Putting a 15th Place Finish in Perspective

Finished 15th yesterday in the PokerStars 11+R. This was my deepest finish yet in a big tourney, unless you count the first tourney I ever played – a PokerRoom $750 added freeroll with a field of 2000 in which I finished 2nd (total prize money for 7 hours of play: $50). Well that was back in August. This is the January, and with a blizzard howling outside – the wind is actually blowing right through my windows as I write this, blowing my curtains around – and with a potential power outage coming at any moment, I managed to make my way to 15th in the 11+R for a net profit of $400. Happy New Year, Jodi!

I’m sorry to say there weren’t really any remarkable hands to post and show how I got my stack. During the rebuy period, I of course collected thousands of chips from the ATMs sitting around me, including everyone’s favorite gal, Jennicide, who was sitting two behind me. This made any steal attempt next to impossible, since she just pushed her stack in every hand. Fortunately, the three times I called her she had rags and I was able to take about four rebuys-worth of chips off of her. I think she put like $200 into this thing before the rebuy period was over. Right.

So I built my stack up to about 28000 for 3rd place at the first break. I didn’t add on because the average stack was only about 8000. Okay, the rebuys and add-ons are over, it’s just smart, good poker from here on out, no more chips are coming that I don’t earn myself. Perfect time for my first rookie mistake. I’m dealt KQs in early position. I’m first in so I raise it up. Get called by this one dude who has about 20000. I don’t remember the exact action, and my email is down so I’ll have to post the hand history later. When all the cards are out, the board is JTJ59 with no flush possibility out there. Long story short, we’ve built a nice pot between us and my straight is out there, so I make a decent sized bet. This guy pushes all-in. At this point, several thoughts go through my head. The first one is, “He’s full.” The second one is, “I wonder which full house he has.” The third one is “Call.”

“Whaaaaaat?” you ask quite correctly. Only the poker gods know what pushed my finger toward that call button last night, because I knew I was beat and everyone else at the table knew I was beat, and my boyfriend Chris who was watching in Brooklyn knew I was beat. Of course this wasn’t a tough hand and I should have recognized that nine as the worst card that could possibly come and I should have folded to the reraise. But I didn’t and that’s that. So I was down to an average stack. Oh, what did the guy hold in his hand, you ask? Pocket fives for fives full.

Okay, so back to work. I get a few lucky breaks from the big blind, a few coinflips go my way, and I build back up to a decent stack. I raise with AQs and get called all-in by two short stacks, one with KJo and one with AJo. The flop comes jack high and that’s the biggest suck-out I suffered the whole tourney. It came at a key time, however, when the blinds were starting to get enormous. I kept hanging on as we moved through the levels of prize money. At this point I had never been in a tourney so long (except that summertime freeroll) and I was starting to feel pretty exhausted. How do you tourney players out there play those 12-hour-a-day, four-day-long events? We were five hours in and I was wiped. It takes a lot of endurance and a lot of heart to make it in these tourneys! My hat is off to all of you (myself included now, I guess!).

I busted out in an unremarkable fashion. The blinds and antes were making a meal out of my stack, and I needed to find a hand. I found TT and decided that was it. Someone made a raise in front of me, and that was all good, but then the big stack at the table pushed all in as well. He was a solid player and I figured he had the best hand, but how much longer could I wait? We were six handed and the blinds were coming around again fast. I decided to call. He showed KK. The board offered me the possibility of a straight, but it didn’t come by the river and I was out in 15th place.

As soon as the river card falls and I know I’m out, I feel several emotions at once. First is disappointment that I don’t get to keep playing. That final table with its much fatter pay-outs is just out of my reach. Second is relief, because it’s 4 A.M. and I’m a school teacher who usually goes to bed at midnight, and I finally get to sleep. Third is the numbness that comes from concentrating so hard for five hours. And only after I get through all of those things do I come to the emotion beneath all that: elation that I fought my way through a field of 1400 people and turned $30 into $400!

To many of you card players out there, that might not seem like a big deal. But let’s put it in the perspective of my world, for my own sake and for fun. As a teacher at a private boarding school, I earn about $2000 a month. (The reason the salary is so low is that everything is paid for – my apartment, my food, my utilities, all the maintainence on my apartment including someone who shovels all my snow and digs out my car, and so on.) So $400 in my world is almost a full week’s pay! As pathetic as that might sound, I think I need to keep it in mind when I’m pouting about missing out on the 12K first prize.

Although that would have been six month’s pay…

Overall, I am very pleased with my finish in this tourney. I will certainly play it again soon, although not during the school week since I would probably fall asleep in class if I did. The fiscally responsible thing to do would be to take that money and put it in the bank. But I think I’ll use most of it to bankroll my tournament career. Who knows? Continuing to play these small buy-in tourneys could be the most fiscally responsible thing I’ve ever done!