I played poker tonight. This past week hadn’t been my best. A little up, a little down. Without Helaine, the week would have been a loss (both in poker and life in general).
I played a few small tournaments Saturday. In one that paid to 45th place, I was out at 47th! With another, I got tired around 2:30 AM and just played stupid (on purpose) to get it over with. It was a very small tournament – either $1 or $3 entry. I can’t remember.
Tonight, at 8:00 PM, I decided to play in another. It’s a tournament I try to catch every week, if I’m around. It’s only $3 to play, and though I seldom get my $3 back, it’s cheap entertainment. Since I hadn’t been doing well, the $3 seemed like the right investment.
I played fairly consistently – made a bad move in the first hour that hurt me dearly – and went to the bathroom break in the middle of the pack. By hour two, I was in the middle of those left. And then, I started to hit.
My cards tonight weren’t particularly good. I did have some nice hands, but wasn’t able to maximize them. I would characterize my night as grinding it out. Nothing fancy. No spectacular steals.
If you’ve never played in a tournament, here’s how it works. The house collects an entry fee and a fee for running the tournament. I guess these $3 tourneys are a way to entice new players, so with these the house takes nothing. All the $3’s are put in a pot. Tonight, that pot was $3,867.
With 1,289 players, the last 99 standing would win some cash. It wasn’t until 7th place that the $100 prize mark was reached. Then the numbers went up a little faster until $204.96, $251.36, $348.04, $541.39 and finally $966.76 for coming in first.
By 11:30 PM I was still rolling along. In fact, I had made it to 2nd place. There were still plenty of players. Going out there would have only won me $17.41. And, my grasp on 2nd was precarious to say the least. With $170k in my kitty, only $7,000 separated 2nd from 5th.
As the tournament progresses, the stakes increase. Those left playing end up with more money, but the price of playing goes up too. Players were dropping with regularity – tapped out. I played on.
At 12:16 AM, over 4 hours into the tournament I went into first place. Oh my God! I was coming to the realization I might bring home some real money (Actually, I was already home – but that’s another story).
There were 14 left. Tournaments become very volatile at this point. Pots are huge as players try to intimidate those with good, not great, hands out. I was guaranteed $35 on my $3 investment. I was a happy man.
Twenty minutes later, I had sunk to 4th, but then hit a big hand and was back to 1st. What had begun as 144 tables was now just 1 – and I was playing on it. I saved a screen capture of the game summary at this point.
I fell to 6th, then rebounded to 5th and 4th. Players had become more conservative. There was less bluster and bravado. Everyone was waiting for a quality hand.
By the time we were down to 3, I was back to 2nd. Then, I took down the third player and with his chips moved to first.
At 1:02 AM, five hours into the game, I was heads up, playing against Mo888 from Glenwood Springs, CO. I didn’t think about it at the time, but this series of hands was worth over $420 by itself – far more than I had ever played for before.
Even without that pressure, I was beginning to sweat. I wondered whether to wake Helaine, sleeping in the next room. I continued to play – and play conservatively.
I had over $1,200,000 in tournament chips out of the $1,933,500 on the table. Slowly I whittled away until I got dealt an Ace and small card. I called from the small blind position and he raised. It all went so quickly. He went all in, and I followed. When all the cards were dealt, I had a pair of Aces, he had less.
It only takes a few seconds to get the email from Pokerstars. I’ll let you read it, as I did. And, please remember, my entry fee was only $3!
PokerStars Tournament #1627931, No Limit Hold’em
Total Prize Pool: $3867.00
Target Tournament #1626940
9 tickets to the target tournament
Tournament started – 2004/05/23 – 20:00:00 (ET)
You finished the tournament in 1st place.
You qualified to play in Tournament #1626940 and are automatically registered for it.
See Tournament #1626940 Lobby for further details.
In addition a $966.76 award has been credited to your Real Money account.
You earned 542.81 tournament leader points in this tournament.
For information about our tournament leader board, see our web site at
Thank you for participating.
At this moment, the $250 we deposited in August is $1,472,78.
I can’t believe it either.