Played in a big monthly home game tournament last night - about 45 runners squeezed into a basement with five tables and a fridge stocked full of beverages. The host is an incredibly gracious guy just for allowing us all into his house, but he also puts together a great tournament structure (in the end-of-year championship format) with high-quality amenities (chips, cards, tables, etc.). Having been to other home games that lack pretty much all of these, it's always a great relief to play at this game just for the fact that it's run by someone who actually knows their poker stuff.
Anyways, last night was the first monthly tournament of this year's season, and the buy-in was upped this year from $40 to $50 - $30 goes to the monthly prize pool, $10 to the end-of-year freeroll (with starting chipstacks based off of points accrued from monthly finishes), $5 bounty for each player, and $5 goes to the host for supplying all the beverages. My plan is pretty much always to play my typical tight-aggressive style and be patient early on, since the starting stacks and blind levels allow for a more conservative approach. If I do happen to bust earlier on it's no big deal, since a $.25/.50 cash table is usually forming by the 2nd hour of play, with at least 2 full tables by the end of the night.
Most of the night I was pushing around a less-than-average stack, but I managed to make a few key moves, got it in twice as a big favorite and doubled-up, and ran fairly deep to finish in 5th for a small profit. There were two big hands at the final table that I can't stop thinking about, the latter of which did me in. Here's the first:
Down to 6 players, blinds at 2500/5000. I have 56k in chips and am probably 4th or 5th overall. Hero is first to act and looks down at AhAc. FYI - BB generally plays a very LAG style but makes solid reads and intimidates the hell out of a lot of other players. He's the type of player that really gets his jollies by getting in your head and messing with you, but without all the Jamie Gold trash talk.
I decided to standard raise to 3xBB to 15k, and it folded around to the BB who quickly asked me how much I had left. I counted out the 41k for him and went into blank stare mode as I felt him trying to get something out of me. I sat there for at least a solid minute as he stared me down and likely contemplated shoving. God I wanted him to shove, though the more I waited the more I felt it was unlikely that he was going to. "How can I get you to shove," I thought. "What do you want me to do to look weak?" I tried to let out a hard swallow to feign concern, and also just because there was a ton of saliva swishing around in my mouth, possibly foaming with the prospect of doubling up again.
After giving me the intense staredown for what seemed like an eternity (keep in mind he was immediately on my right) he put out chips to call. Flop was Q93 with two diamonds. He checked, I pushed, not wanting to slowplay myself into a 2-outer or something, and he folded. Certainly can't complain about adding a decent amount of chips to my stack in that situation, but I'm still thinking about what I could have possibly done to get him to push.
A little while later we're down to 5 players and it folds to me with Kh8d and about 80k in chips on the button. With blinds at 3000/6000 I raised to 14k and got the giant stack BB (different guy) to call. Beautiful flop for me - T88 with two hearts. BB checks and I put out what I hope looks like a weak continuation bet of 18k. BB calls and I assume he may have a weak hand that he feels is ahead... he certainly had the chips to make a thin call here. Turn is the 2h. BB checks and I opt to check behind and pretend to be giving up on the hand so that the BB will be more likely to take a stab at it on the river. There aren't many river cards that I'm thinking I should be worried about, especially considering that any heart will give me the 2nd nut flush (or nut flush if it's the Ah). River is a black 4 and the BB bets 30k. I'm certainly not folding my trips, so I push the rest in and get a quick call. BB shows J4 of hearts for the turned flush and my tournament experience is over.
Not sure what I could have done differently here to get away from this. I think it's just one of those hands that you can't play much differently given the circumstances and limited information. Folding preflop in the spot would be a bit too tight, even for me, though I suppose a larger raise would have got the blinds. After the flop I don't think there's any escaping from it.
Either way I'm quite content with my run and the way I played throughout the tournament. This is the 7th winning session in a row for me, beginning in late October (I know, things have been hectic), including this one tournament, one $1/2 game, three $.25/.50 games, and two nickel-dime games with friends and coworkers. All-in-all it's been a nice little upswing of a few hundred dollars for the bankroll.
Here's hoping that the run good continues. More to come later. Best of luck for now,