The blogger table was full for several hours Tuesday night. The buy-in was cheap as usual. Twenty-five bucks max with quarter and fifty cent blinds. It's all in good fun and nobody gets hurt too badly.
It also allows we bloggers to play what Iggy has started calling a pox on the poker community....the Hammer. For the uninitiated, that's 72o.
It's all in good fun. Push all in with the hammer, if you go bust, it's no big deal.
So, what in the name of all that's holy would possess me to put all my chips in the middle while holdinig the hammer when a $12,600 prize package in the Party Poker Million IV is on the line?
Well, frankly, it just didn't matter.
The story actually begins on Tuesday afternoon. I was off work for a couple days R&R. The sick baby was asleep and my folks weren't due in town for a few hours. I hadn't slept much in the past few days because of the aforementioned sick kid. But sleep wasn't really an option.
So, I figured I'd play a little $23/$2 PPM IV sat. I don't really know why I chose to play it. I hate those thinngs. All they do is win you an entry into another big tournament with a lot more people. The entry into the super sat is only $200, which if I really wanted to and didn't know it was -EV, I could buy in directly.
But I played anyway. Something to do for an hour or two. When it was over, I'd won an entry into the super sat. I'd played prettty well, considering the lack of sleep. I was disgusted to learn however that I'd won into a tournament for Tuesday night. My parents were going to be in town and I'd hoped to be in bed early.
By the time 10:15pm rolled around, I was zonked, half-asleep on the couch and feeling guilty for not going to bed with Mrs. Otis.
But, I thought, I'd play it out, bust out by midnight and go to bed.
When the table loaded up I groaned. Pro internet hero, David Ross, was in the one seat. I told my wife I might as well quit right then.
"Maybe you'll beat him," she said and slunked off toward bed, a tired, tired woman.
So, I sat back and played. My head was spinning because somehow I ended up playing the PPM IV super sat, the blogger table, and the BBJ table all at the same time. There is no way one man's head can stand to deal with those three fantastically different tables at once. But I did, because it didn't really matter anyway. Bust out by midnight and go to bed. That's the plan.
After two hours of play, I commented to the blogger table about how slow the tournament was moving. I was sitting just below the average stack. 218 players had started the tournament. The every-hour breaks weren't even cutting the field in half like they usually do.
By and by, the blogger table broke up, leaving me with only the BBJ table and the super sat to play. I was treading water. I got KK in my BB twice and got no action either time. Then I got KK in the BB again and somebody pushed all-in in front of me. Bust out by Midnight, I thought, and called. He turned up AQ and I knew what was going to happen. I saw the ace first.
I had him covered but barely. I started hoping I'd get the Hammer so I could go all in with pride and end it.
But what is that on the flop as well? Well, damn. That's a king. That give me a set and doubled me up.
Being in bed by midnight was going to be a challenge.
So, I dedicated myself to playing good poker. Don't make mistakes. Be aggressive, but be smart.
Somehow, by the time we were down to two tables, I'd worked myself up to the position of chip leader.
I wasn't optimisitic. Only the top six paid. Only the top three got entries into the PPM IV. I'm notorious for not being a closer.
And sure enough, I eventually choked.
With 11 players left, we were short handed. I'd established myself as being very tight and was playing even tighter. As such, my blinds were getting stolen right and left and I couldn't find a hand to defend. After losing about 6000 off my 40,000 stack, I decided to chip up a little bit and went for a steal with K8o.
The small blind (a very agressive player) cold-called. And the flop came nine-high and missed me completely. Still, I bet out and he cold-called. I should've given up right then. But the turn brought an 8 and I started thinking my hand might be good again. So, I bet out stronger and he cold called again. Uh-oh. I put him on JJ and when the river came and missed me, I gave up. Actually, I checked to him and he bet out a bet that was just small enough to call. He flipped up 99 for a set and I had just lost half my chip-stack.
For a period of ten minutes I hated myself. I could've folded into the money. Sixth place paid $1596 and would've been a nice return on my $25 investment. Now, I was forced to find a place to play and hope against hope that I could survive.
Down to ten-players, I found my spot. One person had called the 1000 BB in front of me when I found AQs. I raised him up and he cold-called. The flop came KKx. He bet into me. Somehow, I couldn't put him on a king. In fact, I put him on a middle pair. Still, with a diminished chip-stack and four players to the money, I couldn't force myself to put him to the test. I simply called. The turn came down beautifully, though. A beautiful ace.
He checked and I bet enough to leave me with about 11,000 in chips. He cold-called.
The river was a rag and I was prepared to push in when my opponent did so himself.
And so there I sat, either ready to go out in tenth or hope to survive until sixth place. And like the wuss am, I folded.
In retrospect, I still think he had a middle pair, but I couldn't be sure enough to risk going out so close to the money.
I was left third to last in chips and I hated msyelf more than I had up to that point.
What a waste of four hours.
Still, I had almost 12x the BB and wasn't in jeopardy yet. I vowed to fold until I found a big hand or got blinded off to the point where I had to fold or push.
Eventually, it came. Big slick. I didn't want to have to make any decisions or be on a draw, so I pushed in with it. And sure enough, got called by pocket nines again. Flop no help, turn no help, river...a beautiful king. I found myself pumping my fist a'la Moneymaker. I was surviving.
Our lone commenting railbird cheered me on and said that if the river was a woman I'd be having sex with her right then.
Still, I was in no position to place high in the tournament. I needed more help. It came in the way of big slick three hands later. Again, I pushed in. Again I got called by a middle pair. Again, the flop and turn were no help. Only this time, the river brought an ace. Fist-pump, railbird, survival.
Before I knew it, I was in the money. Six players left. One died and I was guaranteed nearly $2400. The another died. We were down to four. Fourth place gets nearly $4000, the remaining three get a seven-day cruise for two and a buy-in into the $7.2 million Party Poker Million to be later broadcast on the World Poker Tour.
And suddenly, I had hope.
I chipped up a little bit when the big stack called my big blind then bet into me on every street when I flopped top two pair. Then the foruth place guy went in with KJ and got called by AK.
No jack on the board and suddenly...suddenly...after more than four hours of self-loathing and fist-pumping...
I did it.
I won my way into a World Poker Tour event.
Wih three players left, we resorted to a series of all-in bets, during which time I caught lucky and moved up into second position from a distant third.
And the last hand before Party called the tournament over...
Well, yeah. I had the hammer and pushed all in with it.
That's what a poker blogger does after all.
It's now almost five in the morning and two beers haven't calmed my nerves.
All in all, I played fairly well, survived an amateur mistake, caught lucky, and survived a couple coin flips. As I understand it, that's what it takes to win.
So, my afternoon boredom turned $25 investment has landed me an anniversary present for my wife (a seven-day cruise ain't that bad) and a chance to play for some real cash.
Ladies and gentlemen, 2004 is ending very well for this Otis. Even if I bust out first in the tournament this March, I expect 2005 to be a very good year.
How about that?