To recap, I had busted out in what can be described as record time during the $100 event at the Orleans, but those competitions are not exactly decided on skill.
They require luck, lots and lots of blind luck. A saying we have in the U.K. about soccer is that, "The best team wins the Premiership, but the luckiest team wins the FA Cup." It's the same with these tournaments - you might be a good player, but you better be a lucky one too.
A friend of mine, Jen Mason, had also dropped by to play these two events. She's a good player and could clearly see the masses of value swarming around the refurbished poker room. Although around 250 people had played the earlier event, only a third of these had hung around long enough to stay and give this "second-chance" tournament a whack.
I reached my table. Surveying the lay of the land, I had three women sitting to my right and mainly elderly men sitting to my left, so it did not look as though there would be too much craziness early on. The structure was similar to the other tournament except this time we'd only get $4,000 in chips instead of the previous $5,000.
I picked up Q♣ Q♠ from UTG+1 and bumped it up to $150. The lady in the small blind called, with everyone else folding.
The flop came out A♠ T♠ 8♠, not a great one, but at least I had the Q♠, which was an out. The lady checked to me and I decided to check behind; I reasoned she wouldn't pass an ace to me but would probably fold most other hands.
If she had an ace and check-raised (a dangerous move here, but you can't ever predict what people will do at the smallest buy-in levels), I'd have to fold. I decided to check behind and then see what she would do on the turn.
The turn brought the A♣, which was a good card, as it made it less likely she held one, but she fired out $200 into the $325 pot. I called, thinking my queens were probably good, as she might be betting the ten now that the board had paired.
The river then paired the ten, coming T♥, and she checked. I thought about what I could bet and decided very little was paying me off.
I checked behind and she showed K♥ J♣. A queen on the river would have been nice! A few hands later UTG raised to $125 and got two callers, and I called the extra $75 with J♣ 8♣.
The flop came down A♣ T♣ 9♣, giving me a flush with a straight flush redraw. Decent start.
I decided to lead out for $300 - if UTG had any sort of decent ace with a strong club as kicker, he might raise me then and there. Any ace would at least be forced to call the flop bet, while someone holding the K♣ would not be getting out of the way. UTG called my bet and the other two players folded.
On the turn the A♥ appeared. Now I really hoped he was holding an ace, as he might well want to get his whole stack in there and then.
I bet $900 but again, he just called. If he had an ace, he was doing well to lose the minimum. The river was a 3♦ and now I made a value bet of $1,625. He quickly folded, saying that he had K♣ Q♥ and had been chasing. Unlike the last tournament, this one had gone pretty well.
I picked up a few blinds against the tighter older gentleman who called my raise from the big blind a couple of times but always check-folded to my bet on the flop.
The table was then broken and I was moved tables literally for seconds. However, it was just in time to see two $10,000 stacks go to war with aces and queens respectively.
"Unlucky man," I ventured to the gentleman sitting with just shrapnel left as the lady across the table eagerly lapped up the chips like a kitten over a fallen saucer of milk.
"I should've just flat-called; then I could've folded on the flop."
"But the flop came 6-2-2, that would be really hard to get away from, especially with this structure," I said.
"No, if she'd bet the flop, I could've folded easily."
Faced with that honest sincerity and belief in something that I could never have done, I was glad to be moved tables once again, and fortuitously to the left of what looked to be the biggest stack of the tournament.
After a couple of rounds of not picking up any cards, the guy two to my right limped for $200 when I picked up pocket tens. I raised to $750 before the button gave me a cold hard stare. He thought about reraising but then ended up just flat-calling. The big blind called too after some debate and that brought the limper in as well.
I prayed for a real low board, else I was done with the hand, but the dealer threw out J♣ T♠ 7♣ to give me a set.
The big blind thought and thought, fiddling with his chips, looking as though he wanted to bet but wasn't sure if he should. He ended up checking, as did the original limper.
The action was on me, and there was obviously no way I could slow-play this hand, but at the same time I wouldn't be folding should anyone come over the top. I had about $6,000 behind and there was $3,100 in the pot.
I bet $1,800 to show that I still enough chips to fold if someone raised me. With the texture of the flop I really felt that someone would have hit it hard enough to go the whole way with A-J, K-Q or something along those lines.
The button glared at me and counted his chips, then folded, seemingly disgusted with himself. The big blind passed too after counting out half his stack which he would've had to call off. With no fold equity, he gave up what he later said was K-Q.
The limper folded also. The big blind muttered how he wished had bet the flop because then he would've been priced in, and he asked to see the turn despite the hand being over.
The dealer acquiesced and showed the T♥, which would've made me quads. But never mind; I had picked up a fair number of chips in the hand. Of course then, the blinds increased rapidly with oversized antes coming in, and I managed to do a lot of my chips in one hand trying to blind-steal.
I picked up T♣ 8♣ from the hijack and with the blinds $200/$400 with a $50 ante, I raised to $1,100. The button, the same player who called when I held tens before, again gave me the long stare before making the call.
The flop was raggy, coming 9♣ 5♦ 2♥. I fired out about $1,600, leaving myself about $4,800 behind with him having me well covered. He thought for a moment before raising me another $2,000. Marvellous.
I gave up the hand and was left nursing a short stack, and began the merry dance of looking for spots, praying for walks and hoping I didn't get called. Eventually I got up to $6,600, hoping for some respite, only to see the level to go up.
But not from $300/$600 ($75) to $400/$800 ($75), but straight up to $500/$1,000 ($100). Eeek.
I came back from the break with my six big blinds with one hand to go before the big blind hit me. I was determined to shove all but the worst cards.
I looked down and saw something that looked like heaven and yet it was only A♣ T♠. I moved in and awaited the inevitable, like a man on death row.
The man sitting opposite me asked for a count before shoving all-in for his paltry, but still bigger than mine, stack of about $8,000. Everyone else folded and I was thinking I was drawing to three outs, until he flipped over K♠ Q♠.
My surprise was tempered by the T♦ 9♣ 8♥ flop, which meant any paint was good for him. The Q♥ got him there on the turn and the J♥ river made the straight.
We were still a table or two away from the money so I wasn't disheartened, but as someone who spends a fair amount of time playing decently structured tournaments on PokerStars and Full Tilt, it really becomes a case of whether it's more worthwhile playing badly structured tournaments with really bad players or better structured competitions online with much better players.
I'm of two minds, but I think I'll still make the trip to the Orleans the next Friday I have off.