Pennsylvania pokerpalooza 2019: Part 9

June 2, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 2, 2019

I went back to the casino a little after 7 Wednesday evening to play in the Dream Team tournament, which had a separate prize for the four-person team that collected the most cumulative points. (Each player was given a certain number of points for each blind level he or she lasted.) My quartet included Penny Z—, another player from the bar where I direct tournaments on Sunday evenings, and a fourth player whom I did not know.

I was not exactly thrilled with the dealer at my first table, whom I recognized from previous year’s visits to the casino. At one point, I told the dealer that he could collect the cards of the player to my left, who had departed the table, but the dealer responded, incorrectly, that he had to wait until it was that player’s turn to act.

The casino’s actual rule for tournament poker is that a player’s cards should be mucked if the person is not within arm’s reach of her or his chair at the end of the initial deal (i.e., once each player has received two hole cards). I knew this playing at the casino five springs running and because a manager had stipulated the rule over the public address system moments before the tournament began. Kyle, the player to my right, backed me up, but the dealer was not moved. I shrugged and let things stand.

Some time later, the dealer skipped me in the deal, and he was looking away when I tried to correct him. From seats 10 and nine — I was in nine — it’s typically difficult if not impossible to read the dealer’s name tag, which employees wear over their left breast, so I was reduced to saying, “Sir! Sir!” He didn’t notice me, but a manager was doing something at the table and helped straighten things out.

Be that as it may, let’s get to the action at the table:

Early on, I won a three-way pot when my eight-deuce made a club flush on the river. The player to my immediate right had an inferior flush with six-four; the other player in the hand, Erica T— of New York, called my fifth street bet of 1,800 but didn’t show her hand.

I raised to 5,100 preflop under the gun with ace-king off. Seat one called, as did a short stack in five. The flop included the jack and ten of spades and a three. I needed a queen for broadway and could backdoor a spade flush. I called five’s shove, and I call one’s when he went over the top. One had a set of threes; five had ace-ten off. No queen came, and the set miner in seat one collected the pot.

Not long after that, I shoved with pocket kings but didn’t get a call.

Maybe two or three hours in, I was moved to a new table and, much to my chagrin, had to pay my second big blind in as many hands. I must have been big alone, and was called only by Cliff on the dealer’s button. After the flop, or maybe the turn, he checked out of turn.

I smiled and went all in with a paltry stack of chips. Cliff chuckled and folded, saying, “I guess I gave that one away.”

“Don’t feel bad,” I console him. “I was just big blind twice in a row.” This event would have some resonance the following morning…

From the small blind, with 10,000 committed and action folded to me, I shoved for a total of 40,000 with the king and two of hearts. The big blind could have taken the hit but obviously would have preferred not to; he eventually folded, turning up king-nine off-suit.

Around this time, Penny informed me that Don, the only other survivor from our (alas!) not-so-dreamy team had been eliminated. We weren’t particularly close to the money, so it seemed the four of us almost certainly would not be collecting the team prize unless I managed to make the final table, and maybe not even then.

A few hands later, a World Tavern Poker–affiliated person (employee? franchise owner?) named Dawn raised to 60,000, which happened to be exactly the amount of chips sitting in front of me. She was under the gun, or maybe UTG plus two. Action folded to Michael, to my immediate right, who shoved for 100,000.

I looked at my hand and found ladies — pocket queens.

I advised the table that I’d need a moment. After screwing up my courage, I committed all my chips.

Dawn looked unhappy. She called but said, “I need a break, dealer.”

The pots were sorted; 180,000 plus blinds of 30,000 were placed before me.

Hands were revealed. Michael had an ace and jack; Dawn had pocket jacks. The guy to my left murmured that he’d folded ace-queen. That meant that Dawn and I each had one out remaining in the deck, while Michael had two.

Michael hit one of the two remaining aces, while Dawn and I failed to improve.

It was a little after 11 p.m. I picked up my stuff and walked out of the ballroom as I began composing a text to Penny. Then I remembered that, due to the dream team format, I was supposed to report my elimination to Scooty. I pulled a U-turn and did so before taking my leave.

Tomorrow morning, I’d report back to participate in the week’s second national championship event. Would I be able to improve on my 13th place finish…?

To be continued

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