In case you forgot, one of my main dreams is to become a professional poker player. Last weekend I traveled to Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker. Most individuals that don’t really know much about poker don’t realize, depending on the year, there can be up to 60 bracelet events. When the layman thinks of the World Series of Poker, the only event that usually comes to mind is the $10,000 Main Event. This year, there are actually 65 bracelet events. For almost all amateur poker players, winning a bracelet event is a lifelong dream. I went to Vegas hoping to fulfill this same dream although I knew it was quite a long shot.
My plan for this trip was to win my way into Event #8, which is also known as the “Millionaire Maker Event.” As you can guess, it is titled this because the winner is guaranteed $1 Million. This is one of only three events that the winner will become a millionaire if they are not already. The other two are the “One Drop” which costs a Million Dollars just to enter and the Main Event. You must be thinking, who has a Million Dollars just to enter an event. The top 25 professional poker players in the world, that’s who. The buy in to Event #8 is $1,500. I could have just bought into it as anybody can, but I have not been playing as regularly as I should for somebody who wants to win a World Series of Poker bracelet. Because of this, winning my way in was the plan. Yes, as much as I hate to say it, life sometimes gets in the way of chasing our dreams. For me, this should only be temporary.
I flew into Vegas after work on Thursday night and by Friday evening the cash games were not treating me well. I was actually playing okay, but just wasn’t getting the cards and it is hard to bluff unwise amateurs in a low level cash game. So by about 9pm Friday night I only had a few hundred dollars in my bankroll and was worried I wouldn’t have enough funds to finish play a lot more hours without visiting the one machine in Vegas which always pays out… The ATM machine.
The Rio has daily deep stack tournaments and at about 9:30pm I decided to enter the 10pm tournament and figured at least I would get a few good hours of play without having to lose more than $135, since that was the entry fee. By 9:50pm I had my entry in hand and was getting prepared for the trite call to “shuffle up and deal.” So there are was, grinding it out and continuing my streak of almost no cards but picking up about 1 big hand every 1.5 hours. Pocket Aces, win a nice pot. Ace King, win a nice pot. Pocket Queens, win a nice pot. Almost 5 hours into the tournament I had a larger than average chip stack and all the players left (about 30) were getting closer to cashing in the event. The event had 204 entries and the top 21 got paid. I wont get into all the gory details but at about 5am, we were still playing and I was at the final table. There were no TV cameras, the poker room of over 200 tables was almost empty due to the late hour, and most of the people in the room were only the staff and a few cash game players. Despite that, to me this was important. I was already guaranteed to make money since the person out in 10th place would get $387 but I was shooting for the $5,306 first prize. This would guarantee my ability to enter the Millionaire Maker event. Like I was running all tournament, I was card dead except for 1 hand an hour. Despite being short stacked, I was able to outlast a few of the big stacks at the final table. Believe it or not, I can’t even remember how I was knocked out of the tournament. Maybe it had to do with the late hour or the multiple games I had played after the tournament since I was in Vegas until Monday afternoon. I was, however, proud to ultimately go out in 5th place and win $1,298.
This wasn’t really the big time but I did outlast 200 players. Nobody would know but me, my friends, and my family. The rest of the trip, the games went pretty similar but I did go deep in two other daily events I played. 37th out of 220 at the daily Aria tourney and 328 out of 1560 at the 3pm Rio Daily. So I cashed in 1 of 3 tournaments I entered and for the first time in awhile felt really good about my ability to play solid tournament poker.
Tuesday morning, I arrive at work feeling good about my game but realizing nobody else really knew that I cashed. With the exception, of course, of my friends and family. That is until a friend of mine at work, who also plays a lot of poker and knew about my cash, sent me a hyperlink starting with the important http://www.wsop. That’s right, they track and report who cashes in each of the three daily tournaments. And there I was, my 5th place finish listed on a PDF from the WSOP Site that shows the daily winners for May 30th. I felt like Navin R. Johnson from the movie “The Jerk” when he finds out his name is listed for the first time in the phone book. In the wide poker world, I was somebody. To everybody else in means nothing, but to me it definitely means something. It is the first of many upcoming cashes in my poker career. Its the first baby step to living my dream. The cherry on top was when “The Hendon Mob” site also reported out my tournament cash. The Hendon Mob is a group of professional poker players that decided a long time ago to create a poker database of all poker players that have cashed in reportable events. They also keep a running total of each poker players life long earnings. Here I was for the first time, listed on their site with my winning totals. In addition, their database will be tracking me for years to come. Assuming this isn’t my only cash… which it won’t be. I won’t let it be. I won’t stop until playing poker is my main job and I am smiling at the final table with a World Series of Poker bracelet in hand.
Until you see me on ESPN… Smile Big and Dream Bigger!