Over the next bunch of orbits I was absolutely card dead. I won the blinds once raising from the button with pocket sixes but that’s about it. I was being not so slowly being blinded off without there being much of anything I could do about it. Amazingly I still snuck onto the final table sitting about 6th in chips but with a pretty massive jump in stack size above me.
The shortest stack at the final table was the Scandi. He had barely more than a BB and consequently went out shortly after the first final table hand. Once he was gone the only player other than the chipleader at the table I recognized was the ice queen, now sitting to my left. On her left was a guy with a Stephen Fry avatar, then the chipleader who had 3x the next closest player. Next up was a dude called Smoky, a girl(?) using a Britney Spears avatar, a guy named Jésus and a guy who appeared to be a Gus Hansen Wannabe (GHW.) Britney and I were the short stacks with everyone else but the CL being at about level pegging.
I knew I had to make a move on the first decent hand I saw. I finally saw pocket nines as the table folded around to Brit. She pushed all in, the GHW called her and with little choice I pushed as well. We flipped em: (click for more)
I swore… Obviously I was tenuously in the lead, but Gussy had one of my 9s and that was a lot of over cards. The flop came out: 5c-6c-Kd The first hurdle was passed, but my stomach was clenched as we waited for the turn. The Kc hit next which gave them both a flush draw, but kept me in the lead, just. My prayers to the poker gods paid dividends as the Kh hit on the river and gave me an unlikely Full House. One of the other players swore, his K-rag having suddenly become folded Quads.
Newly tripled up I was sadly still short stack, but I was at least in the ballpark of the middle pack now with seven players remaining. After that hand the pace picked up a fair bit and I actually got to tangle in a few hands, climbing up to the point where I was in a virtual tie with GHW and Stephen Fry.
Things were definitely going better, but the mood at the table got a lot more mercenary. Gone were the jokes from earlier and even the NH’s were few and far between. You definitely got the feeling that these people were hungry to win this thing. (Later the chip leader and smoky would tell us that they were in a prop bet with a few others to see who could win the most tournaments of this type in a week) I definitely prefer tables that are more animated and fun. In playing online you already lose the ability to see and read body language, losing any semblance of a real world table atmosphere makes it even worse. Playing in absolute silence as though this was a 50k grand final instead of a $20 tournament just makes things boring.
Things were decided not boring a few hands later when I called from the button with a Qc-Jc and the flop came out Qc-3h-4h. Fry checked before Smoky tossed out a sizable bet. It was small enough that I had to call, but given his earlier play I figured he might have a high pocket pair. Fry called as well, though hesitantly.
The turn was an Ace of Diamonds and I got a bit worried. Smoky bet the pot and I thought for a minute before folding, 95% sure I was beaten. Fry called, more quickly this time and we had a showdown between people I was convinced were holding aces. The river came out 5h and now we had a flush possibility as well. Smoky didn’t show any hesitation and pushed in about 1/3 of his remaining stack. Fry immediately pushed all in (he had Smoky covered), it was so quick that you just knew Smoky was a goner. He tanked for a moment as I thought back over the hand and Fry’s betting and just as I realized what he had, Smoky called…
Sure enough, Fry showed Ah-2h for wheel straight flush and even over the computer you could feel Smoky’s jaw drop before he showed trip aces and exited the tournament. He lingered in chat for a bit and to his credit congratulated Fry for blindsiding him. I was just finding myself really really glad that the Qh hadn’t hit on the turn or I might have been the one out instead.
A few hands later Jésus was gone too, victim of a higher kicker on two matched pairs with the IQ. Chips were starting to be distributed a bit more regularly, though the Ice Queen remained the only one anywhere near the chip leader’s total. The blind schedule was also making things a bit more intense as we went over the usual time required for these tourneys. I was happy to still be kicking around as another break hit and took the chance to grab a drink and chips to see me through to the end.
I needn’t have bothered.
The first hand after the break I had Ac-Ad and pushed in a healthy bet. The ice queen snap called and we had a few folds before the GHW joined the fray as well, pushing all in at about double my bet. At that point I pretty much had to All-in as well if I was going to call so I pushed and the IQ called.
We all showed…
Things looked good after the flop came out Ah-Jd-9c and I tempted fate by actually checking where a triple up would put me…
The turn came, 10c… then the river Qc and I was out on a terrible, terrible rivered 4 card straight. The Ice Queen was apologetic and said “I had no business even calling there, I’m sorry guys, mega suck out.” I had to agree, even though I’d had an ok payday finishing in 4th, losing that way was a kick in the teeth. At least it gave her the chips to be in a virtual tie with the somewhat douchey chipleader. Indeed, I threw in a movie and kept an eye on the table and about 45 minutes later she won the tournament from him in a fairly entertaining heads-up battle.
Still, despite the lack of a happy ending it was a pretty fun tournament. I played fairly well despite having some rust on my game and I saw some fairly epic hands. Unless you’re a pro, you should always be satisfied with being entertained when you play poker and I’m just happy that my win will cover playing a few more tournaments over the rest of the summer.