Party Poker Million VI Trip Report, Part II
After a hiatus of one year, Party Poker resumed its "Million" Tournament tradition on a Mediterranean cruise last week. TwoGun and I were among 171 participants in the ship's $8,000+$400 Main Event. This number of participants is down considerably from previous years. After losing a significant market share in the past two years as a result of withdrawing their services to U.S. customers, Party Poker's flagship live tournament no longer carries as much clout as it once did. Indeed, Mike Schneider had to overcome a field nearly three times larger than this year's when he won in 2006.
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But the past is the past; when judged on its own merit, the prize pool in this year's tournament amounted to a hefty $1.3 million, $353,000 of which landed in the hands of the winner. While certainly enticing, this prize pool can't be held entirely responsible for the appeal of the tournament. The Party Poker Million is the only poker tournament of significance to be played on a cruise ship. For the first time in its six year existence, the action was held on a ship navigating through the Mediterranean. Those of us on board got to check out some interesting cities that we might otherwise never see: Bari, Italy, Katakolon, Greece, Dubrovnik, Croatia, as well as Izmir and Istanbul, both Turkish ports. Provided one didn't excessively party the night before, it was possible to fully enjoy each port as well as participate in the tournament without those two activities colliding; for legal reasons, the boat was unable to facilitate gambling while shoreside.
Shortly after leaving Bari, Italy, the tournament commenced under the direction of Matt Savage. Considering the size of the buy-in, not many recognizable names and faces were present. Perhaps the most recognizable face was that of Mike Sexton, who serves as the host of Party Poker.
The field of 171 was reduced to 123 at the conclusion of day one. TwoGun and I both survived to day two, but not in any noteworthy fashion; we both went to sleep with less than the starting stack.
At this point in the trip, we realized that the cruise had the potential to become painfully boring if we were to bust out of the tournament. Day one of the tournament took place on the second day of a seven day cruise. Overpriced internet and a lack of available girls with which to waste time pursuing meant our typical lifestyles were in serious danger of having to be put on hold. For TwoGun, this threat came to fruition early on day two; his short stack and Ace-Queen managed to bump in to pocket Aces.
I was fortunate enough to nurse my stack through treacherous conditions. For most of day two, I played at what was undoubtedly the toughest live tournament table I've drawn in my life. I was a relative fish when sitting with the likes of Mike "timex" McDonald (18 year old phenom with accomplishments too great to list within a single set of parenthesis), Johannes Strassman (masterfully aggressive young German with three EPT final tables under his belt), Tony "Bond18" Dunst (popular online tournament specialist), and rdscrn (who is currently ranked as the #2 online tournament player in the world). It was humbling, to say the least, to play at a table where I was undoubtedly amongst the bottom half of players judged by skill. But what the table lacked in exploitable fish it made up for with a fun dynamic. The table conversation was entertaining enough that day two seemed to end quickly. Before I knew it, I was one of 33 players returning for day three. With a sub-par stack, it was a bit of a restless night since just 24 of us would cash.
At the start of the tournament, I noted that there were perhaps only about eight or ten Americans in a field composed almost entirely of Europeans. When a player named Ralph from California busted out in the early going on day three, it was pointed out to me that I was the last remaining non-European. Thankfully, the dealers and tournament directors were almost all Americans. Without them, I would have had little relief from awkward conversations with Germans and Scandinavians wherein both parties often failed to understand what the other was saying. I'd like to give the tournament's Germans an (arbitrary) award for being the easiest non-native English speakers to communicate with. In particular, I found Johannes Strassman's English to be not only easy to understand, but also quite entertaining since his phrasings were really quirky. For example, instead of asking "how many chips do you have?" he'd ask something to the effect of, "how much will you be playing for today?" Alas, these phrasings only slightly offset his unnerving presence as the hyper-aggressive table captain.
Although never possessing much of a chip stack to speak of, dreams of making the final table became increasingly reasonable as the day progressed. Unfortunately, with 13 players left, I shoved 12 big blinds from the small blind with Queen-Five offsuit and was called by a Swede in the big blind who held Ace-Eight. Reasonable hopes of making the final table looked more like lofty fantasies with each passing card. A flop of Nine-Nine-Ten. A turn of Four. A river of.... FIVE!!!!!
What an exciting card that was. What happened next, you ask? Good question. Find out here