By the end of the night I was half-drunk (maybe a little more) on tequila and playing the role of the house in a game of low-stakes blackjack in an effort to keep the people drunker than me from driving home. I had my $100 in winnings in my pocket and no fear of the sunrise.
Which was a good thing, because the sunrise was coming on like a plump girl at closing time.
Looking back at the past ten hours, it was a surprise that anybody survived.
Of course, this was how the CJ IS LEAVING GOODBYE TOURNEY ended. To tell the whole story would be too frightening and might open up three TV stations to lawsuits. Instead, the highlights:
* The full complement of 16 players was still in the game after about 30 minutes of play. The first all-in showdown: 66 vs. 66. Chopped pot and much screaming ensues.
*A couple hours later, as two tables prepared to consolidate to one, there was significant grousing from Table 1. It appeared a hold’em neophyte–certified dead money–had been cleaning the clocks of his opponents. A couple people whispered he slothoki have hustled the room, but I knew better. The man had a horseshoe up his ass the size of South Carolina and it was going to carry him all the way to the end of the tournament. More on Horseshoe in a moment…but first…
*We were down to just a few players at the final table. We were getting close to the money. Horseshoe Man was the chip leader, followed by Greenwood Phil. I was third and had a decent chip lead over CJ, who was getting dangerously close to being blinded out after suffering a seriously bad beat earlier in the game. I suspected he’d been buying some pots, but had nothing to call him down with. That’s when I peaked at my hole cards and found American Airlines.
I made the decision without ever actually making the decision. I limped, merely calling the small bet before me. As I hoped, CJ moved all in. With two other players in the pot and chance to build my stack considerably, I labored over the decision, hoping my indecision would move at least one other player to call.
Eventually, feigning great fear and trepidation, I called. Despite my best efforts, the other two players wisely folded.
I looked up at CJ and offered only, “Sorry, buddy.” I flipped over my aces and watched as he flipped AT unsuited.
The flop brough KQx. I squirmed only slightly in my chair. I knew I was more than a 90% favorite going into the flop and wasn’t looking so bad after it.
The turn was a blank. I became a bigger favorite.
I muttered, “Nojacknojacknojack,” as English Andrew peeled the card off the deck. CJ said later he saw paint on the card. I only saw a giant, chip stealing jack fall to the green felt.
I said bad words and ran into the other room.
Fortunately for the Up For Poker team, CJ’s win allowed him to finish fourth and didn’t hurt me so bad. I finished third.
*Horseshoe was on a roll. He’d been playing everything. Every five minutes Greenwood Phil muttered, “You just can’t play against the guy.” Team Scott Smith (consisting oddly only of Scott Smith) was ready to take Horseshoe down.
Smith found Big Slick and bet it big. Horseshoe called, as he was wont to do. The flop was full of blanks. Smith bet big and Horshoe called.
The turn came in the form of a K. Smith: All in.
At this point, we all really expected Horseshoe to fold. While he played a lot of hands, he wasn’t calling many all-in bets.
Horseshoe: Call. He turned over pocket queens and grimaced as he saw Smith’s Big Slick.
One card left, QQ vs. KK. Only two outs for Horseshoe.
And one came on the river.
The room erupted like it hadn’t all evening. Not even my aces getting cracked had caused such an explosion of pain and disbelief. Horseshoe cemented his nickname and went on to win the first tourney of the night.
*The insanity didn’t stop there, but my ability to retain it all ended after a few shots of celebratory tequila (actually a no-no in my personal rules of playing poker). I can only offer than I won the second tourney of the night. That’s the only thing I can brag about.
So, that was CJ’s going away tourney. I’m expecting him back for Bradoween 4’s poker tournament in June…and all of you as well.