Never Give Up! Part One
While playing in the Bellagio’s Five-Star World Poker Classic’s $1,000 buy-in Pot Limit Hold’em tournament, the following series of events unfolded; including part-two of this article, in which I make one of the stupidest moves I have ever made in a poker game! This article shows that you can never give up in a poker tournament.
Two off of the button, with the blinds at $100-$200, I opened the pot for $600 of my remaining $900, with K-9. Max Stearn, holding 10-10, just called in the small blind, because he was afraid to re-raise and possibly run into a big hand in the big blind. I don’t blame Max for just calling at this point in the hand; after all it looks like he’s going to get my last $300 in any case.
With a flop of A-10-8, Max checked, and then I checked. By the way, if he bet my last $300 here on the flop, then I would have called fairly quickly because of the pot odds-after all he may have a small pair here as well. The fourth card made Max four tens, and he checked. At this point, I’m folding my hand for a $300 bet. Also, I’m folding no matter what hits on the last card-although a K would have tempted me to call. The last card was a 3, and now Max bet my last $300, and I folded quickly.
With $300 left, I folded my next two hands, and shut my eyes to maintain my focus-I was upset that I was going to be eliminated. However, if I was going down-and with $300 left it sure looked like I was going down–then at least I would give myself a chance and go down calmly. Under the gun, I moved all-in with Ac-10c, and was called by the button and the big blind. I scooped the $1,000 pot when the board came down A-K-Q-5-7. In the big blind, I folded Ac-4c for a $400 raise. (Again, I wanted to give myself the best-possible chance to double up, and A-4 isn’t it!) Next hand while in the small blind, Kenny “Skyhawk” Flaton-a great player, but an even greater guy-raised two off of the button with 7-7, and I moved all-in for $800 total with As-Qs. When a Q hit the board, I won the $1,800 pot.
Next hand, on the button I picked up Q-Q, and raised one player that had called the $200 bet. Everyone folded, and now I had $2,300. The very next hand I picked up J-J, and I moved all-in when someone else opened with A-Q. The A-Q called me, and my J-J won the $4,900 pot. Three hands later, I was under the gun again, this time with A-A. I opened for $600, and Skyhawk raised me $2,400 more from the small blind. I moved all-in, and Skyhawk quickly called and flipped up Q-Q. My A-A held up, and now I had exactly $10,000!
I had started the round with $300, and ended it with $10,000! Wow! “OK,” I thought, “I must not lose a big pot, as often times I do when I make a big comeback like this.” But no, I couldn’t help what happened next; although I should have been able too! I raised it up with 9-9, and was called by A-A (smooth calling with A-A can be very dangerous!). After a flop of 4-6-8, I bet out and was raised. I didn’t know my opponent from Adam, and I decided that he probably had A-8, and I moved him all-in. Knowing your opponent can make all of the difference in the world in a situation like this–after playing with him the rest of the day, I will fold in the same situation next time. But alas, he called, and his hand held up, and now I was down to about $3,000 again.
After being down to $300, $3,000 seemed like a lot of chips to me, and I felt confident that I would run it up again. I fought and fought and fought, and by the time we reached the final table, I had the chip lead with over $60,000. This ends part-one of this article, part-two will detail one of the worst plays I have ever made in my life, as well as what happened at this particular final table with Howard Lederer, Jeff Shulman, and Daniel Negreanu.
I hope that everyone enjoyed this weeks Hand of the Week. Good luck playing your hands this week.