Well, today I took yet another shot at the small buy in ($100+$25) live no limit tournament at the local poker room. It was identical in structure and organization to last week's tourney. The prize pool (after rebuy's and addon's) was virtually identical to last week, roughly $36k. They paid the top 10 finishers (out of 150 entrants), with the top 4 finishers additionally getting an entry into a $1500+$80 tournament in October.
Again I employed a very aggressive strategy when we started getting close to the bubble. I stole repeatedly from players trying to make it to the money. I've got a much better feeling for how much of my focus should be on identifying weak players or players who are just trying to survive. Some very weak players will fold in the blinds to as little as a miniraise from a late position raiser, and it is critical to not miss these golden opportunities (small risk for decent reward..) in such a fast structure tournament. Basically, it is important to identify what is the minimum amount you need to raise to steal someone's blinds.
I believe I was the one who was all in on only 3 occasions. Once with QQ preflop with 16 players remaining and got called by both blinds (they both checked it down but the board was all rags), second with 5 players remaining with KTo when I open pushed from the SB with 5x BB when BB woke up with QQ (the door card was Q, but the flop also contained AJ, yowza!), and third when I pushed on the flop with 2 overcards and a flush draw with 4 players remaining.
I faced a tough decision when there were roughly 20 players remaining, and 2 very desperate short stacks (of roughly the same size) went all in preflop and it came to me in the big blind where I was getting 4:1 to call with T6o. So long as neither opponent had a pocket pair bigger than Ts, I believe I was getting the right price to call. Neither opponent looked comfortable with their hand. I made the call, facing pretty much the best situation I could hope for - one opponent had an underpair 55, and the other had 1 overcard K8o. I did not win this hand, but I do not regret this call. (I ran the numbers at home, and I had a 33% pot equity)
I think the risk reward was worth it, although my immediate neighbours were shocked with the call. Again, an additional benefit is that no one tried to steal my blind without a strong hand after this.
Come to think of it, the T6o hand was the only hand in the entire tournament that I called any one's all in. Even more generally, it was the only raise I called. Hmmm... Fold equity is pretty darn significant.
In the end, I finished in the top 3. At that point, we agreed on an even chop. I'm pretty happy with the deal because I think I was the short stack with somewhere around 25-27% of the chips. The chip leader had roughly low 40's% of the total chips. I believe I am a moderately better no limit tournament player than the chip leader (who is quite the gambler), however with avg chips being 210k and blinds at 10k/15k and rising in a 2 minutes, I was more than content with making an even three way split.
Since I already won a seat in last week's tournament, I was able to take the cash value of the seat. Good times...
Some uncomfortable situations came up immediately following the tournament. A complete stranger came up to me out of the blue and asked me for a small "loan". I hadn't even counted my prize money yet. There had been a moderate number of railbirds - perhaps 3 dozen, watching the final action, so it was no secret how much money each person won.
I politely refused, and got the hell out of there. Just as I was getting in my car, yet another person did the same thing. Again I politely told him no, and immediately drove off. I felt so uncomfortable that I kept my eyes open on the drive home to see if anyone followed me. I admit this is excessively paranoid, but I didn't like that situation at all.
I can only imagine how much of this kind of thing the big tournament winners go through.