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Thread: My biggest tournament poker heartbreaks

  1. #1
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    My biggest tournament poker heartbreaks

    Everyone who has played tournament poker has had their share of key bad beats, key coolers, and frustrating bubble and just-missed-final-table situations.

    Here are the most soul-crushing hands of my tournament poker career:

    1) February 2007, WSOP Circuit $5000 Main Event, Harrah's Rincon

    I fought valiantly against a very tough field from start to finish, never holding a big stack, but nonetheless just five spots away from cashing. My stack was between short and average. 23 were left, 18 spots paid, and hundreds of thousands were there for first.

    I had 9d8d on the button, and Shane Schleger oddly open-limped in the cutoff, which I'd never seen him do before. I decided to raise, the SB folded, the short-stacked Gavin Smith called in the BB, and Shane called. Flop was all diamonds. "Wow!! If I can just get action and fade a bad beat, I'm gonna have a stack!", I thought.

    Checked to me, I bet, and two quick calls. There was a straight draw out there too.

    Turn was an offsuited, non-pairing card which would have possibly made some straights.

    Checked to me again. Pot was big enough to where I had to stick it in at this point, and charge anyone trying to draw for higher diamonds or a boat.

    "All in", I announced.

    Then two snap calls from Gavin and Shane.

    Huh?? What could they have?

    Gavin had AdTd, and Shane had Qd4d. Gavin triped up, Shane (the biggest stack of the three of us) broke about even in the hand, and I was gone.

    I walked out feeling like I had just been kicked in the stomach. Never before had I seen flush-over-flush-over-flush on the flop, and I have never seen it since.

    2) WSOP $1k With Rebuys, June 2007

    This was a rebuy AND addon event. This event was memorable for several reasons -- Negreanu was said to have bought in 48 times (without cashing!), and money was reportedly stolen from the pool by WSOP floormen, as you would rebuy and addon through them, with no record of it anywhere. They changed this in 2008 and made everything done through the cage.

    Anyway, this was going to be a TV final table, but they were only televising once we got down to 9. There were 10 left. Somehow Shane Schleger was there again, but this time he wasn't involved in the heartbreaking hand.

    Full Tilt offered to pay me $15k to wear their hat on TV, if I made the final table, plus bonuses if I got deeper.

    Unknown rec player Barry Cales was in the SB, I was in the BB, and we both had virtually equivalent stacks. We were the shortest two stacks, but neither of us were crippled. Folded to Barry, he raised, I looked down to see QQ, I 3-bet, he went all-in, I called.

    Barry turned over AcKc.

    Safe flop, safe turn, ace of spades on the river.

    I walked away, threw my hat down in disgust, and briskly walked out of the room without saying a word to anyone.

    At the televised final table, the play was unexpectedly crazy, and several people with large stacks melted down. Cales barely played a hand and slid into 3rd place for $235k. I had to settle for $23k.

    3) July 2006, WSOP Limit Holdem Shootout

    It was day 2 of the Limit Holdem Shootout. I had easily won my first table on Day 1. On Day 2, I was also doing well, but so was a fairly unknown east coast player named Rep Porter.

    We got down to heads up, with Rep leading about 60-40% in chips. The winner of this would go onto the 6-handed final table against mostly unknowns (aside from Tom Schneider).

    However, I started off well against Rep, and had ground him down to a short stack.

    I looked down to see QQ.

    I raised on the button, he 3-bet, I 4-bet, he called.

    Flop came low. He check-raised me, I 3-bet, he called.

    Turn came J. He check-raised me again, I was confident I still had the best hand, and 3-bet him. He called. I put him on AJ or KJ, not wanting to see an A or K on the river.

    River came K.

    He fired out.

    I thought, "Mother fuck, he has KJ, just like I thought."

    I called, he showed KJ. Had anything other than a K or J fallen on the river, he would have been crippled.

    He went on to win just about every hand after that, and I was gone.

    4) Main Event, 2010 WSOP

    91 players left in the Main Event, and the reality of the situation was starting to sink in. I was just 90 players away from being the Main Event champion, taking home $9 million, and getting $1 million from Pokerstars to have worn their gear.

    My stack needed improvement, though. It was about half of average.

    I had been short once before, but doubled through a European tellbox who looked like Allen Cunningham.

    His name was Niklas Toorell, and I had another encounter with him.

    I raised UTG with QQ. An aggressive young guy three-bet me from early position, and Niklas was on the button looking SUPER unhappy. He looked like he wanted to play the hand, but wasn't sure if he should. He looked confused as to what to do. I could tell it wasn't an act. He finally went all in.

    Back to me. Do I really put it all on QQ? Normally I'm laying it down here, but his tell was so obvious... he clearly didn't have KK or AA. I thought it had to be JJ, AK, or the other QQ.

    I decided to call. Indeed he had AK.

    A on the flop, and that was all she wrote. I was crippled but not out. On the small bright side, I somehow survived a few minutes more and saw 91st place turn into 88th, good for another pay jump.

    5) WSOP Main Event 2013

    What was arguably my best played Main Event didn't result in a cash.

    I had mediocre cards, but read every hand and every situation so well that I was betting people off with nothing when they didn't have it, and folding when they did.

    On Day 3, an opponent was lamenting in the elevator during a break that I folded to his 4-bet preflop when he had AA, even though his 4-bet wasn't that big. (While he didn't show the AA, he looked visibly upset for quite some time after I folded, leading up to the break!) I had AK on the hand, and I had 3-bet a somewhat tight early position raiser, so he knew I didn't have shit.

    "Am I that obvious?", he asked me in an exasperated voice. "How did you know? How did you lay that down?"

    We were getting closer and closer to the money, but I stopped winning hands, and my stack dwindled down toward the end of the day.

    A guy limped in middle position, and another person limped after him. I looked down to see AK, and shoved.

    The limper snap-called. I knew I had made a huge mistake. He turned over AA, and the board ran out how you'd expect.

    All of those three days of hard work down the drain in one hand. And it had to come down exactly that way. If I had more chips, I wouldn't have shoved, and would have folded to the limp-reraise. If the guy hadn't limped in the middle, I also wouldn't have shoved. Ugh.

    I walked away in shock, even though it wasn't a bad beat at all. I even had a brief panic attack -- the only one I ever had in my life resulting from poker (and the first one in my life ever) -- and had to sit down for about 10 minutes in order to feel well enough to walk back to my room.

    6) June 2012, WSOP $5000 Limit Holdem Event

    I really wanted to win this event, and I wasn't in bad shape. There were 19 people left, and I had a slightly below average stack. 18 spots paid a minimum of $11k.

    Blinds were big, however.

    I didn't fear the bubble, and played 4 premium hands. I lost the first three, including an AQ against Ray Dekhargani on my button versus his BB where I c-bet the low flop, and then actually checked the Q turn behind, believing that I was actually not ahead. He fired the river, I called, and indeed he had flopped two pair. I was proud of myself for that turn check, which I usually would never do in limit holdem.

    Then I got AK all-in against the BB's 62o. Came A62, I didn't improve, and I was the stone bubble boy.

    German Pokerstars all-star B00mslang came in 20th, also in somewhat heartbreaking fashion.

    He saw what happened to me, and told me he wanted us to "go and get drunk". Despite being a non-drinker, I considered it, but my stomach hurt too much from what happened. I politely declined and went back to my room.

    A year later, in 2013, I announced that my goal was to avenge this bubbling, and make the final table in this event. That's exactly what I did, finishing 5th.

    7) June 2009, WSOP $1500 NL Holdem 6-Handed

    With 94 people left, and easily in the money, I had an average stack in this event.

    I had AT, and the flop came T-7-3 rainbow.

    There were like 3-4 of us preflop, and I was in latest position. I got check-raised all-in on the flop.

    Now I had a decision to make. Do I put my tournament life on the line and throw away an average stack with just KT here?

    If I had a shorter stack, or if we were both large stacks, the decision would be obvious, but here I had just enough chips to where it was tough. I could be drawing almost dead.

    I decided there was just too much of a chance he flopped a straight draw or held JT/QT. I also was just getting a vibe from him that he wasn't strong. If I was wrong and he had AT or better, so be it.

    I called.

    He looked unhappy, and flipped over QT. YES!!!

    Q on the turn.

    Just as I walked out in 94th place, the star spangled banner started playing, because they were doing a bracelet ceremony. Lovely.

    8) Aruba Poker Classic, October 2007

    2007 was sure a bitch of a year for heartbreaking poker hands.

    I was given a seat for free by UB, and made the most of it, in this $6k buyin event.

    Despite not getting many cards, I was running over the tables of a lot of passive recreational players who had won their way in, and was able to stay afloat for a long time, though never with a big stack. I just wasn't hitting flops, but I stole enough to run deep with a perpetual short-average type stack. In reference to my aggression, one player called me the "short big stack".

    The oldest person in the tournament -- a guy who was 76 but looked and acted 86 -- was to my direct left. He was exactly what you'd expect, shaky-handed, passive, and confused.

    I had A5o on the button, and raised. He called from the SB, BB folded.

    Flop was Q55. Excellent!

    He check-raised me all-in. I was thrilled to see this. I knew he didn't have QQ, and unless he had Q5 (unlikely), I was going to double up and finally have a nice stack.

    I called. Indeed, he had K5, and I was in great shape.

    K hit the turn, and after a blank river, I was headed for the rail.

    As I walked away in frustration, a player from the table ran up to me and told me, "You were the best player at the table by far. You deserved way better than this."

    I thanked him, and it felt good, because especially in 2007, I was still feeling my way around NL tournaments. It wasn't much of a consolation, though, especially given how weak this field was, and most of the good players were already out.

      DirtyErnie: enjoyed this

  2. #2
    This was good - I enjoyed reading it.

  3. #3
    Very good/fun read.

    I'll share some of mine.

    April 2010 - $215 Pokerstars Sunday Million

    I had just started getting into Online poker. I was obsessed with it and it annoyed my girlfriend at the time who lived with me.

    I was playing like $2-$10 tournaments and had sattied into the Sunday Million for like $22.

    With 100 people left I was 3rd in chips. It was REALLY late at night (like 1am or 2am) and my girlfriend woke up and was like "Are you going to bed soon, you have to work in the morning" I explained to her I was still in this big tournament and was doing really well. She gets pissed off that I'm up on a Sunday night/Monday morning playing a "Stupid Game"....I tried explaining that it was for real money, but she just kept up with her attitude and it lead to a HUGE argument.

    I remember that she pissed me off so bad that it literally put me on TILT and I ended up pissing all my chips away by playing stupid. This was honestly the first time that I ever experienced tilt.

    I ended up going out in 69th place for like $2k. First place was a little over $200k.

    (A month later I had my first ever live 5 figure score and the girlfriend finally realized poker could bring in some money.....we were only together for maybe another year before she dumped me for another guy)

    2013 $350 - CPC. Had 5,165 entries that created a $1.1 milly prizepool. & $170k to first

    With approximately 200 people left. The chip average was around 260k. I remember peaking at around 800,000.

    I had an aggressive Asian 2 to my right. (Kenny Nguyen) and he also had a lot of chips. I remember it seemed like he was playing every hand.

    I had 3 bet him several times, and he always called, and outplayed me post flop.

    With blinds at 5k/10k. I looked down at AKdd. Kenny had limped in from MP and I raised to 30k and Kenny called.

    Heads up to a flop of Jx 10d 7d.

    Kenny leads out for 50k. I raised to 130k and Kenny shoves all in for around 600k. I eventually called and Kenny turned over Jd 9d.

    I bricked out and Kenny won with a pair of Jacks. I was left with less than 20bb and never recovered.

    I ended up cashing for $699 which was LOL because I was in the tournament for 2 buy-ins for a total of $ I lost $1 on the tournament.

    Oct 2013 - $365 WSOPC Ring Event

    Backstory with Villain.

    In this tournament with about 5 tables left, I got involved in a hand with a guy. I had Q8ss and it folded to me in the SB and I raised, and the BB tried to raise, but made a mistake and was forced to only call by the dealer.

    The flop came QJT all clubs. I checked and the BB put in a bet. I remember picking up something on him that made me believe he didn't have a club, so I ended up check/shoving on him. After I shoved he started cursing under his breath about not being able to raise preflop and how this is such a sick spot...eventually he looks at me and tells me he didn't have a club. (WHEW). He eventually CALLS and turns over 2 red KINGS. The turn was a Q and I doubled up against him.

    FAST FORWARD. We get moved from each others table at the redraw to 27.....

    Then I get moved back to that table with 18 players left. I was probably 4th/5th in chips and the guy from the previous hand was in 2nd/3rd in chips. The Chip leader had a pretty dominant lead at the time....

    The very first hand with 18 players left, I am on the button with KK and it folds to me and I make a standard raise. The villain from the previous hand is in the BB, and he 3 bets me. I 4bet him and he ends up shoving. I leveled myself into thinking that he was steaming from me beating his KK and call (probably wasn't folding anyway) and of course he has AA and I go out in 18th.

    2016 Online Bovada tournament - $215 BI - $250k GTD

    Made the final table 3rd in chips.

    Very first hand I get KK on the button and raise...the BB who was the chip leader shoves, I call. He has KQ and the flop is 910J. I went out in 9th for like $4,800. First place was close to $60k.

      sah_24: lol why would you stay with her after she cost you heaps of equity lol ... yikes

  4. #4
    "In Confessions of a Winning Poker Player, Jack King said: 'Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems.....but every player can remember, with remarkable accuracy, the outstanding tough beats of his career.'" - Mike McDonald, Rounders

      sah_24: It's so true, vivid memories lol

    "Donk down, thatís what you say to someone after they have lost 28K straight?" - Phil Hellmuth, online

  5. #5
    Gold sah_24's Avatar
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    I have like 3 that stick out

    1. 18 left in a stars $109 with like 35k up top, I have faraz jaka to my left playing like a maniac as usual. I pick up kk with a raiser in front, I chose to flat bc with him behind and the stacks being deep enough I figured he would get tricky. He does and squeezes, original raiser shoves, I call, Jaka calls. OR has 10s Jaka has 7s and I lose to both ...

    2. 22 left in the first or second "double deuce" that ever ran on FTP, I can't remember what 1st was but it was between 35k - 40k. I pick up AA, open and subiime 3bets me, folds back to me I click it back and he ships like 40 bbs with 10s, I obv call. Flop comes all low with me having a flush draw so he only has 1 good 10 now. Brick turn and the obv 1 outer OTR ...

    3. This one is less bad but felt more painful, 1k at Turning Stone in 09. I have a decent stack on the bubble, with like 40k up top. I pick up QQ in mp, open and it folds to the most aggro player at the table on btn, he 3bets me and when it folds back I just decided I didn't want to get pwnd postflop oop so I just stuck the rest in, and he calls with AK. Like in Druffs QQ situation, 4 bricks, and then the fucking A of spades on the river. Had to be for a top 5 stack, was only a flip but man it stung lol ...

  6. #6
    Easily my biggest hurt:

    Q -10 suited
    Reading Just Stanley's thread and last post therein about best poker scenes made me think of this crushing experience:

    Q-10 cost me $200k plus a chance to go heads up with Phil Hellmuth for another $100k. I was playing in a VIP event at Aria. I often degen in the pits so get these invites. Anyway, about 150-200 ppl. Some bounties for some poker stars b/n 1k-10k, Doyle I remember was $10k but they put some bigger degens on his table on purpose. I knocked David Benyamine who is also a true degen and mike sexton out for bounties - something like $1-2k each. So, it gets down to final table, about 8-9 of us left. I was cheap leader and one other guy had a little less than me. Everyone else was just hanging on as we were in the money as they were paying 10 spots. 200k first place. winner plays hellmuth heads up for another 100k. he was emcee of the event. I get q-10 suited. flop comes Q -6- 10. he bets, I raise, he goes all in, I call. He has K-J and hits the A on the river. I was paid something like $10k promo chips. I was devastated in every sense of the word as I had been really hurt that year gambling.

    Even when you are right, you can still be wrong.

      simply1: tough one

  7. #7
    Platinum duped_samaritan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sah_24 View Post
    1. 18 left in a stars $109 with like 35k up top, I have faraz jaka to my left playing like a maniac as usual. I pick up kk with a raiser in front, I chose to flat bc with him behind and the stacks being deep enough I figured he would get tricky. He does and squeezes, original raiser shoves, I call, Jaka calls. OR has 10s Jaka has 7s and I lose to both ...

    Name:  63095717e74e4f04f261d458cbbb6e77.png
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      sah_24: Lol yes your knowledge of anything is shit ... that is correct lol
      Crowe Diddly: offsetting dickhead's ignorance

  8. #8
    Platinum duped_samaritan's Avatar
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    sah_24: Lol yes your knowledge of anything is shit ... that is correct lol
    calm down -
    faraz jaka is 'the_toilet' on stars

      DirtyErnie: zoom! over the fellas head rep

  9. #9
    Gold sah_24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by duped_samaritan View Post
    sah_24: Lol yes your knowledge of anything is shit ... that is correct lol
    calm down -
    faraz jaka is 'the_toilet' on stars
    Wrong ... as always when you post. He was actually the_toilet 0 dumb fuck

      duped_samaritan: *hug* hope that helps

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