Thursday, August 31, 2006

Giddiness: my first meatspace money finish

I brought $50 to Happy Days tonight. I left with $140. I'm giddy. Here's the story.

The first $25 goes into the poker tournament buy-in. I get two $10 match play tickets, and I've got one from last night in my pocket.

The first match play, I lose $10. The second, I lose another $10. I toss my last $5 into the circle, and hit blackjack, so I've got $2.50. I pull out my other match play, put $10 and win $20 back.

Except the dealer then realizes it's from last night, and won't count it. I call the pit boss, and he agrees. The rule is that it has to be played the same day, and last night's midnight tournament is not the same day as today, which ends at 7:00 a.m. I only win $10, not $20. Strangely, they do let me head back to the poker room and exchange it for today's coupon, which I then play, and lose $10. I tip the dealer $1.50 and hang out, waiting for the poker game to start. I've got $11 in chips in my pocket.

In the tournament, I play good tight poker, probably a bit too passive. Small pocket pairs, I fold to any raise. Suited connectors, I got twice tonight, and didn't play them in the face of a raise. When the blinds go up to $1000/$2000, I color up my remaining $2700 in chips to $3000, and I'm on the big blind.

No point looking at the cards here. A guy in middle position goes all in for his $3000. The small blind calls. I toss in my last chip. We turn over our cards. Middle position has 33. Small blind has TT. I've got (crap)... Q4o.

The board comes Q47xx. I'm up to $9000. The very next hand, in the small blind, I'm dealt TT. A guy in middle position goes all in, it's folded around to me, and I call. He's got AQs, which doesn't pair. With the big blind I just took, I'm up to $20K in two hands.

Over the next few minutes, I steal one set of blinds, and am up to $23K when the good news hits -- we've made the final table. Five minute break.

The other folks at the table offer a deal -- $20 each for places 6-10 and 10% for the dealers, taken proportionally out of the 1-5 spots. My stack is just a hair under average, and although I think I can outplay some of the people at the table (including Elaine, the person I referred to as a pension widow a few weeks ago), I'm not confident enough that I'll get to the top 5, and I'm a slave to peer pressure, so I agree.

I'm feeling good, so I head over to the blackjack table and toss my last $11 into the circle, and get dealt what is probably the worst hand possible given the conditions: 8-8, with the dealer showing an 8.

You would always want to split in this position. The dealer 8 is a strong card, the 16 I'm holding is very vulnerable. Splitting is a defensive measure; you expect to win one and lose one. Unfortunately, I've got no more money on me, so I've got to treat it as a regular 16, and do what I'm regretting: hit. I get a 4, for 20, and stand. Dealer flips a T for 18. I walk away with $24.

The poker game starts up again, and I'm still playing tight. I start on the big blind of $2000/$4000, and fold under pressure. Almost every hand is an all-in adventure, and within 5 minutes, I'm in third place with $13K, again on the big blind, when the blinds go up to $5K/$10K. I color up to $15K, and go all in blind. The small blind's AK hits a K on the flop, dooming my 93. I win $118 for placing third out of 37. First and second place chop about $250 each. vnh, gg.

This is the first time I've placed in the money in a casino's brick and mortar tournament. I was close once, out in 7th when no deal was made, but that's it. W00t!

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