I went to Harrahs Casino in Tunica last night expecting to play in a $100 buyin weekly tournament. When I got there I found out that they are having something called the Mid-South Poker Open Sept. 4 to 14. Each day there is a tournament event at 11 a.m. and another at 6 p.m. The buyins range from $340 to $2600.
EDIT: Click here to read a thread on the 2+2 forums that discusses this tournament in terms of blind structure and other information.
The tournament last night was a $340 buyin that they called a Senior Tournament, meaning you had to be 50 years or older. I saw a friend of mine who, besides being an excellent poker player, is also an excellent bridge player. He was going to play and he encouraged me to play, too. I didn't even know if I had that much money on me. I checked my wallet and guess what? I had exactly $340 -- not $339 nor $341, but $340. Well, I'm not superstitious, but that seemed like a good omen, so I entered. Hey, if I can't beat up on the geezers, then what? A side note: I was quite upset when they didn't card me. I guess they'll let anybody claim to be 50.
There were 60 runners and first place was ~$6300, a prize worth shooting for. We started with T4000 in chips and blinds began at 25/50. Each level was 30 minutes.
When the blinds were 50/100, i picked up ♣Q ♣9 and limped in. I noticed there was more limping in this tournament than a regular one and it was mucho less aggressive than online play.
Four of us saw a flop. The dealer put J 10 x on the felt with two clubs, so I had a flush and a straight draw. The guy in front of me bet T200. I called and everyone else folded. The turn was a low red card. (I forget exactly what -- it's been three days now as I am editing this Monday evening.) The guy bet another T200, way too small, and I called. The river was the ♠K, completing my straight. The guy checked and I bet T700. The guys says, "I've got to see it," and called. Aren't those the saddest five words in poker? I've got to see it. NO, you don't have to see it, but he was a calling station.
A few hands later he again entered the pot for T100 and I looked down to see: ♥A ♦Q. I raised to T400. This was a little extra because there is already a limper -- I didn't want too many players or to make it too attractive from a pot odds perspective. The big blind called as did the limper. The flop was nice for me: ♦A ♣5 ♠2. It was checked to me and I fired out a T800 bet into a T1300 pot. The big blind had T1825 left and he went all in. What do you make of that? I didn't like it, but it "only" cost me T1025 more and there was nearly T4000 already out there, so I called. He showed me the nightmare hand: ♠A ♣A, and I was drawing dead (except for two running cards for the wheel for a chop).
After that I went card dead. I hate to use the "F" word, but all I did was FOLD. Yes, that f-word. My stack dribbled down to T2800. I was in the big blind when they were T150/300/25. Three players limped to me, and I peeked at my hole cards to see ♠A ♠9. There was already 1450 in the pot (counting my blind and the antes) so I moved all in. I needed to win those chips. If anyone had a hand to call my all-in, they would have raised, at least theoretically. It went fold, fold and I was called by the last limper who had me covered and turned over ♦A ♥Q! Yikes, why didn't he raise to thin the field? The flop had an ace which didn't help either of us, the turn was a rag that I can't remember and the river was a beautiful ♣9. SHIP IT! After this suck out, I had a feeling that it was going to be my night.
I built my stack back up. My narrow escape had given me confidence for some reason. When we were down to two tables, I moved to another table and the tournament chip leader, who I found out later was Kenny Piel, was on my immediate right. I hated having him at my table, but at least I had him where I wanted him (he had to act before I did). I had played with him at a previous table and noticed that he played good position poker. When everyone folded to him in position, he always made a big bet and took down a bunch of pots without showing his hand. With a player like this, the check-raise (or check-raise bluff) is your best friend. I was ready for him. Strangely enough, however, he was playing very passively which gave me a chance to steal several hands.
It took forever to eliminate the next five or six players. At one point, Piel leaned over and whispered, "These older players are so conservative. If it were younger guys, they'd be busted out by now!" I could see that he was biding his time for the final table. Occasionally, he would enter a pot. When he did, he would make an overbet six or seven times the big blind. Everyone always folded -- they could see his mountain of chips.
Finally we got down to the final 10 players and formed one table. There were a total of 60 players, each had started with 4000 in chips, so there were T240,000 chips in play. That meant that the average stack would be T24,000 and I only had around T20,000. To say the average stack was 24,000 however, wasn't exactly true. Piel had a monster stack and there was a lady (on my immediate right) who had a big stack as well. If you subtracted out those chips and divided the rest by eight, my T20,000 stack was very playable.
I was able to work my stack up to around T30,000 and two short stacks finally busted out. Both of them let their stack get too low before having to move all in. Seniors are conservative by nature I guess. Then this hand. A guy limped in. The big blind made a big raise. The limper made a big re-raise and the blind moved all in and it was called. Everyone, even the cocktail waitress, knew that it was aces against kings. Sure enough the limper had AA and the big blind had KK. The aces held up. They had almost identical stacks, so the blind's chip stack was now on the morphine drip and he busted out a few hands later.
There was one other short stack. The blinds were 1000/2000 with an ante that I can't remember. When the short stack was in the small blind, I picked up ♣A and ♣7 in late position. I raised and both blinds called. The flop was J x x with two clubs. The short stack/small blind moved all in. It wasn't that much more (I forget now the exact numbers, that's why it's better to write up a tournament report the next day), and I was getting good odds for my money, so I called. He turned over the ♣Q ♣5!! He was on a semi-bluff! The turn was a rag, but the river was a queen. Yuck.
The very next hand, it was folded to me and I looked at my hole cards to see two lovely ladies: ♥Q ♦Q. I made my normal raise to T6000 and the same guy called. The flop was good for me, three low cards that included a 2. The short stack moved all in! I called and he turned over a 2 and a 3 for bottom pair and a 3 kicker, lol! This was great for me, but the turn was a 3 giving him two pair which held up. This live poker is rigged, I tell you, ha.
Now, all of a sudden, I'm in trouble. I moved all in on the next hand and picked up the blinds and antes. I picked up another hand when I limped in and then bet the flop. I folded a hand and then I was in the big blind. The guy who limped with aces earlier, limped in again. I checked my hole cards and I had ♦6 ♥6, and I moved all in. I had a little more than T20,000 chips. The limper called me and turned over ♥A ♥5. What do you think of his call? I don't like it. If you are going to call an all in, go ahead and come in for a raise. Check, call, check, call -- that's losing poker. I'm just sayin'.
I was a 65.64% favorite to his 33.85% (with a slight chance of a tie) according to the Card Player Magazine's odds calculator.. My hand held up and I was back in business (with more than 41,000 chips) and the guy who called me was in bad shape. In fact, he busted out next. Eventually the guy who drew out on me twice, also dribbled his stack down and finally busted out and there were four of us.
At this point, the guy with the third-most chips (I was fourth) suggested a chop. The big stack (Piel) said that was okay if he could be listed as the winner. Third stack asked him why? He said, "I just want to be listed as first." Then the second stack, a lady, asked him the same question and he gave her the same answer. She said she would chop, but she wanted to be listed as second. The guy in third said, ok then he would take the third-place listing. This was great for me. The casino divides up the money, but you sign a sheet for first, or second, or whatever. I would be signing for a little less than $1200 for fourth place but getting paid more than $3300. When they (Harrahs) send out the W-2G tax forms, I would owe less taxes. The IRS doesn't care who signs what as long as they get their money, and so this was the best of all worlds for me. Or so I thought.
After they divided up the money and had us sign forms, the lady took a look at the flyer for the tournament. In very small print, it said that the winner of each event would qualify to play in a free roll on Friday, Sept. 26 that they are calling The Battle of the Best. The big stack knew about this, so negotiated a good deal for himself. To me, it was too late, we made a deal, so what can you do? The other two didn't see it that way. They accosted the big stack. I didn't hear exactly what he said, but it was along the lines of I didn't lie to you about anything and you agreed, so tough noogies. I guess the lesson to learn here is that it pays to know the conditions of contest any time you play.
What do you think?
EDIT: I've just found an online site that gives the results. It lists me as fourth, but don't forget that was just a technicality as we split the money evenly for 1/4 places. You can click here to see the results.
P.S. Do you think that all poker players are self-absorbed scum bags? If you do, you might change your mind if you check out an extremely interesting article written by Piel for Poker Pages that you can read by clicking here.