Things were going swimmingly until a one-two gut punch that left me dazed and chipless. I had run up the 15k from the start of the day to a very healthy 60k stack that was about average. The first major pot I won was from Annie Duke, actually -- A10 suited caught an ace on the flop; I bet she calls; I move in on the blank turn and she goes away. Acting passively when I caught major pieces of the flop was working out great. I let others do my betting for me and took down major hunks of stack.
Then perhaps an hour after the dinner break the player directly to my right put in a raise. I find two black kings in the hole and reraise. The table folds around to him and he moves in after some deliberation. Clearly you know what happens next: I call and am shown aces. The board is no help and I'm down to 20k. About an orbit later I find what seems like redemption in a pair of my own aces and raise. Only the big blind calls. The flop is K77: bingo. He checks, I bet a quarter of my stack and he moves in. Unable to give him credit for a seven and beating everything else except an insanely played kings full I call and am shown 10-7 offsuit. Goodbye, tournament.
Final tally: nine and a half levels covering almost 20 hours, one trip to a shockingly expensive buffet that I resolve to get my money's worth at by eating my weight in crab legs, and a finish around 1400th of almost 9000. I don't know if the kings hand was a mistake... that player had been very aggressive preflop and I had already chopped him off twice. There's no way I can get away from the aces on my final hand, but I keep wondering about the kings. It's not a clear error like my two screwups on day 1, but I wonder if Annie Duke makes that call. Eh.
As I exited the Rio, still stunned, I hear not one but two "pssts" from what turns out to be an attractive-in-a-way woman who asks me to come over to her. Despite being the picture of midwest innocence, hooker alarms go off in my head and I mumble something along the lines of "um, er, no... I have to go... over here. Over here." I get in a cab and ask to go back to the MGM. The cabbie asks about my exit and I describe it. He's an inordinately friendly man but would never make it at the World Series, as in the course of a ten minute ride he picks up over four hours in hypothetical f-bomb penalites. He expertly routes around construction, taking me through the unfrequented back alleys between the casinos. From this perspective, Las Vegas almost seems like a real place.
In my room I sleep fitfully, haunted equally by two black kings and two red aces, traitors all.
Update: Annie apparently would not have dropped the kings. Wish my appearance on Pokernews.com was as something other than a bad-beat story, but that's life.