This past weekend, with the blessing of my far better half in order to give her room for her last push towards the NY/NJ bar exams in 8 days from hence, I made the trip down to Atlantic City with a larger than usual crowd of the usual misfits. Joining me in newly procured poker rate rooms at the Borgata were Viv, W, Chris (sporting a beautifully pregnant belly), Paulie and Abbie. Also meeting us down there to share in the festivities were DJ, and W’s friends Alan and Patty. I made the trip early on Friday, taking a 2:30p Academy bus from the Port Authority and plunging headlong in traffic that was unbearable. It took 3 hours to reach the city of the air conditioning and when we were in sight we were informed by the bus driver that we would be arriving at Bally’s instead of Caesars because Caesars wasn’t taking passengers. Why not you ask? It turns out that some sort of water main break had knocked out the air conditioning to Caesars, the Pier behind Caesars AND Trump Plaza. This unfortunate turn of events would ripple through the whole weekend by simultaneously filling up the Borgata hotel and depleting the city of gamblers. How? Well, Caesars and Trump Plaza promptly placed their hotel guests who were staying Friday and/or Saturday into new hotel rooms across the city. However, new guests who were arriving at those casinos Friday and Saturday nights as new guests cancelled their weekend reservations. It was the talk of the town this weekend.
The only person down there already when I arrived at 5:30p was W, who texted me that she was playing the 6:00p tourney at Borgata. After waiting a few minutes for a Jitney outside of Bally’s and seeing two full Jitney’s pass me by, I flagged down a cab and proceeded to the Borgata posthaste. After dropping my bag off at the bell captain’s desk, I caught W walking into the poker room and we both registered for the tourney together. I had no idea what I was registering for, I just knew that I wanted to play a tourney to get my feet wet for the weekend. As I found out when I was in line, it was a $150+$30 survivor tournament. The top 10% of the field get paid equally. 62 people ended up registering and the top 6 would get paid $1500 each. The 7th place finisher would get a whopping $21 (the remaining amount of the prize pool after the mandatory dealer tokes were taken out). On a side note, the next time you enter a tournament, do make sure you find out in advance how much of the prize pool gets reduced for dealer tokes. It’s usually anywhere from %3 to %5. And the poker rooms don’t advertise this very well to encourage people to tip on top of that. Personally, I usually give about %5 of my prize to the dealers, so if the room takes %3, I’ll tip 2% and call it even.
On with the story. We started the tourney and I started up. My second hand, I get A♣K♣. Blinds are 25/50 with a $10,000 starting stack and I raise it up to $200. I get a caller on the button, a Swede looking guy with a long scarf that reminded me of Dario Minieri, natch. The flop came down a very dangerous looking K♠Q♠J♥. Yes, I had top/top but I thought of all the holdings he could have that he would have called a pre-flop raise on the button with. KQ, KJ, QJ, AT, T9. Those are all reasonable flat calls on the button and I’m behind all of them. What’s worse, if he has any of those hands, I’m going to lose a good portion of my stack. Oh, and I’m out of position. And it’s the second hand of the tournament and I know *nothing* about this guy. So I check and he bets out $350. I call. Turn is an 8c. I check, he bets out $650 and I muck. I’ve already lost $550 and I don’t feel like hitting a card which is going to stack me, like a King. After the tournament, I caught up with him (he cashed) and asked him what he had. He said A♠J♠. I don’t blame him for betting and, frankly, he’s in a much better spot with that hand then I am. The Swede, incidentally, was a fantastic player. As I saw later, he doubled his stack early on by catching a stone cold bluff with bottom pair. Bottom pair! The other guy was just a loud young gun who was trying to run over the table and the Swede called him down with A4 after flopping a 4. True, the young gun had given himself away a little by checking the flop and firing on an innocuous turn and river, but still. If the Swede had lost, he would have basically knocked himself out of the tourney. You have to have a big set of balls to risk your tournament life with a pair of fours. Just saying.
As the table images start solidifying, I start to accumulate chips using the only method I can; bluffing. My hands are crap, so I start raising in position and c-betting on scare boards (all low cards, Ace high on the flop, etc…). I chip up very slowly and at the first break, I’m sitting at $12,500. Not a stack to speak of, but I’m ready to storm the next levels. Unfortunately, I still don’t get any great hands I can use to stack anybody. I have exactly one hand in the next hour that I can use to bust a small stack. It’s JJ vs. his 89s. But by the end of the next break, I’m only at about $20,000, just below the chip average. Blinds are 400/800 with a $75 ante and I never really got above 20 BB’s anywhere in the tournament. The structure is just too fast for me to pick good spots. I go back into bluffing mode which serves me well when I have 8♥9♥ in position. A Monster Dick (meaning he’s a huge dick, not that he possesses a big phallus, because I’m positive his phallus is like a grain of rice), whom we’ll call MD, limps in early position and I raise to $2700 on the button. It folds to MD who makes the call and the flop comes down 7♠7♣6♠. MD leads out for $4000 and I instantly shove my stack. He thinks for a few seconds but then folds and I get a little healthier. This is the largest my stack will be until much later.
I’m sitting to the right of a huge luckbox who reminds me a lot of Darvin Moon because he’s making enormous donkey calls and sucking out on people. I get KK in the cutoff and when it limps to me I pop it to $2500 (blinds still 400/800). Luckbox calls and one other player calls. Flop is A♦T♠8♥. It checks to me and I C-bet 4,000, reasoning that I have to represent AK here or I’ll be vulnerable to a big bet bluff by someone else representing it. Luckbox, who is the tournament chip leader with about 55,000 says, “All in”. It folds to me and, frustrated that an Ace came on the flop, muck face up hoping luckbox will do the same. He does, and flips up T8 off! I wouldn’t have been upset if he had turned over just about any Ace, but calling my PF raise with T8 off just makes me mad. I know this guy is gonna spew his chips to someone eventually; I just hope it’s me.
Later on in the level, with my stack down to a dangerous 10BB and the blinds at 1000/2000 with a $100 ante, I double up when I shove A♠6♠ in the cutoff. Darvin Moon Luckbox on my left quick calls with…A♦2♦. Ummm…wow. I flop a six and manage to eek my way into the final table. Unfortunately, I still can’t quite build a stack and I come in as the uber-shortie with something like 7 big blinds. Back when we were down to 13 players, I had started discussing a chop but there were too many players for anyone to seriously consider it. But now, at the final table, I thought I could get some traction. But I got a little friction from one person. Can you guess who it was? Yes, it was Monster Dick. MD was the second chip stack at the table, and he wasn’t hearing anything about a chop of any sort. Even when Darvin Luckbox decided to run his JJ into QQ and bust and then another short stack busted. Even when I tripled up to $45,000. All I had asked was for my money back, just $180. With 8 players left, if they had all reached in to give me $20 or $25, I would have been content. Instead, MD, upon hearing my proposition said, “Are you kidding me? You’re the short stack and I’ll call you with 7-3 off”. Like I said, a Monster Dick. Instead, with $45,000 and an actual shot at winning, but still the second shortest stack, I looked down at AQo. I was UTG+2 and the blinds were 4000/8000 with a $400 ante. So, with about a third of my stack size already in the pot, I open shoved and got a reshove from the guy to my immediate left (not MD) who isolated with KK. Bye Bye.
To add insult to injury, the instant I busted, the table started talking about a chop and ended up giving the 7th place finisher $650, with the rest taking home around $1350. I was livid and W had to walk me away from the table, consoling me as best she could. I had played 5 hours and was the true bubble of the tournament. It was one hand that brought me from the brink of starting off my weekend with a huge profit to starting it off instead with anger and resentment. Fortunately, I was self-aware enough to realize that I was in no mental condition to play cash, so I went up to the room instead and called it a night. It was 11:30p and I was tired, but my mind was so wound up from the awful turn of events that I only got a fitful 2 hours of sleep before I woke up and couldn’t fall asleep again until 6:30a! I watched the entirety of Capitalism: A Love Story on my iPhone (not Moore’s best effort by any stretch) and the distraction helped immensely. I woke in the morning, still seething about my bad luck but at least now able to deal with it.
Part II of the trip to come – Highlights will include, W and Abbie crushing a tourney and me experiencing some more down times before wiping the slate clean and then some.