Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I won't be able to play much poker for the next week and a half because a friend is in town. That also means I will only be able to post when I have some random thought while I'm near a computer.

Here's today's overly obvious idea of the moment:

In limit hold 'em, don't bet when behind.

I don't think it's too bad of an idea as a general principle. There are probably plenty of exceptions. But I probably cost myself more than I realize by raising for free cards and trying to force people to fold by making dumb bluffs.

Please leave comments if you think the above statement is wrong.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Parts of my game that suck

1. I can't tell if I'm playing my best game until after I've made some mistakes.

2. I'm willing to go all in with a wide range of hands against a short stack if I think I might bust them. I think Gary Carter said that was neurotic behavior once.

3. I'm predictable,

4. I can't stop myself from betting out on the following street if I got the last bet in on the previous street in a limit game.

5. I don't know what game is my best game.

6. I make obvious mistakes sometimes.

7. If I lead out the flop but check the turn, it means I don't have anything.

8. I hate fish when I should love them.

9. I'd rather defend my play than listen to why it's wrong.

10. I'm pretty bad at tournaments.

11. I feel like I'm entitled to win.

12. I have a low tolerance for losses.

13. I keep playing right after work and in mornings, but I should know better because it takes me a while to wake up.

14. I'm easily distracted by IM, and it makes my game worse.

15. I tell myself that more tables equals higher profits.

16. Like Webb, I don't have the nut.

17. I bluff at the wrong times.

18. I keep letting the cat play. Bad idea.

19. I don't respect other players.

20. I don't know whether I'm trusting my judgment too much or too little.

I'm sure there are plenty more, but 20 is enough for now. (And no, I'm not on a downswing -- I just want to do better.)

Monday, May 29, 2006


I read a fair amount of poker content, and it seems to me that the topic of gambling addiction is studiously avoided.

We all love poker. We all like winning. But it's undeniable that the addictive qualities of gambling are at worst life-destroying, and at best a challenge to playing an optimal game.

The seed of addiction is created by the positive mental stimulus created by a win. The bigger the win, the more powerful the feelings of happiness. But as with any stimulant, successive uses result in ever-smaller emotional rewards, feeding the need for bigger and better wins to produce the same result.

This cycle is unavoidable except through self-discipline. Even then, it's a constant challenge to avoid tilt, desperation bets, crying calls and irrational all-ins as a way to try to replicate the feelings of self-satisfaction generated from a remembered victory.

Everyone eventually loses it to some extent. Winning players are able to control their self-destructive impulses by taking time off, playing lower limits, trying a new game and staying within their bankroll. Losing players keep playing until they're broke.

As poker players, we would like to pretend that we could cash out and walk away at any time. Some of us could; some of us couldn't. But few of us would do so unless we had good reason to, and even then it would be a challenge to stay away.

Winning poker players don't get a free pass here. It would be easy to say, "Well, because I'm able to consistently make a small profit, I'm in the clear." It doesn't work that way. Winners face a similar danger of gambling compulsion as losing players. The fact that a winner can show a profit just makes it easier to rationalize.

Poker players and bloggers should make an effort to come to terms with the addictive nature of the game. We need to be more constructive in our conversations about hands, bad beats, game selection, bankroll requirements and paranoia instead of constantly patting ourselves on the back and saying, "It's just variance."

That means being more honest with ourselves and each other, not only so we can improve our poker games, but so that we can ensure poker stays fun.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Better late than never

Tripjax asked these questions, so I thought I'd answer.

1. What is the biggest mistake people make at a NL table?

Calling bets and raises on the river.

2. What is the biggest mistake people make at a Limit table?

Folding in large pots when you have a chance to win.

3. Why do you play poker?

I've said that I play because I like the money, and that's true. But I also play because poker is a lot of fun, and because I want to win. I love busting people. I wouldn't play as much as I do for any one of those reasons, but they all work together.

4. If you weren't playing poker, what would you be doing?

Reading, and I'd probably be more likely to get bored.

5. What is your favorite poker book and why?

Small Stakes Hold 'em, because it seems to give some of the most accurate and well-thought-out advice on limit poker.

6. Who is your favorite poker player and why?

John Juanda, because he's not loud, I like his playing style and I busted him once on Full Tilt.

7. Which poker player do you dislike the most and why?

Mike Matasow. He's an ass, and his antics aren't good for the game.

8. Do your coworkers know about your blog?

I hope not. I don't think so.

9. What is the most you have won in a cash game or MTT (both live and online)?

Cash game: Live $500 or so, Online $1,848
MTT: Live $717, Online $300

10. What is the most you have lost in a cash game or in one day total (both live and online)?


11. Who was your first poker blog read?

Chris Halverson.

12. What satisfies you more, your aces holding up for a big pot or a bluff working for a big pot?

A bluff in a big pot is way more satisfying. It's money that you won on your own, not based on the cards you were dealt.

13. Why do you blog?

I blog because I want to improve my game. It helps me solidify my thoughts and stay focused. Of course, I also like to have people read the blog.

14. Do you read blogs from an RSS reader like bloglines or do you visit each blog?

Bloglines. I used to use Google Reader, but bloglines is better.

15. Would you rather play poker for a living than do what you currently do for a living?

Nah, I'd rather be doing what I'm doing than playing poker for a living. Maybe in a few years I would rather play poker for a living, but it's not a very fulfilling lifestyle.

16. Do you wear a tin foil hat on occasion?

Nope. It's not productive.

17. If you had to pin it down to one specific trait, what does a great poker player have (or do) that separates them from an average player?

I would think that great players are excellent hand readers.

18. Is Drizz the coolest person on the planet for naming his baby Vegas?

Yup. It's a very catchy name.

19. What is your primary poker goal and are you close to accomplishing it?

My primary poker goal is still to consistently beat the 15/30 limit games and higher. I may be close to that goal, or I may be farther from it than ever.

My bankroll is at the level where I could play 15/30 regularly, but the problem is that I've been shot down several times when making the jump. I'm at a point where I'll have to come up with a new goal if I don't find some success there. Perhaps I should focus on no limit, which has always been my bread-and-butter game.

20. What is your primary online site and why?

My play is pretty evenly split between Party Poker, Full Tilt and Eurobet. The reason is rakeback. Right now, though, I'm spending most of my time clearing the juicy 600 euro bonuses at the B2B sites.

21. What site do you dislike and why?

I hate Absolute Poker. Its software is maddening.

Blogger tourney

Texas Holdem Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 7330476

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Most players know that aggression is a key to victory in hold 'em. It's such a fundamental concept that it's taken for granted.

But one thing I hadn't fully considered was the interaction between aggression and equity.

Here's the 2+2 post that got me thinking about this topic. Down on the page, W. Deranged makes a point about the difference between betting for value and betting to realize your equity. The concepts are closely related, but they're not exactly the same.

We bet for ostensibly the same reason: we need to find a way to protect and cash in the equity we do have in the pot, even if it's below 50%.

Betting is the best way to do this. When we bet, villain is more likely to put in money with an inferior hand than he is if we check. In other words, betting is a better value play not because we have a pure, logical 50% value bet, but because it is simply better than checking in terms of our return. It "realizes" our equity, while also gaining some extra value from weaker hands that we would not have gained had we checked.

I don't have much to add. Just something to read.


EDIT: At least one part of the quoted text is doubtful. I do not believe that the "villain is more likely to put in money with an inferior hand than he is if we check." A check on the turn will induce a bet a high percentage of the time.

Let's look at our options:

1) Check-call the turn and river. Cost: 2 bb
2) Bet the turn and river, and be prepared to call a raise if it comes. Cost: 2-3 bb
3) Bet and fold to a turn raise: Cost: 1 bb

I'd rule out option three because I think it's plenty feasible that the villain also has AK for a split pot, or even a lesser hand.

Option one is the safest choice, and it could induce a bluff.

Option two is viable if a worse hand will call or raise, or if the villain would check behind a worse hand. Can we quantify this?

If the villain's hand range is 99 TT JJ QQ KK AA, AK, AQ, AJs and KQs, he has 45 possible hands (if my math is right).

The chance that a worse or tied hand will call or raise only really encompasses the six other AK combinations of 36 worse or tied hands, or 16.7 percent.

The chance that he would check behind with a worse hand that would also call a bet is hard to determine. Really, the only combination that makes sense for this action would be the nine AQ hands, and even that is doubtful after a flop check-raise. I'll estimate downward to six hands out of 36 worse or tied hands, or 16.7 percent.

Add in about 10 percent for a potential bluff raise, and you get a total of 43.4 percent (10 + 16.7 + 16.7). That might still be a bit too high.

You typically need to be ahead at least 50 percent of the time for a bet to be for value, so it doesn't look like we get there. Additionally, we aren't scared of many draw combinations out there except for two outers or a rare gutshot possibility.

I may be looking at this hand the wrong way, but as far as I can tell, a bet on the turn is incorrect.

That would seem to disqualify my initial babble at the top of my post. Now we're only left with the babble at the bottom of the post.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Coin flips

I donked it up to do well in the WBPT Gemini tournament, where we played two tourneys at once on Poker Stars. I took 2nd and 5th place, which should be good for second place overall.

Congrats to Hoyazo for taking down first prize. Other top players who put on great tourneys were individual winners FatBaldGuy, Spaceman and third place overall finisher Doubleas.

Any time I do well in one of these tourneys I'm amazed at how lucky I get. I pushed K2 into QQ and hit a K. I had AA and KK a few times. I flopped sets. It was good.

Most of all, I won races. I hit my overcards and my pocket pairs held up. That's all there was too it. Other than that, the tourney was just deciding when to go in and when to attempt a steal.

I worry that tourneys will rot my brain. The random rivers are like poisoned candy, tempting me to push in with my draws and suck out. Oh, it tastes good when they hit.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Poker's a grind...

... And I love it.

I've been playing for bonuses almost exclusively, which has been fine. There's not much exciting there to report. Multitabling no limit tables doesn't really lend themselves to good or bad beat stories -- all the hands come and go so quickly. Even the spectacular ones sometimes blur together.

As a result of my grinding, I've recovered from my $3,000 April downswing, so my bankroll is back up over $9,000. That's good news. And although I want to hit the limit tables again, I'm going to hold myself back while I continue to clear these bonuses. They're just so profitable with little risk of ruin.

Some people say they play poker for the competition, the learning experience or for fun. And I agree that those are compelling reasons to play poker.

For me, what keeps me coming back is the money. I want to win, and I want to win the most that I can. I want to make consistent profits and maintain my bankroll. I want to steadily grow my earnings while limiting my risk. I want to move up in limits in hopes that I can attain a better hourly rate.

I don't know why I value the money aspect of the game so much. I never thought of myself as a greedy person.

Recently, I've become a little preoccupied with trying to supplement my income and learn to make wise investments. I need to hurry up and save as much as I can now, because I don't want to have to work until I'm 65.

I hope in the future I'll make more money in game play alone than I would by chasing bonuses. For now, the bonuses are just too lucrative to ignore.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Poncey is pleased.

I'm again wondering whether I should just 10 table no limit games all the time. It took me slightly more than two hours to clear the recent $100 MAY06RELOAD20 bonus on Party Poker by 10-tabling .50/1 no limit games.

After two hours, my total profits were nearly $500. I know I couldn't win at that rate every day, but I think I could win a lot just playing rote, basic, boring, conservative, rockish hold 'em. And it's easier in these full ring games (compared to shorthanded games) to tell when you're likely beaten. Your opponents' hand ranges are narrower.

I still want to play higher-level limit games, but lower-level no limit games are still my bread and butter. They're just so soft if you know the basics: continuation bet, fold to aggression most of the time, wait for the near nuts, push strong draws on the flop, check-raise when you can, check-fold the vast majority of the time and don't get fancy.

My plan is to continue playing no limit games to work off the plentiful bonuses I still have to clear, and I'll hit up the limit tables when I'm in the right mindset.

Speaking of bonuses, I saw this 2+2 thread about new cashable blackjack whoring opportunities. I'll definitely have to investigate further.

In other news, I booked my summer flight to Vegas today! I'll get into town around 8 a.m. Friday, July 7 and I'll leave the evening of Sunday, July 9. It's a shorter trip than I would like, but I found a reasonable plane fare and I'll only have to use one of my extremely limited vacation days. I'm siked. My bankroll should be above $12,000 by then, which will give me license to play any limit up to $20/$40. Sweet.

A couple of weeks before then, I'm going on my yearly baseball trip. This year will be a lot of fun, with six teams and three stadiums over three days. I'll hit the Dodgers game in L.A. on Saturday, June 24, with several friends including metsfan, nickerson, JoeSpeaker and his son (tentative). Then it's off to San Diego on Sunday and back to L.A. for the Angels game Monday.

My family finished their visit last night, so it's back to normal life for me. Having family in town is great, but it's kind of tiring to entertain them all the time.

And finally, if you like the TV show "Deadwood," you can try to help save it because it's likely to be canceled after this season, which starts June 11.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Not a fish

My brother and I drove out to the beach, met up with this an instructor named Al, swam out into the ocean and hit the surf.

I had never surfed before. Al's advice seemed fairly clear: mount the board, maintain balance, bring left foot to right knee, pivot right foot and stand up.

Oh, yeah. And paddle. Paddle paddle paddle.

It took me a few tries to get the hang of it, and I'm not a very good paddler, but I was able to stand up and ride out the baby waves until they fizzled.

Surfing is a hell of a good time. My arms are sore, but the feeling of standing up and floating on the board is awesome. The wave propels the board, the fin keeps it in line and somehow I was able to balance. My brother also did pretty well for our first time out.

One time, when I fell off, I instinctually braced myself with my left hand. I scraped it on a rock just beneath the surface. I got up and paddle paddle paddled back to the next wave, hand bleeding.

Now my muscles are sore, I'm tired and I feel good. I'll have to hit the beach again soon.

I didn't think about poker while I was out there.

Friday, May 12, 2006


My family and cat arrived in town last night, which is pretty exciting.

I missed all of them in the four months since I moved here from Atlanta. We're doing all kinds of touristy things, like going to the Polynesian Center, checking out the beaches, hanging out in Waikiki and getting restaurant recommendations from tour books.

I guess I should know better since I've been living here, but really, I only know of a few places to go. I'm happy to check out the beaten path, just to see what it's like.

Waikiki is a hell of a lot different from the rest of Honolulu. It's just an endless stream of overpriced strip malls, tourists and ABC stores. It doesn't feel like the rest of Hawaii at all, except for the tropical scenery. I guess that's good enough for most visitors. Hey, I'm cool with it. I'm glad they have places to go and things to do.

My cat, Poncey, is getting ready to help me with my poker game. I'm not sure how I ever made money with my poker cat thousands of miles away. I must have been running good or something.

I think Poncey has given me a slight reprieve from the tables, since I have to concentrate on showing my family a good time and making him feel at home.

I'm wary, though. It won't be long until that cat insists I get back at the tables. He has an insatiable appetite for fish.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fair Ball

I went for a run in the rain tonight. I looped around part of the Makiki neighborhood -- up the hill toward Punchbowl Cemetery, down Prospect and Winder, toward the freeway on Pensacola and then back up the Ward Street artery.

I got this picture in my head of the rain drops representing millions of cards falling from the sky. With that many cards, any number of combinations is possible -- uncountable bad beats, pocket Aces, ugly boards and multiple outs.

I won't take the analogy too far, but what I'm getting at is that over time, with so many hands dealt and so many possible combinations, even the unlikeliest of circumstances will occur. But over the long run, everything comes out relatively even -- you'll get pocket Aces once every 220 hands, you'll hit a set off a pocket pair on the flop roughly one in eight times, you'll hit your flush on the river one in five times.

In its essence, poker is fair.

Of course, outside influences can alter the fundamental equality of poker. The rake causes a constant drag on player revenues, colluders try to get an uneven edge, random number generators used to distribute cards may not be as accurate as they should be.

These are all legitimate concerns.

And while it's important to be aware of them, worrying about them isn't going to solve any of your problems.

Finding patterns when they don't exist will lead to tilt. Rationalizing that you're due for a win induces misguided plays. Paranoia that a site is rigged encourages fatalism. Belief in poker gods distracts from faith in statistics. Results-oriented thinking detracts from making the best play for the right reasons.

There's no way to force poker to do what you want it to do. The only way to play is to do your best. When that isn't good enough, it's time to study your game harder.

It isn't going to stop raining any time soon.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I've got hand

In my last post, I wrote about a hand where I flopped top pair and the nut flush draw with Ah7h on a board of Ac8h3h.

I love my hand, but there were a few problems. Most of them added up to one thing: I thought there was a good chance I was behind in the hand, and the pot was small enough that I could get away from it if I wanted to.

What's interesting about this hand is that most of the time, I want nothing more than to get all in on a flop like this. With any pair and a flush draw, I have as many as 14 outs -- nine for the flush draw, three for two pair and two for three of a kind. My equity in this hand is anywhere between 30 percent and close to 100 percent.

Still, I thought I was beat and didn't have the odds to call an all-in bet on the flop in a small pot. But I need to be very sure I'm beat to fold, and while I trust my reads, it would be a huge mistake to lay this hand down if I were wrong. If I had to do this hand over again, I think I would make the same decision. I was drawing to the nuts, and all my outs were likely to be clean. In addition, it was possible I had some hidden outs if the board paired.

I called.

The villain turned over As3c for flopped two pair. I was actually a favorite -- a 50 percent to 49 percent EV edge, according to!

The turn brought a King of hearts, and my nut flush held up. I usually don't like getting yelled at, but somehow I don't tire of being called a fish. It's a high compliment and a misconception I don't mind fostering among my opponents.


I played in the $200K guarantee tournament on Full Tilt today after winning a $8.80 satellite to get there. The field was about 990 $216 seats, with first place paying out $45,000.

I picked up some chips early by flopping the nut straight of 75s against KK.

Then, I limped with pocket Kings under the gun, it got called in several positions, and the big blind raised. I re-raised to about 1,200 chips (starting stacks were 3,000 and the blinds were 50/100), and he called. The flop brought an Ace, and I abandoned ship on the flop when my opponent, a passive player, came out firing.

Shortly afterward, a short stack raised all in and I called with AK. He had QQ, I caught a King on the flop, but he hit his third Q on the river.

A little later, I caught top pair Jacks with QJ, but then I folded to an all-in bet from a late position player.

It didn't take long for me to arrive in push territory, when I ran Q9 into AA. Oh well. I went out around 450th or so.

Full Tilt must have flipped the doom switch on me instead of the luckbox switch. I wish they would tell me before they do these things.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Blogs and an NL hand

The role and purpose of blogs has been a popular topic over the last week or so. These posts have all been made in the poker blog arena, but they also apply to the blogosphere as a whole.

Here's an abbreviated link roundup:

Things I hate about blogs

On Blogs
Blog I am
Poker Blogs
How to be a poker blogger in ten easy steps

My $0.02: Blogs don't have to follow any rules about their purpose or their content. It's all up to the site creator. The beauty of blogs is that they put the publishing power in the hands of individuals, who can tailor their sites however they see fit. If other people don't like the content, it's easy to simply not read it.


I was going to post a hand history with nice graphics, but I need to get to bed soon, so you have to live with the text-only version.

I held Ah7h in the big blind in a six-handed .5/1 euro no limit game on TopRankedPoker. The cutoff min raised, the button called, the small blind called and I called.

The flop came Ac8h3h. It was pretty much an ideal flop. I hit top pair and a flush draw. The small blind led out with a weak bet, I raised to about the pot size (7 euro or so), and the cutoff pushed for about 50 euro, and I had him covered. The other players folded.

I put him on either AK, AQ, A9 or a flush draw.

Let's see what my equity is about each of those hands.

_vs. AK and AQ, I'm about a 45 percent dog.
_vs. A8, I'm a 2:1 dog.
_vs. any unpaired flush draw, I have a huge edge.
_vs. an underpair with a flush draw or a bluff, I'm a big favorite.

The pot was laying me odds of about 64:43 (14 pot+50 bet:Amount I need to call), which breaks down to around 13:9. So that's enough to justify calling if I think he has top pair-high kicker, a naked flush draw or some weaker drawing hand. But I'm in trouble vs. two pair or an unlikely set.

I called.

Was my call a fishy move? I had all those outs and felt justified at the time. I also figured his hand range of worse hands was broader than his range of stronger hands. But then again, I would have much rather have been the one to push all in so I could gain some folding equity, and it certainly looked like the reason he pushed was to fight off any flush draws.

In general, I'm willing to get all my money in on the flop with top pair and a high flush draw. Hell, I'll often get my money in with bottom pair and a flush draw. But maybe I'm wrong in calling when the pot is relatively small like this one.

Comments are appreciated.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Scattered Notes

I have a headache and I'm out of pictures to post. But I've been winning pretty consistently, so go figure.

I'm playing the B2B sites and whoring their bonuses. I'm on the TopRankedPoker 600 euro bonus now, which will take a few days to work off. The sites generally have a few games going (at least shorthanded NL games), but because it's a European network, their peak hours are sometimes hard to catch. Fortunately, I'm so far west that the games start to pick up between 10 and midnight HST.

I'm working the 6:30 a.m. shift during the end of this week, so that encouraged me to find other games since I need to go to bed soon. I felt up for it, so I played a short session at 10/20 limit. I won a few good pots and then got tired.

I've read a couple of columns recently that I think will help my limit game. These kinds of standard strategies are always helpful to have in mind, although of course everything is situational.

_On slow-playing top pair in small pots:
Playing Small Pots Correctly

_On turn decisions vs. an overpair:
Another Fundamental Situation: To bet or not to bet, the turn.

Another thing I was thinking about is that I really need to find a home game. I've been waffling on it because Internet poker is so much safer and has lower rake structures, but now I've decided I want to get some live games in.

Live poker will help my game and my reads. There's no doubt in my mind about that. And live poker is fun.

Finally, I wanted to post this blackjack bonus from Sportingbet. It's a one-day bonus for $50 that probably makes sense to do if it's not a hassle and you regularly do blackjack bonuses anyway.

Ug. I'm going to take some Nyquil and get some rest.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Secret Luckbox Powers

It was only the second blind level in the $8.80 55-player satellite on Full Tilt, and I was already all in. Fortunately I had flopped a set of Tens vs. a pocket pair of sixes, and I doubled up to 2,040 (from a starting stack of 1,500).

A few hands later, I tried to steal with 75o against a short stack in the blind. He smooth called and then pushed for only 55 more chips on a board of KT9. Whatever. I called. Then came a 5 on the turn and a 7 on the river. Runner-runner against his pair of Tens, and it was on.

This was a satellite to the $200K guaranteed tournament this Sunday. I joined it at random when I decided to open up five small buy-in tournaments at once on a whim. The top two players won seats worth $216 to the bigger tourney, third place got his buy-in back, and everyone else got nothing.

I laid low for a while, and then flopped a broadway straight off KJo to double through again.

That would be one of the last legitimate hands I would show down for the rest of the tournament.

It was crazy. It's hard to remember if I've ever run so good as in this tourney, when I repeatedly got in with the worst of it and sucked out.

I should have known that things would go well when I picked up the Kuro (6-3) off the big blind on a flop of Q-6-3. A short stack pushed with AQ, and I was happy to call and win.

I cruised along, winning hands with top pair and stealing blinds when I could, but mostly I was enjoying my stack while it lasted. It slowly shrunk, and before long, I wanted to make a move.

So at the 250/500/50 level, a half stack raised all-in to 3,300, and I decided to push 6,910 chips with AQ. He had AA. Woops.

That was alright though. I luckboxed the nut flush on the river when four flush cards came on the board.

The game got much more challenging at the final table. Knowing that only the top two places were worth a damn, the small stacks reverted to a game of survival while the big stacks raised and re-raised at will.

I was one of the short stacks. I would need a big hand if I wanted to stay alive.

I fell to 7,255 chips and felt like I had to get back in the game. It was five-handed, and the big stacks were running me over. I had to channel the donkey poker gods by moving in with K6 when it was folded to me in the small blind. I ran into AK. A King fell on the flop, a Queen on the turn ... and then a Six on the river to give me two pair! Saved by a two-outer.

When the blinds got to 400/800/100 and there were four players left, I had fallen back to 7,000 chips after folding to several all-in raises preflop. A big stack raised from early position, I pushed my remaining chips with AT, and he called with 99. I caught an Ace on the turn and a gutshot straight on the river for good measure.

Even then, I was still one of the two small stacks against two large stacks. Fortunately, I know how to be a push monkey.

I had good position to stay alive, which was my only goal. When it got to three-handed, I stole most of the time when I had the button. For the most part, I just played my position and waited for big hands that never came. I didn't need them.

Perhaps the deciding hand of the tourney came when I had 14,660 chips and raised with 98o from the big blind vs. an obvious player who had limped from the small blind. The flop brought 445. He checked, I bet 4,000 with nothing, and he folded.

That was enough. From there I avoided any dangerous situations and slowly built my stack based solely on preflop play. I didn't even want to play postflop unless I had a monster.

It didn't take long for the other short stack to ram his two pair into the big stack's flopped straight.

These tournaments are funny because the prize is the same for the last two players, so there's no reason to play for first.

We pushed in for about eight hands, and as luck would have it, I ended up with every one of the 82,500 chips in play.

If I have this kind of good fortunate in the big tourney on Sunday, I won't have any problem.