This may take a while to read.... so many hands that i have to try and recall through memory, and i will probably miss out some key hands and the occasional big bluff that i made ;-)
After the Scandinavian players recent results around Europe in the big European Poker Tour events I was jumping into the Lions den somewhat, by going to play them in Stockholm. I felt good in the run up to the tournament, my form had been good both online and live, but I knew I would have to be at my very best against so many tough aggressive players.
I took my seat at the table and was pleased to find out there was going to be a 60 minute clock and 20000 starting chips. My plan to take it easy for level one soon got dashed. Blinds were 50/100 and I limped as you do with 89 suited. Flop 89K with two diamonds. I checked and then reraised the player to my left to make it 1700 to play. After a while he called and the turn was a T with no diamond. I bet out 4000 and was not to pleased when he made it 10000. Do I really want to travel all the way to Sweden to go out on hand three of the tournament? I reluctantly passed and he showed me a bluff. After that hand I was down to about 13000 chips. Still plenty of play left.
I battled my way back up to 17000 chips without winning any major pots. I had Daniel Bergsdorf who came 7th in this years WSOP main event and he was playing very well but had just been very unlucky in a few big pots. The blinds were now 200/400 and he made it 1000 to play in late position. I called with KQ suited and it flopped Q48 rainbow. He bet 2000 and I just called. The turn brought another Queen and also a flush draw. He bet 2500 and I raised it to 7000. He called after a long dwell. The river was an Ace. He checked and I moved all in. He thought for ages again and called and I showed my hand and he passed.
A few hands later I picked up TT in middle position and made it 2000 to play. One of the blinds called and it flopped 89J with two clubs. I checked and he checked. The turn was a 7 to give me the straight. I decided to check hoping he would bet, and he obliged by betting 2500. I reraised it to 9000. To my surprise he called. I now thought he must either have a straight already, flush draw or three of a kind. The river was a 9. I checked and he bet 8000. I called and he had made his full house with 88899.
The very next hand was the luckiest of the tournament for me. The young guy to my right made it 2500 to play and i looked down at JJ. I decided to move all in for around 17000 figuring he would pass nearly any hand. He thought for ages, called and turned over QQ. It flopped AK2. Turn 8. River a J. That was my luckiest moment of the tournament by far. I guess everyone needs at least one very lucky moment in a tournament.
On level 5 with the blinds 400/800 I was sitting with 40000 chips, which was joint chip leader with the player directly to my right, when we tangled in a huge pot. I was on the button with 9dTd when he raised to 2000 to play. I called. The flop was 8d9cQd. A great flop for me and I was favourite if he was holding AQ, KK or AA. He bet out 4000. Without hesitation I moved all in for all my chips. He initially turned to me and said,"I don't think I can call here." As he pondered for minutes I was convinced he was going to call. He did and turned over top set with QQ. I still had a 40% chance of winning the hand. The turn was a 2d to give me the flush and the river a blank and I was up amongst the chip leaders.
I didn't really pick up any hands for a few hours but managed to keep my stack at around 80000 without being involved in any big pots when I moved table. One of the players I recognised and he had played superbly the last time I had seen him play, so I decided not to play too many pots against him. Also sat at my table was the guy who had very fortunately knocked me out the day before from the PL Omaha tournament.
By the time we reached level 9 I was still above chip average for the tournament with 95000. Blinds were 1000/2000 and I looked down at JJ in the small blind. To my surprise the player who had knocked me out of the Omaha tournament moved all in for 44000. Did I need to risk 43000 with JJ? As he had raised so much in late position I was convinced he couldn't have AA or KK, as he would surely have looked for action with those hands by raising alot smaller. I narrowed it down that he either had a smaller pair then me, QQ (the only hand i was scared he may have) or two overcards. I have passed in situations like that too often, so decided to go with my read and call. He showed AQ. The board came 22674 and I was up to 140000.
I played the very next hand badly. Perhaps I was distracted by winning such a big pot. I limped under the gun with AKs. Everyone passed and the big blind checked. Flop A44 with two spades. He checked and so did I for some reason. The turn was a K. He checked and again I checked. River brought the flush and he bet 10000 and I called. He had the flush, I would't play another hand for the rest of the tournament that badly again.
We returned for Day 2 and I was 10th in chips out of the 42 players remaining. I raised alot of hands on my table without ever getting called or being reraised so was able to slowly increase my chips without any risk. The players were getting knocked out very fast and I was feeling comfortable as I was never out of the top ten chip leaders. When we got down to two tables I made one big move. The button made a raise to 20000 chips and the small blind called. I pushed all in with KT from the big blind and they both passed.
The action was fast and we were soon down to 14 players and in the money. I had a very tight table and nearly any raise was winning the blinds and running antes. In one hand I picked up QcKc and everyone passed to me in the small blind. I had 220000 and the big blind had 100000. I limped hoping he would raise so I could put him all in. He checked. The flop was good for me, QK2 and I checked again. He bet 15000. I called. Turn was a T, I checked and he bet 20000. I made it 50000 and he passed.
It seemed I was getting involved in big hands in the blinds. It folded around to me and against a different guy who had just been moved to my table I limped in from the small blind with 99 hoping to reraise. He checked. It flopped 69T with two hearts. I checked and he bet 10000. I made it 25000. He called. Turn was a 2 with no flush. I checked and hoped he would sense weakness and bet. He checked. River an A. I bet out 25000 and he reraised it to 60000. I moved all in and he passed.
I was sitting happily on 330000 with 12 players left as the chip average was 360000 to make the final table. I hadn't had AA in 17 hours of play, but all that was about to change. The blinds were 5000/10000 and I was in the big blind. The small blind had 500000 chips and everyone folded to him. He made it 30000 to play. I looked down at the Aces. Could I extract any more from him here. I picked up 85000 to raise then left 10000 behind and made it 75000 to play. He thought for two minutes then moved all in. Maybe my tactic of saving back 10000 had indicated weakness. He had AQ and I doubled up when the board didn't save him.
The very next hand I am under the gun and look down at AA again. Wow. I made it 40000 to play. I knew that players would think I would be reluctant to play another huge pot after the one I just won. The small blind moved all in for 270000. I called of course, and he had 99. No help from the board and it was time for the final table.
I started at the final table with 900000 which made me chip leader, and decided I would sit back unless I felt my hand was strong enough to play a big pot, or I had a good chance of stealing if I bluffed. The action was fast and furious as it tends to be at a table full of Scandinavians. I also had about a quarter of the chips in play so there was no hurry.
I had no cards for a while, and the times when I did raise players moved all in forcing me to pass. So when we reached the final 5 players I was back in amongst the pack with 800000. Only the player to my left had significantly less with 400000. I was involved in another blind battle with him. I had Ah2h and raised to 40000 in the small blind. He made it 100000, and I moved in a flash hoping it would scare him. It worked and he passed. He was taken out by another player and we were down to 4.
It was time to move up a gear. I raised five hands on the trot without even a picture. The blinds and antes were so big that it was a big boost to my stack. The only other player who seemed interested in playing any hands was Bo Sehlstedt who was the strongest player left in. I lost half nearly half my stack to Thomas Berglund who was sat to my right. Blinds were 15000/30000 and I raised to 125000 under the gun with QQ, and he called in the big blind. It flopped KJ2 with two hearts. Not great but when he checked I decided to fire out another big bet of 240000. He called. Turn was a heart and he moved all in and I had no option but to fold.
I was down to 350000 when Bo raised and I found AJ suited. A good hand four handed so I moved all in as I needed to double up. He had TT but an Ace on the flop saved me and I had chips again.
Soon after picked up AK in the small blind and Bo raised again to 150000. I pushed all in for 630000 and he called eventually with QcKc. The first card out was a Q so I was in trouble. Followed by the Jc and then the Tc, so I had a straight but he held a flush draw. Turn was blank and I closed my eyes as the river was dealt. I heard no cheers so I knew my hand had won.
The very next hand i found 99 under the gun and made a larger than normal raise. Bo moved all in for 600000 and i eventually passed. Had i thought about it more, and the fact that its such a strong hand four handed i would have probably called. He showed AcTc so it would have been a coin flip anyway.
Bo was then knocked out by another player and we were down to three. I was second in chips to Thomas and the other player who was half asleep had about half my chips. Soon he pushed all in for 550000 and I had no option but to call with AhJh and he turned over Qc7c. It flopped AcTc9s so I was winning but he had made a flush draw. Turn an 8 so he could now hit a 6 or a J for a straight as well. The river was fortunately a blank so we were heads up.
I had about 40% of the chips and Thomas 60%. One amusing side note was that I had been having great banter on the table with all the Scandies, and I don't think they would ever have recovered if one of the two British players that entered had won the tournament.
I evened the chip count up on the second hand of heads up when I slow played QQ on a low flop and moved in on the turn. He was playing very aggressively and was hitting most flops and showing his cards. I was down to about 1.2 million chips when we played the final hand. I made it 200000 to play with AhJd and he called. He hadn't passed one hand preflop heads up. It flopped 5h6h9h and he bet 400000. I knew I had alot of outs if I was behind so moved all in for the rest of my chips. He called and flipped over Kh2h, so I need a heart to save me. It wasn't to be and I had finished second.
The result put me up to 21st in Europe rankings, and 15th in the money list. Next stop EPT Dublin.