If you recall, a couple Fridays ago, my buddy Toast and I were asked for advice on how to properly run the tournament by the assistant GM of the club. We got a free lunch out of the deal and talked about blind structures, buy-ins, rules and many other important details. We thought it would be best to wait a couple weeks to gauge interest but the clubhouse manager intervened, saying he REALLY wanted to get the thing going right away.
So, they scheduled the tournament for Saturday at 11:30am, giving people a week to sign up. The club isn’t exactly the picture of activity during the winter months so we only had 12 players for the opening tournament, myself and Toast included.
Ed, the assistant GM, had everything organized perfectly. He printed out a little card for all participants, which included a rundown of the blind structure for the entire tourney, chip values and a hand ranking chart. We would start with two tables of six players, randomly assigned by a card draw prior to the tournament’s start. When it got down to eight players, we would condense into a single table to determine the winner.
The top three players would get paid in a 60%/30%/10% format. It was a $50.00 buy-in event, meaning $600.00 in the pot, $360.00 of which would go to the eventual winner.
I drew the same table as Toast, three chairs to his right. Ed then gave everyone $1000.00 in chips and we were off!
I won a small pot early and really just concentrated on the players at the table and their games. I quickly realized that most of the guys at the table were poker novices. There were a lot of loose calls and very little raising was taking place. I decided that I would play straightforward poker and not utilize bluffs unless necessary.
I was able to take down a pretty substantial pot in the third level of blinds ($20/$40). I was dealt K3 offsuit in the big blind and was able to see a flop for free when no one raised. Three guys to the flop, which came down 33T, giving me three of a kind. The small blind bet $100 into the pot and I just decided to call it, hoping to keep the other guy in the pot. Well, that didn’t work, unfortunately.
So two to the turn, which came down with a non-scare card (no flush or straight possibilities really existed). Again, another $100.00 bet into the pot and a smooth call on my part. The glorious river came down with a king, giving me the full house. The SB bet $200 into the pot and I pounced, raising it another $500. I didn’t expect a call but the guy obliged! I took down a virtual monster early in the tournament to take the chip lead at the table.
Toast and I got into one little scrum during our time at the first table and it coincidentally was during the same blind level. I had KJs on the button and raised to $100. Toast, who was in the big blind, surveyed the table and reraised me to $325. Everyone folded to me and after much deliberation, I called. The flop came down Axx, no help to me. Toast looked at me and quietly checked.
I REALLY thought of making a play here to represent the ace I didn’t have but decided to check instead and take the free card. The turn was another brick and Toast bet out big, tossing a $500.00 chip into the pot. I swirled my two remaining $500.00 chips in my hand and tried to show that I might make a raise but decided to fold my rags, giving Toast the healthy pot and bringing him back into a healthy position. I would find out later that Toast had two aces in the hole!
Good fold Matt!
Eventually, four players bowed out and the final table was set. At that point, I had just under $3000.00 in chips and was the slight chip leader at the table.
Toast unfortunately couldn’t find cards most of the day and was eliminated pretty early on at the final table. He pushed with QT and was called and defeated with a guy holding a naked ace (something like A7).
I had a huge moment when we were down to five players. It was back and forth between me and one other guy for chip lead at the table. He was an extremely loose player, seeing every flop regardless of whether it was raised or not, giving him a lot of unpredictability with respect to starting hands. I raised a hand with AJs at one point and saw him bet out of position into me when the flop came down 976. I was forced to fold a hand I wanted control of due to the fact those were likely live cards for him.
I had a slight chip lead when I looked down at AKo on the button and raised to $1000. We were at level nine in the tournament, so the blinds were at $200/$400. As usual, he called the big raise. The flop came down QT4 rainbow, giving me a gutshot straight draw. Once again, he bet into me, tossing a $500.00 chip into the pot. For whatever reason, I decided to make my play, pushing all-in and hoping he’d fold his likely top pair.
I bit my lip when he called. I stared in disbelief when he turned over K9. How in the blue hell could he call an all-in with that crap? He had the same gutshot draw as me but any Jack would give me the straight to the ace as opposed to his straight to the king. He needed a nine to fall on one of the last two streets but it wouldn’t happen, and he was eliminated in fifth position.
I now had a pretty sizable chip lead.
I really played conservatively ‘on the bubble’, knowing that we were one spot from the money. Plus, I was leading and really wasn’t going to mess around with garbage hands. There were two very small stacks at this point and they seemed to be committed to waiting until the big hand turned up. One of the short stacks soon pushed all-in and the other short stack to my right quickly pushed all his chips in as well (about $1200.00 in chips). I then looked down at ATo.
Boy did I want to call!
However, since one of these guys would soon be eliminated, I reluctantly folded. Unbelievably, the guy to my left also called so we had a three-way battle for a bunch of chips! They all turned their cards over and the best hand showing was an A9 (so my AT would have been best to start). My dismay quickly turned to relief when the flop put the guy to my left on top with a pair of Queens. He would end up taking out both players right there and we were now heads up!!!
I had about a $750 chip lead at that point and we pretty much just moved blinds back and forth for about five minutes. The final hand of the night came down like this:
I was dealt the seemingly pathetic hand of 23s in the small blind, suited hearts. Heads up, I decided to play the suited connectors aggressively and min-raised to $1600 (blinds were $400/$800). He quickly called and the flop came down A33, giving me a sweet set of threes.
I put on my best acting face, trying to looked as anguished as possible. After waiting about fifteen seconds, I just checked over to my opponent, who quickly said “I’ll just make it easy on you”, as he threw in the minimum bet of $800.
Keeping up with my acting, I rubbed the back of my head and just stared at the flop, trying to get across the impression I was looking for my odds at a draw. After shaking my head a couple times, I pushed all-in and he quickly called, showing A7, giving him two pairs to my set.
He needed an ace or a seven to beat me but neither came.
I am the first ever St. Catharines Golf and CC Hold’em Champion!!! Whoo!
Ed handed me the $360.00 first place prize and even gave Toast and I a complimentary Guinness for helping organize the event! It’s usually customary for winners to ‘tip the dealers’ after winning a big event, as Toast reminded me, so I gave a little thank you tip to both Ed and the waitress who had to run around for all the players during the close to four hour event.
Much to my embarrassment, Ed decided that Toast’s request to “get your digital camera and get a picture of Matt with all of the money and chips, just like the World Poker Tour” was a good idea.
So there I was, grinning with a stack of chips in front of me, $360.00 cash on top of the chips, and the hideous 2 and 3 of hearts in my hands! Ed’s going to post it up in the 19th hole with results of the tournament to help recruit players for our next event!
Ah well, it’s for a good cause as the club, while not profiting from the tournament itself, obviously makes out by selling drinks and food to the members in attendance.
In the end, it was a REALLY well-run tournament and I think that all of the players enjoyed their day immensely. After talking with everyone, it’s expected that the next event in a couple weeks time will have at least twice as many people playing due to the positive word of mouth.