PCA 2015: Sir, it's about the chips I just gave you...
Poker can be a cruel game, as any bad beat story teller will claim. Sometimes though the game's gods choose someone in particularly to be humiliated in a way that is perhaps more cruel and unusual that is perhaps necessary.
Eyal Aleksnis probably didn't think the hand would be his last, and maybe ElkY didn't think he would effectively double up. But that's what would happen after an ordinary looking flop of six-deuce-nine.
ElkY, who this morning took questions with Jake Cody on the subject of taking your online game into a live environment (which you can read about later on the PokerStars Blog), was putting to work the techniques he'd preached on the stump to a crowd free-pastry eating players this morning. That was this: observe, learn what you can, and be patient.
So when the flop came with two spades but not much else ElkY just checked. We would never know what Aleksnis had, but whatever it was convinced him to bet, which ElkY then called. It would be the same on the turn, this time a six, with ElkY allowing Aleksnis to do the betting while he called once more, all the way to the ace on the river.
Things seemed the same. ElkY checked and Aleksnis bet once more. Then ElkY moved all-in, sending Aleksnis into deep thought.
These moments are can becomes something of a spectator sport in themselves: the longer the pause, the less likely the call. There's also the facial drama, with the thinker often determined to find the answer on either the ceiling or in the pattern of the carpet.
But the one thing that is standard is that the coup de grace should be quick.
So when he called, watching ElkY turn over ace-king, Aleksnis could be forgiven for wishing to learn his fate sooner rather than later, but a slight dealer error would moot that. Aleksnis thought he was covered, as did ElkY, but after the dealer counted it out and pushed chips towards ElkY, Aleksnis was left with at least some. Cue the protests.
"I'm pretty sure that was wrong," said Max Silver, as Aleksnis looked at the 4,000 chips he had left.
"It's not right, but you know..." said ElkY, apparently about to shrug it off.
"It's not?" asked the dealer, who to her credit set about putting the error right. She spotted it and with little mercy stripped Aleksnis of his handful of chips. A few seconds ago his task had seemed unlikely but possible. Now all hope was gone.
"ElkY that was mean!" joked Chris Moneymaker from the other end of the table.
"He was mean!" replied ElkY, pointing at Silver in his own defence.
Regardless, Aleksnis was out and, in keeping with the brutal reality of the game, swiftly forgotten. After all ElkY was now up to around 150,000, the perfect medicine for any lingering guilt.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.