I have a few days off before I come back for Day 2 of the Main, so I enter the $1k Million Dollar bounty tournament. It's a fun format — after the first day, players draw a random bounty prize for any player they eliminate. The bounties range from $1k, of which there are several hundred, all the way up to a single $1M prize.
I befriend a guy from Atlanta at the ticket kiosk. He’s bemoaning his performance at the Main yesterday, his first time playing it. He busted, but is excited about playing the bounty today. He tells me his gameplan and I make some gentle critiques. He looks at me with amazement. “You a smart dude. You’re probably gonna win this whole thing.” I laugh and wish him good luck.
The action is quick and the blinds climb every thirty minutes. My stack is cut by about half by the third level.
A player opens from early position and I three-bet from the big blind with ace-king off-suit. He calls and we see a 754 flop with two diamonds. I make a 25% continuation bet and he raises me. I think my options here are to re-jam or fold, and decide to follow the more aggressive line. He calls, turning over ace-eight of diamonds for the flush and gutshot straight draws. I'm ahead for now, but a slight underdog to win the hand. A king hits the turn, giving me top pair. But it's a diamond and I'm drawing dead.
I use my one re-entry, and am seated at a new table about twenty minutes later. My pocket kings bust pocket queens after we get it all-in on the flop. I chip up some more over the next few levels and am at double a starting stack.
I'm up and down the next few hours, but still at a healthy double stack when I call a raise from the big blind with ace-ten of hearts. My opponent is the biggest stack at the table and playing erratically, but mostly seems to be playing good cards.
The flop is ten-nine-five rainbow with one heart. I check and the hijack bets about half pot. I raise, and he moves all-in before I've finished announcing my bet. I'm unsure what to make of this — it's a clear tell of weakness, but I've seen him attempt some reverse tells at the table so far.
I decide to make the call, and he turns over the nine-seven of clubs. I'm pleased to see I'm way ahead — I'll take over his spot as the table chip leader. But a seven hits the turn and I'm out of the tournament.
There’s another flight starting at 7pm, but with fifteen minute blind levels instead of thirty minutes. It’s a way to juice the prize pool even further before all flights converge for Day 2 tomorrow. It takes an already fast “turbo” structure and turns it into a “super turbo.” There are 10 players at a table, and at an average of about one hand played every two minutes, that means we won’t even play one orbit before the blinds go up.
I register, of course. I have about an hour before it starts that I use to grab some dinner, then head to Paris to get my new seat. I see the Atlanta guy from the morning in the hall, and sneak by without catching his gaze, not wanting to disappoint his expectations of me.
The cards don't come and the blinds cut into me. It's not until level five that I win my first hand when I jam from the big blind into a hijack open and he folds.
As the levels fly by I try to make something happen but the cards don't come. By our second break of the day I'm slightly below a starting stack that only amounts to about eight big blinds. I need to find a few opportunities to double-up.
It folds to me in the small blind and I move my small stack all in with queen-eight off-suit. The big blind with a towering stack flips over pocket aces as he makes the call. I laugh along with the table as someone says, "yeah, I'd call that too."
Two queens hit the flop and I raise my hands in a rare exhibition of celebration, the table cheering along.
The turn is a blank but the river is one of the two remaining aces in the deck. The table lets out a series of gasps and groans, the roller coaster entertainment of the hand has everyone captivated.
"At least you got a good sweat," someone says in consolation. I laugh in agreement as I pack up my things before making a hasty exit.
It's around 11pm and red, white and blue lights illuminate the Paris facade. I weave my way through the swollen Fourth of July crowds, ready for a long night of rest.
"I register, of course." Perfect.