We started with 18 players, but it didn’t take too long for the numbers to start to drop down. My morning was off to a slow start, similarly to Round 3, with many junk hands. The number of times I was dealt a four was amazing. I did eventually get pocket jacks, but I just didn’t play them well and lost the pot to Aces. Even with good cards, you need to protect your hand or get out quick. I’m not sure what would have been the better move, but it was a lesson that cost me a decent part of my stack.

As the day continued, I found myself extremely short-stacked, so I waited for decent cards and a good position to do some “all-ins,” knowing likely that I will probably be placing 12th in the tournament. With some luck and a few good cards, I managed to pull myself up a bit. Before I knew it, the tournament was down to the final 9 players and somehow I was included! I was excited to sit at the electronic table that I had setup for many finalists before me. I started the Final Table in 6th place. While most people were playing loose, I kept it tight, which unfortunately kept my chip count on the low side. But as long as you’re still in it, you can win it.

As other players dropped out and the blinds increased, my lack of chips was becoming more apparent. The only move left is to start going all-in with decent cards and hope for the best. So when I was dealt K♣T♥, I went with it. Luckily, my other King appeared and I recouped some chips. Shortly thereafter (and still behind), I got another strong hand of KQ and probably should of just gone all-in, but alas, I stayed put. The board came up with AQ6, and at this point I didn’t have much of a choice given the few chips I had left, and called the bet. My opponent had K9 and thankfully nothing came up that helped him. So I doubled up once again.

I managed to double up one more time after that hand, which gave me a bit of a healthier stack as the players dwindled. Besides these all-in plays and stealing the blinds a few times, I stuck it out until there were only three of us remaining. Still being the short-stacked player with only three people remaining makes it hard to wait for decent cards to come. The blinds are high and quickly moving around the table. I got a A♥3♦ and decided to play them. Only one person calls my bet. The board comes out at 5♠3♣4♦ and I bet the same as before. My opponent raises to put me all-in. At this point, I know I don’t have much to work with if I fold now, and there are still a few outs possible. I wasn’t raised initially so I didn’t think that he had a pocket pair, so I just went with it…it worked so far. He flipped over 4♥8♥ so I was a bit nervous at this point. The rest of cards that came out were 9♠ and T♦. And with that, sadly, my poker playing had come to an end by losing to a pair of 4s. Not the most dramatic ending! However, the fact that I was the low stack for most of the Final Table and yet battled my way to 3rd place is a great ending. I certainly need to work on my strategy, but overall I’m very happy how it turned out. I can’t wait to try again next year!

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