As I walked out of Mandalay Bay, I had one thing on my mind- food. I was hungry and really in the mood for a burger. I walked through the little mall that connect MB with the Luxor. I had thoughts of possibly stopping into the Burger Bar for a burger and some beer. As I approached, it looked like there was some kind of line waiting to get in. Lunch rush? I walked by and looked in to see it rather packed. Thus, I kept going.
Once I got outside in the warm sun, I thought about how I had just played. Not great but good enough to make the money. Walking down the street always gives me time to think about what I am doing and how to be better at whatever it is I am doing. I now was contemplating skipping the Imperial Palace 1pm tourney in favor of lunch. I just about stopped at the Fatburger but something kept me walking. I think it was something Dr. Pauly had said to me on either the first or second night.
The Imperial Palace game is soft.
This stuck in my mind. I had watched a bit of the play the night before and he was totally right. So I felt compelled to at least check this tournament out. When I got to Ballys, I was committed to it. I may be able to get back to the IP and still grab a burger at the Burger Palace- their glorified Burger King. I was up in the poker room at 12:55. Signed up to find out they barely had 20 people. Some had called and we were informed we would start a couple of minutes late, and he may add people within the first 10 minutes. We even redrew for a new table, but he changed his mind soon thereafter. Looked like about 25 people each ponied up $55 to start with a rebuy option for $25. I am not a fan of rebuys, but don’t necessarily mind the one time rebuy/addon.
I sat at the table and pulled out Easycure’s capper chip that I had collected as his bounty. It worked well already, so let’s see if there is still some luck in it. Our table started with 8 players. Of them, only one would stick out. Headphones, the black guy listening to his tunes, while bobbing his head and playing poker. He was across the table in the 8 seat. The Vet was rather coarse and three to my left. He was all business. The guy on my right wasn’t going to matter. Neither would Lions hat. I mean, he is wearing a Detroit Lions hat. Need I say more? That and he asked about whether he was better off rebuying right away or waiting (he opted for right away). The only other two that merit mention is the aggressive guy in seat 9 and the guy with the huge sunglasses in seat 10. Sunglasses was funny. You have seen the type. Sits downs, gets his chips placed just where he feels he needs them. Puts on the sunglasses and 5 minutes before we start, he is all business. Not a good player but all business.
The strangest part of the tournament happens before we even begin. Some drunk at the one of the other tables starts to cause a problem. Soon the TD would be over for the first of many visits. The guy was arguing two points, one everyone heard right away, and the other I would find out later. The first one he was bitching about was the rebuy ticket. He wanted to be able to use that to bet. He felt he could raise someone all in, throw the ticket and $25 down to immediately buy the 1000 in chips and use it in that pot. Of course, he claims it is a rule and can be done and he is right, blah, blah, blah. The second one that I found out later was a valid point. You do not need to keep the rebuy ticket on the table at the Imperial. He wanted all players to show whether they had rebought or not. I thought that was a valid point. But the TD didn’t. This guy is driving everyone at the table nuts once the TD thinks he has settled the issue. But it is far from done. If he wanted to do this to get action, it worked as people worked hard to knock him out to no avail. All the time others are trying to get moved from his table or not having to move to that table. Simply put, he was totally annoying and the TD should have booted him.
I watched at how tight the table was except for the aggressive guy in seat 9 who was going to play a lot of hands and Headphones who wanted to establish himself as the leader. He would do so by making huge bets. Blinds start at 25/50 and we have a total of 1300 in chips. He would bump up his pre-flop raises to 15xs and then 26x the BB. He bullied the limpers early and collected some chips. The two times he showed his cards, he had K 10 off and J J. Right away I have my targets set on him.
I don’t do too much early. I win a couple small pots by betting out the flop. I do win a nice sized pot by taking a bit of risk. Knowing that the aggressive guy and sunglasses were playing any face or ace, I took shot at a pot that they both limped into. With A J off, I raised the bet the size of the pot, hoping to capture the blinds and their limp bets. I wasn’t too happy when they both called. By raising, I had put in 40% of my chips, not a great move. The flop came all rags. I pushed. I knew the only chance was to get them to fold, but that there also was a chance I did have the best hand. The aggressive guy folded, but sunglasses called. Shit! But then he turned over A 2. WTF? He said it was the best hand he had seen over the last 30 minutes. His stupidity is my gain. I have a comfortable amount of chips. Comfortable enough to tangle with Headphones should the situation arise. The rest of the table is playing low limit hold em, calling with any ace, suited or connectors.
That situation came soon. In early position, I raise the bet to 800 (blinds are 100/200) after UTG limped. The Vet called me and it went around to Headphones. He did the usual thing. Looked at his cards, then his chips, bobbing his head. Inside I am screaming for him to push, trying the same bullying move that has worked for him so far. He looks like he is ready to put chips out but tosses his cards. Damn! What really sucks is that I know if he pushes, the Vet calls as well. We see a flop that comes K high. I pushed. Yes, I totally screwed up that hand. I should have bet half the pot, but I was mad that Headphones didn’t get involved. I show the aces and tell Headphones to jump in the pool next time.
Play goes on. The other table is still going nuts because of the drunk guy. The TD keeps going back to the table having to talk with him. Man is this guy annoying. Before I know it, the TD says we are on break. I look around to see if the need to use the addon is necessary. From what I see, I am probably in 4th place or so with 4200. Not bad. I know Headphones rebought at the beginning so his lead on me is only about 2000 or so. No one else is close so I decide to disregard the rebuy. I then get moved to the loudmouth drunk’s table. Great. Headphones is place on my immediate left. Not good either. To my right is Chaw, the guy with the wad of chew in his cheek. He is short stacked. A friend of Lion’s Hat is two to my right, sitting next to the drunk idiot. The Vet is put to the right of the drunk and a loose player is next to him. We start the table with 8 players, as we have about 16 left. I played only one hand over the next 15 minutes. From the big blind, I see a free flop with 6 7. Flop comes 5 8 2. Open ended. The drunk guy had limped in early and bet 400. SB folded and I called hoping to fill out my straight. The turn is a 7. The drunk pushes and I fold. It is about now that the drunk starts up again, this time with the Vet. The Vet yells for the TD to come over, saying the drunk used inappropriate language (he claimed that the drunk, upon hearing he served in Vietnam, wished the Vet had died there). The Vet said either he gets booted or he wants his buy in back. TD calms the drunk down once again and tells him not another word or he is gone. That lasted all of 10 more minutes. He couldn’t keep quiet and was booted, even though he had a pile of chips in front of him. He and Headphones were running the table. They had knocked Chaw and Lion’s Hat’s friend out already. Soon Headphones would take out the Vet, who was still pissed. When they booted the drunk, they stopped play to consolidate to the final table.
I am sitting at about 2500 when we start. I know I need chips as Headphones is ahead comfortably. Some chick goes in where the Vet was. Pistons jersey sits down to my right. The rest of the table would soon be gone. Many were short stacks who didn’t know what the hell the were doing. One hand would take out 3 players. I was in late position. UTG had pushed for something like 1500. The next guy called. The chick folded. The next clown called as well. Pistons jersey folds. I look down at Q 10 hearts. I am tempted to re-raise all in. I need chips and think this may be my spot. I had stolen some blinds just before the consolidation and was back around 3500. I thought and decided with Headphones on my left, I can wait for a better hand. I toss them away. Headphones looks at everyone and calls it. All in.
Now the dominoes fall. The first limper thinks for a couple seconds and calls. The other limper immediately calls. Headphones flips over A A. He is up against A 5, A J, and J J. There is only one card that really beats him, unless a slew of 5s hit the board. Board comes 9 7 2. Perfect flop. Turn is a Q. A 5 is eliminated as was A J. Only the case J wins. River is a K. Just like that 3 players are gone. We are at 6 and the top 5 get paid. Next hand, Headphones does it again. Takes out 2 more short stacks when he has A A. Dmitri the dealer laughs when Headphones tells him that is the second time he has dealt him back to back rockets. He also tells everyone we should be thanking him for getting us into the money.
Headphones is very confident. He should be. He had probably 3x the chips as Pistons jersey, who is in second. The chick is the small stack after posting the blinds, and I have maybe half of what Pistons has. I get the chick’s chips by moving all in on her blind. Not too tough with A K. It easily defeats her A 7. So I have a bit more to work with. With just the 3 of us now, Headphones has a commanding lead. I am closer to Pistons now though.
I would double through on Headphones by getting lucky. I pushed on the button with 9 8 diamonds, hoping to just steal the blinds. Headphones called with K 5. Flop came 9 8 2, all spades. He didn’t have a spade so I was sitting pretty. Next Headphones would dump a lot of chips on a failed bluff to Pistons jersey. That along with some folds and his lead was suddenly gone. I folded a lot as the table was suddenly tight. Even when the Jackhammer came along, I folded it though I was soooooo tempted. I really did want the Hammer but it wouldn’t come along.
Soon Pistons jersey took out Headphones, but not after I got some chips back. We were going heads up and I was down from my approximation about 3-1. This is when I started talking about a deal. First place paid $730, second just $365. Now, I wasn’t looking to chop it here, but to try and make it a better deal for both of us. To bring first down to around $600 and bring second to $495. That is where I started with the hopes of getting just more money for second than what was posted. Right away Pistons said no. Fine. The second hand in, I take down a nice sized pot. I call him down with Q 7 suited. I hit the 7 on the flop that came K high. He kept making small bets at the pot. I had noticed he only bet when he was trying to buy the pot. This had me feeling like my 7s were good even though there were a K and 10 on the board at the river. Considering he bet 400, 400 and then 300, I felt it was good and called it down. His lead is now just less than 2 to 1. I offer to start negotiating a deal again. He wants no part of it. He even says “If you have the stones to call with that, I will play.” Hmm . . . you just got read and outplayed, and you want to go on. Fine with me. No more negotiations. I also found out he played on Party Poker. Thus, I started to mix my game up, raising with good and bad cards. Raising his limps. Continuation bets on flops that didn’t come close, making turn bets with bottom pair. I knew he would only call if he had a hand, or a draw. The turn bet was the deciding factor as it made my decision on what to do on the river, if needed. The Party Poker comment cemented the deal on how to play him
Needless to say, I took the chip lead by playing this way. His only move was to push all in here and there. I played tough but gave the lead back up by just a few hundred. I then started re-raising his bets by going all in with any A. I wasn’t too surprised when he folded. One time he bumped it up to 4k (blinds were 1-2k). I pushed with A 6 and he quickly folded. This happened 3 times. Each time he folded. That would get me the lead back, and I wouldn’t relinquish it. By now, some of the other players were railbirding. I did catch one break. I had to piss like race horse and got the TD to give us a quick 5 minute break. Pistons jersey didn’t have to agree but I am surely glad he did. I ran into a railbird in the restroom at this point. He was telling me how he and a couple others wanted me to win. They say Pistons jersey fucked up by not taking a deal. He said Pistons jersey wasn’t good and sucked out to get that far.
When we got back to playing, it took only 3 more hands to decide it. In the BB, I look down to see J 10 and decide to see the flop for free. Flop comes 9 8 4, rainbow. Pistons jersey makes the Party Poker move and pushes all in. Knowing he bets with nothing, I take my time. I count my outs. I figure I have 14 outs, at least 12 that are clean. I call. He shows Q 6. Q 6!!!! Party Poker!!! The Q hit the turn and it is over. I won first! The railbirds there high five me, congratulating me.
Winning tourneys online is fun. Winning live ones are more exhilarating. Finally I would get to eat too! I probably drank 8 beers while playing so it was definitely time to get some food. That and I had to call Dr. Pauly to thank him for the tip on the Imperial Palace. I also give some credit to Easycure. The capper chip brought me some good luck.