Feeling I'd finally hit a bit of live form, I went into the main full of confidence, cold or no cold. My confidence grew as I started to realize my table was probably the softest main event table I'd ever played at. I'm pretty sure there was only one other pro there.
I was pretty unhappy therefore to find myself late in the day looking at the 15k remains of my 50k starting stack. No major drama or big spots: just a lot of little ones where I had the second best hand. By the time last six hands was called, I was feeling a lot better, having rallied back to 40k. Still below starting stack (something I consider to be kind of a meaningless and arbitrary anchor in any case) but 67 big blinds still seemed like plenty to work with at the start of day 2, especially in a structure this slow.
I think I had almost mentally bagged up and wouldn't have minded getting dealt nothing but 72o to see out the day, but on the second last hand I found 44 on the button. When a loose Asian player opened in middle position, I decided I didn't have a profitable call if everyone else folded, as I'd basically be set mining against an aggro opponent with a wide range who would rarely have a strong enough hand to pay me off fully when I did hit my set. However, that changed when a older English player who was mainly tight but tended to overplay one pair hands called and had already spazz bluffed once. Both blinds were loose passive so I figured once I called on the button most of the time one it both of them would call too, further enhancing the spot as a profitable set mine.
What actually happened was the small blind squeezed it up from 1200 to 4200. He's pretty tight so it's unlikely he's doing this without a hand and I'm being asked to put in almost 10% of my remaining stack so if it's folded back to me I think it's a close fold. However, after the initial opener folded the other guy thought for a little while and then called, so now again thinking I have a clearly profitable set mining spot, I call again.
Flop is q94r
After the squeezer continuation bet, the other guy quickly raises. I'm not loving this spot now but I can't really just fold to a single raise from him since I basically have the second nuts (he can't really have pocket queens). After I call, the squeezer tank folds moaning "why couldn't I just have been dealt a crap hand?"
The English guy doesn't look thrilled that he's been called, so I start to feel a lot better about the spot, hoping he now has a bare queen. His hesitation continues into the turn, a deuce, which he checks. I have less than half pot behind now so the only question is whether to stick it in now or on the river. I quickly decide now is the answer since a k or an eight on the river could scare Ace Queen into folding even getting three to one.
My opponent squirms a little before eventually shrugging in a "Well I can't fold" manner and pushes the chips in reluctantly. The only other pro at the table says "Ace queen, right?", exactly the hand I'm now hoping to see, but instead I get shown the one hand I really don't want to see, 99.
That leaves me feeling a little sick as I cling to the hope of a one outer on the river. When it doesn't come, I get up and stumble towards the exit dizzily as all around the room people start to bag up.
I walked back to the condo in something of a daze. It's something of a cliche (and therefore, like most cliches, largely true) that the Day You Bust The Main is the worst day of every poker player's year. It does get a little easier every year though, as at least you have previous experiences to fall back on and you quickly realise that not only will you still wake up tomorrow, but you get to go on playing poker, and hopefully you'll be back next year.
But this bust hurt in an unfamiliar way. Maybe it's the fact that it was my first ever day one bust. Or maybe that I'd already mentally bagged a playable stack only to be ambushed by my first decent flopped hand all day right at the death, having grinded my balls off all day to stay alive. And maybe the fact that it was genuinely the softest table I'd ever sat at in Vegas so there was an enormous sense of missed opportunity not just to survive the day but build a serious stack had something to do with it too. As I stumbled in a mental fog through the part of the walk where you are most likely to meet homeless people, a tall leggy girl wearing very little crossed my path and asked me if I wanted something.
I looked at her confused. Maybe I did want something, but I had no idea what that something might be. So I walked on without a word, thinking Today I Bust The Main, to this melancholic tune.