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Second-Annual Brunson Beer Pong Challenge

A real game of skill

by Todd Brunson |  Published: Jul 01, 2009

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In my last column, at the Shooting Star tournament in San Jose, I left off after losing with the ADiamond Suit QDiamond Suit with a flop of 9-4-2 with two diamonds versus pocket jacks. This hand didn’t break me, but almost did. I was going to leave off there, but after further reflection, I think my final hand deserves to be told.

I was in the small blind after having lost the last pot of 150,000+, and was left with about 4,500. That’s not much, considering the blinds were 600-1,200 with a 200 ante. I didn’t need much of a hand to push here, so I was pleasantly surprised to look down at A-J.

The player under the gun limped, so that put even more dead money out there. I moved in, and the player in the big blind did the same, for around 50,000, giving me some protection by forcing the limper to fold. I was sure that I had the worst hand, and couldn’t wait to see what he held, to find out what I needed to beat.

I couldn’t believe it when he turned over Q-8 offsuit. He was going for the bounty on me; beautiful! The flop was even more beautiful — A-10-6. I had him dead to runner-runner. Yes! With more than 12,000, I would be back in the tournament.

Fourth street brought the first runner, a 7. Now, he had picked up a gutshot. I shouldn’t have been too worried here, but I knew it was coming. Matt Savage was there, announcing the hand with a microphone. He first was thrilled to death to announce that my opponent needed a 9 to win the pot, and was even happier to tell the audience that he hit it.

Brett Jungblut
Can somebody please explain to me why it is that I still play poker? I need to get away from games with so much luck involved. Besides, I think I need a drink. And what could be better than to combine the two? A real game of skill that involves drinking — beer pong! I was off to Vegas to host the second-annual Brunson Beer Pong Challenge, held at Hogs and Heifers in Downtown Las Vegas.

In case you’re not familiar with the game, I’ll explain. It’s fairly simple. It’s played on an 8-foot table. Each team has 10 cups that are partially filled with beer at their end of the table. You must stay behind your end of the table and attempt to throw a ping-pong ball into one of your opposing team’s cups.
If you do, they must drink the beer in that cup and it is then removed from play. The object of the game is to have at least one cup left while the other team has none. Pretty simple, right?

There are a few twists to the game. One is that if you bounce the ball on the table and it goes into an enemy cup, they must drink two. You can, however, play defense once a ball bounces on the table (by batting it away). If, however, you touch an enemy ball in flight that has not yet bounced on the table, you lose one cup.

Another twist is the final-cup redemption. If your opponents both make it in your final cup, game over. If only one of them makes it, you get a shot to stay alive. You and your teammate each get a shot at their cup(s), and if you make it, your cup is still in play.

Yet another twist is that if both team members make their ball in enemy cups, they get to shoot again. Therefore, it is possible that one team could get to shoot only once before losing. If one team ran the table, the other team’s players would still get their redemption shots.

Last year was the first time that I had ever played, and my teammate and I finished second. In fact, we should have won. You see, it’s a best-of-three format. The first game, we won by eight cups! The second, we lost by one. (This was the most exciting game I’ve ever seen. Each team made like seven redemption shots to keep the game going!) In the final game, my teammate passed out after the first throw, and I had to play one against two. Yet, I lost by only two cups.

About an hour later, my teammate woke up and we challenged the winners to a grudge match. We beat them like a dirty rug, three games in a row. If my teammate could have stayed awake for only 10 more minutes …

This year, I went with a guy I knew could hold his beer, Brett Jungblut, aka Gank. Gank lost last year in the semifinals to the team that wound up beating mine for first place. We didn’t even bother to practice, we were so confident.

Considering that last year’s tournament was the first time I’d played, and I’d played only twice since then, maybe we should have gone out a few nights and practiced. I actually tried to hook up with Gank beforehand, but our schedules conflicted. This was definitely a mistake.

Neither one of us really hit a rhythm in the entire tournament. We won our first match by only one cup, in what should have been a blowout. In round two, we drew last year’s champs. Gank and I both wanted some revenge, and we got it, but again, by only one cup.

We won our next few games without too much trouble. During our downtime, I began watching “the team to beat,” who were destroying every team they played by at least five cups. They looked unbeatable. One of their players must have been shooting 90 percent while I watched.

We won our final game, and were in the playoffs. Now, we just had to wait to see who won the other bracket. I was praying that it wasn’t the team that I had been sweating, but inasmuch as no one could beat them, of course it was.

The first game, we lost by one cup. It seemed like they beat us worse than that, but we somehow managed to keep it close. The second, we won by one cup. It all came down to the last game.

They hit us twice with a bounce-throw combo, and it worked both times. This is where one player throws normally and the other bounces his shot, at the same time. It’s hard to defend against, for a couple of reasons. One, if done right, it’s hard to see it coming. The other reason is that if you try to swat the bouncing ball and hit the other ball (or it hits you), you automatically lose a cup.

They got way ahead with these tactics, but we somehow rallied to bring it down to one cup each once again. They made it in our final cup, and things looked grim. Gank missed his redemption shot, and it was all up to me. The crowd went dead silent (and there were around 100 in the audience), but not our opponents. They yelled and cursed and taunted us.

No, they didn’t get a penalty. You see, that’s part of the game, trash-talking. I actually won a trophy for being the biggest s—- talker. It’s a cool trophy, set in a big pile of dog crap.

Anyway, I made the redemption shot to keep us alive, and the crowd exploded! It was a short-lived reprieve, though. The next round saw our demise, and I took second two years running.