May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 3, tournament 5

June 11, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 11, 2018

Early registration helped me to secure a seat in Tuesday evening’s grinder tournament. My actual choice of a seat… well, that may have had an interesting ripple effect on subsequent events.

When the poker room supervisor led me to my table, where I was given a choice of two open spots. One was in position nine, two seats to the right of the dealer. The other was in position four. Initially, I headed to seat four, because I think that position affords a better view of the table. (When you’re next to or near the dealer, it can be hard to see the players on the dealer’s opposite side.)

Then I noticed the person in seat three: An older woman, apparently the same person from whom I’d won a big pot in my first cash-table stint the previous evening. Although she seemed to be a pleasant enough individual, I’d gotten the impression that she was the kind of poker player who held grudges. The prospect of spending three hours next to someone who was gunning for me was quite unappealing, especially when there was another open seat.

So I changed course and headed for seat nine. Immediately, I regretted this decision — as mentioned, I don’t like the obstructed views afforded by a spot near the dealer. However, I feared that reversing course twice in the space of perhaps a minute would make me look silly. I resolved to settle in seat nine and make the best of it. After all, isn’t it said that successful people make their own luck?

Eventually, I decided that the person in seat three wasn’t the same woman I’d been playing with the night before. (Their voices seemed to have very different pitches.) But by that point, it was far too late to alter my decision.

A fellow named Mike took the spot that I’d passed up. Some 10 to 15 minutes into the event, it became apparent that seat four was magical. Mike kept on scooping pot after pot, while I limped along watching my chip stack slowly diminish.

On one occasion, having suffered some losses, I did some raising with pocket aces or another strong hand. But I was only able to collect a very modest amount.

I remember just one hand specifically, which I began with ace-10 in the hole. The flop, I think, was ace-10-seven. The player in seat 1 shoved all-in on either the flop or the turn, at which point I had two pairs. A fellow with a big stack sitting across the table from me called.

Calling required me to commit all of the chips in front of me, but I was desperate for a win, and this was quite a healthy pot. I made the call.

As it happened, we two callers each had ace-10, meaning that just two cards remained in the deck that could help us: The fourth and last ace and the fourth and last 10. (Remember: There were an ace and a 10 on the board, in my hand and in the other caller‘s hand.)

The man who had shoved had done so with pocket sevens, and therefore had a set. I didn’t get any further help from the board. The people arrayed around the table were briefly confused about who had won the side pot, incorrectly suggesting that both callers should split it. I had to point out that the fellow who had gone all-in had had slightly more than me, and therefore should collect both pots.

As I walked away from the table, I thought about how I’d almost chosen seat four, and how Mike was essentially running the table. If only I’d chosen that seat, I mused.

To be continued


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