Making another final in Amsterdam, by Noah Boeken
Poker started for me a few years after I found out that there was a Master Classics of Poker. I saw an ad once on TV; it was for one of Europe's biggest poker tournaments held in the Amsterdam Holland Casino each year. At the time I was only 16 years old and not legal to even enter the Casino. Since then lots has changed!
I first went to the Holland Casino to play in their cash game, which was 20-40 Limit Hold'em in Guilders (Dutch currency before the Euro). I will never forget the 600 Guilder pot I won when I hit my open-ended straight draw on the river, pretty much doubled my net worth at the time :-)
Every year since 2002 I have entered the Master Classics of Poker tourney series with a lot of success. It started in the first year, where I won a satellite for the main event on a freeroll ticket a friend of mine gave me. Back in the early days of the MCOP, Holland Casino added seven seats for the main event to a freeroll they held at the start of the week which was eligible for anyone who bought into three or more events.
Since then the Holland Casino has been adding more value to the tourney series by giving the six people who bubble for the money their tourney buy-ins back, making the whole tournament series a great value.
Since 2002 I have made at least one final table every year and twice two of them! That puts my FT count before this year's Master Classics at nine finals with no wins, a great record but all that really counts is the wins so this year I was even more focused to get a win in one of the five tournaments I played.
My first event I busted end of day 1, the next event, a PLO tourney, I had high hopes for but never really got anything going and busted at the start of day 2. I busted so early that I could still play in the 500 buy-in crapshoot a little later. I built up a good stack but after an unlucky hand I was 0-3 and it was time for my day off before the main event where the big money gets won.
I had a rough start on day 1 in the main but found my way back into it and bagged up an above average stack and was excited to come back the next day for day 2. Day 2 didn't go as planned when I lost 30% of my stack in a coin flip and after that I went completely card-dead. In the end I went broke just before dinner on day 2.
All week everyone was watching me and kept coming at me saying: "Hey, final table this year? You have to do it, like every year." So the pressure was on in the second last tourney of the series: the 1,000 euro, one rebuy tourney. I was off to a great start until my Q-Q ran into 2-2 all-in preflop and my opponent spiked a deucey for a 100 big blind pot, leaving me with a small stack. I stayed patient and was lucky enough to win my key hands and at the end of day 1, I was in good shape with an above average stack.
On day 2 we played down to the final table and after being one of the shortest stacks with 20 left I came back to become the chip leader heading for the final table the next day, I did it again! My tenth final table in eight years, and surely time for a win!
I was in great shape with the chip lead, but in the end I finished fourth* after losing two crucial coinflips. I was short stacked and eventually busted just after dinner when my A-3 ran into A-K.
In a tourney everything has to go right to win it, and this time in Amsterdam it again wasn't meant to be. I was fortunate to win my important flips on day 2 to make it to the final table; I just wish my luck lasted a little longer ;)
Next November I will be back for another Master Classics and hopefully another final table.
*Noah won $39,712 for the fourth-place finish