I spent the majority of yesterday afternoon sitting in traffic. All I needed to do was drive from my apartment to the Toys 'R Us on South La Cienega, pick up a gift for Charlie's daughter's 4th birthday, and drive from there to Charlie's place in Hancock Park for the party. Only I forgot the L.A. Marathon was still going on and every north-south artery within two miles of where I needed to go was shut down with barracades and cop cars. So an hour-long errand took three and I had a splitting headache by the time I got home from Charlie's and fired up Paradise Poker for this year's first WPBT WSOP satellite. I popped two Advil and chowed on a spicy chicken burrito from Wahoo's as the cards went in the air.
I was drawn to the table of death. Otis and DoubleAs were on my left. Drizz, The Rooster, Bobby Bracelet, Scurvydog, and Helixx rounded out the starting lineup. My head pounded and I gingerly sipped from a bottle of Aquafina. I played tight for a few orbits before picking up KK against Helixx's QQ for my first double-up. I love busting people in poker, but when it's someone I like, it takes just a little of the fun out of it. That would happen four times in the course of this tourney.
Joaquin would be the next out at our table. I raised with 88 and he called with 58 from the BB. The flop came down J 6 7 and the Rooster threw out a confusing minimum bet. I made a substantial raise and he called. I was liking my hand a lot less with that call. But then the turn came a beautiful 8. Joaquin bet again and I made another big raise. He called. Now I was really confused. River is a 5. He bet 550, I pushed in, and he called with two pair. Aiyah! He was really on a draw? Suddenly, I have 8000 chips.
I hung onto the lead for a while. Otis mucked a big hand to my squeeze play reraise from the button (it was a good fold, Otis) and I mucked just as big a hand to DoubleAs' squeeze play all-in from the BB. I didn't want to race for half my stack and he knew that-- a slick, professional play for the situation.
I went card dead for quite a while before my next big run. I was genuinely sad when I felted Joe Speaker with KK because I have busted him out of nearly every tournament we've played together. I'm serious. Online, Murderer's Row, whatever the occasion, he seems to run in to my monster hands. Shortstacked, he pushed in on a steal with KT and I pushed over the top with KK, which held up. Linda Geenen was the next blogger to run into one of my monster hands when I picked up QQ vs. her A5. I had 34K and a substantial chiplead.
Then came the coinflips.
I doubled up Poker Gnome when his KQd outflopped my 88, giving him enough chips to begin a monster run at first place. I raised Gracie in late position with 77 and she reraised all-in with AQo. I was getting the right price and called, but she flopped a Q. Half my stack? Poof.
I arrived at the final table with an average stack. I raised with Q9h in the cutoff and a very short-stacked Joanne pushed in with 44 which held and doubled her through. I made one tough laydown and bled down to about 7600 with 400-800 blinds. New chipleader Poker Gnome made a raise from MP and I pushed in with 55. He called with A9o and flopped a 9, sending me out in 8th place. Had I won even one of those races, I could have made a serious run at this thing.
I couldn't be happier that Gracie went on to win! Congratulations, girl! Runner-up Poker Gnome played a helluva game as well.
I can't say enough about the level of play I witnessed last night. You all inspire me to study and think and do whatever I can to become a better player. I look around and see how far all of us have come in a year, only reinforcing my belief that 2006 will be the year of the blogger at the WSOP. Ryan certainly raised the bar for us with his LAPC victory in January. I can't wait to see how high it goes.