I only play in the final ("Championship") event of a series if I've made enough money during the series to cover it or if I happen to satellite my way in. I don't play many "megas" simply because I'm not too fond of rebuy tournaments so I don't often satellite my way in. Therefore, I'm not a regular in the final tournament of a series.
A few years ago I played in one of these "Championship" events. It was a $5k buy-in and I had made enough during the series to cover it. This was the most I had ever paid out of my pocket to enter a poker tournament.
I made it down to the final nineteen and they were paying eighteen places. Eighteenth place paid a little over $8k and, since a $5k entry was such a big deal to me, I was determined to make the cut. I was at a tough table. Chad Brown was one seat to my left and Vanessa Rousso was a couple of seats to my right. Most of the remaining players at the table were professionals. I was a little short stacked at this point but one guy at my table was a little more short stacked than me. Long story short I waited him out and made the money. Of course, by then I was so extremely short stacked that I went out in eighteenth place.
While I was proud to make my money back I have regretted my play at that tournament ever since.
Last year I played in a $1k entry tournament during the Venetian Deep Stack series. I made it to the second day and really close to the money. The first hand of the second day I called a raise with a 20 point blackjack hand. After the flop I had an open ended straight draw and a back door flush draw. I shoved. This was a fairly aggressive move at this point in the tournament. He called with an over pair and I didn't make my draw. Out on the first hand of the second day. I've never regretted that move.
This weekend I played the $50k guarantee tournament at the Beau. I made it to the second day. We had forty players left and they were paying thirty-six places. Ten of us were short stacked (less than ten big blinds). The draw for the button found me in the big blind for the first hand. The action folded around to the button and he limped. The small blind folded. With pocket fives I shoved. Since I had only three big blinds the button limper called. He had 69o and hit a 9 on the turn. Once again, I was gone the first hand of the final day. Again, no regrets. I really believe it was the right play and would do it again.
When I play a tournament I'm not there to min-cash. When we get down near the bubble I'm not generally looking to just make the money. I want to win the tournament. That's just who I am.
I'm not saying my philosophy is right. In fact a really good argument could be made that I'm dead wrong. I bubble a lot of tournaments. I also win a few along the way. My philosophy of not playing for the bubble is consistent with my philosophy of not chopping at the final table. I came to win.
I would welcome any comments.
See you at the tables.