June 2016 pokerpalooza: Day 2, tournament 3

June 10, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 10, 2016

National championship finals, flight 1, Monday morning, June 6, 2016. Shortly before 11 a.m., I took my seat in a large ballroom at Mohegan Sun Pocono outside Wilkes-Barre, Pa. There were nearly 200 other players in the room, all intent on one thing: Winning lots of chips over the next four hours or so. At the end of that time, all the survivors, no matter how many or how few chips they held, would advance to a pool of competitors that would also include those who had persevered through Monday afternoon’s second national championship flight.

We’d played perhaps the better part of an hour when something dramatic happened to me. Once again, I was in the big blind; the only players were me, the small blind and a woman named Betty who was either on the button or one seat off the button.

The flop included a queen and two diamonds — for argument’s sake, let’s call it a four and an eight. The blinds both checked, but Betty went all in for 8,000 chips. After some deliberation, small blind folded.

I held a queen with a high kicker — a jack or a 10, I think. I didn’t know what Betty held, but I was almost positive she was trying to buy the pot with her all-in move. On the other hand, I wasn’t thrilled about paying 8,000 to find out for sure, even though I had two or three times that amount.

I turned to the man in the small blind. “I wish you’d called, because now I have to,” I said. I put in my chips.

Betty waited for me to flip my cards over, but I’d called her, and I made a statement to that effect.

Before she complied, she said something that I misinterpreted. I thought she asked, “Do you have a flush draw?,” to which I said I did not. However, she had two diamonds — the ace and a low card, perhaps a two — so she must have said “I have a flush draw” or something similar.

I was ahead at the moment; all I had to do was hope that no cards came out that changed the situation. The turn was a brick, but unfortunately, the river was a diamond, completing Betty’s flush draw. She murmured something conciliatory about how she’d gotten lucky as she collected the pot.

This was disappointing, but the next hand would alleviate some of my bad feelings. As I sat in the small blind, Betty went all in for somewhere north of 25,000 chips. When action came around to me, I found myself looking at pocket aces.

I tried not to act too excited, because there were a few potential callers, and I might make a big profit if one or two of them came along. “I call, I guess,” I grumbled. “Looks like I’ve got less than” whatever amount Betty had named.

Despite what was no doubt an Academy Award–worthy performance, I don’t think that anyone followed us into the pot. We showed our cards, and Betty had the ace and queen of diamonds. This time, she got a queen, but she didn’t get a flush, and I raked in a big pot.

We played until about 3:30 that afternoon, but no other hands made a specific impression on me over that time. When the session concluded, I had 60,100 in chips. (That actually rounded up to 61,000, as we were eliminating the 100-denomination chips from play.) This amount was slightly bigger than the average remaining stack of the players who were left.

A lot of folks I knew from North Carolina and New York remained in the tournament. Play would resume the following morning at 11.

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