chips to more than 30,000 after losing 99.5% of my chips AxQx v. AxKx). But pride goeth before a fall (or a devastating chip loss) as they say.
That loss came at the 5,000/10,000/1,000 level, after about two hours and twenty-five minutes of play. I was big stack at the table, with 196,000 chips, after the guy who’d just taken a pot of 20,000 to move ahead of me had been moved for table balancing. I got 2♥2♣ as BB, action folded to SB (with the second-largest stack) who went all-in and I called with just 17,680 behind. He flipped A♣4♣ and we were in a true 50%-50% coin flip for a pot worth 360,000. The flop of 6♥3♣3♦ gave me a 4:3 advantage, then the flush possibilities of a 7♣ turn drew us even again. He didn’t get the flush, though. He got a 5♦ for the river straight.
I dropped down to 11,680 after giving up my SB on the next hand with Q♦9♣, but I pushed from BTN with 3♣A♦ and got two callers, which tripled me up after SB pushed BB out with an all-in bet on the turn when he made a pair of nines, only to lose to my ace pairing on the river (the three paired on the flop). Still, I had less than 4bb in a six-handed game. My last hand, I shipped with a weak king, was called by a less-weak king, and lost when his kicker paired on the flop.
147 minutes. 215 hands. 22nd of 564 entrants. infinite ROI, won 0.5% of prize pool.