I’m no soccer player, and so stuck to the sidelines as the team of Americans took on the international squad. A good match, and I was definitely impressed with how well the guys on both sides worked together. They ended in a tie, so went to penalty kicks, with the internationals winning at the end.
I do play basketball, and so jumped in when we moved it over to the b-ball court for some hoops. I actually hadn’t really played in quite a while, but it all came back pretty quickly. Made a few threes and several lay-ins, helping the Americans cruise to an easy victory.
Before we left, Garry Gates came up with a prop bet. Five bucks a man, each taking a full-court shot, first to make it wins the lot. Full court was actually only fifty feet or so. Most had taken their turn when I stepped up and drilled the sucker. Not quite one of those halftime deals where someone shoots from half-court for a million clams, but still, making a sixty-dollar shot ain’t an everyday thing, either.
Went back to the home-away-from-home with a big ol’ grin on my face, cleaned up, then headed over for the PokerNews freeroll tourney. About fifty played, and despite my low expectations for myself I somehow weasled my way to the final table. We ran out of time and so ended up ten-way chopping it, so tenth was as good as first in this one.
Caught cards now and then, which helped. I played somewhat tight, but not overly so (I thought), and was proud of the way I avoided getting too short (for most of the tourney) and was able to apply pressure at seemingly opportune moments. Won most of my hands without showing down, which gave me confidence and made me feel like I was holding my own, despite my uncertanties going in.
Kind of like with the soccer and basketball earlier in the day, experience goes a long way in a poker tournament. I didn’t grow up playing soccer, and so would be totally lost trying to play now. I did play hoops, though -- both as a kid and as an adult -- and so it makes sense I’m a lot more comfortable on the court than I would be out on the soccer field. As far as live poker tourney experience goes, I have practically none, which is why I had such low expectations going in last night. But I do think I might’ve picked up a little something from these many weeks of watching others play.
Couple of hairy moments toward the end. With about 13 left I was starting to get low, with my 5,000 or so putting me well below average. I was sitting UTG+1 and was dealt pocket treys. By this time the blinds were getting big (like 400/800, I think), plus we had antes, so there were a lot of chips in the middle before action began. Thinking the under the gun player had already limped into the pot, I shrugged and corralled my chips with both hands, saying something like “Oh, well” -- clearly I was about to push ’em in -- when the UTG player surprised me by tossing out a 2,400 or so bet. Whoops! I’d nearly acted out of turn. Got a laugh from the table and those railing as I quickly mucked my cards. Was a good thing, too, as two players ended up getting to the turn, one of whom surely would’ve crushed my baby pair.
Then we got down to 11 left -- the final table bubble. I had about 3,900 when the same player to my right pushed all in with his 9,000-plus chips. I looked down and saw pocket kings.
Now there were a couple of guys on the other table with even fewer chips than I had, so theoretically I probably could have folded my way into the top ten. In fact, talking to some later they claimed they would have folded kings here. Never dawned on me to do so, though. This was a day for taking shots. I mean I’d made that fifty-footer earlier in the day on the first try, right?
So I pushed, and my opponent turned over A-K. As the dealer dealt the community cards, I didn’t even look, rather just waited for the outburst that would surely come from the 15-20 people watching if an ace hit. No outburst, and I had survived.
All in all it turned out to be a very fun (and profitable) day for yr humble gumshoe. Ended with a trip over to the Palms for that PokerStars party at the Rain nightclub. I hadn’t been to any of these things this summer, and so went to check it out. A lot of media were invited, as were all of those who qualified for the Main Event via Stars satellites.
Moneymaker and Hachem were there, of course. Also saw Robert Williamson III and Scotty Nguyen, among other familiar pros. And the other stuff one might expect: ice sculptures, moody lighting, loud music all pumping along at a danceable beats-per-minute. A half-dozen or so scantily-clad dancers gyrating non-stop on stages around the club, occasionally punctuating their performance with various set pieces (e.g., an eye-popping gymnastic routine on a raised ring above the main floor; a burlesque romp on the far stage, etc.). As I remarked to a colleague, all that plus the open bar probably equalled a hell of a time for the 21- and 22-year old field reporters who’d come with us. Still fun for us less young, less impressionable types, too, though.
I got out of there not too long after midnight and got myself a decent night’s rest for today’s Day 2a. Should be a doozy, although Day 2b will probably be even more intense. Looks like 1,250 players are playing today, with something like 2,378 coming back for the second Day Two.
Follow it all on PokerNews, natch.