There's no feeling in poker like getting deep in a big tournament. Today I outlasted all but two players in a field of 3141 to take down the third-place prize of $46,486.80 in the $215 buy-in $500,000 guaranteed tournament on PartyPoker. I played the $60,000 guaranteed on Full Tilt at the same time and as usual was the last "red pro" standing but finished out of the money in that record 457-person field.
The buggy PartyPoker started the tournament without bothering to open my table. When I finally figured out how to open it I saw I had pocket Aces on the button and had to quickly decide how much to bet. I made a big raise and took down the pot, but I saw Aces many more times en route to the final table. I won almost all my coinflips, my steals worked, my Ace-Kings held up, I cracked Aces (played donkily by the aggressive player to my left who, after coming over the top of my steals six or seven times, just smooth called for almost half his stack when I raised with Deuces. I flopped a Deuce and busted him.), my Aces weren't cracked, and all in all it was flowing and grooving until we got down to three-handed.
(It was below freezing in Seattle and I had set up on the kitchen table, which was right by a lot of windows that were radiating cold and I was freezing. I made some tea and Trader Joe's chicken chili verde (man, that stuff is good) in between hands to warm myself up as my wife Heather was out on assignment.)
It was down to me, an unknown and seemingly inexperienced player on my left, and WSOP bracelet winner Gavin Griffin on my right. I was bullying the short-stacked Gavin mercilessly when he called my Ten-Seven offsuit button raise and then led out on a King-Ten-x board. The lead-out often indicates a tenuous holding and I decided I had the best hand and moved in. He called with King-Ten for top two pair and I was drawing dead to runners. That gave him almost as many chips as me. Then I called a small raise of his on the big blind with Ace-Four of Spades. The flop came Queen high with two Spades. he bet out and I jammed with my flush draw and overcards. Once again he had a monster, Ace-Queen, and I missed my flush and was short stacked. I jammed on the small blind with Queen high and got called by a King, which held up.
Despite the nice prize, I much prefer playing on Full Tilt. The Party software is inexplicably buggy even after all these years. They just released a new version and they still haven't fixed the problem that causes players to sometimes pay the big blind twice in a row or to skip it because players come or go from the table. To their credit, they caught a cheater playing multiple accounts last week and disqualified him from the $140k first prize, moving everyone else up a spot. They also seized $40k he had in his other account. This kind of scrutiny and punishment is essential to keep the integrity of online poker.
I've been happily skipping the big live tournaments in places I don't like to go and looking forward to the circuit returning to Vegas. Rumors are that the WPT will change its release to make it more reasonable and I'll be happy to be playing in some of those events again. I'm told I'm due.