1 PM Feb 24 2012, Aria Casino, 7th (102 entries)

Finally made it back into the money after three long weeks. Maybe it was my lucky Pink Floyd t-shirt that made the difference. It was given to me by a friend as a token of his appreciation for a hand-me-down Macbook Pro laptop I gave him about six months ago. The shirt is a collectible one printed to celebrate a special set of CD recordings Pink Floyd released last year. Last night I washed it carefully in cold water, hung it in the closet to dry, then put it on for the first time ever before heading over to the Aria to play in their daily 1 PM tournament today.

After the first two (half-hour) levels of play, I had nearly tripled my chip stack from its initial 10K to about 28K. There was one particular breakout hand where I doubled up early, that sort of set the tone for the rest of the tournament.

With the blinds still at 50-100, I raised 3.5x to 350 under the gun holding

A young, loose-aggressive player in late position called, and everyone else folded. The flop came

Not too bad of a flop for a pair of nines, I thought, so I bet 600, slightly more than 2/3 of the pot.

The young and aggressive player then raised to 1675. I deliberated for quite awhile, trying to decide whether to call or not. I wasn't going to raise, but I didn't want to fold either. After about 30 seconds, I called. The turn came

I checked. The raiser put out a sizable bet, something like 4000 chips. With my remaining stack at somewhere around 9000, it occurred to me that if the raiser had pocket queens (which seemed very plausible, given his preflop call of my raise and subsequent play), then he couldn't have any clubs in his hand because the queen of clubs was already on the board. This would mean that my nine of clubs provided at least eight outs on the river (the nine remaining clubs, minus the six of clubs which would give my opponent a full house), and possibly ten outs if a set of nines would also win. I definitely felt behind in the hand though, so if it went to showdown, that was all I could hope for.

But there was also some "fold equity". By representing a made flush, maybe I could get the other player to fold his hand. All these thoughts entered my mind fairly quickly. Before spending any more time to think about it, I grabbed the rest of my chips and put them in the middle.

The other player was extremely disappointed to see this. He easily had me covered, so he figured I must have something like the AK of clubs and had just hit my flush, or I wouldn't have put my chips in like that.

After thinking about it for a real long time, he finally made a very reluctant call, and turned over

To my utter delight, the river came

and I doubled up.

The other player then became really upset. He might be a good player, but he's evidently not very good at taking a beat like that.

There are certain players out there who, when another player lucks out against them, will start telling the lucky player how "stupid" their play was, that they didn't deserve to win the pot, etc. Not only is this extremely bad form to begin with, it tends to only make things worse for the player who lets himself get caught up in this nonsense.

I have to give the Aria's poker room credit, because they put a great emphasis on providing the players with a pleasant poker-playing environment. Apparently on complete tilt, the other player must have started calling me names. I wasn't paying any attention to him, so I didn't hear any of it - he was way across the table from me in seat 8, and I was in seat 3.

At one point, disgusted with his cards, instead of folding them normally he suddenly threw them across the table in my direction. The dealer seemed to think he was aiming them at me, but I don't think he was - I think he just disgustedly threw his cards towards the middle, at no one in particular. Regardless of his intent, it was at this point that the dealer called the floor manager over to reprimand the rude player. The dealer told the manager, "The player in seat 8 has been badgering the player in seat 3 for several hands, calling him names three times, and he just threw his cards at him." The floor manager forcefully told the player that he had to stop this behavior immediately.

After being disciplined, the player did finally get control of himself, but he got knocked out of the tournament only a few hands later when the player to my left flopped a set of jacks against him heads up.

That was definitely some of the worst behavior I've ever seen at the tables. Maybe the player was mostly used to playing online, where you can yell and scream at the other players without getting into any trouble.

There were lots of other big hands that occurred during the 7 1/2 total hours of play that occurred before the final seven of us agreed to chop up the prize pool seven ways, but none quite as dramatic as that one above, where I hit the flush on the river facing another early exit if the wrong card fell.

My chip stack peaked at around 102K late in the tournament. I finished with by far the shortest stack among the last seven players when we decided to chop. My stack was only at 32K with the next closest being above 100K. The chip leader had 226K. We divvied up the prize pool using an established method (ICM, which stands for "Independent Chip Model") for determining who should get what, based on how big their final chip stack is. This method actually seems to favor the small stack, as my payout was about $200 more than what it would have been if I had been knocked out in 7th place.

I think I may wear that Pink Floyd t-shirt more often at the tables!