Most of the time, you don’t know you are at the begging of something until you are at the end looking back. This would be one of those times. I promised my oldest daughter that I would take her on a trip as a reward for perfect marks (as usual) in school. I was acting as the travel agent for this junket and I quickly made the first mistake of the trip, a 7:00 a.m. Saturday flight out of DIA. My finely honed problem solving skills leapt into action. Hey, the Friday night before the flight is the monthly poker tournament. So, the only reasonable thing to do would be to play all night and then come straight home and go to the airport.
Several years ago I had planned on entering the WSOP and I really wanted to dedicate some serious effort to the task. I could study by reading books and work the mechanics by playing online, but I needed to gain experience playing in live tournaments. The casinos in Colorado did not offer this, for those of you not from Colorado, what we have is a limit of $5.00 on any bet in a casino including poker. This retarded cap puts players that want to gamble and should be playing 30/60 or higher in this smaller game and you guessed it, they play every hand and cap every street. And at the end, someone yells “bingo” and we deal another round. Needless to say, it’s not a very good game but I digress. Why not start a club and do my own tournament?
The www.pokerschoolclub.com was born. We played in the basement of a bank, until we were asked not to return (that is another poker tale all together). The game is now held at a mansion of one of my very close friends, who is also one of the most generous and regular guys you would ever want to meet. It’s a sweet deal. We have six regulation Hold’em tables and a bunch of great guys that get together once a month to compete over the “Trophy”. I have had the pleasure of winning that tournament several times in the early years since founding the game, but it’s been awhile and I have never won since we have been in Brad’s Bellagio Basement. There are some that would say that I normally take an early knock out of the $20.00 buy in tournament, just to get in the juicy “no limit” side game so I can make 10 times what the winner of the tournament makes. That is simply not true. I do not TRY to get knocked out. Welcome it, yes.
Side game or no, I have really been wanting to win the tourney, so I have turned a blind eye to the mounting chips in the no limit game and forged ahead. I had Brad to my left all night at table one and it was hard for me to accumulate chips because he is so aggressive. I found a way and we were evenly stacked with two tables left and Brad turns to me and says “I made third in this last month, I am winning it this month!” I said the only thing that Brad could expect to hear, “BULLSHIT, I don’t care if I win – as long as I knock you out”. I raised the pot $1,200.00. Brad went all in, I folded. Note to self, don’t poke the bear.
Long story short, I won the tournament and sat down in the side game. Was I ever pumped. I went on a major rush, won like six pots and announced “I don’t care how far up I am, it’s 1:30 a.m. and I HAVE to leave at 3:00 a.m. to take the girls to the airport, no if ands or buts, I mean it”! At 4:10 a.m. my phone rang… “Hey baby girl, funny you should call…I was just leaving”. She KNEW. I said “Okay guys, buy these chips and I am a gone champion, see ya next month”. What a great bunch. I love that club.
Boring details omitted the girls and I were in a 40-foot limo headed for the Bellagio. They would both be more than happy to just take a taxi, but I like to take the limo because they are so wonderful to have in my life, it only seems right. The room at the hotel is a different story altogether, I tip the girl at reservation pretty hard, “My wife and daughter would REALLY like a lake view.” Man do they love watching those fountains from the room. I pass on breakfast and shopping and head for the poker room until our room is ready.
It’s 8:30 a.m. and I am at table number 37 having coffee and reading Cardplayer when he walks in. Poker Pete. He has two huge bags of McDonalds sandwiches and two big boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Yes, he is a really nice guy, but don’t be fooled, the breakfast money came out of Pete’s pocket and he wouldn’t think of letting anyone kick in. However, the players of the regular Omaha eight or better high/low with a full kill game, which Pete calls the “Office”, paid for the treats. That’s right kids, a real live poker professional and a very good friend of mine. Pete is a master at what he does, part of this mastery is to craft a very inviting table presence. It’s part of his job. He keeps his rattle very quite, he doesn’t need to tell everyone what a brilliant card player he is. What he needs is your chips – thank you very much… “want a McMuffin”?
I have written about this game before and if you are not a constant reader, the landscape is this: the Bellagio Omaha 8 H/L is the double black diamond of poker. The water gets deep so fast, that I have watched legends struggle and weaker pros quit that game altogether. If you ever get the chance and have $2,000.00 and you don’t care much about sitting in that game, you can check “play with the worlds best poker players” off your list.
At 9:00 a.m. the table was full and Pete was to my right… PERFECT!