We started at noon with $2,000 in chips each and the only 'big name' player at my table was Chris Hinchcliffe, mostly known for his third place finish in the Party Poker Million III of 2004. Consequently, Chris is now one of the few players sponsored by PartyPoker and he has been a great success and a fruitful investment for them. He is both a tremendously nice guy and very good poker player.
With blinds starting at $25-$25 and 1 hour levels, $2,000 in chips is not a large amount of chips. This requires a bit of gambling in the early stages, and I had no fear of being knocked out. My table seemed very tight and I decided to gamble early by playing many hands when in late position and it looked like I could see a cheap flop, as well as raising with hands as weak as suited connectors in early position because of the great stealing possibilities. I immediately won a few pots and many from Hinchcliffe who himself was also very active player. I got the opportunity to bluff and semi-bluff, as well as show down strong hands after successful value bets on the river. My confidence grew and I felt that I was gaining a lot of respect at the table.
I won my first big pot when I limped first in from late position holding the A♦ 5♦. The blinds were $100-$200 and I had $2,800 in chips. The reason I limped in was because I felt that the player in the big blind only had two moves, all-in or fold. He had already successfully semi-bluffed me on a previous flop when he check-raised me all-in with a flush draw. I wanted to take flops with this player. He checked from the big blind and we took the flop heads-up: the flop came A♠ 2♦ 8♦. A good flop for me as I now had top pair and the nut flush draw. He went in the tank on the flop not seeming to know whether to check or bet. Finally he checked and I immediately checked behind him. At this point I thought he had a pair or a draw and that he didn't know how to play the hand. The turn brought the 4♣. Again my opponent checked, but this time I decided to bet $250 into the $500 pot and my opponent looked like he was going to fold but then changed his mind and shoved his chips into the pot declaring he was raising all-in.
He had raised me $1,500 more for a total bet of $1,750 and thus I had him covered. Since I had pretty much set him up to make this play I was pretty sure I was going to call. Also, he was acting the same way as he had in the hand when he had semi-bluffed with a flush draw, seemingly considering all possible options, namely folding, calling, and raising. Could he really have a flush draw again? The flush draw seemed unlikely as I had two diamonds in my own hand. I thought he was most likely holding a pair and a straight draw for a hand such as 32, 52, or the like. I figured there were more hands that he would play in this manner that I could beat than I couldn't beat and I knew I wasn't drawing dead in case I was wrong, so I decided to call. He flipped over the T♦ 4♦ which meant he only had 5 outs (three tens and two fours). The 3♠ came on the river giving me a five-high straight and I knocked my first player out. I now had $4,850 and a pretty comfortable chip stack.
This story will be continued soon at PokerListings.com's Daily WSOP Blog.
Read part II »