33 left at the Bellagio

I was up over 600,000 for quite a while and was cruising right along. After taking a hit from David Oppenhiem things started to get rocky. With the blinds at 4000-8000 and a 1000 ante I came in for a STANDARD raise of 20,000 with 4d 5d. Lee Markholt, one of the best no limit hold’em players in the world called the raise, as did David from the big blind. The flop came Jc 5c 4s. Now I had a few ways to play this. I could check the flop, that way if a club hit the turn I could protect my chips, or I could try to win it right on the flop. I decided that it was a dangerous flop and if Lee, who had a lot of chips were to raise me on the flop I could get away from it. David, on the other hand, only had about 140,000 left, so if I bet I’d be pretty committed to that call. I bet 55,000 and Lee folded (later telling me he had KJ). David went all in and I was pretty much forced to call. There was a chance that I was in a coin flip situation as David could have a hand like Ac Jd or something to that effect. He actually had the 6c 8c and I didn’t fill up. Later, in a limped pot I was in the big blind with 6-8. The flop came 6d 7h 8h. That’s a dangerous flop and while I thought about checking it, I decided to attack the pot and go after what was there. I bet 24,000. Cindy Violette called as did the small blind. The turn was an ace which looked like a great card for me. It was highly unlikely that anyone called on that flop with A-8, A-7, or A-6. With all of the potential draws out there, I felt like I had to bet it one more time. This time I bet 80,000. Cindy folded, but the small blind called. At that point I was a little worried about 4-5, or maybe a set or a better two pair. I had no plans on betting the river unless I made a full house. The river was a 9, which looked like an awful card for me. The small blind checked, as did I. A few hands later I realized that I should have bluffed the river. Bizarre, I know, that with two pair I should have to bluff, but it was very possibly that the SB made two pair on the river that would beat mine. With a four card straight on board, and me betting all the way, there was a good chance I could get him to lay it down. That’s not what he had though. He actually turned over a monster hand, Ah 6h. He flopped bottom pair and a flush draw, then on the turn made aces up. Oh well. After those two pots I was just doing my thing, pecking away at some small pots and picking up any crumbs others didn’t really want. Now I think I’m in 31st out of 33 players, but I’m not too worried about that. I have lots of chips, with 174,000 and blinds at only 6,000-12,000, kudos to a great structure! You listening Foxwoods? LOL. It’s been great. Each day we play from noon to 9:00pm with no dinner break in between. The tournament is being run smoothly and there is lots of play. Today will lilely be a longer day as we need to get down to the final six. While others may look at my position and think that I “need to double up” or that I’m on “life support” I just don’t see it that way. I have no plans to “double up” at all. The only major adjustment that I’ll be forced to make is pre-flop. 1) I’m no longer in a position where I can see flops with suited connectors, and 2) I may be forced to come over the top before the flop with some of my stronger hands. To this point, I’ve re-raised pre-flop precisely one time, and that was with AA out of position. When I’m able to play that way I’m extremely tough to beat. Unfortunately, as the blinds increase and my stack gets a little short, I no longer have the luxury to flat call with JJ, QQ, and AK. Since the dead money will increase my stack significantly, I’ll now be forced to play “super satellite poker” a little bit. I hate playing that way, but I know how to do it when I get short stacked. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they play tournaments is focusing on where they sit in relation to the average stack, instead of worring how they are sitting in relation to the blinds and antes. That’s what matters, especially with a slow moving structure long levels. I’m still insanely confident. Almost TOO confident actually. I was joking earlier in the day that I plan on playing about 5 tournaments in January but I judt don’t see myself ever getting knocked out of a tournament until sometime in February! This is the second straight 600 player field where I’m down to the ntty gritty, and I expect more of the same in 2007. I’m back, and in a big, big way. I expect to dominate in 07′, and finishing off 06′ with a $2 millon win would be a nice lead in. In 2003, before my sick year in 04′, I did well in a December tournament at the Sands in AC. This run feels very similar, only I’m a much better player now than I was in 03′. Anyway, it’s 10:20am and I need to hit the shower. I’ve been waking up at 8:00am each day and I really like it. Sure I get a little tired late in the evening, but when I get there at noon I feel totally awake.