There will be no winning of any kind
I hoped to make the final table of this, the final season-one PPT event, as my best chance to qualify for season two. My one-year card was expiring and although I had cashed in two WPT events this season I didn't think it would be enough to get me on the PPT roster for season two.
There were 172 entrants today and I drew table 54, seat three. Chip Jett was on my left in seat four; Chris Bigler seat five; Randy Holland seat six; Billy Baxter seat seven; media entry Linda Johnson seat eight; Max Stern seat nine; Kevin Song seat one; and JC Tran, who had knocked me out at the Doyle Brunson with Four Kings beating my Aces Full, on my right in seat two. It wasn't an easy table but it wasn't as bad as a PPT table could be.
I got pocket Aces three times in level one. I got no action twice and lost to Randy Holland when the board made a Straight and he had a higher Straight, bringing me down to 7550 from my starting 10,000 when they broke the table. I moved to table 38, seat eight. WPT Paris champ Surindar Sunar was on my left in seat nine; Asher Derai, seat one; Avery Cardoza, seat two; the lovely media entry Allyn Jaffrey-Shulman, Barry's wife, seat three; 2002 WSOP champ Robert Varkonyi, seat four; local entry Scott Wilson, seat five; Young Phan, seat six; and "Kamikaze Kid" Hon Le on my right in seat seven with a short stack. We barely started playing when they announced we were having a dinner break! By the time we figured out that it was a mistake, it was too late and we were stuck with an unwanted hour off 90 minutes after we had started. Somebody was out to lunch.
When we got back I won a few pots at my new table, chipping up to 11,550 after withstanding Varkonyi's droning trademark, "Do you want me to call? I'll let you play my hand for me. Tell me what you want me to do," and getting him to lay down whatever he had when I represented a Flush on the river. Then, a floorperson came over and asked who the big blind was. It was me! They were moving me to the Spotlight Table!
They wired me and put me in seat six. Mel Judah was on my left in seat seven; "Miami" John Cernuto, seat eight; Ron Faltinsky, seat nine; 1991 WSOP champ Brad Dougherty, seat one; "Syracuse" John Tsiprailidis, seat two; Susie Isaacs, seat three, a media entry named Trey (like Bill Gates, who shared the nickname, he was "the third"), seat four, and Farzad "Freddy" Bonyadi, seat five. It folded to me on the small blind and I raised with pocket Nines. Mel reraised me, indicating a pair or a big Ace. I decided to call and see a flop. It came Ace high and I brilliantly check-folded. That was it for the featured table; they moved us en bloc back to a regular one.
Barry "Spock" Greenstein came into seat eight when Miami John busted. After the Nines incident I was back down to 7575 at the break. Farzad busted and none other than Vince Van Patten took seat five. It folded to me in late position and I raised with Ace-Ten of Diamonds. Brad Dougherty on the big blind reraised me almost all in. He had recently done the same to Barry Greenstein, who folded. I was getting three-to-two on the call and decided to risk it so I put my chips in. He turned up pocket Queens. I flopped an Ace and had reason to hope but he made a runner-runner Straight to bust me. I finished 95th out of 172.
Matt "Jacks Up" Matros busted around the same time and we had a quiet, wound-licking dinner at a local steakhouse. They didn't have any great wines but the Ducale Reserve Chianti was always serviceable.
I was home for a bit to nest with Shortstack. Next big event: the Mirage WPT, inaugural event of season four. I had been playing poker for almost two years and felt like I was ready to turn the corner. Would season four be the Season of the Lion?
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