February was an amazing month for me poker-wise which I touched on in my last blog. Little did I know though that March was going to be even better in every aspect.
After playing a lot online in Vancouver in February I decided to take a break from online in March and focus on playing a couple of big live tournaments and writing my book. With the long hours that I play online it’s virtually impossible for me to grind online and write my book at the same time, therefore I figured a break from online was the only way that I was going to get started on the huge task I had ahead of myself. An added bonus was that I got to play a couple of big live tournaments as well. I flew back to Los Angeles end of February and stayed at my girlfriends place in West Hollywood for LAPC. This was perfect as I didn’t have to live out of a hotel for the tournaments duration and I was still only a 30 minute drive from the Commerce Casino where the tournament was being held.
The tournament started off pretty slowly for me in that I remained close to the starting stack for the majority of day 1, it wasn’t until the penultimate level of the day that anything significant happened for me. I played a big pot where I missed both my straight and flush draws on the river but the board happened to get very scary for my opponent. On the river he checked to me and with 9 high and less than pot behind I went for it and shoved all in. The LAPC event is not a reentry so if I was called it would be all over for me. Fortunately after a little sweat my opponent ultimately ended up folding which lead to me increasing my stack to close to 50,000 chips after the hand (30,000 starting stacks) and with the blinds only being 150-300 this put me in a very comfortable spot at this early stage. The very next hand I looked down at pocket kings in the small blind after the cutoff had open raised. I made a very standard three bet, which he quickly four bet. He then proceeded to six bet all in with pocket jacks and my hand held up for a huge pot that catapulted me into a top 10 stack to end the day.
Obviously my day 1 had worked out really well for me and I would have close to 200bb to start day 2, however, the structure in the LAPC main was incredibly slow (as is the case with a lot of live tournaments) and it would take 6 days of playing every day for me to make the final table. I had no doubt in my mind that there was a very long way to go and that I had to remain level headed throughout the swings in my stack which would inevitably follow.
Days 2 and 3 were far from smooth but I made it through them, which was the main thing. At this point I had managed to keep my stack healthy throughout and had not been all in for my tournament life.
The bubble occurred at the end of day 3 and ended up lasting for nearly 2 hours! After playing live poker for 3 days no one wants to bubble let alone an amateur player therefore my strategy was to step it up on the bubble and to try and build a huge stack. Unfortunately I played a couple of poor hands which cost me some chips and although I had a good stack once we made the money I felt like I could have performed a lot better had I trusted my gut more in a couple of spots.
Day 4 started with me sitting on 359,000 chips which equated to over 70 big blinds blinds with 63 players remaining. I knew that the tournament would move faster for a while now because of there being so many short stacks. My plan was to sit back for a few levels and make sure that I made the final 36, where the tournament would transform into 6 max until there was a winner. 6 max is my best format of poker and I knew I had to make it to this point. Even if I was a short stack I felt confident I would be able to turn it around.
When it got down to 36 players remaining I was actually in the top 10 in chips. At this point I felt really confident and I altered my game so that I didn’t take high variance spots preflop as I felt I had a decent edge post flop versus the majority of my opponents. Things went really well for me and I ended the day in 3rd place of the remaining 18 players.
On Day 5 the plan was to play down from 18 to 6. As expected the bustouts came fast to begin with and then the pace of play slowed down as we approached the final table of 6. I found it tough as I was incredibly card dead for most of the day. With 8 players left I was 5th or 6th in chips and going in the wrong direction, however back to back hands were about to change all of that! On the first of those I won a very big pot when I coolered Josh Neufeld with J9 v AJ on a JJ9xx board. Unfortunately the flush came in on the river otherwise I probably would have gotten a full double.
The very next hand I made a huge bluff versus Adam Friedman. He opened the cutoff 4 handed and I 3 bet the big blind with A2 offsuit. He called and I fired flop turn and river bets on a K-Q-2-3-10 board which also put a backdoor flush out there on the river. Adam tanked for around 10 minutes on the river constantly trying to converse with me but fortunately he was unable to pick up a read on me and he ultimately ended up folding.
My a2 off play in this hand is far from standard but I decided to take this aggressive line versus Adam for a number of reasons. Firstly I had not 3 bet him once in the 2 days we had played together therefore I felt like a 3 bet from the big blind would get a lot of credit here when I could easily just call a min raise. Secondly I had not shown the propensity to barrel with air versus him in the hands we had played together. Finally I had seen him correctly call a couple of times with ace high in big pots previously versus other opponents. Normally this would be a red flag to trying this bluff, however, I felt that being a good player himself he would realise that I had seen all of this and had labeled him unbluffable and that’s why I hadn’t been applying excessive pressure in the pots we had played previously and that I was in fact waiting until I had a hand versus him. I decided that he would take all of this information into account and be more inclined to make a hero fold rather than a hero call. I’d be lying if I said I felt 100% comfortable throughout the 10 minute tank though!
Whilst this hand was going on someone else had busted out on the other table and after Adam had folded we merged for the unofficial final table of 7. Before I even had a chance to catch my breath though Michael Rocco and Dan O’Brien played a huge pot with the latter busting. I had made it to the final 6; second in chips and with a great shot to get my first big live title and a million dollar pay day! Stay tuned for the next blog and to hear about the rest of an amazing month.