July 30, 2004

A Rush at the Lake: A $1000 Weekly Bellagio Tourney

Briefly speechless

In Las Vegas early for the next stop on the World Poker Tour at the Mirage, I decided to enter the regular weekly No-Limit Hold 'Em tournament at Bellagio, now a $1000+60 event. Even at that price it sold out every week and, showing up late, I was assigned the spot of 10th alternate. I was seated about a half-hour after the start and got a table where the only one I recognized was Terry Fleischer, who won one of the Festa al Lago events last month. I was immediately on his left so as I sat down I said, "It's your worst nightmare: The Quiet Lion, sitting down on your left." I had been hanging out with the ghetto-raised Paul "Beanie" Nobles in Paris and was learning some trash-talk from him. I was pretty sure Terry had no idea who I was, though.


After several tournaments of tough table draws and no luck at all I got hit with the deck in this one. I flopped a Set every time I bet a pocket Pair; I got Aces twice and got action both times, and when I bully-reraised Terry's late-position open with Ace-Queen suited, he called and the flop came Jack high, two Spades. He checked and I made a small bet with my nut Flush draw and two overcards. He raised all-in for just over the size of the pot and I quickly called. He turned over Jack-Eight, which although the best hand at the moment was actually a dog to my draw. I hit my Ace on the Turn and Terry was out of the contest. He returned to thank me later: apparently he had made a killing in a cash game after busting out. When the smoke cleared I was one of the chip leaders, parlaying my starting 3000 into over 16,000. They broke the table and I moved over to a new table where the only player I recognized was the very tough Tony Cousineau. He moved all in in early position with his short stack on my small blind and I called with Ace-Nine, getting about three-to-two pot odds and hoping he had two face cards. He had Ace-King, though, and it held up so he doubled through me and asked for my address so he could add me to his Christmas list for calling with Ace-Rag. Beanie's spirit was still sitting on my shoulder so I said, "First, Tony, a Nine is not a rag. Rag is defined as Six or below. And second, I figured you were desperate and sitting at a table full of players better than you so you could have had anything." Tony was briefly speechless, which was quite unusual since he was one of the more eloquent and talkative players, and I got high fives from several of the other players. One asked my permission to use the comeback, which I happily granted provided credit was given to Lion Tales.


Before I knew it we were down to three tables with the top nine getting paid. I had about 20,000 in chips when I raised on the button with pocket Sevens. The small blind reraised all in for 8500 more and I decided to call, hoping he had overcards. He turned over pocket Queens, though, and I was down to just over 10,000. I chipped back up with lots of small pots and then knocked out a short stack to get back up to 27,000. We were down to five-handed with 11 players left when I raised in second position with pocket Kings. I was begging for a desperation reraise and got it from the big blind, who moved in. I called immediately but he turned over Aces, which held up. We went to the final table and I was the short stack. My own Shortstack was there sweating me along with my buddy Andy "The Rock" Bloch, who gave me some advice during the break. I managed to outlast two other players, including the guy who had Aces over my Kings, but when I finally moved in with King-Ten I got called by the next-shortest stack with King-Queen. The fact that we both made Trips on the flop didn't help and I was out of the contest in eighth place for a paycheck of $2403. I hoped the rush would continue through the $10,000 Mirage event coming up.


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