Still five-handed, he limped from the small blind and bet out on a K♥ 8♣ 3♥ flop.
I called with 8♠ 2♦, and we both checked when the K♦ paired the board on the turn. After the 9♦ fell on the river, he checked to me once again and I decided to make a value bet. Evgeny wasted little time in putting in a sizeable check-raise!
Usually third pair with no kicker is obviously a pretty weak holding facing a river check-raise, but there were a few factors that left me pretty sure that he was trying to bluff me. I quickly called (before I could talk myself out of it!), and he sheepishly mucked his hand. Noone asked to see my winning hand, but I showed anyway...and Evgeney looked a bit ill as he knocked the table to say "nice call."
After a lot of five- and six-handed play, the shortstacks busted in consecutive hands to Evgeny and Joseph Serock, who I recently learned was online pro "floes"...even though he knew who I was the whole time (I hate that!). This left Evgeny with about half the chips in play, and Joe and I each hand about a quarter.
I rarely discuss deals at final tables, because I rarely feel that I'll be offered what I believe is a fair deal that will benefit me in terms of equity. However, with the stacks the way they were, I decided to offer to flatten the payout structure because it would obviously benefit me in the long run.
The payouts were $40,158 (+ $5k added seat to their main event), $22,310, and $13,386. I proposed that we take enough money from 1st place to make 3rd place an even $20k. Since Evgeny had about half of the chips in play, he wisely declined. He offered a chip chop, and I politely declined and asked the dealer to continue dealing.
After about ten hands, Joe flopped the nut flush draw against Evgeny's two pair and they got it all in on the flop. Joe whiffed, and Evgeney and I were heads up. Although he held ~250k to my ~90k, he surprised me by suddenly saying "OK, let's flatten it now."
Now, Evgeny is a Russian citizen who is not completely fluent in the English language. However, over the course of the final table, we had multiple full conversations at the table and on break. He has a firm enough grasp of the language to clearly convey his thoughts, even if I need to help him translate a word or two.
With the chips the way they were, one of the two of us would have to be an idiot for me to say no...he'd have to be an absolutely horrendous player for it not to be equitable for me, otherwise the idiot would be me! I even leave it totally in his hands since I don't want to appear pushy, and he says "let's make 2nd $29k."
Since Matt Savage is the man, he will even adjust the payout structure so that the deals don't have to be handled by the players after they get paid at the cage....often with nothing but word of mouth and a gentlemen's agreement to go on since most casinos won't get involved with deals. We call Matt over and let him know what we've agreed to.
With that, we decide to take an extra-long break so that I can enjoy my final table/victory blunt. I've made it very clear to Matt that it's unfair to make fat potheads run on break, and he does his best to accommodate out needs. He even agreed to make breaks during the $10k LAPC 15 minutes, even though he was planning on 10 minutes.
He announced during day 1, "Breaks will be ten minutes on day two...sorry Matt Stout." I replied by yelling out, "I'll be smoking pot over in the corner then, Matt!!!" Instead, I really showed him...by busting before the first break on day 2!
Anyway, back to the story...I show up nice and toasted for the heads up match, and Matt shows us the new payouts. He's getting ready to tell the dealer shuffling when Evgeny interrupts him to say, "wait, we're only making the deal if we get even in chips."
Ummmmmmmmm...WHAT!?!?!?!?! He said nothing about "if" when we made the deal. We very clearly told Matt what we wanted to do to the payout structure, and agreed upon it. However, despite giving me a clearly shocked look, Matt told me that he couldn't get involved in the dispute...which I respect.
We argued for about five minutes, and I even proposed that we make 2nd place just $26k. Again he declined, and I was pretty angry. I am usually very friendly at the table, and I spend much more time sharing laughs with the table than arguing...which other players attest to from across the room frequently.
I go out of my way to bite my tongue and not say some of the things I think, and I'm perfectly happy being the two- or three-hundredth best tournament player around, or whatever I am. However, when Evgeny said, "We can still make the deal if we get even in chips", I couldn't help but reply, "No, there's no way in hell I'm dealing with you after that bullshit. We're going to play, and I'm going to win. Good luck."
Even I looked down at my meager stack after making this statement and realized that it was a big tongue-in-cheek....I just declared victory while my opponent was holding a shotgun to my pistol! The blinds were 1k/2k (300) shortly after we started heads up play, so we still had plenty of play left, though...
To be honest, Evgeny helped me along with my prediction by playing pretty poorly heads up, too. He was limping and folding the button a lot, and just calling out of position a lot. I was able to exploit this and slowly chip away at him for a while. In fact, I got almost even in chips without any big showdowns!
Then I raised the button with the As-10s. He re-raised, and I moved in. He folded pretty quickly. Thanks to the reneged chop agreement, our friendly ties were broken, and for most of the heads up match I kept the brim of my cap very low and rarely looked up. I couldn't resist the urge to give him a smug grin after he folded, partially to make him incorrectly think I had a weak hand and was happy that he folded.
The first word of the heads up match was uttered by Evgeny, "You look at me, as I am ill."
I replied, "Karma's a bitch."
I proceed to explain the concept of karma to him, and tell him that maybe it's the reason that he's been running bad and getting unlucky (I left out the part about him playing like shit) in the heads up match after reneging on the deal. I told him that maybe he should consider the consequences of his actions in the future, and continued to give him the smug grin, as he looked more and more ill...
I've honestly never felt more in control of a heads up match than I did at that moment. It didn't take long before the final hand went down. I raised the button with K♣ 8♦. He called, and the flop came K♥ 8♥ 6♦, and he check-raised. I was actually hoping he'd move in so I could consider slow rolling given the situation, but he left some chips behind and denied me the opportunity.
He did, however, call all in with the K♠ Q♥, and whiffed. In the end, he got what he deserved...significantly less money that we'd AGREED UPON. I <3 karma! Then I did something I've never done except to Men "The Master" Nguyen (based on the fact that Men has cheated in many poker tournaments)...I refused to shake Evgeny's hand after the final card was dealt.
Still not sure if "leaving him hanging" was necessary, but I was still a little miffed about how things went down despite the fact that I won...but the moral of the story is ship the $40k, seat, and a California State Poker Championships trophy of a bear that weighs nearly 30 pounds!!!
"All In At 420"