Chipleader of Day 1a to busting before the money
It's always so tempting to create a narrative to explain a tournament performance, especially a live tournament. You are so immersed in this one tournament, and it takes so long to play a relatively small number of hands that it's easy to forget that you've barely played any poker and that how you did is mostly down to variance. People ask you how it went, and you want to say something to explain why it went so much better on Day 1 than Day 2 or 3. Perhaps Day 1 went so well because I'm much better deep-stacked than all the tournament players and then I'm not used to short-stacked tournament play, so it went downhill from there.
In reality, though, I just hit well most hands I played in Day 1 and could barely seem to lose a hand. I was still deep-stacked in Day 2, but it was pretty much the opposite. Day 3 I was short-stacked and probably played unspectacularly but generally fine, lost AQo vs 98s all-in pre-flop to lose almost all my chips and went out shortly afterwards. Overall I won a lot of big blinds but lost all my chips. Playing cash online, it would be a decent upswing followed by a small downswing. Playing a live tournament, it's going from leading the tournament to losing my $10k entry. I guess this is why a lot of people find live tournaments much more exciting to watch and read about than online cash!
Anyway, I enjoyed most of it. Day 2 wasn't much fun watching my stack dwindle away, but Day 1 was fun, and Day 3 was okay as well. I was on the TV table with Daniel Negreanu on Day 3 which was a new experience. I like him from our few encounters over the years, and he definitely makes the table more fun to play at. But it was quite a weird feeling playing 20bb poker on a TV table. For a lot of people, the chance to play on a TV table in a live tournament is an opportunity for them to show their skills in the pinnacle of the games they play, to have their friends and family see them doing well on TV at the game they love.
I think this is especially true of recreational players. If you just play poker for fun, especially if you have qualified for the tournament, then being on the feature table of a $10k event is a really cool achievement that you'll want people to see. For me though, I play deepstacked online cash against the best players in the world for a living. Going on TV playing a live tournament with 20bbs is about as bad an opportunity to showcase how I make my living as it's possible to get. My 20bb game is probably worse than most good tournament players. So, I spend my days playing and winning versus world class players in the toughest games in the world and then go on TV playing pretty averagely versus much weaker opposition.
Oh well, it's not something I am particularly upset about, but it is an oddity of the way poker is. I'm sure my friends will get a good laugh out of me getting knocked out on TV if it ends up making the coverage at least.
The rest of the trip was fantastic. I barely know anyone well on the tournament circuit. but with almost the whole of Team Online there, it was a great opportunity to catch up with people I don't see often and to get to know my teammates a bit better. I bought a house at the end of last year and have been renovating it since, which has stopped me playing as much poker as I'd like. It has been fairly stressful. The trip came at a good time, as I needed some time to get away and relax. It was really nice to head out for dinner every evening, spend some time in the water park and on the beach, and generally recharge my batteries after a stressful few months.
After a solid but unspectacular year money-wise in 2014, I now feel much more ready to get back to playing more poker in 2015, and hopefully it'll end up being a good year!
Alex Millar is a member of Team PokerStars Pro Online