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Best of Aaron Todd

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A running diary of Aaron Todd's "Perfect Play"

20 October 2010

By Aaron Todd

The concept was simple. Play in 10 multi-table tournaments on UB.com and see how I shape up in their Perfect Play promotion.

The results? Well, I learned a lot.

The first lesson I learned was this: Know the scoring system. UB.com's Perfect Play promotion gives players points for every player they finish ahead of in a tournament, plus one (e.g., finish 50th in a 100-person tournament, you earn 51 points). And your total points for the promotion are based on how many people you beat in a block of 10 tournaments.

Why is this important? Because it makes the field size of the tournaments the most important factor in choosing which tournament to play. What's easier? Finishing 60th in a 300-person tournament, or winning a 200-person tournament? Well finishing in the top 20-percent of a tournament is obviously much easier than winning one. But that 60th-place finish is rewarded with 241 points on the tournament leaderboard, while the win in the 200-person event gets just 200.

In order to get into the top-50 on the tournament leaderboard, you have to beat an average of 221 players (at least as of Oct. 20). The first five tournaments I played in yesterday didn't even have that many players.

So if you're looking to take part in the Perfect Play promotion, make sure that the tournament's going to be a big one. The best times to play are the 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. ET events during the week, and I would assume most of the events during the weekend.

When UB.com ran this promotion in April, they only had a $10+1 version (it was dubbed Perfect 10 at that time), and players used their top-10 results from the entire month, meaning players could enter all 300 of the events and throw out 290 results. Players were scored using UB.com's traditional tournament leaderboard calculations.

I like the change that resulted in the leaderboard scoring players in 10-tournament blocks. It gives players who don't have time to grind away in 300 multi-table tournaments a shot at doing well. But I think a different scoring system needs to be put in place, should UB.com decide to run the promotion again. I know the traditional leaderboard only awards points to players who finish in the money, but I think you could modify it to award points in every tournament, regardless of whether the player cashes.

Running the leaderboard the way it is currently set up creates a major disincentive to play in the smaller afternoon tournaments. Even if a player had won all 10 tournaments yesterday, they'd rank 36th on the leaderboard. If you go 10-for-10 in a 10-tournament block and you're not at the top of the leaderboard, there's something wrong with that system.

Criticism of the system aside, part of the point of this little experiment was to evaluate my own multi-table tournament prowess. I learned that I play much better when I'm really focused. You'd think I'd know that already, but it was brought home to me yesterday. I don't play in many multi-table tournaments because I usually don't have three or four hours to set aside for a game. But I do play in a few cash games here and there, and I feel like I can multi-table cash games without my game suffering too much. I don't believe I'm capable of doing the same thing in a multi-table tournament – at least not yet. I don't think it's a coincidence that I went 0-for-9 in the first nine tournaments, because in all but one occasion, when I busted from a tournament, I was playing in another one at the same time. When I started the final tournament of the night, I was focused only on that and I ended up finishing 14th of 325. That finish didn't quite make back my entry fees on the day (down $22.28), but I think that lesson was worth the price I paid. From now on, when I'm in a multi-table tournament, that's the only table I'll be playing.

I tracked my results as if they were a block of 10 tournaments, but I did play in one of the Perfect Play events earlier this month. As a result, I have a 312-point head start on my second block of tournaments. I just might have to give it a shot. After all, I'm on pace to beat ARUBA_ROB, who currently sits at the top of the leaderboard with 3,070 points.

What follows is a log of my observations and notes during play in the 10 events yesterday. I mark each tournament in order (T-1 started at 1:30 p.m., T-2 at 2:30 p.m., etc.). There was one entertaining celebrity sighting, and lots of unorthodox play.

Oh, and after re-reading through my log, I think I learned another lesson: I play ace-rag suited WAY too often.



1:30: First tournament begins with 54 players. I'm surprised it's so small. I played in the first tournament on Oct. 1 when the promotion began, just to see what the field was like. If I remember correctly, there were over 300 players.

1:31: First hand, dealt jack-10 suited under the gun. Decided to fold, mid-position player made standard raise and flop came out 10-high. Would have made two pair, jacks and 10s, player who raised had pocket queens and won on the jack-high board.

1:37: IMREADY2PLAY is on a heater. Won with aces vs. kings to eliminate KELLY8707, and two hands later, wins another 945 chips with pocket aces again.

1:53: Already yawning. Not a good sign. Post-lunch sleepiness setting in. Why did I give up soda/caffeine for my New Year's Resolution this year?

1:55: First break. Tournament field is up to 109 players, twice the size it was when this shindig started 25 minutes ago. Remember when online tournaments didn't have late registration? I guess people don't like to play the early levels. I'll be honest, I'd rather have the 135 chips I'm down right now, but after seeing some of the donkeys who got eliminated in the first 25 minutes, why wouldn't you play them?

2:00: Tournament resumes. And I'm to the left of the chip leader, HAMITH. Better than being to his right.

2:07: Just did a search and two of the players at my table are in the top-300 on the Perfect 3 leaderboard – HARRYPUTTER ranks 171, while JENBEAR1 is tied for 251st. Kind of cool to have that information.

2:10: Up to 145 players in this tournament, which means by the time late registration ends, there will likely be three times as many people playing as when it started.

2:19: Just realized that this works differently than I thought it did. You get a point for every player you finish ahead of in a tournament, instead of using UB.com's usual tournament leaderboard formula. So what does this mean? Even if I win all 10 tournaments, I'm probably not going to finish in the top-50, because not enough people play in the afternoon tournaments. The best way to do well in this is to play in the evening and weekend tournaments with big field sizes. That said, I'm still going to give this a shot because I said I would, and because it's an interesting experiment for me.

2:24: A-Q < A-5 on A-10-5 flop. Down to 700 chips (just over 11 big blinds). Ouch.

2:26: Make that seven big blinds … level just went up. And I'm in the big blind. Sweet. Maybe I won't need to worry about multi-tabling after all?

2:28: All in with Ace-eight vs. king-queen, back up to 1,250. Still not much, but there's breathing room. At least I'll make it to two-tabling, assuming I survive the next two minutes.

2:30 Second tournament begins with 42 players. Tournament 1 – 162 entries, 92 left, average stack 2,641, my stack 1,246.

2:34: King-jack in big blind loses to king-queen on king-high flop in T-1. Down to 100 chips, plus 50 in small blind. Forced to fold 8-2 when three people flat-called.

2:38: All in for less than the big blind with K-Q suited in T-1. A-4 takes me down on an A-A-6 flop to finish in 80th place (let it be noted I beat more than half the field). According to UB.com's Perfect Play scoring system, that performance netted me 83 points.

2:42: At the same table with HAMITH, who I was to the left of in T-1 when he was chip leader. Nine hands into T-2, he wins set over set to double up. Must be nice…

2:45: How about this for crazy action? Under-the-gun flat calls for 20, cutoff raises to 100, I re-raise to 300 with jacks. Under-the-gun moves all in for 1500, cutoff calls, I muck. Under-the-gun shows pocket deuces (?), cutoff has queens. Flop brings a jack, of course…

2:55: On a break – starting to get frustrated about being so card dead (down to 960 in T-2). Good time for a break.

3:08: In 112th with 116 remaining in T-2. Glad to see that UB.com pro Mark "P0KER H0" is in 116th. Still have 22 big blinds, so there's time to come back. Need to double up soon, though.

3:12: Ace-queen in big blind, raise, re-raise before it gets to me, have to lay it down. Original raiser folded to three-bet by KRASLICE … wish I'd seen their hands. Tough to know the range there … maybe I should push? Would definitely have seen a call as it wouldn't have been for much more and he would have been priced in.

3:14: Patience rewarded. Ace-king of hearts on button two hands later. Middle-position raise by KRASLICE, called by cutoff, I shove, KRASLICE calls with king-queen of spades, cutoff folds. Two spades on the flop, but an ace as well. Dodge the nine-outer and double up to 1,850. Still below average but enough chips to play again.

3:15: KRASLICE just took down a pot with queen-four off-suit from middle position. He's playing any two. Of course, he's got 1,000 more chips than me, so who am I to argue with success?

3:19: Uh-oh … ace-king off with KRASLICE in big blind.

3:20: Wasn't planning on four callers to my raise … six-six-three on the flop. Checked around, 10 on the turn. KRASLICE min-check-raised another guy – I want no part of this. Yep, four-six off-suit for homeslice. Shocker. Glad I got folded when I did … ace came on the river.

3:22: T-2 has 175 players, 113 left. I'm in 62nd, solidly middle of the pack.

3:30: One hour in, 95 players left, average stack – 2,673. My stack – 1,610. T-3 has 57 players at the start.

3:35: KRASLICE raises, I have Ace-king and bump it all in for 1,200 more, BOWLZHALFULL moves all in behind and shows ace-queen. King on the flop, thank you very much, up to 3,720 in T-2. Up to 24th chip position, tournament pays 27.

3:40: Casino City Managing Editor Vin Narayanan is over my shoulder giving me advice on how to play my hands. Vin is willing to play way more hands with my money than I am willing to play.

3:44: Wow. KRASLICE is a maniac. And I'm the chip leader at my table (fourth overall) in T-2. Ace-queen suited raise to 400 pre-flop. KRASLICE pops it to 1,275 from the big blind, I move all in – he instacalls with jack-10 offsuit. I flop a queen, he flops an open-ended straight, but my hand holds up. Wow.

3:46: Felt like I might be neglecting T-3, just won a few hundred chips when my queen-jack in the small blind made two pair.

3:48: Ouch. My aces vs. queens, all in preflop in T-2. Queen-eight-eight flop. Down to 4,610. Still in good shape though.

3:52: Went to the well one too many times with KRASLICE in T-2. Lost a 9,120 pot with pocket 10s vs. his K-J suited. He called my all-in re-raise for 3,700 more. I showed him nothing but A-K, A-Q and A-A this whole table. He hit a king on the flop. Oh well, 59th place of 175 gives me another 117 points for a total of 200 points on the nose. Can't help but think about all the chips I would have had if I'd won that coin flip, but probably should have waited for a better spot because really, did I think this maniac was going to fold?

3:59: Still reeling over my aces vs. queens and losing the coin flip that should never have been called. Thank God for the tournament break so I can focus on T-3. My head's not in this one at all, but still have slightly more chips than the starting stack.

4:12: Okay, time to focus. Five players at my table in T-3 are in the top-251 on the leaderboard.

4:24: Late registration closed. T-3 has 175 entrants (same as the last one), 115 remain. Average chip stack is 2,282, I have 1,445.

4:25: The jump in blinds from Level 5 to Level 6 is rather jarring. I went from having 24 big blinds (30-60) to less than 15 (50-100). I think this tournament structure could use a 40-80 level.

4:27: Though sometimes the jump works to your advantage. MESSIAHCP called my all-in re-raise with K-Q and most likely would never have done that if I'd had a bigger stack. My jacks held up (wasn't thrilled to see a coin flip, to be honest, but I'll take the win) and I'm back in the game. Chip leader at the table, 28th of 107 left.

4:30: T-4 just starting. I have Absolute Poker's Trishelle Cannatella (TRISHELLE_C ) to my left.

4:31: ALASKANICE76: "Here's someone with a perfect two. Hi :-)" Way to keep it classy, Alaska.

4:33: All in on second hand of T-4, A-Q vs. K-K after an ace-high flop. 3,300 chips, chip leader three minutes in, thank you very much.

4:35: 48 people in T-4 five minutes in.

4:36: TRISHELLE_C moves all in with one flat caller before. Yeah, being to her right is going to be interesting.

4:37: Bad call in T-3 … all-in shove by JENBEAR1, called with ace-10 suited, she had ace-jack. Down to 1600 (10 big blinds).

4:37: In T-4, TRISHELLE_C tells everyone she has to shove because she has a meeting to get to. So yeah, she's taking this one seriously. Can someone say meeting obligations and getting the hell out? Of course, do you really expect the CEREUS Network "pros" to grind away at these $3 MTTs?

4:38: T-3 double up. Ace-jack suited vs. sevens, all in pre-flop. Board made two higher pair. Very lucky. In 28th with 82 players left.

4:42: TRISHELLE_C wasn't kidding. Just moved all-in with jack-deuce, called by ace-five and lost. She's hanging on to 182 chips.

4:43: More classy chat from the table: THOMASECOOP – "I just wanted to be all-in with you." No wonder women don't like poker.

4:44: And TRISHELLE_C is out.

4:46: I'm in 26th of 73 in T-3. Yet somehow I'm in seventh of eight at my table.

4:49: T-3, raised to 500 (1/7th of my stack) from under the gun with A-Q. MIKES COCKED raised to 1,200 and chatted "gl todd" before I acted. Probably would have shoved but the chat was too suspicious. Finally opted to fold and he showed A-K.

4:51: T-4, I keep catching pocket pairs, raising pre-flop and running into resistance when there's an ace on the flop. Someday I'd like to catch a set; have yet to do so today in almost 300 hands.

4:59: Thank God for synchronized breaks. My bladder was about to explode. T-3 – 4,375 chips, 26th of 60 players left. T-4 – 2,040 chips, 24th of 126 players (late registration is still running).

5:01: T-3 is now playing with blinds at 100-200 with a 25 ante. First time I've made it to the ante stage. Will have to pick up aggression a bit and play a few more flops.

5:08: Won a couple hands (7-6 in small blind, flop of 6-6-2, and J-J won pre-flop, to move up to a comfortable 5,300 in T-3.

5:09: Finally made my first set in T-4. Pocket eights turned a set after the big blind called my continuation bet on an ace-high board. Up to 2,560, 28th with 113 left.

5:12: Bad read in T-4 … A-K falls to pocket queens on flop with low cards. I check-raised MONKER71 all-in and lost. Down to 444 (11 big blinds).

5:16: Out of T-3. Made a 1,000-chip raise with A-3 from small blind, CICEROJO called on the button with J-9 suited. Flop came jack high. Shoved all in for 3,100 more, he called, I lost. Forty-sixth place of 175, 130 more points for me, 330 total. Knew I had the best hand pre-flop … should have shoved it then, no way he calls (only would have had 1,000 left).

5:18: Thought I might have three tournaments going at once for the first time, but now I'm in danger of being out of all of them before T-5 begins and having an unscheduled break. Only eight big blinds in T-4, with 10 minutes until the start of T-5.

5:20: Late registration for T-4 is over, 168 runners. 109 left, I'm in 104th. Chip average is 2,311, I have 484.

5:23: Double up in T-4, I have CLASSIC316 dominated with A-10 vs. A-9. Flop cooperates with a 10, too. Double up to 908 chips and up to 94th of 106. One more double up and then I can start to think about making a run again.

5:30: T-5 begins with 47 players.

5:35: Tried to steal with 6-7 suited in T-4 (only had 7.5 big blinds). Called by ace-nine. No help. Finished 86th of 168. Result nets me 83 more points for 413 points.

5:37: Meanwhile, in T-5, I'm on a bit of a heater. Made a sneaky raise from under the gun with 7-8 suited, hit middle pair and a flush draw. Bet it all the way down, and even though I didn't improve, took down a 565-chip pot. Next hand, dealt pocket aces in the big blind. Folded around to SLICK7JR in the small blind, who flat called. I raised, he called. He hit a pair of kings on the flop, called my flop bet and I called his turn/river bets (lots of scary two-pair possibilities out there) and took down a 1,460-chip pot. Made a set of deuces on the next hand to win 185. People probably think I'm crazy, but the only hand I've shown down was the pocket aces. Now have 2,845 chips, in eighth of 86 with about 40 minutes left in pre-registration.

5:47: I'm frozen out of table … no idea what cards I've missed out on … hope it's nothing good.

5:50: I see that I've folded the Doyle Brunson hand, 10-deuce. Didn't miss much. But now I'm frozen again. CANNONSHAN isn't pleased and gives me the classic "zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" in the chat. Oh, thanks. Now that my computer sees that, I'm sure it will cooperate.

5:54: Still frozen out. Thankfully it's early in T-5 and I've got a big stack. Tournament is just about to go on break, anyway.

6:00: Back from break …

6:01: Whoa, not sure what just happened. My computer just shut down the UB software.

6:02: Back in the tournament. Missed a total of 5-6 hands. I know the first four, don't know what I missed since the software shut down on me. Anyway, back from break and I'm in 22nd of 105 with 2,765 chips and am chip leader at my table.

6:09: I see that there's a $50 freeroll starting in five minutes, so I jump into the fray. Going to play it all-in or nothing the whole way. Maybe it will make up for the 10 $3+0.30s I'm going to blow through.

6:20: T-5 is the biggest yet. 185 players, 124 left. Just busted CLEODAS who moved in with a flush draw and one over card to my middle pair. Up to 14th with 3,935 chips, average is 2,237.

6:22: Won another 450, have 1,700 more than any other player at the table.

6:27: Killing this table. 4,960 chips, next closest is 2,845. Everyone else at the table is under 2,000 with blinds at 50-100.

6:30: T-6 starts with 75 registered players. I have a feeling these are going to get bigger and bigger now that people on the East Coast are getting home from work.

6:31: Don't get cocky. Doubled up 11SIMI1127 when he hit a set. I had middle pair and turned an open ender, pushed him all in and he called. Down to 3,755, but still chip leader at the table and 24th of 100 in T-5.

6:32: Got my first pushing hand in the freeroll (ace-king). Took it down, no callers. Will need to finish in the top-18 of more than 3,700 to cash in this one.

6:36: Going downhill in T-5. Lost another 600 or so with jack-nine suited against pocket jacks. Tried to steal the blinds, big blind moved in for another 300 and I was priced in. Bad timing … still second at the table.

6:50: Just made a really bad call with pocket jacks all in pre-flop against two other players in T-6 with a ton of time left. Other players had aces and kings, and I hit a miracle jack on the flop. DARRELL7009 makes this observation which flies in the face of all statistics: "worst hand wins just as much if not more than the best hand."

6:53: BAM – out of T-5. Bad play again. Made a pair of aces on the flop, called all my chips off when a flush hit on the river. Another player already had me beat and was all-in with a set, but I did have him covered, so I would have stayed alive if I'd been smart enough to fold when the flush hit. Finished 57th of 185, good for another 127 points, up to 540 for the series for the first five tournaments in the series.

6:54: Out in 1235th place in the freeroll. Did pretty well (beat 2,500 people) with my all-in or fold strategy. Lost a coin flip that would have put me up to top-20 in chips.

6:55: At the World Series of Poker, players get 90 minutes for dinner break. Here I get five minutes to reheat leftovers from last night that I'll devour while I'm playing. At the break in T-6, I've got 4,450 chips, when I should really be out. Sitting in fourth chip position with 160 players left. This one's already at 194 players, will be the biggest yet.

7:07: T-6 starts right where it left off. Speculated with an eight-nine suited and flopped a flush. Eliminated HIGH_RIDER when he called all in with a better flush draw on the turn. Up to 5,914, in second chip position and more than double everyone at the table with 169 players left.

7:20: Late registration closed for T-6. Final count is 260 entries, top-45 finish in the money.

7:30: T-7 starts with 61 players. Surprised it's that small, actually, but wouldn't be surprised to see it get more than 300 in the end.

7:58: Break time again. Not much happening in the last half hour or so. Seem to be in a decent rhythm. In 19th with 88 players left in T-6, have about 30 big blinds (6,125), but am still chipleader at my table. Going to start to be a shove-fest when blinds go up to 150-300 next level. In T-7, I've got 1,155 chips. Still plenty to play with, but got a little too feisty with a suited six-four that didn't materialize into anything. Time to tighten up and play solid there.

8:05: Well I made the right play. T-6, pocket 10s in the big blind, short stack moves in for 1,000, button moves in for about 1,200 more, and I call off a third of my stack. I'm up against A-Q and A-10. I have to fade five outs to knock out two players, and I'm a 56-percent favorite in a three-way hand. Of course, right on the flop, there comes the ace. Won the next hand for a few chips, but down to 4,800, 36th with 79 players left. If I had won that pot, I'm in the top-five in chips.

8:13: Moved all in with jacks preflop after I was re-raised in T-6. Probably should have gotten away from it. Called by aces, of course. Out in 71st, good for 190 points. Disappointing, since I was in the top-20 15 minutes ago … and I lost a big pot that I was a favorite in … but I guess that's why people say "That's poker."

8:15: Better luck in T-7, though. Moved all-in pre-flop with pocket queens and was called by A-Q suited. Held up and a doubled up to 2,010. Up to 53rd of 170 left.

8:21: Bad play. Didn't look at a limper's chip stack and raised, then was forced to call his all-in with Q-J because I was priced in. Pay attention! Hopefully I can get some benefit out of it with a loose image … now if I can just catch some hands and get the flops to cooperate.

8:23: Late registration closed on T-7. 237 players, 160 left. Average stack is 2,221. I've got 1,689, in 91st of 160 remaining.

8:30: T-8 starts with 70 players …

8:41: Getting real short in T-7. Just 1,339 (nine big blinds) and I'm the small stack at the table.

8:54: T-7, less than 1,000 left with blinds at 100-200, I shoved with K-5 from the small blind after the button flat called. Button had A-K and takes it down, finished in 86th place of 237 for 152 more points, grand total is now 882.

8:55: On break. Pretty discouraged. I'm 0-for-7, have yet to cash. That said, if I make one deep run and finish in the top-five, I'll post a decent profit. This is what's crazy about multi-table tournaments. There is so much variance … I don't think I could have it in me to do this every day. Don't know how the multi-table grinders do it.

9:01: Since I'm playing in the office, I've had to break down and hit the vending machine. Just bought one of those Hostess "fruit pies" that used to cost a quarter at my elementary school's cafeteria. My mother would never let me buy one back then, and now I know why. The thing has 480 calories, 69 grams of carbs, 38 grams of sugar. I should be pretty wired for the next 20-30 minutes.

9:09: Nothing like a 1,720-chip pot to stem those negative thoughts. Flopped an open-ender on a four-way flop, bet it and hit it on the turn. CONNIE246 called me down with top pair and a turned flush draw. Up to 38th with 174 players left.

9:20: Late registration for T-8 is over, 172 players of 255 remaining. Average stack is 2,223, I've got 2,745 and am in 41st position. I'm the chip leader at my table by about 700 chips.

9:23: Never have I been so happy to chop a hand that I was a 70-percent favorite to win pre-flop. A-K vs. A-Q of clubs (ANDREAJONES all in for 800), flop is a queen and two clubs. Turn is a king, giving me the lead again, river is a 10 giving us both Broadway. I'll take it, especially after ANDREAJONES was an 84-percent favorite on the flop.

9:31: Feeling a little woulda-coulda. Folded pocket fours on the button to a pre-flop 10 big blind shove, and would have hit a set (ANDREAJONES had pocket eights, so it was the right move, but still). Next hand, folded 2-6 and would have flopped a straight. Second at the table with 2,700, 56th of 138 overall.

9:33: T-9 underway. 99 players three minutes in.

9:38: Down to 1,030 in T-8. Lost 1,000 with K-3 in the small blind, folded around, pushed the big blind in for 900 more on top of his 150, and he called with A-4 suited.

9:41: Down to 136 in T-8. Pocket eights vs. A-4 suited which made a flush. Out next hand, A-3 all in for less than the big blind, three callers, K-10 makes a full house, of course. Finished 116th for 140 points, up to 1,022 in eight tournaments.

10:00: Back from first break in T-9 soon. Up to 241 players, will likely be the biggest one so far. I'm down 145 from starting stack, in 154th of 196.

10:10: Hoping The Tragically Hip station on Pandora is going to turn my luck around. If I finish in sixth in this event I'll finish with a profit, regardless of what happens in T-10. Only 210 players to be eliminated before I get there.

10:20: T-9 is easily the biggest yet. Since late registration closed at 7:20 PT, players in the entire U.S. are home from standard working hours and are now able to play. Field finished up with 334 players, 230 still left. Average stack is 2,178 … I've got 1,445 and sit in 150th. Payout jumped to the top-63 in this one, and I now only have to finish 7th or better to finish in the black.

10:21: The Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black" came up on Pandora as I wrote that last sentence. No joke. I think it's an omen.

10:26: Four minute unscheduled break. Ran into a set with ace-10 suited. Didn't hit a damn thing on the flop/turn and fired a continuation bet and jammed on the turn. Should be smarter than that. Finished 202nd for 133 points, now have 1155 in nine tournaments (about 128 per tournament).

10:29: That's the first tournament where I didn't last an hour, and didn't outlast half the field. Overall, I've finished in the 58.7th percentile. Not too good, considering you have to finish in the top-15 percent or so to cash in these things.

10:30 Here we go! Last tournament … will do my best to avoid going 0-for-10. T-10 starts with 84 players. I'm betting it will eclipse 350.

10:45: Called a raise from the big blind with A-4 suited and hit two pair on A-8-4 board. Turn? An eight of course. Check-check turn, check-call river vs. ace-10. Brutal.

10:46: Two hands later I hit two pair again with A-3 suited on the button. Original raiser folds pocket 10s.

10:56: Up to 1,905 at first break. Already up to 220 players (in 55th with 181 players left), so this one should definitely get over 300.

11:13: It just keeps getting better. J-10 in the big blind, four-way pot (no raise, and flop comes J-10-6 with two clubs. Two players call my ½ pot bet. Turn is a 10, making a full house, both players call my 1/3 pot bet. River is case 10, giving me quads. Bet half the pot, no one called, unfortunately, but I'll take the 1,200 chips. Up to 2,800, chip leader at the table and 51st of 224 left (up to 299 registered).

11:16: Four hands later, I have A-K in middle position, raise to 100, called by cutoff. Flop is A-K-4 with two spades. Bet 150, called. Turn is five of spades, which puts a flush out there. I bet 400, MZPHYTT raises all in for 530 more, I call and fear seeing two spades, but I do have a redraw with the nut spade flush if another spade comes. MZPHYTT tables K-5 for a lower two-pair, and just for good measure, I get a spade on the river for the nut flush. Up to 4,040, which puts me in 11th.

11:22: Late registration closes and the final tally is 325 players in T-10. 225 are left, average stack is 2,166, I've got 3,920 and am in 19th place.

11:31: One hour in and I have almost twice as many chips as every other player at my table. But I've been in this position before, and look where it has gotten me …

11:36: Moved to a new table, lots of players short stacked here and one player with twice as many chips as me.

11:38: Knocked out 2EZZZ with A-J in the big blind vs. his pocket eights. Hit an ace on the flop and on the turn, money went in pre-flop. Up to 5,185, in 19th with 173 left.

11:55: Made it to the second break with 4,660 chips, in 29th place with 129 players left. Top-63 finish in the money, and I'll need a seventh place showing or better to break even on the day. Still second at my table, four players with less than 2,000, two more with less than 3,000. Leader at the table has 8,700.

12:02: First hand back from break, and four players are all-in. Of course, the pocket fives beat pocket kings, 10s and K-J suited.

12:03: Moved to a new table, guy to my left has 13K chips. Won first hand at the table with A-K suited. Flop came three diamonds. I didn't have diamonds. Fired 1,000 at a 1,500 pot and pre-flop raiser folded. Second in chips at the table, four players with less than 2K. And the antes just kicked in.

12:10: Got lucky to knock out a player out with A-7 suited vs. 10s. Raised to 500 pre-flop and he went all in for 500 more, so I had to call. Hit an ace on the flop and am up to 7,000, 19th of 107 remaining.

12:26: Two players eliminated at my table. Down to 83 players, 20 more to get to the money. Still in good shape, 6,800 chips for 25th position. Have largely stayed out of the fray with one or two successful stabs at the blinds.

12:29: 76 players. 13 more eliminations to the money. In 33rd with 6,600 chips.

12:31: 72 players. They're dropping like flies.

12:32: Knocked out two players and took chip lead at the table with A-Q in the small blind. First all in player had K-J, second had pocket sixes. Flop brought a queen and so did the turn. Up over 13K and in sixth overall with 68 players left.

12:33: Knocked out a super-short stack with A-6 suited vs. 7-8. Up over 15K and in third with 66 players left.

12:34: HILDAHL has 12K chips and is stalling while we're on the money bubble. Seriously? You're in 12th place. Play the hand.

12:36: I'm in third place, and I have 30 big blinds. The average chip stack has 15.

12:37: Playing hand-for-hand now. Hopefully that will speed up the stallers. No point in doing it now.

12:40: And the bubble has burst. In sixth, still solid.

12:47: ACES! And they held up! Up against K-10, got it all-in after the flop when he flopped an open-ended straight, but I had two of his outs in my hand, thankfully. Up over 24K and in third with 51 players left.

12:54: Blinds up to 400-800. Average stack has 13.25 big blinds. Over 24K in mine, but that's still just 30. Sitting in third with 45 players left. Just reached a pay jump, a whopping 49 cents. Pay jumps won't really mean much until this tournament gets down to two tables.

1:03: First hand back from break, I raise from late position with A-8 suited and am priced into a call from the shortest stack at the table, who has ace-nine. Flop is all low cards, but I hit runner-runner hearts to make a flush and knock him out for an 11K pot. Up to 31K and still in third place.

1:04: That was quick … down to four tables, and another pay jump. Up to $5.85 at least.

1:08: Six of the nine players at the table have less than 10K. Also at the table is SEXYPAPA, who's second by just a few grand with 52K. I'm second at the table with 30K, third is VICTORVINCE2 with 17K.

1:10: I min-raise and see a four-way flop with pocket eights, which comes king-jack-10 of hearts, king on the turn. Wasted enough on this hand!

1:11: Moved to a new table immediately, and now I've got HAVINFUNN, who's now in second, thanks to the chips I just gave SEXYPAPA who's taken the lead. I'm third at the table, fifth overall with 32 players left. Five more eliminations and we're down to three tables.

1:12: Blinds up again, 500-100 with 100 ante. Average stack is 16K and change. I have over 28K and am in fourth.

1:17: Just played my worst hand of the tournament, I think. Limped with pocket deuces. Called a flop bet, and bet out turn and river, HAVINFUN hit runner-runner two pair (had nothing when he bet the flop). Donked off a quarter of my stack with that nonsense.

1:19: 26 players, up to at least $7.31. Sitting in seventh, despite my terrible play with the deuces.

1:21: Blinds up again, 600-1200. Just slightly above 18,750-chip average with 21K.

1:23: Moved back to SEXYPAPA's table, in second chip position at this one, but not by much.

1:27: There's 2,500 in each pot preflop, and we're playing seven-handed. Gotta start picking up some of these pots.

1:27: Check that, there's more time now, down to 18 players and we're playing with a full table again (and we hit another pay jump – now up to $8.77 … and they come every three eliminations here on out until the final table). Still have 15 big blinds, sitting in 12th of 18 left. Will need to be selectively aggressive when the opportunity affords itself.

1:29: Ouch. Made the right play, didn't work out. Moved all in from big blind with A-5 with two limpers. K-Q called me and hit a straight on the river for a 15K pot. Down to 11K, in 16th of 18. Tough time to lose as a 60-40 favorite.

1:32: I can't get a raise in anywhere. People keep getting it in before I can, and no way I'm going over the top with queen-nine when they're already pot-committed. The pot has so much in it pre-flop that I've got to get my share, but the people ahead of me keep beating me to it.

1:34: 15 players, up to $10.72. Outlast eight more players and I break even (actually finish with a 63-cent profit) for the day.

1:38: All-in for 10,750 with two red deuces, called by BRAY02, the short stack with Q-10, he hits a 10 and I'm down to 2,300. Lost a 22K coin flip, and he immediately loses it the next hand.

1:40: Practically all-in from the big blind with A-4, call a raise, and of course he has aces. I finish the tournament in 14th of 325, good for a cash of $10.72 and 312 tournament points for a grand total of 1,467, which would place me in 511th on the leaderboard.

(Note: Because I played in the first tournament, I actually have 1,344 and am in 617th …. I obviously didn't do as well in the first tournament I played on Oct. 1 as I did in the last. But my 312 points in the last tournament of the night will count towards a second run of tournaments, should I be able to play nine more before the end of the month).
A running diary of Aaron Todd's "Perfect Play" is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.