This morning was another beautiful sunny Perth Sunday as I rode the motorbike down the freeway, and along the riverfront to Tompkins Reserve Recreation Centre, which was to be the host venue for the Western Australia Poker State Finals.
I played again last night at the Osborne Park Hotel, one week after beginning my poker career, and my performance did not bode well for the big game today. I managed to last past the break, but never had any really strong hands, and although I won a few small pots, as the blinds increased, my chips dwindled, and I was soon on my way home.
Registrations had commenced this morning at 10am, for a midday start, and I arrived at about 11.30am. There was a bit of a queue, but everything was very well organised, and I soon reached the registration table and handed over my money (yes, it was a real money tournement!) and was allocated wristband, giving me a seat at table 37. The main room, which housed what would become the final table, and tables 1 to 27, faced north, so was light and sunny, and had a beautiful view over the river. I realised that my table was in the darker, secondary back room.
(My apologies for the low quality of my photos. I forgot to take my camera, and the pictures that my mobile phone takes are pretty poor.)
When we sat down to play at midday, all 50 tables were full, and there was still a queue at the door. Eventually we were told that there were 76 further registrations, a total of 476 players.
The atmosphere in the back room was filled with excitement as the first hands were dealt, and within a minute or so a cry went up across the room as the first player was eliminated, having gone “All in” on the first hand, and been beaten by someone else, who had doubled his chips in the first hand, a good solid start. His consolation prize was a bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon, from the sponsors of the event. It was his birthday, he announced to the whole room, and received a warm round of applause before all attention returned to cards on the tables.
Over the first hour or so, more people fell by the wayside, and the reserves stepped into the dead men’s shoes and started to play too. Our table lost a player on an “All in” hand, and a new pile of chips arrived with reserve number 56. Eventually all the reserves had joined the game, and there were still 400 people playing.
I had decided to be a bit more aggressive in my play than usual, and won a few good hands early on, and found myself at one point with the biggest pile of chips at my table. Our new arrival, reserve 56 slowly reduced his stack, and eventually went “All in” with his last $650 of chips. I had a pair of jacks, and called him, and he turned up a pair of kings – oh dear! I was dealing, and turned up the flop, which helped neither of us. The fourth card made no difference either, and only a jack could win for me, and I was amazed when it came up on the river, and a cry of commiseration went up at the table, as we lost another player. I felt a bit bad for him as we shook hands, but that didn’t last long when I saw the stack of chips that I now had in front of me.
After the first break I continued to do well, building my chips up, and as more players dropped out, tables were closed down and players were moved to other tables. Our table lost two more players, and we were told to bring our chips through with us, and were split up to fill in the gaps in the main room.
I was pleased to notice that at the table I joined, my stack of chips looked as good as anyone elses. I continued to do okay approaching the second break, but didn’t really manage to strengthen my position for some time, until I was dealt the ten and queen of hearts. The flop revealed the jack and the king of hearts, along with a nine, and I already had a straight, only needed one card for a flush, and could possibly end up with a straight flush, or even a Royal Flush if the ace of hearts came up!
I was in a pretty stong position, and as betting progressed two players with small stacks of chips ended up “All in” against me. When the fourth card was turned up, a third player went all in too, and I called again, and all four of us turned our cards face up. I quickly saw that I had won, and as far as I could see, couldn’t be beaten whatever came up on the river. The final card was another heart, which further strengthened my hand, and I collected a big pile of chips, and eliminated three players in one hand.
After the second break things did not go quite so well for me, and the bigger blinds slowly ate away at my stack of chips, but I was still doing okay as it was announced that we were now down to the final 100 players.
My chips continued to dwindle slowly, and I never really got into any more good hands. and when our table was split, I only had a very small stack left when I joined my next table. I was just playing to survive now, and eventually got six and seven of clubs on my big blind, which had left me with just one chip left. I threw it in “All in”, and a minute later shook hands all round and stood and left the game.
As I did so, another table was being split, and the final six tables were put together – the last 48 players. I was amazed, and incredibly pleased. I had made it to the final 50 out of 476 entrants, in the state finals!! And it was only one week since I had sat down for my first game!
I had played for almost four hours, including the breaks, but didn’t feel at all tired, despite the constant tension, but think I was still running on adrenaline and coffee. I watched for a little longer, and then headed home on the bike while the sun was still out.
I had enjoyed an absolutely fantastic afternoon. The tournament was so well organised, and there was a great atmosphere and tension about the whole event, but the reality of the situation was that I had lost my money, and was going home with nothing.
My $10 was gone! I reckon that is the best value entertainment I have ever had! My thanks to all from APL who had obviously put in a huge amount of work to organise an absolutely excellent event.