ATLARGE 2005 Trip Report
CHAPTER ONE: A LATE ARRIVAL
I had planned to leave around noon Thursday for the drive to
A.C., but events out of my control had me finally getting on
I-95 around 6pm. I was also bummed that a Saturday night Basia
concert (at the Borgata) that I had tix for was suddenly
cancelled on Thursday morning. (I later found out that it was
due to visa problems). Anyway, I got to the Taj around 9:30,
and didn't feel like playing that much "serious" poker; so I
jumped in a 2-4 hold'em game, and instantly thought I had
somehow driven to California instead and was playing at the
Commerce. Seven to eight players on every flop, even with a
raise. One of the funnier hands I won was when a two-Heart
flop board caught runner-runner Hearts, and the table suddenly
came alive. Thankfully, I had the Ace, but the three other
players had the King, the Jack, and the Nine. I hung around
for about two hours, won five bucks, and crashed for the night.
CHAPTER TWO: A GOOD START
Of the three tourneys, I enjoy the H.O.E. event the best. I
get bored playing the same game for hours upon end, so anything
to cycle the games is a good thing in my book. I wound up
winning most of my early hands in hold'em. AQ vs A4 with a
board of Qx4KK. AQ vs AK with a board of QxxJx. Pocket Aces
actually held up once, bringing my total to T5400. I scored
a monster pot in Omaha, when I raised pre-flop with Ad2d2h3c,
the flop came 4d5dJd for the nut flush, and a 7h hit the turn
for a low. Just the night before, 8-2 Mike had reminded me
that scooping pots is how you make money in Omaha. That win,
combined with a Hi/Lo Stud win of trip Aces beating trip Kings,
put me at T10700 at the second break.
One thing I noticed in this (and the other two tourneys) is that
I tended to get crappy cards early on in the event, but later
picked up some premium hands that paid off big in the later,
more expensive rounds. So even though I was silently cursing
all the lousy hands I'd have to fold over and over again, it
worked out to my advantage later on when I started catching
the good ones in the middle rounds. So I'll never whine about
a slow start again. One other cool item of note. I happened
to be at Goldiefish's table, and he taught me an insane game
called "Chowaha". I can't wait to give it a try at the next
dealer's choice night at the 8-2 Club.
I held my own as the tourney continued, was very happy with my
play, and found myself at the final two tables. The levels
were 1000-2000 at this stage, so any hand I committed to would
basically put me all-in. By now, it was around 4:30, and 8-2
Chris volunteered to grab me a sandwich, as I was the only
8-2'r left in the tourney. As with last year, it was an Omaha
hand that did me in. In late position, I raised pre-flop with
KcQcQdJc, and got at least one caller. The flop was Tc5d8c,
so I had both a Straight and a Flush draw. I called the bet,
and the turn brought a club Trey. I had the Flush, but it also
gave someone a low. I threw in my remaining T2000, hoping to
split, but my opponent turned over the Ace-Deuce of Clubs,
busting me out at #16. I was sad to miss the final table,
but I played well, and I did manage to last longer than my
fellow 8-2'rs. Thirteen of us had contributed twenty bucks
for a "Best in Show" pool. Whoever placed the best in all
three tourneys combined ("best" being determined by arcane
formulas courtesy of 8-2 Dave, involving advanced hypermath,
logorithms, and the golden ratio) won the $260 prize, so I was
at least ahead for that award.
CHAPTER THREE: 8-2 COSTS ME A BENJAMIN
I take a quick snooze before heading back down for ring games.
8-2 Mike cons me into joining him at a 5-10 hold'em table,
and after an hour or two of play, I'm up about fifty. Then,
I'm dealt the infamous 82o hand. I smoothly call the bet,
and flash my cards to Mike, who has already folded. He
whispers back, "You should have raised." I'm thinking he's
right when the flop comes 8Q2 rainbow. Me and "Big Matt"
Ivestor get into a raising war, and finally put in four bets.
The turn is beautiful 8, and I keep raising until I realize
that Matt isn't going to stop raising either. Hmmmmmm. Could
he have pocket Queens? Nah, he would have raised preflop
with Queens. He must be betting his trip Eights, so I raise
again. He re-raises. Okay, now I'm scratching my head and
just call. The light bulb goes off above my head, and it
suddenly dawns on me that he might have Q8. The river is a
brick 7, he bets, and I sheepishly call to see his Q8. Oh,
that cruel fickle 8-2 hand. Now I'm down fifty, and I lose
another fifty before calling it a night.
CHAPTER FOUR: TIME PASSES
Although I wasn't relishing an entire day of playing Hold'em,
I sat down vowing to do better than last year's abysmal outing.
We started with T3000, and for the first three rounds, I got
nothing but dreck. I had T2875 at the first break, and the
exact same amount by the second break. By break three, I had
been blinded down to T2400. If I didn't catch a hand soon, it
didn't look promising. I finally went all-in with QJs, and got
one caller with pocket Tens. A Queen flopped, and the Tens got
no help, so that got me to T7600. With over 200 players, it
was hard to see who busted out when the clapping was heard.
I would try to see if any 8-2'r was standing with the applause,
but sometimes I couldn't tell. I think by the third break,
three club members had been eliminated. Because of the large
number of entrants, a good finish in this tourney would weight
extremely heavily in the "Best in Show" prize pool. So I needed
to hang on as long as possible. My table is the first to break,
and I think I get moved two times. I'm finally seated at table
CHAPTER FIVE: A DRAMATIC ENDING
I'm the big blind, and look down to see JT suited in Clubs.
UTG calls, and the little blind calls. The flop comes a lovely
Ad Kc Qh, giving me Broadway. I decide to slowplay my monster,
and bet T2000. UTG goes all-in! Yes!!! LB folds, I call, and
turn over my Straight. UTG turns over my worst nightmare --
pocket Aces. Holy crap! I start screaming "No Pair! No Pair!"
to the dealer, and he flips over my second worst nightmare --
the case Ace!! Quad Aces. IGHN. But WAIT!!! Matt Matros,
who is sitting in seat 8, notices that the turn was the Ace of
Clubs. Believe it or not, I actually have ONE out card. If
the Queen of Clubs falls on the river, I have a Royal, and news
of this suck-resuck hand will be echoing through the ARG distros
for years to come! The dealer burns and turns. Alas! No Club
Queen. IRGHN. I bust out just about at the halfway point, at
position #103. I later compute the odds of my opponent beating
my Straight after the flop. Turns out I am a 2-1 favorite to
win, so I am happy with my all-in bet, and would have done the
same thing even if I had known he had Aces.
CHAPTER SIX: THE LAST HUZZAH
Well, we were down to the last tourney, and so far, the 8-2 Club
was a no-show at any final table. The streak was in serious
jeopardy, as there has always been at least one 8-2 member making
the final table in at least one of the three tourneys. I like
Stud, because of the additional information you get from other
player's up cards. I also wanted to place high enough in this
tourney to assure my lock for the annual "8-2 Best in Show" pool.
The first round was a bizarre one, where Aces and Kings would get
beaten by rivered trips, and trips would lose to runner-runner
flushes. It got to the point where I really didn't want to get
starting cards of a high pair, as the chances of them holding up
were apparently extremely slim. 8-2 Dave took some substantial
hits from major suckouts, as 8-2 Cary and myself just shook our
heads in disbelief, silently glad it wasn't happening to us.
By the end of Round One, I had increased my starting stack of
T3000 to an "impressive" T3200.
Shortly after the break, I got moved to another table -- this time,
against two other 8-2 members: Graham and Ron. I won the first
hand, but then hit an incredible dry spell. Things were looking
bleak chipwise, when I looked down and saw (98)7. Not seeing any
Sixes or Tens, I decided to call 8-2 Graham, who had completed
the bring-in bet with a Jack showing. I catch a Five, and Graham
fires off a bet. I decide to pay for one more card, and lo! it
is the magical Six, completing my straight. However, Graham has
caught another Jack. He bets, and I raise, expecting him to just
call; but he raises! Now I figure he must either have Jacks-Up,
or worse yet, trip Jacks. Either way, I've got him beat at present,
so I raise it again. Now he's thinking. And thinking. And
thinking some more. Finally he calls. I catch an Ace, and he
catches a spot card. Since I don't know what card he needs to make
his boat, I have no way of telling if sixth street helped him or
not. He checks, I bet, and he simply calls. Now I'm sure that
sixth street didn't help him. I don't even bother looking at my
down card, and bet when he checks to me. Mister Cool, that's me.
Sort of like Bond, James Bond. I'm not just Cool, I'm Suffe-cool!
When he pauses, I know he didn't make his hand. He thinks for
a while longer, and finally calls, revealing his trip Jacks.
I turn over my cards, showing my Straight on the first five cards,
and then seeing that a river Ten gave me an even higher Straight
for added effect. Shazam. More tourney chips for me, and I took
them from a possible contender for the "Best in Show" pool.
Afterwards, I computed the percentage chance Graham had to make
either a boat or quads. Assuming his other two non-Jack cards
were all "live", he had a 311/861 = 36.1% chance of beating me.
I actually thought his odds of making his hand would be higher.
Thrilled with my victory, I take a huge hunk of chips from 8-2 Ron
on the very next hand, when he makes an A-J Flush on fifth street,
but I make an A-Q Flush on sixth street. I'm on fire, and wind
up with T7900 by the end of Round Two.
I really liked playing at that table, and not just because I won
a hunk of chips from both Graham and Ron. We had the funnest
(is funnest a word?) table in the room. Poor TrayRacer was getting
hit with a huge disproportionate number of bring-in cards. It got
so bad, he started actually putting out his bring-in money before
the cards were even dealt. And sure enough, he'd be the bring-in!
Then, other players started announcing that they would be the
bring-in player by advance posting their chips, and shazam! they
would be right! We were actually having more fun calling out the
bring-in's than with the actual playing of the hands. It was one
of the highlights of my week.
At Round Three, I get moved to yet another table. This one has
8-2 Mike at it, and not only does he have a goodly amount of chips,
he is also an excellent Stud player who has placed in the money
upon numerous occasions. Plus, if he finishes high enough compared
to me, he could sneak in a "Best in Show" win himself. So I really
don't want to go head-to-head with him unless absolutely necessary.
At this level, we're playing 300-600, and I start with three Hearts
and call. When a player pairs her Nine and bets, I call as I caught
a fourth Heart. Again, I like Stud because I have seen that Hearts
are very live, so I am willing to draw out on her. I brick on Fifth
Street, but catch my Flush on Sixth Street and raise her back. She
just calls, so I figure her for two pair. I bet the river without
looking, she calls, and mucks when I show the Flush. Another sizeable
pot won, and angry scowls from 8-2 Mike as my chip lead increases.
Shortly after, I'm dealt (AA)K, but another Ace is showing. I raise,
and get one caller. I catch the case Ace for trips, followed by a
Queen and then another King. With me showing KAQK, my opponent
finally tosses away her hand in disgust, and I show my Aces Full of
Kings for dramatic effect. My trough is overflowing.
CHAPTER SEVEN: A COSTLY ERROR
8-2 Mike finally busts out when his pocket Tens don't improve, and
with 8-2 Graham also out, I'm now a lock for the "Best in Show"
pool. $260 bonus for Cactus Kev, baby!! Okay, play continues and
we're finally down to two tables. I'm doing extremely well, and
then I make the one major mistake of my entire tourney play that
week. It probably cost me my shot at winning in the top three
places. I'm dealt (J9)J and raise when an Eight completes the
bring-in. Fourth street doesn't seem to help either of us, so I
bet and he calls. My opponent pairs his Eight, and I catch another
brick. This time he bets, and I call. I brick again on Sixth
Street, but he checks this time, so I do as well. That should have
been my clue that all he had was Eights, but alas, my brain must
have taken a bathroom break. Well, I catch a Nine on the river,
giving me Jacks Up. My opponent bets. Great. What could he
have, I wonder? All his up cards are lower than an Eight. Could
he have started with Queen or higher in the hole, and paired up
on the river like me? If so, his two pair would beat mine, and it
would cost me another T3000. Well, I think and think and think
some more. I really don't know what to do. I should have looked
at all the money in the pot and just called, but I was also trying
to play smart poker, which says to fold if you think you're beat.
"Save yourself that 3000," I kept hearing my brain say. "He's
got Queens-Up or Kings-Up, so fold already!" Reluctantly, I toss
my hand into the muck. Half my stack is now gone. I later ask
him if my Jacks-Up would have won, and he says yes. He made two
smaller pair on the river. Oh well, live and learn. Shake it off
and move on.
CHAPTER EIGHT: A CHIP AND A CHAIR
We're down to two tables of five each, and playing hand to hand.
The antes are now huge, and I'm quickly running out of chips.
Finally, two players bust out ahead of me, and I find myself at
the final table, in the money! The 8-2 Club final table streak
continues!!! The other 8-2'rs decide to hang around to see me
through to the bitter end. I appreciated it, guys! I am the
shortest stack at the table, but want to do the best I can. I
move up in rank when Mordacai gets knocked out, but am still the
short stack. I'm waiting to commit my chips on a worthy hand,
but I'm catching hands like (83)6 and (T3)7. The antes are T500,
and I'm down to my final T1000. I have two hands left in me.
But no!! The timer goes off, and the antes bump up to T1000.
Great. I'm forced to go all-in on my blind. I announce I'm
all-in, put my bust-out 8-2 poker chip token in the pot, and don't
even look at my down cards as I stand up, ready to exit. My up
card is a 7 of Spades, but my neighbor also has a 7 showing, so
that doesn't bode well. An Ace gives the obligatory "complete"
steal attempt, but TrayRacer raises with a King showing. The
Ace decides to fold, and I get to see what type of hand I'm up
against. Well, I find out where the three Wise Men went after
delivering their gifts to the baby Jesus, because Peter turns
over trip Kings. Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi. Talk about putting the dagger
into my chest. Well, I turn over my mystery hole cards, and
find a Three and a Ten -- but they are both Spades. Hmmmmmmmm.
Three Spades is good. I vainly try to remember how many Spades
have been mucked, but I haven't a clue. Fourth street is brick
for Pete, brick for me. Fifth street is brick for Pete, Spade
for me! Hmmmmmmmm!! This is interesting. Of course, if Pete
pairs up, it's over. Sixth street is bricks for both. The
down cards come. Pete turns his over first. Brick. All he has
is trip Kings. I pause for dramatic effect. I put the voodoo
monkey dust on my final down card, and turn it over quickly.
Two of Spades!!! Boo-ya!!!! Still alive, baby! Chip and a
chair!! My T1000 just turned into T7000. Riding the rush, I
ante my T1000 and look down to see pocket Nines. Again, Peter
raises with a Five, and I go all-in. Nines for me, (5J)5 for
him. Hey, Presto is no g00t for Stud hands, Pete! Let's deal
the rest of 'em. Queen for me, brick for him. Brick for me,
Jack for him, giving him Jacks-Up. I need help. Lo! another
Queen for me, and brick for him! The river helps neither of us,
and I nearly triple up to T19000! Cheers from the home team
sweating me out! High fives around the table! That's why
I like playing with ARG'rs. They are competitive, but friendly,
even at the final table. You would never see this in a non-ARG
tourney. With ARG events, everyone is there to have a fun time,
and if you wind up winning, that's just iceing on the cake.
And it's looking like I might pull an "oscar", just like in
yesterday's NLHE tourney.
Well, the rush is doomed to not last, and I get all excited when
I see (QJ)T. A King completes, I raise, he re-raises, and I'm
forced to go all-in. As expected, I'm up against a pair of Kings.
At least it's not three of 'em this time! The top end of my
Straight is in trouble, with him holding two of my Kings. We
both brick on fourth and fifth street, but I catch a Nine on
sixth street. An Eight or King on the river will make me another
"comeback kid" story. Can the magic possibly continue?? I turn
my down card over. It's a Six. Game over, man. Game over.
What a wild, wild ride. I get my $158.40 prize money, and head
over to the Bombay for some road-food with my last food comp.
Lastly, my tradition has always been that upon leaving the Taj,
I take twenty bucks and place single one dollar bets for my close
friends' numbers at the roulette table. Unlucky 13 turns out to
be lucky this time, and my guitar-playin' buddy Scott winds up
$35 richer this year.
CHAPTER NINE: A JOB WELL DONE
So all in all, I had another great ATLARGE weekend, and may have
to try to catch my first BARGE this year. TrayRacer told me that
SIGGRAPH is either right before (or right after) BARGE this year,
so the timing certainly works out. We'll see if it all pans out.
Props again to Goldie for another smashing ATLARGE. Love the
commemorative poker chip, dude! We're gonna try for at least
eighteen 8-2 attendees next year, so watch out. Rumor has it
the club shirt color will be forest green in 2006, but maybe we'll
make it pink in honor of the Pink Game :)