So since I was in the ATL, I wanted to play any poker I could. Even free pub poker, which I typically shy away from as much as possible. But BrainMc let me know that the Jocks n' Jills in the mall attached to my hotel had free poker on Tuesday nights, and we made plans to hook up. I'd hung out with Brian a little this summer at the WPBT get-together, and was looking forward to spending some time with someone who wasn't a lighting geek.
So I got there, had a pile of wings with Brian as we waited for the tourney to start, and hung out for a bit. He's not gonna be able to join us in Vegas in December, which is really too bad, as he's a cool guy that I enjoyed hanging out with. We got seated at the same table not out of any great gamesmanship, but more because I wanted there to be someone I knew would be cool at my table.
Our starting table was fairly typical for free or low buy-in tourneys - out of the 8 at the table, three of us had a clue, three others thought they had a clue, and a couple were abjectly dumb. I noticed early on that the standard preflop raise for the table was 3x the big blind, so any time I had a hand worth playing, I raised 4xBB. I wanted to thin the field a little more than the standard raise, and make people think I was playing better cards than I had. It helped that I caught a bunch of good cards. At one point, when a guy made a remark about my play being "all over the map," I told him truthfully that I had to that point (a couple hours into the event) only bluffed twice all night.
And one of those was a required play, since I raised Brian's big blind with the Hammer, and showed it down. I picked up a lot of pocket pairs, flopped sets a couple times, and managed to release them the other times when I missed. I just focused on playing straightforward, aggressive poker, paying particular attention to position. I didn't want to make many moves, since I figured there were only a few people at the table smart enough to fold.
One interesting hand early on came when the weak-tighty two seats to my right raised preflop, the first time he'd done so in two orbits of the table. His MO had been that of a calling station that overvalued any ace, as he would call a lot of preflop raises, but could be pushed off the pot with a continuation bet. That was another thing I tried to do all night - make a bigger than normal continuation bet. If I was in the pot, I was in there swinging for the most part. Well, Weak-Tight raised preflop, and I looked down at two black Kings, and made a quick decision based on my position (cutoff) and the number of people other than myself and WT currently in the hand (0) to just flat call the raise and try to price the Big Blind into the hand. I did, it worked, the Big Blind called as well, and of course, there was an Ace in the door.
Now I put WT on a big Ace, since he raised preflop, so I was done with the hand when he bet pot on the flop. BB also folded, and I started a streak of Kings not being good for me. Sevens, however, were very good all night. BrainMc especially managed a BBDQB Special on one dude, when he flopped a set of sevens out of the big blind, led out on the Jack-high flop, got raised, re-raised the other guy and got a call. I couldn't see it from the other side of the table, but I'm pretty sure Brian popped a little wood when the case seven fell on the turn, then quite likely needed a napkin when the other guy bet into his nuts with unimproved AK. Brian tabled his Quads, I let out a "Dem's Quads, Beetches!" and he raked a pile of chips. Brian had played pretty tight up until that point, and really didn't need to do anything different at that table, since ABC poker was good enough.
When we got down to 4 tables was when my bad run with KK continued. I'm sitting in the BB with a couple of Cowboys, the UTG played raised 4xBB, and I shove all in over the top of him. This guy hadn't been at the table long, and I had put a read on him for being very aggressive. I figured I'd shove, push him off whatever BS he was raising with, and that would be all. We were the two big stacks at the table, so there was no point in him tangling with me unless he had a premium hand.
Queens count as a premium hand. They get more premium when the flop comes down J-T-Q. I'm thinking "okay, I've got 10 outs, and this shit is not getting cracked again" as the 4d rolls off on the turn. And then I hear that cracking sound as the case fucking queen landed on the river to give homeboy his own DQB moment. I had him covered, but not by much, and for the first time all night, I feel short stacked. So I start to shove. And I start to pick up orphaned blinds, and before too long I'm not all that short anymore.
Then I pick up pocket threes in late position, and raise to steal. I get one caller from a guy in one of the blinds, and decide that the flop of all clubs isn't really that scary, since my three is one of the clubs. Homeboy leads out into me, I shove all in over the top, he goes into the tank, makes the comment about my play being all over the map, Brian and I share a "WTF?" look, and he calls. His pair of Jacks is no good (Jack-high all clubby flop) and HGHN. Now I have ammo, and am very happy to get broken down to two tables, especially when the guy who cracked my Kings is moved to the other table. After Brian busted (but not after I gave him a courtesy double up when his KQ outflopped my Presto - damn premium pocket pairs underperforming) he was the only guy at our table that I was worried about. I had a good read on everyone else and was pretty sure I could outplay them even if I didn't get cards. Or even if I kept getting Kings.
So my new table had several very short stacks, and a couple of people that were about even with me, and one guy that had me way covered. I wasn't at that table long, just long enough to see the shorties all bust in an orbit, to push the big stack off one pot with a medium-sized c-bet, and then we were down to 10 and it was final table time.
I got to the final table probably 4th in chips, and the disparity between the top half of the field and the bottom half was huge. I chose my seat carefully, sitting directly on the left elbow of the King-cracker, putting him exactly where I wanted him. How much do I love the fact that we got to make our own seat selections? Almost as much as I loved the fact that I was the only one who looked around the table at relative stack sizes before choosing a seat.
I played the final table exactly like I played the rest of the tournament - I waited for good cards, entered every pot with a raise if I was going in, and got my Kings busted.
For the record, I had Kings 3 times, not 4 times as I said at the event (the time I claimed to have Kings hold up I actually had Ah-Kh and missed the flop entirely. I was pretty sure I was still ahead, so I shoved, got no callers, and flashed a single King. This was about 4 hands after my big hand where they got cracked, so the move made sense if I had really had KK and felt snakebit. Which I was), and they got cracked twice and coolered once. The cooler was at the final table, when the UTG player raised, lots of folds back to me in the BB, I look at my Kings, shove, he calls, tables Aces, and I match up stacks and ship chips.
Point of question, though? Why, when someone catches Aces, all the money goes in preflop, and they hold up, do people feel it necessary to tell them "nice hand?" It's not like you've actually done anything, you just caught cards and made them hold up. I think an actual compliment is better reserved for a good bluff, or an accurate calculation of odds or a tough call.
Or I could be bitter because my Kings kept getting cracked.
So pretty soon were down to 4-handed, then the guy who killed my Kings busted, and we were 3-handed. This was when I found out there were prizes! 3rd place got a $15 gift card, 2nd place got a $25 gift card, and the winner got a $40 gift card. Since there's a Jocks n' Jills in Charlotte, I started to give a shit at that point.
Overall, everybody was really nice all night, and there was only one time when I thought anybody was a dick. The pot (I wasn't in it) got three-handed preflop with one guy all in. On the flop, the EP guy checked, obviously intending to check it down. The other guy makes a big bet, and the EP guy folds. Bettor turns over his set of sevens, which normally would have been great, except All-In guy flopped a set of eights. EP guy would have made a straight on the turn to bust the All-In guy, and another guy who wasn't in the hand got very heated when EP guy told Bettor that the right move was to check it down to eliminate the other player.
I tend to agree. Unless you flop the stone cold nuts, check it down. In fact, earlier I had bet into a dry side pot when I did flop the stone cold nuts. I just wanted to speed things along. I flopped a straight with a suited one-gapper on a rainbow board, so I had the only possible straight at the time. But if I'm at the final table, in a multi-way pot, I check down my set. What do you do?
Anyway, we eventually get to 3-handed, and I'm about even in chips with my nemesis, the KK/QQ guy. We've been playing together most of the night now, and the other guy is very short-stacked, so we make quick work of him to get to heads-up. I pick up a slight chip lead, and heads-up play doesn't last very long, because I start to catch cards. I see paint or an ace in almost every hand of heads-up. And when I don't I pair something on the flop and hammer
him that way. In the final hand, he raises preflop and I re-raise. He goes all in over the top and I make the call with A-J. His cards are live with 8-9, but I hit an Ace on the flop and it's all over.
I eventually find out that there's a tournament of champions with more prizes (and an entry into a $1000 tourney) that I'm evidently qualified for after winning this one, so I might have to ride back down to the ATL for more free poker in January. If nothing else, I had a great time hanging with Brian, who stuck around to sweat me through the end, and I picked up a $40 gift card, which is a $40 profit on the night. Now maybe someday I'll win a tournament again where there's money on the line...
Nah, anybody can do that!