I played the morning $50 no-limit hold-em tournament at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City today, as I occasionally do when I can, and for the very first time I finished in the money! The entry fee is $65, and it begins at 11:15 AM in the Taj poker room. There were 52 players today, a number on the small end, I’ve seen it over 100. With that many players, the top six would cash, with sixth place winning back the entry fee, and each place winning progressively more. In the past I’ve gone out as close as 4 from the money, but never cashed. Today I started out well, winning occasional hands, and not losing more than the blinds for the first two hours, so by the start of the third hour, with players down to about 30, I was in good shape, perhaps in the middle of the pack in chip count. I continued to do about the same through the third hour, and when the fourth hour began at the final table of 10 players, I was down a little, but still holding my own. At that point I got into and lost one pretty big pot, which hurt my chip stack, but then I made some back, and got into the money, the top six. Two lucky wins with low cards got me to the final three just before the end of the fourth hour. I called Ellen happily to tell her why I’d be home a little late.
Perhaps my favorite moment at this small-potatoes tournament was when, as we got down to six, they put up one of those velvet ropes around the table and made the handful of spectators stand behind it, just like on TV.
So, of the three left, an older gentleman (at least he looked older than me) had about two-thirds of the chips at the table, leaving me and a young guy in a Phillies t-shirt to battle for second place. We went at it, going all-in back and forth several times, but unable knock the other out. Finally he went all in when we were almost exactly even in chips. I had Jack-Seven, not a great hand, but I was tired of sitting, so I went all-in too. He turned up a pair of Kings, and it was over for me, I went out third. A minute later the game ended when the top two agreed to split the remaining winnings. I won $390, and after subtracting my entry fee, came home ahead $325. The other two got about $800 each.
So, considering how often I’ve played this tournament (about 15 times) I’m still way behind, but it felt great to win something. My only other tournament win, at The Borgata, was also a third place, so now my goal is to reach at least second. I’ll probably give back my winnings attempting to do that over the course of this year, but it’s fun to try.