So, with nothing better to do (I really can't stand slot machines) I decided to enter the hotel casino's 8pm No Limit Poker tournament. Being only a social player with friends, I didn't have high hopes for my success, but thought it would be a relatively cheap way to spend the evening (assuming I lasted for any length of time).

Plus I'd be getting free drinks…

Shortly before 8pm, I signed up, paid my $50 and got my table and seat assignment. Table one, seat three.

There turned out to be 36 players in total spread over four tables, with the prizes for 1st place (after re-buys had occured) of around $1,230 down to $105 for 4th place.

Over the next two hours I proceeded to get no decent cards. I limped into a few minor pots and somehow won a few. One time I ended up with pocket aces, an ace on the flop and then everyone bailed with me winning next to nothing.

Towards the end of this period of ineffectual poker, the binds were about to go up to 400/800 with me as the big blind. I was down to 2000 in chips.

I get dealt Q8 unsuited.

Bugger.

What the hell. Time to go check email anyway. All In.

For some reason almost everyone else seemed to like their cards and called. 16,000 in chips in the main pot.

Flop. 88K.

Woot!

Everyone else continues their betting, but in the end I get the 16,000.

Then my luck changes. I'm getting Ax all over the place and am winning good sized pots.

Slowly I realize that people are dropping out as they lose all their chips, and after the tables a whittled down over the next hour, I'm on the final table.

My first real casino poker tournament and I'm on the final table!

How weird is that?

I still didn't have any illusions of winning the thing though. All the other people at the table look like the pros on TV.

I.e. The guy with sunglasses covering his eyes and iPod earbuds covering his ears.

Then I look at the stacks of chips, and realise that there's a few people with a lot, some with around the same as me and a couple with very little.

Plus I'm the dealer, so I can sit out a bunch of hands without chips dissapearing via the blinds.

One person goes, then another, then another.

Suddenly I'm in the final five. Out of thirty-six. Me.

If I get to 4th, then I've covered my entry and made a little.

This is now my mission.

After a while I'm down to 18,000 chips and in last place. The guy next to me has about 24,000 and is playing very loose agressive. The blinds are now 4000/8000 with me as the big blind and I'm in two minds what to do.

I have Ten/3 unsuited with a ten and not much else on the flop

  • All In and stay for a while, maybe getting better than 4th and in some real money?
  • Or fold and be down to 10,000 and then 6,000 after the small blind next hand? Here I'll be hoping the guy in 4th will get taken out fast and I limp into 4th place.

I decided on the first option (much better upside). Of course I lose and am now out, but what happens next just pisses me off.

The four players that are left decide to just split the winnings four ways, each taking home $522.

What?!?

If I'd known that was an option, I would have taken a different tack because 4th place is suddenly much more attractive.

I didn't want to make a fuss (this being my first time after all), but it did annoy the hell out of me.

Anyhow, 5th place in my first real poker tournament does feel good, even if I was only one place out of the money.

Comments? Did I do the right thing with the information I had?