The 2009 Caesar’s Atlantic City WSOP Circuit events started less than 48 hours after my final table appearance at the Wynn. I considered taking some time off to relax at home, but instead kept my New Year’s resolution and pressed on. After a red eye flight and only one night in my Brooklyn digs, I hit the road again. Down the Garden State Parkway I went!
A few interesting notes preceding the Main Event:
Poker players will do just about anything to relieve the boredom of life on the road, and my crew is no exception. A couple of weeks ago my good friend Gordon “Da Mayor” Eng and I concocted a little wager. We each would draft one player from amongst our friends, and one duo would take on the other at Caesar’s. Whichever team had the most gross dollars cashed would win the bet, with the losers treating the winners to an expensive dinner at the conclusion of the meet. I drafted Felix “MinCash” Mok and Gordon selected Kevin “YumiPuff” Mason. After a lot of posturing and joking around, the prop bet was a runaway. Felix opened the scoring with a couple of his patented mincashes while the rest of us did nothing in the early going. Then “Team MC” finished with a flourish when Felix finished 2nd in the $300 Turbo event for $10,000 and I final tabled the Main. Meanwhile, “Team Yumi” bricked everything, giving my squad an easy victory.
Congrats to Felix for having a great Caesar’s Circuit and earning his keep as half of Team MC. We will be dining at Peter Luger’s on Gordon and Kevin’s dime in the not too distant future. Mmmmm….. Suckas!
Before one of the meet’s $300 events, longtime friend of DZ.com Dan Knauth made the trip down to AC to try his hand at tournament poker. Not only did he manage to outlast me in the Friday $300, we chopped a sit-n-go later that day. It was great seeing one of my old home game buddies down in pokerville. I sincerely hope that his wife allows him some more poker excursions going forward. 😉
The aforementioned $300 Event which Dan also played was one of the more interesting tourneys I’ve ever experienced. Since I have played quite a few donkaments and busted this particular one in Level 3, you are likely guessing that I have some kind of story to tell. Yep…
It was halfway through Level 1 when I noticed it. I was minding my own business and had built my starting stack of 4,000 chips to around 5,000 when I realized something was wrong with my left hand. My wedding ring, which I gingerly placed on the night stand in the room I shared with MinCash at Showboat the night before, was missing. And we were checked out of the room.
I have had major issues with my wedding ring during my short marriage. I am not used to wearing jewelry of any kind and instinctively remove the ring as soon as I get home. I’m also absent-minded generally (I can NEVER find my car in a parking garage, for instance), so I’m always accidentally leaving my wedding ring behind when I depart on my trips. I always feel terrible about it when I leave my ring at home, but at least I know this precious item is secure there. This mid-tournament misplacement posed a more serious problem.
Feeling panicked, I stepped away from the table (for the noobs: standard tournament protocol is that there is absolutely no cell phone use at the table) and whipped out my phone. I punched in the number for the Showboat, asked for the housekeeping department and was promptly put on hold. For over ten minutes, I watched my cards get systematically folded by the dealer while I waited to speak to a human being about my wedding ring. Finally someone answered.
“Housekeeping, can I help you?” came the voice.
“Hi. I checked out of room 2415 about two hours ago. I left my wedding ring in there.”
I was instantaneously placed on hold again. Another five or ten minutes melted away and another orbit worth of my hands were folded. There was about ten minutes left in Level One. I began to pace back and forth. Eventually, the voice returned.
“We checked the room sir, there is no wedding ring in there. It hasn’t been cleaned yet so I’m afraid it’s not here.” This answer didn’t sit real well with me. My wedding ring’s retail value is less than half the buy-in of the tournament I was playing; it’s an ordinary uninscribed small gold band. But the idea of losing it only a few months into my marriage filled me with a heavy karmic dread that needed to be lifted immediately.
I was feeling an unpleasant mixture of panic, anger and guilt. I clicked my phone off, jammed it in my front pocket and did the first thing that came to mind: I broke into a full sprint. I weaved through the poker tables, then I beelined out of the tournament room, then ran through the casino floor, past the rows of slot machines and then found myself in the Caesar’s hotel lobby. I took a sharp right turn and ran through the tunnel leading to the self park garage. By the time I (thankfully) found my car, I was completely out of breath. I jumped in, started it and careened down the garage ramps. I pulled out, turned onto Pacific Avenue and hit the gas. I veered around the sputtering AC Jitney, then zoomed towards the Showboat. Then I tore through another parking garage until i found a spot, jumped out of the car like Bo Duke, and ran to the Showboat’s front desk. I demanded a key to the room and went upstairs. When I got there, I threw the already-ajar door open and found that a maid was cleaning the room.
“My wedding ring is in here!” I said before she could open her mouth.
“Ohhh jes, I found dat half hour ago. Is with Lost and Found.”
“Well how the hell can I get it?!” I said as I jammed a $20 bill into her hand.
Three phone calls and twenty minutes later a clerk brought my wedding ring to me at the Showboat’s front desk. Awash with relief, I stuck it onto my finger and ran back to my car, then sped back to Caesar’s.
When I finally plopped back into my seat, the tournament was fifteen minutes into Level Three. I had missed half of Level One, all of Level Two, and the beginning of Level Three, but my stack had shrunk only to around 4,600, and the blinds were 100-200. On my second hand back, I was UTG+1 and still catching my breath when I looked down and saw two black aces. I thought to myself, I have my ring. I have aces. All is right with the world. Then things got even better. The player under the gun, with about the same stack as mine, raised to 550. I decided to get trappy and smooth called. Then the player to my direct left proceded to jam all in for around 3800. Wunderbar! What a bonanza! It folded back to the under the gun raiser and he mucked his hand. I snap called and flipped open the nizzles.
I should have known that something might go wrong when my opponent wasn’t even slightly discouraged by the sight of my aces. He tabled pocket fives, pointed a finger in the dealer’s direction and said “show me a five!” The dealer burned, turned and deliverd. A five, right in the window. I busted two minutes later.
Big Boy Final Table
I’m running out of gas on this blog entry, so I’m gonna keep my description of the Caesar’s Main Event short and sweet.
A $5,000 buy in tournament with 208 entrants is not a kiddie game. Over half the field was comprised of excellent poker players, and I’m proud of the way I navigated my way to the final table. I was never all in with the worst hand, all my plays worked, and my stack grew throughout Day 1. I somehow managed to stay out of trouble when it was lurking. I made a very ballsy five-bet all in against another deep stack with only AQ–believe it or not, I could sense that he was only trying to keep me in line when he put in the third raise–and from there more or less cruised into Day 2.
On Day 2 I continued my assault, both running good and staying out of harm’s way, and then before I knew it I was at a very stacked final table.
Caesar’s put on a big show prior to the start of the final table, and for the first time in my poker career, I was treated like a big deal. Each player was announced and then walked down an aisle through the crowd before claiming his seat, like it was a heavyweight title fight. And each of us was accompanied by a hot chick in a miniskirt. Amusing.
Unfortunately, the final table played out as poorly as it possibly could. The shortest stack (and eventual winner), a nice French-Canadian kid by the name of Sam, was seated to my right, and I was fully prepared to call his obligatory jams very light. Alas, I held complete dirt every time he moved in and could do nothing with him. Meanwhile, my stack was not big enough to withstand much pressure, so I chose not to open without a hand that could stand some heat. I was dealt absolutely nothing for an entire hour, and no one busted. Finally, with my stack whittled down to reshove territory, I found 66 in the big blind and shipped it in when Frank Vizza opened from the cutoff. I had played with Frank the night before and watched him open some marginal holdings, but this time he had aces. Done and done.
I was (and remain) very disappointed with my 9th place finish. Making a big buy in final table only happens so often, coming up empty feels terrible. Still, I am playing well and 20 grand isn’t something to sneeze at. I seem to have some momentum right now and I hope I can keep things rolling.