Another poker dream gone sour
The plan seemed simple enough: Win a $200 buy-in, second-chance tournament at Harveys and parlay my winnings into a seat at the World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in, No-Limit Hold’Em main event.
I enjoyed the thought of being grouped in a field that included some of poker’s biggest stars, including 2002 world champion Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, 1995 world champion Dan Harrington, Daniel Negreanu and Erik Seidel. I’ve always felt I could check-raise those guys and take down a pot – assuming I ever had the scratch to play in their universe.
Perhaps I’d even beat them and collect the main event’s first-place check for $372,240, quit writing about my losses in poker tournaments and retire on the beaches of Brazil. But some dreams die hard, and this one was no different.
So there I was last Wednesday, with 62 other chumps, outside the Hard Rock Cafe. Like everyone else, I had $1,500 in tournament chips and a chair. When the cards were dealt, there were eight players at my table, all of which were guppies.
In seat No. 2 was a woman wearing a salmon-colored shirt and was more suited to be my mother than the future owner of my chips. The No. 3 and 4 seats were occupied by men with gray hair and the No. 5 set was filled by a 7-foot giant wearing an athletic jersey.
I was in seat No. 6. To my left was another gray-haired fellow, but this guy already had one foot in the morgue. After the dinosaur was a woman with an afro, which I’m sure was hip in the 1970s.
I was confident about my chances. Then the cards were dealt.
The blinds started at $25-50, and my tournament strategy has always been to take advantage of people’s tight play early on. With 63 players registered for this tournament, nobody wants to finish 63rd.
I bluffed at pots when uninspiring cards fell on the board. Even though players in early position had raised pre-flop, I smooth-called with marginal cards and then made sizable bets after the flop that threatened to dent people’s stacks. Everyone folded.
Their actions increased my chip count to $1,950, and while it doesn’t sound like much, stealing other people’s blinds and their small, pre-flop bets is beneficial. Because when I have premium cards and make identical bets, other players will call to keep me honest, thus putting me in position to win big pots.
But strategies are like armpits … everybody has one.
My downfall began when the 7-footer to my right twice re-raised me. I had top pair – weak kicker – on the flop in two different hands, check-raised him both times, only to see him re-raise me. At first I figured he was on a draw, but to re-raise somebody who just check-raised usually means that person is very confident in their hand.
In short, I twice got caught with my hand in the cookie jar and saw my chip stack dwindle to $800. Without chips, it becomes increasingly difficult to bluff because it doesn’t cost others much of their stack to call. I had to be patient and wait for a monster.
So I waited and waited and waited. The monster never came. One hand, I had a pair of 5s on the button and moved all-in after only two players called and six players folded in front of me.
One of the callers folded, but the other called and turned over pocket aces. Peace out.
I finished 31st out of 63 players, way out of the money and not even close to realizing my dream. I heard Brazil isn’t that nice anyway.
Jeremy Evans is a sportswriter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at (530) 542-8008 or by E-mail at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
As another summer heads to Lake Tahoe, residents are finding ways to stay busy and one of the more popular activities to gain traction on both shores is pickleball.