3 PM Apr 29 2012, Caesar's Palace, 7th (20 entries)

After six weeks of no poker I decided to head down to Caesar's for their 3 PM tournament today. Got there a little late, just in time for the first hand of the second level. Actually, I would have been able to play the last hand of the first level, except when I sat down, the button was immediately to my right for the next deal. So I had to wait a hand and be the player in the cutoff seat for the first hand of the second level.

In a way it's surprising that I made it all the way to 7th place considering how poor my cards were in this tournament. In one of the first hands I won - possibly the very first one of all that I won - I held

in middle position, early in the second level of play with the blinds at 50-100. It got folded around to me and I limped in. Two others limped behind me and the big blind checked.

The flop came:

The big blind checked, then I decided to try and end it right there by putting out a pot-sized bet of 600. Everyone folded immediately except for the big blind, who took a fair amount of time to deliberate before finally mucking.

As things would turn out, that ace of spades was the last ace dealt to me for the rest of the tournament. That hand took place somewhere in level two, the levels were each 15 minutes long, and I lasted until very close to the end of level six, so I went at least an hour without being dealt a single ace.

But on two occasions early on, I didn't need any ace to win large pots. In both hands I was in fairly early position, either second to act or in the big blind. In the first big hand I held

in the UTG+1 seat. I limped in, the player to my left min-raised 2x to 300, the button and big blind both called, and of course, so did I. The flop came:

Everyone including me checked it around to the button, who put out a small bet of 300 chips. Both the big blind and I called, but the preflop raiser folded (probably a medium pocket pair). The turn came

Once again both the big blind and I checked, and once again the button put out a rather small bet, this time of 400 chips. The big blind folded this time. Given the strength of my hand, I decided to represent a possible made straight, so I check-raised to 1200. With some hesitation, the button slowly made the call. Then the turn came

Rather than bet out, I decided to check. The button deliberated briefly but then also decided to just show down instead of betting. To my delight, and much to her dismay, she was holding the

With this win my starting stack of 3000 chips had now more than doubled to well over 6000 chips, something like 6500 or so.

Very soon thereafter, I think just one round later, in the big blind I was holding

This was a pretty rotten hand for sure, but it started smelling very sweet when the flop came

Everyone checked around to the button, who bet 500. The small blind folded, I called, and everyone else folded. Any worries of possibly being outkicked by the button vanished immediately when the turn came:

Without any hesitation I checked, and so did the button. Then, as if that all weren't enough, the river came:

I obviously had to put out some kind of a bet this time. I felt it shouldn't be too large though. After a very brief bit of deliberation I settled on 700 as the best number to induce a call, so that's what I bet, and sure enough, the button made the call. A bit of a collective gasp occurred around the table when I turned over my hand, and the button especially seemed very surprised that I had the jack.

Unfortunately that hand pretty much ended my run of good fortune early in this tournament. The holding itself, J2-offsuit, seemed to set the tone for almost every hand that followed.

Suddenly I was folding preflop every hand because my cards were so obnoxiously poor. I never did catch 72-offsuit, but there was at least one 73-offsuit in there (when I was in the big blind facing a raised pot - insta-fold required) and plenty other garbage hands. After watching the blinds waste away 25% of my once-large stack of over 8000 chips while the table diminished from seven, to six, then to just five players, when I finally caught the rather mediocre

in early position with the blinds at 300-600, I felt I had to open with a sizable raise to attempt to steal the blinds for once. So I bet 2200. Everyone folded, but to my dismay, the small blind went all-in for 3600 chips. With pot odds of 58-to-14 and still plenty of chips left to spare, I wasn't about to fold, so I called. To my immense dismay the big blind turned over

An eight and a ten showed up on the flop so I did at least have a gutshot straight draw postflop, but no nine came so I was suddenly left with only about 2000 chips.

The very next hand I caught

in the big blind. Everyone folded around to the small blind who put has last 1200 or so chips into the pot. I insta-called and the eights held, so I knocked a player out and saw my stack rise back up a bit.

I continued to mostly fold preflop, until once again the

showed up in my hand in early position. This time I raised all-in for the rest of the 2500 or so chips that I had left. To my dismay, everyone folded to the big blind, who called and turned over

By the turn I had an open-ended straight draw, but no nine or ace fell on the river so I was out in 7th place.