“You’re a dick.” - Lori, to me, after I moved all-in ahead of her for the umpteenth time. Saturday morning I awoke after a trip-record 5 hours of sleep. SoxLover (who was still not feeling his best, but definitely better for the rest) and I headed on down to Caesar’s palace, where the WPBT tournament was to be held. We decided to register for the tournament first before attempting to grab some grub pre-event. Step 1 of the process of registration was to get your Caesar’s poker player card. Sox and I handed over our IDs, mine being a colourful Australian driver’s license, and the nice lass behind the counter disappeared to go and enter our details. A couple of minutes later she emerged with a quizzical look on her face. “Do you two realise that you share the same birthday?” Sox and I looked at each other for a moment. “December 30th?!” We both doubled over with laughter as we took our cards, assuring the poker room employee that she was not, in fact, the victim of an extremely lazy fake ID manufacturer. While I waited to buy into the tournament I saw a few familiar faces, including two that I had been dying to meet. Gracie and Pablo entered the room, and I noticed Gracie noticing me noticing her. She waved, and came on over. “Hi!” I said, giving her a big hug. “Hey!” she said, as way of reply. “Uh, who are you?” Memo to self: remember that just because you know what someone looks like doesn’t mean they know what you look like. As soon as our tournament registrations were in our hands, Sox, Veneno and I busted a move to identify some sustenance. I managed to get my hands on the World’s Messiest Breakfast Sandwich[tm], which I managed to smear all over myself in the process of scarfing it down in 0.3 seconds. We made it back to the tournament area just in time for the speeches to start. You know it’s a pretty tops lineup when Phil Gordon is in attendance, but not to speak… merely to run a Roshambo tournament. Michael Craig, author of the The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King spoke, as did Jay Greenspan (touting his new book Hunting Fish). Howard Lederer spoke eloquently about the fight against the attempted prohibition of Online Poker.
After the fantastic speakers Phil Gordon got up to kick off the Roshambo tournament. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it seems Veneno took the whole thing down! I feel that someone better appraise Phil of what’s going to go down when he attempts to give his “lesson” to the Poker Poison.
Once the dust had settled it was time to find our seats for the tournament. It is inevitable in a tournament like this that you are just not going to find a soft table. It’s not possible. Grab a random sample of nine bloggers who made the trip to Vegas, and I can guarantee you that you would prefer not to have them all on your table.
I got to my seat early, and proceeded to watch the rest of table sit down. Every new person who sat produced a groan from those already seated. The starters on my table were Columbo, Penner (on my direct right, as apparently mandated by Nevada Gaming Commission law), Lori (on my direct left, apparently where you don’t want her to be), Maigrey, CA April, Joe Speaker, SoxLover, and Grubby.
To say my table was tight was somewhat of an understatement. Grubby started out raising quite a bit, but he wasn’t alone… except that a pre-flop or post-flop raise was usually enough to take the pot down. At another table Spaceman tried to push Michael Craig off a hand, and became Gigli. Veneno was second as she was taken down by a Royal Flush (it takes a monster to bring down the Poison).
As this was all happening, our table was still in fold fold fold fold fold fold mode. By the first break (at the end of the second level, each level being 40 minutes) we had seen exactly one showdown. By contrast, the other tables combined had seen 2 Royal Flushes.
I am not making this up.
The blinds escalated pretty rapidly, and I knew that sooner or later I was going to have to play cards. I had won two pots in the first two levels, one with T7o from the cut-off, and one with A9o from the button. Monsters both. At the start of the third level, however, I went on a mini-rush. I received AK and AQ in succession, taking down both pots with pre-flop raises. The third hand, UTG, I received the Hammer. I decided to raise it up only to 2.5 times the blinds… and watched as it was folded around. As I flipped over 72o SoxLover exclaimed aloud, claiming that he read me correctly but didn’t have the cojones to come over the top.
I raked in the chips, happy to at least have a few extra checks to my name. A few hands later I was even happier as I looked down to see two Kings. SoxLover raised it up to 3xBB from EP. I re-raised to 7xBB. SoxLover paused, and then moved all-in. I insta-called, as there was really only one hand I was afraid of, and with the number of chips in the pot and the monster I was holding I wasn’t really going to throw it away. Only problem was that Sox was indeed holding the one hand I feared. No help for me, and all of a sudden I’m a short stack. Sox’s joy was shortlived as the very next hand he pushed his QQ into Grubby’s AA. Aiiyah!
I managed to win pots by being a complete push-monkey when the situation warranted, just keeping my head above water. That’s when I looked down at AQo. I raised it to just over 3xBB, guessing SoxLover’s approximate stack-size. He was in the SB, and after a moment called all in.
“I think I’m live,” he said as he tossed his 78o onto the felt. Indeed he was, as he managed to turn a straight, and all of a sudden I was thinking dark thoughts about my room-and-birthday mate. But I wasn’t dead yet, putting on another "all-in" clinic to steal what I could.
Weak’s wife Amy appeared to replace one of the fallen, and called behind when I raised it up with pocket 9s. SoxLover proceeded to push over the top of me, and I had a decision to make. There were a lot of chips in the pot, but I wasn’t sure what Sox had, though I thought maybe overs. I knew Amy wasn’t that strong, so I decided to get heads up with Sox by pushing all-in. As I expected Amy folded, leaving Sox and I to have at it.
“It’s either a coinflip, or I’m way behind,” Sox announced.
“I’d say it’s a coinflip,” I replied, assuming this meant Sox had a big Ace.
“Oh. No, you’re way behind,” I stated as Sox turned over his 88.
No help for him, and SoxLover was eliminated. I then proceeded to bust Joe Speaker by calling his all-in when he had A2 and I had AJ. All of a sudden my stack size was decent, and I had Speaker’s half-eaten sandwich as a much sought after bounty.
Maudie was moved to my table to replace the fallen Penner, and Ryan came in for the departed Maigrey. Then came a hand which defined my tournament. I was in the BB, and Lori moved in from UTG. Maudie though about it, but as she was in the SB and a short stack she decided to call. I looked down and saw AJ s00ted. Oof. I sat there and agonised over whether to call or not. There was a lot of chips in the pot, and I was fairly sure that I was either a favourite or a coin-flip against the two ladies. Finally I decided that I needed to take a chance, given the blind structure, and I made the call. I was up against 33 (Lori) and A-x (Maudie), so I had the hands pegged correctly, though I would have preferred to have Lori dominated. The flop produced a 3, and that was that. A large pot was pushed to Lori, and I had received a heft setback.
A short time later our table finally broke, and I headed to the one seat at another table… right next to the Good Doctor. Double As, Jay Greenspan and Change100 were also present, amongst other poker luminaries. My table had not gotten any easier. The blinds and antes were now getting pretty huge, and I needed to make a move. The number of people left in the tournament was also dwindling towards the 30 who would be receiving pay-outs. Caesar’s was paying out the top 10 finishers (there were 118 runners), but the good folks at InterPoker were also stumping up $100 to the next 20 finishers.
I once again folded a whole bunch of cards, as I didn’t even see anything I felt warranted a push. My chips stack was dwindling almost to nothing, but I was ignoring the clarion calls in my brain demanding I push. Eventually I was in the SB, and I knew I had to go this hand no matter the action. Jay Greenspan, who had seemed to be getting frustrated at his lack of playable hands, raised it up from late-ish position. I looked down at J5o, shrugged, and called all-in. Pauly in the BB folded, and Jay began to curse to himself about making a move against a short stack. His cursing increased when I flipped over J5, which dominated his 45. A Jack hit the board, and I had some semblance of a stack again.
A few judicious pushes later, and I had the semblances of a playable stack. In MP I looked down and saw a pair of fours, which was better than a lot of the hands I had been pushing with. I thought about just raising it up, but decided to push. It folded around to the BB, where Change100 was sitting. She sat and thought, and while I was already thinking about stacking the blinds and antes Change100 finally called me down. With QQ. Whups!
No magical 4 arrived, and I accepted Change100’s hug as a consolation prize. I presented her with my bounty, the Funkadelic Disco Table Lamp[tm], which she proudly held aloft to the crowd.
I was done in 16th of 118. I was pleased with my efforts, considering the fact that I had run KK into AA early on. I had also been aggressive with my stealing attempts, and been fortunate to have hands hold up when I needed them to. Of course I also had to pay up a last-longer bet to the incredibly lucky Donkey Puncher, who managed to fluke his way into 8th place.
Soon enough the final table was formed, but I was starting to feel the effects of the last few days. I wanted to be in a state to play some more cards that evening, so I made the tactical decision to retreat Excalibur-wards to grab some food and sleep. Soon it would be time to storm the Castle!