I occasionally play the Steps Tournaments on Pokerstars, and I've played the Step 1 (7.50) and Step 2 (27) in the last two days. Finished Second in both, so I'm on to the Step 3 (82) tournament when I get a chance to play it. Step 1 was really uneventful, but Step 2 was a total rollercoaster. There were three key hands two good beat stories and one semi bad beat.
First hand: I'm in middle position with KsQs and it's folded around to me. I raise to 3x the big blind. The player to my left calls and the button raise to 10x the big blind. I call and the player to my left calls. We see a flop of 78Q with two clubs and no spade. I bet about half the pot so as not to pot commit myself as I'll still have about 30 big blinds left. The player on my left folds and the big blind bets enough to put me all in. I think about it for a while and decide to call. He turns over AA and I'm in in a huge hole (18% to win). The Turn brings the Qc and suddenly I'm 95% to win. The river isn't an A and I double up into the chip lead.
I really like my opponents play here, and I'm really not pleased with my own play. First, my raise in middle position with KQs is ok. I'd probably make that play again. With two players who have position on me, I'm not pleased with my call. I should probably just chuck my hand and wait for the next hand. After that, my play gets worse. I bet less than half the pot on the flop, which feels weak, and probably contributed to my trouble figuring out his reraise to put me all in. My gut instinct was that he had AA or KK, and I managed to convince myself that he was making a move. The call was terrible. I'm a huge dog to AA, KK, QQ, AQc. I'm not in great shape against AKc and he's freerolling with KQc. He raised two players preflop and then reraises huge on the flop. I have to put him on AA or KK at worst. And yet I called. I suck.
Second hand: I pick up AA and I'm next to act after the under the gun player folds. We're playing 8 handed after my opponent from the previous hand was eliminated a few hands after I crippled him. I make it 3x the big blind and the player on my left and the big blind call. The flop is 528 rainbow. The big blind makes a little more than a pot sized bet and I call. The player to my left gets out of the way and we're heads up. The turn is a 10. He checks, I bet a little over a third of the pot and he check-raises me all in. I call and my AA is a huge favorite over his 67. The river completes his straight and I lose a huge pot.
I'm not as unhappy with myself on this one. There were no straights or flushes possible when I called his all in, so I'm probably not drawing dead at least, and it turned out I was in really good shape. Should I have been more concerned about a set? Maybe. I think what drove my play was that I had a decent chip lead and could afford to gamble a little. I might have played this hand differently if I were making a decision for my tournament life, but I think I would have gone all in on the flop in that case.
Hand 3: This is another hand with the opponent from the previous hand. I'm in the big blind and he's on the button. We're playing 5 handed and we're all sort of in the money, but the 5th place finisher will drop back down to step 1 and the 4th place finisher will stay on step 2. I'm currently in 4th place and he's in 5th, but we're only 44 chips apart. He goes all in on the button and I decide to call with A8o. I'm happy to see that I'm a favorite over his KQo. The flop is AA8 and he's drawing dead.
I'm not sure I can fault either of us on this hand. I'm sort of short-stacked so calling with A8 isn't the worst call I've ever made. Shoving with KQ on the button is absolutely correct for him. If I had more chips, I probably fold this hand.
I didn't play any significant hands for the rest of the tournament, and the big stack eliminated two more people to give me a second place finish. I have to say I was a little surprised how aggressively the big stack played. In a normal sit and go, I sort of see why he'd continue to be aggressive, but in a payout structure like this, he's nearly assured of a top two finish and the top two paid the same. It worked out for me though, so I can't complain.