I just got home from a multi-table tourney in Massapequa, Long Island. I found an ad on Craigslist for a multi-table tourney where the main prize was going to be a seat to the 2007 WSOP with other cash prizes as well. The ad stated that they were needed 200 entries at $150 per entry to be able to run the tourney but that they would revert to a straight cash tournament if they didn't get enough entries. I immediately inquired about it and they informed me that I would have to pay my entry fee IN ADVANCE. They were NOT taking fees at the door. This raised my suspicions a bit but it seems somewhat logical for two reasons. One, a cash tourney is patently illegal and gathering the fees in advance is a good way to meet the players and scope them out. Two, getting the entry fees in advance GREATLY speeds up the seating process. So I didn't think too much of it. A nice guy named Larry, who looked like a car mechanic, only much fatter, actually drove into Manhattan from the Bronx where he was making another pickup and met me on Wall Street to pick up the money. I figured they must be legit if he went all that way, plus I already had his cell number and now his license plate. I forked over the money and he gave me directions to the place, an Elks Lodge in Massapequa that was, luckily, about fifteen paces from the LIRR train stop. They requested that everyone be there to register at 6:30 and that cards were going to go in the air at 7:30. Unlike my previous experience with the music tourney where everyone showed up late, this tourney started precisely on time. Intrestingly enough, the same company ran both tournaments. They have a lock on the Long Island market from what I hear and run these tournaments a few times a month for private parties and the like. Mostly, they told me, it's about 40-50 people and this one, with 129 entries, was the biggest one in a long time. It turns out the cops have been cracking down something fierce on poker on Long Island but we had no problems despite the huge turnout.
The tournament couldn't have been more professionally run. This company knows what they're doing, to be sure. Deals were crisp, the equipment was excellent and the dealers kept the games moving at a good pace. They even had a professional tournament clock, like the one we use in the League, running on a movie projection screen. The blinds were also set at a very slow comfortable pace, which made me very happy. I spoke to the organizer and he told me that they used to allow re-buys and add-ons but this was the first tournament that was going to be a true freezeout because of too many complaints of loose play and aggressiveness that just wasn't fun. Blinds started at 25/25 for 30 minutes, with 2000 starting chips. Then went to 25/50 for another 30 minutes. After that, blinds proceeded normally to 20 minute levels at 50/100, 100/200, 200/400, 300/600 etc..., with a 10-15 minute break after every hour of play. I sat down to my table and there were a few regulars there. I know this because the dealers recognized them. But all in all I wasn't too worried about the competition. Play started on a shaky basis and I couldn't hit any of my flops. A prime example of what was happening to me was being dealt AcQc in the small blind. 3 limpers come in and with blinds at 25/50, I raise to 225. The first limper, a weak playing latino woman, calls and the rest of the field folds. I was hoping to scoop their bets with my raise but I guess 225 wasn't enough to scare her out. The flop came Kh9h3c. I caught NOTHING and she came out swinging with a 300 bet. I folded to what was her obvious King. Nothing I could do there. Later on, I limped in the small blind with J9 offsuit and flopped QcTc5d. I check on the OESD (Open Ended Straight Draw) and the guy in seat 5 bets 100. The pot is 250 and everyone folds to me and I call hoping to make the straight. The turn is a blank and I pause before checking. He checks. Now I'm confused. He makes a bet on the flop and doesn't continue through? Is he drawing me in? I just don't know. Why would he bet a middle pair if there are players behind him. He was a decent player but not savvy enough to justify whatever he was doing, that I could tell. The river came an 8c giving me my straight. I bet out 400, which is enough to buy the pot, I think. If he calls, it's because he hit two pair. This is what I'm thinking when he makes a tentative call and shows me a 6 high flush. He had limped in with 6c2c and somehow thought his 100 bet on the flop was smart. I guess it was since it confused the hell out of me. Meanwhile, I made my money back from another guy and then some when I chased another OESD to the river and caught it for 1200 chips. I also caught a bunch of chips when I raised to 150 in late position with JJ and the small blind re-raised me to 300. I considered reraising all in but squashed the idea and smooth called to see the flop. It was nearly perfect for me. AJ5, rainbow. She checked and I was hoping she checked an AK to draw me in. I bet 250, trying to get a bet from her but she mucked showing 99. I didn't understand the reraise into a raise. What's the point? If you're just trying to see a flop, she could have just called me. If I reraise, is she going to move all in on me? That's kind of dumb with just 99, unless she thought she had a read on me (which she obviously didn't). If she just wanted to buy the pot, 150 to 300 just isn't going to do it in the small blind. I dragged the pot and smiled.
After we came back from break, we played a few hands and then my table was broken up. the tournament director gave us all new seating cards and I chose Table 2. She looked at me and said, "Uh oh, the Table of Death". That didn't sound good. "Table of Death?," I asked? "Yeah, there's a guy there who's taken out 8 people already". "One guy?" "Yep, one guy," she replied. That didn't sound good. It took me 3 seconds to figure out who it was. I was seated in seat two and the guy to my left had a stack of about 16000 chips in front of him, leading the entire tournament by a factor of three! Luckily, he was to my right, which is to my advantage when he raises, which he did often. He also caught some of the luckiest cards I've ever seen. Example one of the massive horseshoe up this guy's ass. A short stack of about 2000 chips moves all in with blinds at 200/400 in early position. The big stack (I'll call him Mr. Big), calls on the button with everyone else folding. The short stack shows 77 and Mr. Big shows 66. Needless to say, a 6 came on the flop. Mr. Big increases his stack. About 15 hands later, another short stack moves all in with about 2600 chips, also in early position. Mr. Big calls with his enormous stack. It's an inexplicable call though because Mr. Big flips over K9 offsuit (?!?) and his opponent has KhTh. I guess he thought the K9 were overcards to a small pocket pair? I don't know his thinking. What I do know is the insane action that followed. The flop came 9c6hJh. Mr. Big makes his 9 (natch) but his opponent has a King high flush draw. The Turn is 9h! Giving Mr. Big a set of 9's but the flush to his newly relieved opponent. That relief, though turned into excrutiating agony when the river was a K!. Mr. Big had gone from loser to winner to loser to winner. Wow! My stack, in the meanwhile was growing. Very slowly, but growing. At the start of the second break after two hours of tournament play, I had 4100 in chips. Not a lot considering blinds were now at 300/600, but I was alive, which is more than I can say for a bunch of these other saps. There were now 50 players left out of the original 129 and the railbirds were gathering at the rail to look on. I felt like I was at the World Series. :-) I couldn't make a play for the first few hands and blinds were big. My big blind was folded when someone limped in and Mr. Big raised to 1800. I only had 10h2h so I mucked. But on my small blind, I looked down at AK offsuit. I sensed that this could be good for me. A small stack of 1900 moved all in. He was two hands away from the big blind so my sense was I could very well be leading him or at least even. It was my intention to move all in when it folded to me but Mr. Big called. I only had 3500, so moving all in is not an incentive for Mr. Big to fold, but I couldnt' get away from a pot this big with AK where I am already in for 300 and there is dead money (the original raiser) in the pot. I called. The flop was A2T. I didn't realize it until I was on the train going home, but Mr. Big acted out of turn and announced he was putting me all in. In hindsight, that MIGHT have induced me to fold but there were too many possible hands he might be holding that I could beat. Remember the K9 he called with? My instince was that he was bullying. I was sure he made the Ace and that meant I had to call him. After all, why would I call with my AK, hoping to flop an A or K and then NOT move all in when it hit with no pair or draw on the board. I called and he showed the incredible A2. I did not improve and I was out. The more I think about it, the more I believe there was nothing I could do here. I had him dominated pre-flop and I'm sure if I moved all in then, he would have called and caught his two pair anyway. Post flop, I am only left with 1300 chips which means I have to take a stand somewhere in the next 6 or 7 hands. In THIS hand, I already had 1900+600+3500 in the pot, which I could win with my remaining 1300 and a flop that favored me in most cases. I just fell victim to the guy everyone ended up calling "The Grim Reaper", which by the way is a fantastic poker nickname. I hate losing to a lesser player who is getting cold cocked by the deck, but that's the way it is sometimes. The all in short stack, by the way, had 77 and also lost. I busted out in 40th place.
On a happy note, I went directly to the train station when I lost and only had to wait 3 minutes to catch a train to the city! :-)