The Spring Championship of Online Poker is over, but the stories keep coming. Some SCOOP stories will likely be more memorable than others, such as the following one shared with us by two-time 2020 SCOOP champ “$w4g4l1c10u$,” a.k.a. Luc B.
First Luc topped a 2,208-entry field to win Event #41-H, a two-day $530 no-limit hold’em progressive knockout tournament. For that achievement he earned a total of $103,137.39, including the first prize plus bounties.
The real story came from his second victory of the series in Event #111-H, another two-day $530 buy-in event, this one six-handed NLHE. In that one Luc overcame an 847-entry field and talented final table to win the title and $59,071.62 following a heads-up deal.
But that big field of competitors wasn’t all Luc had to overcome. A family emergency led to his having to play out the tournament in less than ideal conditions — in a hospital, where uncertainty about how the tournament would end paled in comparison with other concerns.
But both the story — both of the tournament and the unique circumstances surrounding it — ends well. We’ll let Luc tell it to you.
It’s over. The table remains on my screen with no players sitting at it, and there’s this oddly surreal feeling that lingers, as it always does upon winning an online tournament. For a moment, it doesn’t feel quite tangible.
Check the lobby, check the cashier. No mistake possible — that’s a second SCOOP win. Only one thought comes to my mind given the circumstance: “I can finally sleep with this out of the way.”
Wait, that’s not how that goes. We need to go back a few hours. This isn’t simply a poker story.
An unplanned ending to the day
It’s Thursday night. It’s the 1 a.m. break and I’m playing my remaining two tables for pretty decent EV, but that doesn’t matter. I can hear my baby moan and scream despite my partner doing what she can.
Our baby hasn’t slept for nine hours now. She’s obviously exhausted, but too upset even if we try to put her to bed. I call an ambulance to take her to pediatrics. It may be normal for babies to be difficult, but not her. She’s never like this.
A short time later the ambulance arrives. The paramedic walks in with a face mask. I keep apologizing that I’m working despite it looking like I’m mindlessly clicking buttons in the middle of the night, standing there awkwardly at arm’s reach of my computer.
He apologizes for disturbing me, which makes me even more embarrassed. My partner’s embarrassed that we’re both embarrassed. It’d be a pretty funny scene if we weren’t actually worried for our daughter.
The paramedic drives off with my little family and I promise I’ll meet them there in a few hours at most. I sit back down at my desk cursing variance. This had to be the time I would have a huge stack in a fairly high-skill format.
As I play, I argue silently with myself. I should have gone with them. It can wait a few hours. I can rationalize my decision to stay. No, I should have gone with them.
Daddy tags in
Eventually it is 4 a.m. Day 1 has ended. I have something to eat, shower and collect some extra baby supplies to take with me to the hospital.
My partner tells me the two of them have to stay there until the swab tests come back. It’s procedure. Also, I will only be able to talk through the door of the isolation room. (In fact, we will end up doing this via phone with terrible reception, since we can’t hear anything through the door.)
Following the nurse’s advice, I arrive at the hospital at 8 a.m. My partner is distressed. She hates being locked in a room. She hates hospitals. She particularly hates being locked in a room in a hospital.
I can’t blame her. Almost a year-and-a-half ago, our daughter was born at 31 weeks. We’ll always be thankful to everyone who helped her into this world, but it wasn’t an easy first month of her life. After that experience, I don’t think any mother could remain calm and collected with their 17-month-old baby under observation. There’s even less of a chance of doing so with zero hours of sleep for the past 24 hours.
Our baby had finally fallen asleep in her stroller around 5 a.m. Once their tests for COVID-19 returned negative, I was able to get swabbed and fill in for mommy. Midday, they tell me. That leaves a few hours for a round trip back home, cook some baby meals, get some more supplies (there’s always more supplies) and return for my half of the tag team hospital watch. I do just that a few hours later.
A day to rest up (or not)
Friendly word of advice: avoid nasal swabs at all cost. They warn you that relaxing will make it easier. But obviously nobody is relaxing after hearing that.
Once the lower parts of my brain were thoroughly swabbed, I could finally be useful. Meanwhile their tests came back negative, as we were sure they would.
I take over so my partner can go back home and rest. She’s leaving, but she’s not actually getting any rest, because she’s a breastfeeding mom. Going home to rest means expressing once or twice so she can come back give us some milk. She will eventually get to sleep some that evening.
I am with our daughter. Nurses come once in a while to monitor vitals and ask if the baby is eating. Everything seems fine. I manage to get 45 minutes of synchronized sleep with my daughter.
If you’ve ever been a patient, you know the irony of people telling you to rest. It’s the one thing you really can’t do. There’s always something to monitor and the schedule doesn’t care about your bedtime. Not going to blame the staff, of course, but it can be rough on the patients. Even more so on babies who are there because they wouldn’t sleep and are woken up to take their temperature.
The day goes by reasonably well. Baby is more or less her normal self. She eats, even manages to nap on the strange hospital bed with some reassuring that she’s not alone. She’s certainly not her babbly happy self, but under the circumstances it is to be expected.
Around 7 p.m. they say they will leave us be for the night and bring a dinner platter. As far as hospital food goes, it’s surprisingly edible!
This is not (just) a poker story, but it still is a story that involves poker. At about 8:30 p.m. I start to think about how there is Day 2 for me to play, and it starts in an hour. It’s pretty much the last thing on my mind at this point, but I did make sure I could play it optimally.
Crappy laptop I haven’t used in over a year: check! Hospital WiFi that logs me out every 30 minutes: check! Pretty much no sleep for the past 30-plus hours: major check!
Conditions are perfect. It’s business time!
Playing hands in the hospital
9:15 p.m. — I’m sitting in the dark with a baby in her cot behind me pulling at my hair.
9:30 p.m. — The table pops up. We’re playing poker. I’m in fifth position out of 90 left and at a reasonably good first table.
9:45 p.m. — The cot is boring.
9:48 p.m. — Daddy’s boring!
9:55 p.m. — First break! I discover that walking in circles in the isolation room is moderately less boring. Success!
10 p.m. — Back to business. Baby is quiet and comfortable. One hand is on the computer, the other pushing her stroller back and forth.
10:15 p.m. — Apparently she fell asleep some amount of time ago. It’s not that I’m hyper-focused on my one poker table, it’s just that at this point I’m on full-blown no-sleep autopilot.
I would continue with the timestamped highlights, but the rest is pretty much a blur. Click, click, click. Look up, it’s X:55 again. Yay break. Get up without a sound, take a few steps around in the tiny room, sit back down, repeat.
She’s sleeping well. I’m too afraid to move her, so stroller it is. Her vote!
Hours go by. We reach the final table. I’m second in chips, the chip leader is huge, and there are several tiny stacks. Overall it’s a rather extreme chip distribution.
There are only good regulars, so it’s a rather fun table. People chat and joke around — pretty typical once someone breaks the ice, really.
As was statistically likely, I make it to heads-up and have the shorter of the two stacks. I go for the Hail Mary, and ask “Want to look at numbers?” He does! Little does he know he’s playing a complete zombie who has actually fallen asleep after the flop betting round at least six times during the final table only for the software beeps to wake him up on the turn.
Maybe he doesn’t want to play a protracted heads-up quite deep this late. Maybe he respects my game to some extent from past history. Maybe it’s even a bit of both. Good thing he doesn’t know all he has to do is take his time and I’ll eventually fall asleep at the keyboard. He would win by TKO.
Deal made, more time passes. And then it’s over. I won somehow. I can finally sleep as well, but there’s only room for one in the stroller.
We get discharged the next morning. They never did find anything wrong with her and she’s been her usual happy self since. And now SCOOP is over, so she can get double-daddy time.
Everyone likes a happy ending. Oh, I also won a poker tournament.