Last year Reno was the biggest tournament result of my life, and it remains so. Having it around the corner got me excited and ready to play. There was no way I was missing this one.
I booked my flight for Sunday night, planning on playing a satellite early on Monday, buying in if I busted and then spending the rest of the day doing some fun stuff around the hotel.
Even though Reno is not a city I look forward to spending time in, the Grand Sierra Hotel in Reno is actually a very nice hotel. It has plenty of fun stuff to do, which is great for me since I usually try not to think about poker the day before the big tournaments (unless I'm playing a satellite).
Last year I spent the day before the tournament playing miniature golf and took a dive off one of those insanely high superman swings. That helped clear my mind the day before and I think it helped me stay focused for the tournament, which eventually I would Greg Mueller, Matusow, Ivey and all the online names, amongst other big players. However, if I stood up and walked past my half of the room, I wouldn't recognize a face for the most part. It was a very bizarre image to take in.
Most of the tournament pros know your starting table in a tournament usually has a pretty heavy bearing on your results. So it wasn't a surprise when I took off my headphones to hear Mike and Mueller furiously arguing with the tournament director.
Hypothetically, if they would have told us they were making the pros play on the same tables, a lot of us wouldn't have traveled out there and bought in - it's just not very profitable.
The funny thing about that situation is the amateurs actually want to play with the pros. But I guess we're pros and can't complain when we have to play against the best.
However, I was still pretty damn pissed I had David Pham to my left. If there was any doubt in my mind he was the best "big-buy-in" live tournament player in the world, that doubt was far gone by the end of the first two levels.
David Pham is a straight-up beast, and I don't think anyone who has played with him for over four hours can argue that; he just tortures people. He is, of course, at the final table of this tournament for the second time in a row, and I would like to congratulate him on that.
I didn't get to talk much poker in this part but stay tuned for next week. I will talk about Pham slapping me around the entire time we sat together, about my table change from one death table to the next, and I'll add some fun hands along the way.
-- J.C. (www.JCAlvarado.com)
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