I found myself at the final table of the Bellagio’s daily tournament somewhere in the middle of the pack with chips. There was one clear chip leader, and he was seated to my immediate left. I was in Seat 9, and he was in Seat 1. I was hoping that he was a tight player so that I would be able to raise most of the table to pick up chips without much resistance. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find that out right away because the player in Seat 3, who appeared to be 2nd overall in chips, was getting involved in a lot of pots early. The short stack was eliminated fairly quickly, but when we got to eight players, no one was so short that they were going to be forced all in immediately.
I started picking up some hands and was able to start raising, but if the big stack was in one of the blinds he would call me every time. Over the course of the entire final table I believe he only folded to me if he was in the blinds once. I managed to eliminate the player finishing in 8th place when his J-J ran in to my Q-Q. I picked up some blinds from people other than the big stack, then I would get involved in a hand with the big stack and I’d lose what I had won earlier to him. This cycle seemed to continue for a while. I was getting hands that I think most people would raise with when going up against the blinds. One time I had Ace-Ten when he called me with King-4. I would miss the flop and we’d end up checking it down, but he managed to hit the ‘4’ for the win. I wasn’t about to get too involved with the big stack since he could afford to take a shot to eliminate me if he so chose, but I wasn’t going to stop raising with good hands. I managed to lose to him in blind battles with Ace-Queen, King-Queen, Ace-Ten, and pocket 9s (the board flopped all over cards). I know I lost some more in there, but I remember those because I would keep showing them to prove I wasn’t trying to bluff the big stack. I do think that it gave me some credibility as I picked up the other player’s blinds.
I thought I was going to win a big pot when we got down to 7-handed play when a player limped from early position. I looked down and saw 8-8 and also decided to limp. I had just raised the last two hands and I didn’t want someone to come over the top of me “just because” they didn’t believe me since 8-8 is only a mediocre hand. The guy on the button called, and the blinds limped. The flop came:
giving me a set of 8s! With the two over cards I thought for sure that someone would have hit that so I led out with a bet of 8k. The guy on the button thought for about 2 minutes before folding. Everyone else folded! I couldn’t believe that everyone had missed that board! I took out the next player with A-Q v A-J. Then we were down to the bubble. There were two short stacks, three medium stacks of which I was one, and then there was the one BIG stack. Well one of the short stacks moved all in for about 35k when I looked down and saw A-A. I called immediately, got no action from anyone else, and he sheepishly turned over his K-5 hoping that he had live cards. Unfortunately, his timing was bad. He went out on the bubble and now we were all in the money. The next short stack went out a couple hands after that and took home $830.
I managed to double up the next shortest stack when my A-K couldn’t improve against an opponent’s small pocket pair. This actually put me on the short stack with about 40k in chips. Two hands later I was on the button with 9-7. It’s not a great hand, but if I get called here I’m pretty sure my cards would be live so I decided to shove all in to steal the blinds. Well, I was called by the big blind and, for the first time in the tournament, I was now all in and at risk. My opponent showed K-J, so as I guessed my cards were live. The flop was:
hitting both of us for a pair. The turn was:
and the river was:
giving me a straight and doubling me up!!! The guy who lost that hand was now crippled and went out within the next four hands to the big stack and received about $1600 for his efforts, and with play now three-handed these were the chip counts:
Big Stack 330k
Other player 136k
I proposed the idea of a chop where we would split up the $14k in the prize pool based off of chip counts. The big stack was in favor of the idea. The other player didn’t understand the idea of a chop so he didn’t want to do that, even though his buddies were trying to encourage him to take the chop. On the next hand he lost 35k to the big stack when the big stack moved all in on his raise. The shorter stack folded Ace-Queen there! I offered the chop one more time, since I figured that the other short stack and I would both get about the same as 2nd place money was supposed to be. We all agreed, and since I was now in front of the other stack I ended up taking 2nd place in the tournament. The approximate payouts for those last three spots were:
1st place - $6700
2nd place - $3730 (me)
3rd place - $3600
Third place was originally supposed to be $2480 and second place was supposed to be $4100 so I thought I came out OK. Given our positions at the table with the big stack on my left, and the short stack playing as tight as he was I thought the chop worked out well. I would have been fine with playing it out, too, but I thought at that point that the other short stack was waiting for me to raise the big stack at the wrong time or to get unlucky against the big stack.
I gave the dealers a $150 tip out of my earnings, so my net for the day was up about $3200. The tournament chopped at 11pm, so we were playing for 9 hours, and although I was fine all throughout the tournament, as soon as it was over my brain went in to shut down mode. It was a nice way to end the trip. I was leaving to return home the next afternoon so there was no way I was going to screw up and lose that payday before I headed out. I played some dice and lost, and picked some of it back up playing at the $5/$10 table Tuesday. All in all a very fun trip!!