Good Hands Fail to Hold Up at Dick Van Patten Celebrity Charity Poker Tournament

by Lou on October 24, 2005

I played in the Dick Van Patten celebrity charity poker tournament this weekend, which was held at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, to benefit the families of marines stationed at the 29 Palms Marine Corps Base.

The format involved preliminary rounds on Saturday and a final round on Sunday. To accommodate all 300 registrants at the ten tables available for the tournament, the preliminaries were run in three heats. A shootout format was established, with each table of 10 entrants playing down until only three players remained at each table. Those three players moved on to the final round of play on Sunday. It didn’t matter where you finished among the top three, since each player began the final round of play with the same amount of chips.

I played to survive, which resulted in my playing only two hands to the river during that session. My key hand came when I was down to about $7,500 in chips (we began with $10,000 but the blinds escalated dramatically, beginning at $100-$200, then doubling, and doubling again every 20 minutes.)

I was in the small blind at the $400-$800 level with a pocket pair of deuces. Five players called and I was getting 11-to-1 on my money to see if I could flop a set. I got lucky when I flopped a set and then turned quads. I wound up tripling my stacks, which enabled me to just about coast through as one of the final three players at the table.

My wife also played in this event, and was playing at the table behind me. At one point a roar went up at that table and I turned around to see Deirdre walking away with an I-can’t-believe-what-just-happened-to-me look on her face. She was dealt a pocket pair of queens and raised, only to be called by both blinds and comedian Shecky Greene, who was playing almost every hand and thriving on a run of inordinately good luck. The flop was Q-J-4 of mixed suits. Deirdre bet, Shecky Greene raised, and the two blinds folded. Deirdre reraised all-in and Shecky called.

It was set over set, with Deirdre’s Q-Q trumping Shecky’s J-J. The turn was a rag, but the river was the case jack and Shecky Greene’s quads destroyed Deirdre’s full house and she was relegated to sweating me for the next 90 minutes.

Poker’s a funny game. Sometimes you do everything right and you still lose. While it’s comforting to realize that, it’s never comforting at the moment it happens. Then it’s just frustrating. Still, I’m not without my sympathetic side. I only charged Deirdre a single dollar to listen to her bad beat story, even though she repeated it three times in my presence and by all rights should have had to pay me a buck each time she repeated her tale of woe.

I returned Sunday to play in the final event, but went card dead through the first five rounds. Finally, with the blinds at $1,000-$2,000 I was on the button with a pocket pair of eights, the best hand I’d been dealt all day. Dick Van Patten called from under-the-gun, but Dick was calling with just about anything and calling most time, too. He was catching cards, had a huge stack of chips, and an under-the-gun call from him could represent absolutely anything — even nothing at all. I was down to about $9,000 in chips and it was going to be now or never if no one else entered the pot between Dick’s early call and the time it was my turn to act on the button.

No one else entered the pot, so I raised all-in, and was glad to see the blinds get out of my way. I believed chances were good that I had the best hand right now, though I wouldn’t have minded at all if Van Patten folded and I won the blinds as well as his initial call.

But he called my raise. We turned our cards face-up. He had 9-7 offsuit and I was feeling pretty good about my pocket eights. But the first card in the flop’s window was a nine. I never caught the eight I now needed to leapfrog him, and I was unceremoniously eliminated.

This event was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it. Van Patten said he plans to make this an annual event, and I’m planning on playing again next year. So is Deirdre. Maybe next year our hands will even hold up.

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