Last night I headed down the street to play in the Friday night NL bounty tournament at Aliante Station. The hotel started this tournament about two months ago and it has in my opinion helped provide at least one good night of action at what is a nice, but otherwise not too active room. They also recently added to the starting stack and adjusted the levels a bit so that for most of the first two hours there is a good amount of play. Even if you just keep pace with the blinds through the first three levels then by level four you'l still have 13-14 big blinds. That's not deep by any means, but I think that's above average for tournaments at that level of cost. They also added a level in at the fifth level and I think one more. This was my first time playing under the new structure and I liked it a lot.
I did fairly well at the start of the tournament although I lost a fair amount of chips in one hand where I had second pair and a player in front of me with a weak top pair (board was AJ727, I had J10 OTB and he had A5) check called the flop and the turn and then led all in for about 1/4 the pot when the board paired on the river. Interesting thing about that hand was that there was a second V in till the turn that I was far more focused on. I had him read pretty well as I have seen him play before and knew he would not be checking with an A. I had him so well read and knew I could fold him on the turn, but didn't think enough about the second V and what his range could have been. Looking back, I still bet the turn no matter what even though that means I can't get away on the river as there was a flush draw on the flop which the second V would have played the same way. That took me back down below my starting stack about ten minutes from the break and the end of the re-entry period. Right before the break I busted when an OE straight draw missed. Rebuy (reentry) time.
After the break I took my new chipstack and built it up nicely through a combination of good hands and aggressive play. I built it up enough that I was able to lost three decent sized pots One of those hands I lost a race after raising w/suited face cards and lost a race to the all in V's pocket 9s. One hand, I called a shortstack (3bb) shove when I was in the bb with an A5 and a shot at a bounty if I win the hand. I think that's a pretty clear call for any A, but unfortunately V in that hand had AQ. The other was a hand where I raised a small pp, flopped a gut shot, c-bet the flop, checked the turn behind and folded to V's river bet. V was an older gentleman who had definitely struck me as TP. He said after his river bet that he flopped a set, and I believe him. Told him he let me off cheap and considered my TP read on him confirmed. That hand still left me between 10 and 15k in chips so I still had some room to work.
Unfortunately, after that I got pretty card dead, and didn't find a way to chip that up to much more than 20k before the final table and when the blinds went to 1 and 2k I was pretty close to shove or fold territory. I lost one more hand where I was in the bb wK3 in a hand with a UTG limper who I also read as TP (less passive then the other player as I know he had taken some shots at flops with smaller pieces) and the small blind. The flop came K66, I lead for about 2/3 the pot and got raised by the UTG. It was hard to put him on a 6, but not too hard to see him with a K that outkicked me or possibly a limp reraise before the flop with AA or KK, so I had to let that one go. Unfortunately, that left me with only 8bb and in definite shove or fold territory. I folded around till I got to middle position and looked down at A6d. Not the best hand to stake your tournament life on, but with the blinds coming up it's time to choose between the lesser of two evils, so I shoved my 8 bb. The same gentleman right on my left sighed, thought for a few minutes and said "I have to call", so I thought me might have something in the range of pocket 7s through jacks. Turns out it was kings though and when I couldn't catch an A or enough diamonds I was done. I collected enough bounties that I got back 3/4 of my two buyins though, so it could have been worse.
Overall I was pretty happy with how I played. I'm really starting to notice that I'm able to pick out different strategies that will work better against different players based on how they are playing. I'm developing more skill at reading people, putting them on hands and detecting weakness. Most importantly, there wasn't one hand that I look back on and say, wow, I wish I had played that differently. It wasn't a profitable night, but it was a good poker playing night. If I keep up with the latter, then the former will take care of itself.