Yule be alright!
Five Diamond Poker Classic, Las Vegas
$10,000 World Poker Tour No Limit Hold'em
Report by Barny
on Saturday, 25 December 2004 at 12:25 pm
During the first few days of our Bellagio trip The Mob took a bit of a battering. There were no cashes in the tournaments, Ram was getting some bad beats in the Pai Gow and Joe was even running bad in the cash games. Notwithstanding the unfounded rumours that we needed a tournament result to pay for our tickets in The Big One, it was a relief when Joe made 4th in the Pot Limit Omaha - especially as we’d spent the previous few days telling everyone this was the European game and that they might as well spend the day in bed.
The field for the $15,000 main event was an impressive 376. Many more did not share our good fortune and the rail was packed five deep with tourists, friends and those who’d missed the cut. There wasn’t a name missing from the American side and Europe was pretty well represented too - particularly by the young Scandinavians – so I counted myself lucky that the only face I recognised on my table was the one perched atop the lanky frame of Eric ‘Big Bird’ Seidel.
Day one went smoothly, I was never in a big pot and gathered chips steadily all day to finish with around 75K. All four of us made day two which was great although I wasn’t particularly pleased to be drawn next to Joe. The good news though was that I had miscounted my chips and actually had about 80K. No-one counts your chips but you, you just write down the number and seal them in a bag, so if you ever fancy being overnight chip leader at the Bellagio it’s easy; just add a zero!
On day one Joe and Ram had both doubled up with Aces although Joe had doubled down again to a one-outer. Early on day two he found the boots twice and played them sweetly to get two double-ups. He then went on to lose the key 200K pot that would have almost guaranteed a money finish when he got it all in on a Jack high flop with two spades holding AK of spades against pocket Queens. The hand all but broke him and it was me who finished him off a while later. Sorry Joe.
Things were little better for me. Having built up to about 150K I lost almost all of them to a two-outer against a very polite English player who, to the bemusement of the Americans, spent the rest of the day apologising profusely for rivering his set. Chip Reese came to the table and proved to be one of the trickiest opponents I have ever faced. I’m not saying I never get outplayed, but if I do I’m not usually aware of it. Against Chip however, I had to lay down several times and I started to feel he would call my raises with any two cards just to take it away on the flop. The truth is I was short stacked and was not hitting flops – a soul destroying combination. I was relieved to reach day three even if I had half what I’d started the day with and was one of the lowest chipped players remaining. Ram was in good shape and the other two were out.
I started the third day sitting with Phil Helmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Ted Forest and Jennifer Harman. I had great fun, particularly with Phil as I showed him a bluff and then got him to call me with Ace high on the river when I’d flopped a house. I gave him plenty of verbal and I’ve got to say, I’ve never known him to take it so well. Taking the Mickey out of Phil Helmuth and having him laugh along? Where’s the sport in that?
Over the day I played with everyone from Dave Ulliot to Johnny Chan. We went from about eighty players to eighteen (fifty in the money) and although I never went much above 500,000 I was not under pressure and could play poker. My great good fortune was that on the few occasions when I was all-in I either didn’t get called or didn’t get outdrawn. On the very last hand of the day though I lost a big pot with AK and went into day four as one of the lowest stacks on the last two tables with 271,000.
For me day four was nasty brutish and short. The blinds and antes were now costing 57,000 a round and I had one move left. In an uncanny repeat of the WSOP in 2000, I moved in with Ace rag, found Queens in the big blind and went out fifteenth. Daniel Negreanu meanwhile was putting on an exhibition. By the time they got to the final table he had over half the chips and everyone else was playing for second. He really is the governor.
I’ve been close to million plus prizes quite a few times now (the bloke next door won the lottery once) and it’s an empty feeling when you suddenly find your self sidelined – especially if you have kicked yourself into touch. But it doesn’t take long to be reminded that some thing matter more than poker. Its Christmas morning and I’ve just been helping little Buster Boatman build his toy garage. I’m sitting listening to a CD of Cerys Mathews in Nashville and thinking about people who are not around. Half the world are victims of unfair debt, unjust wars and unnecessary poverty. Did I say some things matter more than poker? Not true. Everything that matters at all matters more than poker.
So poker’s not important? So I won’t be playing my heart out next year trying for a WSOP bracelet or a victory in the WPT or the EPT? In the festive words of Saint Frances of Nottingham: ‘Yule be alright!’
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