Event #10 Trip Report (I win some money!)
I felt very good about my play thus far in the series even though my results had not been that good. That is the most difficult thing to get used to with poker. You can play great and lose everything and you can play badly and win a ton. You just have to understand that in the long run, good play will win more money than bad. Except that is the kind of thing you tell yourself a week later when you back home and reflecting on the results. When you are in the middle of it, all you can think is that you keep losing and that it isn’t any fun. So I have to admit that having a good result in this event made me feel a lot better about the whole trip.
I played this event the way I have been playing everything lately. I’m seeing a lot more flops and taking a lot more small risks to try to find opportunities to build my stack. I’m actually not 100% certain that it is a more profitable play to way tourneys than my old approach, but it is a lot more fun. You get to find yourself in a lot of more interesting situations post-flop. Against really good players, this approach might be too dangerous for me. Against the usual WSOP fields, it seems to be an excellent plan. In the first level, I saw about seven or eight flops and literally never connected with anything. Once I was able to buy the pot when it checked to me in position, but in general I was on a steady downslide. This left me with about 3,000 chips when I finally hit paydirt. It was one of the first hands of 50/100 and there was no one I recognized at my table at this point. I had already identified who was afraid and who was aggressive and was getting a good feeling about my spot. There was a raise from one of the most aggressive players at the table who raised it up to 400 chips from middle position. The Button cold called him and I called from the SB with 86 diamonds. The flop was a pretty good one for me, it was 973 with one diamond. I’ve got the open-ended straight draw with a backdoor flush possibility. The Button was usually pretty timid, so I figured I might test the aggressive guy with a big check-raise. I thought for the requisite five seconds or so and tapped the felt. The aggressive guy posted a bet of 1,000 into a pot of 1,200. To my surprise, the Button called. I decided to abandon my original plan to check-raise, because I was now looking at a pot of 4,200 chips and I only had to call 1,000. It only left me 1,600 chips, which was going to really hurt if I had to fold the turn, but I felt like I would get called by at least one of them if I shoved there. In hindsight, I think I should have stuck to my plan and check-raised there. I hate to go all-in with a draw, but I think I could have won the pot then and there which would be great. As it turns out, I looked like a genius when the turn was a T of diamonds. Now not only did I have a made straight, but I had a redraw to a flush in case someone held the unlikely J8. I wanted to get the maximum value, so I just checked again. The aggressive player now sprung to life and pushed all his chips to the middle. The Button thought for a pretty long time and kept looking over at me while I tried to stare at the cards like a cow at a passing train. He eventually folded and I called before the dealer even turned to me. Unfortunately, the aggressive player had outs because he had the AK of diamonds, so he had a better flush draw than I did. Fortunately, at the moment, he didn’t have anything at all. It was a decent move by him, he just got unlucky that I held what I did. He needed one of seven remaining diamonds to arrive which is going to happen less than 15% of the time. This wasn’t one of those times and all the chips got shoved over to me. This took me up to over 7,500 chips and I was now the second largest stack at my table. Everything seemed good.
It was to take a turn for the worse. Huck Seed, the winner of the Main Event in 1996 and holder of at least 4 bracelets for winning WSOP events strolled up to our table just two hands later. Even worse, he promptly sat down and doubled up when he flopped a set and got paid by a player with KK. He was three seats to my right, so I expected to end up tussling with him since we both had chips. Unfortunately, it happened all too soon. He limped from early position with another limper and I just called with AK from MP3. This is a new approach for me, where I try not to get in big pots with AK, which has hurt me in previous tourneys. We wind up six to the flop which is nice for me, K76 rainbow. The action checks to me and I make a pot-sized bet of 700 chips, which is a big bet for the table, but I’d like to go ahead and take it down. Everyone folds but Huck who calls without much hesitation. I really hate this call. Maybe he has KQ or KJ and maybe he has 89s or 54s for a big straight draw, but maybe he has 77 or 66 here. The turn was an innocent duece, but Huck never looked at it. He was watching me and he slowly checked. Against most players, I’d bet again here and plan to see the river for free, but I had a bad feeling about the hand and just checked behind. I was telling myself that I was stupid and playing too timidly, but I did it anyhow. I took a little too long with the decision. I wish I would have checked quicker. Huck bet 1,000 on the river into a 3k pot, which I had to call with top pair. I was not shocked to see that he turned over 66 for bottom set. I was happy to lose 1,800 chips when I could easily have gone broke. This knocked me down to around 5,500. I managed to steal a nice pot just as the break started and went to the first break with 6,500 chips. I started with 4,000 and had a good chance to get busted, so I was happy with where I stood at the break. I was getting less fond of Huck Seed, however.
Happily, Huck went broke not long after the break, so I didn’t have to deal with him any more. The guy who busted him was a good player (he wound up busting at the exact same time I did), but I was much happier for him to have the chips than Huck. My biggest hand of this level was against a visibly nervous woman who played very carefully. She was starting to get short-stacked, past the point where I thought she should be looking to push all-in (especially with her image). The table had been raising 600 chips every time. She raised to 800, which made me suspect she really didn’t want to get called. When a weak player doesn’t want to get called, I suspect AK. I called in the SB with TT. I thought about pushing, but figured she would call with AK and I decided I could get her off her hand if I waited for the flop. The flop was JJ4, which was a good flop for me. I decided the strong move would be to let her fire a continuation bet on the flop and then put her all-in. As expected, she bet the flop and I check-raise all-in. I have her covered by a quite a lot, so I’m really trying to put her all-in. She goes deep into the tank. She thinks about it for so long that people at our table start to get restless and walk around the table. I have my head in my hand staring at the cards, like I always do. I’m a bit puzzled, because it isn’t that hard of a laydown to fold AK in that spot. Eventually she sighs and folds. She asks me to “At least tell me I made a good fold.” I tell her I would be happy to, if she tells me what she had. She says that she folded KK. I smile ruefully and tell her that I’m sorry, but I can’t tell her that was a good fold. She visibly deflates. I feel bad about it, but not very bad. I made it to second break with 11,000 chips, which was clearly well above average and second largest stack at our table. I liked our table.
On the break I got to hang out with Barry Greenstein and talk to him about my visit to Children, Inc a few months ago. Barry was very gracious both to me and to the many people who interrupted him to ask for autographs or a photo. Two people from my table saw us chatting off to the side including a guy who watched me talking with Matthew Hilger and Greg Raymer earlier. He was clearly trying to figure out who I was, since I knew all the big names. That was funny.
The second hand back from break I found AKs and decided to raise it up. We must have been at 200/400 by then. I raised pre-flop and got called and then was check-raised on a terrible flop with flush draws and straight draws and low cards. None of which I had any piece of. I folded and fell back to 9,000 chips. I busted a guy when I flopped two pair from the BB and bobbed and weaved my way up to 16,000 chips when our table was broke and I got moved. I really dislike getting moved, because I think getting into the other player’s heads is one of the things I do best.
My new table had a guy who was apparently the chip leader of the whole event, according to the guys who run around and scribble notes for posting on the internet. I didn’t recognize anyone and there were several short stacks who were obviously very cautious players nursing their small stacks with great care. There was another crazy Texan who told long-winded stories and confused everyone with his odd style of play. The Texan had a few more chips than I did and the tourney chip leader had three or four times what I had. I think we were at 200/400 50 ante and I was down to 13,000 or so. I had been playing tight and trying to get a feel for my fellow players. The big stack was on my immediate right and he raised to 1,200. Some big stacks play very loose and aggressive, but he had been fairly careful. I had 99 and decided not to get cute. I just called and hoped for a good flop. The BB also came along for the ride. The flop came down 89J rainbow, which wasn’t perfect, but pretty close. The BB checked, the big stack counted out 3,000 or so and announced his bet. I spent 30 seconds or so contemplating my options. I really didn’t want to let the BB chase a weak straight draw, but I also wanted to get paid. I decided to slow play and just called the 3,000 chips. The BB turbo-folded. The turn was a second Jack. This meant that I was now certain to be the best hand, but it was actually a bad card since it was likely to scare the big stack with AA or KK and he was not very likely to go broke now. He bet about 8,000 chips. I wasn’t certain of my exact stack size and said so. I said that I was all-in, maybe for less than 8,000 maybe for more. I counted off my stack and determined it was about 1,500 more to the big stack, who called getting 8 zillion to one. It turns out that the second Jack was a great card for me, because the big stack had AJs. He had trip Jacks and was drawing to three Aces for a better full house or the case Jack for four of a kind. No miracle happened for him and I doubled up to 26,000 chips and was now a serious force in the tourney. I was shaking a bit with the adrenaline rush after the hand ended. Soon thereafter we went on a 15 minute break and I excitedly phoned in the good news to my wife. We were only 15 minutes from the dinner break, so I was starting to think I had a good chance to make a good run in this event. I chipped up a bit more after the break and went to dinner with 28,500 chips.
My friend Chris met me in his car at the main poker door and we got to spend a quiet dinner break away from the din of the casino and the constant jabber of the other poker players. Chris and I were able to talk over my situation and chip stack and he helped me work through the playing tendencies and styles of the other players. The average stack was about 17,000 chips, so I was in very good shape at this point. I was getting comfortable with my table and felt like I was back in the zone where I could make good reads and make the right moves at the right time. I was very sad when my table was broke shortly after dinner. Even worse, I was moved to a table that would break again very soon. I hate that.
My new table had Justin Buonomo (ZeeJustin) and David Chu. Justin had a mountain of chips and was shoving them right and left. Even though I was unhappy to get assigned a new table, I was thrilled with the results. On the very first hand, the shortstack (who had just pushed the hand before and won with a small pair) pushed all-in again and I woke up with AKs. I called and busted him on an Ace high flop. I found QQ on the second hand. I raised pre-flop, got two callers. Fired a nice bet at a raggy flop and get one caller. Fired another bet at the Jack on the turn and take down a good sized pot. I played AJs in the BB and rivered a flush for another nice little pot. All of the sudden I have nearly 50,000 chips and I am probably in the top ten in chips in the building. I got moved a few hands later with 48,000 chips.
This table also didn’t last too long. I took a risky call of an all-in from a tight old rock with JJ and was very happy to see he had AK. He caught the King on the flop, but I caught the third Jack on the river. That is a hard way to lose a coin flip and he was not very happy about it. Now I’m up to 60,000 and cruising. That was the only hand I played at that table.
I got moved again and this time there was a player who covered me at this one. I made a stupid play trying to represent an Ace, but he couldn’t fold KK because I didn’t commit to the move and I lost a chunk of chips. I also lost an ugly pot when KK lived up to its name as an Ace magnet. After those two hands, I was all the way down to 39,000. Bustouts were flying left and right and I got moved to my fifth table after dinner and we were on the bubble. This table was going to break too, but only after the bubble burst. I played about 40 minutes at this one.
My first real hand, I had TT and raised to 4,800. I got called in two places. The flop was AK5, which really, really sucked, but I figured they might be scared too, so I bet. I didn’t want to look scared, so I bet 9,000 and got raised all-in. There was no way to call that on the bubble, so I folded and now was all the way down to 24,000. This was not going my way at all. I was annoyed at all the moves (I couldn’t figure out who was making moves and who had hands yet), I was getting tired (it was after 1:00am) and I really didn’t want to bust out doing something stupid so close to the payouts. I did manage a blind steal or two and was at 27,000 when the bubble finally broke and I assured myself of a win. There was a guy at my table who had been merciless on the bubble, raising everything. He raised again and I used my prized face reading abilities to determine he wasn’t very strong, so I shoved all-in with 20,000 chips or so over his raise. He called instantly and showed KK. So much for my face-reading skills. As the dealer was counting the three cards and flipping them over, he exposed a seven to my opponent, who let out an agonized groan. I hadn’t seen it yet, but I knew what it meant. I hit my 20% shot and doubled with the worst hand. This put me at 40,000 and a blind steal put me at like 45,000.
I got moved to yet another table for the last five hands of the night. Gross. I just folded all five. I ended the day with 44,000 chips and made my first Day Two of the WSOP. I was tired and also wide-awake. I chatted with the ITH folks on IRC for a bit and slept for a very few hours before waking up running poker math problems in my head.
I had a huge brunch at the Paris buffet and wandered over to the Rio to find out where I was seated. It turns out I was seated with a huge stack named Michael Greco who is a British actor and poker player. I asked my lovely wife to check with the folks on ITH to see if they could Google anything up on him and found a motherlode of interviews and poker results. One of the articles involved him talking about how all the poker players know Caro’s Book of Tells and are terrible actors. He just uses his acting to reproduce whatever Caro says a bluffer would do when he is strong and whatever Caro says a strong player would do when he is weak. This is great stuff. I know what Caro says and now I know how to be one step ahead of him. If this were a proper story, I would use that information to take his chips and outsmart him completely.
This isn’t a proper fairy tale. I had AA on the very first hand of the day. I was in early position and made a standard raise. I was called by the Button and the actor in the big blind. Score! The flop came down Q73, which is great for me. I made a dubious decision here. I decided to make a small bet to look like I was scared, hoping one of them would raise me. To my chagrin, they both just called. The turn was a 9 and I shoved all-in. Unfortunately, the Button held 99 and he was happy to call me. The actor hemmed and hawed and eventually folded. He claimed he had two pair at the time he folded, but he later admitted he just had a Queen. He says that had the Button not called me, he would have called. That would have been much better. In hindsight, a bigger bet on the flop might have shaken the Button and put me in a much better position. But I was trying to get a double or triple and taking the chance that no one would catch up. The turn push was obvious, because I only had 30,000 left and the pot was bigger than that. I was disappointed, but I still know that I played some great poker and had a fantastic time.
I finished in something like 120th place out of 1,531 entrants and won about $4,000 for my troubles. It could have been better, but all in all, it was a pretty good event for me. I should have busted the night before with 77 against KK, so I really can’t complain about the hand the next day.
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