After having a wonderful time in Las Vegas last year playing small stakes tournament poker, I decided to try it again but this time in Atlantic City. This time I picked the Borgata since they normally have two tournaments per day but best to check at their site where they post a monthly schedule. Their poker room is large with 75 tables (not 52 as most sites state) but their tournament tables do not have USB ports whereas the cash tables do have USB ports, so come prepared with a portable poker pack for your mobile device.
Their registration process is a bit antiquated for tournament play with a 10-15 minute wait in line to be expected for about eight people ahead of you. They require your MGM card, a picture ID and cash. You need to sign and date a form in two places and only then are you given your table card. Be prepared to play 10-handed at your table, something I had thought ended after the COVID-19 pandemic waned. So, those were a couple big differences I noticed versus tournament poker in Vegas.
Tournament #1: Money Goes Poof!
In my first tournament I was completely card dead. In 90 minutes of play I only picked up one ace (A4) and no pocket pairs. I counted exactly nine times a picture card showed up in my hand, and it was never two at the same time. And never suited connectors. Typical holdings were 73, T6, 95, etc. Tournament poker is a game of patience. With constantly rising blinds, you can’t wait for premium hands forever, but you do have to make strategic moves as well as just be fortunate enough to have playable holdings from time to time. In my final hand I was dealt 55 and ended up against 88. I lost, and it was goodbye to my first tournament. It happens to all of us and we need to move on.
Tournament #2: That’s More Like It
In my second tournament I fared better. In one hand I went all-in with AK, to be called by two players with AK and AJ. I was expecting a chop with the other AK but the board ran out with four hearts. Luckily, I was sitting with the only heart on the table, and as such managed to triple up with the nuts.
With the field of 64 down to 12 and nine players making it into the money, I was presented with a problem. I was second in chips at my table. I was dealt KQ unsuited. The massive chip leader at the table bet 3BB. I called and the flop came JQK rainbow, giving me top two pair. The chip leader now bet out for 50K, which was 2/3 of my stack. My predicament was that I could potentially be drawing dead, or at least way behind to a flopped set or straight, and thus miss making the money, despite having strong holdings.
I looked around the table and saw two others with small stacks. At the other table, there were also a few players with small stacks. So late in the tournament, blinds and antes were very high, and it occurred to me that many players would be forced to go all-in within the next couple of hands. So, opting to go for the “sure thing”, I folded and sure enough within five minutes three players busted to leave the final nine all in the money.
Unfortunately, I busted out shortly thereafter, in 8th place, with my AK all-in pre-flop vs JJ, and no ace or king showed.
Until Next Time
Over the course of the rest of my Atlantic City tournament vacation, I ended up playing in another four daily tournaments. I only made it to the money in one of them, but had a great time trying. Plus, a 33% “cashing rate” is nothing to sneeze at! Hopefully I’ll do even better next time around.