Australia. Land of kangaroos, koala's and didgeridoos. But more importantly, it's the land of both Aussie Millions and my best pal, the Loud one. Since she moved down under, I'd been trying to bet my butt down there, but the cost is a tad prohibitive for me. But thanks to the wonderful Al and the cool cats at Full Tilt Poker, here I am combining my obsession with poker and a visit with my partner-in-crime. Being here is Oz is definitely a dream come true.
And it's been great hanging out with her and Graham, letting them show off their city to Hunny Bunny and I, and catching up over dinner and drinks. The long conversations only highlight how much I miss her being around.
But today is all about poker, the main reason for Full Tilt sending us down here. Getting ready was a blur; all I know is that now I'm at the entrance to casino, clad in Full Tilt swag with Hunny Bunny holding my hand to calm me down.
Every time I walk across a casino floor, my adrenaline ramps up. I guess that's true of everyone, really. There's something about the happy jangling of the slots and the flashing lights that's engineered to excite us along with the almost tangible scent of money and hope in the air to entice us.
But this....man, this was like mainlining caffeine. I think I started to vibrate even before the plane touched down, and now as I walked through the Crown Casino to get to the Las Vegas Poker Room registration area it was hitting epic proportions. Like the time I ate a half pound of chocolate-covered espresso beans, my heart was pounding and my thoughts were darting around like a hummingbird on speed. And my hands were shaking so badly I briefly wondered how I was going to even sign my name. Maybe they would accept an X instead.
Standing in the line to get my seat assignment didn't help. I tried to mimic everyone else's bored/vacant calm, but I was as jangly as the slot machines. Poker permutations and card combinations kept running through my head along with the constant mantra of "holy crap, I'm at the Aussie Millions". I was so deep in my own thoughts I didn't see Pauly and Change100 until they were right beside me, grabbing my ass like it's a secret blogger handshake. (Oh wait. It is.)
I jumped; Change100 laughed and gave me a hug while Pauly just gave me that crooked smile and said, "Relax. This is fun, remember?"
“Fun.” And even though my palms are sweating, my heart's racing and I feel faintly nauseous this is fun. “Man, I am one sick puppy”, I say, laughing and give them another hug.
Finally I get my table assignment, and wander around trying to find my table while trying to look cool and composed. I give up, and ask where table 42 is. I hear the quaver in my voice and give up on cool and composed. It's like being subtle...I just can't pull it off.
I'm the last to be seated at the table. I say a brief hello, tuck my purse between my feet and hand the dealer my card. I take a deep breath and look at my table mates. All are men, and there are a lot of Full Tilt triangles at this table. Two of the men I sort of recognize from somewhere or other, and one I utterly recognize – Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.
I think it took me two orbits to get the stars out of my eyes, to relax and enjoy myself. I settled in to the rhythm of the game, giving myself little pep talks and playing my game.
Frankly, it was pretty much a blur. I made steady gains with only minimal losses. In retrospect I'll feel that I played too tight and that I should have ramped up the aggression on a few hands, but then again, hindsight is always 20/20.
But now it's the final table bubble. Somehow I have managed to last to this point where everyone has tightened up to the point where they don't talk anymore, they squeak. I have to admit though, I'm as clenched as the rest. I'm not the shortstack at the table, but I'm not breathing easy either. Luckily the blinds had just moved past me when they went up, but the blind raise has made me even more uncomfortable with my M, and know I need to make a move soon.
The cards are shuffled and deals them out. I've got the button and I'm really hoping there's something playable here. I've been opening up my play a bit in late position and am poised for a steal. I cup my hands over my cards and hunch over and see.....a 7 of hearts and a 2 of diamonds. Oh, hell no. I'm not opening it up that much, for crissakes!
Fold fold fold.... everyone folds in front of me. I place my hand over my cards to slide them over to the dealer too, but some impulse make me say "all in" and push my chips out instead of my cards. Holy hades, what the hell did I do that for??? The left side of my brain is going apeshit, while the right side is smiling ever so slightly. I'm striving for my impassive teacher face, hoping that none of this shows.
Small blind pauses, looks at his cards again, then folds. Phew.
The Full Tilt pro, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, is in the big blind and pauses too long. It's starting to look like my internal prayer of FOLD will not be answered. I'm doomed. Even worse, I'm setting myself up to be mocked and derided by everyone in poker. Well almost everyone; poker bloggers will get it. They'll still mock me, but they'll get it.
I see him look at me out of the corner of my eye, but I keep staring at my chips, and say nothing.
He pauses. "I think you've got me covered. How much have you got?"
I glance over at him and put all my Katitude attitude into the smile when I say "Enough". I keep my hands folded on the rail, and nod to the dealer to count my chips (no way I could do it with my hands shaking they way they are!), and it looks like I have him beat by just over T1000.
He pauses a bit longer again. My heart is beating so fast, I'm beginning to wonder what a heart attack feels like.
“I call”, he finally says. And flips over AK spades.
Oh hell! Dominated. My only thought is how I am never going to live this down with the bloggers. But I smile as I turn over my 72 offsuit.
The table goes wild. People are already congratulating Chris, but over the din I can hear some of my blogger brethren start to sing MC Hammer's “Can't Touch This”. I look at Chris and say “Nice hand”. He just smiles and nods slightly.
I feel oddly calm as the dealer prepares to turn over the flop. There's that small moment of grace, when you've put your fate in the poker gods' hands. There's nothing more you can do, the cards will fall where the cards will fall.
The dealer slides the cards, separating them with an infinitely painful slowness.
Seven of spades.
Two of spades.
Queen of spades.
The table goes nuts. Me, I start laughing - "man, those poker gods have a very twisted sense of humour" I say.
The dealer taps the table, burns and turns a 6 of diamonds. No help there.
The pause between this and the river card seems to go on for a small lifetime. I'm silently cursing my lack of control, that one misguided impulse that's crippled me. Ah well, I think. Makes for a good story. I take a breath, preparing to say “good game” to Chris and the table.
The river card is shown... AND OH MY FREAKING GOD!!!!
THE TWO OF HEARTS!!!!!
And that is how I made the final table at Aussie Millions.