Wow, I just finished a really tough direct entry satellite tourney (which I placed second in!). As you can see from the screenshot below, I beat out 34 other people to place second. It was $44 for entry to the tourney and the top 6 players get their entrance to tomorrow's $200+15 tourney paid for. The 7th player gets $150 cash. But that's not the whole story and hardly worthy of a blog entry.
The real story is this: It is VERY VERY difficult to accumulate chips when the tourney chip leader is sitting to your left. The guy who finished ahead of me (pavelplanet), had a HUGE chip lead throughout most of the tournament and was sitting to my direct left the whole time, until the final table. It seemed like every time I tried to limp in to a pot, he would make a big raise. Every time I tried to steal blinds or make a button raise of any sort, he would come over the top. He was doing this for the whole tournament until some player, about 90 minutes in, finally re-raised him all in. This would have put half of his stack in play and he pondered a call before folding. Since he still would have had the chip lead if he called, I surmised he was finally called on his bluff. But it didn't matter since he kept doing it and it kept working. So how did this affect me? It made me tighter than a nun's cooch is what it did! I didn't play anything but super premium hands the whole tourney. Unfortunately, this had the effect of keeping me in the tourney but on a subsistence level. I eventually got to the point where I had to gamble when I had Ad10d in middle position. I moved all in and, sure enough, big stack called me since I wasn't threatening him. He showed AKo. Ouch. Luckily for me, I hit my miracle flop with an A10, but it gave him the heart flush draw. As if by magic, another 10 appeared on the river and I was able to double through. I continued this way, all the way into the final table where, blessed be god, the seats got reshuffled and I was now sitting across from pavelplanet. However, at this point, I was in 5th place, but only the top 3 players had considerably larger stacks than me. Everyone else had within 2000 chips of each other and the blinds were at 200/400! So it became a very tense match of who would go out first. In these cases in tournaments, I tend to let a shorter stack risk it against a larger stack. Again, I had to clam up and only play premium hands. And even in those cases, my only move was all-in. If I get AQ, I can't make a small bet since the big stacks would probably call and I would have to hit the flop to justify my staying around. If I can represent the strong hand early, I can pick up the blinds and antes which are very significant at this stage. So I did that for the few times I could and we finally eliminated two players. So now it was down to bubble boy time. Who was it gonna be. I was in 5th place and a few players changed places with almost nothing getting shown down since that always meant an all-in. Finally, after 15 minutes of this (!) I get dealt JJ in the BB. Blinds are 300/600 with 50 antes at this point and the smalles stack at the table, in seat 5, moves all in for 1900. It's 1300 for me to call, but if I lost I would have a much worse chance of making the money since it would move me into last place. However, I figured the small stack would pull this play with nearly any face card combination or even A-little, so I called thinking I would be a 50/50 shot at worst. He showed AQo which was better than I put him on but I'm still a slight favorite here. The flop, turn and river were all low cards so I took his chips and breathed a huge sigh of relief. The very next hand, I get AQo and the next smallest stack moves all in. Well, I'm in the money now, which generally leads to looser play from people, so there's no danger in making the call. I do call and he shows JJ, the exact opposite situation from the last hand! Except this time I flop a Queen and hit another Q on the river. That is why I placed so high even though I was in a precarious situation. The player mode28, who was in very dire straights with about 2000 chips, got down on his virtual knees to thank me for ending the tournament in two straight hands.
So, wish me luck everyone. The tournament starts tomorrow (Sunday, 6/25/2006) at 5:00 PM. The prize pool is guaranteed to be $200,000 so I'm hoping for the best!