Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 6

May 29, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 29, 2019

The national championship dealers were told to stop dealing cards about 10 minutes after noon on Tuesday, May 21, only a little while after I’d relocated to my second table of the day. Moments later, we were told that we’d made it into the Pit. After relocating, we filled out a short questionnaire, took a group photograph and made pit stops.

Play began in the Pit around 12:35; I occupied seat four or five at table 141.

On the first hand, I folded queen-nine, both hearts. From the small blind, with no callers, Adam T— shoved queen-five off. Fellow New York player Jim M— was in the big blind with ace-king or ace-queen unsuited, I believe, and it held, eliminating Adam.

Later, I shoved with ace-queen and got no callers.

After that, I pushed all-in with nines and was called for less by pocket sixes. My pair held. I shook hands with the vanquished player and told him that he’d got it in good.

Around this time, Jim M— asked a casino manager, “Do you know how much they pay out?”

“For what?” the manager replied. The dealer and players began ribbing him; we were nearing the conclusion of a national championship tournament, after all.

Shortly afterward, I got a walk — no one called my big blind. ”Easy game,” I joked as I collected the chips.

“I could have done that,” our dealer, Alex, said genially.

“In a way, you did,” I told him.

Moments later, from the small blind at 25,000, I made a call (25,000) and paid another 50,000 on the river to Reggie S—, who beat me with a trio of fours.

The button rotated around the table. Mary J—, another New York player, raised to 100,000 — a minimum raise. I defended my big blind with jack-nine off.

The flop came 7-7-8. She shoved for 70,000, and I called. The turn was another seven, but I never hit my straight, losing a big pot to her ace and ten of hearts. That took a big chunk out of my stack, eliminating all of my orange chips, which were worth 25,000 a pop.

Reggie, who’s from the Charlotte area, noted that Mary and I had each had a hole card that the other required to make a straight. “She needed your nine and you needed her ten,” he murmured to himself.

We took a 15-minute break around 1:15.

I was moved to table 142, seat seven or eight. We were down to the last two tables. The dealer, H—, gently and appropriately asked me to stow my phone, which I was using to take notes for this and preceding posts. He said that it wasn’t that I was doing anything wrong, but people were looking at him. No problem, I told him, and put my phone away.

I waited out the blinds, which cost me 60,000 for the big and 30,000 for the small, plus 5,000 a hand in antes.

Playing the big blind was awkward for multiple reasons. The man in the small blind shoved with a medium stack. My blind was sitting out there in the form of three orange chips — that is, 75,000 total. I struggled to calculate what I’d have left if I folded, and my brain was a bit fried from the pressure. I asked the dealer if I could get change, but he said it wasn’t appropriate to do so when I was involved in a hand.

He quickly ran through the math verbally for me, although I still struggled to process the numbers properly. I had 60,000 committed, I had maybe 170,000 total and would have 110,000 if I folded. My hand was queen-four off-suit, and I didn’t want to put my tournament life on the line with this hand. After a bit of stalling, I folded.

I folded the small blind, too, immediately forgetting what I had. On the next hand, Jeff H— shoved for roughly the amount I had left. I folded again — and again immediately forgot what I have. Jeff hit his hand to increase his treasury to roughly the table average stack. Meanwhile, my reserves were dwindling fast.

The next hand, sitting in the cutoff, I found myself with ace-eight off-suit. I had only four chips — all orange, fortunately. I shoved.

The button folded. Small blind, with 30,000 committed, decided to put in the additional 70,000 needed to call my push. The big blind, who owed just 40,000 more, also called.

I think my rivals both checked the flop. After the turn, the man in the small blind made a big bet — 90,000, I think. The big blind then shoved all in for a bit more and was called.

I forget what the small blind had — king-ten? — but the big blind’s hand is extremely hard to forget: ten-four. Since there were a pair of fours on the board, he was looking extremely good. I immediately stood and lifted the medallion I use as a card marker from the table.

Ten-four took down the hand with three of a kind, thereby knocking me out of the national championship in 13th place. I shook hands with him and a couple of other people and took about five steps over to the spot were Scooty was disbursing prizes. My reward: A $500 entry fee to a poker tournament.

It was a fun ride, no doubt, but I wish I’d been able to take it a bit further…

To be continued

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