June 2016 pokerpalooza: Day 2, interlude

June 11, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 11, 2016

Monday afternoon, June 6, 2016. Once I advanced to Tuesday morning’s national championship competition, I had a problem: What should I do with myself for the rest of Monday?

I’d initially considered playing in Monday’s 1 p.m. bounty tournament. But although it may have been possible to buy in when my national championship flight ended, it would not have been wise. After a tournament’s been going on for more than half an hour or so, a brand-new starting stack has comparatively little value, and the national championship flight had kept me occupied until around 3:30 p.m.

There were two other tournaments that day. One was something called rebuy madness. This had no appeal to me, as I thought its low entry fee would encourage a great deal of aggressive action, which doesn’t suit my style. (In fact, I later heard that this tournament was canceled for lack of dealers.) The other was the tag team tournament.

The tag team format is loads of fun. Players register in two-person teams; each individual gets a starting stack and is placed at a different table. Every so often, action will be halted and players will be told to switch. Sometimes, everyone has to switch; sometimes, players are told to switch only if, say, one or both of the team members is wearing a piece of World Tavern Poker clothing or if one or both is staying at the casino hotel.

Switching tables offers some extra variety and challenge — all of a sudden, you’re plunked down at a new table with new opponents. Not only do you have to determine how your rivals are playing, sometimes, if the switch occurs in the middle of a hand, you have to determine how your partner is playing.

If one player is knocked out, he or she has to sit on the rail — at least until a switch is called for which one or both players qualifies. At no point should a player observe her or his partner; part of the challenge is that you’re not supposed to know what your teammate is doing.

Like I said, this format is a lot of fun. However, I was reluctant to play for a few reasons.

One was that when I went to the World Tavern Poker event in Las Vegas in November 2014, I’d played in the tag team event and had a bad experience. (That’s a story for another time.)

Another reason — this one twofold — I was reluctant to participate in the tag team event was that it was notorious for (a) being quite contentious and (b) running very late. There have been some heated arguments at past tag team events over whether to chop — that is, to split up the prize pool among the surviving competitors rather than play out to see who wins. This has the advantage of saving time and guaranteeing all of the remaining players a cut of the cash. (The down side, of course, is that no one gets as much money as an outright winner would be awarded.)

As for the length of the event, well, that’s pretty straightforward: I wanted to be fresh and ready when Tuesday’s national championship tournament resumed at 11 a.m.

Finally, even if I decided that I wanted to play, I couldn’t do so without a partner.

This last item wasn’t a huge problem. As it happened, not one but two New York players had invited me to join them for the tag team event.

But first, I had to decide I wanted to play. And then, I had to figure out how to contact the people who had invited me.

I found cause to change my mind about entering the tag team event. I was reluctant to play at one of the cash tables, because I don’t have much experience with cash games, and the tag team competition was the only tournament-style event left in the day. It was either play cash, play tag team or don’t play poker for the rest of the day. And given that I was at a casino, I really thought that I had to play…

I searched for J—, the first player who had invited me to partner for the tag team, when I was released from the championship flight, but I didn’t see her.

I ran into S—, a friend from New York, and we went to have lunch at the casino’s sushi restaurant, but it appeared to be entirely deserted. (All the tables were set up, but no customers or staff could be found.) We instead wandered over to the food court and enjoyed a meal at Wolfgang Puck Express.

S— had J—’s phone number, so we exchanged some text messages and agreed to join forces for the tag team event. After a leisurely late lunch, S— and I walked down to the poker room, where we met J— and we registered for that evening’s event.

It was already around 5 p.m., and I was ready for a nap. Fortunately, because the national championship events were running long, the start of the tag team event was pushed back until 8, meaning I had plenty of time to get some shut-eye. I drove back to the motel and settled in for some rest.

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