I Could Almost Smell It

Encore Club Anniversary $25K Guarantee (12,000 chips)

I re-read parts of Lee Nelson’s Kill Everyone: Advanced Strategies for No-Limit Poker Tournaments and Sit-n-Gos on Saturday afternoon before this game, and I think that—despite my falling short of the money—I played some of the best poker of my life.

I got off to a very hot start, with some semi-strong holdings that encouraged me via Kill Everyone to a lot of three-betting. I managed to take down five of the first seven hands with only one showdown. I had 7x7x and was heads-up with a player in the blinds Several over cards appeared on the board and we essentially walked it to the river, when he showed Ax6x which had paired the lower card but I had him beat. Then again, I broke off one hand where I’d flop-paired Kx after Ax showed on the turn and another where 2x2x was up against a pair of queens showing, so I was only up to 12,925 at the end of the first orbit despite having won a majority of the hands.

I sat quetly after that rush and waited for my opportunities. AJ won a big pot for me when it made two pair on the turn and then a spade flush on the river. Fifty minutes into the game I was up to 15,625.

I was saved from a huge loss with QxQx when I pushed back on a 1,600 re-raise pre-flop with a 3,200 four-bet and was called. AxKx on the flop reined me in and I showed my queens when I folded. The guy in seat 10 flipped over KxKx and said something about “thanks for the chips.”

I got it back and more almost immediately. I picked up Jx8x and paired the jack on a queen-high flop. He three-barreled it and tried to push me off the hand, but my pair of jacks ended up costing him 6,000 chips.

Then I got my own comeuppance trying to get tricky with A7. I only hit middle pair on the flop and a flush beat me. Seventy-five minutes in: 14,600 chips.

Just before the first break, a hand had one of the players in the tank for a couple of minutes before folding as the clock ticked down to less than a minute. A couple of the players headed off to get pizza or get in line for the bathrooms. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was in CO and when I looked at my cards I had KxKx. I raised and ended up heads-up with SB. The flop was jack-high, SB bet, I raised all-in and he called, to show AxAx. The board gave me no solace and his aces held up, leaving me with only 925 chips (my profit from the first orbit of the button).

I was still in, although extremely short-stacked even with the 8,000 chip add-on. Early on, I doubled with AxKx v KxKx when an ace hit on the flop. at 2:22 into the game, I had 17,800 chips.

Q4 gave me a moment of deliberation from BTN before tossing it. When the hand played out, I would have hit a flush and beat the single pair that took a large pot.

Blinds were up to 300/600/75 when I called a raise of 1,800 from BTN with A9. I hit top pair on the flop and pushed after a raise to win the hand. Then I lost several thousand playing with KxTx v 9x9x which made a set on the flop. At 2:50 I was back down to 14,000.

A push with 8x8x on an ace-high all-diamond flop took down another hand, then I picked up blinds and antes at 400/800/100 with a raise and 9x9x from HJ. Up to 16,125 at 3:10, then 19,000 at 3:30.

All-in from middle position with KxTx took blinds and antes again at 1,000/2,000/300, but four hours and forty minutes into the game I was still at 18,700 chips, below the amount of the starting stack and add-on.

I pushed on a 6,000 re-raise with an all-in holding Ax5x in BB and managed to suck in some more chips, then I got extremely lucky with TxTx when I pushed pre-flop from BTN and doubled through SB’s 8x8x. We both made sets on the flop, but I stayed ahead. That catapulted me to nearly chip average, with 53,000 chips at 4:50.

Sliding back down, I called an all-in of 13,600 with 6x6x. He had AxKx and I almost got free, but he hit Broadway on the river. At 5:10 I was back down to 41,000. There were fifty of the original 154 players left.

Another river did me bad when I called another small (11,600) all-in with KxJx. We both paired out top card on the flop, then I paired the jack on the turn. Then the river gave him another four.

Right after that, I shoved on a 9,000 raise with KxTx and after some thought, the player gave it up. With that, I managed to get back up to 40,000 by 5:25, with 44 players remaining.

I doubled again by hitting my ace with Ax9x v KxJx. and fifteen minutes later was sitting on 69,800 chips, which sounds great, but with only 38 players left after the start of break 3, was only 90% of the chip average. With blinds at 3,000/6,000/500, each orbit was costing 13,500. Not a good time to go card dead, but that’s what I did. I was down to 45,500 at 6:15 and there were 29 players left, with eleven spots to go before the money.

The BB hit me at 4,000/8,000/500 and I had J9. Not exactly something you’d write the Internet about, but the best thing I’d seen for a while. BTN raised to 24,000 and I went all-in for a total of 36,000, knowing the best I could expect were two live cards. He had AxQx, he was the favorite as I expected, but it was still only 3:2. I almost made a straight with the series of mid-level cards that flopped, but his ace took the day.

Six-and-a-half hours. -100%ROI. Finished 26th of 154 players.