Our final post from this year’s tournament comes from The Chameleon, a Trader who learned to play poker with his family as soon as he was old enough to be dealt in. Our Chameleon describes his poker style as “able to blend into the style of the game, but standout at opportune moments.” He comes into the Final Table as our Chip Leader.
Rising from the final table, facing defeat, bearing the bittersweet end to the 2015 tournament, I tipped my hat to thank and wish my competitors the best going forward. Graciously, our now twice champion to my left most earnestly offered me a handshake for my efforts, which for a fleeting moment did ameliorate the burden of regret. Having entered the day with a decisive chip lead and well over twenty orbits of blinds, I knew I held the luxury to play as I wished for a while. My semifinal table was extremely tight, I am not sure that we saw more than ten flops, and few showdowns. The highlight, no doubt when The Poker Shark called for a ten to hit on the river for a miracle straight, as he did, it peeled off the deck! Meanwhile, I surfed a frozen wave for the entire morning looking for any spot to make a move in position. I stole a few blinds here and there, but got played back when I raised on the button by the small blind in the most meaningful hand I played at that table. I bricked the board with A9 off-suit and folded to a lead bet. Looking back, should I have forced the action more, is my perception a bit distorted, did I have more playable opportunity than I thought? Perhaps. It seemed that every marginal hand I was dealt I was out of position, but with my stack maybe that was enough to mix it up more? I was hoping to get priced in just a bit at the back with some overcalls in front of me, but it was squeaky tight play and then unabashed aggression as the standard climate. Enduring on, I leaned on the experience that got me here previously and what got me here now, to remain patient and to wait for my shots, but when they didn’t come, the plan needed to be amended.
I knew coming back from the break that I had to make something happen with some greater degree of alacrity as the blinds where under twenty orbits. Making something happen was thwarted a bit when the big stack and future champion was seated to my immediate left, it was better in round three, I thought, when he was to my right! The first hand I played he came over the top as if to put a halt to any charge, and I folded to his raise. The second hand I played, however, he called my bring-in raise and I was able to show down a king for top pair; I won a small pot.
…Now in each poker player’s story there is a climax, but only one player has the amazing fortune where that isn’t also coupled with the dénouement. One can liken this to say that of the end of Vertigo, where our hero has found his zenith only to face the tragic demise of his lost love falling to her immediate death almost simultaneously. But this, however, is poker.
The Climax/Dénouement: We got down nine handed and I was just over ten orbits, I was dealt pocket tens under the gun, which I raised to 10,000 and was re-raised from the back to 20,000. I called to a flop of J-6-9, I checked and he bet 20,000 more and I went all in for about 50,000. When he said something that sounded like, “I think you might have it” I was encouraged until it was queens and I didn’t have it and they held. No doubt many of you would have played it differently than I did, but I have to live with the play I made, and it is never a good feeling when your man shows you better and you have to get lucky and even worse when you don’t.
Now as a fierce competitor, I ask for no concessions, make no mistake, I wanted to win, and will continue forth with that desire. It was an enormous disappointment to emerge with anything but first place accolades and the first place prize, but there is still some honor and joy in the competition and representation, with the chance to meet everyone from around the world in this great company with so many thoughtful and intelligent people, including a great champion, who again has emerged. Until next year, when we all meet at the table!