Yesterday I played in the American Poker League (API) February Leaderboard Invitational at the Pool Room in Duluth, GA and came in 3rd out of a large field. The game was Texas Hold'em - the most popular form of poker played today. I got lucky on the first hand I played in the tournament, but I played it technically correct given the player I was up against and my reads. I was all in by at the turn (the 4th common card revealed) and ended up winning the hand on the river (the last common card revealed) and crippled the other player who was knocked out of the tournament just a few hands later. From there I steamrolled to the final table and played a very good game with every reasonable expectation I was going to win because I brought my A++ game and read the table very well. Once at the final table I prudently used my chip lead to knock down competitors one by one. I simply got unlucky on two river cards when down to 3 players and it cost me a sponsored trip to Las Vegas to play in the 2008 World Series of Poker.
Now I will cover the two hands that put me out of the tournament - both against the same opponent. The first hand I had A-2 against 5-7 heads up with a flop of A-5-6, put a bet out to feel where my opponent was who I had covered and he responded by pushing all in. I had him covered by 40,000 and given his past hand history and demeanor called him. I had him dead to rights. The turn didn't matter, and the river was another 5. He won with trip 5's after going all-in on a 5-7. Doesn't seem right, but that is poker. The last hand I played in the tournament I had come back from 40,000 to 160,000 chips and I looked down to find the best starting hand in poker in the big blind, which at the time was 80,000. I thought about the strategies of playing my Ace-Ace and decided to push all in and try to get my remaining opponent in the hand to fold. He considered it for a long time and then called my all in with J-8. He ended up hitting a straight on the river knocking me out of the tournament. On the bright side my opponent was more lucky than good and in the end his luck ran out and the other player who was extremely short stacked came back to beat him and win the tournament.
So I played well and didn't get the prize. Life happens. This was a great tune-up for my upcoming trip to the World Series of Poker Circuit Event in Indiana and I was happy I played well, but in the end not winning it all is a bit like kissing your sister - no I take that back. If I had tied it would be like kissing your sister. Losing like I did is more like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out (with all due respect to your grandmother and mine).