Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Third Place Sucks

I took third place in the LA Poker Classic Media Tournament. First place paid out a seat to the WPT Invitational which starts right after the LA Poker Classic ends. Third place paid nothing today, except a t-shirt. And they only had a large. I'm an XL kinda guy. I got bad beated by Barbara Enright three times. The three-time bracelet winner also was the only female to ever make the final table of the WSOP main event. The best player in the field sucked out on me three times and crippled me at the final table before I was finally eliminated.

After a late night of partying, Change100 took me out to lunch in Beverly Hills at Italian sandwich joint that served amazing panini. It was one of those trendy eateries where you watch hipsters order $5 canolis and drink designer juices. We sat outside and caught a glimpse of a random late 1990s rockstar with a coked up groupie or girlfriend du jour, who's brand new surgically enhanced breasts and Kate Spade handbag costs more than my entire poker bankroll. Oh, and yes the lunch was good. Eggplant, chicken breast, and provolone on panini bread.

Random L.A. thought: I realized that no one walks around LA. And the ones that do are simply walking to their car because they couldn't find anything close by.

We headed to Commerce Casino and drove through random parts of LA on a beautiful day. With the windows down, we feverishly smoked and listening to Abbey Road. It was amazing to see sunshine and not freeze my ass off. I have never been to Commerce before. I've played at Hawaiian Gardens and at the Bike, but never at Commerce. The floor space is larger than most casinos in Las Vegas with different rooms for different games, like separate high-limit poker area from the low-limit section. I thought Foxwoods was big, but Commerce is s series of room after room with poker tables. Talk about the higest concentration of loose geese on the planet. Everyone that sees Commerce for the first time is impressed with the size of the room, even yours truly. It's like catching a glimpse of John Holmes' crank for the first time.

"Oh my goodness, it's huge!"

Ryan from Absinthe Troubles was playing in a super satellite upstairs and we met up with him on a break. I spotted Humberto Brenes buying into something at the cage. Change100 hit up the cash games and I registered for the media event. I bumped into Jen Leo along with John Caldwell from Poker News. They were both playing along with Oliver from Poker News and Stan, my boss at Poker Player Newspaper. I met Richard Sparks and his wife in the hallway. Sparks is the author of Diary of a Mad Poker Player and he's a really funny guy.

"See you at the final table," he joked as I wandered inside the ballroom to find my seat.

God, I love forshadowing comments like that. You started out with 800 in chips. I felt like I was on Party Pokeragain. The levels were twenty minutes in a crap shoot with half the field who didn't know what they were really doing. I sat at the same table as Jen Leo and we yapped the entire time. To my right were three local TV and radio guys. To my left was the "big" TV guy. He was LA's version of G-Rob, which meant he was on TV a lot using his anchorman voice and displayed a marvelous coif of freshly moussed hair.

The best part of the media tournament was that they served everyone a three course meal. I folded marginal hands early because I wasn't done with my salad and I didn't want to get busted before the main course came out. It was chicken cordon bleu with carrots and rice and a dinner roll. Dessert was a chic pastry. Yes, I survived it all the way to the dessert. My first goal was accomplished. Usually you try to "make it to the first break" as an early milestone. This time it was... survive to dessert.

Jen Leo won a big pot with J-8s before she got moved tables. John Caldwell got moved to mine. He went out in a five way pot, where four players were all in. On another hand, LA's version of G-Rob had to go all in because he was shortstacked and tripled up with the Hammer.

I won a pot from LA-G-Rob. With J-10o, I cracked his A-Js when I flopped a ten. Barbara Enright was moved to my table with a shortstack. I tried to bust her the first time, but my A-9s lost to her 5-8o. Then she moved all in again with a shortstack later that orbit. I had A-K to her A-6. She won that hand from me too! She had my number.

I made it to the final table 5th in chips as we redrew for seats. Also there were Stan, Richard Spraks, Mrs. Sparks, Barbara Enright and yours truly. I got as high as third in chips but I made a lot of aggressive moves to pick up the ever increasing blinds and antes. I busted two short stacks with 8-3o. It was only a few hundred more for me to call and I took them down.

Once it got three handed, I was second in chips even after I lost a small pot trying to steal the blinds from the button and then on her button, Enright moved all in on my big blind. I peek down and say K-3s. I thought for a minute or two.

"You told me that you never bluff," I said.

She kept staring at me, trying to make me fold. A seat for the WPT Invitational was on the line. I didn't show up to Commerce to sit down and fold. I came to play.

"I call," I said flipping over the better hand. Enright showed Q-5. I flopped a three but she turned a five and I was crippled. I thought she had me outchipped but I had 350 left. I tripled up on the next hand and lost on the hand after to finish in third place. Richard Sparks signed a copy of his book for me and the cool and friendly tournament staff at Commerce gave me a t-shirt. I was too pissed off to hang out and see who won. Enright had the chiplead so I assume she won. She was the best player at the final table by far.

Third place.

That was the closest I ever came to winning a seat in a major poker tournament. Two spots. D'oh! I think that I'm just going to play in celebrity and media events. I took sixth and cashed in the WSOP Celebrity/Media one last July. And I took third at Commerce. Enright was not the first pro to issue a bad beat on me. Greg Raymer busted me in a media/VIP SNG at a Poker Stars party in NYC in November. That was the night when Otis and I went barhopping and I puked in the middle fo 15th Street.

As I'm finishing this post, Spaceman called. He has arrived in LA. He's on his way to chez Change100 for a late night party. She and her roommate Showcase are gonna do karaoke. So lemme end this post abruptly.

After I got busted out of the tournament and after a smoke outside, I played cash games with Change100. We went slumming at the $4/8 No Fold'em tables filled with crazy Asians and old grumpy guys with the Daily Racing Form rolled up in their back pocket. We were both up over $100 at one point. My aces held up and one by one players busted out. One guy kept rebuying at $20 clips. Another old guy next to me had a growth on his eye that was the size of a golf-ball.

Here's the bad beat of the session... welcome to the second installment of Pauly's Beating of the Day. In case you were wondering, Barbara Enright issued me the first one. Yes, I won the inaugural Pauly's Beating of the Day award.

Change100 raised my blind from the cutoff. I had J-8s and called. We were heads up and I flopped a Jack. I thought I was good and check-called. The turn was an 8 and I check-raised America's favorite Junkgrabber.

"Three bet," she said as I stared at the board.

"There's no straight out there," I mumbled.

I called. The river was a blank and I my two-pair cracked her A-J. Sweet Jebus. I put her on mega tilt after that. She racked up her chips soon after and cashed out. She also survived a couple of major suckouts. One lady nailed a gutshot on her. Ouch. We both walked away up a few bucks, which is fine for someone like me who was caught in a bad streak.

Heck, seven winning days out of the last eight. I'm on a mini-rush. I might go to Commerce early on Wednesday so I can play in some of those juicy NL games. Where six people call a $30 preflop raise in a $2-3 NL game and check it all the way down to the river.

Day 1 of the main event for the LA Poker Classic starts at 3:30pm on Wednesday. See you there.

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