With larger stacks and fairly small blinds, we began the final with what seemed to be plenty of time to play poker. However, this could only last for first two or three levels. But if like me, you struggled for any hands or situations early on, then there was no option but to be patient. Although that was not a problem, the size of my stack was slowly growing shorter. However, over the many years of playing poker part-time, I saw many instances when the short-stack went on to win. I therefore made sure that this would not act as a negative in my mind. I even pushed myself to enjoy the challenge of having to play a short-stacks This led to many victories over the years when they never looked likely.
This in itself was an inspiration when things do not go too well during a tournament. And anything that can keep your mind from negative thoughts, is a powerful tool in poker. This was highlighted when a certain situation arose half way through the final.
Down to six-handed from the eight starters, I was lowest stack with around 9K of the 125K in play. With blinds now at 300 - 600, I was eager to begin the push and to start making moves on the blinds. Imagine then, how sweet it was to look down and find a monster A-K?. It was such a pleasant feeling to finally be able to say those magic words…RAISE!
Having made it 2600 to play - it came as a surprise when Lucy Rockach (probably one of the best players in the world and very aggressive with it), re-raised to set me all-in. Considering the fact that I was lowest stack, and that Lucy was chip-leader at the time - this would seem a very easy or compulsory call for me to make. However, rightly or wrongly, I eventually chose to muck. I obviously got to find out what her hand was when the program was aired a few months later. As it happens, Lucy held AQ and I would have been a big favorite to double-up.
This kind of situation is one that arises many times during play. It is also one that can generate much discussion. So what can make a player call an all-in bet with A-T and then muck A-K? I guess like many situations that we are faced with in poker - it’s all a matter of how we feel at the time. But irrespective of what would have happened - this simply showed to me that my mind was at least strong and that I was not fazed at becoming an even shorter stack. I also felt that given a chance, I could still do it.
It was, as is the case in most tournament play, the longer you hang on in there, the more chance that you hit some sort or rush. Well, I waited as long as I could and the rush came. I even became chip leader when we became three-handed. I even had a bigger chip lead when heads-up. However, as often happens, the chip-lead changed and I found myself going very low again. But as before, my mind was set and prepared to do whatever it took to win this one. It eventually took two hours of heads-up play just to get even in chips. Thirty minutes later it was all over. The dream to play on LNP was surpassed by an even bigger one in winning it.
As for the style used in winning it? On this occasion - there wasn’t really one that stood out. Maybe sometimes, it only requires determination and the right frame of mind to achieve a goal.
In the next article, the focus ill move from No Limit to that of Limit. Until then - play well, get lucky and enjoy life!
Peter “The Poet” Costa