To summarize, we were seven-handed with the blinds at $1,200/$2,400 ($300 ante). It folded around to my opponent in the cut-off position. He moved all-in for $37,100 total.
I had about $50k in chips, was on the button, and held A♠ J♣.
No one who responded was in favor of pushing here. In general, I agree. This is usually a spot where I'd fold and try to find better spots.
I'd also much rather be the aggressor, and not call off most of my chips. My opponent would need to be pushing a lot of marginal hands for my call to be profitable in the long run.
Although I almost folded based on these reasons, I took my time and evaluated the situation a little further. I remembered a couple times where he had made very small raises with big pairs, while continuing to chat and laugh.
Now, he had made a huge overbet and was as quiet as a mouse. He seemed a bit nervous when he realized I was contemplating a call. It looked like he didn't want action at all. I was pretty sure that I was up against a small pair at worst, and if not, I had the best hand.
I moved all-in, and both blinds folded. My opponent dejectedly announced "Good call." To my astonishment, he turned over the T♣ 3♥!!!!!!
There was a beautiful and reassuring ace in the door as the dealer rolled out the flop of A♣ 4♥ 5♠. After the 5♣ fell on the turn, they decided to drop the 2♣ on the river to reward my opponent for his wonderful play, while crippling me to under $13k.
My opponent jumped up and down in the aisle, yelling and screaming in celebration. When he was done, he got right in my face and said, "Don't you do that again. You respect my all-ins." Rrrrrright... classy.
Despite all of this, I managed to remain calm and focused... and off tilt. I was forced to fold the next few trash hands I was dealt, especially because I didn't have enough chips to hope to take the blinds without a showdown very often.
Unfortunately, the level ended right before I was to post my big blind. I went on break with just $11,400 chips, with the blinds going to $1,600/$3,200 ($400 ante).
Although some people would be ready to wave the white flag, I just kept telling myself that I was going to double up on my first hand back, take the table over, and go on to win the tournament. Strong words from a man with less than four big blinds, I know.
After the break, two players moved all-in before it got to me in the big blind. After my ante and blind, I had only $7,800 chips left. If I called and won, I'd have a meager but workable stack of almost $40k.
Without much choice, I called all-in with the K♥ 3♦. Needless to say, I wasn't pleased to see my opponents turn over the K♦ Q♦ and A♥ K♠. However, I didn't mind quite as much once I hit a three on the turn to more than triple up!
From there, things started to go as planned. I picked up a ton of blinds and antes on the bubble to pad my stack while waiting for the right hands and spots to double up. I won a few key coin flips, and got plenty of action when I had big pairs. Somehow most of them managed to hold up, too.
See you next time for the final table!
-- Matt Stout
"All In At 420"
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