3 PM Feb 2 2012, Caesar's Palace, 1st (22 entries)

Even though there were only 22 entries, it was still nice to get a win so early during my stay here in Las Vegas. This time I was on the receiving end of a misplayed

It was held by a player in middle position who just called before the flop instead of raising. Nobody else raised either, so I got to see the flop for free in the big blind holding

When the flop came

I naturally opened the betting with a standard half-the-pot bet. Inexplicably, the player holding the AK chose to just call my bet instead of raising. Most players holding AK would definitely raise in that situation, and rightly so. The turn happened to be the

leaving me with kings up against his pair of kings. I bet nearly the rest of my stack and he still only called instead of raising me all-in. The river came

He made one final call when I put my few remaining chips out in the middle, so I doubled up.

The tournament ended unusually fast once it got down to four players remaining. When there were five players left nobody went out for a long time, at least 20 minutes or so. We kept playing five-handed right up to a break. Right after the break though, one player got knocked out on each of the first two hands, suddenly leaving just three of us. Then another four or five hands later the next player got knocked out, leaving just myself and my heads-up opponent, who had about 60% of the chips.

He offered to chop (share equally) the prize pool with me, which is how tournaments often end, but since I wasn't interested in chopping, I replied "no, thanks, let's play."

His response to that was a bit overconfident. He chuckled slightly and said "thanks" as if I was forfeiting some money to him by not chopping, which wasn't the case. A lot can happen quickly in heads-up (two players) no-limit hold'em, with players having the ability to double up their chip stack, possibly multiple times in a row.

As things turned out, just three or four hands later I caught

on the button and was first to act. I put out a standard 3x raise (three times the big blind), then, much to my delight, he raised all-in! I insta-called and he turned over

No sevens fell on the board, so I won the massive pot and suddenly had a huge chip lead. On the very next hand, perhaps a bit disgusted, the other player went all-in with

while I was holding

I insta-called again. The ace held up and the tournament was over.

We went from five players down to one within a single blind level. The levels were just 15 minutes long, so it all happened in less than 15 minutes. The whole tournament took less than three hours from start to finish.