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Best of Dan Igo
UNCASVILLE, Connecticut -- I now know the feeling of an epic bad beat. I now know the feeling of being sucked out on runner-runner cards. I now know the feeling of having a tournament in your grasps only for it to be snatched away at the last possible moment.
I now know what it feels like to be a professional poker player.
Of course, my epic bad beat didn't occur in the PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour Mohegan Sun Main Event, which finished its Day Two on Thursday. No, my tournament run occurred in the media event that was held later that night.
I'm the definition of a "casual" poker player. In fact, I played more in high school than I do right now working for Casino City. If I had to define my style of play, I'd describe myself a tight player who tries to pick his spots here and there. And when I found about the media tournament, I thought I'd see how I fared in a real live tournament.
To be honest, I didn't expect to last too long. There were a total of 18 media members participating, including people from PokerNews, Bluff and ESPN. I didn't think I'd be knocked out first and I thought I'd finish in the middle of the pack.
But, low and behold, not everyone in the poker media is completely familiar with the rules of Texas Hold'em. So I already had a small advantage because I at least knew the definitions of blinds and antes.
My tight strategy was working, as I had a comfortable chip stack throughout the first few levels. And all around me, people started busting out. With the top five being paid out, my goal now wasn't just to make the final table, but to come away with some coin.
Before I knew it, we were down to the final table. And wouldn't you know it, my Casino City colleague Vin Narayanan was sitting to my right. And he had a healthy chip stack. It was at least four times larger than mine, and probably twice as big as anyone else's at the table.
At about this point, I was really wishing I had been taking notes on major hands that were being dealt, or how my chip stack was fluctuating. But unfortunately, I was so surprised I lasted this long that I completely forgot I brought my notebook for that very purpose.
With the field at six, the bubble was upon us, and I was involved in the hand that burst it. The man sitting two seats to the left of me was short-stacked, and quite frankly didn't look like he wanted to be there anymore. I easily had him covered when I pushed all-in. He called, we both showed, and I had him dominated. Nothing crazy happened on the board and I was in the money.
The final five were all solid players who knew how to play the game, which was a welcome change from the beginning of the tournament. We traded some barbs back and forth, and then the table got dwindled down to four.
And then it went to three.
And then to two.
And who are the last two left? The two players from the Casino City Times: Vin and me.
By now, we both were about equal in chips, even though it looked like Vin had a slight chip lead. I also knew that this heads-up battle wouldn't be too drawn out. It was almost 1 a.m. at this time, and we had both been playing for almost four hours. This is nothing for Daniel Negreanu or Barry Greenstein, but for me it was torture.
So two hands into heads-up play, I was dealt KS-QS, a very solid hand. I raised to about four times the big blind, Vin pushed all-in and I called. Vin flipped over KC-9C and I was looking good.
The flop came out and it was a rainbow, with one club. No queens or nines. The turn was not a nine but it was a club. I think you know what happened on the river. An eight of clubs, and I was eliminated -- or so I thought.
It turns out, after counting all the chips involved, that I actually had the chip lead over Vin. So if I hadn't lost to runner-runner clubs, I would have won it all. Instead, I had to play another hand with about 1% of Vin's chip stack. His pair of aces dominated my hand, and he was the champion.
My prize is unknown, because the top-five were paid in PokerStars points. I don't have an account, so I transferred these points to my friend, who better pay up when I see him next week.
So I left in second place, which I would have been thrilled with had you told me that's where I was finishing before the tournament started. And in covering Day 3 this morning, I saw someone eliminated near the bubble after his opponent sucked out runner-runner hearts to complete a flush.
So it could be worse.
But, alas, I can only think about what could have been.
And seeing Vin's face every morning isn't going to help matters.