The 10 / 20 no limit game is a big game for me especially at the Bellagio because the players buy in for so much and are not afraid to put you to the test. The game is 10/20 blinds but some of these guys are playing 30 grand or more behind. It is particularly bad when it is short handed because the blinds are coming around so fast and you have to open up and play more hands or you will just get ground down. I shouldn’t have been there, I knew that, but Hoyt Corkins sat down and if I was going to do something stupid tonight I was going to do it sitting next to a world class player, to his left if possible. I went and bought $1200.00 in orange $20.00 checks and had $800.00 in cash behind, this had become my preferred buy in to this game. This buy in gave me chips to play and a not so easy amount of cash for my table mates to wonder what I had “behind”. I was un-racking to Hoyt’s left when the cowboy himself turns to me and says “We are playing 20/40 blinds because it is short handed but everyone has to agree, so if you want 10/20 instead just say so.” I said the only thing a guy with two testes could say “No problem.” Gulp. Holy Mary! Not only are you playing shorthanded with one of the world’s greatest players, you just agreed to double the stakes! I quickly figured whatever this is how you get experience and I wanted that more than anything. I want to take my place at the table. I need to keep pushing and if I really work hard I will be one of the best with a life time of stories about how I got there. I already knew how this was probably going to go down. Experience was expensive and I had already bought a bunch of it to get where I am now. You need to leave a bunch of skin on a ton of nails before you get over those fences of experiences. I knew my ego and bankroll were in for a pounding, I was excited! I also knew that you don’t learn anything new standing on the beach; you need to get out there and swim. Minutes later I couldn’t even see land and the metaphorical sharks were glad to see me. I spent the better half of the 30 minute down folding and I was stuck around $200.00 just posting my blinds. I was just bleeding money I had to decide to get in there and play or get up and admit I had no business being there. The truth was I didn’t really have any business being there but I wanted to play, I wanted so badly to belong at that level. I felt like a small boy riding his father’s bicycle, the bike was too big for me but I had heart and if I could just find a downhill part that might be enough. I looked down and saw AJ in the big blind, it was folded to Hoyt in the small blind and he made it $100.00. He always made it $100.00. I had just about had my fill, I call. The flop came down JJ4 rainbow. Hoyt fired out $300.00 and I paused for a second and called. The turn was a 7 and the Alabama Cowboy made it $600.00 to go, I counted out the six hundred and said well I guess that would leave me with about $800.00 left, I am all in. The man in the hat fired his cards in the muck and I showed him what he already knew, nice hand said. A $2000.00 pot off Hoyt Corkins, this bike might not be too big after all. I visited with him over the next couple of hours of mostly small ball poker and small talk. I told him that I thought he was a class act as far as name brands went and he asked me if I was going to play in the world series of poker this year. I said that I was and he said he would see me there. Hoyt got up to go get a candy bar and one of the others got called to the main game. The feeder broke up and I started swimming for the beach, I took my time there was nothing out here I needed to be afraid of, not today anyway. I met up with the cowboy in the main game later and you won’t believe what I saw, more on that in the next blog….. Hoyt & The Main Game.