The Commerce is California's biggest card room and as of the last LA Poker Classic they've got a man who (whom?) I and many other pros consider the best current Tournament Director in the World at the helm: Matt Savage.
Matt has several years of directing some of the biggest poker tournaments in history under his belt, including the WSOP Main Event.
He is constantly working hard to give players what they want and get feedback, and is even a fixture in the Two Plus Two forums where he likes to get players thoughts/complaints/ideas so that he can make his already sick tournaments even sicker.
Thanks to the start time being posted incorrectly as 1pm, I waded through LA traffic from my friend's house in Valley Village and arrived at the Commerce shortly before what I thought was the start time.
Unfortunately, I found out that there was a $330 NL event going on at 1pm, and the $2k NL event didn't start until 5pm.
Not only did this mean I had four hours to kill if I didn't feel like playing the $330 and just trying to get chips in that or play the $2k, but it also means that the number of entrants will be lower in the $2k since many players will opt to play the smaller buyin instead. Sigh...
I decided to go have lunch with a friend of mine in the area who I hadn't seen in a while after buying into the $2k event.
When I returned for the $2k event, I found that under 40 entrants were signed up, and others who showed up and saw this (Bryan Devonshire, Jimmy Fricke, Adam Junglen, etc.) decided not to play.
Not that I was sad to see them leave, but the more the merrier as far as the prize pool is concerned.
After late registration closed there were 46 entrants, which meant that first place would pay just over $40k and an ADDED MONEY $5,100 seat to the main event (often the host casino is cheap and takes it out of the prize pool while pretending they added the money).
We started with 7,500 chips, 60 minute levels, and a very slow blind escalation structure starting with 25/50.
7,500 doesn't seem like a lot of chips, but most people underestimate the importance of the speed of blind escalation.
While many tournaments start you with a ton of chips and leave no play late when it matters, Matt's structures focus on making sure there is plenty of play when the money is really on the line.
I got off to a very slow start and played pretty tight early in the tournament. A few levels in I flopped trip sevens with 7♥ 8♥ against a guy holding A♣ J♠ on a J♣ 7♦ 7♠ board and stacked him.
Shortly after, I stacked off in an enormous pot for most of my chips on a 7♠ 8♠ 3♦ flop with J♠ 10♠ against A♠ A♦. The turn was the 10♣, adding some more life, and the river was the 5♠, completing my flush and making me the new chip leader...
... to be continued in Part 2.
"All In At 420"