Seven hours ago I sat down at Table 76, Seat 5 for the first event of the 2006 L.A. Poker Classic, a $330 buy-in NLHE freezeout that drew a record 1149 entrants. That's a $335,000 prize pool. Needless to say, I did not cash, as I'm presently curled up on my couch in my warm west side apartment, clutching a bong and watching The O.C. I think Showcase was shocked and awed at my jovial demeanor as I came through the door, having picked up my bustout voicemail only five minutes prior. No little storm clouds tonight. I played my best game and I'm happy with the decisions I made. The only thing that felt awful was my stomach after those tacos I ate while Ryan and I were on the dinner break. Let's just say I'd be very uncomfortable if I were still playing.
I picked up a voicemail from Ryan just as I got on the freeway. He was already there. "The lines are a mess. You should maybe, I don't know, drive faster" he dryly quipped. Turns out he wasn't kidding. I got there around 2:15 for the scheduled 3:30 start. The place was totally mobbed. After 20 minutes in line to get a Players' ID, I was shuffled into the main registration line which snaked all the way out of the tournament room, through the hallway, past the spa, and down the entire length of the terrace, which was tented and filled with 14 tables in addition to the 70 or so that were set up in the main room. I bought some lammers off a ponytailed hippie who looked like Santa Claus. He'd been playing satellites all morning to the tune of a thousand dollars. We cracked up as we watched literally every single guy who entered the tent exclaim "Holy shit!" as they got their first glimpse of the enormity of the line.
By the time I bought in, 710 players had registered. There were at least 300 more in line and there was still a steady stream of sunglass boys coming up the stairs. My table was inside the tent and the line was directly behind me. I mean like inches. Between the fat dude on my left, the fat dude on my right and the throng of humanity behind me, I couldn't move. I threw my Ipod on shuffle and Phish's First Tube was the first song that came up. Definitely a good one to start the show.
I was completely card dead through the first three levels. I got 4To and 69o so many times I started counting. I stayed afloat with late position steals that I could get away with given that I'd barely played a hand. I won small pots twice with KQ. I hit the first break with about what I started with-- 1500.
My tent table broke right after the first break and I was moved inside. Sitting in the 4s with a WSOP bracelet on her wrist was Barbara Enright. She was witty and talkative and psyched to see another lady at her table. I stole her blinds a couple of times. But I was still looking down at unsuited two gappers and King-rag and 4T and 69 over and over again.
With 75-150 blinds, I was shifted to my third and final table. Jacky Lee, a slight, older Asian man with thinning hair was in the 1s with a big stack. He's a regular in the smaller buyin events in L.A. and has made a number of final tables. The 2s was our table loudmouth, a sandy-haired, blue eyed late thirties guy that I probably would have found attractive if his personality wasn't so damned annoying. On his left was a totally silent Asian guy with bad teeth, and I was parked in the 4s. I only had about 1700 and needed to make a move.
I folded for an orbit and a half before picking up AKs in MP. Jacky Lee made it 3BB from UTG and I pushed in. Jacky tanked for almost a full minute before folding pocket fours faceup. I stacked my chips and a Scissor Sisters song that Pauly put on a mix for me came up in the shuffle. I must have been so fucking happy that I actually picked up a hand that I unconsciously started singing along. Then I saw the silent Asian man giggling. I turned the volume down and popped out one of the ear buds.
"Eeees OK! You sing nice!" he said, giggling. My face flushed scarlet and the Ipod went back in my bag. I'd have to wait for the ride home to finish my karaoke version of Take Your Mama Out.
I finally doubled up when I picked up AQ on the button and made a standard raise. The big blind pushed in and I called. He had me covered and showed AT. Weeeeeeeee. I was up to about 2600. The very next hand I got AT and took the blinds. I chopped out some small pots and had a little under 4000 when the ante hit. Then I went card dead again. The 4To count was up to 11. 69o was at 8. 93o went from 2 to 6. I tried to steal the blinds with JTd and got re-popped. Ouch. Picked up KJs on the button, raised, and the BB pushed. If I folded, I'd be back down to 2100. I tanked for about 30 seconds before mucking. The BB flashed the As as he folded and I left for dinner break frustrated with my chip count but relieved that I'd made the right decision on that hand.
Drinking in the cool air and secondhand smoke outside, I took a call from Pauly while Ryan live blogged the action on his Sidekick. My fellow Murderer was doing great, with about 8K in his stack. Facing 200-400 blinds with a 50 ante, I told him I just needed a hand where I could push and pray. I couldn't remember when I'd been so card dead in a tournament (though I suppose it's really just the time-space continuum realigning itself after my spectacular run this last month and a half). I hadn't picked up a pocket pair. AK, AQ, AJ, and AT once each. Just bobbin' & weavin', bobbin' & weavin'.
Ryan and I ate some pretty foul tacos and went back upstairs. We were sitting at adjacent tables by now, though I wouldn't be around for much longer. Down to only 1700, I pushed with A2h from the cutoff and got called by AT from the BB. The turn gave me a flush draw, but the black queen on the river sealed my fate. Doesn't matter, I had to do it. I said my goodbyes and waved over at Ryan, who was still sitting on a healthy stack. He made a little sad face and I wished him luck. At the end of the day, I made it through maybe 2/3 of the field.
I sat out on the terrarce with the smokers for a few minutes. It was cool and windy and the sweet sweet smell of ganja drifted past my nose. Someone was toking right outside the super satellite tent! Goddamn it, sometimes I just love living in Southern California.
As I write this, Ryan is still in. He has about $28K with the blinds up to 500/1000/200. 53 players are left and the average stack is about $33K with 45 places paying. I'm sending my good vibes his way and as much as I love our Friday game, I hope we all have to scrap it tomorrow night to go railbird him on the final table. $113K for first! I sure swapped 5% with the right guy. ;)