Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tunica: Day One - Crapshoot

Event 11

Buy-in: $300

Entrants: 1000

Finish: Somewhere in the middle

As we entered the registration area an hour before the starting time, the line snaked through the roped queue. When we returned 55 minutes later, it was five times longer. As the event started, players were still registering. Welcome to the perfect storm of a WSOP event with a low buy-in on a friday afternoon. When all was done, there were exactly 1000 players. Including myself and sarawara.

The experienced players hoped the new structure with a starting count of 10,000 chips would balance out some of the chaos but a few hours in even the hard core were wondering about the upside of wading through such a large field for such a potential small payday. The tourney would pay down to 72 and the bottom of the money would only pay a little over 500 bucks. Was it really worth it to play for 14 hours then have to come back the next day for such a small margin?

My day started well. I took down a couple of good sized pots and worked my way up to 15,000. I continued my usual small ball and was close to 20 grand when I was moved to a new table. Very few hands in, I picked up A-K offsuit in the small blind. The table had been playing together for a while and had the relaxed feel of a home game. Everyone knew the habits of all the others except for one. The new guy. Me.

There were a couple of callers making the pot just rich enough for me to make a move. I raised from the small blind. The big blind called and the rest folded. The flop was A-K-x. Wanting to fake weakness I led out with what appeared to be a scared bet. The big blind called immediately. The turn was another king. Now I had him. But this time I checked. Big blind checked also. The river was a total rag and it was time to try to make some money. I made a value bet of about 40% of the pot and that got the big blind to talking. He said he didn't think I had anything and that's when I knew I had him. He called, I turned over the Kings full of Aces and raked the pot. Unfortunately, you usually only get one good play like that at a table. Now everyone knew my game.

The end came as it always does - with horrible injustice. I bounced around from 17,000 to 22,000 for the next hour. With the blinds still relatively low and about to slow down even further, I was in pretty good position to make a move and go much deeper.

I picked up KK in the big blind. It folded around to the button, a charming young woman I had already pegged as a gambler, who called. So did the small blind. The pot was now big enough that taking it down would be a tidy profit but I wanted more. I raised an enticing amount hoping for action. The button obliged but the small blind got out of the way.

The flop was A-K-7 (two diamonds). A more beautiful flop was never seen. I put the button on some sort of Ace and this was the opportunity to double up. I bet out, she raised enough to put me all in, I immediately called. She suddenly said, "I know you've got me but I want to gamble". As I flipped over my set of cowboys a cold knot formed in my stomach because I knew she didn't have an Ace. She turned over Q-J of diamonds. The fifth diamond came on the river completing her flush and knocking me out.

It certainly didn't seem fair but when does it? I went from a sure double up to zero in the time it took the dealer to turn oer some raggedy old diamond. Then again, as I walked out of the room I looked at the mass that remained and realized the crapshoot had only begun and the snake eyes could have come many exhausting hours later.

Later that night, on a full stomach of New York strip, I wandered back into the poker room to play in a $100 turbo and spotted the girl who took me out. She caught my eye, laughed and said if she won the whole thing she'd find me to give me a little something. I laughed and gave her a thumbs up. Three hours later she was still somewhere in the dwindling mass of people and I finished 7th out of a field of 76 to almost make back all the money I had lost for the day.

And the beat goes on. Day two brings a $700 entry event. Of course I'm playing.

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