January 10, 2011 – Paradise Island, Bahamas. It’s 5:45 PM on Day Two of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. No more than 280 players remain out of the 1560 who entered the $10,000 main event. Only 232 of those players will walk away with money, the minimum payout being something like $15k or $17k.
With blinds of $1500/$3000 and antes of $300, I’m sitting on a $50k chip stack. That’s not quite small-stack life support, but my chances of a decent payday are fast dying off. In the past hour, my table has become quite aggressive, leaving me few chances to attack the blinds or even attempt to resteal. Every pot is raised and re-raised before the action gets to me. But not this hand.
I’m under the gun and look down to find a pair of black jacks. I make it $7500 to go and only the small blind comes along for a flop. He’s got close to a million chips, so he’s eyeing my stack like it’s an appetizer. The flop comes out 986 with a couple clubs and he checks to me.
My hand is strong enough that I’d like to get all of my chips in the middle, but shoving $43k into a pot of $20k seems unlikely to get my opponent’s chips in there keeping mine company. This guy has been very aggressive, so I try to bet small enough to give the illusion of fold equity – I want him to think he can push me out of the pot.
Before my $12k chips are even out of my hand he declares himself all in. The rest of my chips make it to the middle before he’s even reached for his. He flips over a queen and a ten. I flip up my jacks and ask the dealer not to give me a set. The king on the turn is safe, but the queen on the river ends my tournament.
I feel nothing. I’m not talking about that numb feeling where you’ve lost everything and your dog’s just died. I mean nothing. A double up would have almost guaranteed a cash for $15k or more, but the river Q elicits not even a blip on my emotional radar.
I shake some hands, exchange some “good game”s, and walk away from the table. I turn back to the table and quip to the dealer, “He had me covered, right?” This is worth a cheap laugh from the table and lets me feel good about how well I’m taking the loss. The tournament was fun (and a freeroll for me), and I now had six days of vacation in Atlantis, so there’s no reason I should have felt too bad. But shouldn’t I have felt something?