9 AM Feb 5 2012, The Golden Nugget, 25th (90 entries)

Before the start of yesterday's tournament here, the dealer showed all of us a flyer for this 9 AM Sunday deep-stacked tournament where the casino guarantees a prize pool of $5000. The guarantee usually draws a good number of players, and 90 entered this particular one.

Fairly early on I built my starting stack from 15K to 45K after a couple of big hands.

In the first big hand, the small blind (a young player from somewhere in the U.K.) called a standard 3x raise of mine when I opened from middle position holding

The big blind folded, so we were heads up. The flop came

The small blind checked. I bet my usual half-the-pot bet. My opponent called, fairly quickly.

The turn came

The small blind checked again. When I bet, he immediately tossed all of his remaining chips in the middle, which amounted to 3K more to me if I wanted to call. I stopped to think carefully about whether to call or not. The player had been playing fairly loose, which partly explains why he had so few chips remaining this early in the tournament. The tournament included an "add-on" where you can purchase an additional 50% (5K) of the starting stack (10K) in chips for just 40% of the buy-in amount. The player hadn't purchased the add-on yet, which also helps to explain why he had so few chips.

After weighing all the factors involved that I could think of, I tossed the 3K in the middle and we turned over our cards. My opponent was holding

This was good news. The river came blank and I won the big pot.

The following hand involves one of those dream scenarios where the cards fall pretty much exactly how you'd select them if you could pick and choose. Under the gun (first to act in the hand), I looked down at my cards and found

My normal play here is to put in a sizable raise, but for no special reason I elected to just call this time and see what would happen. The button also called, and so did the small blind. The big blind checked.

Sometimes you get a good flop, and for me anyway, this was one of those times:

The blinds both checked and so did I. The button opened with a standard 2.5x raise. The blinds and I each called. I waited a little bit before calling, trying to give the impression that it was a close decision. The turn was also great for me:

This time the small blind put out a normal-sized bet. Then, much to my delight, the big blind started reaching for chips and raised. I once again gave the decision a fair amount of thought (seemingly, anyway) before ultimately deciding to call the raise. The button and small blind both folded. The last card came blank. The big blind bet, leaving himself with not many chips left, so I finally raised him all-in, once again after putting on a little act to try to persuade him to call. The young player then took a real long time to decide whether or not to call his remaining stack. He had the ace-high flush but couldn't know for sure whether it was good or not because the sixes were on the board. Finally, after what must have been at least three full minutes of deliberation, he put the rest of his chips in. When I turned over the jacks, the young player from the U.K. exclaimed "Oscar-winning performance!" He didn't mean it as a genuine compliment, but I said "thanks" anyway.

Later in the tournament when the antes and blinds had risen to 200-1K-2K and my stack was right around 44K, in the small blind I looked down to find

Everyone folded to the button, who raised to 6K with a total stack of about 30K. I pushed all my chips in the middle, the big blind folded, and the button called all-in immediately with

I was a 69% to 30% favorite to win the hand at this point. However, much to my dismay, the flop came

reducing my winning chances to just 4%. No king fell on the turn or river, so I lost about 80% of my stack. On the very next hand, on the button, I caught

With my stack dangerously low now, I needed to go all-in. The big blind called with

Then, much to my dismay again, the flop came

reducing the odds of my winning the hand from 20% before the flop to about 1000-to-1 against after the flop. Curiously enough, the turn came

leaving me with a single (unexpected) out on the river, but it didn't hit, so I was out in roughly 19th place. If I'd won the previous hand my stack would have been more than 70K, which would have given me a great shot at cashing.