I limped in with Q5o in late position and a Q came on the flop with no overcards. I bet out and Chuck Sneer cold called. Curious. The turn was a blank, I bet out, he cold-called again. Very curious. I put him on a Q with a weak kicker. There wasn’t much of a draw on the board. The river spiked what I figured was the case queen. I put out a large bet, expecting Chuck Sneer to fold. He did me one better and put in a huge raise.
That was when The Sneer came into play. I tried to look into him. I wanted to see his kicker. After a couple of minutes of serious thought, I mucked my hand, turning up the queen. The table couldn’t believe I had laid it down. At the time, I felt okay about the laydown, and was only mad at myself for playing Q5o in the first place. Later, though, as I started watching how Chuck played, I realized that river raise was only a playing device for him. Eventually, someone he put on a weak flush called one of the river raises with a big flush. It was then I realized Chuck probably didn’t have the fourth Queen and had bluffed me something fierce.
While demoralizing, it was not a huge defeat for me. I had developed a certain amount of respect at the table and was using it to my advantage. I worried, slot hoki though, that the weakness I showed with my queen trips would start to hurt me.
That’s when it happened…
One hand before the rebuy period was over, I found KK in the big blind. Brian came in for a big raise and got called by Not-Gary. I raise, Brian went all in, Not-Gary called his all-in and went all in himself.
And there sat my pocket cowboys looking back at me with a look of terror, truly unbefitting of their name. Couple of complete wussies, if you ask me.
They actually looked up at me from their spot on the felt and said, “Fold us. We’re weak. One of those two guys has aces and we’ll lose. It’s SAD for cowboys to lose.”
I actually thought about Hellmuth for a second, when he called the ESPN crew over during the WSOP and told them how monumental it was that he folded his KK. I looked around for someone to brag to that I was about to lay down pocket kings pre-flop.
Then one of the kings looked up at me and winked. “Just kiddin’, bud. Call their asses.”
I called, but still not sure of myself completely, told the two other players, ‘Show me your aces.”
And they did. Unfortunately for them, they needed to combine their hands to have pocket aces. Both of them showed AJ. Both of them.
The flop came all little cards.
“No aces…” I muttered.
Nick looked up at me and said, “I folded one of them.”
After the turn came with another blank, that meant there was one card left in the deck that could beat me.
And it didn’t come.
The cowboys held up and my stack sat at ~$14,000T going into the first break.
The first break also indicated the end of the rebuy period. Mark, Brian, and Not-Gary had rebought, Nick had busted out and decided he was finished.
That put the total prize pool at $1200.
I called Mrs. Otis to make sure she wasn’t in labor. She asked how I was doing, and I said well, as long as the baby doesn’t come while I’m playing.
After the break, even with the rebuys, it started to go quickly. I busted out a couple of players, so did Flush Eddie.
Before long, we were down to four: Otis, Flush Eddie, Not-Gary, and Chuck Sneer.
I found AQ in late position, and felt ever-so-slightly uncomfortable calling Chuck’s raise. I felt my hand was good, but when he bet out after an ace came on the flop, I started to feel like he might have AK. I raised to see where I was in the hand and Chuck re-raised all in.
I thought for about 30 seconds. I felt like he likely had AK, but if he didn’t, I could bust him and get it down to three players.
I called and Chuck turned up a familiar hand. AJ, the same hand I had busted Brian and Not-Gary on. He didn’t improve, shook my hand, and took off.
I was pretty close to Flush Eddie in chip position, but I sort of felt like he was a little ahead. Not-Gary was not quite short-stacked, but he was obviously in third place.
He played a good tight-aggressive game throughout thetournament and it served him well, even when we got shorthanded. He even started to build his stack a little bit. That’s when my money-clip started talking.
“Just say the word, ‘deal’, man. They’ll take it. Nobody is here for the glory. Split it three ways.”
But I couldn’t make myself do it. Even though I was playing for free, even though busting out on the bubble would kill my faith in the game of poker, I couldn’t make myself offer a deal with three players left.
We played three-handed for about 30 minutes. Everybody played tight, not wanting to give up too much.
“The big hand is coming,” Not-Gary said.
He was right.
I was in the small blind and hadn’t yet looked at my cards when Not-Gary, from the button raised the amount of the pot. I started to mutter something about him being a thief, but chose to look at my cards instead.
The boys were back.
“Hey, Otis,” the cowboys waved. “Feel like folding us this time, pussy?”
I looked at Not-Gary, “How much do you have left?”
He counted it out confidently , “About $4500T.”
If I lost, I would be the table’s shortstack and in danger of the bubble. If I won, I was in the money. I still had Flush Eddie behind me, but didn’t think for more than a couple of seconds before announcing I was all in.
Eddie folded immediately and Not-Gary called, flipping up A3 of hearts.
The cowboys looked proud.
To make them prouder, one of their buddies came on the flop and Not-Gary was, in essence, drawing dead the rest of the way.
We were down to two.
I started trying to count Flush Eddie’s chips and noticed he was doing the same thing to me. We both came to the same conclusion about the same time, but Eddie was first to speak: “Mark, how much is in the pot?”
Mark was at the end of the table experiementing with Poker Clock.
“Want to chop it?” Eddie asked.
I did the math in my head and realized that with my win in $4/$8 before the game and half the $1200 pot, I had just paid for my new video camera.
I only had to say, “Yep” and Mark put $600 in my hand.
Eddie and I counted out our chips just for the fun of it. I had him outchipped by about $3000T, which once heads up play begins is not a significant margin. I could’ve played for several more hours and lost. I’d take my share of first… in a second.