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Feast and famine
After taking the day off during the $2000 limit Hold 'Em event I was refreshed going into the $2000 pot-limit Hold 'Em competition, which drew a mere 540 players. I started at table 138, seat four, and was happy to recognize only two name players, neither very tricky and both on my right: Fred Berger in seat one and David "Harpo" Levi in seat three. A fellow retired semi-pro, David "Twinkyboy" Knauff, sat between them in seat two. Harpo was Israeli as were two other guys at the table I didn't know. One, in seat eight, was eating an apple and drinking a bottle of apple juice so I asked him if it was kosher to combine the flesh and the milk like that. With a wink and a smile he assured me it was. The other was a nice kid named Misha in seat 10
My first major action was when Harpo raised a pot with many limpers and I found pocket Kings so I reraised, which put me all in.. It folded to him and he called, so I figured I was behind, given how tight he played. Sure enough he turned over the pocket rockets. I didn't suck out and in fact he made four Aces. Fortunately I had him covered but I was down to 650. Then I limped along with many others with my lucky hand, Nine-Eight of Spades, with which I had busted TJ Cloutier at Rincon. The flop came Ten-Seven-Six with two Diamonds, giving me the nuts. Misha bet the pot and I reraised all in. for my last 550. He called with Seven-Six and didn't improve so I was back up to 1550.
Twinkyboy busted and was replaced by Bill Chen, a well-known Internet poker-math guy who writes a blog along with a friend and is coming out with a book soon. He check-raise-bluffed me out of a small pot with the best hand. Then the tough and tricky Bill Gazes took seat six. I limped under the gun with pocket Nines. Billy made it 300 and Fred and I called. The flop came Nine-Deuce-Deuce, giving me second nuts. I checked and Billy bet the pot. Fred mucked and I reraised all in for only a little more. Billy called the pocket change but was drawing dead to runner-runner with his Ace-King. That crippled Billy and brought me up to 3050.
Then seat eight made it 350 with blinds of 75/150 and I defended my big blind with King-Jack of Spades. The flop came King-Queen-Ten rainbow and I check-called 500. The Ace of Clubs came on the turn, giving me the nuts, and I checked to induce the bluff, which came. He bet all in and I called. His Ace-Six of Spades was dead to a chop if one of the two remaining Jacks came, which it didn't, so I was up to 5600. Finally I was getting some cards!
Billy lost his few remaining chips and tournament legend TJ Cloutier took seat six. Harpo was out too and yet another Israeli, Robert "Who's Bad?" Mizrachi, brother of The Grinder, took seat three on my right. He played a lot of pots and when he limped under the gun I limped behind with Ten-Eight of Hearts and several others limped as well. The flop came Queen-Eight-Trey with two Hearts, giving me a pair and a Flush draw. Misha bet 500 and I called. The turn was the Nine of Hearts and he bet 1200. I reraised all in and he called with Queen-Nine. He didn't catch his four-outer and I was up to 8750. Casey Kastle came into seat seven and threw down an amazing bluff-raise on the river for all his chips versus Robert Mizrachi, who folded Queen-Jack face up on a board of King-Queen-Jack and two rags and turned green as Casey showed pocket Tens for a busted Straight draw. Casey was well known as a rock up until this point so everyone at the table was shocked I went to the break with a nice stack of 8725.
Fred busted and David Benyamine took seat one. With the blinds 150/300, Misha, now with a short stack, opened for the maximum 1050. I reraised the pot with pocket Jacks and then TJ reraised the pot again. The three of us got it all in, Misha showing King-Seven and TJ Ace-King. My Jacks held up and I was up to 10,600. I went to the dinner break with a nice 10,500.
After dinner, though, the feast was over and the famine hit. They broke our table and moved me to 117/4. "Captain" Tommy Franklin was on my left in seat five; Andy "The Rock" Bloch was in seat seven; An "The Boss" Tran, seat eight; and Steve "Z" Zolotow, seat 10. Nothing worked and I was quickly down to 3900. David Plastik took seat seven. I won a few small pots and worked my stack back up to 7900 at the next break.
Then "Tall" Phil Gordon came into seat one with a nice stack and Shar Koumi, the Cypress-born Brit, took seat three. They moved The Boss to another table for balance and with six tables left we went to nine-handed. They paid 45 so I had only nine places to go to my first cash of the 2005 series. But it was not to be: with 5300 left I reraised seat three's middle-position opener all in with pocket Queens. He called with Ace-King of Spades and made a Flush on the turn to bust me in 50th place, just five from the money.