What a day of poker this would be as almost everyone of the 239 qualified players were here for this.
My table was a cracker, with players such as Tom McEvoy, Kenna James, Jennifer Harman, Mike Mattouso, Toto Leonedas, Lucy Rokach and WSOP Champion 2002 Robert Varkonyi - it would only be a matter of time before the fireworks began.
It may have took us an hour to warm up. But once we started, there was no stopping us. The two ladies on the table began to accumulate chips as they proved more aggressive than the men. In fact, the two of them clashed a few times before this hand developed.
Lucy had called Jennifer’s raise with Jh-8h - without noticing that a Jack had been exposed on the way to the muck. Holding A-K, Jennifer called a 2,000 bet from Lucy on a flop of A-J-8. When the turn was another Jack - Lucy check-raised by moving all-in to a bet of 5,000 from Jennifer. Although Jennifer still had over 6,500 left, she found it too tough to get away from the hand.
Toto was next to go after surviving one all-in when he made a major move with 2-4os. On that occasion Mike Mattouso made a great call with K-T. But it’s it one thing calling with the best hand - it’s another to win it. Toto eventually busted when he took A-J against the A-K from Kenna. The table started playing like it was a $50 speed tourney.
By this stage, I had quietly built up my starting stack of 10,000 to over 18,000 and in comfort land. Without having a chip in serious danger so far - I was about to find myself going all-in in two successive hands.
The first came as I called a raise of 600 from Lucy with Q-Q (this was the fourth time I have slow played Q-Q by just calling a raise - each time it brought a good result) - my call brought with it a succession of callers. With about 4,000 now in the pot - Varkonyi on the BB decided to try a steal by moving all-in for another 5,600. As I had hoped for just this exact development - I quickly after the intial raiser had mucked. Robert flopped an Ace and al my good work was wasted. On the very next hand - I limped in with Q-T. Flop was Q-T-4, two spades. Robert led out with 1,000 and Lucy raised to 4,500. I moved all-in and Lucy called with her baby flush draw. I’m glad Lucy missed because I would have missed out on a lot of fun to come.
Enter Harry Thomas (another WSOP bracelet holder). Before he had time to settle down - Harry would be walking away scratching his head at what he just did.
With blinds still at 100-200, Harry raises to 600. On the BB with Q-Q, I decide that even though I have the best hand - I will try the “funny” play again. I therefore just called and 600 and bet 200 before the flop was dealt. I actually liked the flop of J-T-8. Harry, slightly bemused - calls. I then bet 800 before the turn was dealt. The magic 9 hit to give me a straight. Harry, who held 9-9, announced all-in for a further 12,000. I obviously called and won the hand. Harry, who is a very solid player - had somehow lost it here. Having not faced such play before - he was confused as to what to do. Obviously, in hindsight - all he could really do here was to call the 800 and probably muck to any sizable river bet. The whole table, and not for the first time - had a good giggle. At least whatever happened from now on - no one could complain at all fun we were having.
But wait! Just when you think it’s safe to laugh - we have a seasoned pro acting like a spoilt five year-old who thinks that he should win every hand and every event (no- not Phil Hellmuth). It’s very rare that I write about anything negative from the poker table, because in truth - the good far outweigh the bad. However, in the case of this pro - I may well just make an exception.
Part two will follow.
Until then - play well, get lucky and play “funny” poker!
Peter “The Poet” Costa