Monday, May 15, 2006

Chip and a Chair

Calvin: Well its official, my penis is now just for show.

Waiting was a weird movie. Sure, it was funny in parts. All it was
missing really was a beginning, a middle and an end. Shame really, it
could have been more than "quirky".

Yesterday was the big final for our free poker tournaments. Held at a
fairly upscale pub in the city, we had 27 tables set up for the
qualifiers from all the pubs around Sydney. We also told all the
punters that if they rocked up on the day, and other qualifiers didn't
then the next best placed person would take their spot. Turns out
being mother's day and probably a whole range of other reasons, a lot
of people didn't show, so every single person on the reserve list got
a seat. We had 267 runners total in the end, and first prize was an
all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas and entry into this years main

The tournament starts registering at 12.30pm, so we have to get there
at 7am to start setting up. Man those tables are heavy. I was really
sick of that little game before long. Luckily they had set up a tab
for us workers at the bar, so by 8.30am I had thrown back my first of
many red bulls for the day.

Only two things kept me going – the thought that when the tournament
ended we would have a bar tab to make the most of, and I would really
like to be dealing at the final table with everyone watching, and
perhaps even deal the final hand if I was lucky.

The tournament was run over two levels of the pub: 7 tables up stairs
and the rest down stairs. We would be using upstairs as the final
table, so all the tables downstairs would break and fill in the gaps
up stairs. I was basically in charge of the tables upstairs and things
ran pretty smooth – even though we started late thanks to software
problems (and PEBKAC problems…points for knowing what that means).

One of the guys that was amongst the point leaders all year was the
first one out on maybe the first or second hand of the tournament,
thanks to a Queens full boat getting spanked by quads. Well, at least
he won a t-shirt and if you are going to get beaten you want a good
story for it.

Things move quickly and I don't think there were any major problems
before the first break. At our "feature table", which was just a
beautiful table with really comfy chairs (in direct contrast to every
other table we were using) did not have one person leave it for the
entire first round.

I had a side bet running with one of the other Tournament Directors
that the best placed guy from one of my venues would finish higher
than the best placed guy at one of his. Since I really had 3 venues
and he had 6, maybe I should have specified that a bet a little
better. But I kept tabs on my guys all night just in case.

After the break we had a little controversy. All the partners that own
the business were in attendance, and apparently one of the players had
swiped some chips before he moved upstairs. They had a complaint and
checked the security cameras and had the guy pointed out at one of the

At first though, they asked me which players I had just seated after
the last break, which was by now 15 minutes ago. I had seated 10
players that time, and I had seated another 6 since then from
downstairs. Pointing out each one individually was something I was not
able to do. Anyways, they devised a plan to move the player to a
downstairs table, and then when they got him downstairs to tell him
they had everything on camera and were escorting him off the premises.
They had everything in place and all the owners of the business were
there to deal with it.

Then, after about 10 minutes of planning and being 100% sure it was
this one player on the security camera, one of the owners changed his
mind and said it was a different player. So another trip downstairs to
re-check, and they changed their mind about who the player was. Then
when they finally moved the player down stairs and told him what was
going on, they checked the footage again and said he could have been
just getting a drink off the table and not chips, so they couldn't
kick him out. At this stage I had been on my feet for 8 hours, and my
patience was wearing thin. Back in the back of my mind I knew that
things could only get worse from here as all the drinking was sure to
catch up with the patrons soon.

We're getting closer to the end now with all the players on the
upstairs tables, and with it comes the crowd. Moving around is getting
to be near on impossible. This was only a 260+ tournament, I'd hate to
see what it is like when 1600+ are seated at the main event.

As we go from 7 tables down to the final 2, the mood is tense. One
player, while dealing, has his cards mucked before the flop. He didn't
see who mucked them, and I certainly didn't see anyone reach over the
table to do it, but he then has a look at the muck cards to find his
hand. After looking at 5-6 of them he doesn't find it (or at least
doesn't retrieve them). At this stage, the big blind was 8K and he had
maybe 35K left, so it was a hefty chunk, but as we all know once the
cards are mucked, there aint no coming back – especially after he has
looked at all the other mucked cards. I had to tell him that not only
was his hand gone, so was his 8K call. Thankfully, one of the owners
was also there to confirm the ruling, and the player was obviously
annoyed, but said "Well, rules are rules". I really did appreciate
that he took it so well, because that hurts. He made it to the final
table in the end which was good to see.

And then we bore witness to one of the most amazing turn of events. I
know how everyone loves the "chip and a chair" expression in
tournament poker, but I have never seen it in play so well as I did
last night.

After the blinds have passed through our short stacked player, and
Indian fellow who is relatively new to poker, he is left with one 5K
chip. The big blind was 8K at this stage. With about 15 players left
in the tournament he would have a few free hands to decide when he
would be all in. Unfortunately for him, he would have to wait until he
was forced all-in on his big blind. At the behest of many a drunken
bystander, he put his big blind on the cards dealt to him, and dared
not look at them. We have some betting on a ten high flop by the two
other players in the pot, and they are all-in before the turn. One
player turns over AQ, the other AJ and our big blind turns over…53 off
suit. The AQ is in front.

The turn brings a 9, and the river was a little three of clubs,
meaning he has tripled up plus some.

On the next hand he is all-in again with a naked ace, and looses to
the other short stack at the table. In the nest hand he is all-in on
the button, and wins to triple up plus some again. Next hand against
the big stack (maybe 130K) we see a nine high flop when our Indian
player is all-in pre-flop. The big stack bets out against the other
player in the hand who quickly folds, and then he flips over 97s for
top pair. Our "Chip and a Chair" hero has…pocket nines. Next hand, we
have the last two guys from my tournaments in play. The first makes a
raise to 32K, the next is all-in for about 26K. Then C/C (Chip/Chair)
goes all-in over the top for 48K. The last player thinks long and
hard, and says "I've folded this hand already tonight" and I'm
thinking AK. He thinks some more and then calls for maybe 65-70% of
his stack. He rolls over AJs, my other player left in the tournament
rolls over…AJo. And C/C has Ace Queen off suit. Without running it
through a calculator, anyone can tell you what a huge favourite the AQ
is. By the turn, the AJ's need the board to pair for a tie or one of
the last two jacks for a win. The river brings neither, and I'll be
darned if C/C isn't chip leader now.

With some decent hands to come, he knocks out my last standing player
and a few more.

By this stage, every colour up we've done, we've had at least one
player say "I had more chips than that", which you can never tell if
they are telling the truth, making drunken mistakes or just trying to
weasel another few chips out of you. So I thought for the final table
it would be a good idea to count out the chips for the last nine
players in front of them, and then write it down. That way, we can
announce them to the crowd when the final tables starts and also have
all their chips ready to go (we'd draw for seats before they sat
down). Top idea methinks, and I get the OK from the other tournament
directors. So when 10th gets knocked out, they announce the break and
I stop the four players left on my table so I can get their names down
and count out the chips with them. All's good, then I make my way
across to the other side of the room through the crowd to the other
table, and find 5 stacks of chips with no players attached. Well, at
least I thought everyone knew what was going on…

Eventually we get all but one of the players back to count down their
chips, so I count his down in front of another tournament director.
Eventually this player makes it back, and while I'm struggling to
count out the chips and field inane questions from a drunken spectator
as to what the chips are worth, I manage to get all the info sorted
and then we can gets things underway. C/C is the chip leader with
192K, small stack is 21K.

It's about this time that I realise that the tab at the bar ahs been
closed. I guess catching the train in so a few post tournament beers
could be consumed was now coming out of my pocket – which I guess is
fair enough really but I was looking forward to that all day none the
less – since I was on my 13th hour on my feet at this stage (and I
work in an office, so I'm defiantly not used to it). The crowd is
pretty deep around the final table, but in control as one of the
tournament directors had the foresight to put ropes around it to give
the players some room.

Before the final table began though, we encountered our second big
problem for the night. One player, who when at the table I was looking
after had said he was well past his 12th pint for the night, had been
knocked out on a hand which he claims the deck was not cut before
dealing. From my understanding, and believe me this is all second hand
knowledge, he was to cut the deck but he was talking on his mobile
phone. Anyways, if this is the case, that you are not happy that the
deck hasn't been cut, why do you wait until after the hand has been
won and lost before you complain? Because you lost the hand, that's
why. On his way out he threatened to sue, but I'd say a greater
probability is he carries the story of how he was robbed for a free
trip to Vegas for a few years to come.

Players are knocked out of the final table, and I'm put it to deal
when there are six left. One guy from a home game I frequent is
knocked out on my first hand dealt, which I was a little disappointed
at since he deserved to go. Not only was he a decent player, he played
in about 10 different venues during the season so he would have been a
fitting representative at the World Series. Alas, it was not to be.

One player, obviously the most inebriated at the final table, asked if
we could have a break – only about 40 minutes into proceedings. I
guess you can tell these guys are not regular players, who go hours
before they would dare step away from the table. Of course the rules
are in place, so the hands must still be dealt but he runs off to the
toilet. I try to slow down a bit with the dealing, because nobody
wants to see someone blinded off when they are absent from the table,
and he only missed one hand. I sneaked a look and he had crap anyway.
When it gets around to him on the next hand I can see him about 10
metres away from the table coming back, so I wait for him. He unlocks
the ropes and comes into the area, then stands there chatting with his
friends for a little bit. He's managed to grab another Jack and coke,
and his friends offer him the "two is better than one" deal and hand
him another. Maybe it's just me, but if I was in the final 4 of a
tournament, nearly 8 hours into it and playing for a free trip to
Vegas, I might consider switching to the water from here on in. But
that's just me.

Anyway, after an age he finally looks at his cards and then string
bets. Great, just great. So I make him take back the raise, and he
takes it down on the flop anyways. I was rotated out of the dealer
position after this and I'm actually ok with it. I mean, it would be
nice to deal the final hand but I really don't want to make any
mistakes here.

I walk around for a bit and then check the time, and it's already
9.30pm. They are taking a quick break and I access the situation: I've
got work at my proper job in the morning, you can't really see what's
going on at the table from four deep in the crowd, I carried every
single on of these tables up those stairs (not single handed mind
you), I've already dealt at the final table, the bar tab is closed, I
don't know any of the players left and I doubt the abilities of at
least 3 of them, and I've got a 45 minute train ride ahead of me.
While it would be good to see someone win a free trip to Vegas, I'm
feeling the need to go home. So I left, not knowing who won. I just
sent a message to ask who the eventual winner was and the reply said
it all.

Chip and a chair.

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