So this just happened…
I signed up for the Crazy 8s MTT tonight just as it was getting started, sat down, and started losing chips. I wasn’t intending to specifically, but I ended up playing only premium hands for most of the tournament. I tried getting in a few early hands, and had to lay them down, and lost about 1400 of my starting stack, and figured I wouldn’t be long for this game, but I tightened way up and waited.
Opening hand is here: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/459205943
My first playable cards dealt to me were AA, in the Cutoff, and I played them perfectly: 3-bet, UTG went all-in with AQs, was called by another player in middle position holding TT, and I called, took most of the chips, with about 1/3 of the total chips in the middle going back to the player with TT in a side pot.
I didn’t play another hand until I got dealt JJ, again in the Cutoff seat: I’m nervous here, because JJ gets beat a lot by hands that will call a big raise. I bet high enough that I thought I could just steal the blinds, but got 2 callers. The flop brings 39K, one player bets half the pot, I call, the Turn brings a J. I go all-in, and get called by KQ. The river is a blank but puts a third heart on the board but there’s no flush for anyone, and I take down 16K chips, catapulting me into 1st place on the leaderboard.
I pretty much stay there, or right around the 1-2 position on the board for the rest of the tournament, until getting knocked out 9th.
I decided that since this was going so well, I’d try playing premium hands only (other than when in the blinds) and see how it did for me, and it did very, very well.
In one hand, I flopped a OESD holding T6, limping in the BB, bet it twice and took the pot when a second Q hit the board, scaring off my opponent:
Bet big with AK, 5BB raise from middle position, and took a no-hand pot from the BB with a half-pot continuation bet over a 5J5 board. Not a great place to bet, but the strength of the hand enabled me to isolate to one player, and I had position which allowed me to make a play for the pot when he checked to me, and it worked:
Got AA again, this time in early position, took a 15.5K pot from 2 players, 44 in the SB and 99 on the Button. The 44 player was all-in meaning we’d see a river no matter what, and the flop brought TQ2, giving me possible Broadway and flush draws. The Turn was a K, and with 3 Broadway cards on the board I was a bit worried that I could be up against trip KKK QQQ or even TTT, or that someone could have AJ for Broadway, so I didn’t bet any more, but my Aces held up over everyone, and I pulled down another very big pot:
T9 in the BB, I bet the Turn when it pairs my T. Button raises, I’m the only one who calls, feeling I might be able to land a straight with this hand. I have an inside straight draw on the flop with 6h7hAs, and the Turn Ten was another heart. The only other player in the hand wasn’t showing any sign of betting after the flop, so I min bet the paired Ten and took it, good for 4200 chips.
A6o in the SB, I limp against 3 other players, pair the Ace on the board, bet half pot, and take the hand:
A7s in the SB, for another small pot taken at the flop, with a bet sized about 2/3 of the pot. Flop was AJKs, giving me top pair with a backdoor flush draw:
Then I lost a big pot with AQs. UTG limps, I open from UTG+1 raising to 2BB, the Hijack player calls, and then the BB raised all-in. I could have raised more but the blinds here are already 1500, and I don’t think rasing higher would have gotten either of these players to fold their hand. I call, the other player calls. Flop is 58Q, and I think I have it since the BB is outkicked, but the river gives the Hijack a spade flush, and he takes 30K chips, BB eliminated, me knocked back down to about 14.5K. Ouch. This is a setback and drops me back down to the bottom of the top half of the field.
The very next hand, I have QJs in the BB, and limp into a Q3K rainbow flop, bet half the pot and take it, putting me back up +7000K.
Sometime later, KQo on the button, I raise 2BB, the BB calls, we see the flop, it’s dry 742, I min bet and take it.
And a short time after that, I’m in the BB with AhQs, the flop comes KA6 suited spades, the SB shoves, I call, he does not have the flush, and I have 4 cards to it, so I figured if he does have a flush made on the flop, maybe I’ll catch up and hold the nut flush, and if he does have the flush and I don’t, this is not a bad hand to go out on. But I don’t hit another space, and it’s OK, he’s only got AJ, and they’re red. Turn and River are red 43, so no Broadway, and I take him out, getting nearly 43K chips in the process, for my biggest pot yet, putting me back at the top of the leaderboard.
Next hand I play in, I have ATo UTG, I raise 2BB, everyone else mucks but the BB. The flop is 544, the BB shoves, but I have him well covered so call, and he only had QJo, the board hits nobody, and my Ace kicks the 4s on the board to me, and I get another 24K chips, eliminating another player. This call was possible just because I had my opponent covered and was far enough up on the leaderboard that losing the hand wouldn’t have ruined me, and hoping that there wasn’t any way someone at this point of the tournament would have called a raise with a 5 or a 4 in their hand, but he could have had a pocket pair of something too. Turns out it was a good read on the situation, and profitable.
67o in the SB, everyone folds, and I decide to give the BB a play so limp, he checks, I flop an OESD, 928, bet it, BB has 1/10 the chips I do and can’t stay in the hand to call, so I take it.
KJo in the Hijack seat, I bet 2BB, and by now that’s over 6000 chips, so everyone folds and I pull in 12,000 chips from 2 players who were limping in at the 3000-level blind.
I realize as the blinds are getting bigger and bigger that I can’t wait on truly premium hands forever, and will need to open my range, so around this point I’m ready to do so. Unfortunately, I pick the wrong time to play rag pocket pairs and get destroyed very quickly.
But first, I get one last hand of AA. My stack is at 75k, I’m well ahead of the rest of the table, the #2 stack at the table is 20K behind me. I’m in the BB, and I am hoping to get value out of these, maybe knock someone out. I raise 3BB, to 9K chips, only one caller, holding KTs stays, and he’s all in at the flop. The Turn and River give him trip Tens, and he pulls 31.5K chips back away from me, which kinda sucks. But I’m still holding the table leads with 61K, still 6K over the #2 stack. I’m not exactly happy here, but this is survivable.
Suddenly the #2 stack gets on a hot streak, and now he’s the chip leader, with over 70K, I’m behind with just 55-60K, and everyone else is half that or less. I’m still thinking patience, it has served me very well so far.
32o in the BB. Button, SB limps. Flop is A3Q, I min-bet the 3, they fold. My one big bluff. But they’ve been watching me play only high value cards all night, so I think that helped make it credible. But I’m sure if either of them had hit anything, I would have gotten called here. This temporarily halts my slide, and brings back some chips. With the BB up to 4000, I am glad not to have to let this one go just because I have the two lowest ranked cards in the deck. I show.
A player busts out with JJ, crushed by Quad Kings. I wisely sit out with A2o in the SB after the player with Jacks raised 3BB from the middle position. JJ bet half his pot ahead of the flop, which came up 5QK, and shoved the rest of it, already drawing near-dead, then the Turn gave KK the 4th cowboy to make it official. This puts another player at the table tied with me, with the top 3 at the table at 72K, 64K, and 64K, and two smaller stacks at 18K and 16K. I still think I’m holding up just fine.
I tried raising 44 on the button, but didn’t raise it enough, and get 2 calls, and one of the small stacks shoves, so I let it go, and now the small stack is sitting on 42K, and I’m down to 55K. See how fast things can change? I go from being the big stack to the #2 to the #4 in a short few hands.
It’s almost time for the final table, just 9 players left at an 8-seater MTT.
I get 77 UTG and raise it up 3BB, hoping everyone will fold. The SB calls, BB calls, the flop comes 225, SB min-bets, I raise. SB calls, Turn brings a 3rd 2, and now I’m full up and either facing someone with quad 2s or maybe I have it. SB shoves, and I decide that it’s worth seeing what he has, so I call, and he’s got 99. And just like that my 53K stack is down to under 10K.
I’m in the BB the next hand, with J5s, nearly everyone’s in this, the flop misses me, I don’t dare bet, the button bets, SB calls, I fold, now down to my last 5K chips, which is all of 1+ BB at this point.
So of course I’m shoving no matter what, the 2B has me already halfway in, and I have to make this hand count. Q9o isn’t the worst possible hand to have here, but one opponent has TT, hits a full house TTT88, and I’m done.
So for all my conservative play and well-chosen hands, just a couple of big misplays are my undoing.
Not trying to play 44, or maybe just limping them and mucking if I don’t flop a set, would have been a better choice. And calling the shove with 3 deuces on the board, hoping my 77 would hold up was not very good either. The big hand I lost with AA late in my run wasn’t a factor, really, although winning there really would have cemented my lead and made me feel like a genius for playing only the biggest hands and limping the blinds when they were good enough not to fold.
But all-in-all, not a bad run. I should have held on a lot deeper into the final table though.