Because it was a Sunday Morning when I had had breakfast and by phone approved my self assessment tax for 2004 and around ten-elevenish decided to connect to teh Intarweb and surf a little. At a Swedish poker forum I checked out some postings and then noticed I had a Personal Message. Hm?
It was a guy I had met at other live tournaments, wondering if I was interested in a freezeout tournament this afternoon. No-Limit Texas Hold'em poker of course. Oh, yes, I was. Called him and told him I was interested and got directions for where it was to be held, at approximately one o'clock.
Went by bicycle there, in my new jeans. It was in a house just outside or adjacent to my home town. Fourteen other players, including the host who apparently had wrangled chairs from the neighbours and sent wife and kid away :-). And made coffee.
The playing starts. Starting stack 2500, blinds 25/50 increasing every twenty minutes. We have two tables, seven and eight players and they will be balanced when people are knocked out. So, it's
Phase 1: Stay alive, don't get knocked out. (Only play strong hole cards)
I do marginally well, stack going up and down but mostly down and I'm down to 1500 when I'm moved to the other table. Suddenly I'm back where I started, at 2500 in chips. And here's the thing, I think I'm in a good position. After a while we're seven players left and all are moved to my table, meaning I'm at the final table but shortstacked. Immediately to my left is a lucky rookie. He has a large stack, from what I hear from getting lucky when calling all-ins but he is unsure of playing, constantly asking how to do what he wants to do ("so if I want to call, I have to...?" and such). Immediately to my right is a good player but he seems to be buying pots.
Phase 2: Build a stack.
I have luck in making or calling all-ins and start to get a decent stack. One or two have been knocked out (hey, I'm on a rush and it's all blurry, can't recall the exact sequence of events). I flop a seven-high straight as Big Blind and manage to milk the guy to my right for quite a lot. There was three spades on the board but not until the river, that was the only hand that could beat it. I get a good read on another big tattooed guy, who was the one who arranged the very first live tournament I went to. He is tight-aggressive and somewhat verbal about it. Another seems to still be in "Sklansky" mode, or Phase 1, or only play strong hole cards, but here you have to play the players and the flops and the draws and the outs.
Fun comment: I don't know if it was intentional, but one player was asked "what were you thinking?" after pulling off a check-raise where I and others folded. His answer: "I was thinking about fishing season which starts soon."
Time to enter
Phase 3: Win this sucker. (Coin tosses, all-in with any high cards in a good poistion, play any strong made hands)
What. The. F?
All of a sudden I'm a massive chip leader and I'm "in the money", we're three players left and the payout structure is 50%/30%/20%. First one to go is Big Guy, I don't remember how.
What. The. F?
I have a massive, hella massive stack, my one little stack of yellow 500-chips next to the dozen other lesser denominations that I hardly have room for is worth more than the other guy's three little stacks. I can wrangle and muscle him like a tai chi/jiujutsu/aikido master, and I should and I will.
Pulse? High. Wry smile? Under control. I am gonna win this.
Finally the other guy only has about 2500 left. He goes all-in with that without even looking at his cards. I look at mine and see a ten and a three off-suit. What the hey, I call.
He turns the cards over, a king and a ten (I think it was a ten).
I deal the flop. There are two threes there... No help from turn and river and...
I've actually won a live tournament for the first time. Handshakes all around. Grunts from the adjoining room where a cashgame is going. I get a WAD of cash. Actually not that thick, but it seems so to me at the time. And they'll let me know when the next game is on, then maybe with even more (24 or 32) players hopefully.
I bicycle home in the sun, about four hours after I arrived. Occasionally erupting in smiles but not in song, wearing my new Lucky HappyPants™.
I celebrate with a pizza, Guinness and watching Rounders on DVD, still smiling and emitting small "Whoohoo"s. You know the very beginning when Mike rummages around his apartment collecting his stash for the "three stacks of High Society"? I do that, but for now I only have enough bills for one wad to put in a hiding place. Oops, I'm now out of Guinness but I have some Kilkenny (medium brown instead of Guinness black). Wheee, happy happy.
And on Wednesday it's back to my regular biweekly low-stakes homegame. Rumors have it that maybe even more
How very fortunate that I checked teh Intarweb this morning!
But I've made that "Big Win". And I mostly play tournament play, not cashgames, so there's not that big risk of that Big Loss, at most you lose the entry fee and can't chase. I don't play much cashgames and I'm not particularly fond of limit games. Straight to no-limit for me, baby! (But with moderation.)