Or, how to blow a golden opportunity to win the first MATH of the BBTwo season. There were 82 runners, a nice increase to the field due to the interest and excitement generated by the new season's prize package.
How I got the chiplead in the early stages of the tournament: I played nearly flawless, patient poker and tripled up to 9100 in chips when I was able to put in the third raise with AA and got both of the initial raisers to call me with JJ and AKs. My hand stood up and I was off to the races.
Then I took over the chiplead when I called a raise and saw a flop with 55, the flop came down ace-high but also with a lovely five, and presto performed its usual magic, stacking someone with AQ. I was now up to 15K in chips and the blinds were only 80/160. Life was good. I reached my highwater mark of 19K in chips when I called a raise in position with A8, saw a 679 rainbow flop, and called a shove by KK. Both of my outdraws hit, for good measure, and I was preparing to coast to the final table as the antes started kicking in and everyone else had to speed up their play to deal with the escalating blinds.
How I lost the chiplead with 30 players remaining:
I played two hands aginst Astin in quick succession ... and made several mistakes which cascaded me into a freefall, crippling my stack. Bluntly put, I made the fundamental error of risking chips in marginal situations that I didn't need to be involved in, something I had carefully avoided so far. My natural instinct with a very big stack is to attack, but when I flat-called Astin's raise of my big blind with 88, I needed to check-fold unimproved rather than bluff a flush when the third spade hit on the turn. He quickly called with pocket jacks and made the flush when the fourth spade came on the river. I double him up and I'm down to 12600 in chips. I'm still comfortably situated at the top of the leaderboard, but with a smaller lead.
About five hands later, Astin raised and I looked down to see AT on the button. I wrongly decided this would be a good time to call in position and try to exact some revenge. Why was this a big mistake, dear reader? Because the flop came down AQT. Astin led out with a bet, I jammed, and he instacalled with bottom set of tens, and I am suddenly crippled down to less than 3K in chips when I can't outdraw with one of the two aces to make a full house. Now, there's no way I am getting away from this hand once I see the flop, and it certainly was a cooler to see the case ten hit the table, but I have no excuse for being in this hand in the first place. I needed to stay patient, wait for a better spot to be the first one in the pot rather than the second, and avoid danger.
The moral of this story: your hand selection and situation selection standards must be maintained at all times. Deviation from those standards can quickly and painfully lead you to disaster.
Soon afterwards, I raised all-in preflop with pocket fives, someone wakes up with pocket queens, and IGHN.
This was a harsh lesson to learn about how to navigate the middle stages of a tournament when you are trying to protect a big chiplead. I trust that I have taken this to heart and won't repeat these mistakes in the future, because I am keen to reach the BBTwo tournament of champions. And I won't be able to do so unless I can eliminate these mistakes from my game.