12 PM Feb 28 2012, Winter Poker Classic, Caesar's Palace, 13th (124 entries)

It's always good to get into the money even if it's down towards the bottom. This tournament paid 15 places. When we went on a 50-minute dinner break at 6:25 PM, with the field thinned down to 22 players, my stack was dangerously low. Luckily, when we came back from break I caught a few good hands in short succession and managed to build my stack to the point where, when it got down to just two tables, I was pretty sure I could wait out the money.

In fact, this is exactly what I did. The only hand I remember playing preflop before reaching the money was one in which I held AK in the big blind. It got folded around to the small blind, who just flat called. I put in a sizable, pot-committing raise and the small blind insta-folded. Winning this hand further fortified my already-large-enough stack to wait out the money with. Fortunately it didn't take very long to get down to 15 players. With about ten big blinds left, I had a decent shot at getting deeper into the money.

Unfortunately I didn't catch any good cards for a couple rounds, which ate away about 30% of my stack. So when I caught

in early position, it definitely felt like the right time to take a chance and move all-in, which I did. Alas, the button called with

He just barely had me covered, so I needed to win the hand to stay alive. With my preflop chance of winning the hand at 39%, I definitely had a good shot. The flop could have been better, but it was still quite good:

With the open-ended straight draw added to my outs, plus a backdoor draw to the nut flush, it was now a coin flip. The turn came bad, but not devastatingly so:

Now having to rely solely on the straight draw, I was only an 18% favorite to win the hand. The last card came blank,

so there were going to be no deep runs into the money for me today. But it's always good to get into the money, so I didn't leave disappointed.

Also worthy of note is this was my second cash in just three tournaments played at Caesar's since moving to Las Vegas. It's one of my favorite rooms in town, right up there with the Venetian and Aria.