I had just learned hold’em long enough (5 months) to confidently take my game to Sin City. Thanks to PokerPages and my friend Jeff (Vegas resident), my dreams of becoming a famous baseball player had fallen, and now my dream of becoming a great hold’em player took over.
In early July I make my way down to LV from Seattle. After checking into my room I take a cold shower, it is 110 degrees out, a little warmer than I am used to. Feeling better I contact Jeff, my ol’ buddy from high-school(3 years ago) to hit the Luxor for some low-limit. I had never played live before and my friend Jeff helped me to relax, and show me the ropes.
Jeff sat next to my right in seat 5. I was glad he was right there because I was nervous as hell. I bought in for the minimum $40 dollars. My first hand 10 Jo hit a straight for me on the turn, and my first hand in Vegas was a winner. Even though I had about $75 now, I settled down and looked around noticing everyone, even Jeff, had 3-6 times as much money in front of them than I did. I was in for a rude awakening. I couldn’t win with top two pair at any time. My arrival was quick as was my entrance.
Discouraged, but not distraught, Jeff wanted me to play in an Orlean’s tournament the next night. Pondering the idea, I became more nervous. I had no idea what to expect. But I had one thing going for me, my confidence in No-limit. Besides, I came down here to play my first live games, and nothing was going to stop me.
It’s about 5 pm. the next evening, I meet jeff at the Excalibur. We BS for awhile, and catch up on old times, along with talking some poker strategy. It’s about 6:30 pm. and we head to the Orleans to enter our fees and names. We pick our seats. Jeff and I take our seats. Him in 10 and me in 6. As the playing field sat down, I found myself shaking in fear. This was all very new to me. The only thing that I had to go on was PP tournaments and books that I had read. About an hour had passed, and I relaxed- just a little. This was the last hand before the re-buy. Figuring it out in my head, I knew that I should probably just move it all in on this hand, and if it mucked, than I would just rebuy.
Well, I get J 4o. I figure most everyone is thinking the same way, except those who are over the re-buy limit of $300. Previously folding 95% of my ligaz11 hands, I was under the alotted amount with about $280. The flop goes Q x x. Seat 1 bets and 3 call about $100 before me, I call, along with at least 2 more to my left who do the same. The turn comes J. Having a little more fire-power now, I’m all in, but I’m 99% sure I’m dead. The river comes Ace. If this wasn’t a sure sign, than I don’t know what is.
Everyone who had called on the flop is all-in including me. I lackadaisically flip my little pair of jacks, and head for my wallet, not even paying attention. To my complete astonishment, the dealer starts shoving this mountain of chips right at me, even the dealer’s eyes are popping out of his head. No one else had anything higher than a pair of jacks. Wow, I was far and away the chip leader at my table, and probably had the third most out of the entire playing field of 119 players. Jeff cant believe it either.
It’s our first break, and Jeff and I start talking more strategy. Jeff had already rebought 20 minutes into the tournament and was looking grim. He congratulated me on my big win, and was excited to see how I would play from here. We change seats and Jeff is no longer at my table. My new opponents revealed that about two or three other guys and I were similar in chips. About an hour passed and I did not play much, and when I did I lost, but kept my losses minimal. Jeff, on the other hand is out and is forced to watch me the rest of the way.
My next table revealed some big piles of chips along with personalities which showed they were regular tournament players. I knew if I survived this table that I had done a good job. I don’t play for the first ten minutes or so. I finally decide to change my rockish profile, and take some chances. What I didn’t know is that I was about to catch fire. Im catching qq kk 10 10 and AA. This was great. I’m pre-flop raising everything, and making a killing. I start noticing the people at the table becoming very weary of my play, scared even. One big old guy with a healthy stack of chips decides he’s seen enough and wants a piece of me. I get kc 4c.
After two clubs fall on the flop, I call his mighty raises all the way to the turn. Then, feeling like I own the place I raise him for all his chips. At this point in time I was becoming tired, and it did not dawn on me that I had a chance of hitting a winning flush. In my head I was just bluffing the whole way. He calls me all in. The river comes Ace of clubs, and I mistakenly throw my cards down thinking in my head that I had just lost everything. Nope, he just did, and I became wealthy, knocking down his top two pair. I hear the people at the table giggling and saying stuff like, “There’s a kid who knows his cards!” and, “Who is this kid?!”
Jeff, who is now accompanied by his girlfriend and friend, watch in amazement as I can’t be beaten. I knock two guys out at this table, and the field is dwindling down. To my right a kid a little older than me, about 25, decides he wants to battle. He pre-flop raises me about $900, and I call with 9 10 suited (my favorite). The flop comes j q k in that order. He checks, hoping to check-raise. I do a half stand, and push all my chips in. He pushes all his chips in right away. I know I’m a rich man, unless something weird happens. My flopped straight battered his arches, and I was looking good. He throws down his cards in disbelief and throws out some insightful phrases as he mosied out of his chair.
Now, the tiny crowd around the last 4 tables starts making a bunch of noise, rooting me on. The players are complementing me on my play, and Jeff’s jaw is locked in the ahhh! position. This was great, and I was having a wonderful time. Eventually another brake comes. Jeff and I talk about the possibility of my winning the tournament. I feel great but am extremely tired having woken up at 7 am, and it now being 11 pm. There are 3 tables left, and I just hope I can hang on to win this thing.
Hold on, I must of had butter-fingers because I was about to really fall off. I go from playing only premium hands to playing garbage. I get hit and hit hard. These guys can’t be bullied around by a kid. I lose about 3 huge hands in a row, and find myself being the chaser instead of the aggressor. It’s about 11:30 now and I am dead tired. My confidence low, my stack is low, and my eyes are burning and red. I say to myself,” I’m all in on this next hand.” I’m all in with k 10 suited. I hit a king, but nothing else. I am ejected from the tournament when a guy’s aces laugh at me. Well I was done, but knew that I had played well. I was expecting to be one of the first out, and instead I beat out about 90. By this time though, I just wanted to go to my room, shower, and watch ESPN. I told myself that I will win it next time I come back to Vegas.