If you’re reading this relatively early on Thursday, I’m not home. I’m at a big poker tournament, taking my shot at what should at least be a $50,000 first prize. Let me tell you the story.

Back in early July, I decided to take a Friday off and head to my favorite casino, Turning Stone Casino in Oneida, NY. Okay, it’s also the closest, but I just love going there when I have some extra dollars.

I’m not a bad poker player. Some of you may remember when I wrote about my time in Reno and came back from the casino on my first day up $650. I’ve often come home up $300 or so. I’ve also often come home without any of the money I started with. But most of the time, I’ll break even, or pretty close either side.

On this particular day, I was having a horrible go of it. Nothing was going right on that day. If I’d listened to my inner mind, I’d have left an hour into being there and come back home. But reasoning just doesn’t go that route, and it’s a good thing it didn’t.

I was just sitting at the table, thinking about a hand, when they announced that it was time for “the drawing.” Throughout the poker room, people started yelling out their table and seat number. Not wanting to miss out, I started yelling “Table 23, Seat 5.” Lo and behold, I won! Everyone cheered, and I smiled and felt pretty good about something finally going my way.

Of course, I waited a beat, then asked, kind of sheepishly, just what it was I won, because I hadn’t been paying attention. The dealer told me I’d won an entry into the $750 regional tournament on August 20th. Sweet! Now, the downside is, because I won, I’ll have to pay taxes on that amount. The upside is, if I can make it through the first day, I’ll automatically have qualified for the money, whatever it turns out to be, but the minimum I can come home with is $1,200.

How do I know that if I make it through the first day I’ll make money? What they do is determine how many people are in the tournament first. Then they’ll determine how many places they’re going to pay out. What I’ve been told is that, once they have that number, they’ll play down to that number, and once they reach it then they’ll stop the tournament for the day and start it back up again the next day.

Based on how tournaments usually go, at least 25% of the folks will be gone within the first hour. Many people are internet players, and they’ll take chances that may work while sitting at a table playing for money, but some of them will crash and burn because of those tactics. Online, it’s not about reading people, but about playing cards.

After that, things slow down drastically. I expect that the shortest period of time this will take will probably be 6 or 7 hours. We get a break every 2 hours, which is a good thing. The thing about poker is that if you’re patient, you can last a long time. However, you will have to win some hands here and there, because in tournaments, blinds go up every so often, which will take your money whether you play hands or not.

I say right now that I’m going into this tournament making sure I win. I’m also saying that I’m going into this tournament “knowing” that I’m going to make it through the first day. That’s my first goal; you have to be in it to win it. And knowing that I’ve made the money will make the second day much easier mentally.

So, wish me luck. However, just because you see a post on Friday doesn’t mean I lost and came home, as I’ll have another post ready to go for Friday, just in case I decide to stay there overnight. I’ll let you know what happens.

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