As many of you know I play in a free bar league, where you accumulate points during 6 week events, and then play in a 6 week final. These 6 week finals have 60-70 players, and if you make the top 6 you qualify for the year end event. You can also qualify for the year end event by adding all your points up for the whole year, and the top 80 qualify.
Well the year end event was yesterday 12-17-06, at noon. There were 95 players that qualified/showed up to play with a total prize pool of $4000. Final 9 places paid. They also had plenty of door prizes to give away during the event. One of there announcements before the tournament was that they had a new sponsor.... Full Tilt!!! So, many of the door prizes where Full Tilt items. I won an early door prize, a bag with a Full Tilt WSOP hat, t-shirt, and license plate cover. Woohoo.
They started everyone with 800 chips and 5/10 blinds, with 20 minute rounds. As with any free tournament play can reach all extremes of craziness. My plan was to avoid trouble situations, get my big hands paid off, and build my stack on a nice and steady pace. Very first hand I am in the BB, we have a couple of early limpers, the button pops it up to 30, I look down at KK. What better time than the first hand to send a message about raising my BB, I make it 130, everyone folds. Avoiding trouble means folding, and then folding some more. So that is what I do time and time again.
The next big hand I get involved with I am in the SB. The cut-off min-raises, brilliant!, I look down at 88. I call BB calls. Flop comes J83 rainbow. I check, BB checks, CU bets small. We both call. Turn is an ace, somebody had to hit that. Again we both check to the cu. He bets again. I raise, BB re-raises. Hmmm. Cut off decides to fold. I call. River makes a flush possible, in hind-sight I should have re-raised the turn to protect against this, but I don't really think he was raising the turn on a flush draw. I bet big, and he goes into the tank. What a relief. He agonizingly calls, stating that I probably have the flush, but he wants to see it. I tell him "no flush, set of 8's". He turns up pocket 3's for a set over set battle of the blinds. This was about a $1200 pot. This pot allowed me to flex the big stack at the table a little, but I still avoided any problem situations.
The next big hand I had 10/10 in late position. Blinds where now 25/50. A quiet player, that had not played many pots, raised from early position. I called. Flop came xAx. He bets out 100. I took plenty of time here, deciding on what I should do. Should I fold to the Ace high flop? I took a long look at my opponent, and he was not looking real comfortable with my delay. I announce a raise, and stack out his 100 plus another 250. His body language lets me know right away that this was the correct play. He folds.
With the blinds going to 50/100 we take a short break. I scan the room for the chip stacks. I have about 2000, and appear to be sitting at slightly above average. When we return from break, I tell myself to keep playing well, look to build chips and avoid bad situations. Sometimes the later is easier said than done. After the break the cards don't seem to want to cooperate. I begin the exciting roller coaster ride of chip stack management. Up, down. Up, down. I am looking more to survive the ride than anything else. In the meantime players keeping busting. 9 tables 70 players, 8 tables 62 players, 7 tables 56 players. Somehow before the next break, I end on an up-swing and have about 6000 chips. This is a decent stack against the remaining field, but the blinds are gonna become an issue pretty quickly.
Shortly after we resume, I get moved to a new table. The table with the chip leader. I keep looking for spots, and cards, to get some more chips, and players keep droping, 40, 30, 20. As we get down to 18 players left, I am in the same situation as most of the other players. Nobody wants to bust out this close, but the blinds are going to force some descisions. A player here, another there, and we are down to the bubble. 10 players left. I have managed to maintain my stack. Picking up the blinds to survive. I am in the BB, 500/1000 at this time. Everyone folds to the button, who calls. SB folds. I check with A7. Flop comes 279. I move in for about 5K. The button calls, and I show my A7. He had been calling himself the bubble boy since we went to 10 players. He flips up AQ, 3 outs. No help on the turn or river, and his self-fulfilling prophecy comes true. In the $$$ nine players left, final table.
The prize structure was set as, 9th $40, 8th $80, 7th $120, 6th $160, 5th $200, 4th $240, 3rd $520, 2nd $1020, 1st $1620. We have one monster stack, the same chip leader from my prior table, and then the rest of us stragglers. After a couple uneventful hands, the 2 short stacks move all-in, and the CL takes a shot at them both with her K10. In one swift flop, turn, and river 2 people are gone. I am again looking to maintain my stack, and get my chips in when I have a hand. The only real big lay down I had to make all day was during the final table. I had about 15K and the blinds where 1500/3000. I was the BB, it folds around to the button, who raises All-In for another 7K. I look down at 10/10. I again go into think mode. He starts to talk, asking me what I might have. Almost goading me into calling. I lay down my 10's and he shows KK. I keep the extra 7K in my stack.
Somehow I maintain, and survive, and we get down to the final 3. The big stack still has us dominated in chips. The other player and I try to chip away at her stack, but are mostly just trading chips back and forth. Finally the other short stack and I get into a hand together, and I eliminate him from the tourney. Sorry I don't actually remember the hand. I think a guaranteed 1K pay-day fogged my memory. The big pay-day also got to the chip leader, as she started crying at the table. She had lots of family that was also in the event, and it seemed like the whole crowd was rooting for her. Her sister said something about getting the kids bikes for Christmas. I offer her a chop. HaHa. My 15k vs her 65K. She declines. Her mom, a player I know well, yells out HELL NO!! We play a few hands, her win then mine. I offer a chop every hand. Finally I get her to call my All-In and double up. I offer again. I win another hand, and offer again. My feeling is if I am going to offer as the chip dog, I may as well now that it is even. She accepts the chop. $1320 each. And we play it out for bragging rights. The final hand comes down to my K10 vs her K7, and she turns a 7 to take the win.
What an incredible 7 hours of play!! A Free Bar Tournament, and now $1320 in my pocket. This is my biggest poker payday, so far. Just thought I would share as many of the details as I could remember. Hope you all have as much fun and luck as I did in your next poker game. Enjoy your holidays!!