National League of Poker recently added a monthly championship, to go with the weekly championships on Sunday nights. There's a $2,000 prize pool, with a lovely $850 payday for first. All we had to do to qualify was make a final table, which we did with relative ease. It could have led to a long late night online....
:10 IN: We have 9-A in the Big Blind -- and someone ahead of us goes all-in for 800. We folded 9-A a few minutes earlier after missing a flop, but this time we smell a "pusher's bluff" and call. We face 6-6, and the flop 3-Q-J. But the turn is 9, and the river 3! We eliminate the pusher, and gain $1,700.
:15 IN: We have K-Q. The flop is 6-10-7. No one bets. The turn is 9. Ditto. The river is 4 - and in early position, we bet 150. The semi-bluff works as the table folds; we gain $350.
:25 IN: We gave 4s-3s a try, with suited connectors. The blind is 6s-Ad-5h, giving us an open-ended straight draw; we call a bet of 100. The turn is 6h, and we call another 100. But the river is 9h, and we fold to a bet of 400 after missing completely.
:29 IN: We head to the 30-minute break with A-6 in the Big Blind. The flop is Q-Q-Q, and we call a bet of 100. The turn is 10, and everyone checks. The river is 4, and all check again. Our Ace winds up winning the $500 pot; the opponent who bet only had 6 high.
We have $1,750 at the half-hour break, putting us in 218th place out of 616 still in the running.
:34 IN: We come out of the break in the Small Blind with K-Q, and call a doubling of the blind to 300. The flop is K-3-2, and we bet 200. A player calls. The turn is 2, and another bet of 200 chases the opponent away. A good round in the blinds for us ends with a $1,400 pot.
:38 IN: We have 10d-Jd, for suited connectors again. The flop is J-6-9 (6 a diamond), and we call a bet of 150 with top pair. The turn is K (not a diamond), and we call another 150 bet now holding a straight draw. The river is A, and we dare to call another 150 bet. Good move -- as our opponent also has J-10, so we split a side pot of $1,160. (Someone who went all in with a King wins the main pot.)
:56 IN: We have 8-A, and a player goes all in for 500. The flop is 10-J-Q, for a two-way straight draw. The table checks. The turn is 8, giving us a pair. But when a player bets 500, we fear the worst and fold. The river is 6 - and we regret the fold when we see the bettor also has A-8, thus winning the pot.
(To be honest, we were concentrating so much on catching a King that we never noticed the bottom pair we made. But would you have had the gumption to call that bet, anyway?)
:59 IN: We have 3-2 of clubs in the Big Blind - and the table folds! We get a walk, to pick up $150 in blinds.
We always show our cards in these situations, as there's really no penalty to do it. "Nice," someone writes.
"Bless you all," we respond.
1:01 IN: We have 9-9 and the button. The flop is K-7-5 - and when the play checks to us, we decide to gamble. We go all-in for 690, hoping the table will fold with blinds at 150/300/25. But two players call, and one of them has 8-6. The turn is 4, giving him a straight and giving us the exit ramp. (The river is a meaningless 3 for us.)
The big risk worked early, but not late. Out of 1,293 players in the tournament, we finish #270. Good, but not good enough -- as only the top 11 win money.