09/08/2006

Event #39 $10,000 NLH Championship Event & #41,#42,#43 $1500 NLH Freezeouts

When I selected Day 1c to be my first day one I though it would be nice to have let a few people get knocked out before I'd even started. It would give me a chance to feel superior to a large number of people for a short while. If I survived I could then be smug towards anyone who hadn't started. "about $68,000." I planned to answer nonchalently "little dissappointed I lost a big pot to get to $130k right near the end."

Instead I spent Sunday and Monday skulking around (one of my few great talents) worrying about my pitiful stack and knowing that people who said: "It can all change so quickly, you just need a quick double up." were just being nice.

Things did change quite quickly on Tuesday and I'd soon gone from $11k to $15k. I was playing well, had a couple of reasonable hands and really liked my table. Then a bloke called Jamie Gold sat down with $160k. I immediately began to panic that I didn't have enough chips and overplayed a pair of 9s. It was a situation I had been preparing for the day before, and I completely abandoned my carefully thought out plan. I then did something I never normally do and I gave up. I knew that it would take a miracle to get into contention from here but I didn't give the miracle a chance to happen. I know that you can only play the people on your table and respond to the situations that come up, instead I wasted time worrying about the enormous field and how many showdowns I'd have to win just to get a playable stack. Before I knew it my 13bb were in the centre with just a pair of deuces. The bloke with the queens wasted little time in calling and I gained a nauseous sensation that hadn't been there up 'til then. I gloomily went to play some cash without really enjoying or getting involved in the game.

On Thursday I felt a little more cheery. I told myself there wasn't much point worrying about it and went off to The Wynn to play their daily tournament. The $330 Freezeout had been attracting big fields throughout the WSOP and the day before it had got a record 180. Tristan's win in that inspired me, and I played really well to make the final out of 144 starters. Things didn't quite work out as planned, but I did manage 7th place for $1500. It seems a shame that my lucky casino was built 5000 miles away from where I live. The timing of my exit was actually perfect as it meant I could be right on time for a nice meal at the sushi restaurant with The Lizard, who was just starting to think about his plan for day three, and friends.

By going to The Wynn I'd avoided playing the $1000 bracelet event (#40), as I just couldn't face The Rio. I didn't really fancy it on Friday either and the evening was spent watching some bands and spending some time in downtown's bohemian district, while I tried to cheer up a knackered and dissappointed Barny who'd just gone out. I wasn't really in top form myself so I don't think I made a great job of it.

By Saturday morning I was cheered right up though. I couldn't have been happier than to hear that my good pal Praz Bansi had won a bracelet. I always knew he had a lot of talent and I've seen him grow as a player over the last couple of years. He had won the tournament at Ceasar's two weeks ago when fresh off the 'plane, had done well in the big Bellagio tournies as well as getting a couple of WSOP cashes. I was only dissappointed I wasn't there to witness it.

Praz's success filled me full of new enthusiasm and the next three days were spent grafting at The Rio. Saturday was a 1007 runner $1500 NLH tournement and I can honestly say I have no idea how I lasted so long without ever having chips. When we got to the bubble I had the same 4000 that I'd had for 5hrs. With blinds at 400/800-100 I stuck them in over and over while others were waiting for their payday. I actually had a decent stack for a short time. If I was better at winning races I might have finished higher than 60th.

I was delighted with my play on Saturday and so I immediately bought in for Sunday. That one only got 360 players. I think the combination of 11am on a Sunday, a lot of the internet qualifiers leaving town after departing The Big One and a tornament at The Bellagio made this one of the "easier" bracelets to win. Without really doing much I found myself still in, albeit shortstacked, with 60 people left. At that point the player next to me introduced himself. I'd often wondered who this Stuart Fox that does so well in tournaments everywhere was. He was very friendly and produced from his pocket a gift of a T-bag as the cup I was drinking looked like piss. At that exact point I had a feeling that my jacks might not be winning preflop so I waited to see a few cards. After it came 9,6,3 though I didn't really have enough to pass and the queens were good causing me to miss the money. Total Tilbury that Fox.

On Monday I went back for another crack. I got to play a $14k pot with the average at $4k holding AK. I didn't win it though and was out with more than 100 players left. Just before I left I checked on the final  of Sunday's tournament. Mark McCluskey's performance to finish 9th is one he can be proud of and one that particularly pleased me. Earlier on in the tournament he had done something which showed him to be a true sportsman and a top bloke. I had moved all-in and while he was contemplating his actions with AQ (and a reasonably short-stack) an idiot with an Ipod passed out of turn. This caused 5 other players (3 of whom had Ipods) to all pass out of turn making Mark's easy decision even easier. He chose to pass his hand face up as he didn't think it would be fair not too. I can't honestly say I would do the same and I don't think he should of, but I know it makes him an honourable fellow.

Neil Channing is sponsored to play poker tournaments by BetUSA.com and BetUK.com