Two tables in a corner, where nineteen gentlemen from Hong Kong reminded some of us what the game used to be - and could still be - about: good clean fun with the lads.
All the hostility and technicalities that now lace the modern poker game gave way to something more basic - the joy of making a good hand or a tough call...and then sharing it with your friends as you take their chips.
On this evening, a group that called themselves the TILT POKER CLUB was exactly the opposite of what their name suggested. With this easy going energy and a lineup of slightly more well-lived players, TILT was the last thing you would have felt their company.
You had Manu Chulani and Kishoo, who, when they peeked at their hole cards, held them up so high, the other players struggled NOT to see them. I believe I was at least three tables away when I saw Manu L hold up ACES for closer inspection... those aces did not hold up in the game, however, as Kishoo flopped a straight with Jack-Ten on a 789 Flop.
How about the Smiling-Assassin Sanjay N, who took the early chip lead by being so likable, the others seemed willing to lose chips to him?
The first move that might have been considered close to unsporting was a daring bluff by A-U on a monotone board. With three spades on the flop, Ashok U pushed all his chips in with nothing but a gutshot. It was a tough call for Ramesh aka "RED SEA"... but a call he was able to make, nonetheless. His Top Pair sent AU packing at 19th place: first one to have the option to enjoy an evening of blackjack, should he wish to do so.
George's pocket Jacks could not dodge the Queen that gave the pot to Rajesh...
Rajesh's Top Pair could not dodge Ashok M's Open-Ended Straight outs...
Sanjay, Rajesh and Bhagwan enjoyed significant chip advantages as the final table started, but a series of doubles ups from the shorter stacks quickly evened the field. Kumar came back from near oblivion, Andy doubled off Sanjay with AK v AQ, and Navin doubled off Rajesh. Chip leaders were a thing of the past, and equality was back in style.
ASHOK M's thing was an uncanny ability to figure things out. In several situations, he thought long and hard and came up with the correct conclusions.
He folded 44 and extended his tournament life when Rajesh could have easily eliminated him in a coin-flip with Ace King.
His patience paid off when he tripled up in a hand that crippled former chip leader Sanjay N.
Ashok again used his instincts well and made a tough tough call with Ace Ten facing an all in bet before the flop from Deepak. As it turned out, Deepak "only" had ace-eight, and Ashok became the first player to reach the 100k mark. He was rolling...
His roll, however, grinded to a halt when Rajesh showed his particular skill - pulling rabbits out of hats.
Desperately behind with 66 versus Ashok M's Pocket Tens, Rajesh rivered a third 6 to double up.
He used those skills again when he fell behind to Bhagwan's Ace-Jack while holding Ace-Four: With the board showing A-2-8-5, Rajesh held up three fingers as the river brought him... a THREE, and a straight!
Now Rajesh, too, reached the 100k mark.
This was not enough to stop Ashok from picking up the pace again, and he ended up eliminating the last three players in a row en route to the win.
It was not a flashy game by modern standards, and although it had its share of TV-worthy moments, what made the game so enjoyable was that it was simply WELL PLAYED - Not with technical skills or bags of tricks, but with good old-fashioned manners and game spirit.