Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Divided Attention

Two unimaginable games. Back-to-back victories over the Bruins. Somehow, The Leafs, MY Leafs, were in game 7, with all the momentum their way.

And I was heading uptown to play free poker in a bar with poorly placed televisions. My Leafs jersey (Clark 17, C, Winter Classic) was on, and a Tim Hortons cup was in my hand as I boarded the subway. I exchanged nods with the random stranger in a Leafs jersey sitting across from me. I looked at the other jerseys around me. They all got off at Union station, a short underground walk to the Air Canada Centre and Maple Leaf Square. I stayed on the train.

It was day 2 of the main event after all. I didn't play to get here for nothing.

Up the stairs I wandered, got my seat assignment, and listened to the welcome and game changes for this stage of play. I was table 6, downstairs, away from the rest of the action. Seat 1 was obstructed view of the TV in the opposite corner. It would suffice.

7pm saw the cards in the air and the puck dropped.

20,000 chips in front of me. 20,000 fans in their seats.

I called a few small raises with hands meant to catch. They didn't. I was more interested in the game on the TV than the game I was playing. Boston scored. The bar groaned. I said it was still early. I counted my chips and was down 10%. It was still early.

Franson scored. The bar erupted in cheers. My chips hadn't changed much.

We broke for dinner, I was down 5%, Leafs were tied at the beginning of the second.

Franson scored again, 2-1, happy bar. My grilled chicken caesar wrap with tasteless fries was served.

Back to the game, back to watching the game. I make a huge error. I flip the 5k chip off the top of my stack instead of taking the 500 from the bottom, plus a couple 100s. 5.2k pre-flop raise in the hijack instead of 700 at the 100/200/25. Pocket nines. The table pauses, unsure how to react. Folds to the small blind, who tanks and then calls. Big blind is in pain, wanting to take part, but now extra scared by the call. He folds.

Flop comes K99. Dem's quads. SB thinks and bets 5.1k into the 10.8k pot. He has less than 10k behind, I have around 14k. I push, figuring he either can't get away or has AA, AK, or KK and won't leave. He calls and flips over TT for the runner-runner quads draw. It doesn't come and I find myself with around 38k, having doubled my stack.

Third period starts and Kessel scores. 3-1 Leafs. Table lead me.

Kadri scores. 4-1 Leafs, nothings changed at the table, but most of us are cheering and watching the TV anyway.

Bruins get one back, I comment that I HATE 2 goal leads because they create a false sense of security. Two idiots at the table comment that it's okay, because there's no way Boston scores two goals in 10 minutes. The Leafs will shut them down. I politely inform them to keep their traps shut.

Play continues both on the ice and at the table. My chips stay static, my hands inconsequential.

Boston scores again, after my guys can't pot an empty-netter. We can't see how much time is on the clock due to obstructing wall. I check my apps and see 1:22 left. Sonofabitch.Same morons as before tell us not to worry, I contemplate defenestration, even if it's only onto the patio.

Tied game. I tweet one word, but use a lot of capital letters and "U"s.

We colour up and the table breaks to join the rest of the tournament upstairs. Overtime is starting. I hope nothing happens until I get to my new seat.

One TV in the corner, but I have a better view than before. The upstairs guys are a few minutes behind us, and are still colouring up the small chips. I lean against a bar rail and try to keep my stomach from churning. 3 games of momentum completely switched around. 3 minutes of unfortunate play exposing the inexperience of a young team. Gasps and almost cheers and texts and tweets and nerves and pain and anticipation all roiling around, and I still have a tournament to play.

Bergeron scores for Boston, and I pound on the rail and hang my head. The bar empties out. Play resumes. It's suddenly very hot under my Jersey, so I hang it on my chair. Börje Salming was dealing, now it's just a guy named Phil who looks about as thrilled as I am. I fold hands and pay no attention to the table. I tweet and text and support my forehead with my hand as I toss out antes.

A Canadian is returning from space and landing in the sea in Kazakhstan, contained in a sardine tin with two other astronauts. He's inspired hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people over the past 5 months with videos and photos and songs and a goofy and ultimately Canadian sense of humour. He's cheered the Leafs the whole time. He's watched the games a day behind, asking 750,000 people not to spoil the outcomes for him. He was hurtling towards the Earth and experiencing forces I never will as the boys in Blue and White were choking on youth and anxiety. I hope he doesn't ask what the score is until he's out of the capsule. I'm incredibly proud of our representative to the world while simultaneously sad about a hockey game.

I start paying attention to the game. The dealer/player is raking in a big pile of big chips. He's a good player with the apparent table lead, and two to my left. This could take some work. I see nothing particularly worthwhile, but steal some blinds and antes. I fold more than I call, but my 29k in chips is rapidly depreciating as the seconds tick by.

A 5k chip is found under the table. Everyone agrees it's probably the dealer's from his big hand. Tournament director declares it a dead chip as it had been there for a while. Dealer tilts. Leafs loss was probably the instigator, chip is the catalyst.

Parachutes are open and the Soyuz is on screen. All systems look good. I watch players push and survive. I keep getting change for my antes and blinds.

Dealer, still tilting slams down a call against two all-ins. His KJs catches a J on the river and knocks them both out. Still a roiling boil under the lid.

Splashdown. I see QTd with no action ahead of me. I raise and get only the BB calling. Q6T on the flop, BB bets, I push, BB calls. K6 is no good against my two pair, and I double up to a useable stack.

Next hand see QTs, and again, no action before me. I raise again, and get called by the simmering dealer. Everyone else folds. Flop comes all spades, all lower than my T. I bet just under the pot. My opponent tanks with an incredibly deep scowl on his brow. He almost starts talking to himself. I get a death stare and blink. He calls. Flop is a red card. I push. He calls and says, "You have a flush?" "Yup." "I knew it." He shows AJd, and maybe caught a pair on the river. I somehow had him barely covered after my last win. He calls over the floor and demands that he be relieved NOW. Deals one more hand. They break the table to let him get away. I say nothing. A "good game" sounds insulting in my mind, so I keep it to myself.

I count as I rack up for the move - 120k. Chip lead.  Commander Hadfield is out of the capsule, last of the three. All safe and sound and getting used to gravity while looking forward to a hot shower and toilets that flush. I imagine a flame-grilled steak wouldn't suck either. Our achievements so far are not comparable, although I'm okay with a camera.

New table is uneventful. CBC continues in the background, but it's nothing of interest anymore. We break to colour up the 100's and we are 5 away from breaking for the day, or 23 minutes, whichever comes first.

Shortly upon return, I'm moved for the final time. Best view of the TV all night, nothing good on. As I unrack my chips, the classic "ah, here to distribute the wealth" line is quipped. I retort with "no, I'm on a mission of consolidation so they have less bags to worry about tomorrow." Then I steal the blinds and antes to show that I'm serious.

I get a walk in the BB a bit later, but otherwise don't play as stacks drop off. 3 left. 2. On the bubble and hand-for-hand between the two tables.

A medium stack raises from the button. The BB pushes all-in. They're close. Button calls quickly with AKd. BB shows QJh. The board plays out with low cards, but a third heart on the river. AK doesn't see it and assume he won. Comments that he feels bad, but thinks the BB has him covered, so the BB is still around for tomorrow. Dealer counts, and he's right - the BB does have him covered, so the button is out. He doesn't understand. The whole table points out the flush. AK feels like a fool and announces he's the bubble and out, wishes everyone good luck, and scampers out.

On his way, the floor lets him know he's actually out 16th, as an all-in went out at the other table just before him. The result doesn't change, but Day 3 is now 15 players instead of 16, and the guy gets to feel worse on his way home.

Chips are bagged, photos are taken, handshakes and congratulations are offered all around. When all is said and done, I'm still chip leader with 124k, ahead of the 101.5k second place before it drops to 80's and 50's and lower. 935,000 chips in play, 62k average stack. 3000/6000/500 8-handed to start today, 20 minutes a level.

And the Blue Jays will be on in the background.


Memphis MOJO said...

Nice post. GL in Day 3.

Dawn Summers said...

I still can't believe they lost that way... CRAY ZEEE.