Close, but no cigar
The $450 EPT London Open satellite. Starting stacks 2,500. Blinds up every 30 minutes.
What a test of patience this was. With the blinds going up so slow it took a long time for people to bust and with 106 entrants it was four hours before we reached the final 16 and were in the money. That said, the slow rate of blinds meant there was absolutely no pressure to take big risks during the journey down tourney road. I put myself in Dan Harrington tight mode and played the best poker I've ever played in a tournament so far, and I'm really happy about it, towards the end though the cards flat out refused to fall my way.
With what I remember to be about 23 players left everyone at my table had spotted the two suckers who'd just been lucky enough to survive so far, they were both keen to throw chips into the pot when it wasn't necessary and the rest of us were pretty much avoiding each other.
I had T6800 with the blinds at 200/400/25 when I picked up Qd As on the button. The first of our fishes was sat to my right in the cutoff and raised to 600, knowing what a big range of hands he could have I reraised to 1200, both the blinds folded and the fishy pushed allin, making it 2050 more to me. Even if he had a good hand this was still a good call for me since there was now 3175 in the pot and it was much more likely that I was a favourite or coinflip than dominated. We turned our cards over and he had Ah 4h, sweet, my hand is a 65% favourite. The flop is all diamonds, Kd Ad 8d. Even sweeter my hand is now 82% favourite. Fish needs either running fours to win or the board to pair the 8 for him to get a split. He types "8" in the chat, and just like that the dealer gives it to him ! The river is the 3h and I'm stuck with T7012 instead of T10507, still it's better than him hitting the flush and I just hope to get a similar situation later.
25 hands or so later I'm on the button again with Ac Kh, the blinds are still 200/400/25. One of the better players at our table raises to 1600 UTG+1 everyone folds to me and I just call to see how the flop develops, the blinds fold and the flop comes Qh 3h Ah. UTG+1 bets out 3200, just under the size of the pot. With top pair and the nut flush draw I push making it 2437 more, which he kinda has to call, he turns over Ad 9s, making my hand 92% to win. The turn is the As, actually making my hand less of a favourite (79% to win 14% tie 7% get done by a full house) Unfortunately for me the river paired the 3 on the board and we both had a full house. So I end the hand with T7649 instead of double that amount.
I could tell this dealer had been sent to test me ! It was going to be hard work with things like that not going my way. Six hands later with blinds still 200/400/25 I pick up Kc Qc in the Big Blind. A new player to the table has been moved into the seat between me and the fishy who split with me when I had AQ. We're two players from the bubble so it's tight and everyone folds to the fish on the button. He pauses for about 10 seconds and then pushes his 5015 stack allin. I don't have much to think about, it looks like a steal and if it's not I think it's about time I got lucky ! I call and he has 8h 2s ! Sweet, I'm a 69% favourite to win the hand. The dealer wasn't being friendly so far though and the flop was 2c 7c 5h, he'd paired and I was still a favourite with all the clubs but only 53% now. When the turn was the 5d I thought it was going to be another case of dumb luck but thankfully the sweetest 4 of clubs I've ever seen hit the river and I got to bust fishy 2 places before the money :o)
Seven hands later with T12964 I get JcJd UTG, and raise 1000 more to 1400. The other poor player at our table pushes his stack in on the button making and the blinds fold leaving it 1890 to me. The guy's been on a rollercoaster with his stack and I call to see AhKh so I'm only a small 53% favourite, but can afford to take this hit if the coin flips the wrong way. Everything looks good when the flop and turn are all rags but he rivers a K so I lose the hand and take a small dent.
We get down to the final 16 shortly after that and so everyone is guaranteed $475 in real cash rather than tourney dollars but the top 5 will get their $8000 seat in the EPT plus $1000 spending money. With T8924 and the blinds still 200/400/25 I'm dealt Qd Ac UTG I'd let this go sometimes, but I could still do with winning a hand and things are still reasonably tight with me having a comfortable read on everyone. I raise to 1400 and the good player who split the full house with me reraises in the cutoff, but he reraises the minimum, another 1400. From a good player that usually means one of two hands - AA or KK and most times its aces. Surprisingly after this the poor player who had AK v my JJ then pushes from the small blind making the total bet 6830. It doesn't take long for me to fold after that, and the cutoff instantly calls with his aces, the small blind had 77 by the way ! He was instantly busted when the flop came A-5-5.
My final hand went down like this - with T9174 and the blinds up to 300/600/50 I was dealt Ac Ts on the button. The big stack at our table with T33000 had gone into uber-aggressive mode raising everything and made it 3600 to go from UTG. I couldn't see him raising that much UTG with a great hand, and he'd folded to my pushes previously when he'd raised on my big blind, so when it was folded to me I thought for a bit and then pushed making it 3674 more. Folded back around to UTG, he called with Jc Tc. 67% favourite, I'm pleased but fully expecting the worst, given how things have gone recently. The jack high flop wasn't nice, a king on the turn gave me some more outs, but when the 9c fell on the river it was bye bye Tan, you finished the tournament in 12th place, winning $475.
Though I'm a little disappointed that the cards wouldn't help me, I'm still very pleased with the way I played, I didn't make any costly mistakes, only risked my whole stack once on a total bluff where I had a very good chance of winning the pot and didn't get to a point where I had to take coinflips that were going to make or break me. Another day, another good tourney finish. That's about all I can ask for. Tomorrow... the million guaranteed... bring it on!