Picture diary: Monte Carlo Day 2
Thursday, 30 April 2009
In a moment I shall publish some lovely pictures from Monte Carlo day 2. But first you must bear with me while I howl with anguish about my day. Even if you’ve already heard it, in 140-character nuggets of misery on Twitter.
I’ve played so well here, I really have. I accrued enough chips to lose that horrible pot with AA v TT yesterday, and fought back to average chips at the end of the day. Today I had another nasty early hand with an AK and slid down to 25,000 - but doubled back up with QQ and then really fought to build my stack up chip-by-chip. This involved, in one case, calling all three streets with 99 when there was an A and a T on the flop, going with my gut that the bettor had nothing (which he didn’t). In another case, I called pre-flop and on the flop, then moved all in on the turn with 5 high. When I had 80,000, I really felt I had earned those chips.
Then, with blinds at 800-1600 and a running ante of 200, I found KK on the button. A very glamorous Chinese lady with multi-coloured jewellery and brightly painted fingernails, who had recently come to our table, limped in middle position. I made it 5500. Then the Italian player in the small blind, who had only 20,000 total, started to think. I prayed for him to move in so we could get it heads-up, but he flat called. Flop came 3 5 T. The lady checked and I bet 15,000. The Italian called all in. Then the lady raised all in, for about 17,000 more. Well, I had to call. There was more than 65,000 in the pot already. Of course she had a set of threes, and the Italian…. Q8 ! Q8 ! I couldn’t blame the winner of the pot, as I might have been the third caller with a small pair myself. But him? If he had moved all in, or passed, she would have passed. Instead, it felt as if he was determined to sabotage his own tournament and take me down with him.
Luckily, the very next hand I found aces. Better still, a player made it 4000 under the gun and my Chinese lady assassin reraised to 9000. I moved all in for 38,000. The UTG player passed and the lady started to think. She thought and thought. Then she gave me a cheeky smile, said “I’m so bad”, and called. She rolled over a pair of tens.
Sure enough, just like yesterday, the ten slammed straight down on the table. Bang. I was out, in just two hands. It was one of those times when poker feels like the most brutal, masochistic thing that anyone could be crazy enough to volunteer for. I might be sponsored by Team Pro, I might already have won my big tournament, but I can tell you the pain is still so real, so deep. I was wandering around in a total daze. That kind of coup - or those kinds of coups, back to back - feel like some sort of punishment. You ask yourself what you have done to deserve it. It feels like getting beaten up.
It’s been a weird trip. My old friend showed up here - you remember the one I wrote about a few weeks ago, who stopped being my friend overnight, at a weird horrible time when I’d just lost my father, and I never understood why? I sent him a cute text across the tournament room, asking if we could have a drink while we’re here. He completely ignored it. That was upsetting enough, and continues to be baffling: combine it with the fatal aces and kings, and I’ve started to wonder whether I sleep-walk and do terrible things that I don’t even know about. Something that merits harsh punishment. Murder? Using the word “chillaxing” in conversation? I admit, during this tournament, while fully awake, I wore sunglasses indoors: maybe that’s it? But they were only prescription ones so I could see the flop.
On the plus side, I wrote a chapter of my book while sitting on a balcony overlooking the sea, which might be the most glamorous thing I’ve ever done. And I ate a delicious packet of Haribo from the hotel minibar, which is certainly the most expensive thing I’ve ever done.
Here are today’s pictures. The first shows a lovely group of British players outside the tournament room. Look out for the fact that, while Michael Greco’s olive complexion is perfectly suited to Riviera life, and Mr Big is so cool that he fits in anywhere, the other two are evidently seeing daylight for the first time in decades. The second picture is of my tournament table: all iPods and hoodies, modern poker in a nutshell. And the third summarizes my EPT Grand Final, 2009.