A Target On My Back

by Lou on April 27, 2005

Every Wednesday evening, at 8:00 Eastern Time, I play on Royal Vegas Poker’s “Play the Experts” tournament. It’s not a large event; you can buy in for $20 and there are rebuys during the first hour and one optional add-on when the rebuy period ends.

A $50 bounty is on my head, and on the heads of Barbara Enright, Max Shapiro, Mike Cappelletti, Rose Richie, Dr. Al Schoonmaker, and Matt Lessinger. If you knock any of us out but we rebuy, you don’t win the bounty, so the real chase begins once the rebuy period is over. Then the chase begins and the targets on our backs seem to be illuminated.

It is very different playing with a bounty on your head, because winning $50 along with a T-shirt proclaiming “I knocked out the expert,” along with a book if the expert is also an author, gets a lot of players more interested in claiming a bounty than placing in the tournament.

For me it means that everytime I go all-in after the rebuy period ends, I can count on being called, even when I’m hoping I’m not. Regardless of the hands I go all-in with — even twhen I go all-in with the very best of them — I continue to get called. I may win most of these confrontations, but someone is eventually going to send me to the rail. I’ve been knocked out in recent weeks with K-K three times and A-A once. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

Last week I managed to hang around and finish ninth, and I don’t even remember what did me in. It wasn’t important. What was important was the penultimate hand, in which I went from an upper rung on the ladder to a very short stack in one hand. The ultimate confrontation was actually anticlimactic, and the guy delivering the knockout blow was able to do so without even putting too many of his chips at risk.

I suppose the good thing about being a bounty is that you have a chance to really accumulate some chips, because if you bet, you will be called — and sometimes by more than one opponent too. If you get lucky, you can generate a commanding chip lead. But what usually happens is an inevitable fall back to earth when someone takes either all or most of your hcips, and then you are a short-stack and really a target.

I’m not sure how I’d characterize it, but playing as a marked man is very different than the anonymity when there’s no additional financial benefit accruing to anyone taking you out. We’ll see if tonight is any different. It may be, but I doubt it.

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