Back at the Wednesday comp at the Market Tavern, but in the free league this time (I figure I need the practice, and the bankroll is looking decidedly unhealthy). Had a great night, picked up strong cards approximately when I needed them, but also played good, Casino Malaysia. I think I was playing the best I have for the last two months. I guess it does take practice to get back in form.

I trapped well with a set and a straight – my two best hands for the night, but also played hands conservatively were I could have been trapped. So when I did lose chips, it was the minimum. I lost one big hand to an all-in that hit their boat on the river to my straight on the turn, but I had accumulated enough chips by that stage to still have a mid size stack left.

Went to the final table with 12,000, third in chips to a 20,000 and 18,000 stack. With the blinds at 1,000/2,000 and then 2,000/4,000 I pushed hard with hands like A J and 9 10 suited to limped pots. It wasn’t long before I had taken command of the table and was chip leader with 25,000.

Ended up head-to-head with 34,000 against a 19,000 stack. He min raised my BB to 8,000 and with A 6 suited, I re-raised all-in. He thought about it for a while and then called, showing J 8 (??? go figure). The flop came A 8 6, the turn was a blank, and the river was an eight and the chip lead swapped.

Well, with some aggressive play I got back to almost even with the blinds at 3,000/6,000. However at 5,000/10.000 I got four hands of unplayable cards and my chip stack was down to just 19,000. In the BB with 6 3 I had no choice but to call his min raise. I figured I would have two live cards at least, however it was better than that with my opponent showing K 4.

There was a king on the flop, and another on the turn and that was it for me. A creditable second.

t one point I was down to just over 2,000 with the blinds at 150/300 – a situation that was created when I called and all-in bet from an A Q, against my pocket queens, and lost when they made a straight on the river. I then doubled up with K K against a 10 J, and almost doubled again, against another short stack’s all-in when my paired K Q made trips Kings on the river against their paired Ace with A Q.

Some more prudent aggression and considered calls and value bets built my stack back up to just under 17,000 – about 3rd place to the remaining 7 players. With the blinds now at 400/800, I figured I was in a good spot to cash, as long if I kept on form.

But alas, disaster. With pocket 7’s I in early position I raised 2,400 pre flop. Ken ‘calling station’ (and the chip leader) on my left called and everyone else folded. The flop came 3c, Ad, 6c. Now Ken will generally call any pre-flop raise if he has an ace, and will call any bet to the river if he connects with the flop in any way. I knew that. I knew that with and ace on the flop, if I bet and he had hit he would call any size bet.

So for some bizarre reason, after almost six hours of careful concentration and thoughtful play, I had a brain spasm and pushed all in. Ken insta-called, and showed As 2h. My pockets didn’t improve and that was it for me. Ken went on to cash in 3rd place.

I guess in my defense, Ken would also just a likely call any bet to the river if he had a hand like K 3 or j 6. Also, I had showed no bluffs for the entire game, and the hands that people had seen of mine called to the river had always been the best hand on the flop. One hand I had shown to folds on the turn had been pocket kings. My table image had to be super-tight. A hand for me like A K or Ac Qc was very plausible to credit me with I would have thought. Although apparently not.

But it was a really stupid move by me. I’ll be kicking myself for some time over that one.