Thanks to Brian at The Poker Atlas, I was hooked up to go to Mohegan Sun this weekend to do some reporting/observing on their Winter Chill tournament series going on this weekend into next. There was a $300 Shootout event being held on Saturday and Sunday that I wanted to play in, but due to my recent job loss, didn't feel I could do it because of the expense. Luckily, I got a call a few days before from Matty Ebs who told me he'd be there that same weekend for the same expense. He offered to buy half my action in the tourney and I accepted so all was well with the world.
The tournament structure was a dream. The tourney started out on Saturday with three different chances to get into the main tournament, at $300 a pop. There were 9AM, 1PM and 5PM sessions, each set up in a single table sit'n'go turbo format. The top 3 finishers at each single table would get an entry into the main tournament to be held on Sunday at 9AM. But the Sunday tournament was a long format deep stack event, with 10,000 in chips and 40 minute levels! So once you got past the turbo portion of the tourney, you were in a deep stack field with 40 minute levels in a comfortable format allowing for LOTS of play. In addition, 70% of the field was already gone! For example, 203 players, in total, bought chances to win a seat in the main tournament. So over the 3 sessions, there were a total of 21 single table tourneys that were run. 63 people made it into the final tournament. Since 10 percent of the field gets paid, there were 20 spots paid out of 63! Awesome. The best part is that the turbo portion of the tourney is run in nearly the same format as my Wall Street Poker tourneys, so I was extremely comfortable with how I needed to play. And NO ONE has more live experience with that format than me. In that last two years, I've played in over 200 of them!
I made it into the finals on the strength of patience and timed aggression. I was never the short stack and my experience made all the difference. Some of the players were clearly making the risky moves necessary to win a tournament whereas I knew that it was all about survival. You didn't have to win, you only needed to place in the top 3. So patience is more important than outright accumulation of chips, though some accumulation is necessary to win. I probably went to showdown with no more than 2 or 3 hands for the two hours it took for the table to be over and I left it to the others to knock each other out.
Matty also coasted into his seat at the 1PM session and found it so easy that he bought another try at the 5PM session and won a seat there too. The idea was to sell the seat for profit (seats were legally transferable) but he ended up giving the seat to his brother Jon instead. Matty's friend Eric also tried for a seat at 5PM and made it as well, making our little group 4 for 4. A good omen.
I found the experience of the turbo format so mentally and physically draining that I didn't play another hand of poker that entire day, though the soft and juicy cash games were beckoning. I put all my remaning energy into thinking about how to play the Sunday finals and went to bed at a reasonable hour. The 9AM start time would necessitate me getting up by 7AM in order to have time for a full breakfast. I surmised, correctly, that a full meal would be needed as there was no mention of a lunch/dinner break in the posted schedule and only a 10 minute break every two rounds (80 minutes).
Next post will be a detailed explanation of how I kicked ass.