First hand of the tournament. I get the button and am dealt . My initial response is to feel slightly uneasy. Pocket jacks on level 1 sometimes spells an invitation to danger. Sort of like having the boss’s wife openly flirt with you at the Christmas party. Steel yourself, Shamus. Remember, it’s not worth it . . . .
Then I remember this is a limit SNG. Mathematically impossible to bust on the first hand. By the time the action gets around the table to me, I’m feeling stout enough to reraise (properly) the cutoff who raised following two limpers. Everyone, including both blinds, calls my three-bet, so we have five players and a pot of 300. Flop is and everyone checks to me. I bet, and three of the other four call. The turn is the . Oof! Quads. It checks around to me and I decide to check as well, hoping somebody makes something on the river so I can get some action here. (Not necessarily the correct play, but the stakes are only 20/40 and I’m not making a lot on this hand anyway unless someone hits something . . . I’m pretty sure no one else cared much for that second jack on the board.) The river was the , and I got two check-callers (one with 85 and the other with 64). I win a not-so-bad pot of 560 chips, and am up to 1,940 right away.
I take a larger pot on the first hand of level 2 when (again from the button) I’m able to win a hand with KQ without showing, boosting me up to 2,410. Then, before level 2 is completed, I get dealt KK not once, but twice -- and lose both hands. On the first one I had three players call my preflop raise, and the one with A5 flopped an ace and turned a five. On the second I had four callers and when the board came I got out in the face of a reraise (the hand was won by the player to my left who cold-called me with 58-offsuit). Even after having cowboys cracked twice within five hands, I still had 1,960 chips (and the lead), and was feeling pretty good about how I'd handled things so far.
The game calmed down a bit. I won a few small pots and lost a few, staying out of the way mostly while five players went to the rail. We were at Level 5 (stakes 150/300) when I picked up in the small blind. I was down at that point to 1,448 chips. It folded around to me and I raised, and the big blind (then chip leader with 5,642) called. The flop was . I bet, he called. The turn: . Nice. I bet, he called. Must have an ace, I thought. Or perhaps a gutshot and picked up a club draw here or something. I’m also thinking this is the hand where I’m gonna get healthy. The turn is the and I mindlessly bet again only to be raised. Immediately I regretted putting out the bet, but realistically hadn't many options at the moment I had. Now I'm looking at a measly 398 chips left, and so can put in 300 to call or just be done with it right here. Perversely I decide just to call and he shows . Criminy! I’m down to 98 chips.
Next hand I’m dealt . All in! Wheeee! Two others call, and they both check it down as the cards come . . . . . . . Lord. Quads again. If I’d saved a bet on the river the previous hand, I’d probably have 600 more chips here, but no matter. I’m up to a robust 294 chips.
Hand after next I get and I’m all in again. An eight falls on the turn, and that’s good enough to beat my two opponents in the hand, both of whom had small pocket pairs. A few hands later I’m up to 1,070. Meanwhile the other short stack had started to drop, actually slipping down below me to 608 chips. (The other two left were around 8,000 and 3,000.) I may actually cash in this sucker, I thought. I soon get in the cutoff and raise it up. Mr. Eight Thousand calls me from the button, then the other short stack reraises, leaving himself only 158 chips. I call as does the chip leader, and the flop comes . Sweet. The short stack predictably puts out the bet of 150 and I smooth call, wanting to keep the big stack in this hand. He calls. I’m not only gonna knock out bubble boy, but this hand is gonna get me in a position to do better than third. The turn is the and the short stack puts in his last eight chips. I raise, the big stack folds, and we show our cards. What does he have? . No! The river is a meaningless king and I’m back to square one (with 462 chips).
“Threes killin’ me,” I type. No one responds. They're no doubt glad to see me bumped two hands later with 98-suited.
The last round of hands having been such a crapshoot, I wasn’t that upset at having bubbled. I played fairly well, I thought -- though hardly perfectly -- and if not for those sets of treys I’d have easily made the money, probably making at least second. Encouraging enough to keeping trying, I think.
Lately I’ve also taken a couple of shots in those crazy Turbo-FPP satellites for the WCOOP. Got sort-of-deep in one (finishing around 20th in a field of 135; needed to make the top four to qualify, though). I have enough FPPs to try again, so we’ll see. I would say the third time is the charm, but I have to say I'm having mixed feelings about the number three just now . . . .