Wednesday brought the Tournament of Champions (TOC) to Erick’s Bar in St. Paul for the period of April through September. The TOC was held earlier (9/25) than usual since all the September play concluded on the 24th. As we’ve written about previously, Erick’s closes its doors forever this weekend.
And, so, the 35 individual winners from Tuesday and Saturday play over the last 6 months were invited to participate. Ultimately, 23 players arrived with the winner earning a seat in Free Poker Network’s National Championship held in November. Starting stacks were 2000 chips (the usual) with an additional 1000 chips for each additional win. My two wins gave me 3000 chips to start – a fairly middling stack among those who only had 2000 and the chip leader with 4 or 5K.
I felt the first hand of the night set a tone for me. I was dealt Tc4c in the BB. I called a cutoff raise to 125 (100 more me) after both the button and SB called. Figured 100 into a pot of 350 was worth it to try to flop strong. The flop was Jc8c4d. It checked around to the original better who tossed out a pot sized bet (450). The button called and SB folded. I thought for a bit – bottom pair and a flush draw that could be beaten by 3 cards. I felt I was likely behind to an 8 or a J and perhaps in bad shape if the flush hit. I folded. The turn was the 7c. Both players checked. The river brought the 9c. I would’ve had a straight flush – the nuts. And, I may have busted both players – the original bettor tossed about 800 or 900 with the Ace high flush (she surely would’ve viewed it as the nuts). The other player had flopped a set of 8s. Oh well. I was only down 125. I still started quite well and was at 5600 chips at the end of level 2 with 18 players still left in play.
I moved up to 6900 chips in the next couple of levels and stagnated there for quite some time. Sixteen left. Thirteen. Eleven. I was still right around 7K in chips, about 4th biggest stack and playing well. With blinds at 200/400 a player I know well bet it to 1200. It folded to me in the BB. I had junk (T/5 or some such hand). I asked/said to the bettor, “You have 7s or 9s”. I had not intention of calling but wanted to “Hollywood” it just a little. I fold and he smiles at me as he tables his 7s. Yes, I thought to myself – I am on tonight.
Unfortunately, I remained stagnated. We reached final table (8 left) and got down to 7. Then it picked up. My AK held against Mr. “7s” Ace/Ten and I moved up to 14.5K chips.
We got down to 5 players and I was now had a 15.5K stack.
Final four and I had moved my chips up to 19.5K. But, blinds were 1K/2K and I was second in chips, meaning everyone was basically short stacked. I’m dealt 5s OTB on the last had of the level. I bump it to 5K. The SB folds. The BB (Bill Gray – interviewed in Episode 152), moves all in for 11K. That meant 6K more to me with 11K already in the pot. My odds are nearly 2 to 1. His range could be any Ace, any pair and I think any two Broadway cards. I’m not in love with 5s but I could be ahead here and even if he has an over pair I still have an 18 – 20% chance of winning. I’m playing well and eliminating Bill should give me the tournament – I call. He has Ts and they hold. I’m down to 8.5K with blinds going to 2K/4K.
Two hands later I’m in the BB for half my stack. UTG moves all in for 7.5K and it’s folded around. This time it’s 3.5K to call 13.5K in the pot. I have Th9h meaning I can’t be any worse than 20% against an over pair, but that’s only 4 hands (Js thru As). Otherwise, it’s more in the 35-40% range and even better if he has pocket 8s or less. I call again and see A/9. The Ace holds and I’m down to my last 1K.
It ends the next hand and I’m out in 4th. Bill Gray goes on to win 6 or 7 hands later and will be going to the FPN National Championships.
June 9, 2012 to September 10, 2013 – A Year+ at the Top
With Erick’s closing perhaps it is fitting that, so too, ends my reign as Number 1 in the nation in Free Poker Network. I had entered the top FPN tier (200+ tourneys played) on June 9 and entered as the number player in the country in Average Points per Tournament. Recently, I wrote about Joey Schaffer from MD closing in on me. He had been running so hot that I thought he’d overtake me. He didn’t but John Edwards from IL, playing 4 to 6 times a week shot up through the ranks and completed tourneys to take me by near surprise. I finally saw him in the standings in late August. Like Joey, he too was running hot and playing a lot. He entered the 200+ category on September 10th and displaced me from the throne. He seems to be cooling off the last couple of weeks but would need to go ice cold for months to drop to where I’m at in second. Erick’s closing also creates a possibility that I won’t be playing FPN anytime soon. So, even though I’ve been slowly inching my scores up I may not get the chance to continue that. In any event – congrats to John.
It’s been a good run – it may be over…..