2 PM Feb 29 2012, Treasure Island, 8th (11 entries)

This small daily tournament at Treasure Island started out well for me today, but after approximately doubling my starting stack of 4500 chips during the first two levels, I started playing too loose and frittered them away. Part of what helped me gain those chips in the first place was not folding to raises preflop, then getting good flops, but the strategy eventually backfired on me. Holding

in early-middle position, I limped then called a 4x preflop raise by the player two seats to my left, to make it heads up after a couple other limpers in front of me folded to the raise. The flop came

I check-raised my opponent's small bet of only 600, making it 1600. To my dismay he called the raise, then the next card came

I checked. The other player then made some sort of betting error - I didn't see it, but I think he string-bet the rest of his chips with only 600 going out first, so the dealer only allowed him to bet 600. Given the relatively small price to try and catch an 8 on the river (and subsequently knock the other player out), I called. A jack fell on the river, so I had to fold when he pushed his remaining 1200 chips into the middle.

This was a really costly hand that ate away about 35% of my stack. I don't have a problem with calling the raise preflop, but check-raising the flop wasn't the right play. If I was going to stay in the hand, I should have just led out with a bet, as this would have cost me a lot less.

On another hand where I needed to fold instead of giving away chips, I made trip fours on the river holding A4 with neither suit being diamonds. The problem was, the flop and turn came nothing but diamonds. When my heads up opponent, whose stack was about the same size as mine, bet half his remaining chips on the river, that should have signalled an automatic fold on my part despite the made set. There's not much else he could have in his hand besides a diamond in that situation. Sure enough, he held the king of diamonds (the ace wasn't on the board, so he had to be a little careful).

By the start of the fourth level, with the blinds at 200-400 and no ante, I was down to just 1000 chips left. In my first hand at the new level I went all-in under the gun holding

Surprisingly everyone folded, so I took down the blinds and increased my stack by 60%. In the big blind I caught a garbage hand, easily folded. In the small blind I also caught a nothing hand, 62 offsuit, but everyone folded to the button, who just limped. I briefly contemplated putting out 200 more chips to see the flop rather cheaply, but decided not to. Long story short, after a bunch of checking, jack high ended up taking down the pot, with a deuce having fallen on the flop.

The next hand was even more exasperating to watch. Holding A3 offsuit on the button, this was a clear chance for me to move all-in given my desperate chip count. But when the under the gun player put in a min-raise to 800, it spooked me into folding and waiting instead. It turned out he won the pot holding the Q9 of spades. The hand went to showdown, with the board coming TJ8KQ giving him a pair of queens on the river (and me a straight, had I only moved all-in!).

Two hands later I caught those same two cards myself, the Q9 of spades, and moved all my chips into the middle. Everyone folded to the player to my right, who had limped in, and he called holding KT offsuit. Nobody paired the board or made any straights or flushes, so I was out in 8th place.

By far the most exasperating hand to watch of all though, during the whole tournament, occurred when I still had a relatively large stack in front of me. I just barely mucked K7 offsuit in middle position after nearly deciding to limp in. The flop came K7T, another king fell on the turn, and the big blind, who had a fairly large stack (yet smaller than mine), went all-in. There's a slight chance he held KT, or even K7, but for some reason I tend to think he had either TT, AK, KQ, or 77. He put out a very small bet on the flop, got called, then did the all-in on the turn. The other player folded, so it's unclear what the big blind had, but he made a comment a little later that seemed to indicate he had a very strong hand. My kings full would have almost certainly been stronger though - there are a whole lot of hands besides KT that he could have had.

Oh well, that's poker.