11:05 AM Feb 27 2012, MGM Grand, 16th (44 entries)

This morning it occurred to me that a good antidote to playing overly tight and passive might be to reread Gus Hansen's famous poker book Every Hand Revealed. In it he describes in great detail all of the hands he played en route to winning the Aussie Millions championship in 2006. Gus's playing style is very unconventional, almost the exact opposite of tight-passive.

Reading some of his book this morning caused me to completely change my strategy in today's tournament at the MGM Grand, from extremely conservative to a lot more flexible. Instead of constantly waiting for high pocket pairs and aces with high kickers, I frequently limped into pots with things like unsuited connectors, some even as weak as


depending on my position. In one hand early in the tournament I was under the gun holding

Given my new flexibility in hand selection, I actually had to stop and think about whether or not to limp in with this hand. It's just the sort of hand that Gus Hansen likes to play, from pretty much any position. I did decide to fold though. Then to my dismay, the flop came

It's very unexpected for an early position limper to be holding J4, so I might have won a few chips had I played the hand.

Playing more hands, I managed to build my initial stack of 6000 chips up to around 15,000 towards the middle of the tournament. Another good thing about playing more hands is, it makes it seem more natural to play your position rather than always just your cards. This is extremely important. For example, when it got checked around to me after the flop and I was last to act, today I pretty much automatically put chips into the pot no matter what my cards were, and it often paid off.

My last hand this time wasn't very dramatic because my stack was so tiny compared to the blinds. In this case you don't really expect to last much longer in the tournament, so it's no surprise when you get knocked out.

With my stack down to 2750 chips and the antes-blinds at 75-400-800, I caught

in the little blind and decided now was the time to put in all my chips when the action got around to me, no matter what the other players did. The cutoff seat limped, the button put in a 3x raise to 2400, and I put my last 2750 chips in. The limper and button each just called my raise, so no cards were turned over before the flop.

The flop came surprisingly good for me:

Not only did I have four to a flush, I had second pair. Lots of possibilities! The limper checked, the button bet, then the limper then went all-in. This didn't bode well for me, especially when the button called the all-in bet. Alas, the limper turned over

which actually wasn't that bad for me, except it took away all my flush outs. Of the two, the worse hand for me was the button's, which was

The button managed to dodge all the bad cards for him (no clubs, sevens or eights fell on the turn or river) so he took down all the chips and I was out in 16th place.

Despite not getting into the money today, I felt I played much better than yesterday, and look forward to reading more of Gus's book.