The Curse Has Been Broken

Since Begs’ historic run to the final table of the WSOP in 2009, no member of the New Castle Poker Tour has cashed in a WSOP event. Without an exact count, there have been at least 25 of us who have attempted the tough mudder known as The Main Event. There have been campaigns that have gone as far as day 3 and day 4, but the brass ring of cashing has always been out of reach, and the Final Table, that might as well be on Mars.

So, when Dr. B suggested playing a couple of earlier events in the Series instead of The Main Event, wheels were set in motion. He declared the week beginning June 28th as Dr. B Week, with plans to play in tournaments on June 29th and July 1st. Upon reviewing my calendar, the July 1st date did not work for me, but the idea of playing two events resonated. Event #55, the DraftKings 50/50 No-Limit Hold’em seemed like the perfect vehicle for me.

Reviewing my own history at The Main Event, my first experience, or should I say, inexperience, was in 2010 when I free rolled my way in after winning my seat via the Fallen Heroes of the Intrepid event. I was having drinks with Begs before dinner after my post flop all in shove with pocket aces on a 3-6-9 board was called by the guy with the set of 3s.

I did not enter the tournament in 2011, but treated myself to a 50th birthday present in 2012. I made it to the final minutes of Day 2, when Jason Somerville, who had a wedding cake’s worth of chips, called my preflop small stack shove. I had AK, he had A2, and he of course caught the 2. He was sheepish about the result, but I was gone.

In 2013, I was chugging along on Day 2, when in the day’s final minutes looked down to find KK in my hand. That turned into a King high flush on the turn. I shoved, got called by Max The Italian Pirate Pescatori who had the A high flush from the flop. I still had a chance to catch the straight flush on the river, but the result was, Ciao David.

In 2014, I made it to Day 3, but with an impossibly short stack. Our own Mark Taylor was at the same table and was able to lend moral support as my self-immolation took place. I scratched and kicked and punched my way through a few levels, but in the end, did not have the stuffing.

With the exception of the 2010 outlier, I have made it into the top 25-33% range each of the other years. Thus, with the payout structure of the 50-50 event, it seemed inevitable that I would not walk away empty handed. 50% of the field gets paid: the top 25% to 50% gets $1000, and from 10% to 25% gets $1500. The top 10% receive their share per the usual payout structure.

I ended up finishing 255 in the field of 1123, handily breaking the 25% barrier. Small stack preflop shove with A3 suited when down to about 6 big blinds (200 ante, 400-800 blinds), called by a big stack with jacks, no A, only one more club. But the curse has been broken. Sure it’s not The Main Event, sure I only got my buy in back, but let me repeat, THE CURSE HAS BEEN BROKEN, THE CURSE HAS BEEN BROKEN, THE CURSE BEEN BROKEN. I have fifteen new friends, and they’re all named Benjamin. Come one, come all, NCPT is going to start crushing it.

Win or lose, there are always some great experiences that come out of participating in the WSOP. Primarily, it is getting to know the fellow NCPT members much better. Surviving a fraternity hazing is probably a better metaphor than any military combat, since life and limb are not at risk, just ritual humiliation and brain cells. Sometimes, you get memories that will last a lifetime. I’m talking about the Darvin Moon  autographing your packet of Jack Links Jerky kind of memories. I know there is a picture of that somewhere. If/when I find it, I’ll post it.

Yesterday’s tournament added another great memory. Some of you followed me yesterday on Twitter. Some of you railed me via text message. It was all very helpful. After I was moved to my second table, I tweeted that one guy looked like Larry Hagman at the end of the run of Dallas, and three guys looked like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I don’t watch much poker on tv. I might know a handful of top pros without being prompted. Larry Hagman turned out to be Elliot “Comrade” Zaydman, with a little over $438k in career winnings. He kept tussling with Brian Brubaker, one of the non-Comic Book Guys at the table. Brian has about 650K in career winnings. This confrontation made it to the WSOP Newsfeed:

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So, I’m sitting at this table. There’s minimal conversation at my end, and for me one of the pleasures of playing poker is meeting the people around the table. Dr. B and I have the following text interchange (B in gray, me in blue):


Obligingly, Dr. B sends the following picture:


In order to stimulate a little conversation, I read Dr. B’s text out loud to my adjoining table mates to see if any of them have noticed these players. The guys two and three seats to my right start cracking up. It turns out the guy two to my right, who had taken his place there about five minutes prior, is Jim McManus. The guy next to him is mock-irate  (I think mock, but maybe not) as to why he is not mentioned. This guy is the Ur-Comic-Book-Guy. I say, “Well, maybe it’s because you haven’t written a book.” This sends the duo into further paroxysms. Comic Book Guy says, “I’ve co-authored the two all time best selling poker books. I’m Todd Brunson.” At which point, I ask if I can take their picture for Dr. B. The result is priceless:


From that point on, there was a lot of great table talk. But, what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas. You had to be there. I immensely enjoyed meeting Jim McManus, and hope to see him around the felt in the future. This world needs more staunch Democrat poker players.

After I got back to my hotel, I downloaded Positively Fifth Street. If you have not read it, here’s the link to order it: Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs and Binion’s World Series of Poker. Any book with the word totentanz in the first chapter is alright with me. I’m only a couple of chapters into it, and look forward to seeing the Christine Vachon produced, John Ridley scripted movie when it is made.

I’m looking forward to more memories being made over the next couple of days with the impending arrival of the Taylor brothers and Dr. B. Join us, sure it’s a 113 degrees, but it’s a dry heat.

PS: In looking over the results from yesterday, I noticed fellow Pingry alumni Mike Brody finished 11 spots ahead of me. I hope to catch up with him over the next few days.

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