And even then I still have a lot of fun.
Last year I started my run at the L.A. Poker Classic, where I felt I took my game to a whole new level. And so with a sudden urge to play, now seemed like a good time to make a run for POY.
I decided to play the $300 re-buy tournament and try to win it. I felt I played great during it but unfortunately for me my first live tournament of the year ended at the $300/$600 level with a pretty bad beat. Although being on the receiving end of a bad beat wasn't the way I was hoping to start the year, I was still very satisfied with the way I played.
On Tuesday I entered the $1,000 buy-in event and went down to the tournament room a little late. I usually play very loose at the beginning of a tournament, and when I sat down I decided I would establish my image early on.
I started with $3,000 in chips and the very first hand I saw was 7♦ 3♦ in early position. I raised to $100 at $25/$50 and got one caller. The flop was T♦ T♣ 3♣. I bet and the guy called.
The turn was the 5♠; I bet $400 and my opponent called. The river came 7♠ and I checked. The guy bet most of his stack, which was about $1,500. He looked very weak so I decided to call and he mucked his hand.
So right off the bat I showed down 7-3 and raised pre-flop. I thought my image couldn't get much better until the very next hand. A new guy sat down at my table and in a very loud Israeli accent instantly says "HEY! I know you from TV! You are crazzzy man! You love to bluff."
This did two things that I love: it let the table know I was on TV, and it immediately gave me the title of The Maniac Kid. There's nothing like being table captain and having everything revolve around you - if people are talking about you it's usually something you can take advantage of; you're pwning the table!
So after the free advertisement the guy made for me, I got T-4s and I min-raised again. This time I got six callers. The flop was T-T-T and I got called down by a small pair.
All of a sudden, two hands into my tournament I had $9k in chips, and by the end of the level I had $15k in chips. A little bit later I was moved from that table to a tougher one, with Scotty Clements to my immediate left. I was forced to played a little tighter and ran into some ugly situations, like AA vs. KK and set vs. set.
The next interesting situation came along during the money bubble, where I had about $13,000 in chips at the $400/$800 level I think. I moved in twice over someone's raise and they folded, getting me up to $20k; then I re-raised a guy that had $19k behind and he folded JJ.
Once I found out they were folding these types of hands, I started to raise every hand pre-flop and put people all-in as much as I could post-flop. It was quite the performance: at one point I three-bet someone's check-raise with Q♠ 4♠ on a J♣ T♣ 5♦ board. I ended up going from $13,000 in chips to $76,000 by the time the bubble broke.
After that I was on a tear and had $130,000 with 13 left. I was first or second in chips and feeling great. I lost a big hand though with A-Q vs. A-9 all-in pre-flop and became a short stack before the final table started.
The next day I was at the final table, prepared to win. The biggest value in the tournament for me was getting a win - it would officially put an end to my downswing and give me a very needed confidence boost.
Unfortunately, things didn't go my way when it got three-handed and I busted third after making a questionable bluff for all my chips.
Third place wasn't what I was hoping for, but overall I feel my play was at that "focused and fearless" level that it's at when I win tournaments. I'm looking forward to playing my first $10k of the year and for the tourneys that follow.
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