I'm back for Day 2 of the $2.5k, along with 256 other players, but only 205 of us will get paid. I’m 12th in chips, the first time this summer I’ve started a Day 2 or 3 without a short stack. There are a few strong European pros at my table, but I seem to have a better table draw than most. I’m in a good spot, but am keeping my expectations level. Chips don’t got no owners….
We make the money in the second hour. I take a few hits, but rebuild as I put pressure on the smaller stacks.
I pick up pocket kings under-the-gun, and get all-in versus the big blind's ace-queen. An ace hits, and I lose a third of my stack.
The next hand, I'm in the big blind and the same player raises from the small blind. I call with jack-ten, and see a nine-seven-three rainbow flop. My opponent makes a small bet and I call — I have two overcards and a gutshot straight draw.
A beautiful eight comes on the turn, completing my straight and giving me the nuts. My opponent makes a large bet this time, and I elect to call. A ten comes on the river and my opponent jams. I'm losing to queen-jack now, but I can't fold. I call, and he turns over six-five — he made the bottom end of the straight on the turn. Payback for my kings.
I get it all-in with pocket kings again, this time from the small blind against the cutoff's ace-three of hearts. And again, they lose and I'm down a third of my stack.
One of the first hands I pick up is ace-ten which I flat from the button against an early position open. The flop comes ace-ten-seven rainbow, giving me top two pair. My opponent checks to me, I bet a third of the pot, and he calls. An eight comes on the flop, and he checks to me again. This time I make a large bet and my opponent moves all-in. I'm way behind straights or trips, but I have to call. He turns over ace-eight for a worse two pair. The river is no help, and I rake in some much needed chips.
The next level, a player in middle position opens and a player in the lojack jams his 5 big blinds in response. From the button I look down at pocket queens and decide to re-raise to 10 big blinds, putting pressure on the original opener. It folds back to him, and he tanks for a few minutes before finding a fold. The small stack turns over ace-jack and finds no help on the flop. A ten hits the turn and the original opener cringes, presumably having folded pocket tens that would've taken all my chips. The river is a blank, and I'm up above the million chip mark for the first time of the day.
Players are dropping quickly and our table breaks as they consolidate the field. I'm the chip leader at my new table by a small margin, and I pick up an incredible run of hands. Everything goes right — I pick up the blinds with my opens, players fold to my 3-bets and continuation bets. An hour in, I've added 50% to my stack without any large confrontations.
I open with king-nine off-suit in the cutoff and the big blind defends. The flop is king-ten-nine, with two diamonds. The big blind checks to me, and I decide to check back. The turn is the seven of hearts and this time I make a big bet when it's checked to me. My opponent thinks for a while before moving all-in. It dawns on me that I've completely misplayed this spot. There are a lot of flush draws and worse two pairs that he could be doing this with, so I make the call. He turns over the one hand that I dread — jack-eight for a straight. The river is a meaningless two, and I lose 60% of my stack.
I pick up ace-king the very next hand, and 3-bet the player to my right. My jack-eight opponent stares me down for a minute before folding, and the original opener folds also.
Then the next hand I pick up pocket aces. I open, and the jack-eight opponent 3-bets me. In my head are fireworks and balloons and streamers. Let's get it in. I 4-bet, and he stares me down again. I practice my telepathy: I'm on tilt. Punish me by re-jamming. But he folds, and we go on a break.
Those two hands get me halfway toward my highwater mark, but the level after break isn't a good one. I lose a big pot when I have to make a river fold with my bottom pair and missed flush and straight draws. Then I lose another a few hands later when my pocket sevens can't continue on a board of overcards.
I'm down to eight big blinds at a new table and the last level of the night. I move all-in with pocket fours from early position. A player in middle position calls, and the chip leader in the small blind moves all-in. The middle position player folds, so I'm heads up against ace-queen offsuit. I'm a 54% favorite, and will more than triple up if I win this. But there's an ace on the flop, and I don't catch any of the remaining fours to get me the win.
I'm out in 25th place, for $16,860. Part of me is disappointed — the final table felt like it was within reach for a long time. But I'm also proud of the deep run, and recognize that it's my biggest cash to date.
It's 2am as I exit the Bally's convention center, and there's a raucous crowd in the casino. I stop by the restroom, and I'm washing my hands when a man sidles by me, "Hey man, do you live here?"
For a millisecond I think he's asking me if I live at Bally's. Kind of?
But I respond, "no." He's crestfallen, and my curiosity gets the best of me. "Why?"
He's already wandering away. "Looking for some....," he mumbles, voice trailing off. His sinful desires remain a mystery.