It was supposed to be a relatively quick tourney. Just a couple of hours to decide who would wear the crown of Bradoween Open champion.
Seven grueling hours later, we finally had a winner. And it was all worth it!!!
The Open included a Mt. Willis-record field of 33 players. The $660 prize pool was also a Mt. Willis record. The mix of players included those who learned how to play poker in the preceding 24 hours and those who have played for years.
My tournament came down to a pair.
I suppose I should start at the beginning. There were four women in the tourney, and three of them drew seats at my table. That may have given me a slight advantage except the quality at my table turned out to be pretty high.
Of the original eight at our table, 7 made it to the final 24, 5 made it to the final 16 and three of us lasted to the final four!
Going around the table, starting with myself, it looked like this:
CJ, Reilly, Marty, David, Kelly, Tracy, Dusty, Stephanie
The only ones at this table I had played with before were Dusty and Tracy, and that was just once. I knew Dusty was an unpredictable player, but he knew what he was doing. Tracy would also prove to be tough, lasting longer than any other female player, and close to the final table.
I played pretty tight to start, relying on strong hands to take some pots. I split the first pot with Dusty when 3 Kings and a Jack hit the board and we were both holding an Ace. I won the second pot when my Ace paired the board.
From there, I stole a pot or two, and managed to build a good stack. Nothing huge, but I was never in bad position. Then I got my first big hand.
I was in late position when I got Q-J of clubs. There were a few callers in front of me, and I just called. I figured if I hit the flop at all, I could bet big and take the pot. The table tended to be a bit tight.
The flop was Q-club-club. I bet out pretty strong and Stephanie called me. The turn was a 9, and that meant I had top pair, a flush draw and an open ended straight draw. I bet even bigger and Stephanie called. The river brought another Q and I loved my hand. I bet even bigger and was shocked when Stephanie called. When she flipped Q-2, I scanned the board to make sure she didn't catch a boat, and breathed a sigh of relief. That hand just about knocked her out.
That stack sustained me for a long time. I didn't make many big moves, but continued to pull in a number of pots. I rarely got into a hand that I didn't win.
When we finally moved, I ended up at what would become the wildest table. Dusty and Reilly came with me, and we joined G-Rob, Brian, Mark I, Mark II, and the Kid.
The very first hand of this table, Reilly pushed all-in. He was pretty short stacked at this point and he had already warned me he planned to move in as soon as he caught a hand (he didn't realize we were moving to the same table when he told me this). Three people called Reilly's all-in and his Big Slick held up. That hand changed the future of the entire tourney.
Soon thereafter, G-Rob became involved in two of the wildest hands we'd see all night.
First, G-Rob called Brian's all-in with A-8-x-x on the board. Brian flipped over A-T and G-Rob flipped the powerful 8-3. Brian was seriously outchipped and about to double up. Until Dusty flipped an 8 on the river. Ouch.
Next, G-Rob called Dusty's all-in with 10-9-8 on the board. Dusty flipped a pocket pair of 8's, but G-Rob was holding Q-J. His straight held up and Dusty was out. I'm not sure how often someone flops a set only to come up against the nut straight.
My only big move at this table knocked out the Kid. I was dealt a pocket pair of J's and bet out pretty big. The Kid was the only caller. The flop was 10-9-4. I pushed all in. The Kid was pretty pot committed at that point and called. He was holding A-8, so I'm not sure it was the best move. He got no help and I was in great shape.
After losing Brian, Dusty and the Kid, we moved down to two tables. Reilly again came with me along with G-Rob, and we were rejoined by David from our first table. The other players were John, his friend Roger, Otis' friend Ben and Team Scott Smith.
By now, I had moved into my tight-aggressive play, and it was paying off. My stack continued to climb and I was doing pretty well. However, G-Rob was pushing people around with his huge stack. When he lost a couple of hands in a row, he did something that shook up the table. He played blind.
I'm dealt a pocket pair of deuces, and I wanted to play it. I was in the BB, and G-Rob raised from T300 to T600. I call and it's called again by Ben. The flop is 8-4-3.
I didn't hit my set, but the flop is a bunch of rags. I'm first to act, and in most cases, I might push all-in right here, figuring the other guys for overcards. But remember, G-Rob hadn't looked at his cards!!! He could be holding anything! I checked, Ben checked, G-Rob bet big, and I reluctantly folded.
Ben called him and the turn brought another rag. I'm still kicking myself. Ben pushed all-in and G-Rob called him. Ben flips over A-x and amazingly, Gordon flipped over a pocket pair of 7's!!!!!!!!!!! Ben got no help on the river and he finished in 9th place. Had G-Rob looked at his hand, I might have gone out there as well.
The Final table looked like this: CJ, John, Roger, David, TWaller, Team Scott Smith, G-Rob, Reilly.
The top 5 pay, so you would expect that this would be where things got serious. For the next two out, I wonder if maybe stamina was the problem. TWaller was the first two go. He was the most inexperienced player at the table, and probably made some ill-advised moves.
Surprisingly, G-Rob was next to go. At one point, G-Rob had a massive chip lead, but he managed to double up just about everyone at the table. His biggest hit came in a showdown with me.
I was dealt my second or third pocket rockets of the night and made a 3x the BB raise. G-Rob called. The flop came K-10-9 rainbow. I pushed all-in and G-Rob called. The Q-J G-Rob had earlier flashed through my mind, but all he flipped over was QQ. At this point, Pauly's Hilton Sister Bounty flashed through my mind. Thankfully, he got no help and I was suddenly chip leader.
It wasn't much after that when G-Rob played the vaunted 9-4 offsuit and went out. I think he might have been more interested in partying at that point.
That meant it was bubble time. David and Roger were the short stacks, and David almost went out next, but recovered to a nice stack. Roger got no such help and his bubble popped.
I was happy to have made the money, but I wanted more. I had a solid stack and thought I could ride it to at least third. John was in the most trouble at this point, and never caught a hand good enough to recover. He went out 5th.
Here's where a hole in my game becomes exposed. I tend to become too timid when I should become more aggressive. The playable starting hands are supposed to increase at this point, not decrease. My suddenly tight play was costing me a lot in blinds.
UTG with just enough to make a few more orbits, I looked down at Ducks. Last time I had this hand, G-Rob forced a fold by playing blind. This time I raised the minimum (mistake #1, should have pushed all in right there), and that forced Reilly to make a decision. His stack was about the same size as mine, and he was the BB and already in the pot.
He pushed all-in, with just T100 fewer than I. Do I call? I've put him on overcards, but that goes without saying. Anything he has is an overcard to my deuces. I call, hoping he doesn't have a pair.
Reilly flips 3-3. What kind of message from the poker gods is that? He was a 78% favorite and only the other two deuces in the deck could help me. They didn't come. In fact, Reilly caught a 3 on the turn and I was drawing dead.
The fourth place finish earned me a $70 payoff. I think I played well up until the final five. I'm not sure why I changed my play once I reached the money. And if I was changing, it should have been the other way.
David went out next for a nice $100 prize. Team Scott Smith had Reilly seriously outchipped at this point, but one suckout later (K-10 vs. K-7, seven on the river) and Reilly was in the running. A few hands later and Team Scott Smith walked away with $150 and Reilly was our surprise champ and $300 winner.
It was a great tournament, and a lot of thanks goes to Otis and Greenwood Phil, our tournament directors. It couldn't have been smoother (although next time it will be shorter!). I can't wait for the next one!