One of the things I’m always asked by people who read my tournament recaps is how the hell I remember everything in such detail. The answer is twofold: 1) I sometimes take notes; and 2) I just remember. Well, during this year’s main event, I stopped taking notes midway through Day 2. And, as it turns out, my memory failed me with respect to much of Day 2. I reported to you that I finished the day with 95,000 chips. This was wrong. I ended up with 62,000. Also, I now recall that I moved all-in a few more times than I described, and stole a bunch of blinds that way. But everything else I mentioned was on target. I have gone back and edited my last blog entry and put in the proper figures. Ooops.
When we left off, I had finished up Day 2 and had two days to kill in Vegas with my parents. And so I did what you’re supposed to do with your parents in Las Vegas. On what was about my twentieth trip to Vegas, I finally saw my first Vegas show: While Day 2b was unfolding, my parents and I saw Lewis Black at the MGM. I’ll spare you the full review. The short version is that Lewis does not like George Bush and is pretty funny.
Besides seeing the show, we wandered around the Strip (hot), went shopping (bought nothing), ate a nice dinner (the Palm) and shot craps (lost). And, of course, I strategized in preparation for Friday, Day 3 of the main event.
Part of that strategizing involved surfing the internet. A benefit created by the confluence of the main event’s drawn out structure and the massive amount of media coverage devoted to it is the ability to research your opponents. So the day before Day 3, I fired up my computer and took a look at the other players who had drawn Table 147. Some of them had online profiles, and all of them got googled. Here, word for word, is what I transcribed onto a pad up in my room during my computer research session:
1. Merritt Teague, 29k. no info.
2. John Waddell, 43k. small cashes.
3. Pat Dattilo, 111k. won freeroll.
4. Gaetano LoGrande, 65k. no cashes.
5. William Hill, 170k. * one big cash.
6. Erin Hatcher, 88k. female? No cashes.
7. Me, 62k.
8. Ernesto Ibrahim, 198k. no live cashes.
9. Patrick Selin, 91k. some small cashes. CEO, PokerRoom.com.
10. Salvatore Erna, 12k. lead singer, Godsmack.
This pad revealed both good news and bad news. The good news was that Sully Erna, the lead singer of a band I’ve never heard (holy google hits!), would be sitting right across from me! Actually, that wasn’t the good news. The good news was that I was the most accomplished player at this table. I went and looked at my own profile to confirm this. Yup. I had, by far and away, the most impressive live poker resume of these ten players.
The bad news was that I didn’t have a lot of chips and a monstrous stack was sitting directly to my left. This meant that my opportunities to play bully would be few and far between, unless this guy was a pussy. Or unless I somehow got my hands on a bunch of chips.
Overall, I had to consider my table assignment a good one. In fact, as it grew late on the night before Day 3, I experienced a foreign feeling: confidence. Despite the relatively successful start to my new career, for the preceding six months, I’d always felt like a newbie swimming upstream, always battling tough players, continually learning as I played. Contrasting my Day 3 opponents’ profiles against mine, it struck me that it was them who could learn from me. These people had never been deep in a big tournament before. I was way more familiar with the dynamics of this tournament than they were. I knew how to handle every situation, they probably did not. Realizing this was a big step for me.
And the specific situation I faced was this: 1159 players would start Day 3, and the money bubble would burst at player number 873. This meant that the period right before the bubble burst would be a stealraise bonanza for someone with the chips and the gumption, especially if that person was an experienced player sitting at table full of scared amateurs. I fit the profile, and so did my table, but (and this was a big but) I did not have enough chips to employ this strategy. With my subpar chip count, I had to worry about surviving long enough to make it to the bubble. I would have to know who to pick on, and when, in order to simply tread water. And it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a monster hand and double up, which would make that entire analysis academic and turn me into the bubble maniac I wanted to be.
As I went to bed on Thursday night, I was feeling a combination of the confidence I described above and trepidation. Confidence because no one at my table could scare me. Trepidation because I couldn’t predict the future. Who knew what would happen? Certainly not me.
The morning of Day 3 brought some other changes. Namely, I had a fan club. Janeen, the president of this very small group, had flown back for the weekend to watch me play the rest of the tournament. And Kevin, my friend who had made the deep run in the 2005 main event had arrived the night before. He intended to play some of the smaller events in the days to come, but none were scheduled for Friday. So between Janeen, Kevin and my parents, I had four legitimate railbirds. And they had a great view of the action. Table 147 was right on the rail, enabling them to stand literally two feet behind me as I played. Kevin was especially instrumental: he had his blackberry with him and was able to fire emails with real-time updates to my friends back home.
And now for a word about Kevin. A very strong player in his own right, he failed to qualify for the main event online in 2006, and despite offers from friends and family for financial backing, he chose not to play this year. So after his great run in the main event last year, he was relegated to watching me play in 2006. In an even slightly egocentric person, this would engender feelings of resentment. Poker is a competitive game played by competitive people. And competitive people are often embittered by others’ successes. But Kevin selflessly rooted for me all the way and showed genuine enthusiasm from the rail throughout Days 3 and 4. It didn’t go unnoticed. I am not sure I could have done the same. Thank you, sir.
The start of Day 3 came quickly. I was running a little late, which was good, because I had less time to overthink things before we got underway. I was able to get a quick read on the players, which was important, because this table would not be broken for the duration of the day. Worthy of mention:
I found out through some casual conversation that there was one very strong player at the table. The young kid seated two seats to my right, William Hill, is “MadHatter” on Pokerstars, a deadly online player. In addition to his big live cash, this guy’s winning dwarf mine online. Online winnings are not widely disseminated, and that’s where MadHatter, likely because of his young age, has done most of his damage. I knew to steer clear of Mr. Hill.
Pat Dattilo in the 3 seat was an interesting character. He had won a freeroll to get into the main event, meaning that it hadn’t cost him a dime. It was obvious that he had never played in any kind of poker game approaching these stakes. When I googled him the night before, all I uncovered was a picture of him from a few nights earlier, celebrating his survival of Day 1 at the Voodoo Lounge, the bar at the top of the Rio. This guy was having the ride of his life. Typically, this type of player plays tight and scared, looking to milk every last minute out of the experience. Not so for Mr. Datillo. He was playing pretty tight, but when he got involved, it was difficult to shake him loose. His attitude was a lot closer to “I’m playing with house money” than to “oh my God, I can’t believe I might cash.” He also went out of his way to make it abundantly clear that, like me, he had done his research on his opponents. Within the first ten minutes of play, he addressed both Hill and myself by our first names, and for the remainder of the day, punctuated everything he said to me with my first name (“you’re really playing hard there, David.”). Kevin, Janeen and my parents spent their entire day standing next to Mr. Datillo’s rather vocal wife. I’m not privy to the exact reasons why, but they definitely didn’t enjoy her running commentary.
The player in the 6 seat, to my immediate right, was Erin Hatcher. This was a male, not a female.
To my immediate left, in the 8 seat, was our resident big stack, Ernesto Ibrahim. Mr. Ibrahim was Puerto Rican and spoke almost no English. He had “raise” and “call” down cold, but that’s about it. Soon after we were seated, he asked me, in Spanish, whether I could communicate in his language. “Um, un poco,” I replied. I then explained as best I could that my grandfather was of Hispanic descent. Unfortunately, Mr. Ibrahim treated my barely intelligible response as a license to bombard me with Spanish for the rest of the day. From that point forward, I was subjected to continuous chatter. I could make out about one of every six words and would stupidly nod in agreement, no matter what he said. I think Ernesto knew I couldn’t understand him but did not care. He kept chatting away.
As a player, Ernesto posed a serious problem. He had a huge stack and had come to play. He open-raised a lot of pots, and the way he raised was very telling. At the start of play, the blinds were 600-1200 with a 200 ante. Instead of raising a specific, predetermined amount each time, Ernesto would just dig into his monstrous pile of yellow chips, indiscriminately pull out a stack and push it forward. Sometimes it was 4,000. Sometimes it was 7,000. Sometimes it was 10,000. There was no rhyme or reason; the amount of the raise was determined solely by the number of chips his hand happened to scoop up. The obvious conclusion: this was a reckless player. Another thing that quickly became apparent: Ernesto almost always defended his blind. I was going to have to make a real hand against this guy, he was not going to be bluffed.
Two seats to my left, in the 9 seat, was Patrick Selin. I knew going in that he was the CEO of a poker site that is very popular in Europe, and he looked the part. He had on nice clothes and was nicely groomed. His game, in poker parlance, was TAG, i.e. tight-aggressive.
And finally, in the 10 seat we had Sully. Sully sings for a metal band, and looks exactly like someone who sings for a metal band. He was pierced in a lot of different places and covered in tattoos. I don’t know much about Godsmack, but they obviously sell a lot of records. I know this because the cameras were trained on Sully for most of the day. He was the last celebrity alive in the tournament, and his progress was being tracked closely. Sully was also a very friendly, very nice guy. We actually sort of became friends, and he went out of his way to chat with me during breaks in the action. At the start of play, Sully was very short on chips, in full pushbot mode. But he quickly doubled up twice, and suddenly was sitting on more chips than me.
getting down to biz. Sully in brown t-shirt.
clockwise from R: me, Ernesto, Selin, Sully.
For the remainder of this blog entry, I’m going to make use of Kevin’s handiwork. I will copy and paste Kevin’s diligent progress report emails and add my own commentary below. How convenient.
With 1017 players left, mr z is sitting on approx 55K in chips. I am roughly 3 feet away from him, and approx 5 feet away from sully, lead singer of godsmack. Updates to follow.
It was slow going in the early stages of the day. I watched Sully double up a couple of times, and mostly observed as most of the table, with the exception of my buddy Ernesto, played passively. The good news was that players were dropping like flies around the room.
65K, some nice uncontested pots won. Down to 960 remaining.
I was able to sort of pick my spots, once reraising with AK, forcing an early position raiser to lay his hand down. This garnered a “very nice, David” from Pat Datillo, who was having a good day. I did not acknowledge the remark. The bubble was approaching and I was not in any kind of position to wreak bubble havoc.
everyone has chips, nobody is table leader though. Says dave “pretty passive table”
50k, 945 left. 30 minutes before next break.
I got clipped a few times trying to steal. Ooops. The table was indeed playing scared. Ernesto and Datillo were dominating the action.
On break, 48k. 918 left. Says our horse, “its go time”. For those keeping score at home, sully has managed to take has 11k in chips at the beginning of the day and turn them into over 100k. With an ‘f’ bomb included for good measure.
The way I got down to 48k was disappointing. I had correctly pegged Sully as a tight player. He had actually stated on several occasions “I just want to cash in this thing.” Not a smart thing to say to me. At this point I had chipped up to something like 60k and felt like picking on him.
On the last hand of level two (blinds 800-1600, 300 ante), Selin limped under the gun, Sully called right behind him, and another player called. I was in the cutoff with Q-10 offsuit and called as well. The small blind completed and the big blind checked. The flop came J-J-5, the blinds checked, Selin checked, and Sully led out for 4000. I decided I was going to represent a jack and take this pot away from him, so I bluff-called the bet. Everyone else folded. The turn was another 5, and Sully checked. I executed part two of the plan by firing a nice, fat 9000 bet. I was representing a jack or a five, it really didn’t matter which, as I strongly suspected both had Sully beat. But Sully thought for a second and then called. Crap. I now put Sully on a pocket pair of some sort, maybe 8’s or 9’s, or 10’s. The last card was horrible: a third jack. This gave Sully a presumed full house, and if I held the 5 I had just represented, I was beat, and Sully (probably) knew it. The reality of the situation was that I had nothing. Sully checked. I had a difficult choice: represent quad jacks by moving all in, or give up on the hand. I thought about it and ended up deciding that with the third jack on board, it was now much harder to sell Mr. Sully on the idea that I had a jack in my hand. I also did not know enough about Sully to believe that he would lay down a pocket pair to an all in bet. I sighed deeply and checked, saying “I play the board.” Sully, who was surprisingly nervous for someone who routinely performs in front of thousands of people, also exhaled deeply and showed pocket aces. I definitely did not put him on aces. He played them real funny. Fuckin’ Sully. Ship him the pot.
At the break, I became extremely apprehensive, realizing that it was quite possible that I would bust out on the bubble. The blinds were about to increase to 1000-2000 with a 300 ante. 48,000 chips was not much to work with under those conditions. I also vowed not to deviate from my plan to move all in if the proper situation arose. Bubbling after two and a half full days of poker was distinctly possible indeed. I warned my parents of this possibility, explaining to them that I was not going to stop making moves where appropriate, and that unlike last year, I would not be limping into the money. My mother handled this news in the same way one might react to a phone call bringing unexpected bad news, a cloud of apprehension swept across her face as she likely envisioned how inconsolably pissed I’d be if I bubbled. I noticed this and half-jokingly told my parents to “get ready for some action” or to “strap on your seat belts” or some such nonsense as I returned to my seat.
Incidentally, Sully’s f-bomb timeout occurred when he was all in with pocket 7’s against AK. The cameras raced over as his sevens held, and he looked right into them. Then he exclaimed “did you see the fuckin’ vein pulsing?!?” as he gestured at the side of his neck. The dealer called the floor and they assessed the penalty. Sully sauntered off for his ten minute recess, muttering under his breath.
Back to work, only about an hour from the bubble.
He doubled up!
That was Kevin’s succinct summary of what was by far my most important hand of the tournament. We were something like 25 players from the bubble, and I had just reraised all in from the big blind with AK, picking up around 10,000 chips to increase my stack to around 50,000. On the very next hand, it was my small blind and my Spanish-speaking buddy Ernesto’s big blind. Ernesto had taken a couple of hits and had eased up a bit. Not a lot, just a bit. I had 6-3 offsuit. The table was playing very passively at this point, everyone was looking to get into the money, and they probably didn’t want to mess with Ernesto. All folded to me, leaving me and Ernesto in a battle of the blinds.
There were already 6000 chips sitting in the pot, so there was no way I was folding. A raise made relatively little sense, but I had just won a pot and I made what was probably a silly, impulsive play: I raised to 9000, hoping Ernesto, who had around 140k, would go away. He did not. Instead, he calmly called. Ugh. I was already pissed at myself for making the impulsive raise. I intended to shut down and concede the hand. But then something funny happened. For the first time since Day 1, I hit a flop.
It came 8-6-3 rainbow, giving me bottom 2 pair. Gulp. I gathered myself and bet 10,000. As I pushed the chips forward, I could envision the look of paralyzed fear on Janeen and my mothers’ faces a few feet behind me. It took Ernesto maybe 2 seconds to react by saying “all in.” And it took me perhaps one second to say “I call.” As I said it, I stood up, then turned over the 6-3. Ernesto showed us A-8. And it was now out of my hands.
If you play no limit hold ’em, you know how annoying bottom two pair is. It is usually ahead on the flop, but it frequently gets beat on the turn and river. In this instance, I would lose to an ace, an eight, or worst of all, two running cards higher than 3. I was exactly 75% to win the hand, which doesn’t feel all that secure when you are 20 bust-outs away from a $14,500 payday. Ernesto rose from his seat and I held my breath as the turn card came: another six! I had a full house.
Thinking I had just won the hand (in actuality, Ernesto still had two outs), I launched into my stock instinctive celebration: A sharp pivot to my left and a short, loud, staccato clap, like I was trying to kill a waist-high airborne fly with my hands. I wish I did something cooler than this, but, sadly, this goofy reaction seems to be etched into my DNA. Thankfully, the river was not an eight (which would have brought unspeakable devastation), and I had doubled up. I had 105,000 chips with 898 players remaining.
The next two minutes were awesome. I excitedly gobbled up all my new chips and restacked them (stackity stack stack!). Upon completing that task, I turned around and saw the very excited faces of my cheering section. I stood up, all smiles, and did some restrained rejoicing, blabbing something about six-three offsuit ruling before settling back in. It was more or less official: Barring a total disaster, I was headed for the money. But it wasn’t time to sit back and relax. No sir.
890 left, we are hand for hand. Avg stack is 99k. 108k for our horsie.
Stole the blinds.
Oh he’s a bully allright. He just eliminated a short stack. He’s at approx 130k.
With Ernesto suddenly a medium/short stack and the bubble only minutes away, there was nothing stopping me. I began to open fire, raising preflop on almost every hand. On the hand that really chipped me up, I had Q5 offsuit in middle position. A short stack who had been clinging to 17,000 was in the big blind. I made a raise to 6,000 and it folded around to him. He looked at his cards, then at me. He silently smiled, looking for a tell. I smiled back. Then he went into a long period of painful contemplation before finally moving all in. I asked for a count, and once the dealer announced that he had around 17,000 I shrugged and said “I call,” which I was mathematically obliged to do. I tabled the Q-5 and the big blind revealed A-J. The flop contained an ace. But it also had two queens. Sweet. I was way ahead. The turn was a jack, giving the big blind two pair, and giving him four outs. I now said to the dealer “how about a deuce?” and the dealer obliged on the river, producing exactly that: a red deuce. I was shipped a very nice, 35,000-ish pot, and I had sent my opponents a message: get the fuck out of my way.
In the span of about 10 minutes I had gone from a short stack, wondering if I’d make the money, to the unquestioned captain of the table. I was sitting with eight rank amateurs and only one other seasoned player. None of these guys was inclined to challenge me until after the bubble burst. I walked to the rail and Kevin stated the obvious: “I don’t think you want the bubble to burst just yet.” Nope. As the tournament entered hand-for-hand (actually “round-for-round”) mode, I was quite proud of the power poker gearshift I had just engineered. But the ride would be ending shortly, and I would regret busting the short stacked man with my Q-5.
When someone busts out of the main event, it sometimes takes about ten to fifteen minutes for the tournament directors to put a replacement in that player’s seat. And that’s about how long the departed short stack’s seat remained empty after I busted him. They replaced him with a player I am familiar with: Jason Strasser. Strasser is 21 years old and is the perfect combination of natural poker ability and dedication to his craft. He is entering his senior year at Duke and has already won more money playing poker than most pros win in their lifetimes. Strasser has only been playing for three years, but has played more poker, thought about more poker and wrote about more poker than practically anyone in the world over that time. He is one of the most respected members of the twoplustwo.com online community, and has authored a wealth of strategic posts there. He is also a resident of New York City, and he was a frequent opponent of mine at the now-defunct New York Players Club in the summer of 2004, when he was only 19 years old.
I vividly recall a confrontation we had in a 2-5 NL game (these stakes are laughable to him now). I had reraised him all in with one pair on a draw-heavy board, and induced a fold. We had exchanged twoplustwo screen names, and the next morning I received a long, thoughtful private message from him about the hand. He concluded that his laydown was incorrect, and he submitted a mathematical proof in support. He was taking the game very seriously and learning it rapidly. Now, it is clear that Jason is both gifted and committed. An awesome player. Today, he is well known in poker circles and has even been featured in Sports Illustrated. On the night before Day 3 started, while I was poking around on the internet, I discovered and actually considered making a proposition bet that he’d finish ahead of Daniel Negraneu.
But his formidable skill wasn’t the worst news. It got much worse. At the time that he was moved to my table, he was the chip leader of the entire tournament, having somehow accumulated somewhere in the neighborhood of 500,000 chips. Physically moving his chips across the floor to his new table was a serious problem: he had two chip runners with him, carrying something like eight racks apiece. As he sat down and began the long process of re-stacking his impossibly vast assortment of chips at our table, looks of apprehension appeared on everyone’s faces. I mumbled something about knowing him to my neighbors. Patrick Selin asked me if he was any good, and I muttered a simple “yes.” No one would be more affected by his presence that me. My very short-lived chip stealing party was over.
Not that I didn’t test the waters one time. I tried a stealraise on Strasser’s first hand. He called the raise then nonchalantly bet the flop, selecting a few yellow chips, a tiny, insignificant chunk of his fortress, one jagged square in a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and flicked them into the pot. I humbly mucked my cards. Okay. Party officially over.
The bubble burst after two “round-for-round” orbits. And just like last year, the room went wild. Everyone at table 147 shook hands, except Strasser, who looked utterly disinterested (this, by the way, is his general demeanor at the poker table. He always looks like he’s taking a nap). Across the room, people excitedly prattled away on their cell phones, relaying the good news. Many of the survivors were beside themselves with glee. And last year, so was I. In fact, only 20 minutes earlier, I might have been downright giddy about making the money. Not anymore. I had my sights set much higher now.
From the time the bubble burst until the dinner break, I was a spectator. Strasser and Datillo were going at it, with Datillo refusing to be bullied. Strasser lost two or three large pots to the amateur on failed bluffs. Meanwhile, players were busting at such a rapid rate that the directors had to actually pause the tournament to process payments to all the bustouts in the appropriate order.
And with that, update #8:
Dinner break, 125k is the horses stack, and the avg stack. 750 left. Back in 90.
Dinner was very exciting, as the day was going better than expected. The five of us ate in the sports bar, and everyone was energized with the possibility of a deep run. I felt a lot like the racehorse I had compared myself to in emails to friends back home. I was already guaranteed $16,500. I grew progressively quieter as everyone continued to chatter around me. The racehorse was tired, and was trying to focus on the job that lied ahead. The blinds after dinner: 1,200-2,400 with a 300 ante.
They won’t let me back in! Ugh! (There are biiiig waiting lines outside the venue). Very unfriendly setting here. Hopefully we can get back in.
I haven’t mentioned how tight the security at the main event was. Spectators were allowed in very slowly, to keep the flow of traffic moving along the rails. Hence Kevin’s commentary above.
What Kevin missed was Sully Erna going busto. After his pre-bubble flurry, Sully had slown down and simply bled chips. He was sitting on about 40,000 chips when the following unfortunate sequence of events went down: the player to my right, the man (not woman) named Erin, was under the gun with only about 36,000 chips. He announced that he was all in and pushed his chips in front of his cards. The dealer announced “all in.” It was folded around to Sully, who appeared to be daydreaming. Sully then looked at his cards and called, saying “call” as he put 2,400 (the amount needed to call the big blind) in the pot. At this point, the dealer announced “all in with a call!” and everyone else folded.
Sully, who had only intended to call the big blind, was held to his verbal declaration, which was calling the all-in in front of him. Sully went ballistic, shouting “No way! You’ve got to be kidding me!” as about three cameramen rushed over to our table. He did not call the floor over, however, and Sully was forced to make the call. When the players turned their hands over, Sully was actually ahead: 44 vs. KQ. But a Q fell on the flop, and Sully was decimated, his stack shrinking to only 4,000 chips. And, with the cameras rolling, he continued to rant epithets at the dealer. One hand later, Sully moved all in and busted. He disgustedly got up, gathered his belongings, and for the benefit of the cameras, stood behind the dealer and emphatically flipped him off. The whole thing was unfortunate, but the dealer made the right ruling.
I’m still outside the room, but janeen reports 110k.
I bled off more chips.
Interesting development: apparently Sully’s seat was the designated celebrity (term being used loosely) seat, because he was replaced by Rick Solomon. Yes, the guy who filmed Paris Hilton having sex with him, then turned around and sold it. He was unshaved and wore sandals, baggy shorts, a cartoon t-shirt of some sort, a styled-out baseball cap and designer sunglasses. His demeanor was sorta surferish. All in all, I suppose he was a lot like I would have expected. He was also surprisingly skilled, although he won a very large pot on pure luck. From there, he played solid poker. I never got involved with him.
With about 10 minutes to break, dave is at approx 100k in chips. We are down to 660.
I could not find any good places to get involved and continued to bleed chips.
Ok, I’ve entered fort knox. 40 minutes til break, 638 left, dave with 105k, avg stack 135k.
I stole the blinds a time or two. Nothing exciting was going on.
We have sprung a leak. Down to 60k. 630 left, 30 mintes to break.
I honestly do not recall the hand that cost me 40,000 chips. It had to be ugly. Perhaps Kevin or Janeen can remind me. In the meantime, players continued to get bounced very quickly.
I do remember, after getting knocked down to 60,000 that I had a lot of trouble even finding a good spot to get involved. Strasser and Datillo were making life difficult, because they could afford to call preflop raises with moderate holdings, then bully their way though hands. I decided that it was too difficult to play smallball with them. I knew they were playing all sorts of mediocre hands, so my plan was to isolate one of them and simply move in. My stack was now only about 10x the amount in the pot. So I decided I’d just start to punish them if they chose to raise into me. I felt rather calm and confident, even though I knew that I might bust soon.
Break time, 60k. About 600 left. One level togo tonight, “reckless abandon time”.
I was now guaranteed $20,600, and Kevin relayed the exact sentiment that I was feeling. With only 60,000 chips and the blinds going to 1,500 and 3,000 with a 400 ante, it was indeed move time. At the first opportunity.
And move I did. Right off the bat during the last level, I reraised Strasser all in with the 87 of diamonds from the big blind. One simple stealraise was now worth 8,000 and I was up to around 70k.
I was both feeling and exuding confidence, despite being a short stack once again. And perhaps because of that, all my stealraises and resteals worked. I had no fear. I never had to show down a hand, and yet I managed to climb to 95,500 by the end of the level. And the end of the level was the end of Day 3.
I bagged my chips and bid my tablemates good luck. My fan club was too tired to wait through the involved bagging, labeling and seat reassignment process, so they gave me hugs/handshakes/kisses and left to catch some sleep. A half hour later, I was free to leave, and I chose to walk back to the Palms. I was exhausted, but my pace was lively as I strode through the Rio towards the door. When I pushed it open, the stifling Vegas air felt sorta refreshing. I made my way up the highway (off the Strip, Vegas is not built for pedestrians), doing something that resembled skipping.
It was my deepest penetration into the main event in my two years playing it. Even though I had only a short stack at the end of the night, Day 3 had been a very satisfying day. I made virtually no mistakes. I won a very big hand at a very important time. More impressive, my sense of my table’s dynamics was acute. I had shown that I knew when to turn up the heat, and that I knew when to take my foot off the gas. I had driven masterfully. I was now guaranteed over $26,000, and I wasn’t done yet. Most of all, my little fan club was proud of me, and I knew it.