Mile High Poker Challenge
Game: Texas Hold 'em No Limit.
Date: Nov. 3, 2004
Place: Performing Arts Center. Denver, Colorado.
Benefits: American Diabetes Association
# Players: 350 +/-
Grand Prize: All expense paid trip to Vegas with a paid entry into the Bellagio World Poker Challenge. 2nd Prize (4): All expense paid trip to Vegas.
Basic tournament concept: Blinds doubled every 20 minutes. After 3 hours of play, the top 10 chip leaders made it to the final table - all other players were S.O.L.. After 1 hour of play at the final table, the chip leader wins it all.
After missing a couple of draws early on and losing about 1/2 my stack, I finally came across a couple of great hands and played them well enough to bust 2 or 3 folks out of the tournament.
In the second hour of play I could see players tightening up since the blinds were becoming sizeable and was able to buy a few pots to add to my growing chip stack.
Towards the end of the 2nd hour I was reshuffled to a new table of what looked like the Mafioso. A group of older, very stern looking men in their 50's/60's who all knew how to play poker much better than I. A couple of hands later I found myself playing heads up against the "don" of the table. I was the big blind and had the opportunity of seeing how he would play pre-flop. I saw that he was hesitant to call and I immediately smelt weakness on his part. I wasn't doing much better with a Q/10 off-suit, though. I figured he had an Ace-rag off-suit.
The flop comes and it's a rainbow with 10 high. The bet was to me... I shuffled my chips around a bit, took a good look at the "don", but I already knew what I was going to do. With top-pair and a good kicker, I semi-reluctantly (call me a thespian) took all my chips and pushed them into the table and called All-In hoping the "don" would see me as a big ol' bluffer and call me on the spot.
At this point, I simply stared at the cards on the table, purposely ignoring the "don". He pondered hard for a few minutes and simply stated, "I call". Perfect! I showed my cards. The look on the "don's" face was priceless - he immediately knew he'd been suckered. My read on him was correct, he had Ace-8 off-suit and I was a heavy favorite to win.
The turn comes - no help for either of us. The River comes... it's meaningless! I doubled up and all but knocked the "don" out of the tournament. He looked at me and said I played the hand well and in disbelief said he didn't think I even had a pair.
Rolling into the last hour of play before the final table I was sitting on a nice stack of chips and was able to win a couple of more smaller pots. Once again, towards the end of the hour I got shuffled to a new table.
At this point, there are about 3-4 tables left in the tournament, maybe 35 players in total. As the chip leader at this new table, I had the opportunity to bully a few folks around. A couple of hands went by and everyone was playing super tight. If I played this right, I could steal a few blinds which were quite sizeable at this point in the tournament.
We started a new hand and 5 folks limped in, just calling. The bet came to me and I had a strong enough hand that I was comfortable semi-bluffing. I tripled the bet. At that exact moment, the tournament directory said "Last Hand" - uh boy! All the remaining players in the pot pushed their chips All-In since they would have to win this pot to move to the final table.
Crap! This is not what I wanted. But, there were enough chips in the pot that the pot-odds basically dictated that I call. I knew I had most of them beat, so I pushed all my chips in and forced 2 of the other guys to push the rest of their chips into the pot. There were 6 side pots; even if I didn't win, I could still win some of the side pots.
With everyone in, we all showed our cards. I had KJ off-suit, one guy had JJ, everyone else had crap like 68 off-suit. All I needed was a King to win this monster pot. The flop comes with 2 rag cards and a J! Crap! The guy with JJ just flopped a Set. With the turn and river no help to me, I had lost the majority of the pot. I won some of the side pots, but lost well over 1/2 my chips.
The tournament director counted up the remaining players' chips to see who would be in the final table... I came in 11th!!! One place out of the final table. Had I simply passed on that last hand, I would have been in 5th place overall and been safely at the final table with a real shot at winning it all.
In the end, I had a good time. The American Diabetes Association rasied a fair amount of money. And finished 11th out of 350 or so players. Not too shabby a night :)