By Karaoke Phil
Free Poker Network’s (FPN) Sin City Showdown Championships are wrapping up with MN holding its event this past Saturday (May 7) at the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, MN.
Thirteen players were to gain a stop in the National Championship being held in Las Vegas on July 2 with the top 6 receiving air/hotel in addition to the seat in the Vegas tournament. The National Champion will gain a $10K WSOP Main Event Seat with another 10 players receiving smaller buy-ins to other WSOP events.
Back in MN – only 250 of the 309 qualifiers showed up Saturday including 38 of the 43 players who had earned a starting double stack of chips (a starting stack of 20,000 chips). I was among those 38 and looking to make some serious headway in my 6th straight FPN State Championship. My best previous finish in the other 5 Championships was 40th.
I began the day on the same table as Nels Peterson – the reigning FPN National Champ – who was also beginning with a double stack. Thankfully he was seated two spots to my right, allowing me to act after he did on most hands. We were the first table to break so we only played together for just under two levels.
At the first break (end of Level 4) I had been reduced to about 18500. I had been largely unable to gain any traction or good cards and had been down to about 17500 at one point.
The first hand of Level 5 say me getting quad 3s – though all the money went into the pot on a flop of: A/3/J giving my opponent two pair with Aces and Jacks to my set of 3s. He had about 12K in chips and, with the blinds, it moved me up to about 32k.
I floated around 32K (stealing some blinds now and again but not getting much other action) until Level 9. Blinds were now at 600/1200 and we had 3 or 4 very shortstacked players at the table. I was dealt A/Q off under-the-gun and limped. I was hoping to pop a short stack (or one of the weaker players) with a 3 bet. Sure enough, Haile Demise – a player I often see at Erik’s Bar in St. Paul – moved all in for 11K. The lady on-the-button (someone I pegged as a little tight/rockish in her play) took 2 to 3 minutes contemplating what to do with her 5500 final chips. She ultimately called and I became the last to act. I figured if it took the lady so long to call for less (and agonizingly so) she did not have me badly beat – maybe a mid pocket pair at best. I’ve played Haile enough to know that he could have A/K or Qs or better, but that he was equally likely to make that move with A/T, A/J, K/Q , about any pocket pair and maybe even a suited K/J or Q/J. I snapped called – willing to coin flip if needed.
The lady tabled K/Q off while Haile showed presto – pocket fives. The flop held a K and the board blanked for me and Haile the rest of the way. The lady tripled up and Haile broke even while I was reduced to 23K in chips.
I played and lost a hand or two more – and, stole a set of blinds in there until my fateful hand with 10 minutes left in Level 10 (just before dinner break). I was down to about 18500 in chips with the blinds now at 800/1600. I was in the small blind and looked down to see pocket Js. It was folded around to me – battle of the blinds – so, I shoved with my (just under) 12 BB. The big blind snap called with A/K suited. It was time for a classic showdown.
The suspense didn’t last too long as an Ace came up on the flop. The turn gave me a 3 out chance for broadway on the river in addition to the 2 remaining Js, but they didn’t come. I went out in 128th (from250 starters).
The lady didn’t make it – however, Haile finished in the top six. Congratulations Haile – go out to Vegas and get them!!!