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Column - A Bad Beat in the Sunday Million

3 August 2006

Halfway through last Sunday's Party Poker Million Guaranteed tournament I had visions of forever putting down the pen to live a life of luxury and leisure. The phone call to my boss Larry would have gone something like this…

"Hello Larry, yeah this is Ryan."

"Good morning Mr. Best Poker Reporter ever." (That's my official title by the way)

"Yeah uh…I'm headed to a casino…with tons of money…don't think I'll be in today."

"Oh no whatever will we do!"

Alas, the phone call never happened thanks to iplaypokerlikeaclown44.

With a top prize in excess of $165,000, the tournament was thrilling, especially considering I was well above the average stack with only 2500 participants remaining out of the 5,249 players who entered. For a while, I was unbeatable, well on my way to being able to quit my day job. I played mistake-free poker for two hours, but one stupid hand cost me a chance at life of professional beach lounging.

Like most bad-beat stories, mine begins on the button. Salivating about a pair of Kings in the hole - the only thing on my mind, besides the drool, was how much my stack of 24,500 chips was going to grow.

I watched as player after player folded their hands ahead of me. Although I was perturbed about the lack of action, it was no big deal, there were still the blind players and I had a few tricks up my sleeve. For my entire time at this particular table, I had been making minimum steal raises from the button whenever the opportunity was there. The player to my left, ever the aggressive clown, was constantly playing back at me and making a tidy little profit at my marginal expense.

Not wanting to risk much in such a big event, I was allowing him to re-steal with the hopes of gaining a sizeable chunk when he made a move at the wrong time. The Kings became my opportunity. Because of his loose and poorly-timed plays, he only had 9,000 chips, not enough to double me up, but enough to make me two times the average stack and put me in a comfortable position to make a run at the money.

So I cast my line, (made my minimum raise) reeled in my fish (my fishy goes all-in) and as scripted, his cards flipped A-9 unsuited and I was thrilled. As a 72 percent favorite (almost 3-1), I was clearly dominating clown shoes and I pictured him taking off the red nose, stuffing it into his over-sized parachute pants, and hanging his raggedy-red wig in the ultimate poker shame.

The flop was beautiful. The blank on the turn was even better. With one card to go, I was a 90 percent favorite to win this crucial pot. However, clown boy had one more comedic trick, a heinous ace on the river…damn you Barry Greenstein!

I wasn't out, but I was in scramble mode, steaming and well below the average stack. To complicate matters, my table was a sea of big stacks. A couple orbits later I was down to a pittance and Miz_zou_fan, a feared Internet tournament player, eyed my stack, called my all-in and added my chips to his plentiful collection.

I was out. My only consolations were: I went into my crucial pot with the best of it and the player who bounced me, Mr. Miz_zou_fan, ended up using some of my chips to win the whole tournament.

Had I written this article immediately following my bust, it would have been a mess of incoherent sentences and scathing swear words. Honestly, I was devastated. It wasn't the loss. I understand that poker is a game of both luck and skill. It was the size of tournament, the thrill of chasing the big money, and the emotion of playing better than I ever have before, only to be eliminated in a position of little consequence.

And that is my point. It was fun. Life is basically made up of a few exciting moments tangled into a web of mundane days. If you're a poker player, few things are more exciting than playing well in a big one. Whether it's your once-a-year high-stakes home game or the World Series of Poker Main Event, there are moments in your poker career that stand out a little more than the rest and have the added appeal of meaning something. I say live a little and play in a few of these. For a low stakes amateur like myself, qualifying for the $215 Sunday Million was one of those experiences, win or lose, I felt alive playing in a tough tourney that was a little out of my league.

I didn't get to put down the pen forever, but maybe that's not so bad. Don't tell Larry this, but perhaps not being able to a live a life of luxury allows me to feel the pain and excitement of busting out of a big one. I wouldn't trade that feeling of being alive for any amount of money or the chance to quit my pretty cool day job.

Ok maybe I would, but you get my point.

Mucking McLane
Column - A Bad Beat in the Sunday Million is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.