This Can’t Be Real

I read an article online recently about the type of poker tournaments I play in. I wish I could remember where I read it, or who wrote it, because it has had a lot of influence on me these past few weeks.

These tournaments pay the top three finishers out of nine who start. It’s not like a ‘normal’ game where your fortunes ebb and flow with each hand. And so, the article said, the goal is not to knock other players out – but to survive.

The fact that someone didn’t follow that advice in a tournament I played earlier tonight was what allowed me to finish in the money. I had very little cash left and was forced ‘all in.’ Though he had two bad cards, a 2 and 4, he stayed in, hoping to eliminate me. The little I won from him allowed me to stay in through another round of blinds, and that allowed me to outlast the player who went out 4th!

I have been doing well of late. Maybe some of it is this strategic advice. I’m sure a lot is the luck of the deal which does enter into poker over short periods.

I started tonight playing a $15+$1 ‘turbo tournament.’ Whatever the reason, these suit my style of play and I’ve done very well with them. I came in 2nd.

I had won some money, so I decided to up the stakes and played for $25 +$2. This was the tournament of survival I just wrote about – and I came in 3rd.

Now I was up over $40 for the evening, so I decided to do something daring – a $50 +$5 tournament. I had never played at this level before.

For the first time, I noticed a difference in the quality of players. They were tighter – probably more savvy. I felt my way through the first few times around the table. There were a few deals where I had good cards, but they didn’t improve after the ‘flop.’ I was slowly bleeding money. Of 8 players left, I was 8th.

I was following the sage advice I had been given. I avoided conflicts when I wasn’t assured of winning. That meant throwing away a lot of early bets as I folded. As the ante’s rose, all this betting then folding was crippling me.

And then, the cards turned. I started getting great hands. This isn’t the norm, but luck is luck. I’d much rather be lucky than skillful!

Before long the table was down to five, then four, then three. I was in the money.

I won this little nine person tournament when I went in with an Ace against the other players Ace, but with a higher kicker. He was gone. I hadn’t won as much as I’d survived as others fell around me.

PokerStars Tournament #1556707, No Limit Hold’em

Buy-In: $55.00/$5.00

9 players

Total Prize Pool: $495.00

Tournament started – 2004/05/06 – 02:31:56 (ET)

Dear ctwxman,

You finished the tournament in 1st place.

A $247.50 award has been credited to your Real Money account.


Thank you for participating.

We’re now up nearly $500. I remember a few months ago we had turned our $250 into less than $20. Now poker fortunes have changed. This is our high water mark.

I won’t stick at this $50 + $5 level. Much too scary. Much too expensive. Tomorrow, it’s back to the smaller games. But, if I get a few wins, I might be back.

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