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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

June 21, 2005

G-Vegas vs. The LA Crew

by Luckbox

It will one day rank up there with the likes of Lakers vs. Celtics and Yankees vs. Red Sox and Jay Leno vs. David Letterman.

I don't mean to disparage the Michigan Boys or the Minnesota Trio, but Conan O'Brien and Craig Kilborn are late, late night for a reason.

G-Vegas was lead by Otis and the LA Crew lined up behind Hank. Two titans of the poker blogger community. And if by some creul twist of fate those two fell, Bad Blood and Joe Speaker were ready to step in. Even G-Rob and fhwrdh caused concern for their tablemates.

Oh, almost forgot to mention. The LA Crew also featured the last place finisher from the last live WPBT event and G-Vegas brought along the last place finisher from the last online WPBT event. Bill Rini and yours truly.

So how did it come to pass that as 69 players dropped one-by-one, left at the final table were the two afterthoughts? It wasn't supposed to happen that way. And yet, there it was. The most unlikely showdown in WPBT history.

I suppose I should start at the beginning...

I was a mountain of nerves Saturday morning. I guess it's like organizing the biggest home game you could imagine. I was worried people wouldn't show or that we'd show up at the casino and the floorman would say he has no idea what we're talking about.

Amazingly, everyone made it, and most people were early. When I settled into the one seat of whatever table I was assigned to, I was finding it hard to concentrate on my play. I hadn't prepared myself mentally, and frankly, my tournament showings with the WPBT left a lot to be desired.

I decided early on to take Felicia's advice from the last WPBT live event, and play a little more aggressively. At one point, the dealer mentioned we were the tightest table he had ever dealt. I decided to use this to my advantage, and had little trouble taking blinds when I wanted to.

With the structure the way it was (and yes, it was fast), you needed to accumulate chips at a steady pace. Thankfully, I caught the cards when I needed them, too.

When we reached the third level, people started dropping quickly. In one 5 hand stretch, I was dealt Big Slick 3 times. With one of those hands, I knocked out two people. A few hands later, I knocked out another two short stacks when I called with J8o from the BB and flopped two pair.

When we got down to three tables, I was a huge chip leader. I know this because Joe Speaker delighted in telling me I was a huge chip leader. In fact, every time he did this, I managed to bleed chips at a rapid pace.

It started when I raised 3xBB with A6s. I was two from the button and was really just hoping to take the blinds. It was folded to the BB where Shelly pushed all in with pocket 6's. It wasn't much more for me to call so I had to. Usually when I made this move, I knew I'd be playing for all of their chips if they decided to play with me. I never improved and Shelly took a big chunk out of me.

A few hands later, I look down at A9s and I make another move. Mr. Subliminal is two seats to my left and after considering for a few moments, he announces, "Call" and flips over A2o. Unfortunately, the call doesn't put him all-in. He's stil got about 1500 behind him. Frankly, I was going to play for that 1500 except that the flop came down 2-2-x. Obviously, I folded.

Suddenly, I'm down to just 4000 with the blinds at 500/1000. I was in big trouble. As soon as I saw a playable hand, I pushed all-in, but amazingly, I didn't get called and I was up to 6500. A few hands later, Shelly raises in front of me. I didn't have much and with A3, I decided to make a stand, hoping she wasn't playing an Ace. She called my all-in with QJ, and when the flop came Q-3-3, I doubled up again.

And just like that, I was back. The chips started flowing my way again, and before long, we were down to the final table. I couldn't believe it. And with 10 left, I was chip leader (guess who pointed that out?).

I kept telling myself I would take things easy as the little stacks drifted away. One stupid decision and I'd be in bad shape. With 6 players left, I made that stupid decision.

I look down at pocket 3's and raise to 3xBB. It was a pretty standard play for me. At the other end of the table, a LA Crew groupie (Hank's buddy Matt) pushed all in. I knew he had a big pair. We were pretty close in stack size (I had him slightly outchipped) and he would only risk a stack that size with a hand that big.

So I thought and thought and thought and convinced myslef to call. Why? I don't know. It was a terrible play. Even if I just put him on overcards, why risk that huge stack on a coin flip, right? So of course, I call.

He flips Rockets and I never improve. I'm down to just 3500 with blinds at 1500/3000 and I'm the BB on the next hand.

The cards come out and I announce I'm playing it blind. What choice did I have, right? Obie tries to make things easier on my by raising to 6000. I tell him that I appreciate the isolation, but then Matt goes and calls. Ugh.

The flop is A-x-x. Obie pushes all-in, and I again thank him for his isolation. Then Matt calls. Ugh.

Obie flips AJo and Matt flips AQo. Suddenly, Matt's about to knock us both out. I was in bad, bad shape. I grab my first card and flip it over. It's the 9 of hearts. Ooooh... there's two hearts on the board. I say, "At least I'm on a flush draw" before flipping over my other card, the Q of hearts. And when the river heart fell, the crowd erupted. I was still alive.

When the orbit came around again, the blinds had gone up and I was barely able to make a raise. I decided I'd be playing my BB for all my chips no matter what I was dealt. Matt had raised in front of me and I pushed all in without looking. This time, I flipped over 94 of diamonds. This time, it was runner-runner flush that kept me alive. I'm not sure how I got so lucky.

A few hands later, The Tsunami Hitchhiker pushes from the SB. He has me slightly outstacked. I look down at QT, and with money already in for the BB, I'm almost forced to call. When he flips over Q8, I know I'm way ahead!

The flop comes down Q-high giving us both a pair. When the turn is an 8, I can't believe it. I'm about to go out in 4th place after all that fighting. I suppose I was satisfied, but I hated the bad beat. A meaningless card falls on the river and I feel empty. The adrenaline quickly seeped out of my body. I shake his hand and prepare to leave.

That's when we see it. Or more to the point, that's when the rest of the room points out what we missed. The flop was Q-T-x. I flopped two pair. The 8 was meaningless. I was still alive. I couldn't believe it. I went through all the emotions of being knocked out, but I was still alive.

It wasn't long before I knocked out The Tsunami Hitchhiker. We were down to just three. Matt's huge stack and the modest stacks in front of Bill Rini and myself. I don't know how it happened, because it was all a blur, but in just a few hands, Bill and I had whittled down Matt's stack, and in the end, Bill busted him.

We were heads up.

The most unlikely heads up in WPBT history.

I kinda liked my chances. I'm pretty happy with my heads up play in general, and I planned on being appropriately aggressive. I figured I'd try to chip away where I could, and when I got a hand where I figured I was ahead, I'd push all in.

That hand was A3o. When I pushed, Bill called and flipped KQ. The hand analyzer says I was a 58% favorite at that point. Not great, but I was ahead. When the flop came T-T-T, the most bizarre flop of the tourney, I was a 70% favorite. If I double up here, I'm a huge chip leader. When a K comes on the turn, it's almost over. Only an Ace or the case Ten wins it for me and my 9% chance never comes.

Bill Rini is the WPBT Aladdin Casino Classic Champion. I really wanted to knock out the LA Crew, but they did bring 32 representatives after all. I suppoe the odds were on their side. And for the record both the Michigan Boys and the Minnesota Trio were also represented at the final table by Boy Genius and Chad, respectively.

I don't know how it all happened, and I'm sure there was an awful lot of luck involved, but that win sure made the rest of the weekend a lot easier!

I want to thank all of you for making it easy on me. In the end, all the work was more than worth it. I'd also like to thank the fine people at the Aladdin Casino for running such a fine tourney. It was a blast!

Coming Up...
"The Grand Massage"

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