September 22, 2004

Persistence is Futile: The 2004 Borgata WPT Event

Persistence is Futile: The 2004 Borgata WPT Event

With most of the month of August off and a conflict keeping me from competing in the World Poker Tour season-three opener at the Bicycle Club, I had plenty of time to practice my No-Limit Hold ‘Em with small on-line cash games. After a year I felt like I knew less about the game than when I started: I was learning one poker trick at a time but there were 1000 of them and I was only up to about 87. Still, I was ready to do better at the Borg than last year when I gave Bobby Thompson a free card to fill up his Set and beat my flopped Straight. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.


I cleaned out all but 47 miles of my US Airways balance with an award ticket to Philadelphia in preparation for them going out of business. They were still too broke to serve drinks in real glasses in First Class and the food tasted like it was right out of a microwaved Budget Gourmet. Staff was apathetic and service minimal. The movie was Raising Helen with Kate Hudson, an entertaining if minor party-girl-turned-mom flick. We landed a bit late and a Ford Taurus from Avis got me to Atlantic City.


I had made reservations for a late dinner at the Old Homestead steakhouse with “Oregon” Dave Lilie, Kim “Tiltmom” Scheinberg, and Bruce Hayek, chief trip reporter for the Tiltboys. Oregon Dave tried to order a Bombay Sapphire martini but I made him drink Tanqueray Ten instead. He enjoyed the drink but hated me with a fiery hate because, he said, I had ruined him for Bombay Sapphire for life. Oregon Dave, who could pass for George Costanza’s twin brother, got his nickname years ago when he visited friends in the Northwest and they locked him in the refrigerated beer-storage closet of a convenience store until he agreed to stop pronouncing their State “ORE-uh-gone.”


He was in there for nine hours.


We all had the Gotham Rib Steak except for Bruce, who had a soft-boiled egg. Like Prime at the Bellagio, the food was deliicious and the service mediocre.

Don’t run over the Lion

The Borgata management thought it best to open tournament registration at eight in the morning rather than the day before so when I got up around 10 I called Oregon Dave and registered both of us for today’s $1500+80 No-Limit warm-up tourney. There were 346 entrants in today’s event and I got table 15, seat six. WPT season-one finalist Stan Goldstein was in seat one and Davin “Typo” Anderson, who got lots of air time at this year’s World Series, had seat 10. Stan tried to run over me repeatedly but I was on to his bamboozlement so between bluffing and trapping him I increased my stack from the starting 4000 to 7425 after the first three levels, mostly at his expense. I picked up pocket Aces and picked off an all-in with Ace-King after the break, giving me 11,000. My luck turned south, though, and I dwindled to 7175 by the dinner break. My $80 entry fee was good for a buffet comp providing I lasted that long so Oregon Dave and I feasted on some soft-shell crab before the event resumed. I didn’t last long after dinner. With the blinds skyrocketing I took a coin-flip with pocket Eights versus King-Jack suited and lost it, finishing 97th.


Oregon Dave talked me into playing $40/80 Hold ‘Em at a very loose table. There was one woman, in fact, who didn’t seem to have ever played the game before. She played every hand and stayed in with anything at all. I played one big pot in four hours and finished $350 up.


Motor Coach Lobby

I had to get up early again to register for the next day’s tournament, a $2500+100 No-Limit Hold ‘Em event. This one got 327 entrants. My table was in an overflow area known as the Motor Coach Lobby, a fancy name for bus station. I got table 10, seat one, a very weak table but I didn’t hit many flops and had only increased my stack from 6000 to 7900 when they broke the table. Now I was at table two, seat nine, with champion “Action” Dan Harrington in seat one and Jersey native Mike Sica, who won the $3000 No-Limit Hold ‘Em event at this year’s World Series, in seat seven. I chased a couple draws that didn’t hit, took a bad beat, and then foolishly moved in for my last 2000 with Ace-Nine, getting called by an under-the-gun limper with Ace-King. I didn’t hit my 26% equity and I was out of the contest early.


Oregon Dave didn’t play in this one so we got in the Taurus and drove around to some of the other casinos. Our first stop was Harrah’s because it was one place I’d never been to. When we looked around we decided there hadn’t been much reason to go there after all. We got in the elevator to the parking garage with a distinguished gentleman whose name tag had the title “Investigation Supervisor.” I asked how the investigating was going and he said his life would be easier if people would just learn how to drive. I wished him good luck as we exited on level three but he seemed to be going the same way we were. He matched us step for step and when we got to the red Taurus there was a security guard, an abashed 72-year-old man, and a big dent in the left rear bumper. After another hour the police had come and gone, all the reports were done, and we drove to the Boardwalk to have dinner and watch the Miss America parade. Miss Vermont smiled and waved at me but after what happened with Shana I didn’t want to get another young girl hopelessly hooked on me so I shooed Dave into Caesars, where we had a nice dinner of lamb chops washed down with the 1999 Joseph Phelps Insignia. We walked back along the boardwalk and drove the wounded car back to the Borgata, where I discovered my laptop’s hard drive had crashed. I went to bed.

Fish on my right

The next day was a $200 rebuy super satellite. I decided to play it and ended up spending $800. I was the fourth caller in a raised pot with Six-Trey of Hearts in late position when the flop came Six-Trey-Trey. I got action from two players and wasn’t too happy to see another Six on the Turn. A very inexperienced player was on my right and I milked him for most of his chips with the flopped Boat. I took some more from an impatient Stud player on my left with Two Pair versus his weak Ace and at the end of the rebuy period I had increased the 6000 chips I had bought to 10,125. Most everyone took the discounted double add-on of $200 for 4000 more chips. They broke the table and plonked me down right next to Oregon Dave, also known as “Not Trump” and “The Fish.” With The Fish on my right I had the advantage over him and picked off a blind-steal with the blinds shooting quickly through the roof. I lost a couple coin flips and was in serious trouble when Dave reraised a loose opener all in on the button. I looked down and saw Ace-King on the small blind. Getting almost three-to-one on my remaining 8800 chips I decided to call but Dave had the rockets and with the opener calling with Ace-Queen I was practically dead, needing a miracle Straight or four Flush cards to my Ace. They didn’t come and I was out of the contest.


Dinner was at Steve and Cookie’s steakhouse with a big group including Erik “Rounders” Seidel, John “JJ” Juanda, Kim “Tiltmom” Scheinberg, Steve “Suitcase” Brecher, and my new best friend Steve “Ice” Eisenstein, who bought a few bottles of the 1999 Nickel & Nickel for the table. A waiter overheard my raving about the John C. Sullinger vineyard and brought a bottle of it over to our end of the table. The food and service were good but the company was better.


Borgata Management had finally relented and allowed registration the day before for the main event. I bought a seat from one of the satellite winners and I was happy to see Oregon Dave had won a seat also. The inexperienced staff took an hour to get through a line of 15 people, filling out endless forms and stapling sheets of paper together. I got to bed around two.

Jimmy Jimmy

The whole tournament was in the main room today since only a disappointing 312 people entered. I had a tough table but none of the superaggressive superstars was there. Seat one was Andrew Miller. Seat two was Mimi Tran. Seat three had Jimmy “Jimmy Jimmy” Cha, who had finished fourth in the $2500 two days before. I was in seat four. On my left were John Myung in seat five, Mark Dickstein in seat six, and Nick “The Beef” Hanna in seat seven. Seat eight was an unknown and seat nine was empty until they broke a table and put WPT finalist Abe Mosseri there.


The tournament was short but sweet for me. I called an early-position raise by Jimmy Jimmy with pocket Tens. The flop came Ten high, two Spades. He check-raised me all in with Ace-Nine of Spades. I called instantly, a three-to-one favorite with top Set, but Spades came on the Turn and the River and I was out of the contest. I can’t mind getting it in with a 75% chance to double up but the cards didn’t fall my way.


With my ‘puter dead I called US Airways to change my flight and then spent the evening drinking Tanqueray Ten martinis and watching Paul “Pretty Boy” Phillips play a mixed $400/800 limit game with David “Oppy” Oppenheim, John “J-Dags” D’Agostino, and an Internet player known as Lucky777. It was a year ago at this time I first met Shana Hiatt and the trip wouldn’t have been complete without seeing her in the B-Bar, where she was chatting with two older women as drooling men lined the walls trying to make eye contact with the Playboy cover girl. I’m pretty sure she winked at me but I pretended not to see as I didn’t want all the men In the room to get jealous. I got to bed around five.


Home early

I slept in till one, took care of the bill, and then drove the Taurus back to Philadelphia airport to await my flight. US Airways saw no need to give its First Class passengers a preferred security line so I waited 45 minutes and got to the gate shortly before boarding. Dinner was embarrassing and the service was nonexistent. I slept as much as I could. When I got back to Seattle my Shortstack pulled up in the black T-Bird to take me home. I was going back to Vegas in a couple days for almost daily tournaments for the next few weeks. I was nothing if not persistent.

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