Gavin Smith is a hell of a guy. Despite being a WPT player of the year with more than $3 million in tournament winnings, Gavin gave up a weekend to join a gathering of drunk degenerates in Nowheresville, Pa.
Brandon Schaefer is a hell of a guy. Despite being a EPT champion and approaching three quarters of a million dollars in tournament winnings, Brandon gave up a weekend to sling cards and drink beer with a bunch of bloggers.
How did we get so lucky? I was so lucky, in fact, that I had a chance to play a live SNG with these two world-class pros. And, as you would expect for someone nicknamed The Luckbox, my luck didn't end there.
The first two hours
I'll make this brief. I played about one hand each half hour level. My best hand was A8s and pocket 2s. I stole the blinds twice, won one hand that was checked down to the river and won another when I bet with 86o from the button at a ragged flop after it was checked to me. That was it.
Finding some chips
I felt good that I was on the opposite end of the table from Gavin. I was in the 9s and Gavin was in the 4s. Unfortunately, I was also on the left of Brandon. I didn't want to be in the position of him coming after me. Thankfully, we rarely tangled, and when we finally did, I ended his night.
The cards didn't turn for me at this point, but my chip position did. With an M of just 5, and blinds at 300/600, Falstaff came in for a raise to 1500. I looked down at pocket 3s, a monster the way my cards had come, and I pushed. Falstaff considered it for a bit, but eventually laid down what he told me was JTs. It wasn't a huge hand, but it gave me some breathing room.
It was just a few hands later that Brandon pushed into me. He had been crippled a few hands earlier and didn't have much left. I looked down at Ace-rag and called. Brandon needed some help that didn't come and I knocked out my first pro.
I don't know what happened, but suddenly we were four handed (on the bubble) and none of us seemed to be in great shape. In fact, all someone had to do to get from worst to first was double up.
I got myself severly short-stacked when my Ace-rag failed to hold up against Falstaff's KQ. He flopped two pair and there was no miracle for me.
Joe Speaker had already stolen my blinds a couple times and I told him all I needed was a face card to call him. He tried one more time and I looked down at K7o. My timing was perfect because Speaker only had K4o and I doubled up into the chip lead.
If you hadn't noticed, I still haven't mentioned a premium hand. This deep into the tourney, my best pair was 5s and my best Ace was A9. I couldn't find a hand to save my life. Frankly, I didn't know how I was still alive.
The deal turns
Better late than never, right? In fact, my beer-bitch, Bad Blood, told me that it was better to get big hands late than early. He couldn't have been more right.
Speaker found himself short-stacked when he pushed from the button. Sitting in the SB, I told the dealer that this would be a good time for my first premium hand. I squeezed an Ace fully expecting to squeeze something like a 4, after all, that's what I had seen all night. Instead, it was another Ace.
I called and tried to goad Gavin into getting involved as well. He thought about it for awhile before folding his pocket 6s face up. Kent had a hand that can crack Aces, but his JTs failed to improve anymore than the Jack on the flop. We were three-handed and I was the chip leader.
Sending the Canadian packing
To this point, I had hardly played a hand with Gavin. One time, he called my pre-flop raise with 32s and we checked it down to the river where my A8s won unimproved. Beyond that, he generally folded to my raises. I was clearly the tightest player at the table, by a long shot, and my raises got respect.
Three-handed, however, I was getting involved a lot more. Gavin pushed from the button, Falstaff folded, and I looked down at my second-biggest pair of the night: pocket 5s again. With Gavin's wide range (and when I say wide, we're talking Grand Canyon-wide), I could hardly lay down a pair.
I called and the best Gavin could do was hit a 4 on the river. He didn't show his other card, so I can only assume it was a big card, like an Ace or a King, or maybe he was playing suited connectors with a 5 or a 6. Either way, Gavin was out and Falstaff and I were heads up.
Who's The Luckbox?
Once we got heads up, I quickly became worried that my reputation was in trouble. Falstaff had already seen his fair share of fortunate hands. With a 3-to-1 chip advantage, I hoped it was enough to hold him off.
After jousting a few hands, we got all in preflop. I held Speaker's favorite hand, AJs. AJ is gold, after all, right? Falstaff was in trouble, holding just A3. Except for one thing. I was ahead. And that's usually not a good thing. When a 3 fell on the river, I was suddenly in deep trouble.
A few hands later, I looked down at my best hand of the night. It was only the second premium hand I'd seen. It was.... THE HAMMER.
Falstaff remembers him pushing, but I'm pretty sure I pushed and he insta-called. He was holding K7o, which we all know is no match for a hand as good as The Hammer. When the inevitable deuce fell on the river, I was back on top!
Two or three hands later, Falstaff decided to make a stand with 9To. I figured pocket Aces was a good enough hand to call with. By the river, Falstaff needed a non-diamond Jack to suckout. Instead, I completed my nut flush and it was all over.
I'm still not sure how I made it. Thankfully the structure was forgiving enough for me to play tighter than a 19-year old virgin with legs that go for miles... oh... where was I? And Gavin's constant taunts of "douchebag" did little to throw me off my game.
In the end, the tourney raised a whopping $12,000 for charity. It was a blast, and I can't wait to do it again!
I leave you with a picture of the lovely Lacey, the Bash's best bartender (yeah, her T-shirt says "Spin the Bottle Champ"):
And some pictures that are NOT gambling in a bar and a picture of our Beer Pong runners-up: