Van Nguyen: Making the NAPT LA final table
I love all of the NAPT stops, its such a great tournament. I mean, where else are you gonna get at least 700 players for Main Events per stop? PCA had over 1,500 entries, Venetian almost 900, and Mohegan Sun had 716.
It's such an awesome and well-run tournament that even though no one expected the NAPT LA to be televised, it still ended up with 701 entries. All of the events were held at The Bicycle Casino except for the final table which was filmed at the Crystal Casino in Compton, CA. I was told that the final table will be aired on ESPN 2 sometime in December.
Day 1 started out pretty well for me. My initial 30,000 stack dropped down to 23k until I picked up AA which allowed me to double up. Sitting on a 46k stack when the blinds were only 200/400, I felt very optimistic. I won a couple of coin flips for day 1 and ended the day with 64k .The seating assignment for day 2 was horrible for me. My table was full of internet heavy weights--seven out of eight players I played with regularly on Pokerstars MTTs. My friends, when you're the oldest guy at the table, you are gonna have a problem. I was playing my normal game, nothing fancy or dandy until the key pot came up. I picked up 8♥9♥ UTG, raised a standard 2.5 times the blinds, got called from Chris "Big Huni" Hunichen and Adam Juglen. Flop came 867 with 6♥. I fired 1/2 of the pot, Chris folded, and Adam called. Turned was gin for me...the [th!] I checked, Adam fired, I made a huge raise for 3/4 of my stack and Adam put me all-in. I obviously called.
He turns over T♣7♣1 for two pair, and all I had to do was dodge a six-outer for this humongous pot, and so I did. I went on to win all my flips for the rest of the day and ended day 2 with a staggering 614k in chips which was good for 3rd in chips heading into day 3.
Going into day 3, I was very confident with my chip stack. I played lots of small pots in the first few levels and boosted my stack to over a million. Then I decided to take on the 2nd big stack in the room and went 0 for 4 with him. Dropped all the way to 220k when blinds were at 10k-20k, until I picked up QQ and moved in, got a call from Joe Tehan in the big blind with AQ.. Somehow I managed to dodge an ace and doubled up. Then I doubled up again before the night ended. Finished day 3 with 834k which was good for 8th in chips out of 24 players remaining.
Day 4 was all about patience and solid poker which resulted in me making the final table. The feeling of making the final table and playing for $725k on national television is just indescribable. Tthe adrenaline that went through my mind was mind-blowing. My last live final table was back in 2007, so its been a long time coming, and, boy, was I hungry.
Although I was second-lowest with eight left, I felt very confident heading into the final table. It's amazing how confidence plays a big role in poker, I could have easily had a chance to win it if my AQ had held against Ray Henson's AJ and Joe's K5. Unfortunately, I busted out 4th with $195,000 for my finish. In the end, I'm very happy and grateful with the way I played and for all of those Benjamins!