July 7, 2004

What, no TV? The 2004 Bellagio Festa al Lago Championship

Teddy bear, teddy bear, what have you got?

What with the lack of TV coverage and all there were only 181 entrants in the $10,000+200 No-Limit Hold 'Em event that concluded Bellagio's Festa al Lago. I got table 41, seat three. Celine Dion's husband, Rene Angelil, was in seat one. Ted "Teddy Bear" Forrest was glued to my left hip in seat four and Tracy Scala, who had knocked me out of an earlier event when he made a Straight to beat my top Pair, had seat five. Dan Alspach, who made the final table at the recent televised Plaza event, had seat five. David "Harpo" Levi, a major-tournament regular, had seat seven and a scowling Asian man named Tommy who apparently was a high-stakes cash game player had seat eight. We started with 20,000 in chips and I played carefully while Teddy Bear accumulated a ton of chips by making good calls of other people's bluffs on the River. At the end of level one I had 22,750.


The blinds went up to 50-100 and I continued to play conservatively, losing a couple small pots and finishing the level down a bit at 17,200. There was still plenty of time so I continued to look for opportunities to win chips. Ted Forrest busted Rene and his mountain of chips continued to grow. I found pocket Queens under the gun and limped with them to mix it up. It folded to the big blind, who raised. I made a nice reraise and he moved all in. I spent quite some time looking into his soul but I couldn't see anything. Finally he called for the clock. I decided he didn't have Kings or Aces and I called. He turned over Jacks, which didn't improve, and he was busted. I had 31,500. Then I limped late with Sixes in a multi-way pot and the flop came King-Nine-Six. Dan Alspach bet and I made a pot-sized raise in case he had a draw. He called. The Turn looked safe so when he checked I moved all in. He immediately called and turned over Big Lick: Nine-Six of Spades. Only one of the two remaining Nines could save him and they didn't come so he was busted and I now had a whopping 61,600. I won some blinds and went to the break with 63,000 even.


When we returned the blinds were up to 100-200 so I thought I should start bullying. I raised in late position with Jack-Nine of Diamonds and got three callers including the short-stacked David "Harpo" Levi. The Flop came Nine-Nine-Seven. We got it all in with his Overpair and to add insult to injury I got the last Nine and a Jack. Harpo was busted and I was flying high with 67,500. Then Jack McClelland came by and announced "Richard Brodie has about 80,000 in chips," an announcement that shall hereafter be know and the "Jack McClelland Jinx." I raised with Ace-King and got my usual call from Teddy Bear on my left. The flop came King-King-Ten, two Spades. I bet out and he called, so I figured he had a Pair, a Ten, or a Flush draw. If he had King-Queen or King-Jack I was going to get some serious chips. A Spade came on the Turn. I decided to check, to let him bluff at the flush if he didn't have it. He bet 5000 and I raised 10,000 more. He called, so I figured he had a small flush but with a Pair on the board he didn't want to push it. The River was a blank and I checked, thinking I was probably beat. He bet 14,500, which I reluctantly called. He turned over King-Ten of Clubs for the nut Full House. Yikes! I was lucky not to lose more on that hand. I was down to 29,000. I played hard and chipped back up to 38,000 at the break, just above average.


After the break the blinds were 100-200 with a 25 ante. I got a free flop with Four-Deuce of Clubs and it came King-Seven-Three, two Clubs. The kid who had sat down at my right  bet 1500 and I called with the Flush draw. The Turn was a Five, giving me an open-ended Straight draw as well so when he bet 3000 I put him all in for about 19,000 more. He called right away with a Set of Sevens. I didn't hit any of my 13 outs and I was down to the felt. Then I picked up pocket Aces on the Button and raised. A guy who played almost every hand and had limped under the gun put me all in. I called of course and he turned over Kings. It was unlucky for him, but he hit a King on the Flop and I was out of the contest, riches to rags, in 94th place.


Dinner was with Andy "The Rock" Bloch and his friend Jen at Bradley Ogden, which we were finally able to get into again after a spate of awards made it tough to get a table there. I had the oysters with five different sauces and the duet of Colorado lamb. We washed it down with the 2001 Caymus Special Selection.


My Alaska flight the next morning was delayed three hours for mechanical problems but the useless status monitors at McCarran Airport blithely announced boarding and final boarding, designed by people who didn't seem to think it important for monitors to reflect the actual status of a flight but rather that the scheduled status would be just fine. I finally got back to Seattle in time for Shortstack to bring me home in time for the fireworks over Lake Washington.


Next stop: Turning Stone, with the final day televised live on Fox Sports July 14.


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