A Chip and a Chair

I had the opportunity to play some poker tournaments at the famed Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas earlier today. At one point, in a $160 buy-in tournament, we were down to four players, with the top three players slated to collect a portion of a $2,000 prize pool ($950 for 1st, $600 for 2nd, and $450 for 3rd). I went all in with AKo, was called by 33, and the threes held. Unfortunately, that left me on the bubble with just a single 1K chip. A total of 280K chips were in play, while blinds were 2K-4K with a 4K big blind ante (which the player in the big blind is responsible for paying in addition to his own blind).

This was a classic “chip and a chair” moment. I had only a quarter of a big blind left in my stack… and the next hand, I was in the big blind. It folded to the small blind, who completed as a formality, and I look down at my favorite hand in NLHE. My bullets held up, and my stack had now grown… to half a big blind.

The next hand, I had 98s in the small blind. The button called, I was forced all in by my blind, and the big blind checked. The button and big blind checked down, we flipped over our cards, and my 8 that had paired the board gave me the best hand. Between the preflop calls and the big blind ante, I was sitting at 2 big blinds!

The following hand folded to me on the button. I go all-in with A4o and get called by the big blind. My ace paired the flop and held up with the rest of the runout, continuing to help build my stack.

Over the next few orbits, I relentlessly jammed when I had halfway decent cards, and folded when I had air. This strategy helped me build a stack that was third-largest at the table, and allowed me to start opening to a normal 2.5BB size when I had a decent hand. Further, even though this was a real money tournament in a casino, I felt confident enough to occasionally show my hands when it folded to my raises, both when I was bluffing and when I had the goods.

After a few more orbits, the four of us decided to split the prize pool evenly, leaving me with $500 in real money and a $340 profit. The chip leader at the time commented that he feared and respected the way I was playing, fully expected me to win the tournament if we had continued, and didn’t want the vagaries of luck to cause him to miss out on a decent pay day.

Long story short? “A chip and a chair” isn’t just an empty catchphrase in tournament poker. If you keep your head and know how to use it, with some luck you can turn even the shortest possible stack into a win.


One side note:

I want to thank my friends and recent competitors at Replay for helping to hone my poker skills. It helped develop my confidence to the point where I felt comfortable putting actual money on the line, turned me into a respected player on the real-world felt, and enabled me to turn what otherwise would have been a moderate gambling loss during this trip (thanks for the couple-hundred-dollar bogey, roulette!) into an overall wash. Next time around I’ll stick to games of skill like poker, and leave the games of pure chance alone.

Eh, who am I kidding? I’ll probably end up doing exactly the same thing and try to use poker skills to offset my degenerate gambling habit.


Nice result from half the SB!

That’s deff risky IMO. Occasionally showing deff makes poker more fun.

You didn’t play until there was a winner?


Haven’t been on the real felt in a long time and wish I had the Replay Players help before I did back then, lol. Confidence building is so important and having the patience/discipline will deliver results!! Congratulations, those moments will never be forgotten

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It was a fun table. Some good banter, and I was not the only one showing cards.

Nope, we chose not to risk it / play for another hour or so. Blinds were going up slowly, and stacks were fairly even.

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Agree, I may show at times but I never want to be predictable. If so, I wouldn’t get folks to call or raise when needed, because most would assume I will show anyway. However in @WannabeCoder 's case he clearly had the confidence to do so, to his advantage.

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In that stage of the game, I didn’t really want to get called. Calling meant risking elimination. Even if it was only a small risk each time, those small risks add up fast when repeated. I was very happy to scoop the blinds and antes.

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@WannabeCoder , Agree in final table, of two have to go for the gold! Congrats to both of you. Also sounds like it was a friendly game at the end and Great sportsmanship from both of you!!


Muhammad Ali said once that there’s not much difference in the competitors.

He just saved a little extra for the final rounds.

You didn’t have a little extra in your chip count but overflowed in mindset.

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