With the weekend over the Ultimate Poker Challenge lowered the buy-in back to $1000+$60 and drew a nice field of exactly 100 players. My goal for today was to avoid being seated between Hoyt Corkins and Chris Bigler and I got my wish, drawing the extremely lucky table seven, seat seven and having only one tourney regular, David Plastik, at my table in seat four. David busted early and was replaced by the always dangerous Mike Borovetz. I picked up a few small pots and chipped up to 3325 at the first break from my starting 3000.
When we got back I decided to move in on the big blind with Ace-Jack offsuit over the top of the bullying chip leader. He called with pocket Eights but I caught an Ace on the river and won the coin flip, bringing me to 7000. They moved me for balance to table 19, seat seven, and this time I had "Syracuse" Chris Tsiprailidis on my left in seat eight and the ever-ominous Mike Borovetz in seat five. Doug Lee, the loose-aggressive player whose number I seemed to have, moved into seat three. I won a big coin flip with Mike Borovetz and got up to 17,475. Then holding pocket Nines I saw a flop with the short-stacked Doug Lee. It came all clubs and having the Nine of Clubs I put him all in. He called with a much better hand than I gave him, a set of Sevens, but I hit my Club on the river and once again busted Doug. That got me up to 22,100. Then seat six made a small raise on the small blind and I called on the big blind with Ten-Trey of Spades. The flop came Jack-Ten-Trey with two Hearts, giving me bottom two pair. He checked and I put him all in for a little more than the size of the pot. He inexplicitly called with King-Nine offsuit, didn't improve, and was gone, putting me to 24,925 at the break.
When we returned they broke our table and moved me to table 12, seat eight. Fellow Full Tilter Kristy Gazes was on my left in seat nine. I lost several small pots and was down to 17,175 when we redrew with 18 players left.
I got table 16, seat eight, and Kristy got the seat to my right this time, giving me position on her. I looked at her chips and licked my lips, saying, "Yum yum!" She said, "Alrighty then!" Amnon "Eric" Filippi was on my left in seat nine. I had few opportunities to play a pot and was down to 14, 300 at the dinner break.
Blinds and antes rising, I came back from dinner guns a-blazing and had chipped back up to 21,000 when I open-raised in middle position with pocket Aces and got calls from seats one and three. The flop came Ten-Nine-Seven with two Clubs. Seat three led out for 3500. I gave him a weak Ten at best and decided to move in, hoping he would call with a Ten and think I was on a draw. But seat one called all in for a little less than I had. The original bettor folded and seat one turned over Eight-Six of Diamonds for the Straight. I needed runner-runner to beat him and they didn't come so I was down to the felt at 2700. But I came out firing and won several all-ins to get back to 12,400. I continued to play aggressively and got back up to 17,000 when we were in the money with 10 players left.
We moved to one 10-handed table to play down to the TV seven. I got seat nine. Syracuse Chris had seat four, and Simon Hennessey, whose Kings I had cracked with my Ace-Nine in the 2004 World Series, had seat three. I didn't find many opportunities and was down to 10,200 when we eliminated the eighth player. I had made my second TV final table but was second-to-last in chips.
The next day I pulled the Caddy up to the Plaza just in time for my interview. With a short stack I was going to be aggressive and try to win the thing rather than wait out the other short stacks. The start was delayed while we waited for Simon and David "Chino" Rheen, one of the others at the final table, to finish a hot craps roll. I'll save the details of the final table for the TV show, tentatively scheduled to air Oct. 22.