By Matthew E. Milliken
June 13, 2016
Tournament of champions semifinals, Tuesday afternoon, June 7, 2016. When I busted out of the national championship event, I wasn’t quite done with my pursuit of glory. By virtue of a second-place finish in a tavern tournament of champions event a few months earlier, I had qualified for the semifinals of the national TOC.
The previous year, I’d had a deep and entertaining run in the finals of the national TOC (or half of the finals, anyway — but I digress) at the very same venue. This time, however, I had to make my way through the semifinals just in order to get to the finals.
The format of the semifinals is a shootout, something I dislike. To advance to the finals, you have to be one of the final two players at your table. (Players don’t move from table to table, as normally happens when competitors are eliminated.)
I lost chips on the initial hand and played from behind the entire way. I hadn’t made it the end of the second level of blinds when I pushed on ace-queen unsuited and got called by a man with a pair of jacks or 10s. He won; I was out.
Last chance tournament, Wednesday afternoon, June 8, 2016. I hadn’t reached the TOC finals, but there were two side tournaments I could have played on Wednesday, the last day of the event. One was a bounty tournament at noon; the other, a standard-format tournament. I opted for the latter because knocking out other players tends not to be my style.
I can no longer remember any of the specific hands that I played except the last. (Suffice to say that I didn’t make it very far.) Paul, an aggressive player from New York whom I know distantly, had just sat down at the table when he jammed all in. Everyone folded to me — I think I was the small blind. I found ace-queen off-suit and went all in for less. The man to my left, who was from Oregon, folded. I lost to jacks.
I wasn’t going to re-enter. Such was the ignominious end of my tournament and the event.