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He's a large man. When he sat down to my left, I had to move my chair closer to the 3 seat. He took up a lot of room. It was also a lot easier to slide down my chip stack considering it consisted of just a 500 and a 100 chip.
Chris Grigorian had a lot more. Of course, I didn't know he was Chris Gregorian. I only knew that he was audacious enough to wear what I assumed to be his nickname on his hat. It made me want to begin printing my Luckbox trucker hats right away.
He wasn't there five minutes when he managed to join the other 8 players and I in a silent pact to crush him. We wanted nothing more than to see him leave our table with nothing but the sting of a bunch of no-nicknamed-players taking all his chips.
We got our wish.
The WSOP Circuit
I kept telling myself I was prepared. The night before I cashed in a 2nd chance tourney with 158 players. Sure, there was one patented Luckbox suckout when my A2 outflopped A7, but that's poker. My K9 also managed to outflop AQ with 15 left, but an Ace on the river sent me packing.
When I woke up Saturday morning, something felt wrong. I thought I might have picked up a bug of some kind. I actually went to bed at about 11pm Friday night when I could have been playing poker instead. That should tell you how bad I felt. I felt lingering effects Saturday morning, but I think my nerves actually magnified it.
I'm surprised I was nervous. I thought there was no way the players or the situation would intimidate me. I was wrong. And it cost me.
We started with T2000, 25/50 blinds and 60 minute levels. That's plenty of time for me to pick good hands and play them hard.
Unfortunately, the first hand I picked was ATs. Hardly a premium hand, but it was a hand with which I felt I could pick up some chips. I raised from MP and got called by both the button and the BB. The flop came down T-high. I put out a strong bet, almost pot-sized, and the button called me. I was concerned right there that I might already be beat. Or was I giving him too much credit?
The turn put both a flush and a straight on the board. I checked, acknowledging the surrender. Perhaps I was ahead. I'll never know.
A little while later in the first level, I picked up pocket T's. I put out another solid raise and got one caller. The flop was AQx, two hearts. I had the T of hearts. I put out a feeler bet and got called. The turn didn't help me and I gave up on this hand, too. I was scared money.
That was the last hand I played that wasn't out of the blind until the hand that busted me. Once, I won a small pot when A4 flopped two pair. Another time, A6s won a small pot when the flop came 6-3-3. That was it.
The second level was over and it was time for a ten minute break. I had just T500 left and blinds were 50/100. In my mind, I had played horribly. Of course, the ATs and the TT were the two best hands I saw in two hours of play.
The first hand after the break, I looked down at 66. I was one hand from the BB and I wasn't going to find a better spot. I got one caller, and then the big stack re-raised. Isolation meant just one thing: Rockets.
I was dead. I may be a Luckbox, but I have absolutely no power over pocket Aces. I think I was the very first person to bust in level 3. I don't even know how many people busted before me. I might as well have finished in last.
Getting Over It
But at least I wasn't Chris Grigorian. CardPlayer says he was the 1060th best tournament player in the world last year with three final tables and about $50,000 in winnings.
I outlasted him.
Moments after he sat down, he began establishing his image as the table boss.
"Can I get change for this 500?" The 8 seat asked the 1 seat. The 1 seat nodded and started counting out 4 blacks and 4 greens.
"No, no, no, no," The Armenian Express demanded, "Only black. Only black!"
The 1 seat was no poker slouch. He had pretty much owned the table up until that point. But he was still a little thrown off by the demand.
"Okaaaaay," he said, sliding 5 black chips to the 8 seat.
"It's faster that way," the Express responded. I suppose that extra 10 seconds he would save in this level might help him in the long run.
The cards are dealt and the Express immediately throws out a strong raise. He gets a caller and after the flop, the Express throws out another big bet. I didn't believe him. I'm no pro, but I think this tell is taught on page 3 of every poker book ever written.
The other player didn't believe him either and came back over the top. The Express folded.
The next hand was a near instant replay with a different player. I could sense the wheels coming of the Express.
Two hands later, he raises again from early position. It's folded around the BB, who has become the biggest stack at the table. He re-raises, and without missing a beat, the Express goes all in.
The BB went into the tank a bit. He was a nice guy who laughed at all my jokes. He's also the guy who would later wake up with Aces against me. I liked him. I was worried that The Express actually had a hand here, and was hoping his previous lay downs would invite a call. I knew the BB wasn't making a move, but I didn't know if his hand was big enough.
He called and when the cards are flipped, the BB is holding QQ and the Express is holding AKs. It was a race. And since the Express did not get his nickname for being very fast (he's a big guy), the BB seemed to be in good shape.
The QT7 flop, nearly sealed the Express' fate, but there were four Jacks in the deck. None would come and just like that, the Express' day was done.
He had no parting words for the table, but did hurl a chip rack at a copy machine nearby. Apparently in this case, being table boss did not pay off. It merely ensured everyone else wanted to bust him as soon as possible.
Looking back, all I could do was chalk this up to experience. At least I can lay some of the blame at the foot of the dealers. After all, my cards really sucked. But I didn't exactly play them as well as I could have either. This just means I'll need a little more live practice before the next big event.
By the way, the picture above was taken shortly after the start of the HORSE event. The lineup of pros was impressive, including TJ Cloutier, Barry Greenstein, Carlos Mortensen, Andy Bloch, Layne Flack, David Williams and more. For some reason, Erick Lindgren was on his laptop instead of in his chair. And when I snapped this picture, The Armenian Express was asking if he could use Lindgren's laptop to check his email. Weird.