May 15, 2004

Is there no limit to this tournament? Another $1500 WSOP No-Limit Hold 'Em Tourney

Elevator operator

I licked my wounds from the two quick exits, got through the deluge of fan mail telling me how badly I played my final hands, and signed up for the next event, another $1500 No-Limit Hold 'Em tournament. The attendance at these things was remarkably stable: 834 players entered, making a prize pool of $1.15 million after the 8% juice. I got a table in the actual poker room, table five, seat four. In seat one was Chris Hinchcliffe, WPT finalist from the PartyPoker Million cruise that I cashed in, and in seat seven was The Champ: Chris Moneymaker, winner of the 2003 WSOP Championship. I'd played with Money before and wasn't worried about having him on my left as he tended to play tight early. Hinch, on the other hand, was playing super-aggressive. I chipped up early, reraising two different players before the flop when I got pocket Queens and Aces and not getting a call either time. I showed the Aces after reraising all in and Hinch shook his head and said, "Wow." "I played it wrong?" I asked "Smaller raise," he said, and I saw his point, but Aces are tough to play after the Flop so I just played it conservative.


When the Norwegian to my right limped in early position I called behind him with pocket Fours. It folded to Hinch on the Big Blind, who told the dealer to bring it. The flop came Five-Four-Deuce, giving me middle Set. Hinch checked and seat three bet the pot. I smooth called, hoping I wasn't going to go broke to a Set of Fives. Hinch called as well. The Turn brought another Deuce, giving me a Full House. Hinch checked, the Norwegian moved all in, and I called. Hinch mucked and seat three turned over pocket Sixes. He didn't hit his two outs and I eliminated him, doubling up early. Hinch said he had flopped a Straight and kicked himself for slowplaying it but it would have come out the same because I wasn't laying down that hand.


Paul "X-22" Magriel, WPT finalist and backgammon expert, sat down in seat three. Every time he raised I asked, "Seven Deuce offsuit?" Finally he said, "You watch too much TV." Hinch didn't respect Chris Moneymaker's reraise and called with Ace-Queen. Money's Kings held up and Hinch was down to the felt, busting soon after. I didn't play many more hands and went to the first break with 3250 from my start of 1500.


Right after the break they broke our table and I moved to table 69, seat six, with Card Player publisher Barry Shulman on my left. Barry liked to play a lot of hands and I lost a couple small pots to him, bringing me below 3000. Then I limped with pocket Eights under the gun and got a call from the chip leader in seat one. The Flop came Queen-Eight-Seven. I got it all in against his Ace-Queen and I doubled up again to 5450. Then the short stack in seat four opened on my Big Blind. I saw Ace-King and reraised him all in. He called with pocket Tens, which held up when I flopped my Ace but he made a Set. Then I got into another pot with Barry when I opened with Ace-Jack and he called. The flop came Jack high, two Clubs. I check-raised him all in and he called with King-Queen of Clubs, winning when the Ace of Clubs on the River gave him the nuts. I was down to 1850. Justice reigned when I flopped a Set of Nines in a multi-way pot and seat nine called my all-in. I practically tripled up to 5000 and felt like the elevator operator who was asked how he liked his job: it had its ups and downs. I knocked out seat three in a coin flip and when they broke the table I was up to 6300.


I moved to table 10, seat five. Chad Layne, a very tough player, sat to my right, which was where I wanted him. I opened with pocket Kings and got a call from the loose player on the Big Blind with a very curious expression on his face that I didn't know what to make of. The Flop came Queen-Queen-Deuce. He checked and I bet half the pot. He thought a moment then pushed his cards to one side as if to fold but at the same time emphatically said, "I'm all in!" The dealer had touched his cards and he yelled, "What are you doing?" and grabbed them back. I thought for quite a long time. If I called and he had me beat I would be down to 1000 and crippled. I had a feeling that his over-dramatic act was concealing a big hand and trying to make me think he was bluffing so I laid it down.


They moved us en bloc upstairs, bagging our chips for security, and we played one hand before they broke the table. I moved to table 88, seat one. Unfortunately Chad was still with me and now on my left in seat four. Ron Faltinsky had seat eight and Annand "Victor" Randin, finalist at the Showdown at the Sands, was in seat nine. Some guy in seat six was getting a chair massage and when he looked up I saw it was Daniel Negreanu, one of the hottest and toughest players on the circuit. I knew he would be testing me so I went right after him and won a small pot, giving me 5200 at the break.


For the next half-hour the poker gods smiled on me or, more importantly, they frowned on everyone else. I seemed to be the only one at the table getting any cards and I just picked up blinds and antes like a madman. I was up to 12,000 when Ron Faltinsky moved all in for almost 4000. I saw Ace-King and called. He had Ace-Queen, making me a big favorite, but he hit one of his three outs and doubled up on me. I reraised two players all in with pocket Kings on the last hand before dinner. They folded and I entered the break with 8000.


Chad and I went to the buffet and had a variety of mildly appetizing selections washed down with iced tea.


After dinner I lost a couple small pots and was down to 5000 when I opened in late position with Ace-Nine. Chad called on the Button and the Flop came Ace-Ace-Eight. I thought about the best way to get all my chips in and decided to just move all in and hope he would call if he had a Pair. He did call, but he had the last Ace, with a Queen. I still had a 30% chance of winning or splitting the pot but the poker gods had had enough of me and I was out of the contest, finishing 126th and just out of the money.