You're 5 foot nothin', 100 and nothin', and you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for 2 years. ... In this life, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself. And after what you've gone through, if you haven't done that by now, it ain't gonna never happen.Before I finish the recap of the razz tournament, I want to once again publicly thank everyone for their support. That includes: members of my syndicate; everyone who left comments or sent emails; people who sent words of encouragement and/or congratulations via phone call and text (I'm sorry I didn't respond; my phone started blowing up as soon as we hit the money, and since I had limited time to eat, I opted to turn it off); and last but certainly not least CK.
Ok, on to the recap.
When I got up on Saturday, I still had my red tournament ID bracelet on my wrist. (It allows players to access spaces in the Amazon Room that spectators can't.) CK asked me if I was going to take it off. "Not until I win the gold bracelet to replace it," I told her. Yep, the delusions of grandeur were in full force and effect.
I started the day with 13,300 chips at limits of 600 / 1,200 and at what was by far my most annoying table of the whole tournament. First of all, I was in Seat 1, making it very difficult for me to see the action on the far end of the table to my right. More importantly, on my left were: a guy who reminded me of Jack Lemmon's "Shelly Levine" character from Glengarry Glen Ross; and a guy who was "just happy to be here". On their left, sitting directly across from me, was David Levi.
Levi seemed like a decent guy (if annoying in the fact that he had amassed the second-most chips in the whole tournament), but had this odd habit of winking at anyone who was looking at him if he made some sort of joke. The other two guys, however, were absolute cards. They just. wouldn't. shut. up. Levine was running what at first I thought was a gag about how he had never played razz before. I didn't believe it for a second, though his constant chatter and inability to bet the proper limit certainly were aggravating.
Levine found a compadre in just-happy-to-be-here guy, who kept going on and on about how much fun he was having, how he had to switch his flight because he made Day 2, etc. etc. The two were talking to each other about anything and everything, completely oblivious to everything going on around them. Eventually, both Levi and I put our headphones on and fired up the ipods, just to drown out the incessant yapping of Laurel and Hardy.
Level 9 was a roller coaster. Due to a steal gone awry and a series of bricks on solid hands in the first level, Level 9 (600 / 1,200), I quickly dropped from 13,300 chips to about 7,500. Then I caught a 6-5 and got Shelly Levine to pay me off with his 8-7. By the end of Level 9 I was up to 14,900.
Things didn't improve much in Level 10. First I had to fold an 8-7 draw on sixth against a board of x-x / 2-3-4-T. I thought about it for a long time, even asking JHTBH Guy to please shut up so I could concentrate. I tanked for over a minute, watching my opponent, and decided he reeked of so much strength that I should fold. That dropped me to about 9,000.
Shortly after I made an 8-7 and clawed back up to 15,800. Then came a killer hand right at the end of Level 10. I raised A-8 / 5 and got called all the way. I can't remember how his board came out, but I know I finished A-8 / 5-5-6-6 / T to make a T-8 against his 9. It was a brutal hand that dropped me to 6,800 chips.
By the time Level 10 ended and we hit the first break, I was at just 6,400 chips. Players were dropping quickly, but I was stuck in short-stack land and needed some help as 68 still remained, putting us 20 spots off the money. I faced the serious prospect of bubbling. PaulyDrama was sweating me and he told me not to worry about it, just to do my thing. And so I turned on some NIN on my ipod, cranked up the volume as loud as it would go, and sat back down.
Within 10 minutes of starting Level 11, I doubled. I don't remember the details. I just remember I was in the zone, grooving to the music and intent on not giving up. I could taste the cash; just needed to get there.
It was somewhere around this point that Sam Grizzle was broken to my table (after David Levi was broken away). Believe the truth of every story you have ever heard about what a miserable bastard Grizzle is. He was non-stop complaining about anything and everything almost from the moment he got to the table. What was comedic about it, was that he was sitting to the immediate left of JHTBH Guy, who seemed completely oblivious to Grizzle's attitude, and continually attempted to engage him in conversation, make jokes with him, clap him on the back, etc. etc. At one point Grizzle called a floor over and asked if JHTBH Guy and Shelly Levine, who were in a hand against each other and were being quite chatty (though not discussing their hands at all) were allowed to talk during a hand. The floor looked at Grizzle like he had two heads, and Grizzle responded with a look of disgust and comments to the effect that the floor was incompetent and didn't know the rules.
I admit JHTBH Guy and Shelly were annoying. But my solution was just to tune them out. Grizzle's solution was to be bitter about it to anyone and everyone within earshot. I was quite happy to be broken away from the table to what would ultimately be my final table.
I'm not sure how many pots I won at that last table. I know I was all in again in Level 11 against a shorty. Actually, to be fair, I bet 2,400 on 5th with just 100 behind, and he elected to fold. Good thing -- I was paired and not relishing having to sweat out another all in. My high water mark was 20,000; then I started the long slow decline.
My problem was that I was playing far too tightly for tournament play. I needed to be looking for more steals and re-steals. And so I kept getting ground down as we approached the money bubble. When we hit hand-for-hand at 4,900, I had about 7,000 chips. One of the PokerNews guys came over and told me there were two super short stacks, under 1,500 each. At this point, I decided to turtle.
You can criticize the decision all you want, but I think, with a very short stack but two super short stacks out there, it was the right decision. Anyway, it only got put to the test on the last hand-for-hand hand. My nemesis, Brandon Leeds, had completed the bring-in and been called when I looked down at A-6 / 4. Aiyah! I was totally stuck, and like a pussy decided to fold because I wasn't ready to try to hit a parlay against two players. Turned out it didn't matter; Barry Greenstein crushed the soul of one of the short stacks on that hand when he called the shorty's all in on fourth and went runner-runner-runner to take the guy out.
With that elimination, the bubble burst. About ten minutes prior to that, CK arrived, having been bounced from the Mega-Stack event at Caesar's earlier in the afternoon. I really can't tell you how much it meant to me to have her around right at crunch time. Just as it had been on Day 1 when she popped by briefly, it was a real pick-me-up. When we finally got in the money, I went over to the rail and gave her a big hug and kiss.
We were given a 60-minute dinner break as soon as the bubble burst. I managed to stick around after dinner for about an hour and a half, until I made my stand as described in my last post. Out in 33rd place. Oh what might have been if I drew better or Leeds had drawn worse... He final-tabled the tournament and went out in 5th.
When I asked Garry Gates for Friday, June 13 as a day off, I wasn't 100% committed to playing Event #26 - $1,500 Razz. Like most non-pros, I guess, I had nagging doubts that I was dead money. I didn't spend any time this spring working on my razz game once I signed on with PokerNews, as I was under the impression that I'd have to work. When John Caldwell told the whole team on Day 1, "We're all here because we love poker. If you want to play an Event, let us know as soon as possible", I realized the razz event was back on the table.
"We just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening," Moonlight Graham tells Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams. "Back then I thought, well, there'll be other days. I didn't realize that that was the only day." Who knows what will come in the future - I may never get another chance to take a shot like I did this past weekend. This might have been my one chance to make my mark, to get my name in the record books, to hang tough with the big dogs. I played with at least ten different pros that I recognized, and probably a bunch more that I didn't recognize since I don't watch poker on television. For two days, I hung with the toughest field in the world, at a game that amateurs just don't play, and in the end I walked away with not only the experience, but a little extra cash too.
Not bad at all.