I played the Hustler Wednesday night tournament tonight. For those of you who haven't played it, it's a $150 buy-in with a $25 fee, no rebuy freezeout that draws around 110 entrants and pays 9-10 spots. The tournament has a decent structure; you start with 2000 chips and the level times are 25 minutes. You have to get active early, though, because the jump around level 5 (from 100/200/25 ante to 200/400/50 ante) is brutal. Fortunately, tonight I had the good fortune of getting cards. Not that it mattered.
I got there a little late (the tournament starts at 7p and they seat until 7:30 or so) and sat midway through level 1. On my 3rd or 4th hand in, I was UTG with AA with the blinds now at 25/50. I raised to 200 hoping I'd get some loose action behind me and was pleased when MP player pushed for another 1500 or so and a 3rd player re-raised all-in behind him. I called instantly and tripled up when my AA held v QQ and JJ. Nice start.
A few hands later, I raised in late position with AKs and the BB pushed for another 1000 or so more. I called and added another 1500 or so to my stack when my AK held versus his ATs.
At that point I was content to fold for a while, but within three orbits I had AA again in mid position. With the blinds now at 100/200/no ante, I raised to 600. The big stack directly to my left called and one of the blinds pushed for another 1500. With action back to me, I contemplated a minor re-raise, but decided I might get some loose action from the big stack. I pushed, hoping he'd think I was trying to isolate with a weaker holding and call. He went into the tank and folded (confiding later that he held T5s) and my AA held versus a smaller pair.
At this point, I was the big stack at the table and managed to add chips with a UTG raise with AKs and a BB raise with ATs with 3 limpers in the pot. I also avoided some trouble with top pair in the BB, playing cautiously and ducking a flopped straight by another player. I felt good about my stack size and table image with a well-above average stack and blinds moving up.
The the trouble started. At level 7, with the blinds were 300/600/75 ante, I was in the cutoff with KQs and made it 2500 to go. The button pushed (ugh!) and I called off another 2200 on a 6500 chip pot, hoping I'd see an underpair. He showed JJ (not so bad) and a lovely Q hit the flop. Unfortunately, a gruesome J hit the turn and I was beaten down to 4000 chips, slightly below average. I'm fine with the play but the result was definitely a bummer.
With the blinds where they were, the carnage was widespread and within minutes, my table broke and I was seated in the big blind at my new table. Action folded to the button (the big stack), who limped. The small blind (a short stack) pushed for 1500 and I looked down and found AJs. I pushed hoping for some folding equity and was relieved when the button folded. Unfortunately, the SB showed AQo v my AJs, and with no help on the board I was getting closer to the felt. I folded my SB (K2s) to an EP push and figured the next decent hand I had I'd push. I didn't have to wait long; on the very next hand I found myself with AKo on the button (nice!). When the cut-off (again the big stack at the table) raised to 1800, I welcomed the action and pushed. I was a little disheartened, though, when the big blind pushed behind me for another 4000 more. WTF? The big stack called and we showed my AKo v 66 (big blind) v the big stack's KTo. I hated seeing one of my outs in another hand but under the circumstances, I'd take it. The flop was AWESOME...AAx...two clubs. Unfortunately, the turn and river were horrid, running clubs to give the 66 a winning flush. I was out in 26th place or so.
Overall, I was happy with my play and I can't complain about not having cards. Of the 100+ hands I saw, I had AA twice, AK three times, ATs and AJs once each, KQs, KQo and AQo (I folded the KQo and AQo) to some nasty pre-flop action, A9s, 77, 44 and KJo. I also folded at least 3-4 other Ax hands pre-flop. But it just goes to show, that you really do need a little luck in these tournaments. Maybe next week.