After that, we went to look at the game room, where we found for sale a board-game copy of Australian Rails. We already had this in the "tube" version (with the game board rolled up in a plastic tube), but the tube versions of the Empire Builder games are difficult to play; we wanted the flat board version, so I bought a copy. I noticed a sign that said there would be a Texas Hold-Em tournament at 9 PM, so I sat at an empty table and put together the pieces of my newly-purchased game while waiting for 9 PM. I happened to finish just at 9 PM but couldn't see a game forming. That's when I went over and looked more closely at the sign, where I saw for the first time the very faint pen writing under the printed sign that said the game was across the hall. Luckily for me, the game hadn't started, and they were waiting for a full table.
In the end, we went ahead with nine (a full table would have been ten players). Buy-in was $5, which got you 1000 units worth of chips. Blinds started at 1 and 2, doubling every ten minutes (except that to make it come out even, we said that 2 doubles to 5, so the progressive blinds were 1/2, 2/5, 5/10, 10/20, 20/50, 50/100, 100/200, etc. This is very aggressive -- much more so than you're likely to find at a casino tournament; however, this was deliberate, because we don't want to be there all night. Top three players finished in the money: third place got the $5 buy-in back; second got $10; first got $30 (if all ten seats had filled, it would have been $35.
I folded a lot of hands, and stayed in on a few hands that I really should not have played. (This is typical; most people play too many hands, I've read.) I felt like I was losing a lot of chips, although as it happened I never dropped below 500. Finally, I managed to get in a good double-through. I had been playing very tight, and I think the other players thought I must be trying to change gears and was bluffing, but in fact I had a good hand -- a "wheel" straight (A-2-3-4-5). On that hand, my only fear was that someone had a higher straight than I had, because I could not see any other hand possible other than a higher straight that could beat my "wheel." I think another reason I won that hand was because logically, I probably should not have held on to my A-5 hole cards when the flop didn't immediately hit them. (I made the straight on the river.) From then on, I was cooking right along. I was all-in several times (well, actually, I had the other player(s) covered each time, and only once was I not the best hand at the time. The one time I was not, I had a lot of "outs," and hit one of them, drawing a 5 to make a straight.
Shortly after midnight, with the blinds really forcing the action, I found myself the only one left with any chips. That was fun! It was the first time I'd ever played tournament-style Texas Hold-Em against human players. But I do realize I was lucky. I had awful hands when the blinds were small, and my cards got better as the blinds grew larger.
There may be another tournament Saturday night. I encouraged the organizer to try and get a notice in the newsletter. We could easily run a 20-player tournament for the same buy-in (and probably proportionate winnings). The aggressive twenty-minute doubling will force the action and the tournament will probably last not more than about three hours -- at 2:40, you're betting 500 and 1000 blinds. Also, with twenty players you probably only give each player 500 chips instead of 1000 -- in effect, you're buying 500 pennies -- and the game will end sooner accordingly. And of course with two tables, every second elimination, you have to rebalance the tables, but I'm sure we can manage that.
Now the problem is that I have an 11 AM panel but am still too bouncy to sleep. I shouldn't have drank that diet cola at dinner.