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I had skipped the tournaments at the Taj and Borgata due to my new "No New Jersey" policy and was raring to play in the next World Poker Tour event at Bellagio. I busted out of the super-satellite in five minutes when my Queens were cracked by Five-Four suited flopping two pair so I had to shell out $10,200 for the entry fee.
I was delighted to see the tournament area had been moved from the smoky casino floor into the beautiful Fontana room with a great view of Lake Bellagio. There were 420 starters and I drew table 44, seat four. Chinese would be unhappy with the draw because four was an unlucky number for them but I was happy as a clam with the seat, right by the terrace door, because I could watch the fountain show as I played.
On my left in seat five was Alex Brenes, winner of this year's WPT invitational. In seat nine was Derek Tomko; in seat 10 was Kathy "Poker Kat" Liebert, whom I always called "Poker Kitty," which delighted her no end. In seat one was seasoned pro Billy Duarte. In seat two was a stubborn aggressive player with an unusual style who busted early and was replaced by the very aggressive Daniel Alaei, and on my right in seat three was another aggressive player named Sam. I lost a couple small clashes with the aggressive players on my right and was down to 16,300 from my starting 20,000 chips at the end of level one.
I fought back in level two to 24,400, then in level three, with the blinds at 100/200 with a 25 ante, five players limped in front of me and I made a nice steal-looking raise on the button with pocket Aces. I got two callers and the flop came Eight-Four-Deuce rainbow. It checked to me and I made a decent bet. The first caller folded but Sam on my right immediately check-raised me all in. I wasn't laying down Aces to this guy so I called pretty quickly. He turned over King-Eight of Spades, didn't improve, and I was up to 45,500. I had a nice 42,150 at the end of level three.
With the blinds up to 200/400 with a 50 ante, I struggled in level four and my stack dwindled to 27,100. With one more level to play before we broke for the day, it was time to gamble and I busted Derek Tomko with pocket Jacks versus his Ace-King of Hearts. I finished the day with 31,675 and invited Poker Kitty and "Gentleman" Bill Edler to dinner at the Luxor Steakhouse, where we chowed down on fine Vegas steaks and washed them down with the Stag's Leap Cabernet.
My draw for day two was one table back but still with the great view: 45 – five. On my left was Jan Sorensen, who had just won a WSOP bracelet in Seven-Card Stud. Layne "Back to Back" Flack had seat one and Alan Smurfit was on my right in seat four. I went card dead and with Alan re-smurfing every time anyone to his right smurfed, I just got blinded off. I was down to 18,600 at the end of level six.
With the blinds at 400-800 with a 75 ante, TJ Cloutier came into seat seven. Then Layne, who had been forced to behave by the aggressive players between us, raised and Alan Smurfit called. I found Ace-Queen of Diamonds, which was the nuts as far as I was concerned, and moved in. Layne folded but Alan smurfed with pocket Fours. I hit my Ace but he made a Spade smurf on the river to send me home in 151st place.
Next stop: Foxwoods.