Last night in the Hoy, an amazing thing happened. Something I had never experienced before. And it resulted in a long overdue cash.
It started early, when my pocket Jacks flopped QUADS in level II. It was hard extracting chips from KOD on this one, but I manage to get about 1/3 of my stack in there by the river and got a call.
There I am at the end of level 2 with 3700 chips (you start with 3k). Usually, I have played 3 hammers by now...
Instead, I played QT in the SB vs. the BB. The flop is Q93. Since he only had 2200 or so, I decide he may actually have Q with a WEAKER kicker. When the money goes in, I am right... and wrong. He had Q3 and flopped two pair. I should have let it go, but now I am short-stacked at 870 chips.
Then I went on a heater. 3 or 4 pockets pairs, all played VERY aggressively got me up to just shy of 3k.
But here is where it got interesting. I flopped a set vs. a flush draw... and when the money went in, the flush draw did not get there. I have now doubled up!
I am sitting at around 5.5k and it happens again. Its easier to punish the flush draw this time since I have a bigger stack. The money all goes in and the flush DOES NOT HIT!
Wait a second. I dodged TWO flush draws?! TWO in a ROW?
Its at this point I make a really huge decision. EP make it 4xBB to go. AlCantHang, sensing what I read as a willingness to "race or win the EP money" pushes all in. It comes around to me with QQ. Now I would normally ALWAYS fold here. ALWAYS. But lately, I have identified this as a LEAK in my game. I would fold to two all-ins even when getting the right odds. So this time, I had to think. I click the "TIME" button and start to work it out. If I am right and Al has a dominated hand like JJ, I might be able to push EP out of the pot by pushing all-in and showing that much strength. He should fold any Ace-rag or medium pair. He probably calls with AK, but maybe not? My hand might look even bigger than QQ to him. I am getting a pure 2-1 here and if I am 40% to win... I remember a line I read from "Rizen" at PokerStars, "I will take a chance in some spots if I think winning the hand will put me in a position to win the tournament." I take the leap of faith and push.
Now, the EP player thinks for a few seconds and I figure I am gold. Then he calls with KK. He was wondering (correctly) if I had AA. I was disappointed that he had KK, but ironically elated that I read the hand correctly. I think he WOULD have folded any hand there except KK or AA. And Al flipped over an underpair like TT or JJ. It did not dawn on me at that moment, but the KK had to dodge double the normal outs, and Al and I each had a 20% chance to win the pot over the KK. And wouldn't you know that all those bad runs in the last month came back to me and the poker gods bestowed upon me the Mississippi Queen (Queen on the river). I win a Huge pot, put myself in a position to win it all, and had 25% of the chips in play with only 2 tables left.
My short stack play was good, my cards decent, and by the time I made the final I had managed to do something that is harder than winning a big stack, and that is keeping a big stack. I did not go loose-aggressive, but rather still picked what hands I wanted to tagle in. I observed MANY TIMES that the behavior that GETS you the big stack turns around and DONKS off the big stack. So, I nurtured it.
With 4 players left, I noticed (not at first, but as we played on), that the players tightened up for the cash. I used this time to be sneaky and steal smaller pots, using my big stack as an implied threat. Eventually, someone went out and it wasn't me. The final battle couldn't be better. It was Bayne, Gary GCOX and myself. and I had position on my nemesis Bayne. I was looking forward to the challenge now...
I lost a big hand to Bayne and kicked myself for not remembering the notes I had on him. I made a call when I knew he was strong. Stupid. But I clawed and stole my way back. But my karma ran out and Gary COLD DECKED US BOTH. I came SO close to knocking him out and taking a commanding lead, when he hit his 2 outer on the river. Then, he hit another longshot to knock out Bayne. Heads up, he would outkick me on every hand. We are HEADS-UP mind you, and its QT vs. Q9, A8 vs. AQ, etc. He just kept getting the dominating hand. Fuel mocked my aggression with A8 head up, but as a 3-1 chip dog, can you fold A8 as the money escalates pre-flop? Maybe. But in the moment, I could not...
And there is is. Before the Hoy started, I actually said to myself, "You are going to win the Hoy tonight". Not exactly accurate, but I'll take it.
On the personal front, I have been ill as of late. I have badly swollen glands and ear and sinus pressure. Its been with me for over a month now. Its like a ear infection, or a flu but without other tell-tale symptoms. No fever, and blood tests show nothing more than I eat too much meat. Doctors can't figure out what is wrong... Sort of has me on edge. I only bring it up as I wonder if that affects my play? It certainly affects my mental and physical states.