In April 2018, I attended the World Championships of Amateur Poker in Manchester. I played in the Champion of Champions Event and managed to make the final table alongside two fellow members, Dawn Cooke and Steve Redfern. As the tournament progressed, Steve and I were both chipping up nicely and were the top two stacks when the cash bubble loomed. First prize was the prestigious WCOAP bracelet, the honour of being the Champion of Champions, a trip to Las Vegas and a cash prize of around £700. The bubble had still not burst when I picked up AJ suited in late position. I raised pre-flop and only the Big Blind called. The flop was 9 9 7 rainbow. I checked and so did my opponent. The turn brought an ace. I led out for half the pot and my opponent min-raised me. I called the bet. The river was a brick. My opponent then shoved all in which was for two thirds of my stack. I agonised for ages and when I reflect on this whole hand, it should have been an easy fold. There was a lot at stake and would he really risk all of his chips in the hope that I had nothing. Eventually, I made the error of calling and he had a set of nines. This mistake cost me the chance of winning the tournament and my opponent is currently in Las Vegas with his winnings. I went on to make the minimum cash with the risk of actually going out on the bubble. This cost me sleepless nights and poor Dawn listened to my story numerous times on that trip.
Moving on to the local tournament that I played in on Friday. Top prize was £270. The standard of play is weak although there are a couple of players that are good thinking players. About half way through the tournament, I picked up KJ suited. I raised pre-flop and it folded round to the button. He called my bet and the blinds folded. The flop was 9c, Jc, 4h. I placed a C bet with my top pair and my opponent proceeded to shove all in. We were still deep in stack sizes and he had me covered. I proceeded to go through my thought processes and I put him on either an over pair or a set. I still considered this a strange move because if he did have any of those hands, then he could have got more chips from me further down the line. However, the standard of players levels is a lot lower and so I made the fold with my top pair. If I had made the call and got this wrong, my tournament life was over. He never showed what he had but I believe that this decision led to me making the cash for a five way chop in the early hours of the morning. I certainly learnt from my mistake in April. It is not worth risking a large portion of your chip stack in marginal situations. It can cost you dearly. If in doubt, throw it out.