The Novotel Monaco has been on a journey with me for several years. By happenstance it ended up being the go to place for me whenever I need a jurisdiction to play some online poker (while in Europe I’m based in Italy and France which don’t allow international online poker).
While living in Antibes, France last year for example I was longing to punt. The SCOOP event was in its prime and a 45-minute drive later I found myself sitting in the lobby of the Novotel Monaco.
Tournaments don’t begin until 8 pm in Europe, but I had been on a ‘normal schedule’ during my stay in France (mainly to get the freshly baked baguettes while it was still warm), and had already been up for 12 hours when play began.
When 8 am rolled around 12 hours later I could barely keep my eyes open. Despite having prepared well for marathon sessions in Macau the combination of playing in the dark without the stimulation of others and staring at a screen proved tiresome.
I extended my stay another night to play the second day of the event. At 6 am I was nearing the Final Table. During the hourly 5 minute breaks I’d do jumping jacks, pushups and jump squats: anything to keep the blood flowing and prevent fatigue.
With 8 players left, I was 3rd place in chips but with a mere 40 big blinds. Even though I was guaranteed a hefty $30,000 it periled in comparison to the $400,000 first prize. It didn’t matter that I beat out 2,000 players; all the money is always in the top 3.
I was certain I’d make it there (like the other 7 contenders were as well I believe) but my dreams were squashed in a single hand. Like all close calls in poker, I remember the details vividly, especially because the math says I made a mistake.
I raised the from mid position with AK, got 3 bet by an aggressive bigger stack to my left and the big blind (the chip leader) made a cold 4 bet. I jammed it in without much hesitation – how can you fold AK with 40 big blinds?
The big blind had aces, and I was out. If I’m being honest, it’s not the potential for being $300,000 richer that bothers me as much as coming so close, but still coming up short. For me, like most seasoned professionals, winning simply means that much.
A year later I returned to the Novotel Monaco eager for redemption, but took a bad beat early on and was out before I even got warmed up. Since then I’ve been back on several occasions, perhaps because of the nostalgia of my epic final table run. Once for the first time I ever streamed on Twitch and others just to play for an afternoon when Ambra and I take a weekend vacation from our cozy little countryside place in Italy, just three hours to the south.
For this years SCOOP I debated where to play: from Europe (the nocturnal schedule is so brutal that it doesn’t allow you to have a life) to San Miguel De Allende in Mexico.