This year I was fortunate enough to get on to the final table for PGT’s POY freeroll. The structure and execution of this event was excellent since everyone started with a very playable stack and with 1 hour blind levels there was a lot of time for play. I entered the tournament fearing the worst, since with 34 big blinds I was one of the shortest stacks. I hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before due to an early morning flight, so I was quite tired.
Thankfully, I didn’t have any time for any of this to prey on my mind, because hand 1 happened almost automatically. Nitish who was under the gun, and the short-stack with 30 BB, min-raised to 2000 and I woke up in mid-position with TT. I raised to 5,100, knowing that there was no way I could fold. As it turned out Nitish immediately announced all-in and I snap-called him. He turned over AQ, and thankfully the dealer turned over 5 cards without an Ace or a Queen, and just like that I doubled up. From that point the going was smooth for the next couple of hours as I picked up a few decent pots here and there, including busting the short-stacked, and visibly frustrated Vinod KK who finally jammed his last 12 BB with A8o into my 99. After a while though, things started to take a turn for the worse. My opens got called persistently and I lost a few medium pots to unfortunate run-outs when Manoj Singh twice caught cards on the river to drag down a few pots.
At one stage, I was down to around 15 BB but I remained calm and patient. The closest I came to trouble was when Jasven min-raised and I shoved my 14.5 BB with A8s. Jasven tanked for a while before reluctantly folding 33. After this I chipped up to around 27 BB when a critical hand happened. For the second time, I found AA under the gun and min-raised. It folded around to Pulkit Kaalia in the BB who flat called. The flop came T42, rainbow and I bet 4,100 and received a quick call. The turn came a 9 and I bet 7100 and again got called. The river delivered another 4, which was not really what I wanted to see. Pulkit was defending very wide indeed and a 4 was quite definitely part of his range. Once he checked though, I was very confident that he didn’t have any sort of monster, and I jammed my last 33k into the pot and started hoping for the call once I didn’t get snapped. Luckily Pulkit called and mucked, and just like that I had a good stack. On the next hand Pulkit shoved from the SB with 7 or 8 BB and I snapped with K6o. He had Q6 and I held.
After this my main goal was to simply avoid losing control at any stage, so I chipped up comfortably, making a few moves occasionally. I eventually knocked out Manoj Singh 4-handed, when he 3-bet called me with ATo against my JJ for about 30 BB. This put Hussain in the very uncomfortable position of being extremely short-stacked against Karan Jain and myself, with us both hoping he would bust fast so that we could lock in a decent score. Eventually I pushed KQ into his Big Blind and he called with 55. Contrary to the PokerGuru reporting, I hit my queen only on the river, which annoyed Hussain very much. At this point Karan and I were both exhausted and in no mood to play a long heads-up battle and we immediately chip-chopped and pushed our stacks all-in blind. I happened to suck out with 24o(!) and just like that I was the PGT POY.
Overall, I was very relieved with my play, since I had been running insanely badly online and this had been causing me to lose confidence, play badly and in general question myself way too much. Winning a tough table like this without too many hiccups was a great confidence boost and I’m sure that soon enough, Stars will turn off my doomswitch, and I’ll be back to shipping more stuff online.