Tulalip Poker Pro Challenge (15,000 chips)
Where to begin to tell this short tale of woe?
The money I made in the chop from the $5K at Aces last week pretty much covered my buy-in for the Poker Pro Challenge. For a $70 investment in that tournament, plus another $100 or so in expenses—plus a lot of time in the car over the weekend—I was going to be able to play in a game with a prize pool of several hundred thousand dollars, and a top prize of $100,000 or more.
The event had two starting days—Friday and Saturday—with an unspecified number of people coming back for day 2, on Sunday, April Fool’s Day. I had something I needed to be in Portland for on Saturday, so I decided to drive up Thursday night, play the first starting day, then drive home and back up if I made it to day 2. Big if. A friend put me up for the night in Redmond, only an hour away from the casino, so I’d be as rested as I could get going into the game.
I picked up my rewards card and ticket Thursday afternoon, so all I had to do when I got to the venue at a quarter to ten Friday morning was grab some breakfast to make sure my stomach was settled and wait for the action. I came ready to take notes, but when I sat down at table 16 (seat 4) the player on my right (a Seattle local named Jay) informed me that not only were cell phones disallowed at the table (which I knew from the brochure I picked up) but all electronic devices were verboten unless you stood away from the table. I had a few minutes to stash my iPad and filed my note-taking plans away.
The table was fairly friendly, it seemed like most everyone there knew each other, leaving me the odd man out as the real amateur. Shortly after action got started, a woman sat in seat 2 and I quickly came to realize that it was Karina Jett (perhaps from the people referring to her as Karina). She and Jay had a discussion about where he might stay in Las Vegas for the WSOP, and she seemed to know the guy on my left well, too. He turned out to be Seattle-area pro Tyler Patterson.
From Tyler’s semi-surreptitious Tweeting from the table (I got a laugh when I suggested that with his bowed head he could claim to be the Tim Tebow of poker in order to cover his texting) I later pieced together that in seat 10 was another Seattle-area player named Scott Eskenazi and that after the first hour or so pro Adam Schoenfeld got to the table (because he thought the event began at noon rather than 11am).
Even with these folks at the table, I did well almost from the beginning. I won the first two small pots I entered, lost a few hundred when I laid down a pair of nines to a bet after an ace and king hit the flop, but from there on out consistently built up. I won my first big showdown against seat 1 when a pair of fours turned into a set on the flop, made a couple of flushes, scared my heads-up opponent off of one pot with a raise, took a four-way showdown down with nothing more than a paired king (with a nine kicker) and nearing the end of the third round and the first break was up to close to 20,000 chips.
I limped in early with [3h 5h], called a raise and my five made middle pair on a flop with the high card a [th]. The turn put a low heart on the board, I think it was [4h]. Tyler was pushing hard with a bet of 2,500 and I read it as an attempt to shake me loose from a flush draw. The river card made the flush and Tyler pushed all-in. I asked for a count and thought it through for a second but I think I called even before the count was complete. I felt he was trying to push the amateur player (moi) off the flush. If I was right, I was going to essentially double up. If I was wrong and he had any other flush (the [4h] was on the board), I was felted. I was wrong. He flipped over [ah kh]. There was a moment where they thought I might not be completely covered but we were dead even in chips, and I shook a couple hands, wished people luck, and headed to the parking lot for a wet, windy drive home.
There were 168 players signed for day 1A up by the time I busted out, with another hour or so before the end of registration and possible re-entry. I know at least one other player busted before me. Saturday should be busy.
UPDATE: 31 March 2012, 8:15. At least I was in good company. According to their tweets, Tyler busted out just a few levels later and Matt Affleck were both out yesterday, as well. Big-time tournament director Matt Savage was playing (and busted), along with Michael Mizrachi and Allen Kessler.
UPDATE: 31 March 2012, 10:30. Neglected to mention that Ms. Jett was talking up a regular $120 Tuesday night HORSE tournament at MGM Grand in Las Vegas that sounded like a lot of fun.