A battle of wits (and heavy eyelids)

Friday was a good night. After a long week at work I decided to wind down with a couple of online poker tournaments. As I had removed a large chunk of my bankroll from the two sites I mainly use I elected to play at a lower level than I otherwise would. Having spotted a $2.75 buy-in tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of $12,000 over on PokerStars I thought I’d give it a whirl. Nearly 7,000 others had had the same idea by the end of the registration period, meaning that the prize fund was actually up near $17,500.

The tournament got underway at 10pm UK time and nine hours later I was still plugging away. The 7,000-strong field had been whittled down to a final table of nine — and I was sat with the sixth biggest stack. Not ideal but also not perilous. Given a little rush of good starting hands I was confident that I could take advantage of a couple of the weaker players at the table and bump myself up the pecking order. Unfortunately that rush of cards didn’t arrive so I was forced to duck and dive while hoping that one of the big stacks would pick off a couple of the others. One big stack in particular decided to exercise his right to bully the rest of the table and successfully knocked out two or three players by gambling with less than premium starting hands.

Once down to six players I felt I could open up my game a little and start making some more complex moves — I still had a relatively small stack but still enough to do some damage to the big stacks so I stepped it up a gear. As we entered hour ten I found myself as one of three remaining players and in a position where I fancied my chances of winning. One of my opponents was slightly too loose and the other was way too passive; I felt I was the best player remaining and that I could use these observations to kick on and take the tournament down.

Unfortunately, the $2,600 top prize turned out to be out of my grasp. I got involved in a pot with the tight guy and flopped a King-high flush. Confident that I had the winning hand, I moved all-in only to be called with the only hand that could beat me. I was out in 3rd and incredibly disappointed. In hindsight, though, my prize of $1,400 is a ridiculous return on an outlay of less than $3. Making it through a field of 7,000 to 3rd place is no mean feat. Don’t get me wrong; I was lucky in a couple of places — you have to be to successfully navigate a field of that size — but I also played incredibly well. My confidence is well and truly restored.

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