WSOP 2009 Trip Report, Part 1
Traveling to Vegas was a huge PITA, but I got here in the end. All’s well that ends well they say. I was able to check into the Rio early in the morning and get settled in my suite. When you are here for short bursts, the Rio is actually a pretty good choice. The rooms are fairly cheap and it is nice to be able to go back to your room on breaks if you want to do so. The rooms are very big and the beds are comfortable. The little window that lets you look from the room into the shower does seem to taunt me a bit when I’m forced to travel without my wife.
Around 11, I made arrangements to meet up with the ITH crowd. Chris was in the Stabucks and we hung out there for a while and caught up a bit. Soon, Hazey and his lovely girlfriend came by and it was cool to meet them. Chris had to go take his seat in the donkament, so the three of us wandered around and chatted for a while. We shared the usual story of nervous concern when we met our first ITHers and agreed that people have by and large turned out much more normal that you expect them to. I did point out that they haven’t met Nutjob yet, or they might have formed a different impression. Our initial plan was that the three of us were going to play in the Binion’s event today, but ultimately I was too tired from the trip to join in.
I wandered over to check out Yankee’s seat and he was seated with his back to the rail. His position was perfect for BSing from the rail, so I hung out there for 20 minutes and talked poker with him for a while. It was pretty funny, because we have that comfortable shared jargon and he’s firing out jargon about reshipping here and getting 3bet light and snap called and how live players are so different than online and most of his table is looking at him like he might have landed in a spacecraft. These fields are remarkably soft, but you need to get some luck to take advantage of that fact.
I decided (completely unsucessfully) that taking a nap would be the best move for me. I watched some bad TV and eventually gave up and wandered back down to the poker room to collect Chris when he managed to bust out. We spent the usual period of time deconstructing his key hands and agreeing that he played them fine. We mulled over alternative lines, but never really could make a case that any of them were much better. Soon it was time for the next break, so we headed back down the endless Rio hallway to the poker room (Chris has graciously agreed to watch me eat). I do a lot of walking because the poker room is like a mile from the room.
Not only did we determine that Yankees was still in (true to form, Chris picked him out of a crowded room in ten seconds), but we did a pretty good of guessing his stack despite the fact that Yanks was keeping his stack curled up in one hand the entire time. Even better, on the break I spied a guy walking past in an A’s cap and sure enough it turned out to be the long missing Taardvark! We caught up with his location and found that he shared our view of the field. He was just shaking his head at some of the things he had seen. Chris and I decided we would play a single table sat while we waited for the dinner break.
My table took forever to start because one of the players had to get her player’s card and we waited 20 minutes for her to return. This shouldn’t be allowed, but I was in a patient mood. To say that my table was populated by clueless people was an understatement. When the cocktail waitress came by, two of the players didn’t know that drinks were free. One guy couldn’t get a drink because he had no money to tip, so I agreed to tip for him (thinking this would increase my nice guy image and improve my deal making if it came to that). Play was terrible, as you would expect. I played tight in the early going, but I got a lot of good hands, so I was more active than I would have hoped to be. I worked my stack up to 1,800 from 1,000 when the tide started to turn. I called three shortstack shoves and lost all three. I started with the best hand every time. At one point, I’m down to about six big blinds, having just lost AQ < Kx. I shove ATC from UTG and the SB tanks for a while beore folding what he reported to be A9. I’m too honest because when he asked me if it was a good fold, I told him it was not. When I was in the SB, it folded to me and I shoved something like 85 because the BB was very, very tight. He tanked for a while before finally calling with AQ. When I picked my jaw off the table, I flopped 888 and then went runner, runner full house to chop the pot with him. Eventually one of my shoves didn’t work, so I finished fourth and won nothing.
Unfortunately, Yankees had busted by this point, so I discussed the laughable play in the SNG with him for a while and we commisserated about the truly odd play you see in these low buy in live events. What do you do with the guy who keeps betting like 1/10th of the pot on all three streets with middle pair, but won’t fold. It feels so weak to just call these bets, but bluffing is pointless. We decided it was like online poker 5 years ago. The stop and go still works, people don’t three bet light, etc. Chris was still in his SNG, so we wandered over to rail Taardvark. Since I now knew his exact table, I figured to be able to spot him even without Chris. His table was still there, but he wasn’t. This is never a good sign.
We made it back to the sat room in time to watch Chris bust with 22 in a flip. I love Chris’ image. He wears a WSOP brand visor and he looks like a tourist from the midwest who is just happy to be here and plays like a rock. By the time they figure out what hit them, it is too late. We all went to whatever the Twisted Kilt is now called and ate some bad food and drank some good beer. We watched Lebron get booted from the playoffs and formulated a detailed dissection of the typical player we had seen. We also commented on how few people we were able to recognize from past years at this event. It is three huge rooms crammed full of nobody you ever saw before. This is a very good thing. The thing that is difficult when you play with novice players is to figure out what they think of their hand. Because they have such a poor sense of relative hand strengths, they could believe themselves very strong when they are in big trouble. Conversely, they could be afraid when they are very strong. Everyone had stories of guys checking full houses or sets behind on the river when they were insanely obviously good.
Yankees and I promised ourselves we were going to stop outsmarting ourselves. We both tend to make plays designed to work on thinking players that are just too cute in these situations. For example, Yanks had AA and raised it up to get two or three callers. The flop is pretty harmless and his stack is like 50% more than the pot. He decides that shoving all-in is the smart play. A good player will think this is a bad bet size and read him as weak. Unfortunately, the bad players read it for just what it looks like. “Him make big bet, him have big hand.” They all turbo fold. We decide betting half the pot and getting called once or twice is way better live.
We were enjoying each other’s company, but then two guys showed up and started playing the most horrific piano music at deafening volume. It is like nails on a chaulkboard and we can’t get out fast enough. When they start trying to do Bob Marley in a combo lounge / bad fake Jamaican accent, I want to cry. Once outside the restaurant, Chris peels off to go home promising to meet up tomorrow. After half-heartedly considering some drinking options, Brent and I decide to bail. I make fun of us on Twitter for a few minutes and up my wild Saturday night in Vegas going to bed at 10. No one gets shoes locked in a safe or even actually gets drunk. Although the guy who just discovered free drinks while playing poker was probably pretty hammered by then.