March 31, 2010
Itâ€™s been nine days since the end of miniFTOPS XV and I still havenâ€™t had the discipline to sit down and write about it. Thatâ€™s sort of a silly thing, because I consider last Sunday to be the biggest day of my poker life.
Noted in my earlier blog posts is my decision to invest a substantial amount of my 2010 winnings in miniFTOPS events. I had made a few good multi-table tournament runs lately and felt I had a decent shot at the money. Big MTTs with legitimate blinds structures are like the coolest things ever to me. I love getting room to maneuver and not having to flip for stacks in the second level (although I seem to have been OK at that in sit-n-go play this year). And, like any other poker player, I have long dreamt of making my first big, deep tournament run to catapult my winrate and career momentum to the next level.
I ended up playing in ten miniFTOPS events. Tons of my time went into trying to win satellites to these events, due to my love of tournament play, the general fishiness of satellite fields, and the fact that I was grossly underrolled to play the tournaments in the first place. I honestly have no idea if I made or lost money by doing this. I know for a fact I spent about $115 trying to get into the $100+9 event #12, which I eventually withdrew from at a mentorâ€™s suggestion (although I subsequently achieved super revenge by winning another ticket in â€œThe Perfect SNGâ€ described weeks ago). The $30+3 event #10 was particularly bratty, and Iâ€™m sure I wasted more than $33 trying to get in before giving up and using Full Tilt Points to pay my fare.
Prior to the last day of miniFTOPS, which includes event #25 and the main event, these were my results:
Event #1 $20+2 NLH: 4,022/18,875 $0
Event #5 $20+2 FLH: 1,266/4,654 $0
Event #8 $12+1 NLH KO: 20,123/26,854 $0
Event #9 $50+5 NLH HU: 3,158/4,096 $0
Event #10 $30+3 NLH: 11,106/20,659 $0
Event #13 $30+3 NLH6 SO:750/3,934 $0
Event #15 $20+2 NLH T: 6,853/10,328 $0
*At this point I wasnâ€™t super discouraged. Minimal concerns about my play so far, just unfortunate I couldnâ€™t make the payout in anything yet. Then, starting the day after my final exams finished:
Event #20 $20+2 NLH: 1,204/9,685 $30
Event #25 $24+2 NLH6 KO:1,729/16,835 $45.67
Main Event $50+5 NLH: 41/19,309 $1,689.54
I laugh, but this really has nothing to do with my exam schedule or anything related to school. Or does it?
Iâ€™d like to take some time and talk about the amazing run I was fortunate to have at the main event. In case this post gets ridiculously long, Iâ€™ll try to categorize and label sections so that you can jump around easily. Not that Iâ€™m known for making long posts or anything.
FIRST HOUR OF TOURNAMENT
Starting stack 7,500. Starting blinds 10/20. That, plus ridiculously long levels, and weâ€™re super deep. I was really looking forward to playing patient, smart poker and trying to get into some good spots. In the first ten minutes of the game, I distinctly remember the following thought that popped into my head: it was too early to get KK in preflop. Someone said that in a book once referring to the first level of the WSOP main event, and I think itâ€™s probably pretty true. Is anyone going crazy with JJ preflop on a 375BB stack? QQ? AK? I probably wouldnâ€™t. I made up my mind that if I picked up the kings in this first hour, I would try very hard not to get them all-in before seeing a flop. I just felt like theyâ€™d run into aces way too often when someone played along.
That said, thatâ€™s not to stop someone else from making this mistake, right?
I picked up AA on the button in the second level, blinds 15/30 and my stack at 8186. UTG+1 opened for pot, a pretty strong line that I was happy to see. I 3bet to 360, a re-pot that laid him 2:1 odds to see a flop after the blinds folded. But no. He came back over me for stacks. I snap-called that off so quickly I was surprised I didnâ€™t have time to laugh first. I mean, in cash games, 4bets are usually 2.1-2.5x the amount of the 3bet, right? What are you trying to do when you make it 20.13 times the 3bet and risk it all? I guess he hoped I would call with QQ- or AK, which I wouldnâ€™t. I would only call with aces. Which I did. (He had pocket kings).
About forty-five hands later, I was the chip leader at my table with 19,041. The next biggest stack was the UTG+1 with 16,817, and everyone else was half our size or less. Blinds 30/60. I was lucky enough to pick up AA in the cutoff seat. UTG+1 opened for 3x, so I re-raised to 660, just slightly more than pot. My heart almost skipped a beat when he made it 1,620 to go. A 4bet less than pot from the biggest stack at the table playing from early position. At this point I just had to put him on QQ+/AK. I put a massive 5bet shove into effect, making it effectively 16,187 to go against this villainâ€™s very strong line. Hopefully he would call with most of his range and get it in worse. I was right; he did call, but he had the other two aces in the deck. What a letdown. I had the As which was the luckiest of all spades, so I took that to be my only out. Flop JsTc3s. What a tease. Turn Ts. Holy sh*t. This would be amazing. River: spade! I raked in the massive pot after literally screaming and found myself with a top 5 stack.
Six hands after that, I got into a very, very tough spot. I think I gained some liquid courage by the fact that this only involved a third of my stack; I might have otherwise lacked the courage to play.
Full Tilt Poker MiniFTOPS Main Event No Limit Holdâ€™em Tournament â€“ t40/t80 Blinds â€“ 9 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter
MP2: t6195 M = 51.62
CO: t10592 M = 88.27
BTN: t6700 M = 55.83
SB: t10970 M = 91.42
Hero (BB): t35668 M = 297.23
UTG: t7070 M = 58.92
UTG+1: t1575 M = 13.12
UTG+2: t5970 M = 49.75
MP1: t9060 M = 75.50
Pre Flop: (t120) Hero is BB with T T
6 folds, BTN raises to t240, SB calls t200, Hero calls t160
Flop: (t720) 3 3 9 (3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets t560, BTN folds, SB raises to t2240, Hero calls t1680
Turn: (t5200) 8 (2 players)
SB bets t8490 all in, Hero calls t8490
River: (t22180) 6 (2 players â€“ 1 is all in)
Final Pot: t22180
SB shows Q J (a pair of Threes)
Hero shows T T (two pair, Tens and Threes)
Hero wins t22180
According to pokertracker, my actual equity versus the villain was 51% on the flop. I didnâ€™t have a plan for the turn when I bet/called, but I knew Iâ€™d get it in on a non-spade, non-paint card. My equity improved to 68% on the 8h turn, and I thought for a while before calling his shove. I figured that most flush draws in his range also included overcards, meaning I wasnâ€™t a huge favorite, but I also felt he could be playing with 9x type hands or massively bluffing with 44-77. I took a deep breath and called the bet, was very proud when I saw his holding, and was thrilled when I held to take down the pot.
At this point there were thousands and thousands of players left in the tournament, but that didnâ€™t make it any less awesome to look at the tournament lobby and see my name at the top of the list. I took numerous screen shots from this point onward, but I donâ€™t know how to upload them. This is when I made my previous posts which you can read below.
I called my brother, who used to play poker online part-time but has grown increasingly frustrated with variance and beats and taken a passive-aggressive view of the game lately. I was hoping heâ€™d be excited to hear of my status. He ended up saying something like â€œMike, Iâ€™m recording music with friends now. Call me when youâ€™re down to, like, 100 players, and weâ€™ll talk thenâ€. My response to him at the time: oh, well alright (frowns). Correct response in hindsight: OK, sure bro, no problem ;-)
I started making facebook posts with updates on my status. Those who are friends with me will remember how often I did this. Not many responded at the time, but I got more vocal fans as time went on, and I learned later that a lot more people were following me than I thought! Also, I had started a thread here on the DC forums, as I had for all mini FTOPS events, but no one really got involved. It basically became another place for me to post exciting updates :P
As I expect would be natural for a giant stack in early-middle stages of a MTT, I began to hibernate and wait for premium spots. I had been playing since 10:00am (previous miniFTOPS event finished right before this one started), and had eaten very little on the day but managed to down a red bull for increased focus. By about 4:30pm I started to get a bit distracted. I never got more than five minutes of break time throughout the day, so I never really cooked anything. I ended up eating yogurt, some bread, spoonfuls of peanut butter, and part of a banana. Around 5 or 6 pm I decided to run to the lobby of my building and buy a rockstar so that I could stay sharp. I did manage to keep my mental game with this drinkâ€™s help, but later at night I started to get a bit cracked out due to the combo of caffeine, low food intake, and staring at a screen all day without breaks.
Anyway, at this stage of the tourney I didnâ€™t do much. Picked up a small pot with TJs on a flush, 3bet KK pre to steal from an opener, and raised a bare flush draw on a Q45 flop only to win at showdown with a pair I picked up on the turn.
HILARIOUS, OR AWFUL?
Thatâ€™s right. Hilarious, or awful? You decide. The player to my left, with an M of 8-9 or so, had been somewhat active in stealing pots and three-betting players recently, including me. I felt he might be getting impatient. The rest of the table was starting to really tighten up, but not this guy. Frankly, I was tired of him playing back at me, and I was probably a bit bored, too.
Full Tilt Poker MiniFTOPS Main Event No Limit Holdâ€™em Tournament â€“ t170/t340 Blinds + t25 â€“ 9 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter
UTG: t9802 M = 13.34
UTG+1: t15598 M = 21.22
UTG+2: t5567 M = 7.57
MP1: t15255 M = 20.76
Hero (MP2): t44871 M = 61.05
CO: t5589 M = 7.60
BTN: t8855 M = 12.05
SB: t15185 M = 20.66
BB: t5635 M = 7.67
Pre Flop: (t735) Hero is MP2 with 8 7
4 folds, Hero raises to t680, CO requests TIME, CO raises to t5564 all in, 3 folds, Hero calls t4884
Flop: (t11863) 7 6 T
Turn: (t11863) 5
River: (t11863) 3
Final Pot: t11863
Hero shows 8 7 (a pair of Sevens)
CO shows Q K (King Queen high)
Hero wins t11863
I recall being pretty happy to get it in with live cards against him. Honestly I expected him to show up with worse than KQs a lot of the time here, but I figured I had at least 40% on most situations with him, so I think I had bored myself into calling with about 1.5 to 1 odds. Oh well. Ship.
Iâ€™m pretty sure there was a guy railing this villain who went berserk in the chatbox at this point. Unfortunately, I have no way to look up his name, so Iâ€™ll just call him Monkey for the rest of this thread. But Monkey followed me all the way to my tournament grave. I remember seeing him in the chatbox as late as the top 6-7 tables. He along with another guy were talking sh*t about a lot of players, but he obviously had it out for me. He probably helped me get a fishy image, as he kept reminding me that I called someoneâ€™s all in with eight high and would be the next fish to go. (If anyone reading this remembers more about the player, please comment here or message me. It was quite laughable)
Looking back, I guess this was the suckout portion of the evening. Not that flushing AA vs AA against the only other bigstack isnâ€™t a suckout. But you canâ€™t fault my play there. Itâ€™s more questionable here. I got KQo in versus QQ in a steal-resteal situation and then hit running flush cards. Few hands later I got QQ in against AK for about 22BB stacks; he hit a king, I rivered a flush. I ran very well for this entire tournament and can give minimal credit to my skill in spots like this. But I donâ€™t think I would have played differently the second time around.
Later on, this was a pretty big pot that put me to the test once again. I spent a lot of time thinking about this one and it turned out to be the correct spot:
Full Tilt Poker MiniFTOPS Main Event No Limit Holdâ€™em Tournament â€“ t250/t500 Blinds + t50 â€“ 8 players
The Official DeucesCracked.com Hand History Converter
Hero (CO): t70350 M = 61.17
BTN: t8570 M = 7.45
SB: t16447 M = 14.30
BB: t43947 M = 38.21
UTG: t56471 M = 49.11
UTG+1: t10282 M = 8.94
MP1: t6865 M = 5.97
MP2: t52199 M = 45.39
Pre Flop: (t1150) Hero is CO with A K
1 fold, UTG+1 raises to t1250, 1 fold, MP2 raises to t4000, Hero calls t4000, 3 folds, UTG+1 calls t2750
Flop: (t13150) T 5 K (3 players)
UTG+1 bets t6232 all in, MP2 raises to t13000, Hero calls t13000
Turn: (t45382) 3 (3 players â€“ 1 is all in)
MP2 checks, Hero bets t45382, MP2 folds
River: (t45382) 3 (2 players â€“ 1 is all in)
Final Pot: t45382
Hero shows A K (two pair, Kings and Threes)
UTG+1 shows Q Q (two pair, Queens and Threes)
Hero wins t13536
Hero wins t31846
Also at this stage of the tourney, around four hours in, I played the hand which I posted previously. I raise AK and got three-bet from the blinds; flopped AQ3 monotone, cbet, and faced an all-in check-raise. I thought for a while and called; villain showed Q5c for a bare midpair and I held up.
FIRST TIME I THINK Iâ€™VE LOST LOL
I definitely didnâ€™t get discouraged by losing only two big pots all day, but I did note a slight momentum change with these pots that I had to mentally work past. They came about four hands apart. A short stack open-shoved AQs from UTG+2, I 3bet TT from late position, and the SB woke up with KK and called for his stack.
A few hands later I opened JJ utg and got a call from the BB, who had about 2/3 my stack. The flop came 89Qr. We both checked. He led for the full pot on a brick turn, and I just called. He bet half pot on the river when the brick card paired, and I shrugged and called. He showed TJ for a cooler. Luckily I didnâ€™t cbet or the pot wouldâ€™ve been huge and I might have lost more.
I picked up QQ on the button with blinds 500/1,000 and a stack of 95K. The CO raised to 2,500, I made it 9,000, and he called. Flop T44. He check-called a bet of 3/4 pot. Then on a 9 turn, he shoved for about pot. I thought for a while and then realized that his most likely holding was Tx betting for protection on a safe turn. I called and he showed TJs. I held and my stack climbed a bit.
It becomes difficult to recap the tournament now using Poker Tracker because the hand histories donâ€™t indicate how many players are left or where I am on the pay schedule. I remember getting crippled with AQ vs QQ and falling to about 16BB. I tried not to sweat it, keeping my regular plan and hoping for great value spots with which to rebound.
Shove 99 UTG, no callers. Steal.
AJ call of a shove vs AT. Double up.
KK all in vs 99 short stack. 1.5x up.
AA 3bet all in. Stolen.
KK 3bet/call all in vs QQ. Double up.
All of these happened within twenty hands of each other. It was awesome!
From then on, I played small pots. Raised some premium pairs, no callers. Saw flops with mid pairs, folded to massive bets. Right before a break, I had ATo in the BB. It folded to the SB who shoved me in for 14Ã—. I tanked for twenty-three seconds and decided to call even though I figured I was rarely a big favorite. Villain had KJ and I was delighted to hold.
I had 99 in the SB and shoved over a late raise from the chip leader. He paid me off with 55.
I open-shipped about 8x with QQ, got called by AKc, I held. I was almost at half a million.
Then: I open-shipped 88 on the button for 10Ã—. SB called me with A7o. Flopped a set, rivered a house. I hovered around $1 million for a while.
All good things must come to an end. I slowly got blinded away but was thrilled to see myself move up several pay tiers along the way. The top 63 brought me to the four figure mark, and top 45 boosted me another $500 into the realm of $1700 or so. This was by far my best tournament run ever, and I only wish I had more chips so I could wreak havoc on the 45 remaining fools!
Blinds become highly valuable in late tournament stages. I had Q7o in the SB and it folded to me. One of my semi-pro friends mentioned that I should start shoving any two in spots like this. I was scared to death, but I put in my stack, about 12BB. The big blind used every last second of his time bank. All seven of the friends who were watching me were going crazy and asking â€œWTF u got?!?!?!â€ I didnâ€™t want to tell them. Some of them probably wouldnâ€™t understand the play. But I was very happy when I took down the pot uncontested.
I open-shoved A9 from MP when my stack was tiny and my M was below five. I took it down, but that would be the last pot Iâ€™d win.
The big blind hit me, and I had pocket fours. My M=2.06. I really couldnâ€™t wait anymore. UTG opened it up for 2.3Ã—. This was really not what I wanted to see. it folded to me, and I used every last second of my time bank. I think that from about ten seconds to about one second, I was convinced I should fold since I was no better than 50%, but possibly destroyed versus his UTG opening range. Then, at the last possible second, I had a thought that was just like â€œOK. Ship.â€ All of my friends instant messaged me â€œglglglglglglglglglglglglglâ€. When the villain showed his aces, all of my friends messaged â€œfuuuuuuuuuuuuckâ€. hahahaha. Iâ€™d take it, I guess, on five days out of six. I donâ€™t know how thereâ€™s any getting away from 44 in that spot with that stack. I was more than happy to have made it this far. The first prize of $142,000+ was looking very tasty, but Iâ€™d never made more than $400 in a tournament in my life. This was a very acceptable prize.
I ended up playing poker from 10am to 1am that day. The first event finished with ten minutes to spare until the main event started. I took a quick shower during that time. The rest of my five-minute breaks were spent pacing the room, grabbing quick food fixes, blasting trance music, or trying to relax in various days.
I was impressed with my play and patience today. I got very, very lucky in the first hour. I made great calls in tough spots. I ran great in close pots. I managed to stay patient and play my best until the very end. I couldnâ€™t have done so well without rail support from my friends. People tracked me on IM, on fb, on DC. Somehow my mom learned about my progress and texted me â€œu go mikeâ€ which really brightened up my night. She must have found out because when I called my brother back close to midnight and said â€œhey danny, itâ€™s down to 100 players. can we talk?â€, he said back, â€œoh shitâ€.
I am thankful for everyone who supported me on this big day. I hope that every tournament player gets a chance to make a deep run like this soon (hopefully go all the way!). It was really nice that after busting the first seven events I attempted, I finally woke up with two small cashes, and then had the good fortune to make a great event out of my last (and most highly anticipated) chance. Forgive me for bragging in spots, but I feel my amazing experience has been worth chronicling. I hope that you will find it entertaining, inspiring, and more. I hope that you can top it soon, because Iâ€™m sure going to try.
See you in miniFTOPS XVI.