After checking the P.O. Box after work last night, I still had plenty of time to check back at the little local card club for the Monday night tournaments that the security guard at Dodger Stadium told me had started up again. It use to be a fun time, even though it was canceled the last couple of times I went there. So I zagged down through Bell Gardens and was listening to the Police Box Set. The mood just seemed right. I walk in and see how the place has been fixed up. Tables are all arranged at a sweeping angle between the doors instead of harsh logical settings as it was before. One cash game was going on, and a Pai Gow game was starting up against the back wall. I turned the other way and sat in the restaurant for a meal, since I was over an hour early for the start time and hadn't had a meal in six hours. Sat, ordered, grabbed a Poker Pro magazine, chatted up the floor man to confirm start time and waited. Read a few good articles and a dozen bad ones, then wandered over to the window to sign up. Parted with a sawbuck, received my seat card, and walked outside to wait some more. Clear night sky above. No stars. City lights to bright. Also smoke haze was all around the horizon. Malibu to the west, Santa Clarita to north, Riverside to the east, and Irvine to the south, all ablaze and smoking in the distances. It was over thirty miles to fire nearest to where I was. Just before start time, I walked back in and sat down at my table. Looks like four tables are setup and players wandering everywhere. From the seven seat at table two, things looked okay. A loose aggressive player on my right that had me folding many large, but marginal hands pre-flop, and a tight aggressive player in the ten seat across from me, forcing me to be sure of my raises and calls. I ended up folding over ninety percent of my hands for the first three levels. That first hour or so, nearly a dozen other players wandered in and wanted to play, so near the middle of the third level, the director called another dealer and setup a fifth full table. Cool, a pool a fifty. In this tournament, you can buy a single re-buy for ten, [which gets you five hundred in chips] a double for twenty, [a thousand in chips], or wait and do an add-on at the end of the third level for twenty five [and get twenty five hundred in chips]. Since I was folding to outrageous raises when it was my turn to be the blinds, I did a double re-buy and just kept waiting and folding. I was watching the other players playing, having a good time, bluffing, and re-buying two and three times to stay in during those first three levels. What a wild hour or so. At the end of the third level I left my twenty-five for the add-on on the table and went out to discuss the tourney so far with the few folk I recognized there. Most had extreme stories of bad beats and fluctuating stacks of chips. I mentioned that I have only played three hands and folded all the rest due to the action at my table. I did not mention that was working a strategy that included folding large marginal hands. After the re-buy and add-on period was over, I started to look for hands with appropriate situations to play them in. Tighten up and raise with only the best hands in early position behind the blinds, and loosening up in late position including on the button if no other raises were in yet. The opportunities were few and far between as many times I would have a small pair or two Broadway cards only to be behind a raise and a re-raise already at the pot. I was not going to war with these types of hands against those types of raises. Finally I was being dealt a pair of aces here, a pair of kings there, and was the one doing the raising and re-raising take a few pots and eliminate a few of the shorter stacks. This cycle of low cards to high cards usually happens every twenty to thirty hands or so, but it was more like fifty hands for me. I scraped up enough to make it to the final eleven players, only to see a middle position raise from the short stack of seven thousand all-in, and me in the big blind for four thousand already holding a three-six of hearts. Ugh. Everyone else folded to me and I could either let him have the antes, and blinds of almost ten grand or put up a few more thousand and call his raise and race a flop, turn and river cards for the pot. It was my toughest decision of the night, and even with pot odds of three to one, my cards were a much bigger underdog if he had a high pair. I called three grand leaving another ten grand in my stack and he shows two black jacks. All black cards showed up on the board and I ended up contributing to his rise to the final table. Finally the other table after four hours of play knocked out the remaining couple of players so that we could form a final table of nine. Instead of paying just the top four, we voted to pay down to ninth place, and send ten percent out to the dealers. Play continued after a break and we drew for seats. To my right sat a woman who I guessed that she had a set of queens when she did when I had two pair of kings and jacks and folded to her big raise, another player called her and she showed that I was right by eliminating the other player in eighth place. I did pick up a few hands and no one called my raises from the small blind nor from the button for a few rounds as I stayed a medium stack and others started falling to my amazement faster than leaves in fall. Some were falling by playing any ace, even if their other card was as low as a two. I wasn't playing anything lower than ace-ten and my cards were luckily holding up. That's what I said every time I won a pot. That I was 'lucky'. I wasn't telling them that I was folding the kind of hands that they were playing. When it got down to four players, the chip leader had about thirty thousand more than second place and fourth place and I had about fifteen grand each with blinds going up to four thousand and eight thousand and five hundred each in antes. My ace-jack beat won a race with the leader who had ace-eight. The chip leader won a couple of races and eliminated both fourth and second chip players chip stacks before I could stretch and say 'wow, heads up play time'. The final two of us battle as I took three straight pots to nearly even out the our stacks and offered to be sent away for five hundred. I re-raised the next hand and offered to go away for four hundred [second place paid 350 that night and first paid 725]. I reminded him that if he won six hundred or over that it would involve immediate paperwork for the IRS and the director nodded when he looked at him. I took another small pot with a raise and the director put the final grand on the table and showed us what we were playing for. I mentioned that it was my lucky night and I was going to end up with all the playing chips. The other player's eyes went big when I reached into half of the prize money and pushed all the five dollar chips to the other leaving five hundred in one stack and putting five seventy five on the stack closest to him and saying, I'll even go for this split, and he finally said OK. Five Benjamins for me and just under six for him. One AM and the alarm goes off in four hours, thanks, it was great, gotta go, and we shook hands, signed the roll, and parted from the card palace. All in all, a good night for Proto.