One of the best feelings ever has to be entering a tournament and never experiencing the blow to the gut of being knocked out - taking it all the way to the end for the win. As someone who used to run track in high school and college, I can only explain it as the same feeling as winning a race. And just like with a race, the tougher the victory comes, the greater the sensation of pulling out the win.
This past Saturday I kept the run-good going in the monthly home game league tournament that I play in, finishing first after a heads-up chop was decided on in the wee hours of Sunday morning. If you remember, last month I finished 5th out of 42 or so, and this month I was hoping to better most of the 45 other runners for at least another final table finish. A big part of the league is accruing points each month, based on your finish and number of knockouts scored, and I have my sights set on building up a monster stack to start the big finale with at the end of the year.
Early on in the tournament things were not looking so great. I was up a little, down a little, back up a little, etc. The cards were pretty cold for the most part, so I had to make a few sneaky moves just to pick up a few blinds and small pots. With players not dropping so fast and the blinds putting more and more pressure on the smaller stacks, I knew I was going to have to make some more aggressive plays to stay afloat. After my first seat change I found my first big double up - all-in shove on the turn with top pair and a flush draw, snap called by an old guy with bottom pair and no draw. I haven't played against this guy too much but apparently he's quite the calling station; so much so that bottom pair merits a snap call I suppose.
The next few hours were filled with pretty solid play, a fair amount of help from safe flops, and an AK vs. 88 coinflip win. Before you knew it we were down to the final table, however the blinds went up right as the cards went cold again and other small stacks started shoving in front of me on almost every hand. I remained patient and eventually was able to chip back up from a few big blinds left to a semi-healthy stack. The big swing came when I was 2nd in chips out of three players remaining, but far off the big chipleader. I raised on the button with AKo and got a call only from the big stack in the SB. The flop came K34 rainbow, putting me in what I assumed was a way-ahead situation. SB checked and I checked behind. The turn was the 5 of spades, putting 2 spades out there, and the SB bet a little under the pot. I came over the top for about twice as much and got a reluctant call from the weary chipleader, who showed AJ of spades. The river was a blank and all of a sudden I had more chips than I knew what to do with.
The former chipleader didn't hang on for much longer and finally we were heads up. It was 2:30 in the morning, I was in major need of a piss break and something to eat, and despite the dollar signs in my eyes I was also fighting just to keep them open. Even though I had a 5-to-2 chip lead and felt confident that I could pretty easily take down my opponent, I could also see that the host and guy dealing were getting tired themselves and wanted to bring things to a close. I agreed to a chop request from the other finalist and took home a nice payday, as well as the #1 spot so far in the league standings.
Though the cash game sessions have been going fairly well, the win was a big boost of confidence with my tournament game. Not that I've been playing a lot of tournaments, but the ones I have have been pretty "meh" for the past year or so. I'm obviously hoping the good run continues in this league so I can cap it off with a big cash in the championship event come December. One month, and one hand, at a time though I suppose.
Best of luck at the tables for now,