Friday, September 07, 2007

Tunica: Third

Third. But close. Oh so close.

At 3 hours I was the chip leader. Possessing 2/3 of the chips in play and only three players left. But poker is fickle and soon I was back down to having about the same as the other two. That's when it happened. The bad beat which I knew must come.

In every tournament, to reach a certain level of success, two things must happen. You have to get lucky and come from behind and you have to weather some horrific injustice. Last night I told you about my one lucky draw. But for two days, I had not suffered a really bad beat. There had been a few minor bouts of annoyance but not the truly devestating tragedy from which a player might not return. Every poker player knows it's coming. They all pray it doesn't come late.

Three hours into the final table I had outlasted five other players. By playing my usual tight aggressive game, I had stayed above the table average the entire session. With three players left, I called an aggressive player's all in and doubled up. The very next hand a young but very good player bluffed me off 30 grand. The hand following that all three of us got everything in the middle. Post-flop I only had an ace high and knew I was probably behind at least one player but given the chance to win the tournament right there, I had to call. I didn't improve and they both caught. Now we were back to all three nearly even.

For a while we jousted and then it happened.

In the small blind, I picked up KK. The button folded. I knew the big blind was an aggressive loose player so I bet 18 grand into him. He called. The flop was 3-5-8, all hearts. Potential danger but given his ability to play anything I felt he probably did not have the flush. Plus, one of my kings was a heart, so unless he had the ace of hearts, I still had outs.

I led out for another 20 grand. He pushed all in. Don't ask me how because this is where poker voodoo comes into play, but I knew he didn't have the flush. I called. He turned over 7-9 of diamonds. He actually did have the inside straight draw, so I suppose you could call his move a semi-bluff.

At this point, I was a near 90% favorite. And then it happened. The turn was the six of spades. He made the straight. But it wasn't over yet. Any heart on the river, I win the hand, take him out and have a huge advantage for heads up against the final guy. The river was the 2 of spades.

It took some time to count the chips involved, so I slowly walked around the tournament area. We had a small crowd watching and I could see the sympathy in all eyes. But there was wisdom in the faces of the older players. They had all been there before and they understood as did I that sometimes it just happens. Life ain't fair and poker is less so.

Down to 15,000 with blinds at 3,000-6,000 plus a 500 ante, I had one move. I went all in the next hand, didn't improve and it was over.

It took me some time to pull myself together. I admired the young guns I played with, who as soon as they were eliminated would immediately leap to another table and start playing again. Maybe with age comes the need to process everything before you move on. Maybe I was just tired and my brain isn't as lean as it once was.

Maybe after two days, nearly 15 hours of complete focus, I just had little left. But as I walked out, an older gentleman was there to shake my hand and wish me congratualtions. I met him the day before and although he was playing across the way, he kept coming over to see how I was faring. I realized the little I had left was the comfort of meeting some great people.

Like the gentleman farmer from Iowa and his daughter who were waiting for his wife, her mother, to return from visiting kinfolk in Alabama and join them for the weekend. Like the pilot who enjoyed gambling, good conversation and upon seeing my PBR shirt told me about a rich client who refused to board any plane which didn't have his favorite beer. Like the young man from Missouri who described his hometown as so small if you held your breath you could drive all the way through it. Like the young players who were so intense, so prepared and so hard, but eventually caused me comfort just from having their professional demeanor near by.

Tomorrow, I leave Tunica with a little cash in my pocket, some pride at my success and the renewed belief that in life there will always be the good, the bad and the ugly, but for the most part, poker people are still good people.


Blackjackk said...

Based on the link you provided in an earlier post, and seeing what 3rd place won in earlier tourneys this week with the same entry fee, it looks like you walked out with a pretty good chunk of change.

Frustrated at not finishing first? Definitely understandable. But coming in 3rd out of 157? Not too fucking shabby.

Congrats dude

Sara said...

I know you're exhausted but I can't wait to hear about the next one. New Orleans?

dfs said...

Great job, man! I know it's got to be a bit disappointing to be so close and not quite make it. I find I'm always satisfied with reaching a certain level until you actually hit that level and then you want more. At the end of the day, I'm never really 100% satisfied until I win it all, but it really is an awesome achievement just to make it to the final table.

Now to just figure out a way to wrangle my way into joining you next time. =)

kevin said...

Well done.