A game-time decision to play the morning turbo tournament at MGM Grand turned out to be the gambling equalizer on a week-long trip to Vegas. After getting burned in the Pai Gow pits and lowly slums of the penny slot machines, it was the 2-minute drill before having to shove off for warmer weather in Minneapolis. Yes, for a brief week it was actually warmer a couple of thousand miles Northeast then it was in the middle of the desert.
After paying the $65 buy-in to receive $2,000 in tournament chips with starting 25/50 blinds and doubling those blinds every 20 minutes, it was known that playing for small pots was going to get me a short stacked 18th-25th place finish, which paid nothing but the free stream of Captain and Cokes. Luckily, I never ran into that problem thanks to a mix of good cards, run good, and good players. Usually good players you'd prefer at other tables, but they not only kept my interest into this all-in fest, they made me think before making decisions. Of course, random guy who usually plays high-stakes blackjack wander in and start amassing a stack with hero calls of jack-high on double paired boards, only to lose those chips to the solid players sitting on my left.
The first big hand occurred just four hands into the tournament as I sat in the small blind after taking down a small orphaned pot the previous hand with air and position. AQo with four limpers ahead of me, I choose to just call as the big blind checked his option. A - J - Q rainbow came out, as I led out for 200 and got 4! callers. With BOOM! BOOM! POW! thumping in the background at the adjecent Centrifuge bar, the dealer and poker gods kindly turned another queen on the board for me. No time for acting here as I led out for 500 this time and only managed to lose one person as the gentleman on my left I recognized from the 1-2 NL cash game called as did the overdressed for 11am japanese dude. The river blanked, as I flung another 500 out there and cash game guy called again, but businessman stood on the table and shouted "BANZAI!!!!!1111" while shoving all-in. Ok, he did a triple take of his cards knowing his flopped straight was good trying to get my remaining 1,200 chips before shoving all-in. I snap called, as cash game guy most likely folded a queen and my boat was good versus the suit who didn't know flopped straights never get there.
Very next hand, pocket kings which I raised from the button to 275 to dissuade the couple of early position limpers. Good player on my left which I'd been chatting with about an aging Paul Pierce and the putid Timberwolves re-pops me to 750-850. This time I hollywood a bit because I'd only had two drinks in me and after a short wait, and seeing he'd only had 1,000 behind, I thought he'd pay me off if I shoved, so I did. Unfortunately, I got the one guy at the table who could fold pocket queens in that spot. Still, a nice pot and gave me room for a few blind and continuation bet type steals.
Last hand before the first break, I called a min raise from the big blind QJo as the middle position raiser and small blind watched a Q - Q - T flop. Interestingly enough the small blind led out for 400 with the blinds already at 200/400 ante 25 (like I said TURBO!). Since I had nearly 6K behind, a smooth call was elected and the short stacked raiser pushed about 1,500 into the middle. It's the small blind's money I wanted since he'd just doubled up off me racing pocket sevens vs. my big slick, but he folded as I called to see his not-in-good shape A9o. No runner-runner and the table broke for the break as a quick glance around after my third drink told me there were only four tables left already.
Near chip lead at the new table, my folding powers took precident over my suckout powers as I folded two hands A9o and KJo to early position shoves that would have boosted my chip count to obscene levels, choosing to take advantage of my stack and get more free drinks while enjoying the company. Down to two tables, just before the break again I catch queens on the button facing a raise from the Nordic blonde who raised from UTG to 3K and had a similar big stack to mine around 10-12K. With blinds at 400/800 ante 100 there was no time for "plays" as I shoved hoping he'd call with the Ax that he certainly had. After an internal debate and some umlauts, he would fold and I gladly ran to the crowded bathroom as the chip leader. This was important as the second hand back from the break I found red aces and led out for 3K. Sure enough my lutefisk lover took the bait and shoved with QsJs, and I took a little sweat after a jack flopped but no other paint hit the board, up to near 20K.
Nothing of note happened from here except two steals kept my big stack, well big as I took out a few micro stacks making math calls in my blinds with powerhouses like 54o (which made quads) and 73o (which hit a seven). At last the lone dangler departed and we reconvened to blogger donkey blood stained Table 16 where interestingly enough a similar amount of cash was laid upon it, minus The Mark calling time on himself. $1,600 for 1st, $1,100 for 2nd, $650 for third, trickling down to $90 for eighth, as the final ten tried to get chop numbers up right away with donkalicious blinds at 1,500/3,000 ante 500 and being third in chips I had 26K.
Pai Gow anyone?
The big stack shot down the chop talks, after playing maybe an orbit, we would lose 10th, 9th, and 8th in consecutive hands with the two big stacks getting bigger while ultra-shorties were looking at an even shorter payday without a chop. This time when discussions went up the big stack offered to take $1K while second place wanted $700-$800 I believe. This left $535 for the other five in which I had no desire to play more Pai Gow after they stole my dragon hand soul over the course of the week and accepted the deal.
Back to near-even for gambling on the week as I was ready to accept the loses, this found money may be the seed to head back to the WSOP this summer with a fellow degenerate. No, I will not be playing in the $10K O8 World Championship as my wife may decide to burst into the Amazon room with a taser gun and drag my ass from the chair with drink still in hand. Instead the $1K June 12th event or with hopes to return to glory at Binions may be in store.