2012-03-01 41 -87
An alley in a Chicago neighborhood.
I was coming into Chicago from Milwaukee (42,-88) for a charity poker tournament, and decided to see if I could mark off another notch on my Minesweeper acheievement.
 The Hashpoint
I was signed up to play in a charity poker event for One Step at a Time Camp, a camp for kids with cancer or leukemia. I am a 32 year survivor myself and attended camp back in '86, so this was special to me.
I checked the coordinates in the morning to see if I could hit a hash before I left or maybe a multihash on the way down. The only point I saw as reachable was in the 41,-87 graticule which would check another notch in my Minesweeper efforts! So I plotted a course that included this stop.
Reaching the area, I wasn't sure what to think of the neighborhood. It didn't look bad (no bars in windows or anything), and it was near a park and a couple of schools. My hesitation came from two sources:
- The alley looked run-down and there was trash everywhere
- I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs where kids are trained to fear Chicago "hoods"
Once I could accept that most of that "fear" was suburban superstition I was fine. Before I even finished writing this page, OtherJack had already commented on this expedition's discussion page that he had been in that area lots of times, making me feel even more silly.
I was about to take the Stupid Grin picture when I heard a honk. A car had appeared in the alley behind me and they clearly had somewhere to be. As such, the photo is terrible.
After that, I moved on to the tournament.
 The Tournament
(I understand that the following did not happen at the hashpoint and therefore is not technically relevant, but it was part of my expedition and a great story!)
When I made it to the area of the event, I found parking... 13 floors up. Wow. Looking at the sign on the ground, I realized I was looking at almost $30 to park. Wow.
I could see through the doors that there was a line to get in, so I decided to try to find the nearest geocache. My phone initially told me it was about 200 feet away, but from the map I could tell I was still a couple of city blocks away. From the notes, logs and hint, I was sure I knew where it would be but due to all the foot traffic, I wasn't able to make as detailed a search as I would have liked and couldn't make the find.
Time was running out, so I skipped the cache and went back. There was still a line and it was pretty big. It was past 5:45 (when we were supposed to be seated) that I made it downstairs. At the foot of the stairs was the draw for tables and I pulled number nine. I assumed we would draw for seats as well like other tournaments so I wandered down the buffet line for some small food and over to the bar for water. When I made it to the table, my only options were seats one and ten. Neither one my favorites.
It was about 6:30pm when the tournament finally began. The gentleman to my left went all-in and re-bought three times within the first round and two others did two re-buys. At the break, I was doing quite well, but with the blinds going up, I took advantage of the add-on option. They made a mistake and gave me the option of buying 10,000 for $100 (the upper re-buy) instead of the listed 5,000 for $50 only option.
Over time, people dropped out and they got us new players. My stacks went up and down, though mostly staying above the average. Only the following items became constant: I was stuck at table nine in the one seat; there was a suit directly across from the dealer who I believe was named Dan who was a solid aggressive player; and our dealer, Michael. At first I didn't think much of him and his skills. He had a decent grasp of the rules, but I thought his dealing and chip handling skills were weak. I kept reminding myself he was a volunteer and cut him slack. Lastly, my seat was cramped. At the offset, they "squared" the table to put Dan in the six seat directly in front of the dealer when the five and six seats should have straddled the center line of the table. That left me cramped in the corner the whole time.
The entire night I had my camp medal on the table as my card cover. I kept waiting for someone to ask about it, but it appeared that most of the people playing had heard about the event on the radio and probably didn't know anything about the camp aside from the basics. They new it was a "cheap" tournament with free food and booze. Some of them REALLY liked the booze.
As the second break approached, there was still Dan, Michael and myself. A couple of other players came from another table with a lot more money than we had, but we kept them in line and even took one of them out.
At our table there was some stalling as we hit six players. They were having the three two tables go hand-to-hand where each table played one hand and then waited for the other table to finish theirs so that no one had to worry about being taken out just because their table was faster. At one point I caught a good (but not great) hand and made a large raise. The field folded to the original better. This would have put him all in. I had mixed feelings. I was pretty sure I had the better hand but I was afraid he would catch. On the other hand if he called and went out, we'd be down to five and I'd be closer to the final table. At long last, he called, I won, he was out and within a few minutes we were on break for the final table. At the other table, they had two players bust at the same hand, so we went to the final table with only nine players.
Finally we drew for seats at the final and I was comfortably in the middle. *sigh* The gentleman to my right was already quite drunk, and despite the multiple "last call" announcements before the final table, was asking for another drink. He settled, instead, for spilling most of his beer on the table and we relocated to a different table.
Our dealer's name was Matt. He didn't seem as friendly as Michael had been, but come to think of it, after the long night even Michael wasn't as friendly as Michael had been, so I took that with a grain of salt. I wasn't the chip leader going in, but I was well above the average and the cards still worked in my favor. I managed to put a number of the short stakes all-in every couple of hands and taking them out. The gentleman to my left beat me two hands in a row going from being the current short stake and going all-in to doubling up on one hand (from me) and tripling up the other with me and the end of the table. I chided him on this point in a friendly way and even noted that both hands he beat me, I had shuffled the cards. Oh yeah, in this tournament they had the button shuffle the other deck. It made things go faster, but the way some of the players shuffled made my head hurt. After a few more hands, the other person and I took down the gentleman to my left and we were heads-up. At this point, he had the chip lead, but I made some moves and took the lead. Then we pushed back and forth and he almost caught me on one hand before I realized what was up and let it go. Then we got to one hand where I had the small blind/button with an Ace/Seven off-suit and went all-in. I was terrified when he called. He turned over King/Queen of Clubs and I thought I was okay. The flop brought two hearts with one of them a King and I was about dead. The flop was a blank heart and Matt and I thought it was over. The river was another blank heart and I was about to get up when Matt saw I had a heart flush. My Ace was a heart! I had the other guy covered and I won! I freaking won!
When the interview started I held up my medal and said it was a big deal to me because I was a camper. The room went nuts! At this point almost everyone left was a volunteer or staff member, so this was amazing to them as well. I had everyone talking to me including June with whom I needed to set up an interview to become a counselor at camp. I asked about her before, but the person didn't know who she was. Now here she was and when I mentioned the interview, she and another woman just declared I was accepted. There was another former camper there who talked with me a lot. It was well after 1am before I made my way back to my car. Once I made it out of the spot, I called Ruth and gave her the news. It was still a long drive home, but made better knowing that I was going to play at the WORLD SERIES OF (FREAKING) POKER as well as be a counselor at camp.
It was 3:30 by the time I crawled into bed.
| RocketMac earned the Land geohash achievement
| RocketMac achieved level 5 of the Minesweeper Geohash achievement
| RocketMac earned the Pocket Rocket Achievement