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The Makings of a Congested Champion

My decision to take off work yesterday was actually 24-hours in the making. I had noticed Wednesday afternoon that I was at the precipice of a killer summer cold or allergy attack. I had already been weakened by lack of sleep, my head felt clouded and my nose was starting to rebel, ejecting all sorts of unpleasant things. I tried to shake it off, but come Thursday morning, 6:30am, I couldn't move. I slept in short spurts, waking up alternatively sweaty or freezing, and on a rare occassion both. All I could do was roll over, grab the phone and call the office. I knew I had to come into work on Friday. I'm the only associate who is admitted in the federal courts in New Jersey, and there was an early morning conference. Also, it was my coworker's last day, and I wanted to be there to send him off.

With this in mind, I spent Thursday morning trying to sleep off whatever was ailing me. When I woke up at 11am, I wasn't much better off. Still, I called into the office and had them send me some work via email. As much as I am a man of leisure (read: lazy), I also feel a great amount of responsibility for my job. The secretary who picked up the phone was surprised that I asked her to send me work. "Aren't you sick?" she asked. "Yes, but I'm not an invalid."

After having some soup, I settled in to work. At about 12:40pm, I was strumming along, getting things done. I finished the greater part of my work and decided to peruse Full Tilt for upcoming tournaments. That's when I saw the $69+6 $8500 Guarantee tournament. I had won a $75 token within the last week in a Token Frenzy, one of the easiest tournaments around. I had intended to save it for the next Blogger Big Game, but seeing a $75 tournament in the afternoon was just too tempting. The fact that it was a shorthanded tournament worked for me too. It would allow me my aggressive style that I enjoy playing. Add the double-stack format and I was itching to play. I signed up, went back to reading depositions, and waited.

Before the tournament started, I began to second-guess myself. Even though I was sick, wifey Kim had asked me to take care of a couple of things around the apartment. After a long day of work, its all too easy to leave chores undone. As a result we desperately needed to do a laundry load of towels and the apartment desperately needed a cleaning.

When the tournament finally started up, I was probably doing 5 things at once. I literally spent the first two hours of the tournament multitasking. If memory serves correct, at one point within those two hours, I lost a chunk of chips in a tough hand. I shook it off. After all, this was a deepstack tournament, and I wasn't going to let a little slip ruin my chances of a cash.

From there, I simply played better. The other tasks fell by the wayside, and I began concentrating better. I still wasn't paying full attention to the game, but I was paying better attention and the results were coming in.

I wish I took better notes, but, frankly, I didn't. I do know, however, that with about 100 people left from the 160+ starting, I worked my way up to 6th place. From there, I played bigstack poker. I wasn't loose, but I was willing to see cheap flops and play aggressively. In fact, there were a couple of moves that I found helped me throughout the tournament. Check-raising was key. With shorthanded games, you often have players who are more willing to bet out with less-than-optimal hands or even throw out a pure bluff with crappy cards. When I was hitting big, I let the other player do most of the betting. This generally entailed checking fairly quickly, as though I had given up on the hand. A perfect example found me in the SB with 48h. A player in the CO min-raised from 200 to 400 at the time. I decided to call the extra 300 with my crappy cards, mostly because my stack was decent at the table and I could afford to see a flop and fold when I missed. When the flop was all hearts, I checked pretty quickly. The other caller, the BB, checked as well. The CO then pushed all-in. I kid you not, people. I couldn't believe it. Instead of calling, I decided to raise all-in for my few additional dollars, signaling to the BB that I didn't want any company. He folded, and the CO showed 55 with no hearts. No more hearts came anyway, so when the BB said, "I folded a King of Hearts," I replied, "I wish you called." And while this was not a check-raise situation (instead, it appears more like a slowplay), my intention was to raise whichever jabroni decided to bet out on my made flush.

In hindsight, that may have been the hand to turn it all around. It catapulted me into a big stack and I never looked back. The other play was the simple min-raise bluff. I found this particularly useful when in the blinds once the antes started. Play had significantly tightened up as we got closer to the money and players became shortstacked when compared with the blinds. The player on my immediate right had a nice stack of chips, but he was completely letting me run over him. When I realized he was folding to my bets when it folded to him, I decided to just min-raise to get him off of pots early. I also found this play effective against the player on my left. As I've mentioned here before, the min raise from the blinds when there is only one other player (also a blind) in the hand is a powerful play. It looks as though you are desperately trying to get some action for your monster hand. If they call, you still are in decent shape, seeing a flop for cheap and being the player leading the hand. If they raise, you fold, and then remember to avoid using that move again. Trust me, they'll start raising back at you every time after that.

Beautifully, all of this stealing started to annoy the hell out of the guy on my right. In fact, it caused him to eventually gift me his stack when he was fed up. As per usual, it folded to the SB who called, and I raised from the BB with K9o. He called and we saw a flop, KQx. He checked, I put in a pot-sized bet and he raised me. I thought for a moment and decided to raise him back. He pushed all-in and by then the call was academic. He showed Q7 and I didn't get unlucky, eliminating a player and further strengthening my stack.

Even so, I tightened up my play as we neared the money, mostly because I was literally moved from a table with the 3 shortstacks to a table with 4 out of the top 6 bigstacks. Fold, fold, fold, I was hoping to reach 18th place and take the $160 or so as a sweet profit on a $14 Token Frenzy investment. I already pictured how I was going to spend my money. I didn't have a huge stack either. Even though I just spent three paragraphs bragging about my clever play and aggression, I spent much more time folding away. I was still in 13th place or so, but I only had about 25k, compared to players with 50k at my table. When the money bubble burst, I was ecstatic. By then, slb159 was railbirding. I can't thank him enough, because when it comes to these tournaments, having a wingman can really help my focus. Even though I'm jumping between windows feeding him my hands, I am still focusing almost entirely on the game (albeit chatting about the game).

Somewhere in there, I started getting great cards. I must've seen KK two or three times within the last hour, and QQ twice. I saw AKs or AKo twice as well. I was using these cards, together with my heightening aggression to move up the ranks. My movement was hypercharged when the button made a raise while I had AJ in the BB. The SB folded, and I decided to push all-in. Surprisingly, the button called...with A9o. He must've thought I was raising too much. Well, he chose the wrong time. The flop had a Jack, and that was all she wrote.

From there, I had jumped to 2nd place. At the time of the all-in, I had about 45k, and knocking him out brought me to nearly 100k. One guy had 120k, but fortunately, he was at the other table. At this point, we were down to 15 or less, and by the time that we worked our way down to the final 8, my table complexion had changed. Even though the players were mostly the same, the bigstacks had been diminished, and suddenly I was at a table with a bunch of small stacks. I continued to mercilessly bully the table, raising more often than not. I was either raising or folding, and it was paying off greatly thanks to the antes.

All the while, I'm sorta freaking out. I'm still playing well, but I can smell a decent payday. By the final table, though, all those thoughts had went away. I took out two players relatively quickly and found myself securely in 1st place. I don't remember what happened to fourth place, but other than the momentary elation from moving up another rung on the pay ladder, I tried to stay focused and play smart. I had about 250k to my opponents' 200k and 100k when I lost a big chunk of change. I had a mid King, like K7 and got into a hand with the 100k stack. The flop was K58 with two diamonds, and I check-raised the other guy all-in. He bit with 67d. By the river he made his flush, and for a few seconds, I thought, third isn't bad. Then I remember the 3k top prize and decided to fight for it. No awfukit poker for me.

I worked my way back to a decent stack with aggression. The other players fought over a few hands, and soon we were all about even. I took the lead with a hand where I pushed off the former 100k stack. Finally I dealt him a death blow. Once again, my weapon of choice was a check-raise. However, I made the move with a Queen, low kicker, on a Queen-high board. It was certainly a gutsy play, but when he called my all-in with the middle pair, I was golden. Heads up, I started with a slight lead. We played for maybe 10 minutes or so, with me up a slight amount, when I decided to raise preflop with K2c. He called and we saw a K-high flop with two spades. I checked, he bet, I raised, and he pushed. I thought for a while about folding, but I had seen what was happening at the end of the tournament. Both of the other players were getting tired. They were tilting and falling into awfukit poker. Top pair, worst kicker isn't an amazing hand, but heads-up, it's still pretty strong. I could've folded and chose a better moment, but I knew how weak the other players were playing. I called and he showed a flush draw. He missed it by the river, and I couldn't contain myself.

'HOLY SHIT!' I wrote to slb, followed by 'HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT!' I got off the comp and called wifey Kim, and then my Mom. $3k for a fooking card game. Alright! This is by far my biggest win ever, live or online. I had gotten further in larger fields, but the buy-ins were always less as was the prize money. I had wrote earlier this week about being a Five Percenter. When I reread that post, it looked like I was trying to justify my love of the game to myself. In a large way, that's true. I hadn't been making the progress I had hoped to make at the begining of the year. Vegas particularly took a lot of wind out of my sails. Now, I'm withdrawing most of my winnings to my cash bankroll, and I'm aching to get back to the live poker scene. I'm reenergized. And, ironically, all of the MTT tournaments I played and lost, well, those losses are all wiped out by this one win. Love that ROI!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:57 AM,


At 2:10 PM, Blogger bayne_s said...

Congrats on the win!

At 2:36 PM, Blogger AlCantHang said...

Well done sir.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger oossuuu754 said...


At 3:41 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

I meant to link you in my post today, but you will probably be happy i didn't considering the picture you would have been next to.

Regardless, well done holmes.

At 4:08 PM, Blogger lj said...

yeah jordan! does this mean you want to go play at nicelook w/ me? or are you gonna go bigtime salami?

At 4:38 PM, Blogger MattyEbs said...

So glad you got the bankroll back, all a matter of that's where variance comes from?

Hopefully we'll play in the next week or two

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Matt said...

It doesn't get much better than the feeling after a big score.

Congrats again, can't wait to hear about you tearing up the live games now!

At 3:39 AM, Blogger WindBreak247 said...

Great job on the win, Jordan. Nothing like making good on a sick day! ;-)

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've looked at that exact $75 tournament in the past -- 6 max double stack with that buy-in is an ideal structure for me too. Unfortunately there is only one per day, early in the afternoon (EST).

Congrats again.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Really awesome. NH sir.

At 12:11 AM, Blogger Brez said...

Well done kind sir!

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Schaubs said...

Great job Jordan. You deserve it.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Chad C said...

Good job, hopefully this is the start of a regular occurrence!

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Irongirl01 said...

Congrats J!!!

Deep stack (live or online) is where I excel will have to look into this...

At 4:25 PM, Blogger 23skidoo said...

Well done SIR!

At 7:06 PM, Blogger kipper said...

Well done

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Nice win Jordan!!


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