Poker School Online Tournament and Convention
January 9th-12th, 2003
By Randy Glover (rggator)
I pull my rental car into the parking lot of the Gold Strike Casino in Tunica Mississippi at 5:46 p.m. The PokerSchoolOnline No Limit Holdem tournament is at 6 pm. I dash to the lobby, which is empty except for a lone PSO player. I call out to BigBo that I am on my way to the tournament. He's says he'll buy me in if no one has yet. After checking in and splashing cold water on my face, I race back downstairs. It is 5:55 pm when I walk in the grand ballroom of the Gold Strike, where all the tournaments are dealt.
Debonair from PSO has bought me in. I find my seat and find I have one of the worst table draws possible. I am in seat 3 between TW41 and JBH5000, two of the best young players at PSO. Hey, toss out the young part: Two of the best players at PSO. Across from me in seats 7 and 8 are Thehazyone and Jmuzzey. Thehazyone is a seemingly tight player who I know is not as tight as he lets on. When the conditions a ripe, he will push a bluff with the same confidence as he plays a pair of pocket Aces. When Jmuzzey is on his game, he can read players like their cards are face up.
This could be a short night.
I get one pocket pair over the next 60 hands and it is 33. I see one AK hand, raise with it and capture the blinds. My only other "big hands" are KJs and KQo. It was that kind of night. I get blinded about out, after seeing too many 94o hands to recount.
I shove my chips in with KQo in the BB, after two people are all in ahead of me. It is an equity play only. The pot is so big, I will quadruple up if I win this hand and be right back in the tournament. And I get the situation I want: Two pocket pairs, a TT and a 66 against my two overcards. When Seadog makes a set of tens on the flop, I am pretty much drawing dead. A river Ten gives Seadog a VNH (very nice hand) and me a GG (Good Game).
Still, what a blast, playing face to face with players I had only chatted with online.
I eat dinner at 10 and come back to watch the last two tables. Congratulations to WildBill, NewJane, Spiegel and all who made the money. While standing there, I bet I meet another 40 PSOers.
The next morning, after a very bad night's sleep (a new rule for me: No Buffalo Shrimp after 10 pm--ever), I am up at 7:15 to make the trek over to the Grand Casino to sign up for their 4 pm Omaha Eight or Better tournament. Riding with me is Richie Rich. Also in the sign-up line are Thehazyone, pocketrocket, Azhardball, and GoBlue.
Back at the Gold Strike, I play in one limit holdem satellite. Why, I do not know, as it is my least favorite game. The buy in is $65 with the winner getting a $500 tournament chip plus $50. After seeing my AK flopping an Ace and losing to an A4, I remember why I hate the game so much. Still, I manage to finagle a deal when short stacked with 3 players left (one of them is Richie Rich, a buddy of mine from the ship), and get $100. I vow no more limit holdem satellites.
OMAHA 8 TOURNAMENT:
I catch a quick nap and head over the Grand. If you play Omaha eight, you are probably very familiar with this scenario. I see maybe 10 flops: chop two pots, and scoop one very small pot. Not the way to do well in a tournament.
My third to my last hand is AA79ds in the Small Blind with no limpers ahead. I go for the blinds and raise 1/3rd of my remaining chips. I get a call. I think about what kind of a hand I can put the Small Blind on. He is not a loose player. A2, A3 or Big cards. The flop comes 334. I check and he can not bet fast enough. I fold. He tells me he had A35.
The next 2 hands I find A257 twice, with the Ace and the 2 suited both times. The first time I call my last chips on the turn with a nut low draw; I hit it and get ½ the pot. The next time I am counterfeited on the turn and out of the tournament.
That night I play in a NLHE satellite. Again it is a $65 buy-in event, same payouts and the same amount of starting chips, $200. This satellite is a tough. There are two weak players and they are gone quickly. JBH5000 is to my immediate right.
Another player across the table from me makes two bizarre plays. I'll call him Mr. A5, for reasons that will be obvious later.
With five of us left he raises most of his stack from the button. I have a dream hand: AA in the BB with a player almost all in ahead of me. Maybe I should have looked at my cards one more time and pondered a bit. Maybe I need to take acting classes. What I did was: I shoved all in after JBH5000 folded. Immediately Mr. A5 says: Hmmm, pair versus pair. Without much additional thought he mucks, leaving himself maybe $75. Wow, there was $550 in the pot. Just looking at pot odds (7 to 1), you have to call here. No question. So even though a great read, a very bad fold.
Still, Mr. A5 has some strengths. He applies maximum aggression over the course of the next ½ dozen hands and wins most of them. We are soon down to four.
I am on the button with A4s. I raise $200. Mr. A5 cold calls. At this point, I have no idea what he has. I have to put him on a small to medium pocket pair or on a hand like KQ or A9. The flop is a blank and he checks. Again, I have no idea what he has, or whether he will call again. I check. The turn is a 5, he bets, I fold. He flips over an Ace and a 5. I flip my A4s over.
I say "A heck of a call. What did you put me on?"
He says, "An Ace, Jack, maybe."
Now I do not know what to think of his game. He has shown flashes of brilliance, and flashes of horrible NLHE play.
JBH goes out a short while later taking his Q9 and a short stack up against Mr. A5's KQ.
I ask for a chip count. The three of us are almost dead even. 3 chips separate the high from the low stack. I suggest a three-way split.
Mr. A5 is reluctant. The other player seems ready to deal. I tell Mr. A5 that I am tired. This is the truth. But a big part of wanting is the deal is that I cannot get a read on Mr. A5. The other guy I got a good read on him. He is a good player over whom I have no advantage. Still, he is maybe too tight for 3-handed play. Anyway, Mr. A5 agrees after we take $175 each and he gets $200.
I lend my rental car to Richie Rich that evening. Tell me how smart this is? Rich carries a NASCAR pillow with him from tournament to tournament; Rich's favorite thing is to go to the Daytona Speedway and pay to be driven around the track at 180 miles per hour. Anyway, the rental car comes back safe and sound.
The next day is our PokerSchoolOnline seminar. I get to bed at 2:30 am and almost oversleep but make it down with 2 minutes to spare. All the speakers are good (Barry Tannenbaum was side-splitting funny), but when T.J. Cloutier stops by and takes 15 minutes of questions, the school members are in awe. It is like a god from Mount Olympus has descended from the clouds to speak to the coliseum masses. After he recites chapter and verse of tournament play, he receives a standing ovation. He seems genuinely touched by this.
SATELLITES #3 AND #4:
I play in 2 NLHE satellites that night, getting a 4th and a 3rd. A poker writer sits to my left in the last one and I realize that NLHE satellites are not their specialty. They exit 5th after what I consider several questionable plays. A player makes a Royal Flush in this satellite (on a bad preflop call to a big raise) with KTs and 7 players left. GoBama from PSO takes a chop for 2nd, after his AQo in the SB knocks out my short stacked K6s in the BB.
In between these Satellites I meet Dr. Mark Burtman, a contributor to Pokerpages. He was on a break from his super satellite and recognized me from my picture. I have a very nice conversation with him and I am sure we will run into each other again many times over the years.
Another late night for me as I talk to wstwst for quite some time. I wish him luck in his $500 buy in NLHE tourney the next day. He ends up getting 5th and a $12,000 payday. Way to go Wendell.
Sunday is my last day, so I get up in time to play in one last satellite. I play a patient game and get all my chips in with AQ against 88 and catch a Queen. The player in 5th place has one chip left to post his $50 big blind. I am in the SB. I am planning on adding a $25 chip with my Q9 and hoping the other players know enough to check it down. The button raises and, since he has a bigger stack than me, I fold. A queen flops and so does a 7, giving the BB a pair with his 97o against the buttons K8o. I tell the button I had a Queen and he apologizes, telling me he wasn't thinking.
When we get down to 4 players, and the dealer is coloring up the red chips, we all agree to let everyone run to the restroom. I use this time to take a cigarette break. When I see the last of the players heading back to the table, I put out my smoke and carry it with me. It doesn't quite go out and I use my fingers to tamp it out the rest of the way. I toss it in my top pocket and dive for my cards before the dealer mucks them.
I try to look casual when I see QQ. I pray for a raise ahead. With the blinds at $25/$50, a limper ahead and only about $250 in chips in my stack I push all in. Getting fancy only gets me into trouble. All fold and I flip over the QQ.
As the dealer is dealing the next hand I smell smoke. Nah, I think.
Still, I look down at my pocket.
Oh there is smoke all right. And lots of it. I request time and frantically try to get the smoldering cigarette out of my pocket. I do, put the butt out, and then pound on my shirt pocket to put out whatever burning embers remain. The dealer is laughing so hard he says he may not be able to deal for a while. The other 3 players are amused, to put it mildly. I say the only thing that comes to mind.
"This doesn't exactly do much for my table image, does it?"
This brings another round of laughter.
When we get down to 3 players I am short stacked. The SB limps and I find K8o. The flop is Kxx with two clubs. He checks. Well, he may have me outkicked, but he is likely on a draw, otherwise he would have bet it. I have to go for it. I go all in. He calls and shows A6 of clubs. After the tournament he says he should have raised preflop.
The other player raises $200 from the button. I am in the BB with A9o. This is not a fold I usually make at this stage of a satellite. But my first reaction is to fold. I think about it for a while, go with my gut, and muck. After the satellite the player says he had AT.
A few hands later I have KTs in the SB. I push all in and get called by the BB who shows A5. The flop is KKx and the turn is a ten. I tell him he is drawing thin.
After this hand I request a chip count. We are almost dead even. I feel that if I have any advantage over the two it is a small one. I suggest an even chop and they agree. This time my excuse is that I am hungry. Mostly I just want to book a small win on my satellites. At this point in my play, I count my little victories and try to build on them.
I pay the other players off and collect my $500 tournament chip. I am approached by a guy who looks like a carnival midway barker. He asks me if I want to sell the chip. I tell him I want full value for it. He pulls out a stack of $100 bills and carefully counts off four bills and hands them to me. I tell him of his error; he acts dumb, recounts the four $100 bills in exaggerated gestures, then profusely apologizes. Hmmm?
I stay around and watch a little of the $500 NLHE event that day before taking my rental car and myself back to the airport. As soon as I reach the Gold Strike's parking garage the fatigue hits me in waves.
I can't remember having this much fun.