Five-Something: December 2004 Bellagio Series
The ladies in the tournament-registration booth had finally learned my name so when I plunked down $2080 to enter event No. 1 in the current series at Bellagio they had the advantage of me: they knew my name but I didn't remember if this was the Five Diamond event or the Five Star event, two of the three annual tournament series held at the premier hotel-casino in Las Vegas, at least for another four months, when Wynn opened down the street. Arnie the Compmeister was in town and he had asked me to get (comped) tickets for the new Cirque du Soleil show at the MGM Grand, "Ka." I got the tickets but told him I might not make the show or dinner before because I was in a tournament.
There were 306 entrants in the first event. I drew table 55, seat three, and the only two people I recognized were Max "The Italian Pirate" Pescatori in seat one and a guy named Steve on my right in seat two. Steve was the one who had flopped a set of Nines in the big hand at my table in October when Tommy Franklin made a Straight on the river to knock out half the table including Paul "Pretty Boy" Phillips. With a table full of unknowns I sliced and diced, chipping up nicely, and then busted a maniac in seat eight when he moved in with Queens on my reraise with Kings. That put me up to 7250 from my starting 4000. Seats two and four busted and were replaced by Tommy Vu and Layne "Back to Back" Flack respectively. I got a free flop with Eight-Deuce of Hearts when seat six limped and the flop came King-Eight-Eight, giving me trips. I check-raised the limper and he moved in for about half what was already in the pot. I called and he turned over pocket Kings for the full house so I was drawing dead to the last Eight. It didn't come and I was back down to 4000. Layne tsk-tsked me and said I should have known he had the Kings. I said I wasn't that good.
They broke the table and moved me to 49, seat eight. Tony Cousineau was in seat four; young up-and-comer David Sternbaum was in seat six; Chad Layne was on my right in seat seven; Tony Ma on my left in seat nine; and Danish pro Claus Nielsen in seat ten. I won a small pot and was up to 5175 at the break. Things deteriorated from there and I was down to 1600 when, just as I looked at my cards to see Ace-King on the button, Claus on the big blind said, "Good time to steal." I thanked him for the advice, hemmed and hawed, and then put my chips in. Tony Ma quickly called with Ace-Seven and I was up over 3000. I treaded water by winning a few blinds and antes but finally Tony Ma got his revenge and busted me with Ace-Ten suited versus my Ace-Six on the button. He flopped a Ten and it was all over but the crying. I was out of the contest 91st.
I was out just in time to meet Shortstack and the Compmeister for dinner at the MGM. Arnie gave the thumbs-up to the Creole-spiced lobster at Emeril's. I had the yummy pecan-crusted Texas redfish with Emeril's signature barbecued shrimp to start. We washed it all down with the 1995 Kathryn Kennedy Cabernet Sauvignon, fruity but with an unexpectedly pronounced acid content. From there we went to Ka, where we were escorted to great seats in the lower center of the showroom. They were still working the bugs out of the performance but some of the effects were spectacular. I rated it as good as the other two Vegas Cirque shows I had seen, O and Mystere. As I sat enraptured by the dancing, flying, lights, and music, my mind kept drifting to pocket pairs and flopping sets. I couldn't wait for the next event.