I love watching the World Series of Poker on TV every summer, it’s what got me interested in and playing poker again after a long lapse. I last talked about it HERE. This week there’s a WSOP circuit event in Atlantic City at Caesar’s. The main event has an entry fee of $5000, and there are other large satellite tournaments with entries ranging from $300 to $1000.
Those are all too expensive for me, but for the regular poker guys like myself, there’s another option. You can play in a one-table tournament of 10 people for $80. This is called a Level 1 event. Winning first place in it gets you a free seat in one of the larger tournaments, the Level 2 events. Winning one of THOSE gets you a seat in the $5000 main event. Winning that gets you a good amount of cash AND a seat at the WSOP $10,000 main event in Las Vegas next May.
As you can see, you have to be extraordinarily lucky to get anywhere in this system, but I thought it would be fun to enter the $80 Sit-and-Go (so called because there’s no scheduled start time, when they have 10 willing players, it starts).
I hadn’t played at Caesar’s before, so I had to get a player card. Then I registered at the tournament. It took about a half hour to assemble the necessary 10 players for the game, then we began with $2000 in (no real value) tournament chips, following the usual multi-level format. The first fifteen minutes the blinds were $25 and $50, every 15 minutes the blinds increased, and after level 3 each player also had to put in an ante.
The group I sat with, I have to say, was just as entertaining a bunch as any I’ve seen on TV, so though I didn’t win, I felt I got my money’s worth. There were two guys from New York, one black, one very Italian, who kept up a running banter on either side of me, and they were pretty funny. At the far end of the table was an older bald man who they gave the nickname “Kojak.” He did look a little like Telly Savalas, but just a little. Kojak was the man with the luck in this game, he just kept winning pots. Another very vocal player had a European accent I couldn’t place. He played well, going in with the best hand, and Kojak kept beating him, until he was on full tilt. The European lost with Ace-Queen. He lost with a pair of Kings. Finally, he went all in with a pair of Aces, the best starting hand in Hold-Em, and Kojak knocked him out with a flush. The guy was so upset that, even after he was knocked out, he kept coming back to the table to complain and grouse about it. It was pretty funny.
I won two small pots, but didn’t make much headway. I bet big on two pair, and was beaten by Kojak with a flush. I was nearly out of chips and went all in with King-Nine against him. Wouldn’t you know he had the same hand, and we split the pot. Finally I was down to my last few chips and went all in with Ace-Jack, not a bad hand, against another player with King-deuce. Unfortunately, even though I got a straight, I was again beaten by a flush.
I went out in fifth place, but had a good time. And, if and when they televise the main event from Caesars this year, I’ll be looking for Kojak in the crowd. When I left he had most of the chips at the table, and was bound to win. Could he possibly continue his streak through two more levels? Hey, it’s poker, these things do happen!