I've never been an actual bridesmaid and if I were a religious person, I'd thank God every day for that. I watched that dreadful Katherine Heigl movie 27 Dresses on cable a few weeks ago and was reminded how lucky I was to never have had to wear a foul taffeta confection and stand at an altar while one of my girlfriends promised to love, honor and cherish. While I played in the Run-Good 2 Grand Final, dozens of weddings went off in the city of Las Vegas-- and one of them was the legal union of two of the best people I've had the pleasure of meeting through the poker blogging world. Gracie and Sweet Sweet Sweet Pablo were certainly on my mind as I sat down to play in our suite at the MGM Grand.
Before he went downstairs to play his numbers for the day, Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot spun some heady tunes to get us into the right frame of mind since we both had a lot of money on the line here. Lots of STS9, down-tempo house and Phish bootlegs. I was psyched to see the guys at PokerListings had set up a nice double-stack structure for the tournament; I tend to do much better with larger starting stacks than the typical online poker 1,500 chip pushfests. With a bowl full of Swiss Cheese by my side, I moved headlong into the foray.
Kid Dynamite got off to a huge start, claiming nearly half of the Poker Shrink's stack on the first hand when his A-K outkicked Shrink's A-J on a raggy, ace-high board. KD took a significant chip lead over the rest of us and pretty much wouldn't have to look back for the rest of the tournament. I employed my typical weak-tight ninja strategy in the first few levels-- seeing cheap flops, check-folding them when I missed (which happened nearly 100% of the time over the first 50 or so hands), and adopting homeless heads-up pots. Finally I picked up my first real hand, 9h-9s, in the big blind, but ended up folding it to an early position raise from KD, a flat-call from Michele Lewis and a three-bet from Benjo. I would have flopped middle set when it came down Ad-9c-4c, but it turned out that I avoided disaster. Benjo, Michele, and KD all checked the flop. When the turn came the 5c, KD fired out 900, Michele folded and Benjo shoved for his remaining 1,685. KD didn't have much of a decision and called the extra 785. Benjo had top pair with Ah-Jd, while KD had straight and flush draws with 3c-3d.
Bang! 2s on the river and the Tao of Pokerati star unfortunately earned Gigli honors as KD made a wheel. Benjo was multi-tasking-- playing the Run Good while simultaneously doing French-language commentary for PokerStars' EPT Live broadcast from Prague. He even had fans railing him! They said things like this:
"Gl benjo lol... a part le premier mail j'ai eu aucune reponses"
Roughly translated that means "good luck you snail-eating donkey anus."
(Actually, I don't know what the hell that means)
I picked up As-Ac on the very next hand and raised Spaceman's limp to 4BB. He called and we saw a Qc-6c-2s flop. I led out and he wisely folded. I played maybe two or three small pots as we approached the first break. Most if not all of them were against Spaceman and though I wish I could say I bluffed the shit out of him or pulled some crazy move-- I actually flopped a couple of hands.
Poker Shrink was the next to bust, at the hands of the unstoppable KD. Shrink shoved a J-T-7 rainbow flop with his A-K, but KD made the call, having outflopped the doctor with A-J. I was able to claim a few of those chips from KD a short while later when I was dealt my favorite hand-- T-8 suited. Of course I had to play it. And man, did I play it badly.
With blinds at 75-150 I opened for 450 with Th-8h and KD called from the small blind. The flop was A-9-7 rainbow and KD checked it over to me. Looking back on the hand and the range KD could have flatted me with in that spot, I should have led out with my draw. Small pocket pairs are likely to fold there and if he did have an ace, there's a good chance he would check-raise and I could have either gotten away from it, or three-bet shoved him, potentially making him fold a weak ace. Instead, I checked behind and got a free turn card. It was the Ac, putting two clubs out there. KD bet 450, a little less than half the pot, and I called (now my internal dialogue sounds like this-- "Fuck, fuck I should have bet the flop!"). The river came the 8d. He checked and I checked behind. KD showed Ks-Qh and I narrowly escaped with the pot. After the hand, I was third in chips behind KD and the Luckbox.
I continued my streak as Spaceman's nemesis when I busted him out in 7th place. I opened Ks-Qs for 450 from UTG and everyone folded around to Spaceman, who shoved 1,755 from the big blind. Getting 1.8-1 on my money I had to call and ended up in the race situation I thought I was in. The 8-high flop was good for Spaceman, but I spiked a king on the turn to take him out on the money bubble.
In the first edition of the Run-Good, we ended up with an all-female final three, comprised of myself, Amy Calistri, and Michele. Unfortunately, the sizzling Texan was eliminated in at my own hands, in some estrogen-on-estrogen violence. Crippled on an earlier hand where she flopped trips and Luckbox turned a full house, Michele shoved her last 620 with A-T and I called 420 more with K-J in the big blind. I rivered a king and eliminated the cougar in 6th place.
In the inimitable words of Mike Matusow, "Poker, poker, it's all skill."
Down to 5 players, Amy was the short stack and she channeled her inner run good to double up a few times after being down to the 3-5 BB range, first with 8-9 against KD's A-K, then with A-2 against Luckbox's K-7, and finally with A-K against my 7-7.
"She's like Rocky vs. Drago" said Kid Dynamite, who was ultimately her executioner when his K-K held up against her 6-6.
Down to 4 players, chip stacks looked like this:
Seat 1: Kid Dynamite (9615 in chips)
Seat 6: change100 (5085 in chips)
Seat 8: Matt Showell (3350 in chips)
Seat 9: Luckbox (8950 in chips)
I had taken a decent hit after making a big laydown to the Luckbox (I had tens, he told me after the hand he had aces). I hovered around 5,000 for a while before picking up pocket eights and seeing a 4-3-3 flop against KD. I shoved over the top of his lead bet and picked up about 2,000 on the hand. Things started looking bad for KD when Matt Showell doubled through him after flopping a set of jacks.
"i can't believe i'm going to finish 4th in this" lamented KD.
Now I was more or less card dead, save for one hand where I picked up A-J suited and folded to KD's shove after I three-bet him pre-flop. KD was back in business after that with over 8,000. Down to 4,000 I open-shoved Qd-Jd and Matt called with T-T. I couldn't have asked for a better flop than Q-rag-rag with two diamonds and a jack on the turn. Poor Matt was down to only 400 and busted two hands later.
With Luckbox, KD and I all in the 8k-10k range we did a chop for the majority of the prize pool and left some on the table for the winner. With all of us now going hardcore for first and no real difference between second and third, Luckbox went crazypants aggressive the earliest. I opened Ad-8d from the small blind and folded to his three-bet, which knocked me down a rung and left me in push mode. Luckbox got it all in before I could pick up a hand, though, his K-J succumbing to KD's A-K to eliminate him in third place.
Heads-up starting stacks looked like this:
Seat 1: KidDynamite (22205 in chips)
Seat 6: change100 (4795 in chips)
So, yeah. I was pushing or folding and praying for a double-up, and got it with my A-2 sucking out on KD's 6-6. My final hand, though, came when I open-shoved K-6 and KD called with A-T. No second suckout and Kid Dynamite captured the title. Congrats, man!
Thanks again to my favorite Canadians, the boys at PokerListings, both for sponsoring this tournament and for inviting me to play in it. I enjoy the good-natured competition with writers and players I respect as well as the world stage on which to showcase my extraordinarily mediocre poker skills.
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That morning at 5 a.m., before we finally went to bed, Pauly showed me some video from Gracie and Pablo's wedding. I cried. Then I watched it again. And cried again. Good tears.