july 23rd, 2006
qualifier after qualifier. i felt like i went into these tournaments almost expecting to lose. the double-shootout structure was so impossible to win, i had lost so many of those this year and the last. after reading a post on 2p2 describing that the best tournaments to win were the 650 buy in tournaments. these tournaments were a set buy in with a set amount of seats to the world series. around 900 or so entered, and the top 55 remaining would get seats. after reading the detailed analysis in how to play those games, i decided to enter a tournament with that structure. although i had the cash to enter in directly, i didn't want to blow my whole bankroll on the WSOP.
i entered three qualifiers at the same time, a DSO on stars, the 650 last chance on stars, and a 535 on full tilt. it was 7pm, my prime time for playing cards. this was it, now or never time. i was all gung ho, ready to dish out some damage. somehow i ended up getting it all in with KK against someone elses set real fast in the full tilt tournament. oh great, a nickel down the drain. but i wouldn't let it affect me. i couldn't. i only had one shot i could not miss this chance, etc.
around 8pm in the 650 tournament on stars, i pick up a couple of aces. blinds 50/100 i have around 5k in my stack. folded to me in late position, i make it 300 to go. another guy raises to 900, who has me covered. i just flat call.
flop KK9 rainbow. (pot 1800)
i check, guy bets 800, i call.
turn is a 3c (pot 3400)
i check, guy checks.
river K (pot 3400)
i think for a bit here. i piece together that he doesn't have a king. he bet a small amount on the flop, which may or may not have been a K, but his check on the turn was suspect because he would want to weasel money in their with another small bet. so i effectively had the best hand. would he bluff if i checked? the board seemed too scary for that. so i pushed all in for 3240. he called with QQ and i doubled through early.
things are going smooth and i manage to make it to the second table of my dso. awesome two chances to make it. of course, things are too good to be true, and a bit of pressure comes my way.
folded to me in the sb, i raise to 1600 with KK. i have 23k, bb has 20k. bb calls.
flop QTx. (pot 3200)
i bet 2500, he raises to 7500. at this point i think for a bit. likely because i raised and it's a blind vs. blind, he might be calling me light. he was also a very good player, someone i thought might be moving against me. i pushed against him. he insta called with TT and i groaned. the turn and river bricked and i was down to 3000, or around 8 big blinds. oh yeah, i also lose in 8th place in my final table at the dso. all my hopes and dreams, down the drain.
very two next hands, i push all in pf and win the blinds to push it to around 4500 or so. carefully identifying spots where i could pressure without getting caught, i then restole a steal to push it to around 6000-7000. in the next orbit, i picked up AK, and moved in on a raise to catch someone with AJ. my hand held, and i was back in it again, at 16.5k at around 11pm.
i cruise along again for a bit, until another devastating blow at around 11:45 pm.
around 10pm, 180 people left, with 55 seats paying. i have 27k, with 97 offsuit in the big blind. two people limp and sb folds.
flop T7x. (pot 4200)
i check, guy A behind me checks, guy B with position bets 4k, i think for a second, then i push against him (he has 19k at the start of the hand, so pushing here was effectively 14k more), and guy A folds. guy B thinks for a bit, then calls with AT. gulp. i didn't think guy B would limp with a hand like AT and was likely on a position steal brick twice again, and i'm down to 8k. great.
i repeat the same procedure, find two spots in the next orbit to move in, then resteal a steal against someone i think is weak. i pump it up to 16k in a hurry, then catch a big break with AA against KK. 32-35k or so, and there's 94 left at 12:15 am.
for the next two hours, play gets slower and much more intense. no longer with a big stack, i fight my way, stealing pots against the middle stacks and getting out of the way of the bigger ones and smaller ones who are willing to move in.
at around 60-70 left, i pick up 88. i was at the point where i had to steal again, and thought 88 would be a good choice to do so. a guy limps (bad move this late in satellite with this structure), and another moved all in. i shook my head, and folded my eights. another guy calls with QQ, and i breath a sigh of relief. if i had moved in there, instead of the other dude right in front of me doing so (with some garbage hand i forget what it was) my tourney would've been over. it almost seemed surreal how things were clicking into place, stealing working exactly as i plan it to, i was in the zone and seemed to have the infinite lives cheat on game genie on. we're literally play 3 orbits of poker in 1 hour, every hand is taking immense amount of time with every decision being critical.
after sweating it out for another two hours, finally number 56 busts out. i pump my fist and yell out a hearty, "JUSTICE!" i call several of my friends that i know would be interested, and recount the key hands of the victory. i told my sister i'd give her 1000 if i made it, and i gave her a stack of 20's, keeping my promise. we subsequently go out to get some late night food nearby to celebrate. i was happy that i wasn't conditioned enough in poker to make this a non-issue, happy that i could appreciate the victory of making a score to a seat, happy that i was going to have a shot, a chance at competing and having a great time, and perhaps making some cash on the side.
that night was possibly the greatest moment in my poker career.