I'm back for Day 2 of the One More for One Drop. Late registration is still open for the next two levels, and the number of entries keep ticking up. I'm worse off than those entering today — I'm returning with about half a starting stack, good for 16 big blinds.
The Paris ballroom is full, and I'm lucky enough to be seated in the King's Lounge, usually reserved for cash games. I'm enjoying the plush executive office chairs, as opposed to the hard, stackable waiting room chairs we usually get for tournaments.
I befriend the two players to my left as we wait for the tournament to start — an Omaha Hi-Lo cash game regular, and an Iranian. They glance at my tiny stack with eyes of pity, giving me kind words of encouragement.
I'm patient, waiting for shovable hands as the blinds grind me down. I find my first opportunity when the button opens into my big blind and I look down at ace-nine off-suit. He calls my shove, turning over pocket nines. I don't like my chances, but an ace on the river keeps me alive.
I grind over the next two hours, picking up every chip I can. In the third hour I open from the cutoff with pocket eights and a short stack in the big blind moves all-in. I call, and am disappointed to see his pocket tens. The flop and the turn are no help to me. The river gives my opponent a straight, but it's an eight, giving me a full house to knock him out.
I'm over six times my starting stack for the day. The sentiments of my new friends shift from pity to impressed to concerned.
Late registration is closed, and we lose players quickly. Our table breaks and I'm moved to the harsh lights and industrial furniture of the regular tournament area.
I'm up and down over the next few hours, finding myself around 30 big blinds as we approach the money bubble. It's a comfortable enough stack that I don't have to play overly tight, but I'm vulnerable, at a table with some aggressive players and giant stacks.
It folds to the button, who makes an oversized open. I look down at pocket eights in the small blind, typically a jamming hand in this situation. But given the bubble dynamics, I decide to just call his bet. The big blind gets out of our way and we see a queen-six-three flop, all hearts.
We both check, and the three of clubs comes on the turn to pair the board. I check again, but the button elects to make a bet a little over half the pot. It's rare that he has a three in this spot, and I have the eight of hearts to give me a flush draw, so I call.
The river is the seven of hearts, completing my draw. I decide to check to him again — I want to get value, but I'm still in a precarious spot where he can have a lot of hands that beat me. He checks back, flipping over pocket aces, no heart.
He erupts. Mad at me, mad at the dealer, mad at the cards. In his world, aces should always win.
I stack my chips in silence.
The bubble breaks a few hands later, 856 of us remaining out of 5,702 entries. Over $600k raised for One Drop.
We play for several more hours, my chips cut down in the final one. Play stops around 2am and I have 320k chips, exactly ten times what I started the day with. The blind levels have increased in kind, however, meaning I'll have 16 big blinds. But I'm still happy to have some left to bag, and excited for another Day 3.